`Bangladesh has a hundred gates open for entrance but not one for departure`

Released on = April 8, 2006, 10:18 am

Press Release Author = Patricia Ovemarrie, News2006

Industry = Media

Press Release Summary = Quoting Bernier, Bangladesh ambassador in Washington
Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, a career diplomat, who tirelessly working to further
strengthen the existing bilateral relations between Washington and Dhaka said,
Bangladesh has a hundreds of gates open for entrance but not one for departure.

Press Release Body = Quoting Bernier, Bangladesh ambassador in Washington Shamsher
Mobin Chowdhury, a career diplomat, who tirelessly working to further strengthen the
existing bilateral relations between Washington and Dhaka said, Bangladesh has a
hundreds of gates open for entrance but not one for departure.
Ambassador Chowdhury was speaking at a press conference at Washington Press Club
He said, today, in Bangladesh, we are engaged in a Himalayan adventure of pursuing
development, improving the quality of life and modernizing one of the world's oldest
civilizations. We seek to provide a social and economic environment at home that
will unleash the creativity and enterprise of every Bangladeshis, thus enabling our
people to live a life of dignity, fulfillment and self-respect. The United States
has long been a partner in our journey of progress.
The United States and Bangladesh must work together in all possible forums to these
ends. We must fight terrorism wherever it exists, because terrorism anywhere
threatens democracy everywhere.
With regard to our governance and social gains, let me begin by quoting from a
document published by the World Bank only on March 29, 2006. The document reads:
"Bangladesh has recorded impressive economic and social gains in the last decade.
The country has doubled per capita growth and taken strides towards reaching many of
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It out performs most low-income
countries.----- Gender parity in school enrollment at both primary and secondary
level has been achieved, child mortality has been halved, and life expectancy has
increased significantly since 1990s."
Chowdhury further said, indeed the development of Bangladesh in last few years
defies all conventional wisdom of rampant corruption and governance failure. So much
so that Mr. Praful Patel, World Bank Vice President is on record to have said that
"to explain this conundrum we must unbundled governance and recognize that
Bangladesh has had both governance successes and governance failures. Among the
successes, the world bank records that:
"Bangladesh has shown important gains in public accountability, with three
successive free elections, an assertive Supreme Court, sound public procurement
regulations, an active civil society and a relatively free media. Successive
governments have allocated substantial budget resources to areas such as heath and
education. Micro-finance has expanded with strong Government support and financial
governance is improving. Government has also forged strong partnership with NGOs,
especially in health, nutrition and education, which have contributed to the
development gains."
Historically, Bangladesh is a new state in an ancient land that was known as Bengal,
a land that was famous for its fine textile called Muslin. The ancient Bengal was
so prosperous that people from all over the world came and settled in this land. No
wonder why Bernier said hundreds of years ago:
\"Bangladesh has a hundred gates open for entrance but not one for departure\"
On democracy and governance, ambassador Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said, the
Constitution of Bangladesh protects the rights of minority as well human rights.
Bangladesh is a democracy and could not be anything else.
On economic development in the country, the ambassador said, our economy is opening
up rapidly to be integrated with the global economy. The economic reform program
includes privatization of state owned enterprises, emphasis on private sector
investment, reforms and changes in our laws to host more and more foreign direct
investment, and export diversification.
Giving examples of women empowerment, Bangladesh ambassador said, Bangladesh ranks
several rungs higher at 39, much ahead of South Asian countries like India (53) and
Pakistan (56) and tops among the Muslim countries surpassing Malaysia at 40 in a
58-nation study to measure the gender gap based on five critical parameters set by
the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
Education for all with particular emphasis on female education has been the
fundamental basis for human resource development. In 1993 Bangladesh introduced
nation-wide free and compulsory primary education program. The same year marked the
commencement of "food for education" program to encourage the children of the poor
to attend school. 5.2 million families are being provided stipends to encourage
their girl children to go to schools.
On the issue of religion and the question of minority, Chowdhury said, our
Constitution ensures equal rights for all irrespective of race and religion. Our
values emanating from the tradition of protecting the rights of others are our main
strength, our principal inspiration.
We firmly believe, a unique social and world-order based on peace, amity and love
can be established by following the true essence of religions. Neglect of religions
or their absence has not been able to bring any good. That is why the farsighted
statesman of Bangladesh late President Ziaur Rahman had established religious values
in our country. But we are dead against the practice of any discrimination on the
basis of religious identity. Here, the state and the government provide support to
the unhindered practice of all religions and cultures. People belonging to all
faiths enjoy equal rights as citizens.
Our Prime Minister has repeatedly said that nobody is a minority in Bangladesh. We
have tried to prove this through our deeds, not merely words. Our Constitution, law
and the masses are also supportive of this. The adherents of various religions have
lived alongside each other in peace in this land for centuries. The people of
Bangladesh have set a glorious tradition of maintaining peace bereft of turmoil even
