The man who toured the world to shape a nation

সম্পাদনা/লেখক: আব্দুল্লাহ হারুন জুয়েল

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, is often called a “Friend of the World” for his fight for the rights of deprived people and his sacrifice for shaping war-torn Bangladesh as a nation.

This is not just an impulsive observation on the architect of Bangladesh. It is the reality he proves all through his life. While formulating the principles of Bangladesh foreign policy, immediately after his homecoming, Bangabandhu declared, “We are a small country, we want friendship with all and malice towards none.” Since then, “friendship to all, malice to none’ has been Bangladesh’s tagline.

Bangabandhu did not want to usher in any new struggle for the people of the newly-born country or create any more enemies. Thus, he refused to accept Bangladesh’s first prime minister Tajuddin Ahmed’s stance ‘not to take aid from any country which opposed our liberation struggle’.

He wanted this tiny land to be a Switzerland of Asia because the Swiss army did not fight any war since 1847. He said, “I would like it (Bangladesh) to become the Switzerland of the East” (Principles of International Relations, by Md Abdul Halim). Bangabandhu had that vision in mind. Bangabandhu’s foreign policy was always much ahead of its time. That is why Bangladesh still is enjoying the successes of Bangabandhu’s foreign policy.

Bangabandhu travelled across the world envisioned to create friends of Bangladesh. He toured from Africa to Middle East to Europe in his short time existence to characterise Bangladesh’s foreign relations.

Following his release from the Pakistani prison, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was flown to the United Kingdom for medical checkups. It was his first international visit after the independence of Bangladesh. He had a public meeting at the Birmingham on 8 January 1972. At the Birmingham Palace, Bangabandhu met Queen Elizabeth the second and the Duke of Edinburgh. Bangabandhu was greeted there by the British prime minister Edward Heath and held a meeting with him afterwards. Bangladesh’s mission for a peaceful diplomacy was born at that very moment.

Some glimpses of Bangabandhu’s visionary world tour

On 8 January 1972, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman attended a press conference in London, the UK, talking to the world media after his release from Pakistani prison.

On 8 January 1972, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman attended a press conference in London, the UK, talking to the world media after his release from Pakistani prison.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is greeted by the British prime minister Edward Heath in London. After the meeting, the British prime minister himself opened the car door for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is greeted by the British prime minister Edward Heath in London. After the meeting, the British prime minister himself opened the car door for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman after the Birmingham public meeting on 8 January 1972.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman after the Birmingham public meeting on 8 January 1972.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Birmingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth the second and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1972.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Birmingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth the second and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1972.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the outspoken supporter of an Independent Bangladesh, US senator Edward Kennedy and his wife on 15 February 1972.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the outspoken supporter of an Independent Bangladesh, US senator Edward Kennedy and his wife on 15 February 1972.
Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin welcomes prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 1 March 1972.

Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin welcomes prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 1 March 1972.
Independent Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman observes the exit parade of the Indian Army on 12 March 1972.

Independent Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman observes the exit parade of the Indian Army on 12 March 1972.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in conversation with the UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim on 27 November 1972.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in conversation with the UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim on 27 November 1972.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Zambia's president Kenneth Kaunda on 3 August 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Zambia’s president Kenneth Kaunda on 3 August 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addresses the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit Conference in Algeria in September, 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addresses the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit Conference in Algeria in September, 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in conversation with Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad, Father of Bashar Al-Asad on 5 September 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in conversation with Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad, Father of Bashar Al-Asad on 5 September 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in Algiers, Algeria in 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in Algiers, Algeria in 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman embracing Anowar Sadat, the President of Egypt in 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman embracing Anowar Sadat, the President of Egypt in 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Saudi king Faisal in Algeria. This meeting was the beginning of the discussions that led to Bangladeshis being able to make the Holy Hajj in 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Saudi king Faisal in Algeria. This meeting was the beginning of the discussions that led to Bangladeshis being able to make the Holy Hajj in 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman receiving the guard of honor on his visit to Japan. Present with him is the Prime Minister of Japan Kakuei Tanaka in October 1973).

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman receiving the guard of honor on his visit to Japan. Present with him is the Prime Minister of Japan Kakuei Tanaka in October 1973).
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman receives an embroidered "ghilaf" as gift at the mausoleum of Hazrat Abdul Quader Jilani (R).

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman receives an embroidered “ghilaf” as gift at the mausoleum of Hazrat Abdul Quader Jilani (R).
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in conversation with Malaysian King Abdul Halim on 3 December 1973.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in conversation with Malaysian King Abdul Halim on 3 December 1973.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman presented with a Calligraphy of the Holy Quran by the Egyptian delegates of a trade mission.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman presented with a Calligraphy of the Holy Quran by the Egyptian delegates of a trade mission.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Islamic nations meet (OIC) in Lahore on 23 February 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Islamic nations meet (OIC) in Lahore on 23 February 1974.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Burmese President Ne Win on 28 April 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Burmese President Ne Win on 28 April 1974.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Senegalese Poet President Léopold Sédar Senghor in May 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Senegalese Poet President Léopold Sédar Senghor in May 1974.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the United States President Gerald Ford at the White House in 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the United States President Gerald Ford at the White House in 1974.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr 8 October 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr 8 October 1974.
With Saddam Hussein and members of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council in October 1974.

With Saddam Hussein and members of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council in October 1974.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Emir of Kuwait on 10 November 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Emir of Kuwait on 10 November 1974.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the President of United Arab Emirates on 18 December 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the President of United Arab Emirates on 18 December 1974.
US foreign minister Henry Kissinger met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Waldorf Towers at 10:30am on 30 September 1974.

US foreign minister Henry Kissinger met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Waldorf Towers at 10:30am on 30 September 1974.
Leonid Brezhnev, President of the then Soviet Union met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 3 March 1972. Photo: Collected

Leonid Brezhnev, President of the then Soviet Union met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 3 March 1972. Photo: Collected
Sir Edward Richard George Heath, widely known as Ted Heath, former British politician prime minister, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman shook hand at 10 Downing Street on 8 January 1972.

Sir Edward Richard George Heath, widely known as Ted Heath, former British politician prime minister, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman shook hand at 10 Downing Street on 8 January 1972.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returns to Bangladesh after a successful visit abroad. One of his closest compatriots, Syed Nazrul Islam, is unable to contain his excitement and receives him on the stairs of the airplane itself.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returns to Bangladesh after a successful visit abroad. One of his closest compatriots, Syed Nazrul Islam, is unable to contain his excitement and receives him on the stairs of the airplane itself.

Toriqul Islam | Source: EnProthomAlo | Published: 18 March 2020, 11:10

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