Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reaffirmed her determination to build a hunger-and-poverty-free Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“I have nothing to gain... My only aim is to materialise the ideals of Bangabandhu, based on which he liberated the country,” she said.
The PM was addressing a community gathering, organised at Central Hall in London’s Westminster on Saturday afternoon (local time).
Hasina said she will work till her last breath to realise the dream of Bangabandhu. “I don’t fear death for working to make Bangladesh a prosperous country as Bangabandhu once dreamt of,” she said.
Marking the 44th martyrdom anniversary of the Father of the Nation and National Mourning Day, the UK unit of Awami League organised the event, attended by Bangladeshi expatriates from different European countries.
Amid pin-drop silence in the packed auditorium, a teary-eyed Sheikh Hasina started her speech, recalling the August 15 carnage.
She said killers of Bangabandhu were not brought to justice, instead they were rewarded by Ziaur Rahman. Zia not only gave them indemnity, but also inducted them into the foreign ministry and sent them out to represent Bangladesh as diplomats.
In her speech, the premier recalled the contributions of expatriate Bangladeshis to the country’s economic development as well as their role in different democratic movements.
She urged the expatriates to invest more to help establish a developed and prosperous nation.
“We are establishing 100 economic zones in the country for more industrialisation and employment… you can set up mills and factories there by taking advantage of our investment-friendly environment,” she said.
Highlighting her government’s various steps, Hasina said they have already brought down poverty rate to 21 percent from 41. “We want to cut the rate further. We don’t want anyone to remain homeless, hungry and without healthcare,” she said.
The country is marching towards development and prosperity due to continuation of democracy, she added.
Referring to the December 30 general elections, Hasina said, “BNP wanted to make the polls questionable.” BNP suffered a defeat as they were not sincere, she added.
The premier also said BNP-Jamaat resorted to terrorism, militancy and corruption during their misrule from 2001 to 2005. “Their leaders amassed huge wealth through corruption, money laundering and looting orphans’ money,” she said.
Mentioning the BNP-Jamaat mayhem from 2013 to 2015 to overthrow the government and resist elections through arson attacks, Hasina said they [BNP-Jamaat] did not even spare women and children.
At the beginning of her speech, Hasina paid rich tributes to the Father of the Nation and other martyrs of the August 15 carnage as well as four slain national leaders. A minute’s silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memory of Bangabandhu and other martyrs.
She also said attempts on her life were made time and again after her return from exile.
Referring to the recent dengue outbreak in the country, the prime minister said apart from the administration, party workers have been involved in drives to manage the outbreak.
She also referred to the recent rumor about the standard of milk, and said it was shown baseless in proper test overseas. “We should remain cautious about such propaganda, to keep the progress of Bangladesh unhindered,” Hasina said.
Veteran journalist Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury also addressed the programme, presided over by UK AL President Sultan Mahmud Sharif.
Among others, AL presidium member and former commerce minister Muhammad Faruk Khan and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam were present. UK AL Secretary Syed Sajidur Rahman conducted the event.