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Sunday, May 24, 2015, Jaishtha 10, 1422 BS, Shaban 4, 1436 Hijr

PM Hasina: Symbol of straightforward steps, steadfast decisions
Anis Ahmed
Published : Sunday, 24 May, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 103
Lately, critics of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have been also showering accolades on her for what they call her straightforward steps and steadfast decisions, mostly taken using by her own insight, instinct and without waiting for anybody's advice.
These have proven to be right moves at the right times, yielding good results if not as desired in some cases. Yet, Sheikh Hasina is one stateswoman who dares to break out of hesitation, avoids delay and most importantly uses her best intelligence, acumen and understanding of a prevailing situation and the need of the hour.
She has done so in running her party Awami League and the government that includes many questionable characters who the Prime Minister has  always kept under her scanner and twisted and bent as may be required.  Barring some unnecessary and controversial comments they made here and there, these members of the cabinet have not been able to do much harm to
governance or people.,
Hasina's straightforwardness has been evidenced in facing challenges often thrown by her opponents, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former PM Khaleda Zia, with "diligence, firmness but at the same time showing no worries."  She has cruised the troubled boat named Bangladesh quite well through the turbulent seas - in the past and in recent times also.
Hasina did not wait for others while holding the 2014 parliament election sans most opposition parties (something her critics predicted would be assailed by Bangladesh's foreign friends but it wasn't the case).
Under Sheikh Hasina's leadership Bangladesh now has many friends across the world, including those who previously had been somewhat jittery about Bangladesh. She has maintained good relations with major economies and powerful nations such as China, Japan, the United States and Britain and as well as ties with regional countries and neighbours.
It is because of Hasina's top class diplomacy that India has ratified the LBA after four decades of delay./ The Indian PM Narendra Modi is likely coming to Dhaka next month to remove the other major knot in India-Bangladesh relations -- the Teesta Water Sharing treaty, expected to be signed during the visit.
The ties largely depend on a 'give and take' approach with a win-win status for both. India gives Bangladesh what it needs and Bangladesh offers India its best such as land and water transits and port facilities. Sheikh Hasina's government realizes it very well that there is no free lunch and so it applied the long professed rule in warming up ties with the neighbours, especially India.
Sheikh Hasina has taken stringent decisions for structural and economic development of the country. She vied for sustaining GDP growth above six percent in recent years and now is expecting it at 7 percent, exports grew steadily defying all global and domestic challenges and overall Bangladesh is looking up on all fronts.
Last week, she said Bangladesh will not only manufacture weapons for its armed forces but would like to export them in the future. Meanwhile, the government is looking to increase manifold drug exports to the United States.
These are all positive steps taken without waiting for vetting by others. Bangladesh is proceeding steadily on course in satisfying its total energy needs and harnessing oil, gas and other resources from the seas, especially after Hasina's government won the rights on vast tracts of sea limits in the Bay of Bengal from India and Myanmar through international litigation.
By achieving these Bangladesh did not lose anything nor angered anyone of its neighbours. These are all examples of good leadership and excellent statesmanship.
The last parliament election was indeed a controversial one given that BNP and several other parties boycotted it and also the turn up of voters was poor. But did Hasina have anything else in hand but to go ahead with the vote? If she didn't, Bangladesh would have slumped into a constitutional void and undemocratic forces would be encouraged to step in. Hasina's pragmatism and foresight have saved the country from that.
Now her prime duty is to consolidate democracy and make it participatory. For that the responsibility equally lies with the opposition parties who must put aside violence and vandalism in the name of doing politics and instead cooperate with the government to help restore political peace and set the stage for progress.
The government is trying hard to address the ongoing issue of trafficking or illegal migration from Bangladesh to south-east Asian countries. Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar took on extremely dangerous travel across the Bay of Bengal in rickety boats trying to reach Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for jobs but most of them ended up being held hostage, dying of exhaustion and hunger or being refused landing on foreign shores. Many had to collect money from their stretched families to pay ransom to the abductors who also run a slave trade with men, women and children from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina's government has risen up to the challenges and has been working out solutions with stakeholders and countries showing concern for the trafficked people, many of them afloat in the seas for weeks or months without food and water.
On the other hand, the BNP has remained virtually mum on the horrendous issue and kept its politics low pitched down on trying to regain power by hook or by crook. Sheikh Hasina has clearly outwitted Khaleda Zia and her allies, including the radical jamaat-e-Islami party.
Hasina has a few other insights, such as attracting more investment while reducing imports and raising exports. Investment will lead to industrialization of the country and create employment so that unskilled Bangladeshis need not go abroad at risk of their own lives. They will be employed in the country, work for development of their homeland and stay safe and happily with their kith and kin.
This is Sheikh Hasina's dream and of course the dream of most of the people in Bangladesh - except for those who want to see Bangladesh as a doomed country. We wish that Hasina succeeds in realizing her dream.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].