during times of provocative incidents, conflicts and clashes at various faraway and
nearby places of the world. Bangladesh is committed to uphold this glorious heritage
at any price.
In Bangladesh about 88 per cent of people are Muslim while the rest are mostly
Hindus and a small percentage of Christian and others. While Islam is the state
religion, Bangladesh is not an Islamic republic or state. Islam was propagated in
the Bangladesh region by a large number of Muslim saints who were mostly active from
the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. While similar Muslim missionary activities
failed in other regions of South Asia, Islam ultimately succeeded in penetrating
deeply into Bengal because the social environment of this region was congenial to
the diffusion of a new religion. In much of South Asia, strong village communities
were impenetrable barriers to the spread of alien faiths.
In Bengal, the corporate ness of village institutions was weak in eastern areas; it
gradually increased towards the western areas. The distribution of Muslim population
also followed similar spatial pattern in this region. The Muslims in Bengal were
concentrated in the eastern areas.
The gradual process of conversion to Islam in Bengal resulted in an intense
interaction between Islam and Hinduism. At the folk level, however, there was less
confrontation and more interaction between Hinduism and Islam. A synergetic
tradition developed around the cult and pantheons of pirs. The actual practices of
local Muslim converts were an anathema to both Hindu and Muslim religious leaders.
Thereby, people of different religious faiths have living side by side for
centuries. The occasional incidents or clashes resulted mainly because of
politicization of the religion not because of religion per se. However, with the
gradual increase of literacy level there is far less scope for political
exploitation of their religious beliefs.
Giving instance of excellent foreign policy adopted by the government of Begum
Khaleda Zia, Shamsher said, when Bangladesh was born, many, including prominent
American public figures, were skeptical about the viability of this new state.
Since then, Bangladesh has crossed a long way. It has attained significant economic
and social progress, consolidated democratic governance at home and has been playing
a constructive role in the international community. Our foreign policy is based on
the axiom: Friendship with all, malice towards none. Bangladesh has established
itself as a moderate, democratic and forward-looking country that contributes
significantly to peace and stability in South Asia and beyond. It is the largest
troops contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations. Our soldiers have
participated in 30 peacekeeping operations worldwide to promote and uphold democracy
and peace. Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia to have signed both NPT
(Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) and (CTBT) Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,
and thus given up the nuclear option out of its own volition. It takes active
interest in promoting regional peace and it was at the forefront to establish the
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985.
In short, Bangladeshi society is slowly but decisively moving towards a better
future, a society that upholds the dignity of every single person and at the same
time combines individual efflorescence with collective prosperity, a society that is
open to new ideas and at the same time conscious of preserving its own tradition and
values. Bangladesh, out of its own conviction and commitment, will continue to
march ahead on the path of democracy, human rights and peace. Encouragement and
support from our friends will go a long way in making our arduous journey
Shamsher gave elaborative information on militancy and terrorism in his country. He
said, despite what is said thus far, we must admit that likewise many other nations,
Bangladesh is also not free from the problem of terrorism and militancy. On Aug. 17,
2005 the country was hit with a staggering blow: the near-simultaneous explosion of
about 500 bombs in hundreds of towns and cities across the nation. It was a dramatic
signal of the power of the militants, showing that their resources and
organizational skill were a serious threat to Bangladesh\'s democracy. Soon afterward
came the suicide bombs, the first in the history of Bangladesh. The bombers struck
in late November and early December 2005 targeting lawyers and other symbols of
Bangladesh\'s secular legal system.
The whole country was in shock as have never thought of ever experiencing the kind
of militancy that we have had in the last few months of 2005. The government rose to
the occasion and decided to fight it to the last. The sprit of our fight can be
summarized as what Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia said to the nation on 2 March
2006 shortly after the arrest of JMB mastermind Shaikh Abdur Rahman, "with regard to
curbing terrorism, I appealed to you that you would be our eyes and ears. I said
Bangladesh couldn't afford to buy so much CCTV. You will be our CCTV."
What many rich and powerful nations in the world could not achieve, Bangladesh could
do that through intelligence, hard work, courage and sincerity. Many militants of
these levels abroad are out of reach. But the security forces in Bangladesh have
been able to arrest the mastermind of the bomb terrorists.
People of Bangladesh have proved that they are religious but they do not give
shelter to those who indulge in killing in the name of religion. They do not support
terrorism. People of Bangladesh are religious, but they are not afraid of facing
terrorism. Prime Minister also went on to say " We have proved again how to face
violence and crisis. I admit unhesitatingly that there are many more problems in the
country." The simple message from Bangladesh's success in the field of terrorism is
that if your people believe in what they preach and if you can mobilize them in
unison, there is no problem what you cannot face. Be it catastrophic natural
disaster or terrorism.

Web Site = http://www.news2006.com

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