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History of Bangladesh (1947-1971)

History of Bangladesh (1947-1971)

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The history of Bangladesh from 1947 to 1971 covers the period of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

's history between its independence as a part of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 from British colonial rule in 1947 to its independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Post-partition difficulties


Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 was born in bloodshed and came into existence on August 14, 1947, confronted by seemingly insurmountable problems. As many as 12 million people—Muslims leaving India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 for Pakistan, and Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s and Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s opting to move to India from the new state of Pakistan—had been involved in the mass transfer of population between the two countries, and perhaps two million refugees had died in the violence that had accompanied the migrations. Pakistan's boundaries were established hastily without adequate regard for the new nation's economic viability. Even the minimal requirements of a working central government—skilled personnel, equipment, and a capital city with government buildings—were missing. Until 1947, the East Wing of Pakistan, separated from the West Wing by 1,600 kilometres of Indian territory, had been heavily dependent on Hindu management. Many Hindu Bengalis left for Calcutta after partition, and their place, particularly in commerce, was taken mostly by Muslims who had migrated from the Indian state of Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

 or by West Pakistan
West Pakistan
West Pakistan , common name West-Pakistan , in the period between its establishment on 22 November 1955 to disintegration on December 16, 1971. This period, during which, Pakistan was divided, ended when East-Pakistan was disintegrated and succeeded to become which is now what is known as Bangladesh...

is from Punjab
Punjab (Pakistan)
Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, with approximately 45% of the country's total population. Forming most of the Punjab region, the province is bordered by Kashmir to the north-east, the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, the Pakistani province of Sindh to the...

.

After partition, Muslim banking
Islamic banking
Islamic banking is banking or banking activity that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics. Sharia prohibits the fixed or floating payment or acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money...

 shifted from Bombay to Karachi
Karachi
Karachi is the largest city, main seaport and the main financial centre of Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province of Sindh. The city has an estimated population of 13 to 15 million, while the total metropolitan area has a population of over 18 million...

, Pakistan's first capital. Much of the investment in East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

 came from West Pakistani banks. Investment was concentrated in jute
Jute
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

 production at a time when international demand was decreasing. The largest jute processing factory in the world, at Narayanganj
Narayanganj
Narayanganj is a city in central Bangladesh. It is located in the Narayanganj District, near the capital city of Dhaka and has a population of 220,000. The city is on the bank of the Shitalakshya River. The river port of Narayanganj is one of the oldest in Bangladesh...

, an industrial suburb of Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka Division. Dhaka is a megacity and one of the major cities of South Asia. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city...

, was owned by the Adamjee family from West Pakistan. Because banking and financing were generally controlled by West Pakistanis, discriminatory practices often resulted. Bengalis found themselves excluded from the managerial level and from skilled labor. West Pakistanis tended to favour Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

-speaking Biharis (refugees from the northern Indian state of Bihar living in East Pakistan), considering them to be less prone to labor agitation than the Bengalis. This preference became more pronounced after explosive labor clashes between the Biharis and Bengalis at the Narayaganj jute mill in 1954.

Pakistan had a severe shortage of trained administrative personnel, as most members of the pre-independence Indian Civil Service were Hindus or Sikhs who opted to belong to India at partition. Rarer still were Muslim Bengalis who had any past administrative experience. As a result, high-level posts in Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka Division. Dhaka is a megacity and one of the major cities of South Asia. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city...

, including that of governor general, were usually filled by West Pakistanis or by refugees from India who had adopted Pakistani citizenship.

Bengali Language Movement



One of the most divisive issues confronting Pakistan in its infancy was the question of what the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of the new state was to be. Mohammad Ali Jinnah yielded to the demands of refugees from the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

, who insisted that Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 be Pakistan's official language. Speakers of the languages of West Pakistan (Punjabi
Punjabi language
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

, Sindhi
Sindhi language
Sindhi is the language of the Sindh region of Pakistan that is spoken by the Sindhi people. In India, it is among 22 constitutionally recognized languages, where Sindhis are a sizeable minority. It is spoken by 53,410,910 people in Pakistan, according to the national government's Statistics Division...

, Pushtu, and Baluchi
Balochi language
Balochi is a Northwestern Iranian language. It is the principal language of the Baloch of Balochistan, Pakistan, eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. It is also spoken as a second language by some Brahui. It is designated as one of nine official languages of Pakistan.-Vowels:The Balochi vowel...

