Tag Archives: Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh, Belarus Relation – Opens New Friendship corridor

Bangladesh Belarus  RelationBangladesh and Belarus Monday signed a dozen of deals and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in a number of areas, including business and investment, agriculture, education, and science and technology, reports BSS.
Representatives of the two countries signed seven deals and five MoUs in presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Belarus’ visiting PM Mikhail Myasnikovich.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Belarus counterpart Mikhail Myasnikovich witnessed the signing of the pacts, which are expected to boost better understanding in all fields and open a new chapter of bilateral exports.
Earlier, two prime ministers held bilateral talks at the Prime Minister’s Office.
At the meeting Sheikh Hasina sought expanded market of Bangladeshi products in Belarus.
“Our Prime Minister urged Belarus to import an increased volume of readymade garments, jute products, frozen food, ceramics and other exportables during her talks with the Belarus premier,” a senior foreign ministry official familiar with the talks said.
The Belarus side assured Bangladesh of extending her hands to ensure expanded entry of Bangladeshi products to Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia founded in 2010 as the three countries opted for economic integration removing all customs borders.
Sheikh Hasina, he said, noted with satisfaction that despite the past two decades of diplomatic ties with the former Soviet Union state, Dhaka- Minsk relations grew rapidly in the past 10 months with several engagements and exchanges.
The official said the Belarus premier told Sheikh Hasina that his country was interested in long-term cooperation with Bangladesh as it already proposed installation of plant of its world reputed Minsk Tractor Factory in Bangladesh and finalised several other investment projects at private sector level.
The two premiers, he said, expected the two countries will be able to give a tangible shape the proposals for enhanced cooperation for mutual benefit ahead of the first meeting of Bangladesh-Belarus Joint Commission, set for next year in Minsk.
The meeting held a day after Myasnikovich arrived in Dhaka on a three-day tour yielded a dozen of bilateral pacts, including seven agreements and five MoUs in areas ranging between investment promotion to military technical cooperation as well as collaborations in the fields of agriculture, education, science and technology and think tanks.
Earlier :Belarus offers $15mn for Bangladesh’s apparel industry development

Belarus has offered Bangladesh $15 million as long-term assistance for the development of readymade garment sector.
Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail V Myasnikovich made the offer during a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the UN Headquarters on Wednesday morning (local time).

Hasina is in New York to attend the 69th UN General Assembly.

Later, briefing reporters, her Media Advisor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said the prime minister had emphasised boosting cooperation in investment and trade.

He said Myasnikovich congratulated Hasina on her election as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister for the third time.

He said the Belarusian prime minister showed interest in exporting potash to Bangladesh and import pharmaceutical and agricultural products.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Hasina along with other heads of state and government attended a reception hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Apart from joining a luncheon hosted by the UN secretary-general, the prime minister is scheduled to attend a high-level meeting of the ‘Global Education First Initiative’ (GEFI) at the UN headquarters later in the day.

She will address the UNGA on Saturday.

Hasina will also meet her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that day on the sidelines of the UNGA.

She will spend two days in the United Kingdom before returning home on Oct 2.

Sheikh Hasina lays foundation stone for Dhaka Metro rail project

Sheikh-Hasina-Bangladesh's first ever Metro rail projectSheikh-Hasina-Bangladesh's first ever Metro rail projectBangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday laid the foundation stone for the country’s first-ever Metro rail project.

The ceremony took place at Gazipur on the outskirts of capital Dhaka on Thursday evening, Xinhua reported.

In February this year, Bangladesh signed a loan deal with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to finance the 20.1-km Metro rail service project scheduled to be implemented in three phases by 2022.

Of the total cost of 220 billion taka (around $2.8 billion), JICA, a governmental agency of Japan, will provide about 165 billion taka, while the Bangladesh Government will provide the rest.

It is apprehended that traffic jams would worsen in the future if steps are not taken immediately to ease the situation.
As per a feasibility study, 30,000 passengers will be transported per hour on the BRT route.

The construction work on the 20.1-km metro rail will begin in 2016 and complete in 2021 involving Tk 22,000 crore.

