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