Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday reiterated her determination to advance the country further by freeing it from terrorism, extremism and corruption.
‘We want to take the country forward more and free it from the hands of terrorism, extremism and graft,’ she said at a lunch hosted on the occasion of the winter exercise of Bangladesh Army in Swarna Dweep of Noakhali .
Addressing the ceremony as the chief guest, Sheikh Hasina said her government wanted the people to remain in peace and safety and get a better and beautiful life, adding, ‘We’re working to achieve the goal.’
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina quoted some portions of the speech of Sheikh Mujib at the first passing out parade of the military academy.
The prime minister mentioned that in the speech Sheikh Mujib had said, ‘We’ve brought independence in exchange for blood. This independence will certainly exist Insha Allah, none can destroy it. However, the independence will go in vain, if you can’t bring smiles on the faces of the distressed people. For this, it’s my appeal to you to remain on the honest way.’
Sheikh Hasina, also the elder daughter of Sheikh Mujib, said Sheikh Mujib had made the comments to the armed forces.
‘But these words are not only applicable to the armed forces, these are also applicable to the entire nation,’ she said.
The 33 Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army hosted the lunch, where army chief General Aziz Ahmed delivered the welcome address.
Earlier, the prime minister witnessed Bangladesh Army’s winter training exercise named ‘Operation Bijoy Gourab’.
The prime minister said her government was working to build modern, developed and well-equipped armed forces in the country so that they could move by keeping pace with the modern world.
‘A great task of protecting our independence and sovereignty has been vested in the armed forces. So, we’ve taken steps for modernising the armed forces and making them well-equipped in arms and ammunition and training so they can move in the world keeping their head high,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina pointed out that the members of Bangladesh’s armed forces were working in various UN missions to maintain peace in different trouble-torn areas.
‘Naturally they have to work with armed forces of other countries. So, we want they don’t lag behind other armed forces and they will be befitting to keep pace with the world on all sides, including training and arms and ammunition,’ she said.
She went on saying, ‘To attain the target, we’ve taken many initiatives and implemented those … we’re working whatever possible (for modernising and development of the armed forces) despite our resource constraints.’
The prime minister said the armed forces were making massive contributions to the country’s development alongside safeguarding its independence and sovereignty.
‘Our armed forces are also playing a commendable role in the socioeconomic development in various trouble-torn countries side by side with maintaining peace there,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government immediately after assuming office took steps to build modern technology-based armed forces. ‘Besides we’re building Digital Bangladesh and we want no organisation to trail in this regard,’ she said.
Putting emphasis on imparting more training to the members of the armed forces, the prime minister said training was inevitable for any force.
She said her government had allocated Swarna Dweep, formerly known as ‘Jahaizzarchar’ of Noakhali, so that the army could stage exercise and take training throughout the year.
The prime minister said the name of Swarna Deep was Jahaizzarchar, which was once under the occupation of the pirates. Various incidents like killings and clashes frequently took place there at that time, she said.
‘At that time I told the army that I want to give a big char land to you and make arrangements for its development and exercise. Later, we handed over the area to the army and also changed its name,’ she said and thanked as well as congratulated all concerned of the army, including the 33 and 66 divisions, to turn the island truly ‘Swarna Dweep’.
Sheikh Hasina said her government was doing whatever necessary for the development of the island and more development would be made there. ‘We’ll make arrangements there so that the time of the training could be longer,’ she said.
Highlighting Bangladesh’s development in various sectors, the prime minister said, ‘We want Bangladesh to move ahead further.’
‘We attained self-reliance enough economically. We increased our budget seven times. We’re implementing 90 per cent development works by our own funding … we don’t need to beg from others,’ she said.
The prime minister said, ‘We’re a victorious nation as we secured victory through the Liberation War … we’ll stand on our own feet and we think in this way.’
Sheikh Hasina when Sheikh Mujib liberated the country, over 82 per cent people lived under the poverty level. ‘We’ve brought down the poverty rate to 20 per cent and we hope that we could cut the rate by at least 1.5 or 2 per cent further in the Mujib Borsho,’ she said.
The prime minister said her government had taken various programmes for poverty alleviation and the army had adequate contributions to implementing the programmes.
Sheikh Hasina said her government wanted to build Bangladesh as an educated nation. ‘To achieve the target, we’re distributing books among the students free of cost and providing scholarships and stipends among 2 crore and 3 lakh students,’ she said.
The prime minister said, ‘We’re working keeping in mind that any part of the society doesn’t lag behind and our all development works reach to the rural people.’
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh was advancing and her government was making this development as it was moving following the ideology of Sheikh Mujib.
‘We want to keep up this advancement and we’re taking every step to achieve the goal,’ she said.
The prime minister congratulated members of the army, navy and air force for presenting the exercise on Thursday.
The 66 Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army arranged the exercise under the overall management of 33 Infantry Division.
The prime minister witnessed the winter exercise as the chief guest at the offshore island of Swarna Dweep in Noakhali’s Hatia upazila on Thursday morning.
The navy and air force units also joined the hour-long exercise as part of demonstration of coordinated operations of the three armed forces.
Modern tanks, APCs, MiG fighter planes, MI helicopters, canons and other war armaments of the three armed forces took part in the exercise where a mock war was staged between the Bangladesh Armed Forces and the ‘enemy force’.
The drill ended with the victory of the Bangladesh Armed Forces.
Brigade Commander of 222 Infantry Brigade Group Brigadier General Mahbub informed the victory of the armed forces against the enemy force to the prime minister.
Sheikh Hasina later congratulated the Bangladesh Armed Forces on their victory against the ‘enemy force’.
Ministers, parliament members, the chiefs of the three armed services, secretaries to the PM and high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
Earlier on her arrival at the island, the prime minister was received by army chief General Aziz Ahmed, General Officer of Commanding of 66 Infantry Division Major General Nazrul Islam and GOC of 33 Infantry Division Major General Ahmed Tabrej Shams Chowdhury.
Later, Bangladesh Army’s quarter master general Lt General Md Shamsul Haque and engineer chief Major General Ibn Fazal Shaekhuzzaman briefed the prime minister about the development of the island.
At that time, the prime minister gave various directives for uplifting the island.
The prime minister also inaugurated three multipurpose cyclone shelters, the planned afforestation project and one megawatt solar power plant constructed and implemented by the army at the island.
She distributed winter clothes among the people of the island. The 33 Infantry Division arranged this programme.