The project will start from Uttara Third Phase and end at city’s Motijheel. Japan is providing around Tk 16,500 crore, while the government will provide the rest of the amount.

Bangladesh and Japan have already signed a deal to construct the metro rail, which will help transport 60,000 passengers an hour.

The Prime Minister also inaugurated the newly constructed 20-km four-lane Nabinagar-DEPZ-Chandra road and the construction work on the 70-km Gazipur-Chandra-Elenga four-lane project involving Tk 2,788 crore.

Hasina also inaugurated Sheikh Mujib Safari Park, a fire service and civil defence station at Mawna Chourasta, a upazila complex building in Sreepur, a 52-megawatt dual fuel power plant in sadar upazila, Shaheed Ahsanullah Master Stadium at Tongi and a 250-bed hospital. -

An historic phone call of Hasina – Khaleda

politics
Bangladesh rivals end 10-year silence – but fail to find peace
Three-day general strike begins with wave of violence after talks fail to halt stand-off




An historic phone call – believed to be the first direct conversation between two of Bangladesh’s fiercest rival political leaders for a decade – has failed to resolve a bitter stand-off, and instead the country has been rocked by a fresh wave of violence.

Sheikh Hasina had telephoned opposition leader Khaelda Zia on Saturday and asked her to cancel the strike – a major step for the two “battling begums” (begum is an honorific for a Muslim woman of rank). The pair dominate Bangladeshi politics and their animosity dates back decades.

During the 40-minute conversation, part of which was broadcast on television, Ms Hasina asked her rival to come for dinner with her party colleagues instead of going ahead with the strike. But Ms Zia declined, saying she would only talk when the strike was over.

Fifteen Bangladeshis died and hundreds were injured as a fresh wave of political violence swept the country.

The republic is currently gripped by a three-day strike aimed at forcing the government to quit.

Sheikh Hasina proposes all-party interim govt amid political tension

General-electionsGeneral elections in Bangladesh must be held within 90 days after the expiration of the Parliament. Since the ninth parliament expires on October 25, 2013, Article 123 of the Constitution of Bangladesh requires general elections to be held between the dates October 26, 2013 and January 24, 2014 if the parliament is dissolved before its term expires

Bowing to mounting pressure, Premier Sheikh Hasina today proposed the formation of an all-party interim government to oversee Bangladesh’s next general election amidst uncertainty over the poll process due to differences between the ruling Awami League and opposition parties. “My proposal to the opposition party – we can constitute an all-party government during the election time,” she said during a televised address to the nation. I am requesting the opposition leader (Khaleda Zia) to respond to my proposal. (I hope) she will honour my request and give value to our good wishes,” Hasina said in her 22-minute speech.

Hasina’s call came against the backdrop of a political impasse over the system for conducting the upcoming polls. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has asked its activists and supporters to rally in the capital on October 25 to mount pressure on the government to accept its demand for polls under a non-party caretaker government.

In her address, Hasina urged the BNP to propose names of its parliamentarians for the cabinet of the election-time interim government. “Our aim is to hold a free, fair and peaceful election. We want to hold the next general election with all political parties represented in the parliament,” she said. “Hence, I propose the opposition party give names of parliament members for the interim government.” Zia has said the BNP will not take part in the polls unless the now scrapped system of caretaker government is restored through a constitutional amendment. She said her party believes elections under the incumbent government will not be fair.

The Awami League, on the other hand, said the elections must be held under the incumbent government in line with the newly amended constitution. Experts said the premier’s proposal today was unlikely to require any fresh amendment to the constitution. No immediate reaction was available from the BNP to the premier’s proposal, which came a week ahead of the scheduled rally of the main opposition party.

The constitution states that the election must be held within 90 days of the end of the tenure of the parliament. The term of the current parliament will end on October 25 and polls must be held by January 25, 2014.

We’ll win fight against poverty: PM

fight against poverty-sheikh hasinaJAMALPUR, October 10, 2013 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today firmly said that none will be able to destroy the country and “we’ll win the fight against poverty.”

She urged the people to elect Awami League once again to complete the unfinished task of the present government.

BNP in collusion with anti-liberation forces, if come to power, would push the country to a complete devastation. They would stop all development works we have taken for welfare of the people and free the war criminals halting their trial, she said.

