Bangla Mirror Desk:
British Ministers and senior parliament members paid profound homage to Bangladesh’s Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s outstanding leadership in strengthening inclusive democracy, economic progress, climate initiatives and regional security at the 51st Anniversary of Independence and National Day Reception, hosted by High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem on Monday at the Great Hall of London’s prestigious venue Methodist Church Convention Centre at Westminster, next to the British Parliament.
Chairman of the Conservative Party and Cabinet Minister without portfolio Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP attended the reception as the Chief Guest while British Foreign and Development Office (FCDO) Minister for South and Central Asia, North Africa, United Nations and the Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmad was the Guest of Honour.
UK Minister for Defence Jeremy Quin MP and Minister for London and Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets Paul Scully MP attended and spoke on the occasion as special guests.
Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP, Sam Tarry MP representing the Labour Party Leader and member of Scottish Parliament Foysol Choudhury MSP also spoke on the occasion.
Apart from the above speakers, a number of cross-party MPs along with Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, International Maritime Organisation Secretary-General Kitack Lim, high commissioners and ambassadors of more than 50 countries including, High Commissioner for India to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar; and business association leaders, academics and eminent members of the British-Bangladeshi diaspora attended the reception.
Recalling Bangabandhu’s maiden visit to London on 8 January 1972 as President of Bangladesh and meeting with Conservative Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, Oliver Dowden MP said, “Not only was the historic meeting at No 10 a powerful symbol of Bangladesh’s independence, but it laid the foundation for a deep and enduring partnership between the UK and Bangladesh. Over time, we’ve established a strong bond with Bangladesh, bound by kinship, cultural ties, and shared values.”
The Conservative Chairman commended Bangladesh’s recent economic growth and progress and said, “The people of Bangladesh have now begun to see Bangabandhu’s vision of an inclusive democratic and secular value-based country are being realized, and the UK would work together with Bangladesh to build a brighter and more prosperous future.”
Speaking on the occasion, UK FCDO Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a leader upholding the spirit and values of Bangabandhu in building a self-reliant, secular and inclusive Bangladesh. He said, “Sheikh Hasina is a leader who has stood up for democracy and against those who seek to radicalise communities. She is a woman of principle who seeks to strengthen inclusive democracy and freedom that guides us forth today.”
Referring to Bangabandhu’s historic meeting at 10 Downing Street with Sir Edward Heath, Lord Ahmad said, “Bangladesh-UK relations since then has gone from strength to strength and it would deepen further on shared values and towards peace and prosperity of the two friendly nations.”
Paying deep homage to the Father of the Nation and 1971 martyrs, High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem in her welcome remarks said, “Fifty-one years ago, Bangabandhu founded Bangladesh on democratic, secular and progressive values for which he received a hero’s welcome at No 10 in 1972; and the UK became the first European countries to recognise Bangladesh. Fifty-one years later, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s relentless strides transformed Bangladesh into the Asia’s fastest-growing economy pursuing Bangabandhu’s inclusive and progressive democratic values, the UK continues to remain a crucial partner in realising that vision and our shared prosperity.”
Recalling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bilateral meeting in November 2021, the High Commissioner said, “Prime ministers of Bangladesh and UK undertook a common resolve to open new frontiers in Bangladesh-UK relations and elevate this partnership towards strategic level prioritising business, climate change, technology transfer, and education and skills for an ever prosperous and shared future.”
The envoy recalled with due respect the contribution of the UK government, its people and the British-Bangladeshi and the Irish-Bangladeshi expatriates during the 1971 war.
Paying rich tribute to Bangabandhu, British Minister for Defence Jeremy Quin MP in his remarks said, “Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujib was an inspirational leader, and today his vision for independent Bangladesh is continued by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”
The minister also said that the UK is looking forward to increasing further the strategic maritime cooperation in the Bay of Bengal, counterterrorism as well as support to Bangladesh Forces Goal 2030.
Paul Scully MP speaking at the occasion lauded the British-Bangladeshi community’s various contributions to the UK, and specially the brilliant philanthropic work of the British-Bangladeshi business communities during the covid pandemic.
Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP paid deep tribute to Bangabandhu and greeted Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina for her leadership in facing climate issues. He reaffirmed Labour Party’s continual support for Bangladesh saying: “As a shadow Foreign Secretary, I will continue to work with the people of Bangladesh and the government.”
The event’s highlights included a colourful cultural performance by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy performing art delegation led by Cultural Affairs Secretary Md. Abul Monsur, a photo exhibition titled ‘Bangabandhu and Britain’ dedicated to Bangabandhu’s special relations with the UK as well as exclusive documentaries on Bangladesh’s extraordinary progress in the past decade under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.