Staff Correspondent: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked theBangladesh Armed Forces personnel to always be ready to protect the country’sindependence and sovereignty.
“We don’t want to engage in war with anyone . . . But, we have to get readyto defend ourselves properly if any external enemy attacks,” she said. The premier said this while addressing the inaugural ceremony of SheikhRussell Cantonment at Jazira in Shariatpur, joining virtually from herofficial residence Ganabhaban.
Mentioning that Bangladesh follows Father of the Nation Bangabandhu SheikhMujibur Rahman’s basic principle “friendship to all, malice to none”, shesaid, “We believe in that policy.”
But, each member of the Armed Forces has to remain prepared to defend thecountry’s independence and sovereignty, she added.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said that her government has takennecessary measures to make the country’s Armed Forces modern, educated andprosperous further.
She said, “I believe that each member of the armed forces will graduallyincrease their reputation with own wisdom, professional skills anddutifulness.”
She pointed out that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formulated the”National Defense Policy-1974” and within a short time, he established morethan 100 units and institutions for the army, including the Bangladesh Military Academy and the Combined Arms School.
After the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu along with most of his familymembers on 15 August 1975, she said there was instability inside the ArmedForces and nearly 19-20 coups were staged when huge armed forces officers andsoldiers were killed.
Assuming power after 21 years in 1996, she said that the Awami Leaguegovernment adopted the development and modernization plan for the ArmedForces.
She said they have established National Defense College and MilitaryInstitute of Science and Technology in 1998 while Bangladesh Institute ofPeace Support Operations Training and Armed Forces Medical College in 1999.
Besides, her government first recruited female officers in Army, Navy andAir Force in 2000, she added.
After winning consecutive elections since 2008, she said they have beenimplementing short, medium and long term plans to build a trained and up-to-date armed forces, framing “Forces Goal-2030” on the basis of NationalDefense Policy-1974 formulated by Bangabandhu.
In addition, she said they’ve established Bangladesh Peace Building Centerin 2016 and formulated ‘National Defense Policy, 2018.
To match up with the developed world, the premier said her government hasincorporated modern infantry gazettes to the army.
“My goal was that each member of our Armed Forces might prepare themselves ina time-befitting manner,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina, the elder daughter of Bangabandhu, said her two brothersSheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal were members of Bangladesh Army, but laterKamal got admitted to the Dhaka University due to my mother’s choice.
She said Sheikh Jamal joined the army completing regular training at theRoyal Military Academy Sandhurst.
She extended her gratitude to the army chief and members of army for namingMawa and Jazira cantonments as “Sheikh Russell Cantonment”, mentioning thather younger brother Sheikh Russell had also desire to be an army officerafter growing up.
Regarding the Padma Bridge, Sheikh Hasina said she had laid the foundationstone of the bridge in 2001 but coming to power, the then BNP governmentstopped it and they wanted to shift the bridge from here.
Again assuming office, she said, her government has moved up to constructPadma Bridge but the World Bank stepped aside from funding the work raisingfalse corruption allegations.
But, they (World Bank) had failed to probe the allegation when it waschallenged by her (Prime Minister) and Canadian Court also didn’t find anycorruption here, she added.
She continued, “In this context, I decided to give a strong response to themand construct the bridge with own financing . . . today we’ve constructed thePadma Bridge.”
She went on saying that the 99 Composite Brigade and the Cantonment has beenestablished to ensure the security of the Padma Bridge.
At the ceremony, the prime minister also received a state salute from asmartly turned out contingent of 99 Composite Brigade.
Chief of Army Staff General S M Shafiuddin Ahmed also spoke.
General Officer Commanding of 9th Infantry Division and Commander of SavarArea Major General Shaheenul Haque presented a brief description of theSheikh Russell Cantonment.
At the outset of the ceremony, an audio-visual documentary on the SheikhRussell Cantonment was also screened.
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