To woo the people and take their votes in next general election, BNP leader is spreading falsehood using religion, Sheikh Hasina said adding, “BNP leader is not only a fan of killers, she is also a habitual liar.”

The Prime Minister said this in a public meeting organized by Awami League at Islampur Health Institute Ground here after inauguration and foundation laying of a number of development projects.

Food Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, Land Minister Rezaul Karim Heera, AL Organizing Secretary Ahmed Hossain, local MP Alhaj Faridul Haque Khan and PM’s APS Saifuzzaman Shikhor, addressed the meeting among others. President of Upazila unit of Awami League Ziaul Haque Zia was in the chair.

The Prime Minister said, BNP-Jamaat want to destroy the country as they did not want its independence. “They want to destroy the country to frustrate freedom.”

She Hasina said, Awami League believes in serving people. Whenever the party came to power, it embarked on massive development programmes.

Pointing out the development projects undertaken by Awami League during 1996-2001 period, the Prime Minister said, BNP- Jamaat alliance stopped many of those incomplete projects including community clinics.

In future, they will do the same thing if they can come to power, she said adding country’s food production will go down, militancy will reemerge and social benefits of poor people will be curtailed if BNP comes to power.

The Prime Minister said, BNP leader is out to protect the war criminals. People should remain careful about this, she said. Terrorism, corruption and killing would come back with return of BNP to power, she said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, her government is making efforts for development of every village and every part of the country. She said, the rail link of Jamalpur with Dhaka and northern parts of the country was established by Awami League government.

She pledged that a medical college will be established in Jamalpur if Awami League returns to power.

Sheikh Hasina said, the present government is giving stipend and scholarship to poor students to help them continue their education. Around 1.19 crore students are receiving stipends apart from free textbooks, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said, her government has made mobile phones available for common people, which now is one of the important accompaniment of their life. Youths are being given training on information and communication technology helping them find their own job.

All unions of the country are now connected with information super highway. From the house they now can get their examination result, apply for job and communicate with relatives abroad, she said.

“BNP closed the community clinics introduced by Awami League in its last spell saying that those clinics would only benefit Awami League politically. But by doing this BNP had deprived the whole nation of healthcare services,” she said.

Criticizing Begum Zia for her frequent Singapore visit, the Prime Minister said, she goes there to protect the money her son smuggled illegally. But Singapore government has already reimbursed a portion of the pubic money, she said.

Expressing her firm determination to complete the trial of the war criminals, she said, Begum Zia would not be able to save them from trial though she likes them. “She also tried to free the killers of Bangabandhu, but could not.”

“Trial of the persons who are responsible for genocide, arson and dishonouring millions of sisters and mothers, would never be able to escape trial,” she said urging people to give vote for Awami League to complete the trial process. The Prime Minister said, now the BNP leader has lent her support to Hefajat-e-Islami and their demand for closing female education and women’s employment.

“They have burnt thousands of copies of the Quran, set fire inside the national mosque and destroyed the sanctity of the mosque. In the name of serving religion, they established a reign of terror in the capital on May 5 last.” Those religious bigots, the Prime Minister said, are now spreading falsehood. “Whant kind of development Begum Zia wants taking those elements of Jamaat and Hefajat on board?” she asked.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has received South South Awards 2013

South South Awards 2013Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has received the ‘South-South Award’ on the first day of her New York visit for her government’s achievement in alleviating poverty in Bangladesh.

Francis Lorenzo, President of International Organisation for South South, handed over the award to Hasina on Monday night local time.

Heads of states of several countries and a number of diplomats attended the programme at the organisation’s Manhattan headquarters.

Hasina said the award was a great achievement for Bangladesh and dedicated the award to its people.

“We have been working to glorify Bangladesh in the international arena and will continue to do so,” she said adding her party, the Awami League, is devoted to the welfare of the people

The South-South Awards is a televised gala recognizing exceptional contributions from Heads of State and Government, as well as leaders from the private sector and civil society, to the implementation of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development around the world. The Awards ceremony – now celebrating its third year – is held annually in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly. This premier event features high-level government officials, senior United Nations staff, leaders from the business community and civil society, and world class entertainers coming together to celebrate the achievements of countries from the Global South.

