The prime minister says properly trained armed forces are essential to safeguard the national integrity and sovereignty of any country
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said ensuring global peace has become far more challenging than in the past due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"With the advent of invisible enemies like the coronavirus, the rapid spread of technology, and the advancement of time, new elements of threats have emerged," she said on Monday.
The prime minister was speaking at the closing ceremony of "Exercise Front Runner of Peace 2021" from her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka.
On the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of independence, a multinational exercise, organized by Bangladesh Army, was held at Bangabandhu Cantonment, Ghatail in Tangail from April 4-12.
Military members from India, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka along with their Bangladesh counterpart participated in the exercise.
Currently, Sheikh Hasina said, peacekeepers in UN peacekeeping missions have to deal with multidimensional and complex situations. "So, the number of peacekeepers' deaths is rising at an alarming rate."
So far, she mentioned, 158 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have died and 237 injured.
"Time has come to equip peacekeepers with appropriate training and equipment to deal with the upcoming crises in UN peacekeeping operations."
Hasina said the recent incidents that happened in UN peacekeeping missions were presented in "Exercise Front Runner of Peace" so that the future peacekeepers may be trained well in making appropriate decisions to deal with such situations.
The prime minister said properly trained armed forces are essential to safeguard the national integrity and sovereignty of any country. "Similarly, there is no alternative to regular exercise in proving the capabilities of the military members."
Returning to power in 2009, she said, the Awami League government has formulated a long-term plan titled "Forces Goal 2030," and it is being implemented with the aim of building a highly professional and trained military.
'Zero tolerance policy to eradicate militancy'
In 2016, she said, the government has established Bangladesh Peacebuilding Centre (BPC). In the last 12 years, it has made significant progress in modernizing the three forces.
"We have added sophisticated weapons and technology to our military. We have adopted a 'zero tolerance policy' to eradicate terrorism and militancy," she said.
So far, over 175,000 Bangladeshi peacekeepers, including 1,800 women ones, have participated in 54 missions in 40 countries of five continents while more than 7,000 Bangladeshi army and police personnel are currently deployed in 10 peacekeeping missions, the prime minister said.
"In every mission that our peacekeepers destined they have raised the flag of the United Nations high as well as brightened Bangladesh's image. That is why Bangladesh has become one of the highest peacekeeper-providing countries in the world today," she said.
Talking about the socioeconomic development, the prime minister said even during the pandemic when the world economy got stalled, the government has tried to keep Bangladesh economy moving, enabling the country to achieve 5.4% GDP (gross domestic product) growth.
"By the time we have been elevated to the developing nation status."
Visiting Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane also spoke at the program while Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed delivered the welcome and thanksgiving speeches.
On behalf of the prime minister, the Army chief distributed certificates among the participants of the exercise.