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India, Bangladesh discuss boosting defence ties


Lieutenant General Waker-Uz-Zaman was in India as the head of a 15-member Bangladeshi armed forces to attend the 4th Annual Defence Dialogue and 2nd Tri-Services Staff Talks….reports Asian Lite News

As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries, Principal Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division of Bangladesh Lieutenant General Waker-Uz-Zaman, met with Indian

and Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The official Twitter account of the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of the MoD (Army), tweeted about it, saying, “Lieutenant General Waker-Uz-Zaman, Principal Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division, #Bangladesh called on General Manoj Pande #COAS and discussed ways to enhance the bilateral #DefenceCooperation between both Nations. #IndiaBangladeshFriendship”.

“Lt Gen Waker-Uz-Zaman, Principal Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division, #Bangladesh on an official visit to India called on Adm R Hari Kumar, #CNS. Reaffirmed commitment to strengthening multi-disciplinary bilateral engagements & shared responsibilities towards #maritimesecurity,” the Indian Navy tweeted.

Lieutenant General Waker-Uz-Zaman was in India as the head of a 15-member Bangladeshi armed forces to attend the 4th Annual Defence Dialogue and 2nd Tri-Services Staff Talks.

India and Bangladesh, meanwhile, reiterated their commitment to strengthening bilateral military ties at the 2nd India-Bangladesh Tri-services Staff Talks (TSST) held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Husain Muhammad Rahaman, Director General Operation and Plan Directorate, Armed Force Division from Bangladesh, and Brigadier General Vivek Narang, Deputy Assistant Chief of Integrated Staff, IDC(A), HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), co-chaired the meeting.

“The discussions focused on the ongoing and new initiatives taken under the ambit of the existing bilateral defence cooperation mechanism of all three services and further strengthened the bilateral defence engagements,” said a press release issued by the Ministry of Defence.

Before arriving in New Delhi, the delegation visited various defence industries in Bangalore.

“They witnessed the capabilities of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Big Bang Boom Solutions before departing for Delhi,” the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh said on Twitter.

The TSST is a platform created to strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries via routine discussions at the strategic and operational levels between HQ IDS and Bangladesh Armed Forces Division.

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Conspiracy being hatched to oust me: Hasina

The Prime Minister further said that the people of Bangladesh would have to suffer if the evil forces grab the power, which has been proven 21 years ago…reports Sumi Khan

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that conspiracy to oust her from power has been intensified.

The premier made the remark while the newly elected board members of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society paid a courtesy call on her at Hasina’s official residence Gono Bhaban in the capital.

Adding that she knows the conspirators who are plotting against the Awami League (AL) government, she said, “I know who are involved in this conspiracy and what they are doing. I know them very well.”

The Prime Minister further said that the people of Bangladesh would have to suffer if the evil forces grab the power, which has been proven 21 years ago.

“It was a big struggle for a daughter, who had lost most of the family members all of a sudden, on the night of 15 August, 1975. And it was a big defeat of the evil forces, that Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman would take the helm of the party when it was in disarray after the murder of its supreme leader,” the Prime Minister added.

Hasina also said, the evil forces, behind the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of her family members, are against the progress and peaceful Bangladesh led by a member of Bangabandhu’s family. “Conspiracies were hatched before the national elections in 2014 and 2018. Plotters are becoming active again to oust me.”

“The killers were indemnified by BNP founder, the military dictator Ziaur Rahman. They were rehabilitated through awarding jobs at foreign missions. Even the post-75 governments paved ways for the killers to run politics and rehabilitated them socially,” she asserted.

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Bangla Economy On Fast Track

The Sri Lanka crisis won’t replicate in Bangladesh because the country is armed with a forex reserve of over $40 billion. To protect the poor, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promulgated several schemes to provide food for the poor and pensions for the old and widows. To spread the light of education, textbooks and study materials are distributed free of cost to primary to secondary school students on the first day of the academic year. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman freed the Bengali nation from the shackles of subjugation. Bangabandhu’s Sonar Bangla dream will be fulfilled by Sheikh Hasina … writes Matiar Chowdhury

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman freed the Bengali nation from the shackles of subjugation. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is working tirelessly to build Bangabandhu’s dream of Sonar Bangla. Bangabandhu spent most of his life in prison for the sake of the country and the nation, he wanted an independent sovereign non-communal Bangladesh. So in 1971, the people of the country responded to his call and jumped into the liberation war. Nine months of bloody war, the sacrifice of three million martyrs and the freedom gained.