) were upset that their languages were given second-class status. In East Pakistan, the dissatisfaction quickly turned to violence. The Bengalis of East Pakistan constituted a majority (an estimated 54 percent) of Pakistan's entire population. Their language, Bangla (then commonly known as Bengali), shares with Urdu a common Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

ic-Persian ancestor, but the two languages have different scripts and literary traditions.

Jinnah visited East Pakistan on only one occasion after independence, shortly before his death in 1948. He announced in Dhaka that "without one state language, no nation can remain solidly together and function." Jinnah's views were not accepted by most East Pakistanis, but perhaps in tribute to the founder of Pakistan, serious resistance on this issue did not break out until after his death. On February 21, 1952, a demonstration was carried out in Dhaka in which students demanded equal status for Bangla. The police reacted by firing on the crowd and killing many students, most of whom remain unidentified to this day. (A memorial, the Shaheed Minar
Shaheed Minar
The Shaheed Minar is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh, established to commemorate those killed during the Language Movement demonstrations of 1952....

, was built later to commemorate the martyrs of the language movement.) Two years after the incident, Bengali agitation effectively forced the National Assembly to designate "Urdu and Bengali and such other languages as may be declared" to be the official languages of Pakistan.

Jinnah and Liaquat


What kept the new country together was the vision and forceful personality of the founders of Pakistan: Jinnah, the governor general popularly known as the Quaid i Azam (Supreme Leader); and Liaquat Ali Khan
Liaquat Ali Khan
For other people with the same or similar name, see Liaqat Ali Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan was a Pakistani statesman who became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Defence minister and Commonwealth, Kashmir Affairs...

 (1895–1951), the first prime minister
Prime Minister of Pakistan
The Prime Minister of Pakistan , is the Head of Government of Pakistan who is designated to exercise as the country's Chief Executive. By the Constitution of Pakistan, Pakistan has the parliamentary democratic system of government...

, popularly known as the Quaid i Millet (Leader of the Community). The government machinery established at independence was similar to the viceregal system that had prevailed in the pre-independence period and placed no formal limitations on Jinnah's constitutional powers. In the 1970s in Bangladesh, another autocrat, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali nationalist politician and the founder of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its...

, would enjoy much of the same prestige and exemption from the normal rule of law.

When Jinnah died in September 1948, the seat of power shifted from the governor general to the prime minister, Liaquat. Liaquat had extensive experience in politics and enjoyed as a refugee from India the additional benefit of not being too closely identified with any one province of Pakistan. A moderate, Liaquat subscribed to the ideals of a parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

ary, democratic, and secular state. Out of necessity he considered the wishes of the country's religious spokesmen who championed the cause of Pakistan as an Islamic state
Islamic State
An Islamic state is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law...

. He was seeking a balance of Islam against secularism for a new constitution when he was assassinated on October 16, 1951, by fanatics opposed to Liaquat's refusal to wage war against India. With both Jinnah and Liaquat gone, Pakistan faced an unstable period that would be resolved by military and civil service intervention in political affairs. The first few turbulent years after independence thus defined the enduring politico-military culture of Pakistan.

The inability of the politicians to provide a stable government was largely a result of their mutual suspicions. Loyalties tended to be personal, ethnic, and provincial rather than national and issue oriented. Provincialism was openly expressed in the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly. In the Constituent Assembly, frequent arguments voiced the fear that the West Pakistani province of Punjab would dominate the nation. An ineffective body, the Constituent Assembly took almost nine years to draft a constitution, which for all practical purposes was never put into effect.

Khwaja Nazimuddin and Ghulam Mohammad


Liaquat was succeeded as prime minister by a conservative Bengali, Governor General Khwaja Nazimuddin. Former finance minister Ghulam Mohammad, a Punjabi career civil servant, became governor general. Ghulam Mohammad was dissatisfied with Nazimuddin's inability to deal with Bengali agitation for provincial autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 and worked to expand his own power base. East Pakistan favoured a high degree of autonomy, with the central government controlling little more than foreign affairs, defence, communications, and currency. In 1953 Ghulam Mohammad dismissed Prime Minister Nazimuddin, established martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 in Punjab, and imposed governor's rule (direct rule by the central government) in East Pakistan. In 1954, he appointed his own "cabinet of talents". Mohammad Ali Bogra, another conservative Bengali and previously Pakistan's ambassador to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, was named prime minister.

