Farhad Hossain is working as a Professor of English in the Mohammadpur Kandriya College. Mtr Hossain is chairman of Department of English. Mr Hossain also the member of the Foreign affairs committee of ruling Party, Bangladesh Awamileague.
London Times News Special Correspondent Mr Shahidun Alam recently met with Mr Hossain. Here, Conversation with Mr Farhad Hossain:
Mr Alam:Tell us about the contributions of Bangabandhu in formulating the foreign policies of Bangladesh.
Mr Farhad Hossain: Bangabandhu is the real founder of the foreign policy of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu was released from the Pakistani jail, and stepped on the soil of Bangladesh in 10th Jan 1972.
Bangabandhu formed the government of a newborn independent country on 12th January 1972. At the beginning of the inception of his government, Bangabandhu endeavored a lot and left no stone unturned to get the recognition of the international community for Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign country.
Bangabandhu rightly felt one thing, without any sort of confusion, that in order to have the stability of a newly independent country like Bangladesh, international recognition was very important and necessary than solving any other problems. And that is why, Bangabandhu made a very good team of the Ministry of Foreign affairs by the officers of independent Bangladesh to expedite and convey foreign policy based on the principle and philosophy of friendship with all, malice to none. This fundamental and basic philosophy of our Foreign Policy is an innovation of Bangabandhu. Because of the strong endeavors of Bangabandhu, the United States of America, the mightiest country of the world, which stood against the emergence of Bangladesh, during our war of liberation in 1971, recognized Bangladesh in April 1972, and it was a great victory of the foreign policy of Bangabandhu. Bangabandhu started endeavoring tirelessly, to get the recognition of United Nations organization for Bangladesh, and in 1974, Bangladesh became the member of the UN, and it was a great achievement. Then Bangabandhu could feel that the recognition of the Arab countries for Bangladesh was very important and necessary, because he could understand that export of manpower from Bangladesh was a very important issue to earn foreign exchange to ensure a speedy economy for over-all development of Bangladesh. Bangladesh had a large bulk of population, and Bangladesh was in a capacity of exporting manpower to the Middle east. So without getting recognition of the Arab states, the manpower exporting to the Arab countries would not have been possible. And that is why Bangabandhu took a strong initiative so that he could get the recognition of the Arab countries for Bangladesh.
Accordingly, he appointed Dr. Kamal Hossain as foreign minister. And he had been given a certain kind of liberty from Bangabandhu to make liaisons with Arab countries. The Bangladeshi foreign minister started visiting several countries of Middle East. Iraq, Egypt and Syria- these three Arab countries recognized Bangladesh first. But unfortunately, Saudi Arab took a very rigid position. Because Saudi Arab was convinced by the then Pakistani government that the emergence of Bangladesh was a disintegration of Pakistan. And secularism, which was the spirit of the constitution of BD, which expedited the emergence of BD, was misinterpreted by the Pakistani diplomats to the Saudi government. Till the lifetime of Bangabandhu, Saudi Arab did not recognize Bangladesh. After the brutal murder of Bangabandhu, Saudi Arab and China recognized Bangladesh.
But Bangabandhu’s tenure of government was not continued more than 3.5 years. During that period, many international organizations recognized Bangladesh. And Bangladesh achieved the membership in so many international organizations like FAO, WHO, GEF, etc. So, as a newly independent country, Bangabandhu’s strategy was very clear, transparent and strong enough for getting a very colorful international recognition for Bangladesh.
Alam:Tell us about your familial and academic life. Out of all the professions, what was your cause behind choosing the noble profession of teaching?
Mr Farhad Hossain: During the boyhood, I had a mind to be an orator, to be a speaker. And I was finding a way, how I could be a good speaker or orator. In conclusion, I found that the teaching profession is the best way to be a good orator. That is why, I came to a decision to be a teacher. By my father particularly did not want that. He wanted to see me as a civil servant. My mother died when I was a student of only class 2, during the War of Liberation. So far I can only recollect the memories of my mother, and her comments about me, she wanted to see me as a lawyer, she wanted to see me to go to England, to face and to complete Bar-at-Law, and to return to the country, and practice independently. But unfortunately, because of the death of my mother, it was a great impediment on the way of my becoming a lawyer. So I exactly cherished in my mind to be a teacher. And finally, after my university education, I started my career as a college teacher, and joined in 1992 as a lecturer in Mohammadpur Central University College. I had to face serious adversities since my boyhood because of the loss of my mother. I think that the loss of my mother was a great impediment in my life to build up my career in a consolidated form. But I continued my struggle to build up my career, and as the eldest child of my parents, I had to take responsibility of my brothers and sisters, and to support the family economically. Now I am happy to tell you one thing, I have already completed my duty as the eldest child of my parents. My brothers and sisters are already established in different ways; they are leading a better life. Now I am taking care of myself, to sharpen my career in so many ways. Nowadays I am being invited to several medias, to talk, to speak and share my experiences in different venues and spaces. As I am a member of the International sub-committee of Bangladesh Awami League, the ruling party, I have already been invited to different television channels. I usually go to the medias to convey and share my views about and national and international issues.