Bangabandhu dreamed of a prosperous Golden Bengal. When he was freed from Pakistani prison and took charge of running the country, the coffers of the country were empty. Pakistanis drain the country till its last drop. During 1972-1975, Sheikh Mujib took the country forward a long way. But the forces of evil have another agenda to derail the country’s progress. On August 15, 1975, the father of the nation was killed along with his family. The progress of the country was stopped.

Anti-independence activists want to take the country back to Pakistani ideology. National slogans were changed, and communal groups emerged. It has been a long 21 years of trying to bring the country back to the Pakistani way of thinking. The Ziaur Rahman Indemnity Ordinance stopped the trial of Bangabandhu’s murder in Jarikere, and the national flag of the country was handed over to the anti-independence Rajakars by repatriation. Bangabandhu’s murderers were rewarded with jobs in various embassies. Prosecution of war criminals was stopped.

In 1975, Sheikh Hasina survived because she was out of the country. God has kept Sheikh Hasina alive to fulfil the dream of the father of the nation. When she returned to the country, there was hope in the minds of the common people. Attempts have been made to kill her 99 times since she returned to the country. She miraculously survived each time. In 2004, during the then Jamaat-BNP four-party coalition government, a grenade attack was carried out on her with the government’s direct support.

Militants appeared in the country with the help of the government during the four-party coalition government. Afghan returnee militants formed numerous terror organisations in the country, such as Ansarullah Bangla Team, and JMB.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with her son Sajeeb Wazed and daughter Saima Wazed, taking selfie at the recently built Padma Bridge. (Photo Awami League)

Since 2008, after Sheikh Hasina assumed power, the face of the country has changed. First, she took the initiative of de-militancy, her policy of zero tolerance to suppress militancy. The development of the country started happening. The country’s GDP continues to grow. While developing countries are struggling, Bangladesh’s GDP is 6.7%. Its diplomatic relations with every country in the world are strengthened. When she overcame all obstacles and took up development projects and mega projects one after the other, the opposition continued to spread negative stories.

Currently, the foreign exchange reserves are more than $40 billion. The government has launched several welfare schemes. There are special schemes to provide food for the poor; pensions for widows and old age people. To spread the light of education, books are distributed free of cost from primary to secondary school on the first day of the year. So that no one remains homeless and sheltered, paved houses with land are introduced across the country. This year two lakh families were given houses in the country. Women are enjoying equal rights in every sector under this special project of empowering women. The country continues to develop even during Covid-19.

Sheikh Hasina has ensured the freedom of the press. She guaranteed 100% electricity in the country. When Pakistan and Sri Lanka withered under the pressure of global economic conditions, Bangladesh ensure normalcy at gas stations. The foreign trade broke records.

Pic credits @MoPEMR

Bangladesh’s exports increased by more than 34% to $52.08 billion in the fiscal year 2021–2022 (July 2021-June 2022). The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), which is part of the Ministry of Commerce, revealed that Bangladesh had the greatest export earnings for the fiscal year 2021–2022, with strong income growth in the last months. “In the 2021-22 fiscal year, exports reached $52,082.66 million, setting a new record,” said the EPB.

 The nation’s entire export earnings in the previous fiscal year exceeded the objective of $43.50 billion with June’s export earnings of $4.91 billion, an increase of 37.19% over the same month a year prior. In the fiscal year 2020–21 (July 2020–June 2021), Bangladesh’s export revenue was estimated at $38.76 billion. As usual, the demand for ready-made clothing was mostly responsible for the growth in the 2021–22 fiscal year.

When the country is witnessing Sheikh Hasina overcoming all the obstacles and launching new development programs after another, some anti-national elements are engaged in misinformation. Bangladeshis are mature enough to ignore these negative campaigns against one of the most powerful politicians in the subcontinent. Bangladesh is back on track to becoming an Asian giant and nothing can stop that progress.

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Hasina rules out forex woes

The Prime Minister said that despite having enough foreign exchange reserves, the government will have to take steps to grow more crops in order to save the foreign currencies…reports Asian Lite News

remarks came amid local media reports that Bangladesh has sent a formal request for loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in efforts to combat the ongoing financial volatility.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her country would be able to meet 6-9 months of import expenditures with the existing foreign currency reserves.

