Online Desk: Describing the Bangladesh Army as the vigilant sentinels of the country’s independence and sovereignty, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh doesn’t want to engage in a war with anyone as it believes in peace.
“A peaceful environment is a prerequisite for development,” she said.
The premier was addressing the opening ceremony of Army Selection Board (First Phase)-2023 at Senakunja in Dhaka Cantonment on Saturday (July 22).
Sheikh Hasina said people’s trust and confidence are crucial factors for army and the military in Bangladesh earned that with their performance.
“Trust and confidence are very important for any army. If there is no trust and confidence, independence and sovereignty cannot be protected. Today, I can say that people have their trust and confidence in our army,” she said.
She said Bangladesh Army is a people’s army, which always stands beside the country’s people and plays very effective role during any disaster.
Referring to the engagement of the army with the country’s development activities directly, she said the army is working everywhere from infrastructure development.
“As the army is implementing many big projects, we are sure that the work will be done quickly ensuring quality,” she added.
Mentioning a quote of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the premier said, “Bangabandhu told the army that our army will be people’s army”.
In this perspective, Sheikh Hasina also hoped that Bangladesh Army would pull the country ahead as people’s army.
She asked Bangladesh Army Selection Board-2023 to pick qualified and prudent officers for promotion through a neutral evaluation.
“You should do it considering professional competence, drawing comparative evaluation in logical and scientific ways,” she said.
“Besides, you need to pay attention to whether the officers have the skills of giving command or the ability of taking quick decisions (in special situations),” she added.
The prime minister expressed hope that the selection board will perform the sacred duty with honesty and proper judgement to pick the qualified officers for promotion.
She added, “Consider their experience in field work and the ability of taking instant decisions and using resources instantly…. We want you to promote the officers for future leadership (in Bangladesh Army) through neutral evaluation.”
Praising the Bangladesh Army, Sheikh Hasina said the army has been playing a praiseworthy role standing beside the people in any disaster and critical time.
“Our patriotic army always stands by the people of the country,” she said.
The Prime Minister said, “Many of you know the history after 1975 when many army officers and soldiers were killed as coups took place one after another.”
“Many didn’t find their dear and near ones. Not only I lost my father, mother, brothers and relatives, but also many army families lost their loved ones, but no one could talk,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said that when she returned to Bangladesh in 1981, first she started speaking about it because many well-known freedom fighters were brutally killed.
She said on June 7, 1981 at a rally of Awami League she declared- “I don’t want to hear the cries of widows in the army, I don’t want to hear the cries of childless fathers, I don’t want to hear the cries of fatherless children. Let this murder stop.”
At that time, defying the warning of many people, she had said – “Someone has to talk about it. There must be discipline. I don’t want to see blood again and again (in the armed forces).”
The premier said, “Our army is of the people. You will have to keep it in mind.”
Lauding the Bangladeshi troops for their role in the United Nations peacekeeping missions, she said the Bangladeshi peacekeepers are gaining a huge acclamation from every country where they are working.
She said there is a humanitarian quality in the people of Bangladesh as they do humanitarian works going beyond their specific tasks. “Since they get engaged in social works, wherever they work they get enough respect and acclamation from the local people,” she said.
The Prime Minister highlighted various steps taken by her government to modernize the armed forces from 1996 to 2001 and from 2009 till now.
Focusing on the progress Bangladesh made since 2009, she said the country is advancing facing natural calamities and manmade disasters. Her government brought down the poverty rate to 18.6 percent from 41 percent and extreme poverty to 5.7 percent from 25.1 percent, she said.
She said her government brought cent percent houses under the electricity coverage in the country.
The head of government asked all to exercise austerity in the use of electricity and boost food production amid the global crisis.
Earlier on the arrival of the Prime Minister, PM’s Security Affairs Adviser Major General (Retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique and Chief of Army Staff General S M Shafiuddin Ahmed received her.