Sheikh Hasina should be celebrated as leader of '2nd liberation,' he says

India's former Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar has said those trying to induce fears in Bangladesh ahead of its national election are forgetting that Bangladesh is no longer a country that is scared.

"Bangladesh is not a country that fears anything," he told reporters when a questioner wanted to know his take on fear of sanctions or other measures that are being discussed ahead of the election.

The prominent author-journalist turned politician said that some of the attention that Bangladesh is drawing is caused by the country's relevance.

Akbar was delivering a keynote speech at a discussion, titled "Bangladesh's achievements in 52 years and its place in the region and beyond in the coming decades," at Dhaka's Foreign Service Academy on December 17.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen spoke at the discussion as the chief guest and said Bangladesh is no longer a bottomless basket but is a land of opportunities.

Momen highlighted the significant development and stability that Bangladesh achieved, noting that Bangladesh has been pursuing democracy.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and Rector of Foreign Service Academy, Mashfee Binte Shams, also spoke on the occasion.

After imposing sanctions on the elite force RAB, the United States in September this year announced steps to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals - from law enforcement, ruling party, and political opposition - responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.

The United States says it is committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh that are carried out in a peaceful manner while Bangladesh repeated its commitment to holding free and fair elections.

Some superpowers want puppets who serve their interests in the guise of serving Bangladesh, he said, adding that "Remember, a nationalist can never be a puppet."

Akbar said Bangladesh is a focus of the superpowers because it is important politically, geopolitically and ecopolitically, adding that the country isn't helpless and isn't going to fall prey to the neo-colonisation -- a message that capitals may not have gotten.

Responding to a question, Akbar said that Prime leader Sheikh Hasina should be celebrated and honored as the "liberator and leader of the second liberation," and this was liberation of a nation from dictatorship.

The Indian politician said he can see great happiness in Bangladesh as the process of democracy here continues.

"I believe Bangladesh will be able to face its own problems and challenges through its own efforts," he said, putting emphasis on home-grown solutions instead of external intervention.

Highlighting Sheikh Hasina's historic contributions, Akbar said she is not just leading the nation towards democracy and freedom from hunger, but also towards a modern future to make Bangladesh a complete success story.

He said Bangladesh has become a nation of opportunities today under the leadership of Bangabandhu's daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"Bangladesh is the emerging power of Asia," he said, highlighting PM Hasina's development efforts towards ensuring inclusive growth.

He said without democracy and freedom to every faith, no country can be a modern nation. Akbar said ensuring freedom of each faith is inclusive nationalism.

He said the PM has translated the theoretical rights to practical reality. He also highlighted her efforts towards ensuring gender equality and poverty elimination.

"This is critical. You cannot be a modern nation without eliminating poverty," he said.

Akbar said Bangladesh is marching on the road to a trillion-dollar economy with inclusive growth. "This is why people elect her again and again."

He also highlighted the challenges that democracy faces and mentioned the forces that try to destroy stability.

Akbar said freedom was not handed to Bangladesh, but Bangladesh earned it.

The former Indian state minister for external affairs also mentioned the peaceful settlement of border dispute between Bangladesh and India. He said they should applaud the efforts of the two prime ministers. "It can be a lesson for the entire world."

Bangladesh should take its own side, giving priority to its own interests, Akbar said.

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