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‘Padma Bridge bears signature of Sheikh Hasina’s visionary leadership’: Pakistani academic

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Terming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the epitome of Bangladesh’s development, a Pakistani English daily in an article said Sheikh Hasina had to walk on the path of huge obstacles but she has reached her destination and established the truth by firmly confronting the conspiracy that was spread at the birth of the Padma Bridge.

“The Padma Bridge bears the signature of Ms Hasina’s visionary leadership,” wrote Dr Malika-e-Abida Khattak in the article headlined ‘Story Of Bangladesh’s Padma Bridge: More Than Just A Bridge?’.

 The article carried out by The Daily Times, Pakistan today said the world got a chance to know once again the capacity of Bangladesh in the Hasina era.

“Bangladesh is a country that has repeatedly shown its capabilities,” wrote Dr Malika-e-Abida Khattak, an educator-researcher and her areas of interest are foreign relations of Afghanistan-Pakistan-India-Bangladesh-Nepal-Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

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“As a result of the construction of the Padma Bridge with its own money, the economic potential and image of Bangladesh have been established all over the world,” she commented.

About the conspiracy against the bridge she wrote that the World Bank withdrew its pledge on false charges of corruption, and other donors followed suit. The future of the Padma Bridge was under a threat and the construction work on the Padma Bridge became uncertain and critics then burst out laughing, creating a flurry of negative comments that it would not be possible for Hasina to build Padma Bridge.

The then communications minister Abul Hossain had to resign from the cabinet. This was the beginning picture of the construction of the Padma Bridge. But after the construction work started, a great challenge came up. Bold and groundbreaking engineering skills were required in river governance and piling. At the same time, construction costs continue to rise.

Canadian court, however, didn’t find any proof of the Padma bridge bribery conspiracy, said the article.

“Today, the Padma Bridge is visible. The bridge of pride stands today. As a result of the construction of the Padma Bridge with its own money, the economic potential and image of Bangladesh have been established all over the world. A bold decision by the Prime Minister has earned her international recognition as a self-confident, determined statesman,” said the writer.

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The construction was in full swing when Corona’s attack started. But the work did not stop even for a single day due to the indomitable will of Sheikh Hasina. Work on the Padma Bridge has moved forward by tackling Corona. When everyone saw that the work of the bridge was progressing under her leadership, some dishonest conspirators started spreading rumours. Rumours were spread that a man’s head would be needed to build bridges. The government has also dealt with it efficiently. It is not only the Padma Bridge that is being built due to the indomitable will of Sheikh Hasina but also the work of Metro Rail and the country’s biggest tunnel is nearing completion. They will be open to the public this year.

Many other projects including the Rooppur nuclear power plant, Matarbari project, construction of Bangabandhu Railway Bridge over river Jamuna, construction of Pyra seaport, and construction of Bangabandhu industrial city are remarkable. But the construction of the Padma Bridge was the most challenging of all. The Padma Bridge is not just a bridge but a great asset to the country.

Padma Bridge is a multi-purpose road and railway bridge built over the Padma River in Bangladesh. The southwestern part of the country will be connected to the north-eastern part. Construction of the 6.15 km long and 18.10 m wide bridge started on December 7, 2014.

Bangladesh’s economic progress, continuous GDP growth, and improvement of Bangladesh’s position in various social indicators are recognised internationally today. The sacrifices made by the Prime Minister for this bridge, and the success of the implementation of the Padma Bridge project have made that sacrifice justified.

Initially, the construction cost was low, but later it increased a few points and stood at USD 3.868 Billion. Both construction time and construction costs increased. Although there are differing views on construction costs, the most promising thing is that the bridge has been completed and will be open to the public in June.

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The bridge is deeply connected with politics, economics, culture and social phenomenon. Building the bridge was a major political challenge for Bangladesh. After opening the bridge, the country’s economy will rise. The structure of the country’s economy will change. There will be massive development in agriculture. The bridge will create a groundbreaking chapter in the transportation of agricultural commodities from the southwestern region to the capital. Farmers will get good prices for their produce. Extensive industrialization will take place in the southwestern region of the country centred on the Padma Bridge.

The Padma Bridge could become a part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There will be a revolution in the field of communication and transportation. The development of the tourism industry will be achieved through the bridge. A 6-lane expressway has been constructed at the country’s Munshiganj and Shariatpur sections of the bridge which is very eye-catching and captivating. This bridge will play a unique role in the field of culture. Resorts, hotels and restaurants will be built around this bridge where Bengali food will be served which will make Bengali culture more familiar to foreigners.

This bridge will further strengthen the rail link with the southwestern part of the country. People will be able to travel comfortably in a short time from Dhaka. Various business establishments will be built around the bridge and the standard of living of the people of the South West will be multiplied If the name of Padma Bridge is pronounced, the name of Sheikh Hasina Wajed should be pronounced. Although it is not named after her, people will know from generation to generation that this bridge was made possible because of her.

Sheikh Hasina has taken the great challenge of Padma Bridge and won. Bangladesh has already become a developing country. Padma Bridge will take the country faster. This bridge will play a unique role in taking Bangladesh to the line of developed countries. The decision of building the much-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge, which is set to open for traffic on June 25, brightened the country’s image in the world and also accelerated the nation’s confidence.

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Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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