During September and October 1954 a chain of events culminated in a confrontation between the governor general and the prime minister. Prime Minister Bogra tried to limit the powers of Governor General Ghulam Mohammad through hastily adopted amendments to the de facto constitution, the Government of India Act of 1935. The governor general, however, enlisted the tacit support of the army and civil service, dissolved the Constituent Assembly, and then formed a new cabinet. Bogra, a man without a personal following, remained prime minister but without effective power. General Iskander Mirza, who had been a soldier and civil servant, became minister of the interior; General Muhammad Ayub Khan, the army commander, became minister of defence; and Chaudhry Muhammad Ali
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali Chaudhry Muhammad Ali Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (Punjabi, ; (July 15, 1905 - December 2, 1980) was a Pakistani statesman who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1955 to 1956.-Early life:...

, former head of the civil service, remained minister of finance. The main objective of the new government was to end disruptive provincial politics and to provide the country with a new constitution. The Federal Court, however, declared that a new Constituent Assembly must be called. Ghulam Mohammad was unable to circumvent the order, and the new Constituent Assembly, elected by the provincial assemblies, met for the first time in July 1955. Bogra, who had little support in the new assembly, fell in August and was replaced by Choudhry; Ghulam Mohammad, plagued by poor health, was succeeded as governor general in September 1955 by Mirza.

Second Constituent Assembly


The second Constituent Assembly differed in composition from the first. In East Pakistan, the Muslim League
Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League,, was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka , in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905...

 had been overwhelmingly defeated in the 1954 provincial assembly elections by the United Front coalition of Bengali regional parties anchored by A. K. Fazlul Huq
A. K. Fazlul Huq
Not to be confused with the cricket ground in Dhaka Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium Sher-e-Bangla Abul Kashem Fazlul Huq was a well-known Bengali statesman in the first half of the 20th century...

's Krishak Sramik Samajbadi Dal (Peasants and Workers Socialist Party) and the Awami League (People's League) led by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was a Pakistani-Bengali politician and statesman who served as 5th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1956 till 1957, and a close associate of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, first Prime minister of Pakistan...

. Rejection of West Pakistan's dominance over East Pakistan and the desire for Bengali provincial autonomy were the main ingredients of the coalition's twenty-one-point platform. The East Pakistani election and the coalition's victory proved pyrrhic; Bengali factionalism surfaced soon after the election and the United Front fell apart. From 1954 to Ayub's assumption of power in 1958, the Krishak Sramik and the Awami League waged a ceaseless battle for control of East Pakistan's provincial government.

Prime Minister Choudhry induced the politicians to agree on a constitution in 1956. In order to establish a better balance between the west and east wings, the four provinces of West Pakistan were amalgamated into one administrative unit
One Unit
One-Unit was the title of a scheme launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four provinces of West Pakistan into one homogenous unit, as a counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan...

. The 1956 constitution
Constitution of Pakistan of 1956
The Constitution of 1956 was the fundamental law of Pakistan from March 1956 until the Revolution of October 1958.-Origins:Pakistan became independent of the United Kingdom in 1947. Under Section 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the Government of India Act, 1935 became, with certain...

 made provisions for an Islamic state
Islamic State
An Islamic state is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law...

 as embodied in its Directive of Principles of State Policy, which defined methods of promoting Islamic morality. The national parliament was to comprise one house of 300 members with equal representation from both the west and east wings.

The Awami League's Suhrawardy succeeded Choudhry as prime minister in September 1956 and formed a coalition cabinet. He, like other Bengali politicians, was chosen by the central government to serve as a symbol of unity, but he failed to secure significant support from West Pakistani power brokers. Although he had a good reputation in East Pakistan and was respected for his pre-partition association with Gandhi, his strenuous efforts to gain greater provincial autonomy for East Pakistan and a larger share of development funds for it were not well received in West Pakistan. Suhrawardy's thirteen months in office came to an end after he took a strong position against abrogation of the existing "One Unit" government for all of West Pakistan in favour of separate local governments for Sind
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, Punjab, Baluchistan, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He thus lost much support from West Pakistan's provincial politicians. He also used emergency powers to prevent the formation of a Muslim League
Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League,, was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka , in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905...

 provincial government in West Pakistan, thereby losing much Punjabi backing. Moreover, his open advocacy of votes of confidence from the Constituent Assembly as the proper means of forming governments aroused the suspicions of President Mirza. In 1957 the president used his considerable influence to oust Suhrawardy from the office of prime minister. The drift toward economic decline and political chaos continued.

