Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is an inspiration not just to the Bengalis but also to many who fight for liberty and democracy across the globe, according to top British parliamentarians and diplomats.
Bangabandhu laid the foundation of a strong partnership and deep friendship that Bangladesh and UK have been enjoying over the last five decades, since his maiden visit to the UK on January 8, 1972, they also said.
The observations came at an event organized by the Bangladesh High Commission in UK on January 8, commemorating the historic maiden visit of the Father of the Nation to the UK on January 8, 1972, en route his homecoming to independent Bangladesh, following his release from a nine-month long imprisonment in Pakistan, a statement said on Monday.
"Bangabandhu's founding vision of a democratic, secular and inclusive Bangladesh was an inspiring one; and the UK would remain a critical partner of Bangladesh in seeking to support peace and prosperity for all its people led by the able leader and daughter of Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina," said Lord Tariq Ahmad, UK Foreign and Development Office (FCDO) minister for South Asia and Commonwealth.
Leader of the Opposition Rt. Hon. Sir Keir Starmer, MP, also paid his tribute to the father of the nation at the time. Bangabandhu was a great statesman who spent years in prison, in a fight to establish civil, political and cultural rights of his people and leading his country towards independence, he said.
Recalling the meeting between Bangabandhu and former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson, Starmer said he was incredibly proud that the two great leaders shared a rare friendship based on their belief on equality and justice.
"That bond provided a strong platform for the friendship and relationship between the British people and the people of Bangladesh".
Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party Nickie Aiken, MP, said the bond Bangabandhu had established with the UK since his stopover in London would continue to guide the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UK in the post-Brexit and post-Covid-19 era.
Prime Minister Boris Jonson will be working more closely with Bangladesh to optimize bilateral trade and investment and on addressing risks of climate change, she added.
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Lisa Nandy said she reframed her Labour Party's commitment to work closely with the Bangladesh High Commission as well as with the British-Bangladeshi community to celebrate Bangabandhu's birth centenary and the 50th year of Bangladesh's independence and the Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relationship.
Bangabandhu's stopover in London on 8 January, 1972 and subsequent meetings with the then British prime minister and opposition leader not only set in stone a strong Bangladesh-UK friendship to grow in leaps and bounds over the next 50 years, but also paved the way for Bangladesh's official recognition by Britain on February 4, 1972, said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.
Quoting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem said Johnson wished that Bangabandhu's inspiring founding vision of a democratic, free, secular and inclusive Bangladesh would continue to guide Bangladesh during the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2021 and beyond.
The UK government, its people and British-Bangladeshi expatriate would extend their continued appreciation, understanding, cooperation and support in our pursuit of a democratic, secular, self-reliant, inclusive middle-income Bangladesh by 2021 and developed economy by 2041, the British prime minister hoped.
UKFCO Parliamentary Secretary Joy Morrissey, MP, Vice Chair of the APPG on Bangladesh Lord Bilimoria, House of Lords Lord Howell, Lord Rami Ranger, Chair of Conservative Friends of India, Seema Malhotra, MP, Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar, Human Rights Lawyer Cherie Blair CBE QC also attended the event, among others.
"Bangabandhu Library" established at the Bangladesh High Commission in London was also inaugurated following the event, while a documentary on the father of the nation was also screened.