AT THE DINNER HOSTED BY THE Lt.GENERAL H.M. ERSHAD CHIEF MARTIAL LAW ADMINISTRATOR - 1983-01-04
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Bangladesh on five previous occasions and each has left me with the richest of memories. To be here again to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of my Accession to the Imamat of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims is therefore to renew ties of longstanding friendship and my wife and I are both honoured and delighted to be welcomed this evening in terms of such warmth particularly appreciate Your Excellency's remark that you consider me as a fellow Bangladeshi. I could not wish for a greater complement.
Islam is the inspiration for all of us and it is our common faith, and its commitment to the brotherhood of man, which has guided the institutions of the Imamat, no less I hope in my own time than in that of my grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan. It was my grandfather who set the traditions to which Your Excellency has so kindly referred. Today our activity in the fields of welfare and of commercial enterprise is dedicated to all communities, not merely our own. Your Excellency also referred to the newly formed Industrial Promotion and Development Company of Bangladesh as an example of what our combined efforts can do. Our own Industrial Promotion Services Company of Switzerland is one of the four international partners who have established the Industrial Promotion and Development Company of Bangladesh, in which Your Excellency's Government has a 30 percent share. The other partners are the International Finance Corporation, the Commonwealth Development Corporation and the German Development Corporation, the DEG of Western Germany. We believe this powerful grouping, which has given the IPDC an initial capital of $6 million, can marry local and international expertise to generate new industrial growth in the private sector here, in line with your government's policies.
The foundation of the IPDC is the consequence of both the late President Zia-ur-Rehman and Your Excellency's own government committing themselves to the creation of a strong, stable and self-reliant Bangladesh through the kinds of measures which Your Excellency has just outlined. These are the right measures to produce what I call an enabling environment - that is an economic environment which enables enterprise to flourish. Furthermore, you have indicated your intention through your new Industrial Policy, to maintain the ship of State on this productive course.
Although Bangladesh is facing certain difficulties, some of them due to the world recession, signs of your creative attitude succeeding are already apparent.
As Your Excellency mentioned, your government is instituting many reforms aimed particularly at simplifying the administrative structure and improving sectors that are vital to a population which is 90 percent rural. These must stimulate improved production within Bangladesh, just as they are already attracting respect internationally. Whether it is concerned with such welfare issues as primary health care, the management of food productions, or the encouragement of small scale industry, Bangladesh's suggestions for dealing with the problems of developing a predominantly rural economy are widely listened to in such agencies as the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.
All this amounts to the creation of environment which will enable the nation to improve the quality of life of its citizens and to resist the effects of recession elsewhere. Within that environment I hope and believe you will emphasise and implement good management and high standards of performance. The resources of the Third World are limited and it is vital in the interest of us all that they should be as effectively managed as possible.
Your Excellency, I have no doubt that you will succeed in achieving the goals which your government has set for Bangladesh in the revision of the Second Five Year Plan. I can assure you that you will receive the understanding and cooperation both of my community and of the institutions of the Imamat, whether exercised through the medium of the IPDC, through our participation in the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, through the IPS Companies, the Aga Khan Foundation or any other suitable medium. You concluded your speech by wishing myself and the Begum all the success in the mission which we have set ourselves. I can do no better, Your Excellency, than to express the same wish to your Excellency, Begum Ershad and the people of Bangladesh and to express it with feelings of the greatest warmth.