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Sheikh Hasina: Achieving mission impossible

Sheikh Hasina: Achieving mission impossible

News Desk:

She is a young lady who has just turned 74 today. But she is still as courageous and charismatic as she was at the beginning of her political career. She has been a politician from her youth. She joined student movement and even in some political movements led by her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She had three brothers and one sister. Though they were younger than her it was supposed that the oldest of the brothers would take on his father's political mantle. But of course history was set otherwise.

The cruel murder that took place in 15 August 1975 took the lives of the father of the nation along with all his family members. But luckily his two daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana escaped the killers' bullet because they were abroad. After the killings of 75, the ruling party Awami League (BAAKSAL) was devastated. The party had many leaders, veteran and young but no one to organise the party. In absence of any political resistance the military Junta, their political subordinates along with the killers of Bangabandhu subsequently started to dismantle the very ideals on which Bangladesh was created and Bengali nation was reborn.

Sheikh Hasina who was a new mother and a homemaker then, came forward to fill up the void in the leadership that was created after the death of the four national leaders. It was a mission impossible -- on one hand she had to organize and unite a devastated party. On the other, she had to organize people against a brutal dictatorship. Nobody thought that Sheikh Hasina would succeed in her mission. The path was very dangerous and difficult. Enemies were everywhere, inside the party and outside.

There was division in the party and it had no strength to organise the people against a dictatorial rule who was trying to transform Bangladesh into a communal state like Pakistan again. Sheikh Hasina's first task was to unite her party then to start a mass campaign to re-establish democracy in her country. When the the-then rulers realized that Sheikh Hasina was becoming powerful and popular day by day, they tried to stop her by repression and if it failed, to kill her.

There were 19 small and big attempts on her life. The biggest attempt was in 21 August in 2004. The conspirators of the-then ruling party attacked her public meeting with a grenade and tried to kill her with other party leaders. Again Sheikh Hasina escaped sure death perhaps by the decree of fate but vast number of people were dead and injured. When a military led caretaker government captured power they pushed her into a sub-jail and allowed her to go abroad for treatment and then declared her a runaway and put a 'hulia' on her. It was a historical decision on the part of Hasina that ignoring the hulia and all the obstacles she decided to come back to her country.

She was again put into sub-jail but her courage motivated people to launch a movement against military-led caretaker government. It is unprecedented in history that a military government had to agree to transfer power to the people's representative elected in a fair and neutral election. An election was held in 2008 and Hasina came to power again with massive majority.

When she first came to power in 1996 fighting an election against Khaleda Zia her support was not as massive as in 2008. It was a historic victory. Her father removed the foreign military Junta from power by armed resistance and his daughter removed the military rulers from power peacefully by mass movement and election. Democracy was regained but the task of Hasina remained as difficult as before because the country's politics was unstable and the economy was shattered. A lumpen class was created by autocratic rulers who infiltrated into every strata of society and ruined the economy. Sheikh Hasina's task was to clear this Augean stable and stabilise politics and develop the economy.

In foreign relationship also Bangladesh was in a precarious position. India, the country which helped Bangladesh to become independent was not friendly anymore because of the previous governments' anti-Indian policy. Pakistan, still an enemy was involved in many kinds of subversive activities in Bangladesh under the mask of a friendly country. The western countries were patronizing Bangladesh treating her as a 'bottomless basket'. In the Middle-east though Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country, it had no real friend. Communalism and religious fanaticism were dominating forces in our society. Corruption was rampant and rule of law was almost absent everywhere.

Against this backdrop Sheikh Hasina came to power and when many veteran leaders were thinking that she would fail, she achieved astonishing success in every field. Democratic politics was stabilised, and she won three general elections consecutively. She will be remembered in history for her historic action against the killers of the father of the nation and the war criminals of 1971. She started the construction of the Padma Bridge against World Bank's non-cooperation and obstruction. Development of the economy in Bangladesh is soaring now and Bangladesh has become a model country in South Asia economically. She restored friendship with India and settled many unsolved disputes mutually. Pakistan has been discouraged to continue their subversive activities in Bangladesh and its present premier Imran Khan is seeking friendship with Sheikh Hasina. America's traditional opposition to Awami League government has been neutralized.

Her constant fight for improving earth's environment and against global warming has earned her the Champions of the Earth award. Her service to the people of her own country and the world has made her an important leader of South Asia. Now Bangladesh is recognized everywhere for its political stability and economic development. The country which was constantly suffering from food shortage, where famine and flood have been an every year occurrence has now become surplus in food and has taken measures against the yearly floods and cyclones. Poverty and famine have almost been wiped out from Bangladesh. In the Middle-east Saudi Arab is an ally of Bangladesh along with some other countries. Agricultural output has increased manifold in Bangladesh. Road and communication has improved. Dhaka is now a metropolitan city compared with other cities of the world.

Hasina government's economic success has surprised her critics also. In the international field Bangladesh has many friends and Hasina is regarded as an icon to them. Recently a Pakistani Daily commented that if his country could get a leader like Sheikh Hasina then it could escape the present economic woe and distress. It said, 'Pakistan needs a strong leader like Sheikh Hasina'. In the future Hasina's name will be placed in the history for women's empowerment. There are many religious taboos against women in Bangladesh. She broke these taboos and placed women in higher positions in the society and in her administration. Educational opportunities of women are in abundance now. The young generation are now aware about their past heritage, Bangabandhu's struggle for independence and the real history of the war of liberation.

Now Hasina is facing two great enemies - corona and corruption. Though her health ministry failed to do a proper job and accused of corruption, Sheikh Hasina faced the challenge of Corona bravely and managed it well. Corona is a crisis of the world. Every country is suffering from it including Bangladesh. Without Hasina's leadership the situation could go beyond control. Hasina government's campaign against corruption has caught many big criminals inside and outside her party but still corruption remains a major problem in the country.

Corona and corruption are both big challenges for Hasina government which is eating away the tremendous economic development they have achieved. It may be hoped that her fight against Corona will end one day but her fight against corruption is a long one. If her government and party succeed in this fight against corruption then she will make a historic example in the whole Asia. Present history may say that Hasina government has many faults and failures but I am sure that future history will ignore all these failures as negligible compared to her great success in making Bangladesh a democratic and secular one. On her birthday I pray that may God give her a long life, keep her safe from all dangers and she can come to power again for the fourth term so that her task for a golden Bengal inherited from her father can come to a full success.

Abdul Gaffar Choudhury

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