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Bangladesh optimistic on 50th Victory Day

Bangladesh optimistic on 50th Victory Day
Despite promising macro-economic indicators, South Asian nation sees deteriorating civil liberties and political freedoms

By Md. Kamruzzaman

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Bangladesh on Thursday celebrated its 50th Victory Day with a commitment to the state policy of "friendship to all and malice to none."

The South Asian nation of 170 million people gained independence on Dec. 16, 1971, after a 9-month war with Pakistan and with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as its founding leader.

Before this, Bangladesh was the eastern wing of Pakistan -- which gained independence from British-ruled India in 1947.

Accusing leaders in West Pakistan of discrimination against ethnic Bengalis, Bangladesh declared the Liberation War in March 1971 with the dream of building a "Shonar Bangla" or Golden Bengal.

“Our greatest achievement is that we have had an independent state and a national flag. Now we can move forward under our own framework,” said A H Ahmed Kamal, a historian.

In five decades, Bangladesh is on the track to graduate from the least developed country (LDC) category to a developing nation by 2026 -- with the final destination of becoming a developed nation by 2041.

Bangladesh is often touted as a role model of development with an increasing capacity of power generation, 100 special economic zones, and connectivity that has turned the country into a lucrative destination for investment.

Referring to the World Bank’s forecast, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said that Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP) would grow by 6.4% in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

The per capita income of the country is now more than $2,500, which is one of the highest in South Asia, while the life expectancy at birth has gone up to 73 years.

- Concerns over freedom, corruption

Despite promising macro-economic indicators, Kamal said that a majority of the people in the country still face discrimination and inequality.

"The people [who fought the Liberation War] dreamt of freedom from discrimination, fair wages for labor, fair prices for agricultural products, and farmer's rights to land, establishing justice and rule of law, stopping oppression under the state patronization, eradicating corruption and rights to free politics and freedom of expression,” he said, stressing the need to restore "real" democracy.

The state of political rights and civil liberties has deteriorated in the country under the rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since 2009, according to several reports.

A recent report, Freedom in the World, ranked Bangladesh 39 out of 100 and categorized its status as "partly free."

According to the Corruption Perception Index 2020 released by Transparency International, Bangladesh continues to be ranked among countries where corruption is perceived to be most pervasive.

According to a national household survey on corruption conducted by Transparency International in 2018, 66% of the surveyed people experienced corruption in the service delivery sectors, while 89% were forced to make unauthorized payments to have access to public services.

According to the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) report, some US$ 61.6 billion were siphoned out of Bangladesh between 2005 and 2014 that is equivalent to 25% of the country’s GDP in FY 2016-17.​​​​​​​

War hero Md Siddiqur Rahman told Anadolu Agency he was honored to have fought for the country's independence.

“During the 1971 war, I was an army soldier and joined the war to free my motherland. I can’t express what an ecstatic moment it was for me when I heard about the victory from a hospital bed as I was wounded during the war,” he said.

He added that the Sheikh Hasina-led government has enhanced the monthly allowance for freedom fighters and provided many other facilities.

“But I am very shocked when I see many corrupt people are holding different top positions in the government and hindering the progress of the country,” Rahman said.

source: News Feed
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