“We have money in our hands to import food grains and others (essential items) for at least three months during any crisis. We’ll be able to import food for six to nine months, not for only three months, with the reserve that we have now,” Xinhua news agency quoted the premier as saying on Wednesday while addressing a virtual event.

The Prime Minister said that despite having enough foreign exchange reserves, the government will have to take steps to grow more crops in order to save the foreign currencies and keep the forex reserves for any emergency.

Her remarks came amid local media reports that Bangladesh has sent a formal request for loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in efforts to combat the ongoing financial volatility.

The exchange rate of the US dollar in the country’s kerb market hit a record of 112 Bangladeshi takas on Tuesday.

Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves on July 13 fell to below $40 billion for the first time in two years, due largely to higher import bills and the taka’s weakness driven by the dollar’s broad surge in recent months.

The country’s forex reserves surpassed the $48 billion mark in August last year, the highest ever in history, due to a slowdown in imports and rising remittance and export earnings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its bid to boost shrinking forex reserves, the Bangladesh Bank (BB) in recent months has taken various measures including relaxing rules to woo more remittances from millions of Bangladeshi nationals living and working abroad.

The central bank has said the main objective of the latest half-year monetary policy is to “pursue a cautious policy stance with a tightening bias to contain inflation and exchange rate pressures while supporting the economic recovery process”.

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Fresh row between Dhaka, Islamabad over distorted image of B’desh flag

Pakistan High Commission uploaded a merged image of Bangladesh and Pakistan flags as the cover photo in their FB page…reports Asian Lite News

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka to remove the distorted image of Bangladesh flag from its Facebook page.

The Ministry’s directive on Saturday came after the High Commission uploaded a merged image of Bangladesh and Pakistan flags as the cover photo of their official Facebook page last week.

Since then, the incident drew widespread criticism on the social media platform Facebook.

Later, the PHigh Commission closed the comments option of the post.

Groups like the ‘Bangladesh Muktijuddho Mancha’ and the �Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee’ strongly condemned and protested against the High Commission for humiliating the national flag of Bangladesh.

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The Golden Era

Bangladesh has successfully graduated from a low-income country; crossed the final stage for transition to developing countries from the list of least developed countries, writes Priyajit Debsarkar

In the year 2022, Bangladesh has celebrated her 51st Independence Day since it broke away from the idea of the two nation failed theory. The creation of both East and West Pakistan in 1947, started to show cracks as early as in the 1950s when imposition of Urdu language on the maximum majority of Bengali speakers sowed the first seeds of dissent.

Sheikh Mujubir Rahman, later given the title of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) along with the Mukti Bahini fought a gruesome 9 month old bloody battle to create what is today’s Bangladesh. The barbaric murderous regime of the West Pakistani establishment predominantly which was Punjabi in nature had left no stone unturned in order to wipe out the very existence of the Bengali cultural identity. However, they failed miserably as the two nation theory was buried in the bottom of the bay of bengal forever on December 16, 1971.

Under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh has been passing through an incredible golden era since 2009. Bangladesh has become a confluence of peace, progress, and harmony. The success story on development is being written one after the other. Today, Bangladesh is setting example for other countries to emulate for exemplary development.

In the last 13 years, the average GDP growth has been 6.6 per cent, above 7 per cent in FY2016-2017, FY2017-2018, and FY2018-2019 and exceeded 8 per cent in FY2018-2019. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the GDP growth in FY2020-2021 is at a remarkable 6.94 per cent.

The average growth rate achieved during the Sixth Five-Year Plan period was 6.3 percent and that increased to 7.6 per cent during the Seventh Five-Year Plan period. Eighth Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), the Perspective Plan (2021-2041) and the Delta Plan-2100 has already been formulated and their implementation is underway.

The size of GDP has exceeded BD Tk. 39 lakh crore from BD Tk. 4 lakh 72 thousand 338 crore. Per capita income has increased from US$ 543 in FY2005-2006 to US$ 2,824. Inflation is well within 5 to 6 per cent. The poverty rate has declined from 41.5 per cent to 20.5 percent, and the extreme poverty rate has fallen to 10.5 per cent. Foreign exchange reserves touched a record US$ 48 billion (on August 23, 2021) [Now it is around US$40 billion. The size of the budget has increased by eleven times compared to that of FY2005-2006 and the allocation for the social safety net programmes has grown from BD Tk. 2 thousand 505 crore to around BD Tk. 1 lakh crore.

