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Bangabandhu's bold leadership brightened Bangladesh's image

By Sajjad Hossain Sabuj

DHAKA, Aug 14, 2017 (BSS)- Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman demonstrated his tremendous farsightedness and boldness in adopting Bangladesh's foreign policy that brightened the country's image in the outside world.

Immediately after returning home on January 10 in 1972, Bangabandhu
requested the then Indian prime minister late Indira Gandhi to take back their troops from Bangladesh at the fastest possible time.

"Responding to the request, the Indian government withdrew their soldiers from Bangladesh's soil by March 12 in 1972 ... such an incident was rare in the world and it had been possible for Bangabandhu's bold and independent-minded leadership," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the Jatiya Sangsad on July 12.

The prime minister said Bangabandhu signed the historic "Land Boundary Agreement (LBA)" with the then Indian premier Indira Gandhi on May 16 in 1974 to settle the 65-year-old land boundary dispute between the two next-door

Bangladesh quickly ratified the agreement in that year but India failed to do so. Indian parliament, however, unanimously passed the LBA on May 7 in 2015, 41 years after its ratification by Bangladesh, ending the 65-year ordeal of the enclave people of both countries

Bangabandhu enacted "The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act" to establish Bangladesh's sovereign rights in the sea. The law was framed in 1974 when there was no such a law in most of the countries in the world.

Nearly eight years after the enactment of "The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act" by Bangabandhu, the United Nations (UN) framed "The UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS)" in 1982.

Due to Bangabandhu's strong diplomatic efforts, Bangladesh earned
recognition of 116 important countries.

Besides, Bangladesh got the membership of the UN, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and some other international bodies.

The Asian Peace Conference was held in Dhaka on May 23 in 1973 under the auspices of World Peace Council where Bangabandhu was conferred "Joliot Curie Award".

According to a book named "Etihasher Mohanayak Bangabandhu" published by Bangladesh Awami League, the goal of Bangabandhu's foreign policy was to
maintain peaceful coexistence, establish friendly ties with all and follow non-aligned approach.

Whenever he addressed the international forums like the UN, NAM,
Commonwealth or the OIC, the Father of the Nation declared in strong voice his non-aligned foreign policy.

Bangabandhu delivered his historic speech in Bangla at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 25 in 1974 where he highlighted the main characteristics of his foreign policy.

He had said that from the beginning Bangladesh undertook the non-aligned foreign policy on the basis of a policy -- "maintaining peaceful coexistence and friendship with all".

Bangabandhu in his speech said: "Only the peaceful environment could make us able to enjoy the fruits of the hard-earned national independence and gather our all strength and resources to fight poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and unemployment ... from this concept, our commitment towards peace was born."

Former ambassador Muhammad Zamir said Bangabandhu had deep interest in foreign policy. "He (Bangabandhu) used to inspire the foreign ministry in taking necessary initiatives for inclusion of Bangladesh in important international bodies alongside realizing recognition of other countries," Zamir said.

The ambassador said Bangabandhu had put emphasis on maintaining brotherly and neighbourly relations with other countries and believed in non-aligned policy and peaceful coexistence, mutual cooperation and not interference in other's internal matter.

"Bangabandhu's this bold leadership brightened Bangladesh's image further in the outside world," Zamir said.