Now is the time to be united
It was 49 years ago, on March 26, 1971, that Bangladesh declared independence against the oppressive Pakistani regime.
As we step into our 50th year as a nation, we are still young, but there is no denying the insurmountable progress that we have achieved over the last 49 years.
After a heinous attack by the Pakistani military forces the previous night against the Bangladeshi people, the likes of which cannot be fathomed, the courage and will of the Bangladeshi people were on full display, using this brutality displayed by Pakistan to spark their resistance, and emerge victorious after a bloody nine-month Liberation War.
Throughout our history as a nation, we have overcome great adversity, from famine to wars to natural disasters -- from each one, we have emerged as a stronger and more resourceful nation.
Today, we face yet another challenge, perhaps the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime. The Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on the entire planet at an unprecedented rate, with over 19,000 deaths already confirmed, a number that is rapidly rising every day.
Bangladesh too has already lost five lives, with experts fearing that the worst is yet to come.
During such dire times, it is important for us, on this day, to harken back to 1971, and what it was that embodied the spirit of our independence, and made it possible for us to become a free nation, despite insurmountable odds that were against us.
It was through Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur’s Rahman exemplary leadership, together with making tough but necessary decisions throughout our struggle for independence, and the unity displayed by the Bangladeshi people, that we were able to emerge victorious.
All eyes are now on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to be that voice of reason, to show the courage and strong leadership during the time of the coronavirus, where people are once again afraid, and are searching for hope.
It is also the time to once again make difficult but necessary decisions, ones that, above all, prioritize the safety and well-being of the citizens.
In order to combat the Covid-19, that means making decisions to enforce social distancing, a particularly difficult undertaking for a country as densely populated and communal as Bangladesh.
The government must be lauded for postponing the grand arrangements planned for March 17 to commemorate the beginning of Mujib Year. Additionally, they also deserve credit for not going ahead with the Independence Day Parade.
Similarly, the government had to minimize transport access across the country, shut down government offices, and postpone exams while shutting down education institutions.
These are all extremely difficult decisions, but they had to be made.
However, tough decisions by leaders would only be effective if the people respond. It is only when the general population buys into the leaders’ decisions that the greatest of challenges can be overcome.
Therefore, it is time for us, as a people and as a nation, to come together and do our part, be that by practicing social distancing, good hygiene, or compassion for our fellow Bangladeshis during this time of crisis.
Now is the time to be united, to remember the spirit of our independence, and once again emerge victorious from this most difficult ordeal.