At a recent event in London, Bangladeshis commemorated the past and praised their country’s commitment to social and economic development. Duncan Bartlett reports

Bangladesh’s economic success and its recent achievements in the fight against terrorism were highlighted at a national celebration event held in London in December.

Veteran journalist Adbul Gaffar Chowdhury said that Bangladesh has moved ahead of neighbouring countries in South Asia in combating terrorist violence, and was recently ranked ahead of India, Pakistan and even the United States in the Global Terrorism Index for 2017.

In the previous year, 22 people were killed in a terror attack on a bakery in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, including seven Japanese. Most of the attackers were shot by security forces, while charges have been brought against other suspects.

On the economic front, Bangladesh has recently experienced unprecedented growth. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina claims that the scale of the country’s GDP has increased more than fivefold in the past ten years, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

‘Once Bangladesh was labelled as a bottomless basket but Sheikh Hasina has promoted the country to a prestigious position through her dynamic leadership and zeal for socio-economic development,’ Mr Chowdhury told the gathering in London.

He was speaking at a commemoration of the 48th Victory Day, organised by the Bangladesh High Commission to the United Kingdom.

Indian High Commissioner Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam, UK Awami League President Sultan Mahmud Sharif, senior British parliamentarians Paul Scully, Theresa Villiers and Valerie Vaz and a representative from Tower Hamlets, Ayas Mia, also spoke at the meeting, held at Baden Powell House in South Kensington.

At the beginning of the programme, a one-minute silence was observed in memory of those killed in the war of independence from Pakistan, when Bangladesh was led by Bangabandhu, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The recently appointed Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK, Mrs Saida Muna Tasneem, called upon the new generation to uphold the values and spirit of the liberation war. She emphasised the country’s commitment to democracy times during her short address, and also proclaimed Bangladesh as a role model of social development.

The Victory Day event received messages of support from Bangladesh President Md. Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam.

A photo exhibition titled ‘Bangladesh: Birth of a Nation — Timeline 1952-1971’ was also on display. As well as speeches, singers and dancers from the Bangladeshi community in London took part in a cultural programme and guests were served with traditional Bengali food.

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