Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today asked the Bangladesh Armed Forces personnel to always be ready to protect the country's independence and sovereignty.
"We don't want to engage in war with anyone . . . But, we have to get ready to defend ourselves properly if any external enemy attacks," she said, reports BSS.
The premier said this while addressing the inaugural ceremony of Sheikh Russell Cantonment at Jazira in Shariatpur, joining virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban here.
Mentioning that Bangladesh follows Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's basic principle "friendship to all, malice to none", she said, "We believe in that policy."
But, each member of the Armed Forces has to remain prepared to defend the country's independence and sovereignty, she added.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said that her government has taken necessary measures to make the country's Armed Forces modern, educated and prosperous further.
She said, "I believe that each member of the armed forces will gradually increase their reputation with own wisdom, professional skills and dutifulness."
She pointed out that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formulated the "National Defense Policy-1974" and within a short time, he established more than 100 units and institutions for the army, including the Bangladesh Military Academy and the Combined Arms School.
After the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu along with most of his family members on 15 August 1975, she said there was instability inside the Armed Forces and nearly 19-20 coups were staged when huge armed forces officers and soldiers were killed.
Assuming power after 21 years in 1996, she said that the Awami League government adopted the development and modernization plan for the Armed Forces.
She said they have established National Defense College and Military Institute of Science and Technology in 1998 while Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training and Armed Forces Medical College in 1999.
Besides, her government first recruited female officers in Army, Navy and Air Force in 2000, she added.
After winning consecutive elections since 2008, she said they have been implementing short, medium and long term plans to build a trained and up-to- date armed forces, framing "Forces Goal-2030" on the basis of National Defense Policy-1974 formulated by Bangabandhu.
In addition, she said they've established Bangladesh Peace Building Center in 2016 and formulated 'National Defense Policy, 2018.
To match up with the developed world, the premier said her government has incorporated modern infantry gazettes to the army.
"My goal was that each member of our Armed Forces might prepare themselves in a time-befitting manner," she added.
Sheikh Hasina, the elder daughter of Bangabandhu, said her two brothers Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal were members of Bangladesh Army, but later Kamal got admitted to the Dhaka University due to my mother's choice.
She said Sheikh Jamal joined the army completing regular training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
She extended her gratitude to the army chief and members of army for naming Mawa and Jazira cantonments as "Sheikh Russell Cantonment", mentioning that her younger brother Sheikh Russell had also desire to be an army officer after growing up.
Regarding the Padma Bridge, Sheikh Hasina said she had laid the foundation stone of the bridge in 2001 but coming to power, the then BNP government stopped it and they wanted to shift the bridge from here.
Again assuming office, she said, her government has moved up to construct Padma Bridge but the World Bank stepped aside from funding the work raising false corruption allegations.
But, they (World Bank) had failed to probe the allegation when it was challenged by her (Prime Minister) and Canadian Court also didn't find any corruption here, she added.
She continued, "In this context, I decided to give a strong response to them and construct the bridge with own financing . . . today we've constructed the Padma Bridge."
She went on saying that the 99 Composite Brigade and the Cantonment has been established to ensure the security of the Padma Bridge.
At the ceremony, the prime minister also received a state salute from a smartly turned out contingent of 99 Composite Brigade.
Chief of Army Staff General S M Shafiuddin Ahmed also spoke.
General Officer Commanding of 9th Infantry Division and Commander of Savar Area Major General Shaheenul Haque presented a brief description of the Sheikh Russell Cantonment.
At the outset of the ceremony, an audio-visual documentary on the Sheikh Russell Cantonment was also screened.