The power generation capacity has increased from 4,900 MW to 25,566 MW. Under the programme, Sheikh Hasina’s initiative – ‘electricity in every house’, 100 per cent of the population of Bangladesh has been brought under the coverage of electricity.

With the final settlement of legal disputes over maritime boundaries with Myanmar and India, Bangladesh has acquired ownership of 1,18,813 square kilometres in its territorial waters, including exclusive economic zones and continental shelves, in the Bay of Bengal. To take advantage of this open right to extract the blue waters of the sea and its resources, the strategy of Blue Economy has been adopted in the Perspective Plan 2041.

Bangladesh has successfully graduated from a low-income country; crossed the final stage for transition to developing countries from the list of least developed countries.

The commitment made in the ‘Vision 2021’ to increase food production, alleviate food shortages and make the country self-sufficient in food production has already been achieved thanks to various effective measures taken by the government.

The dream of Digital Bangladesh has become a reality. With the setting up of Union Digital Centres in 4,550 Union Councils, laying of optical fibres at the bottom of the deep sea. The launching of Bangabandhu satellite in space, the launching of mobile banking activities. The launch of the Bangabandhu-1 satellite has made it easier to provide internet services. About 17 crore mobile phones are currently in use in the country.

The maternity mortality rate has reduced from 348 per lakh live birth in 2005 to 165 currently and the under-five mortality rate has come down from 68 in 2005 to 28 in 2019 per thousand live births. The presence of skilled health workers during childbirth has increased from 15.6 per cent in 2004 to 59 percent in 2019.

Bangladesh has begun implementation of a large number of mega-projects is in the country. The Padma Bridge has been inaugurated and is expected to give a huge boost to the economy.

The Metro Rail, Karnafuli Tunnel, and elevated expressway from Dhaka Airport to Kutubkhali near Jatrabari will be opened soon. Completion of several other major projects, including PayraSeaport, Matarbari Deep Seaport, Rampal Power Station will add a new dimension to the progress of the country.

It is to be noted here that unlike the Sri Lankan debt trap and a corrupt regime which has spiralled the downfall of the country. Bangladesh is on a much secure footing and obviously the post pandemic shock waves will be felt however the country has resilience to absorb and overcome in due course.

Bangladesh is now the 41st largest economy in the world. According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), a British economic research organisation, Bangladesh will become the 25th largest economy in the world by 2035 if economic growth continues.

According to the ERD (entry relationships), the government repaid US$1.91 billion against foreign debts in the 2021 FY. In FY2020, Bangladesh paid $1.73 billion against its MLTs, followed by $1.59 billion in FY2019 and $1.41 billion in FY2018. As of June 2021, Bangladesh’s outstanding foreign loans stood at $50.87 billion, while there is $48 billion more in the pipeline. The ERD data shows that the overall debt repayment would stand at $2.5 in the FY22, $2.7 billion in FY23, $3.28 billion in FY24 and $4.02 billion in FY25.

Bangladesh will have to deal with maximum pressure in FY27, FY28 and FY29 as its debt repayments will reach at least $2.5 billion during the three fiscal years. Such an upward trend will continue till FY33.

The government has succeeded in combating terrorism. In this regard, the government has adopted a zero-tolerance policy. The rate of sabotage in the country has reduced a lot thanks to proper initiatives taken by the law enforcing agencies. The foreign policy introduced by Bangabandhu- “Friendship towards all, malice towards none”- has also been followed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladesh is perhaps one of the only shining stars in the region which has endured so much in the past and has limitless potential going forward. Obviously there are deep rooted challenges (some like the global energy crisis due to the Ukraine war). Fracture lines are also present which has to be handled in an appropriate fashion in order to take Bangladesh to the next level in her trajectory of growth, development and prosperity (the golden dream of Bangabandhu).

(Priyajit Debsarkar is an Independent geo political analyst with special interest in the political history of the Indian Subcontinent. Views are personal)

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Indian Army Chief calls on B’desh PM Hasina

Indian Army Chief also visited and interacted with the members of Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support and Operation Training…reports SUMI KHAN

Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande has called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence in Dhaka.