The "Revolution" of Ayub Khan, 1958–66


In East Pakistan the political impasse culminated in 1958 in a violent scuffle in the provincial assembly between members of the opposition and the police force, in which the deputy speaker was fatally injured and two ministers badly wounded. Uncomfortable with the workings of parliamentary democracy, unruliness in the East Pakistani provincial assembly elections and the threat of Baluch
Baluch
Baluch may refer to:*Balochistan region of south and southwest Asia*Baloch people, a people inhabiting the region of Balochistan*Sindhi Baloch, a community of Baloch descent found in the province of Sindh in Pakistan...

 separatism in West Pakistan, on October 7, 1958, Mirza issued a proclamation that abolished political parties, abrogated the two-year-old constitution, and placed the country under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

. Mirza announced that martial law would be a temporary measure lasting only until a new constitution was drafted. On October 27, he swore in a twelve-member cabinet that included Ayub as prime minister and three other generals in ministerial positions. Included among the eight civilians was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1973 to 1977, and prior to that, 4th President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973. Bhutto was the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party — the largest and most influential political party in Pakistan— and served as its chairman until his...

, a former university lecturer. On the same day, the general exiled Mirza to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 because "the armed services and the people demanded a clean break with the past." Until 1962, martial law continued and Ayub purged a number of politicians and civil servants from the government and replaced them with army officers. Ayub called his regime a "revolution to clean up the mess of black marketing and corruption."

The new constitution
Constitution of Pakistan of 1962
The Constitution of 1962 was the fundamental law of Pakistan from June 1962 until martial law was declared in March 1969. It was eventually replaced by the current Constitution of 1973.-Origins:...

 promulgated by Ayub in March 1962 vested all executive authority of the republic in the president. As chief executive, the president could appoint ministers without approval by the legislature. There was no provision for a prime minister. There was a provision for a National Assembly and two provincial assemblies, whose members were to be chosen by the "Basic Democrats"—80,000 voters organised into a five-tier hierarchy, with each tier electing officials to the next tier. Pakistan was declared a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 (without being specifically an Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

) but, in deference to the ulama
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

s (religious scholars), the president was required to be a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, and no law could be passed that was contrary to the tenets of Islam.

The 1962 constitution made few concessions to Bengalis. It was, instead, a document that buttressed centralised government under the guise of "basic democracies" programs, gave legal support to martial law, and turned parliamentary bodies into forums for debate. Throughout the Ayub years, East Pakistan and West Pakistan grew farther apart. The death of the Awami League's Suhrawardy in 1963 gave the mercurial Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali nationalist politician and the founder of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its...

 (commonly known as Mujib) the leadership of East Pakistan's dominant party. Mujib, who as early as 1956 had advocated the "liberation" of East Pakistan and had been jailed in 1958 during the military coup, quickly and successfully brought the issue of East Pakistan's movement for autonomy to the forefront of the nation's politics.

During the years between 1960 and 1965, the annual rate of growth of the gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 per capita was 4.4 percent in West Pakistan versus just 2.6 percent in East Pakistan. Furthermore, Bengali politicians pushing for more autonomy complained that much of Pakistan's export earnings were generated in East Pakistan by the export of Bengali jute
Jute
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

 and tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

. As late as 1960, approximately 70 percent of Pakistan's export earnings originated in the East Wing, although this percentage declined as international demand for jute dwindled. By the mid-1960s, the East Wing was accounting for less than 60 percent of the nation's export earnings, and by the time of Bangladesh's independence in 1971, this percentage had dipped below 50 percent. This reality did not dissuade Mujib from demanding in 1966 that separate foreign exchange accounts be kept and that separate trade offices be opened overseas. By the mid-1960s, West Pakistan was benefiting from Ayub's "Decade of Progress," with its successful "green revolution
Green Revolution
Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s....

" in wheat, and from the expansion of markets for West Pakistani textiles, while the East Pakistani standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

 remained at an abysmally low level. Bengalis were also upset that West Pakistan, because it was the seat of government, was the major beneficiary of foreign aid.

