Syed Muazzem Ali

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Syed Muazzem Ali
সৈয়দ মোয়াজ্জেম আলী
Syed Muazzem Ali (cropped).jpg
Born(1944-07-18)18 July 1944
Died30 December 2019(2019-12-30) (aged 75)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Alma mater

Syed Muazzem Ali (18 July 1944 – 30 December 2019) was a Bangladeshi foreign service officer and career diplomat.[1][2] In 2020, he was posthumously conferred the Padma Bhushan award, the third-highest civilian honour of India.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ali was born on 18 July 1944 into a Bengali Muslim family from the Sylhet district, Assam Province in British Raj.[4] He traced his paternal descent from Shah Ahmed Mutawakkil, a local holy man and a Syed of Taraf, though apparently unrelated to Taraf's ruling Syed dynasty.[5] Ali's father was Syed Mostafa Ali, a civil servant employed by the British Raj in Assam Province.

He completed his bachelor's and master's in zoology with first class from the University of Dhaka. He joined the Pakistan Civil Service and was trained at the Civil Service Academy in Lahore. From 1973 to 1974 he studied at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.[6]


Ali was serving in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C. when Bangladesh Liberation war started, and he defected to the Bangladeshi government in exile. He helped found the Bangladeshi embassy to the United States. He helped funnel resources from the United States and the United Nations to the reconstruction of Bangladesh. From 1975 to 1978, he served in the Bangladeshi embassy in Poland. He worked in the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 1982 to 1986 and for the Bangladeshi High Commissioner in India from 1986 to 1988.[6][7][8]

Ali was the consul in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. He would go on to serve as Bangladesh Ambassador to Bhutan, Iran, Lebanon, Turkmenistan, France, Syria, and Portugal. Ali was Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UNESCO, where (in cooperation with Tony Huq, former Permanent Representative to UNESCO and then UNESCO Special Adviser), he helped establish the International Mother Language Day on 21 February through the introduction of the draft resolution, the Language movement day. He then served as the foreign secretary of Bangladesh, where he worked to facilitate duty free for exports of least developed country to Europe.[6][9] In 2014, he was appointed High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Ali's older brother Syed Mohammad Ali was the founding editor of The Daily Star.[6] His youngest uncle Syed Mujtaba Ali was a writer.[4]


Ali died on 30 December 2019 at the age of 75 at Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka.[4][11]

On 22 January 2022, Ali was awarded the Ekushey Padak, the second most important award for civilians in Bangladesh.[12]


  1. "Bangladesh appoints Syed Muazzem Ali as new envoy to India". The Economic Times. 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  2. "Bangladesh missions observe Martyrs' Day". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  3. "Syed Muazzem Ali named for Padma Bhushan Award". Dhaka Tribune. 2020-01-26. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Ex-Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Muazzem Ali passes away". The Daily Star. 2019-12-30. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  5. Khan, Nurur Rahman (1999), Sharif Uddin Ahmed (ed.), "Syed Mujtaba Ali", Sylhet: History and Heritage, Sylhet: Bangladesh Itihas Samiti: 824–25, ISBN 978-984-31-0478-6
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Biography of Syed Muazzem Ali". Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  7. "Ex-foreign secy Syed Muazzem Ali new Dhaka envoy to India". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  8. "Dhaka appoints new High Commissioner to India". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  9. "International Mother Language Day". The Daily Star. 2010-02-21. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  10. Habib, Haroon (2014-09-29). "Syed Muazzem Ali is new Bangladesh envoy". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  11. "Ex-Bangladesh High Commissioner Muazzem Ali passes away". Daily Observer. 2019-12-30. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  12. "24 personalities to get Ekushey Padak". Retrieved 2022-02-07.
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