Today marks 48 years of Bangladesh as an independent country. Today, we feel proud as a nation for how far we have come in only a little less than half a century since independence. But not only is today a moment of elation for us all, it is also one of grief and mourning. The massacre that the barbarous Pakistani military junta embarked upon in March 25, 1971 has left permanent scars on our collective conscience.
As we observe the Independence Day today, we pay our deepest respects to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu, for his unparalleled role in Bangladesh becoming an independent nation. Bangabandhu's leadership and guidance during those tumultuous times will forever remain unmatched in the country's history.
Today, we also pay homage to our four national leaders—Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain Mansur Ali, and AHM Quamruzzaman—who were brutally killed in 1975 in Dhaka Central Jail. These four heroes, who played a key role in the formation of the Mujibnagar government that guided the War of Liberation, can never be forgotten.
We also pay our respects to all those freedom fighters, men, women and children who lost their lives during the bloody nine-month-long war.
We are still waiting for a formal apology from the Pakistan government. Pakistan, as a state, should realise that apologising to Bangladesh would not belittle it—rather it would be a sign that the country is beginning to acknowledge the role of its leaders in the events leading up to our independence.
We also feel there is a need for deep introspection to assess what we, as a country, can do for a more egalitarian and just society that our martyrs gave their lives for. It is equally important to recognise our achievements on the one hand, and acknowledge our shortfalls on the other. Income inequality is rising, millions still live in extreme poverty, violence against women is rampant, and corruption in our public institutions and banking sector is yet to be rooted out. Without a mindset of honest reflection, it will not be possible to address the shortcomings.