Hasina_South South AwardsThe theme of this year’s ceremony is “Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development.” The Awards will honor governments, organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to technology and innovation that successfully address sustainable development goals while looking forward to a future built on strong South-South cooperation.

The 2013 South-South Awards is co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN), the International Organization for South-South Cooperation (IOSSC), and South-South News.

Bangladesh Power Development : India begins power transmission to Bangladesh

sonia gandhi -Sheikh Hasina
(BPDB and NVVN inked a deal on February 28 last year to import 250 MW of electricity, following up on an MoU signed during Sheikh Hasina’s 2010 visit to New Delhi.)

DHAKA 27-09: India started transmission of electricity to Bangladesh to test a newly built line under an agreement to export 250 Megawatt of power to its energy-starved neighbour.

“The flow of power began on a test-run basis ahead of the formal launch of the transmission system on October 5,” said a power division spokesman.

Bangladesh, on Friday, began importing electricity from India on an experimental basis, adding 50 MW to the national grid.

The import, which took roughly three years to materialise after it was decided in 2010, was part of the country’s plan to help ease the crisis.

The test-supply of 50 MW electricity was transmitted on Friday morning through an electrical grid inter-connection point in Bheramara, Kushtia, opposite to West Bengal of India. A 125-km transmission line has been constructed between Baharampur of India and Bheramara in Bangladesh. Of this, 40 km fell inside Bangladesh.

Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB), which is the co-ordinator of the import process, said by the end of October around 250MW of power would be imported into Bangladesh. Another 250MW was expected to be imported from India’s private sector by November this year.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2010 regarding import of 500 MW of power from India. Officials here said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would go to Bheramara and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh would formally inaugurate the power export to Bangladesh via video conference from Delhi on October 5. Authorities said half of this power would be coming from the Indian Government electricity quota, and the rest from the open market. Experts believe the total amount of electricity, which will be imported under a 35-year contract, will greatly improve the country’s power situation, which is now being tackled through costly but short-term rental power plants.

CONTROVERSY

The government, meanwhile, rejected the allegations that the coal-based power plant, being constructed under an India-Bangladesh joint venture project in Rampal, near the Sundarbans, would adversely affect the world’s largest mangrove forest. The National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, and Power-Port, a body of the left-leaning parties and environmentalist groups, have already vowed to resist the planned inauguration of the Rampal Power Plant scheduled on October 22.

The committee members will end their five-day cross-country long march to the Sundarbans on Saturday in an effort to stall the project. The pro-left participants in the long march alleged that the coal-based project would harm bio-diversity and ruin the world heritage. However, the government has been claiming that the environment would not be harmed, as there would be enough checks to prevent pollution.

The Rampal Thermal Power Plant will be located within 14 km of the Sundarbans.

Keywords: Rampal Thermal Power Plant, power import, India-Bangladesh

At UN Prime Minister of Bangladesh spotlights country’s development progress

prime-minister-Sheikh-Hasin

27 September 2013 – In the last four and a half years, 50 million people have joined the ranks of the middle class while the average gross domestic product (GDP) rate has remained at 6.4 per cent, Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh told the General Assembly today.

According to Prime Minister Hasina, “Bangladesh is often named as a ‘Model of Economic Development’ and the ‘Standard Bearer of South Asia’,” and Bangladesh aims to become a middle income country.


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Using state of the art digital technology, said the Prime Minister, the country is already on track to meet several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the anti-poverty targets set in 2000 covering a broad range of development indicators.

Rural women are getting health care services from digitally-connected community health clinics, while advanced cell phone technologies are also providing services to over 100 million subscribers, she said.

On the education front, girls will be provided free education up to the higher secondary level along with free textbooks and monthly stipends, she added. According to the Prime Minister, “real national development is achievable only through education.”

She told delegations how Bangladesh is possibly the only nation today with women occupying the position of Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader.

However, despite progress in some spheres, Bangladesh faces a calamitous future due to global warming and sea level rise. A one degree Celsius increase in temperature would lead to a metre rise of sea levels, submerging a fifth of the country and 30 million “climate migrants” would be created, she warned.

