Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday asked the Bangladesh Navy to remain prepared to safeguard the country’s independence and sovereignty alongside protecting its marine resources as the government had been working to tap potentiality of the blue economy.
‘We always want not only to protect sea areas, but also to use marine resources for our economical development. So, we have to work on it. We have already got the concept paper of the blue economy and working on it,’ she said while commissioning five ships including three warships through a video conference from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka.
The PM said that her government had attached priority to extracting the huge marine resources and utilising those to give the country’s economy a strong footing as it had a huge potentiality, adding, ‘Our only aim is to use the marine resources in the country’s development and we are working on it.’
Referring to the vast resources in Bangladesh’s maritime areas, the PM said that the navy would have to play a major role in protecting those.
Sheikh Hasina said that her government wanted to strengthen and modernise the navy further to safeguard the country’s independence and sovereignty alongside the sea and its resources.
Mentioning that Bangladesh believes in the foreign policy ‘Friendship to all, malice to none’ adopted by the country’s founding president, she said, ‘We do not want war with anyone. But, we want to achieve the capability to counter if Bangladesh is attacked by any external force.’
After commissioning the ships she said, ‘I firmly believe that the newly commissioned ships will further strengthen the capability of Bangladesh Navy to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and help enhance professional efficiency of its personnel.’
Of the ships, two frigates equipped with modern war weapons and one corvette were exported from China while two modern survey ships were made by the Khulna Shipyard, she added.
‘Building ships at our own yard will help boost our confidence,’ she said, hoping that Bangladesh could achieve the capability of building ships for others in the days to come.
With the newly commissioned three warships, Bangladesh Navy has so far 21 warships.
On behalf of the prime minister, chief of naval staff Admiral M Shaheen Iqbal formally handed over the ‘commissioning forman (decree)’ of the ships to the respective captains through a ceremony from the Naval Berth-1, Chattogram.
An audio-visual presentation was screened on the five ships that included two frigates – BNS Umar Farooq and BNS Abu Ubaidah, one corvette – BNS Prottasha – and two survey ships – BNS Darshak and BNS Tallashi.
The prime minister said that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman first took the initiative of establishing legal rights of Bangladesh on its sea areas soon after the independence, but the post-1975 governments did nothing to this end.
‘After assuming office in 1996, we first took initiatives to this end and finally established the rights on Bangladesh’s sea areas winning legal battles after coming to power second time,’ she added.
Briefly highlighting measures taken by her government, the prime minister said that they had been working on making infrastructural development, collecting warships and enhancing operational capacity of the existing warships to make the navy time-befitting.
‘We have added new generation submarines, warships, maritime crafts, helicopters and a specialized force to the Bangladesh Navy and thus we are trying to make it a three-dimensional force to cope with the challenges of the 21st century,’ she continued.
The prime minister said that they formulated ‘Forces Goal 2030’ in line with the ‘Defence Policy’ adopted by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1974.
She continued that they initiated faster implementation of it to make the armed forces time-befitting aiming to enhance its capacity to safeguard the country from internal and external threats.
The PM thanked the navy personnel as they are extending their helping hands in easing sufferings of the distressed people during the crisis arising out of the coronavirus outbreak or any natural disaster and thus earned trust of the people.
Referring to the huge surge of the COVID-19 in Europe, she said that many European countries including the UK have been forced to restore the lockdown system.
Sheikh Hasina called upon the countrymen to stay alert about the fresh wave of the lethal virus and follow the health guidelines and wear face masks in gatherings to remain protected.
The prime minister said that they had taken timely measures to keep running the country’s economy as well as protect the lives and livelihoods of the people from the lethal virus.
‘We want to protect the people of our country from the virus. So, everyone has to remain alert and follow the health guidelines,’ she said.
The PM once again vowed to build a developed and prosperous country free from poverty and hunger envisioned by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Referring to formulation of the ‘Delta Plan-2100’, she said that her government had adopted the plan so that the country’s development does not face any hindrance in future and the people from generation to generation get a better and beautiful life.
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