Emerging discontent, 1966–70


At a 1966 Lahore conference
Lahore Conference
At the Lahore Conference of 1940, the idea of one/more independent Muslim state – Pakistan – was first raised by Mohammad Ali Jinnah....

 of both the eastern and the western chapters of the Awami League, Mujib announced his six-point political and economic program for East Pakistani provincial autonomy. He demanded that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members to be elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative on the basis of population; that the federal government have principal responsibility for foreign affairs
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs is an American magazine and website on international relations and U.S. foreign policy published since 1922 by the Council on Foreign Relations six times annually...

 and defence only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal accounts; that taxation would occur at the provincial level, with a federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each federal unit could control its own earning of foreign exchange; and that each unit could raise its own militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 or paramilitary forces.

Mujib's six points ran directly counter to President Ayub's plan for greater national integration. Ayub's anxieties were shared by many West Pakistanis, who feared that Mujib's plan would divide Pakistan by encouraging ethnic and linguistic cleavages in West Pakistan, and would leave East Pakistan, with its Bengali ethnic and linguistic unity, by far the most populous and powerful of the federating units. Ayub interpreted Mujib's demands as tantamount to a call for independence. After pro-Mujib supporters rioted in a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 in Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka Division. Dhaka is a megacity and one of the major cities of South Asia. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city...

, the government arrested Mujib in January 1968.
Ayub suffered a number of setbacks in 1968. His health was poor, and he was almost assassinated at a ceremony marking ten years of his rule. Riots followed, and Bhutto
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1973 to 1977, and prior to that, 4th President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973. Bhutto was the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party — the largest and most influential political party in Pakistan— and served as its chairman until his...

 was arrested as the instigator. At Dhaka a tribunal that inquired into the activities of the already-interned Mujib was arousing strong popular resentment against Ayub. A conference of opposition leaders and the cancellation of the state of emergency (in effect since 1965) came too late to conciliate the opposition. On February 21, 1969, Ayub announced that he would not run in the next presidential election in 1970
Pakistani general election, 1970
General elections were held for the first time in Pakistan in on 7 December 1970, although the polls in East Pakistan, originally scheduled for October, were delayed by disastrous floods and rescheduled for later in December and January 1971....

. A state of near anarchy reigned with protests and strikes throughout the country. The police appeared helpless to control the mob violence, and the military stood aloof. At length, on March 25 Ayub resigned and handed over the administration to the commander in chief, General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan. Once again the country was placed under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

.

General Yahya assumed the titles of Chief Martial Law Administrator
Chief Martial Law Administrator
The office of the Chief Martial Law Administrator was a senior government post created in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia that gave considerable executive authority and powers to the holder of the post to enforce martial law in the country. This office has been used mostly by...

 and President. He announced that he considered himself to be a transitional leader whose task would be to restore order and to conduct free elections for a new constituent assembly, which would then draft a new constitution. He appointed a largely civilian cabinet in August 1969 in preparation for the election, which was scheduled to take place in December 1970. Yahya moved with dispatch to settle two contentious issues by decree: the unpopular "One Unit
One Unit
One-Unit was the title of a scheme launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four provinces of West Pakistan into one homogenous unit, as a counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan...

" of West Pakistan, which was created as a condition for the 1956 constitution
Constitution of Pakistan of 1956
The Constitution of 1956 was the fundamental law of Pakistan from March 1956 until the Revolution of October 1958.-Origins:Pakistan became independent of the United Kingdom in 1947. Under Section 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the Government of India Act, 1935 became, with certain...

, was ended; and East Pakistan was awarded 162 seats out of the 300-member National Assembly
National Assembly of Pakistan
The National Assembly of Pakistan is the lower house of the bicameral Majlis-e-Shura, which also compromises the President of Pakistan and Senate . The National Assembly and the Senate both convene at Parliament House in Islamabad...

.

