AMA Muhith would never go back to Sylhet

Sylhet City Corporation gave AMA Muhith 'Guni Shrestha Sammanona' (award for highest merit) at a programme on 16 MarchProthom Alo

“Wherever I was or I am, Sylhet attracts me very much. I would go to Sylhet again.” Former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith expressed his desire to come to his hometown in an interview to Prothom Alo’s editor Matiur Rahman on 21 March. He also informed the family members that he wants to come to Sylhet in forthcoming Eid-ul-Fitr and they made arrangement in this end. Leaving all the plans and desire to come to Sylhet behind, the veteran economist passed away last night.

The 88-year old veteran economist breathed his last at United Hospital at around 12:55am on 30 April.

His younger brother and foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told Prothom Alo that the first namaz-e-janaza of AMA Muhith would be held at Gulshan Azad Mosque at 10:30am on Saturday. His second janaza would be held at Parliament Plaza at 11:30am and the body would be taken to Central Shaheed Minar at 12:00pm where people would pay their respects. AMA Muhith’s body would be taken to his hometown Sylhet for burial. (The janaza at parliament plaza, however, has been postponed for unavoidable reasons).

“We would come back to his beloved city and people will throng to see him. But he would never be seen smiling while talking. He has left this city and people of this city for good,” foreign minister Momen told Prothom Alo.

AMA Muhith had come to Sylhet on 14 March after two and a half years. He couldn’t come to Sylhet for a long time due to Covid situation. He contracted Covid on 25 July, 2021. Muhith was hospitalised at the beginning of March. On 16 March the Sylhet City Corporation gave him the 'Guni Shrestha Sammanona' (award for highest merit). At that programme, Muhith wished to come to Sylhet again said his life was of ‘great content and great achievement’.

The programme organised by Sylhet City Corporation was the last event AMA Muhith joined. At the programme held by Surma river, AMA Muhith said, “I’m a truly a son of Sylhet. It’s a matter of pride that I’m a guest at my own city. Getting such honour and recognition at my own origin is a matter of joy.”

AMA Muhith was elected lawmaker from Sylhet-1 constituency in 2008 and 2014 parliamentary elections. Various development works in his constituency during the two terms as country’s foreign minister earned him the respect of residents of Sylhet, said persons close to him adding that he would always take pride of the rich history and heritage of Sylhet.

Abdul Maal Abdul Muhith was born on 25 January 1934 at his home in Sylhet's Dhopadighirpar to Abu Ahmad Abdul Hafiz and Syeda Sahar Banu Chowdhury. His father was a veteran lawyer and politician of Sylhet. He was the third of 14 siblings.

Muhith earned his bachelor's (Honours) degree in English literature in 1954 from Dhaka University, securing first class first position. He earned his master's degree in the same subject the next year. In 1955, he became the vice president (VP) of Salimullah Hall students' union.

After joining Pakistan Civil Service (CSP) in 1956, he served in different departments of East Pakistan, Central Pakistan and then Bangladesh. He was appointed as the secretary of planning in 1972 and secretary of the external resource department of Finance and Planning Ministry in 1977.

He studied at Oxford University in 1957–1958 and completed a masters degree in public administration at Harvard University in 1964.

AMA Muhith also played a glorious role in Bangladesh’s liberation war. In 1971 he had been serving at the Pakistan embassy in the US when he declared his allegiance to Bangladesh. He mobilised support abroad for the Bangladesh Liberation War. That is why in 2016 he was accorded the highest civil honour of state, Swadinata Padak.

AMA Muhith was Economic Relations Department’s secretary in 1977-81. He voluntarily retired from public service in 1981. AMA Muhith was finance and planning minister in 1982-83 during Ershad regime. He accepted the offer extended by the military dictator on condition that the state power would be handed over to the elected representatives upon forming a neutral government. He resigned from the ministry two years later as his condition was not fulfilled. He then engaged himself with work in World Bank and other organisations of the United Nations. He was the founding president of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA). Muhith was also a president of Dhaka University Alumni Association.

Muhith joined Bangladesh Awami League in 2001. He was elected member of parliament from Sylhet-1 constituency in 2008 and 2014.

He has authored 40 books, in English and Bangla.