“The United Kingdom has stood by Bangladesh for the past 50 years through good times and bad times and will continue to remain its trusted friend and partner in the next 50 years and beyond”, said UK FCDO Minister for South and Central Asia Lord Ahmed at a Bangladesh High Commission, London Commemorative event on Friday to celebrate Bangladesh-UK 50 years of diplomatic relations.
He said: “As we look ahead, Bangladesh and the UK will continue to work together on shared priorities, including trade, climate, defence and Commonwealth.”
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, MP, graced the event as the chief guest while Lord Ahmed was the guest of honour.
High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK and Ireland Saida Muna Tasneem presided the hybrid event, participated by Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh and UK’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh Rushanara Ali, MP, President of the Confederation of British Industry Lord Karan Bilimoria, Patron of Conservative Friend of India and Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Indo-pacific Lord Rami Range, Director for Global Network of the British Council Charlie Walker, Development Director of the UK FCDO Judith Herbertson, Senior Fellow for South Asia of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Rahul Roy Chaudhury, former British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert W Gibson, organiser of Bangladesh Liberation War Overseas Freedom Movement in the UK Sultan Mahmud Sharif and eminent person from British-Bangladeshi Community Syed Sajidur Rahman Faruk.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, MP, said: “The UK has steadfastly stood by Bangladesh since our War of Liberation in 1971 to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s relentless efforts to leapfrog Bangladesh into Asia’s fastest-growing economy.”
Highlighting the historic background of Bangladesh-UK relations and its geopolitical and diplomatic significance, he said: Bangabandhu’s official meeting at the 10 Downing Street on 8 January followed by the UK’s recognition on 4 February in 1972 was a major geopolitical development during the height of the cold war, which encouraged other Western nations to recognise Bangladesh.
High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem said: “UK assumes a special place and appreciation in the foreign policy and future climate aspiration and sustainable development of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”
Referring to the bilateral meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Boris Johnson in November last year, the envoy said: “The High Commission will continue to work with the UK government to realise the shared visions and priorities set by the two leaders to advance bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, climate change, defence and security and diaspora engagement during the next 50 years.”
The High Commissioner further commented: “Over the past 50 years, Bangladesh’s geostrategic importance in the Bay of Bengal and in the Indian Ocean, complemented by its growing economic prosperity, makes it a deserving candidate to become global Britain’s trusted friend and ally for the region’s sustained peace, security and prosperity.
President of the Confederation of British Industry and Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh Lord Karan Bilimoria recalled the fallen Indian soldiers during Bangladesh’s liberation war and paid a tribute to three generals of the Indian army who commanded Indian armed forces during Bangladesh’s liberation war. He said General Manekshaw, General Jacob and his father Karan Faridoon Bilimoria made leadership contributions to the 1971 War of Liberation.
Lord Rami Ranger, Patron of Conservative Friend of India and Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Indo-pacific, recalled the role of India in Britain’s early recognition of Bangladesh and called upon Bangladesh government to create a holocaust museum for the victims of Bengali genocide during the 1971 War of Liberation.
British-Bangladeshi Rushanara Ali, MP, and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh and UK’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh recalled: “My father and his generation risked their lives and sacrificed to mobilise the support of British government to recognise Bangladesh, and families who are victims of 1971 war atrocities continue to suffer within our community till date. Ms Ali, who is also Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rohingya, reaffirmed the UK government’s determination to support Bangladesh in its efforts to ensure safe and dignified return of Rohingyas.
The programme began with the national anthems of Bangladesh and the UK, presented by a group British-Bangladeshi Children of Suralay Music School in cooperation with the Newham Music Department.
A documentary on Bangladesh-UK friendship, produced by the Bangladesh High Commission in London, highlighting Bangabandhu’s historic visits to the UK as well as high-level visits, was shown. High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem and UK Minister Lord Ahmed simultaneously cut two cakes to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.