He met the Bangladesh Prime Minister on Tuesday.

He visited Defence Service Command & Staff College, Mirpur and delivered a lecture on ‘Security Perspective to student officers and faculty of Armed Forces War Course.

Earlier, he delivered a lecture on India’s security perspective at the Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, for students of the Armed Forces War Course and officers.

He also visited and interacted with the members of Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support and Operation Training, a premier institute of Bangladesh training peacekeepers for UN peace operations.

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Bangladesh ready for white ball series against Zimbabwe

Preparing for the T20 World Cup and striving for 2023 Cricket World Cup qualification, Zimbabwe will certainly be battle-hardened, also taking on India and Australia in the next two months after Bangladesh’s visit…reports Asian Lite News

Bangladesh will look to carry on from where they had left off on the West Indies tour when they take on Zimbabwe in a limited-overs series beginning in Harare on from July 30.

While Bangladesh lost both the Tests by big margins and also suffered a T20I series defeat against the West Indies, the tourists clean-swept the One-day International component of the tour and are currently in Zimbabwe for a white-ball series that includes three T20Is and an equal number of one-dayers.

Zimbabwe meanwhile are buoyant following the qualification for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, winning the all-important Qualifier B semifinal over Papua New Guinea to secure they place in the showpiece event later this year. Zimbabwe then capped off the campaign with a win over the Netherlands in the tournament final.

Sikandar Raza claimed the ‘Player of the Tournament’ honours at the qualifier, though the entire playing group, led by skipper Craig Ervine, contributed to the success. Sean Williams made an impressive return with the bat, while a number of players contributed in a strong bowling effort, spearheaded by quick Blessing Muzarabani.

Preparing for the T20 World Cup and striving for 2023 Cricket World Cup qualification, Zimbabwe will certainly be battle-hardened, also taking on India and Australia in the next two months after Bangladesh’s visit.

India return after a six-year gap, with their three ODIs part of the ongoing Cricket World Cup Super League. Zimbabwe’s matches against Australia in August and September are part of the same competition, where they lie in 12th position (35 points) with three wins and a no-result, according to ICC.

For now though, Zimbabwe’s focus is firmly on Bangladesh, not only in terms of preparation, but to maintain strong rankings in both formats.

Zimbabwe sit 12th on the ICC T20I Rankings and are on the threshold of potential automatic qualification for the 2024 T20 World Cup in the US, and in 15th in the ODI format, behind fellow Super League contenders Netherlands.

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Indian Army Chief visits Bangladesh

This is the first foreign visit of General Manoj Pande after taking over as Indian Army Chief, as per a statement issued by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka….reports Asian Lite News

Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande arrived in Dhaka on Monday morning on a four-day visit to further strengthen the defence ties between the two nations.

General Manoj Pande is visiting Dhaka at the invitation of General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, chief of Army Staff, Bangladesh.

This is the first foreign visit of General Manoj Pande after taking over as Indian Army Chief, as per a statement issued by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.

The visit of General Manoj Pande will further strengthen the close and fraternal ties existing between the armed forces of the two countries, it added.

The Indian Army Chief is accompanied by his spouse Archana Pande and a three-member delegation.

He is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Security Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister, service chiefs of Bangladesh Army, Navy, Air Force, PSO Armed Forces Division of Bangladesh and meet other senior officers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, it said.

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Hindu temple attacked by Islamist mob again in Bangladesh

A house belonging to a Hindu family was also set afire. The violence took place after the Friday prayers….reports Sumi Khan

A mob organised by Islamists in Bangladesh’s Narail district has allegedly attacked a Hindu temple and also vandalized several houses belonging to the minority community, the police said on Saturday.

The violence in Digholia village took place on Friday evening over a young Hindu boy’s social media post.

A house belonging to a Hindu family was also set afire. The violence took place after the Friday prayers.

Police had fired warning shots to disperse the Islamists, said police inspector Haran Chandra Paul.

Paul said the Hindu boy allegedly posted something on Facebook that angered the Muslims.

Narail Superintendent of Police Prabir Kumar Roy said the law enforcers were working to keep the situation under control.

“We’re investigating the incident. Those responsible for the violence will face action. The situation is normal for now,” he said.

No one has been arrested so far.

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