As Bangladesh celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence this year, its tremendous economic growth has made it an emerging hub for regional connectivity, attracting more trade and investment opportunities.
According to the World Bank, the country has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world for the past decade, supported by a demographic dividend, strong ready-to-wear (RMG) exports and stable macroeconomics.
Bangladesh is also on the way out of the UN list of least developed countries (LDCs) in 2026. Poverty has fallen from 43.5% to 14.3% in two decades, while over the years Over the past seven years, the country’s garment industry has increased its annual revenue from $ 19 to $ 34 billion, an increase of 79%, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
But the country’s 50-year journey has not been smooth, and there are still areas for improvement, including the rule of law, electoral democracy and the human rights situation, without which economic development. won’t make sense.
Addressing these and other questions, Bangladeshi author, defense expert, security analyst and former Election Commissioner Brig. General (retired) Mr. Sakhawat Hossain met with Anadolu agency on the occasion of Victory Day in Bangladesh on December 16.
Hossain, who is also an honorary researcher at the South Asian Institute for Policy and Governance at North South University in Dhaka and a former member of the board of directors of a leading commercial bank, recalled the rather different contexts, in particular cultural, linguistic and geographic. distance between East Pakistan and West Pakistan which served as major factors for the separation of the two regions through the War of Independence in 1971 after 24 years of a united Pakistan.
âThe motives for the self-rule movement and the war of independence that followed began in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, since Pakistan’s independence from British rule moved to autocratic rule rather than to a democratic Pakistan after 1947 â, he declared.
But the huge economic divide between the two parts of Pakistan was one of the main causes of separation, he added.
âWar-ravaged Bangladesh in 1971 was also economically devastated, as the economy was based on West Pakistan. With the exception of jute, there was nothing left as an industry, nothing as a resource that could immediately help Bangladesh recover.
Meanwhile, political instability was deepening in independent Bangladesh, which ultimately led to the 1974 famine, considered the country’s worst in decades, he said.
The brutal murder of the country’s first acting head of state, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in the early hours of August 15, 1975, along with most of his family, held the military in power for years until 1990, has he said.
– Clothing, NGOs, private entrepreneurs stimulate economic growth
âFifty years for a country is not a long time to be politically and economically stable. However, we didn’t think we could achieve the current economic and infrastructural development, âHossain said.
He noted that Bangladesh has reduced its fertility rate to 2.3%, improved access to basic human rights like education, health and housing, and increased life expectancy to 72.87 years. .
It has eclipsed neighboring India and Pakistan in many indicators, including GDP growth, per capita income, and education and women’s empowerment, he said.
âBangladesh’s main economic progress started in the 1980s. The garment industries in the 1980s and 1990s brought significant economic progress and paved the way for so many private entrepreneurs to contribute to the economy,â a- he noted.
âBangladesh is no longer an economic hopeless case but rather a model for developing countries. No other country in the region has made such economic progress in 50 years, especially in the areas of roads, transport, public health and infrastructure development.
– Need to improve democratic situations and human rights
Bangladesh was not a virtual guest at US President Joe Biden’s Democracy Summit this month and was therefore not among the 111 countries that attended.
Meanwhile, the United States this week sanctioned the elite Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) anti-crime unit. He also imposed a ban on seven current and former senior RAB and law enforcement officials, including the Bangladesh Inspector General of Police, meaning they cannot enter the United States due to of alleged human rights violations.
However, some experts have linked the sanctions to the “slide” from Bangladesh to China.
âIndia has surrounded Bangladesh at all of its land borders while China is Bangladesh’s primary development partner. And India has yet to conquer the world market in terms of trade and investment in the region’s megaprojects compared to China, âHossain noted.
Meanwhile, âBangladesh does not have strategic relations with China and has not participated in any joint military exercise with it. There is therefore no certain reason to say that Sino-Bangladeshi relations were at the origin of the US sanctions. “
The recent US sanctions and Biden’s failure to invite Bangladesh to the Democracy Summit is just the latest US policy on human rights and democracy, he said.
âBangladesh was supposed to be a liberal democratic country, but it has fallen behind in political democracy. The national electoral process is no longer democratic. If we fail to restore democracy and human rights, then all economic developments will be meaningless, âhe stressed.