Bangladesh is the first among South Asian nations to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Anti Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, she said, and the country will be first to sign the Arms Trade Treaty.

The Prime Minister reminded delegations that as Bangladesh is a least developed country, held back by resource constraints, donors need to make good on providing official development assistance of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP).

Election related confusion mounting in Bangladesh

confusion mountingPolitical crisis and confusion galore are mounting in Bangladesh over the next general election, which must be completed between October 25, 2013 and January 24, 2014. Before the fiver-year term of the present Awami League led coalition government is over by December 2013, it has to pave way for handing over the political power to a new regime elected by the millions of voters in the populous country. With the 15th amendment of Bangladesh Constitution in June 2011, the ruling Sheikh Hasina Wajed government is sitting pretty to conduct the polls to form the next Parliament. Prior to the amendment, it was necessary for the government in Dhaka to resign and form a non-party interim government to run the national election. The Prime Minister Hasina has made it clear in many occasions that she would not go for a caretaker government and declared that the forthcoming 10th national election would be held under her Awami League led incumbent government as the Constitutional amendment had already scrapped the provision for a caretaker or interim government. For the ruling Awami League coalition, which has altogether 262 Members in the National Parliament, the Constitutional amendment was an easier exercise. However, the Khaleda Zia led Bangladesh Nationalist Party maintains its demand that the government should bring a non-party neutral government bill in the ongoing session of Parliament beginning on September 12 to settle the issue relating to the polls. Begum Zia argues that the present Parliament must be dissolved before the general election. Terming the Bangladesh Election Commission as a puppet of the government and worthless, the BNP chief Khaleda Zia argued that the nation can not expect a fair election under the present electoral statutory body of Bangladesh. The debate gained a different dimension, while Nobel winning Bangladeshi economist Dr Muhammad Yunus voiced for a non-party caretaker government to conduct the polls such that the process gets credibility and be acceptable to everyone. “There’s no scope to have a free, fair and peaceful election without a non-party neutral government,” asserted Prof Yunus recently. The statement of Prof Yunus, who was removed by the Hasina government as the Managing Director of internationally recognized Grameen Bank in March 2011, has been taken as a major political stand since he initiated for a political party six years back. Soon after the Nobel award conferred jointly on him and his creation Grameen Bank in 2006, Prof Yunus decided to form a political party named Nagarik Shakti (People’s Power), but later he abandoned the idea. Most of the political observers based in Dhaka believe that the rivalry between him and the present Prime Minister Hasina started since then. As the point of views of Prof Yunus on the impartial election-time government matches with the opposition party, the ruling Awami League leaders have left no stone unturned to criticize and condemn the lone Nobel awadree of Bangladesh. Understanding the crisis in Bangladesh is deepening, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tried to mediate for a dialogue between the two leading political coalitions led by Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The UN Secretary-General called both the important ladies Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia on August 23 over phone and discussed about the upcoming national elections. Responding to the queries of Ban Ki-moon, the Prime Minister had reportedly assured of a free and credible election in Bangladesh to form the next Parliament. She also added that the election would be held as per the provisions of the Constitution. Similarly, Khaleda Zia had informed the UN Secretary-General that her party expects an independent Election Commission to conduct the general election under a caretaker government. Otherwise, the BNP would not take part in the national polls under the Awami League led coalition government. However the opposition leader agreed to Ban Ki-moon that there was no alternative to dialogue to resolve the present political crisis in Bangladesh. Voices of concern were also expressed by various countries and international agencies like the United States of America, United Kingdom, European Union etc on the Bangladesh political situation and every one urged the local political party leadership to go for dialogues and find out a compromised way to proceed for the general election. Though the Awami League government claims success in curbing terrorism and corruption in the country, the voters had shown rejection to the party in the last corporation polls in five major cities of Bangladesh. If the results of elections held this year to five city corporations (of Gazipur, Rajshahi, Barisal, Sylhet and Khulna), it can be observed that the opposition parties have recorded sweeping victories. The loss incurred by the ruling party in the polls for the corporations is the recent indication that the outcome of the forthcoming general election may not go in favour of Awami League and also Hasina Wajed. Ms Hasina now smells an international conspiracy that might try ‘to block Awami League’s return to power for another term’. Addressing a party meeting recently in Dhaka, Hasina Wajed asserted that some people may not like that her government had achieved much success and many international elements would not like to see Bangladesh developing in a faster way than ever before under her leadership.