On November 12, 1970, a cyclone
Cyclone
In meteorology, a cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. This is usually characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. Most large-scale...

 devastated an area of almost 8,000 square kilometres of East Pakistan's mid-coastal lowlands and its outlying islands in the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

. It was perhaps the worst natural disaster of the area in centuries. As many as 250,000 lives were lost. Two days after the cyclone hit, Yahya arrived in Dhaka after a trip to Beijing, but he left a day later. His seeming indifference to the plight of Bengali victims caused a great deal of animosity. Opposition newspapers in Dhaka accused the Pakistani government of impeding the efforts of international relief agencies and of "gross neglect, callous inattention, and bitter indifference." Mujib, who had been released from prison, lamented that "West Pakistan has a bumper wheat crop, but the first shipment of food grain to reach us is from abroad" and "that the textile merchants have not given a yard of cloth for our shrouds." "We have a large army," Mujib continued," but it is left to the British Marines to bury our dead." In an unveiled threat to the unity of Pakistan he added, "the feeling now pervades... every village, home, and slum that we must rule ourselves. We must make the decisions that matter. We will no longer suffer arbitrary rule by bureaucrats, capitalists, and feudal interests of West Pakistan."

Yahya announced plans for a national election on December 7, 1970, and urged voters to elect candidates who were committed to the integrity and unity of Pakistan. The elections were the first in the history of Pakistan in which voters were able to elect members of the National Assembly directly. In a convincing demonstration of Bengali dissatisfaction with the West Pakistani regime, the Awami League won all but two of the 162 seats allotted East Pakistan in the National Assembly. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party
Pakistan Peoples Party
The Pakistan Peoples Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Pakistan affiliated with Socialist International. Pakistan People's Party is the largest political party of Pakistan...

 came in a poor second nationally, winning 81 out of the 138 West Pakistani seats in the National Assembly. The Awami League's electoral victory promised it control of the government, with Mujib as the country's prime minister, but the inaugural assembly never met.

Yahya and Bhutto vehemently opposed Mujib's idea of a confederated Pakistan. Mujib was adamant that the constitution be based on his six-point program. Bhutto, meanwhile, pleaded for unity in Pakistan under his leadership. As tensions mounted, Mujib suggested he become prime minister of East Pakistan while Bhutto be made prime minister of West Pakistan. It was this action that triggered mass civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 in East Pakistan. Mujib called for a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 until the government was given over to the "people's representatives". Tiring of the interminable game of politics he was playing with the Bengali leader, Yahya decided to ignore Mujib's demands and on March 1 postponed indefinitely the convening of the National Assembly, which had been scheduled for March 3. March 1 also was a portentous date, for on that day Yahya named General Tikka Khan
Tikka Khan
General Tikka Khan, HJ, HQA, SPk, was a senior four-star general in the Pakistan Army who served as the first Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army from 3 March 1972 to 1 March 1976. Before his four-star assignment, Khan was a Martial Law Administrator of erstwhile East-Pakistan...

 as East Pakistan's military governor.

The number of West Pakistani troops entering East Pakistan had increased sharply in the preceding weeks, climbing from a pre-crisis level of 25,000 to about 60,000, bringing the army close to a state of readiness. As tensions rose, however, Yahya continued desperate negotiations with Mujib, flying to Dhaka in mid-March. Talks between Yahya and Muhib were joined by Bhutto but soon collapsed, and on March 23 Bengalis following Mujib's lead defiantly celebrated "Resistance Day" in East Pakistan instead of the traditional all-Pakistan "Republic Day". Yahya decided to "solve" the problem of East Pakistan by repression. On the evening of March 25 he flew back to Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

. The military crackdown in East Pakistan began that same night.

Bangladesh Liberation War, 1971



On March 25, the Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army is the branch of the Pakistani Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the Partition of India and the resulting independence of Pakistan in 1947. It is currently headed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Pakistan...

 launched a campaign calculated to intimidate the Bengalis into submission. Within hours a wholesale attack had commenced in Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka Division. Dhaka is a megacity and one of the major cities of South Asia. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city...

, with the heaviest casualties concentrated on the University of Dhaka
University of Dhaka
The University of Dhaka is the oldest university in Bangladesh. It is a multi-disciplinary research university and is among the top universities in the region. Established on July 21, 1921, as per the Government of India Act, 1920, it was modelled on the Universities in England and soon gained...

 and the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 area of the old town. The Pakistan Army came with hit lists and systematically killed several hundred Bengalis. Mujib was captured and flown to West Pakistan
West Pakistan
West Pakistan , common name West-Pakistan , in the period between its establishment on 22 November 1955 to disintegration on December 16, 1971. This period, during which, Pakistan was divided, ended when East-Pakistan was disintegrated and succeeded to become which is now what is known as Bangladesh...

 for incarceration.

