Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Bangladesh always believes in peaceful coexistence with all neighbours, but it is also ever ready to protect its sovereignty from any aggressive attack.
"Our foreign policy drives with the Father of the Nation's key policy 'friendship to all, malice to none'. Although Bangladesh believes in peaceful coexistence with all the neighbouring countries, we’re ever ready for and strongly committed to protecting the country's sovereignty from any aggressive attack," she said on Saturday.
The prime minister came up with the statement in her televised address on the occasion of the Armed Forces Day 2020. Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and other private television channels and radios also broadcast the 13-minute speech on Saturday evening, report UNB and BSS.
Bangladesh celebrated the Armed Forces Day of this year discarding the traditional festivity in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting Sheikh Hasina, who holds the charge of the portfolio of defence ministry, to deliver her address using the virtual platform.
Sheikh Hasina urged the members of armed forces to earn enhanced professional expertise to contribute more to nation-building campaign being imbued with patriotic spirit as it emerged through the process of 1971 Liberation War.
“The armed forces that emerged on a smaller scale in the process of the Liberation War today became a gigantic institution,” the premier said.
“I pray to most merciful Allah — let the members of the armed forces contribute more to the country’s defence being empowered with professional efficiency,” she said.
In her speech, Sheikh Hasina listed elaborately the role of the armed forces in different difficult situations in the country and troubled regions abroad as a major stakeholder of UN blue helmet missions over the years and its current response in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
To face the Covid-19 pandemic, she said, a good number of members of the Armed Forces had been infected and some of them died.
The premier reviewed the gradual development and modernisation and development of army, navy and air force till date since 1971, particularly recalling the formulation of national Defence Policy by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“We enriched all branches of the armed forces with modern military hardware and equipment in the past one decade,” she said.
In the last decade, Hasina mentioned, the government has developed every section of the Armed Forces with modern weapons and equipment.
"I would like to firmly say it the way the armed forces have been mordenised during the tenure of our government, it never happened in the past," she said.
The premier said her government framed the ‘Forces Goal-2030’ keeping consistency with the 1974 Defence Policy.
"In line with the goal the armed forces were organisationally restructured, imparted to improved training and equipped with specialised defence hardware," she said.
Expressing her firm optimism, she said it would be possible to build a ‘Sonar Bangla” envisioned by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman through keeping the wheel of the country’s economy running by maintaining the health rules amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve to take our economic activities forward by following the health guidelines … we’ll build a non-communal ‘Sonar Bangla (golden Bengal) free from hunger, poverty and illiteracy Insha Allah to materialise the dream of the Father of the Nation.”
Sheikh Hasina noted that every year 21st November is being observed as ‘Armed Force Day’ to celebrate the victory in the great Liberation War of the Bangali Nation.
“When in 1971 the fearless armed forces (army, navy, air force) launched a joint offensive movement against the Pakistani occupation forces, the enemy forces were forced to surrender and then the final victory came on December16.”
Turning to Bangladesh’s socio-economic development, she said, "When many developed and developing countries are struggling with negative growth due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our growth increased to 5.24 per cent."
Hasina said the country's remittance inflow, agricultural production and export have made a turnaround as its foreign currency reserve exceeded USD 41 billion.
"We’ve to move forward with our economic activities maintaining health rules. Inshallah, we’ll establish hunger- poverty- and illiteracy-free secular Golden Bengal as dreamt by the Father of the Nation," she said.