Sheikh Hasina warns about threat to democracy in Bangladesh

The ruling Awami League headed by Hasina pushed through a constitutional amendment scrapping the caretaker government.

Sheikh Hasina
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has warned that the democratic process in the country might be stalled for the next 10 years if an “unconstitutional government” comes to power due to the current political crisis over the electoral system.

“The country will not see any election in the coming ten years if any unconstitutional body comes to power this time,” Hasina said while speaking at an Iftar gathering yesterday.

In an apparent reference to past interventions by the army, she said, “If such a government comes (into power), democracy will be no longer in the country.” Her comments come in the light of widespread concern about the fate of next general elections scheduled for early 2014 due to sharp differences between the main ruling and opposition party over restoration of the non-party caretaker government system for election oversight.

The ruling Awami League headed by Hasina pushed through a constitutional amendment scrapping the caretaker government.

This move came after a Supreme Court judgement that said installation of a non-elected government for election oversight was contrary to the constructional spirit.

However, Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has protested the decision, arguing that elections under the party government would not be fair and credible.

Already, violent street protests over the issue have left scores of people dead.

A state of emergency was imposed in 2006 that led to a two-year-long rule under a military-backed caretaker government. During that time, several top politicians including Hasina and Zia had been imprisoned.

Hasina had earlier invited the opposition parties to a dialogue to resolve the issue but with both sides refusing to budge from their stand, the uncertainty continues.

Bangladesh has a history of political turmoil and military coups. An army-backed regime was installed in Bangladesh in 2006 and a democratic government led by Awami League took power only in 2008, when the party won a three-fourths majority in the 300-seat Parliament.

Sheikh Hasina Void : Caretaker government system !!! Respecting democracy – rights of the common people

Rejecting to restore the caretaker government system, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in New York on Wednesday night that all the doors to the caretaker system have been closed.

“People are the source of power…we all need to be aware that no one can play with the rights of the common people. They don’t want to return to the 1/11 situation again,” she said while addressing a civic reception at Hotel Marriot Marquis.

Bangladesh Awami League, US chapter, arranged the reception in honor of the prime minister, who is now in New York to attend the 67th UN General Assembly.

The prime minister said the government through the 15th amendment to the constitution has made it clear that no one will be able to grab state power, and if anyone does so, he or she will have to face the music of law.

“We must strengthen democracy and take it forward for the welfare of the country and its people,” she said.

Recalling various incidents that occurred during the previous caretaker governments, Hasina said BNP with the controversial February 15, 1996 election had formed the government at midnight with so many culprits, including the killers of Bangabandhu.

The last caretaker government, she said, showed that they can stay in power for an indefinite period. “And in this case, one world reputed Bangladeshi lawyer had helped them a lot saying there is no time binding for a caretaker government.”

Mentioning the bitter experiences of the past caretaker government, Hasina said the Fakhruddin-led government had wanted to cling to power. “They hatched various conspiracies to hang onto power, but they were compelled to hold election under local and international pressures.”

Claiming that her government has ensured the basic rights of people, including their franchise, Sheikh Hasina said now it is up to people to choose either the path of development or militancy in the next general election.

“I don’t have anything to say now…we’ve ensured the fundamental and voting rights of people. Now it is their decision to choose their path,” she told her audience.

Hasina said that now people have to decide whether they want militancy, terrorism, ‘Hawa Bhaban’ and ‘Khoab Bhaban’ or the path of development.

The prime minister said the present government has proved that it is possible to hold free, fair and credible elections under a party government.

She mentioned that her government, in its current tenure, has so far held some 6000 elections at different levels across the country. “There has been no question against the elections,” she pointed out.

The prime minister said if her party is voted to power again, the government would undertake the 7th five-year plan by implementing the sixth five-year plan.

“We want to build Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021,” she said.

