Bangladesh and Nepal are close neighbors and they share history, culture and languages. Both Bengali and Nepali languages belong to Indo-Aryan languages group. There are similarities in struggle for freedom and democracy. Our liberation struggle got momentum from 1952 languages movement. The victory of the United Front against the Muslim League in 1954 had given a blow to the anti-democratic forces.
Following the 62, 66 movements, there was a mass-upsurge in 1969. Then, the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan gave verdict in favor of emancipation in the 1970 general elections. Defeating the Pakistan occupation army in a nine-month liberation war, we established sovereign Bangladesh under the leadership of Bangabandhu in 1971 and secular democratic constitution was established in 1972.
In Nepal also, after tripartite agreement in 1950 between King, Rana and political party democratic process had been started and in 1959 election was held where Nepali Congress had won the election. After passing the mass movement stages in the 80s and 90s, there was mass upsurge in 2006; the Republic was established based on democracy, secularism, inclusiveness and federalism.
Then election was held in 2008. After a long democratic process, democratic constitution have been established. In Bangladesh Bangabandhu's daughters Sheikh Hasina is running the government and in Nepal one of the prominent leaders K P Sharma Oli is running the administration. Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in socio economic development. Nepal is also progressing in different sectors in a significant way.
Our PM Sheikh Hasina met with Nepali leaders on several occasions. Recently in non-align summit at Baku Azarbaizan, our PM Sheikh Hasina discussed with Nepali PM K P Sharma Oli regarding cooperation and connectivity. Against this backdrop, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid visited Nepal. His and his counterpart opinions are described below.
President Md Abdul Hamid has stressed on expanding trade and investment, establishing strong connectivity, collaboration in water resources management and power, boosting tourism and people-to-people contact between Bangladesh and Nepal.
The head of the state made the suggestion while addressing a banquet hosted in his honor by President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari at Hotel Yak and Yeti. "Expansion of trade and investment, establishing strong road, rail and air connectivity, boosting tourism and people-to-people contact are some of key areas where our two countries have immense potentials and must enhance cooperation," he observed.
Noting that Bangladesh attaches high importance to its relation with Nepal, the President said, "Our two countries and our peoples are bound together by ties of history, culture and language." He expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the honor and the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation since his arrival in Kathmandu, the capital of the Himalayan country.
Abdul Hamid said the people of Bangladesh always recall with deep gratitude the moral and material support extended by the political leadership and the people of Nepal in the War of Liberation in 1971. The President said Bangladesh is ready to extend all support to Nepal's development projects specially for fulfilling the vision "Samridhdha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali".
Referring to the ongoing development trend in Bangladesh, he said, "In fact, today, Bangladesh is showcased as a role model for socio-economic development. Our government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina envisages to see Bangladesh as a 'Middle income Digital Bangladesh' by 2021 and as a developed country by 2041." The President hoped that Bangladesh and Nepal would be able to harness the existing synergies and their warm and friendly relations will be further consolidated.
"I also believe we will continue our traditionally close cooperation in multilateral and regional forums and work together for achieving common aspirations," Hamid added. Referring to the programnmes taken for the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020 and the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Bangladesh's independence in 2021, the President said, "I look forward that the friendly people of Nepal will share our joys and happiness."
Earlier, in her welcome speech, the Nepalese President said the two countries need to enhance cooperation at regional and international levels on matters of common concerns and interests in addition to the development and expansion of bilateral relations. Bidya Devi wished for the good health and happiness of President Hamid and continued happiness and prosperity of the peoples of Nepal and Bangladesh.
President said the government of Bangladesh has taken up the policy of inclusive development and strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the designated timeframe.
"The International Monetary Fund in its 2019 estimate ranked Bangladesh as the 29th largest economy in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity. Our GDP has been growing and poverty has been reducing gradually," he said, mentioning Bangladesh as a role model for socio-economic development.
It is evident from the description that both the countries have reaffirmed their commitment regarding cooperation and connectivity. We know in last few decades we have progressed in trade, education and connectivity. It may be mentionable that Bangladesh is earning foreign currency mainly from remittance and export earning especially from garments sector. Nepal is dependent on remittance as well as tourism.
We know there is large hydro energy potential in Nepal of capacity 83000 MW and economically feasible capacities are 42000 MW. Rail connection is being made and road and air ways are functioning.
BBIN is in implementation stages. There is an understanding to use our ports that will be helpful for Bangladesh and Nepal as well as for the entire region. Cooperation and in energy sector will be helpful for our economic progress. We should work together for peace, democracy and progress.
The writer is an academic, former ambassador, leader-student action committee 71 and freedom fighter
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