Alam:In case of foreign policies, what are the achievements of the honorable Prime minister?
Mr Farhad Hossain: You have already come to know that Bangladesh has given the resort to Rohingya refugees. I have to go back to the history. In 1971, when the liberation war was going on, more than 1 crore Bengali refugees were resorted in the soil of India, and after that, India had achieved a very particularly praiseworthy status in the international community for helping Bangladesh and for having offered refuge to more than 1 crore refugees influx from Bangladesh driven out by the Pakistani army. After 47-48 years, Bangladesh has achieved a certain kind of space and formidable status, to offer resort, sanitation, water, health care, food for more than 3 million refugees, who have crossed the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh. So Bangladesh has got a very reputed status in the international community, and already, the international community has given Bangladesh a praiseworthy note, for showing humanity to offer the Rohingya refugees. And Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already earned a reputation in the world community. The UNO already recognized and praised the humanitarian works done by Bangladesh for the Rohingya refugees. And I think that it is a great achievement, it is a great success of foreign policy of Sheikh Hasina.
After the brutal murder of Bangabandhu along with other family members, the total scenario had been changed. We have to remember that India exclusively extended the direct helping hands of cooperation to expedite the independence of Bangladesh during 9 months’ war of liberation. The government after the killing of Bangabandhu in Bangladesh, almost made a barrier in maintaining external relations with so many issues with India, and definitely it was a very dark phase, particularly in our foreign policy. And 21 years long, Awami League was out of power. And after 21 years, when Bangladesh Awami League came to power in 1996, another phase of foreign policy was started under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, daughter of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. And without any confusion I can state one thing that her government endeavors a lot to retain the friendly relations between India and Bangladesh. So many memorandums of understandings and agreements had already been signed between the Government of Bangladesh and the Government of India. The greatest achievement of Sheikh Hasina’s government to maintain external relations and to address bilateral issues with India are: the maritime boundary, and the solution of the enclave problems between India and Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina’s government was courageous enough to go to the International court of justice to make a permanent settlement on the disputing issue of maritime boundary between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar and it was a great achievement of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy that Bangladesh ultimately had been able to determine a Maritime boundary. Bangladesh has won more than 300 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal, by winning a vast territory, particularly water territory on the sea, Bangladesh has opened and incepted the ministry of maritime resources, or sea resources. And Sheikh Hasina’s government established a ministry which is called the ministry of Maritime, and Mr Khurshid Alam, the retired rear admiral, has already been appointed as secretary for this ministry, Mr. Alam is a well-known resource person specially in maritime affairs. If the resources under the sea can be utilized particularly to accelerate the economic growth, it will create tremendous employment facilities. By this time, we have come to know about valuable articles under the sea, which have already been detected in our maritime area. It has been noted already, that there are so many resources under the sea, and it is a matter of hope that if Bangladesh is able to use this resources, this will create a very effective economic development in Bangladesh by using these natural resources.
Alam: Kissinger referred to Bangladesh as a bottomless basket. Do you think that his comment and the current scenario of Bangladesh are in alignment?
Mr Farhad Hossain: Kissinger’s comment was totally purposeful. During the time, the United States of America was quite against the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state. It was the diplomatic strong endeavor of the Nixon government to save the integrity of Pakistan. So after the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state, the American government, particularly the missionaries of the Nixon government, was totally embarrassed to see Bangladesh as an independent country. Kissinger was a member of the national security council of the United states of America, he made this comment purposefully. He could not exactly understand the energetic working force, working power of Bengali people. Today, Kissinger’s comment was quite disapproved, it was futilely disapproved. Bangladesh has been already an emerging force particularly in South Asia. And some day, you will see that Bangladesh will be in the position of Malaysia and Singapore. Kissinger is still alive now, and he has already regretted for his comment that he made about Bangladesh.
Alam:In the scenario of the global economy, how can Bangladesh progress?
Mr Farhad Hossain: The government of making Bangladesh enter into heavy industry. Industrial competition can be exactly ensured by introducing heavy industry. Bangladesh should have stepped exactly into heavy industry for being in competition with other countries, in order to take Bangladesh to a formidable position. Already we have got some achievement in the field of trade and commerce, and other light industries, but these aren’t sufficient in getting Bangladesh to a formidable position, for competing with other countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is a very courageous Prime Minister, as Bangladesh has already seen. As far as my knowledge goes, Sheikh Hasina’s government has some plans already, for setting heavy industries in the soil of Bangladesh, so that BD can go to the arena of global competition.