Hasina: A leader with courage, vision, humanity
2017 in flashback
Despite many challenges, the just ended year 2017 was very special for Bangladesh, especially for piles of honour and praises showered on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from all over the world. These are just not decorating the leader with laurels but recognition of her hard work and achievements in several fields both local and international.
Around end of 2017 Sheikh Hasina was proclaimed "Mother of Humanity" by the British media which was instantly endorsed by rest of the world. She got this extraordinary title for allowing nearly one million Muslim Rohingya refugees to take shelter in Bangladesh fleeing from barbarous military persecution in the Buddhist majority Myanmar. Sheikh Hasina earned support of the world leaders by saying that her government would give shelter and feed
the huge number of refugees purely on humanitarian reasons - despite her country is overcrowded and still impoverished - until they can go back to their own country (Myanmar). She opened up the Bangladesh border to the streams of Rohingyas while many countries, big or small, rather decided to shut them off for refugees. Her decision was a rare example of humanity and reflected the Bangladesh PM's deep concern for welfare of the homeless, wretched people coming into her country as refugees. They have all been sheltered in makeshift camps, given food, medicine and access to humanitarian care.
Bangladesh negotiated a deal with Myanmar government for repatriating the Rohingya refugees. The deal was made possible due to Sheikh Hasina's personal initiative and contacts with world leaders and her government's undaunted diplomacy when many in Bangladesh and in the international community were skeptical about solution of the Rohingya crisis. It was a tempting idea of diplomatic solution in view of the existing circumstances but Sheikh Hasina said she would settle the issue peacefully with Myanmar government, though it would be a painful task. She never back steps and that has made her one of the world's top leaders from a small country and a role model of leadership.
Domestically, she strongly pursued a policy of "zero tolerance" against the Islamist militants who terrorized the country through links with international terror groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. The home-grown militants in Bangladesh posed a massive threat to the country and people until the Zero Tolerance policy was framed and implemented. In the last half of 2017 militancy and terrorism came substantially under control with the law enforcing agencies strictly following the directives of the Prime Minister. This success also adds to the credit of Sheikh Hasina who has asked the law enforcers to chase and grab the militants down to the farthest corner of the country. The drive is still on.
Sheikh Hasina has been more than eight years in power facing a tough-nut opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist allies who together vowed to dislodge her from power and make sure the incumbent does not retain power for long. But several local and international studies have found that about 70 percent of Bangladesh people want to vote for Hasina's Awami League in the coming Parliamentary election slated to be held around end of 2018. While struggling to strengthen her rule and make her mark more visible as a top politician and uncompromising, brave and visionary leader she has pushed Bangladesh on the road to development by significantly reducing the country's endemic poverty, improving relations with neighbouring countries and sending a message of peace and harmony through the volatile time as the world faced endless controversies, confrontations and war cries from the nuclear powered countries.
Bangladesh's economy has made significant progress during Sheikh Hasina's rule. Bangladesh is now close to achieving middle income country status with vision stretched to become a developed country by 2041.
Sheikh Hasina, who glorified Bangladesh in the comity of nations, has coolly survived a series of deadly attempts on her life perpetrated by her rivals but did not resort to retaliation. Rather she let bids to kill her to be dealt with by the law of the country. Under pressing situations she never lost control on anything but handled them with tolerance and patience.
Sheikh Hasina stunned her friends and foes after the World Bank had pulled back from its promised loan to Bangladesh to build the country's longest bridge on the Padma River. Sheikh Hasina asserted once the bridge plan has been adopted it will be built with Bangladesh's own funding. And construction of the bridge is now going on smoothly. People now believe, Sheikh Hasina means business and sticks to what she pledges. The WB should now feel ashamed as its imaginary charge of graft in the bridge project has been proved baseless and influenced by alleged enemies of Bangladesh.
In the year 2017, besides "Mother of Humanity" PM Sheikh Hasina received a series of other accolades. These include, Honest Head of Government, Lady of Dhaka, New Star of the East, Charismatic Leader, Leader of the World, Pillar of Women's Rights, Messenger of Global Peace, Conscience of World Humanity and Lighthouse of Global Humanity.
Thus, she proved her envious leadership qualities and the nation is proud of her. People wish she continues her journey with courage, vision and humanity in 2018.