Reiterating her government’s firm stance against terrorism and militancy, Sheikh Hasina said the government would never tolerate these social menaces.

“We want to build Bangladesh a peaceful nation in South Asia. We also want to build a non-communal and democratic Bangladesh being imbued with the spirit of the War of Liberation,” she said.

Listing various successes and achievements of the present government in different fields, including agriculture, education, health, women empowerment, food security and social safety net, Sheikh Hasina said people get better services and their comforts are restored when Awami League comes to power.

She said her government, since assuming of office in 2009, has been working tirelessly to mitigate various problems of the country, including the acute electricity crisis.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been able to maintain over six percent of GDP growth in the last three years despite global economic meltdown, while the country’s foreign currency reserve has increased to 11 billion US dollars from six billion in 2009.

Hasina said there had been transactions of over Tk 42,000 crore during the Eid-ul-Fitr shopping this time, which is a bright example of enhancement of the living standard of people.

Recalling the contributions of the expatriate Bangladeshis to the country’s development, the prime minister said the economy remains on the right track, thanks to the immense contributions of the expatriates.

“The expatriates are the main driving force of the country and they advanced the country a lot economically,” she said.

Chaired by AL, US chapter President Dr Siddiqur Rahman, the function was addressed, among others, by Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, eminent IT expert Sajib Wazed Joy, US congresswoman Caroline Malony, Jatiya Party US unit President Jashimuddin Chowdhury, JSD US chapter president Abdul Mosabbir and New York City AL General Secretary Shaheen Alam.

At the function, Unesco director general Irina Bukova unveiled the cover of a book titled ‘Philosophy of Statesman Sheikh Hasina’.

Bangladesh Awami Jubo League published the bilingual book on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Sheikh Hasina.

In Bangladesh, Hillary Clinton urges political reconciliation

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives in Dhaka, she urges feuding factions to settle their differences. She’s also expected to encourage greater U.S.-Bangladeshi cooperation.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday urged Bangladesh’s squabbling political factions to resolve their differences as she arrived in the country, which has been beset by weeks of general strikes, demonstrations and violence since an opposition politician disappeared last month.

The government and the opposition declared a truce for Clinton’s visit. Each side blames the other for the disappearance of Elias Ali, one of as many as 22 people, mostly politicians, who have gone missing this year, according to human rights groups.

“We strongly urge all sides to settle differences through constructive political dialogue,” Clinton said at a news conference in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.

Chronic infighting in the impoverished Muslim-majority country with 160 million people has been a huge drag on much-needed development efforts driven by the country’s ambition to be a middle-income nation by 2021, analysts say.

In her meeting with Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed, Clinton is expected to raise the issue of Ali’s disappearance, which human rights groups have decried.

“We’re calling for a full independent investigation, including looking into the government’s own security forces,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia researcher with Human Rights Watch. “There is suspicion this could perhaps be security forces under pressure to reduce extrajudicial killings.”

Clinton is also expected to encourage further cooperation between the United States and Bangladesh on counter-terrorism, environmental, health, food security and educational issues.

Washington views Bangladesh as a prospective voice for moderation and leadership among Muslim-majority nations and pledged in January to extend nearly $1 billion in aid to the country over the next five years.

Clinton had hoped to sign a long-discussed trade and investment deal that would safeguard large investments by U.S. energy giants such as Chevron and ConocoPhillips. But analysts say disagreements over labor standards and anti-corruption safeguards demanded by the U.S. side prevented a deal in time.

“It was expected there would be a signing, but there are still problems,” said Zaid Bakht, research director with the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies based in Dhaka.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said her government would ask the U.S. to eliminate its 15% import tariff on the Bangladeshi garment industry. Bangladesh exported $5.1 billion worth of goods, mostly apparel, to the U.S. last year and imported $676 million worth in return.

Clinton is also expected to meet with Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of pioneering Grameen Bank, which focuses on giving very small loans to large numbers of poor people.

Yunus, a friend of the Clintons, was ousted from the bank last year by the government over what some analysts say was a fear he that was becoming too popular, representing a potential political threat. The government denied this, saying he was past his mandatory retirement age.