UK to stand next to Bangladesh as trusted friend, partner: Lord Ahmad

British Minister Lord Ahmad has said the United Kingdom will continue to remain a “trusted friend and partner” of Bangladesh in the next 50 years as it stood by Bangladesh for the past 50 years through good times and bad times.

“As we look ahead, Bangladesh and the UK will continue to work together on shared priorities, including trade, climate, defence and Commonwealth,” said Ahmad, Minister for South and Central Asia at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

He made the remarks while addressing a virtual commemorative event on Friday night to celebrate Bangladesh-UK 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Highlighting the historic background of Bangladesh-UK relations and its geopolitical and diplomatic significance, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said Bangabandhu’s official meeting at the 10 Downing Street on 8 January followed by the UK’s recognition on 4 February in 1972 was a major geopolitical development during the height of the cold war, which encouraged other Western nations to recognise Bangladesh.

Reflecting on the sustained friendship between Bangladesh and the UK, he said the UK has steadfastly stood by Bangladesh starting from the War of Liberation in 1971 to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s relentless efforts to leapfrog Bangladesh into Asia’s fastest-growing economy till date.

High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK and Ireland Saida Muna Tasneem presided the hybrid event, participated by Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh and UK’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh Rushanara Ali, MP, President of the Confederation of British Industry Lord Karan Bilimoria, Patron of Conservative Friend of India and Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Indo-pacific Lord Rami Ranger, former British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert W Gibson, Development Director of the UK FCDO Judith Herbertson, Director for Global Network of the British Council Charlie Walker, Senior Fellow for South Asia of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Rahul Roy Chaudhury, organiser of Bangladesh Liberation War Overseas Freedom Movement in the UK Sultan Mahmud Sharif and eminent person from British-Bangladeshi Community Syed Sajidur Rahman Faruk.

High Commissioner Tasneem said the UK assumes a special place and appreciation in the foreign policy and future climate and sustainable development aspirations of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Referring to the bilateral meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Boris Johnson in November last year, she said the High Commission will continue to work closely with the UK government to realise the shared visions and priorities set by the two leaders to advance bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, climate change, defence and security and diaspora engagement in the coming decades.

The High Commissioner mentioned Bangladesh’s geostrategic importance in the Bay of Bengal and in the Indian Ocean complemented by its growing economic prosperity over the past decade makes it a deserving candidate to become Britain’s trusted friend and ally in realising the region’s sustainable peace, security and prosperity.

Rushanara Ali recalled, “My father and his generation risked their lives and sacrificed to mobilise the support of the British government to recognise Bangladesh, and families who are victims of 1971 war atrocities continue to suffer within our community till date.”

Ali, who is also Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rohingya, reaffirmed her commitment to support Bangladesh in its efforts to ensure safe and dignified return of Rohingyas.

Lord Karan Bilimoria recalled the fallen Indian soldiers during Bangladesh’s liberation war and paid a tribute to three generals of the Indian army who commanded Indian armed forces during Bangladesh’s liberation war.

He said General Manekshaw, General Jacob and his father Karan Faridoon Bilimoria made leadership contributions to the 1971 War of Liberation.

Lord Rami Ranger recalled the role of India in Britain’s early recognition of Bangladesh and called upon Bangladesh government to create a holocaust museum for the victims of Bengali genocide during the 1971 War of Liberation.

Rahul Roy Chaudhury said the UK government needs to significantly increase its security, defence, counter terrorism, counter extremism, counter radicalisation and intelligence cooperation with Bangladesh.

The programme began with the national anthems of Bangladesh and the UK, presented by a group of British-Bangladeshi Children of Suralay Music School in cooperation with the Newham Music Department.

A documentary on Bangladesh-UK friendship, produced by the Bangladesh High Commission in London, highlighting Bangabandhu’s historic visits to the UK as well as other high-level visits, was shown.

High Commissioner Tasneem and UK Minister Lord Ahmad simultaneously cut two cakes to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Source: United News of Bangladesh