To conceal what they were doing, the Pakistan Army corralled the corps of foreign journalists at the International Hotel in Dhaka, seized their notes, and expelled them the next day. One reporter who escaped the censor net estimated that three battalions of troops—one armored
Armoured warfare
Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

, one artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

, and one infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

—had attacked the virtually defenceless city. Various informants, including missionaries and foreign journalists who clandestinely returned to East Pakistan during the war, estimated that by March 28 the loss of life reached 15,000. By the end of summer as many as 300,000 people were thought to have lost their lives. Anthony Mascarenhas
Anthony Mascarenhas
Neville Anthony Mascarenhas was a Pakistani journalist and author. His works include exposés on the brutality of Pakistan's military during the 1971 independence movement of Bangladesh, The Rape of Bangladesh and Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood...

 in Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood
Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood
Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood is a book written by journalist Anthony Mascarenhas. The book chronicles the bloody coups and uprisings in the post-independence Bangladesh. The book focuses on the two towering figures of Bangladeshi politics, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman...

estimates that during the entire nine-month liberation struggle more than one million Bengalis may have died at the hands of the Pakistan Army.

The West Pakistani press waged a vigorous but ultimately futile campaign to counteract newspaper and radio accounts of atrocities. One paper, the Morning News, even editorialised that the armed forces were saving East Pakistanis from eventual Hindu enslavement. The civil war was played down by the government-controlled press as a minor insurrection quickly being brought under control.

After the tragic events of March, India became vocal in its condemnation of Pakistan. An immense flood of East Pakistani refugees, between 8 and 10 million according to various estimates, fled across the border into the Indian state of West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

. In April, an Indian parliamentary resolution demanded that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 supply aid to the rebels in East Pakistan. She complied but declined to recognise the provisional government of independent Bangladesh.

A propaganda war between Pakistan and India ensued in which Yahya threatened war against India if that country made an attempt to seize any part of Pakistan. Yahya also asserted that Pakistan could count on its American and Chinese friends. At the same time, Pakistan tried to ease the situation in the East Wing. Belatedly, it replaced Tikka, whose military tactics had caused such havoc and human loss of life, with the more restrained Lieutenant General A.A.K. Niazi. A moderate Bengali, Abdul Malik
Abdul Malik
Abdul Malik Pahlawan is an Uzbek politician based out of Faryab Province in northern Afghanistan. He is currently head of the Afghanistan Liberation Party and was heavily involved the factional fighting that consumed Afghanistan throughout the 1990s...

, was installed as the civilian governor of East Pakistan. These belated gestures of appeasement did not yield results or change world opinion.

On December 4, 1971, the Indian Army, far superior in numbers and equipment to that of Pakistan, executed a three-pronged pincer movement
Pincer movement
The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

 on Dhaka launched from the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

, and Tripura
Tripura
Tripura is a state in North-East India, with an area of . It is the third smallest state of India, according to area. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on the north, south, and west. The Indian states of Assam and Mizoram lie to the east. The capital is Agartala and the main languages spoken are...

, taking only 12 days to defeat the 90,000 Pakistani defenders. The Pakistan Army was weakened by having to operate so far away from its source of supply. The Indian Army, on the other hand, was aided by East Pakistan's Mukti Bahini
Mukti Bahini
Mukti Bahini , also termed as the "Freedom Fighters" or FFs, collectively refers to the armed organizations who fought against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was dynamically formed by Bengali regulars and civilians after the proclamation of Bangladesh's independence on...

 (Liberation Force), the freedom fighters who managed to keep the Pakistan Army at bay in many areas. On 16 December 1971 the Pakistan army wing in East Pakistan led by Niazi surrendered and Bangladesh was liberated. This day is celebrated in Bangladesh as "Victory Day" with more emphasis than Independence Day (26 March 1971).

Works cited


Heitzman, James and Robert Worden, editors. A Country Study: Bangladesh Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 Federal Research Division
Federal Research Division
The Federal Research Division is the research and analysis unit of the United States Library of Congress.The Federal Research Division provides directed research and analysis on domestic and international subjects to agencies of the United States government, the District of Columbia, and...

(September 1988). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/about.html