Lauding Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s role in fighting terrorism, Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said the steps she has taken after the terror attack at a popular cafe in Dhaka will strengthen the global fight against the menace. Addressing the 20th National Council of the ruling Awami League (AL) here, Azad said India and Bangladesh are close strategic partners in counter terrorism and India appreciates the steps taken by the Bangladesh government to counter terror activities on its soil in the aftermath of the July attack.
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The steps, he said, “will further help in strengthening global community’s fight against terrorism”. At least 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the July 1 attack on the upmarket cafe in Dhaka. Recalling Bangladesh’s founder ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Azad said it was he who mobilised the mass civil-disobedience and non co-operation which finally led to the liberation of the country in 1971.
“India’s links with Bangladesh are civilizational, cultural, social and economic. There is much that unites the two countries – a shared history and common heritage, linguistic and cultural ties, passion for music, literature and the arts,” Azad said. He also mentioned the “strong” ties the Indian National Congress and the Awami League share.
“Congress has lent its support to the Awami League in some of its most defining moments in history…”
“(Former prime minister) Indira Gandhi stood by the side of the people of Bangladesh from the beginning of the Liberation War despite various adversities. She provided shelter to about one crore Bangladeshi refugees,” he said. Azad said Gandhi played a “great role in freeing Bangabandhu from Pakistani jail. Her contribution to Bangladesh’s Liberation War will be remembered forever.”
Speaking about the warmth in bilateral relationship, he said successive governments in India and Bangladesh have on various issues helped in cementing the ties between the two countries. Opening the party council, Hasina urged party leaders and activists to take oath to stamp out poverty from Bangladesh. The council is expected to elect new leaders of the party for the next three years, but political analysts and party sources said Hasina was likely to retain her position as the party president.
She has been serving as the party president for more than 35 years since 1981 when she was living an exiled life in India. She took refuge in India after the August 15, 1975, assassination of her father Mujibur Rahman. The party emerged as a platform of Bengali people in then Pakistan in 1949, two years after the end of the British rule.