East Pakistan was the eastern provincial wing of Pakistan between 1955 and 1971, covering the territory of the modern country Bangladesh. Its land borders were with India and Myanmar, with a coastline on the Bay of Bengal.
East Pakistan was renamed from East Bengal by the One Unit scheme of Prime Minister Mohammad Ali of Bogra. The Constitution of Pakistan of 1956 replaced the British monarchy with an Islamic republic. Bengali politician H. S. Suhrawardy served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan between 1956 and 1957 and a Bengali bureaucrat Iskandar Mirza became the first President of Pakistan. The 1958 Pakistani coup d'état brought general Ayub Khan to power. Khan replaced Mirza as president and launched a crackdown against pro-democracy leaders. Khan enacted the Constitution of Pakistan of 1962 which ended universal suffrage. By 1966, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman emerged as the preeminent opposition leader in Pakistan and launched the six point movement for autonomy and democracy. The 1969 uprising in East Pakistan contributed to Ayub Khan's overthrow. Another general, Yahya Khan, usurped the presidency and enacted martial law. in 1970, Yahya Khan organized Pakistan's first federal general election. The Awami League emerged as the single largest party, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party. The military junta stalled in accepting the results, leading to civil disobedience, the Bangladesh Liberation War and the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. East Pakistan seceded with the help of India.
The East Pakistan Provincial Assembly was the legislative body of the territory.
Due to the strategic importance of East Pakistan, the Pakistani union was a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. The economy of East Pakistan grew at an average of 2.6% between 1960 and 1965. The federal government invested more funds and foreign aid in West Pakistan, even though East Pakistan generated a major share of exports. However, President Ayub Khan did implement significant industrialization in East Pakistan. The Kaptai Dam was built in 1965. The Eastern Refinery was established in Chittagong. Dacca was declared as the second capital of Pakistan and planned as the home of the national parliament. The government recruited American architect Louis Kahn to design the national assembly complex in Dacca.
|Status||Eastern provincial wing of Pakistan|
|Common languages||Bengali, Urdu and English|
|Government||Parliamentary constitutional monarchy (1955–1956)|
Parliamentary democracy under an Islamic republic (1956–1958)
Martial law (1958–1962)
Presidential republic (1962–1970)
Martial law (1970–1971)
• One Unit
|14 October 1955|
|16 December 1971|
|147,610 km2 (56,990 sq mi)|
|Today part of||Bangladesh|
In 1955, Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra implemented the One Unit scheme which merged the four western provinces into a single unit called West Pakistan while East Bengal was renamed as East Pakistan.
Pakistan ended its dominion status and adopted a republican constitution in 1956, which proclaimed an Islamic republic. The populist leader H. S. Suhrawardy of East Pakistan was appointed prime minister of Pakistan. As soon as he became the prime minister, Suhrawardy initiated a legal work reviving the joint electorate system. There was a strong opposition and resentment to the joint electorate system in West Pakistan. The Muslim League had taken the cause to the public and began calling for implementation of separate electorate system. In contrast to West Pakistan, the joint electorate was highly popular in East Pakistan. The tug of war with the Muslim League to establish the appropriate electorate caused problems for his government.
The constitutionally obliged National Finance Commission Program (NFC Program) was immediately suspended by Prime Minister Suhrawardy despite the reserves of the four provinces of the West Pakistan in 1956. Suhrawardy advocated for the USSR-based Five-Year Plans to centralize the national economy. In this view, the East Pakistan's economy was quickly centralized and all major economic planning shifted to West Pakistan.
Efforts leading to centralizing the economy was met with great resistance in West Pakistan when the elite monopolist and the business community angrily refused to oblige to his policies. The business community in Karachi began its political struggle to undermine any attempts of financial distribution of the US$10 million ICA aid to the better part of the East Pakistan and to set up a consolidated national shipping corporation. In the financial cities of West Pakistan, such as Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, and Peshawar, there were series of major labour strikes against the economic policies of Suhrawardy supported by the elite business community and the private sector.
Furthermore, in order to divert attention from the controversial One Unit Program, Prime Minister Suhrawardy tried to end the crises by calling a small group of investors to set up small business in the country. Despite many initiatives and holding off the NFC Award Program, Suhrawardy's political position and image deteriorated in the four provinces in West Pakistan. Many nationalist leaders and activists of the Muslim League were dismayed with the suspension of the constitutionally obliged NFC Program. His critics and Muslim League leaders observed that with the suspension of NFC Award Program, Suhrawardy tried to give more financial allocations, aids, grants, and opportunity to East-Pakistan than West Pakistan, including West Pakistan's four provinces. During the last days of his Prime ministerial years, Suhrawardy tried to remove the economic disparity between the Eastern and Western wings of the country but to no avail. He also tried unsuccessfully to alleviate the food shortage in the country.
Suhrawardy strengthened relations with the United States by reinforcing Pakistani membership in the Central Treaty Organization and Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. Suhrawardy also promoted relations with the People’s Republic of China. His contribution in formulating the 1956 constitution of Pakistan was substantial as he played a vital role in incorporating provisions for civil liberties and universal adult franchise in line with his adherence to parliamentary form of liberal democracy.
In 1958, President Iskandar Mirza enacted martial law as part of a military coup by the Pakistan Army's chief Ayub Khan. Roughly after two weeks, President Mirza's relations with Pakistan Armed Forces deteriorated leading Army Commander General Ayub Khan relieving the president from his presidency and forcefully exiling President Mirza to the United Kingdom. General Ayub Khan justified his actions after appearing on national radio declaring that: "the armed forces and the people demanded a clean break with the past...". Until 1962, the martial law continued while Field Marshal Ayub Khan purged a number of politicians and civil servants from the government and replaced them with military officers. Ayub called his regime a "revolution to clean up the mess of black marketing and corruption". Khan replaced Mirza as president and became the country’s strongman for eleven years. Martial law continued until 1962 when the government of Field Marshal Ayub Khan commissioned a constitutional bench under Chief Justice of Pakistan Muhammad Shahabuddin, composed of ten senior justices, each five from East Pakistan and five from West Pakistan. On 6 May 1961, the commission sent its draft to President Ayub Khan. He thoroughly examined the draft while consulting with his cabinet.
In January 1962, the cabinet finally approved the text of the new constitution, promulgated by President Ayub Khan on 1 March 1962, which came into effect on 8 June 1962. Under the 1962 constitution, Pakistan became a presidential republic. Universal suffrage was abolished in favor of a system dubbed 'Basic Democracy'. Under the system, an electoral college would be responsible for electing the president and national assembly. The 1962 constitution created a gubernatorial system in West and East Pakistan. Each provinces ran their own separate provincial gubernatorial governments. The constitution defined a division of powers between the central government and the provinces. Fatima Jinnah received strong support in East Pakistan during her failed bid to unseat Ayub Khan in the 1965 presidential election.
Dacca was declared as the second capital of Pakistan in 1962. It was designated as the legislative capital and Louis Kahn was tasked with designing a national assembly complex. Dacca's population increased in the 1960s. Seven natural gas fields were tapped in the province. The petroleum industry developed as the Eastern Refinery was established in the port city of Chittagong.
In 1966, Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced the six point movement in Lahore. The movement demanded greater provincial autonomy and the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Rahman was indicted for treason during the Agartala Conspiracy Case after launching the six point movement. He was released in the 1969 uprising in East Pakistan, which ousted Ayub Khan from the presidency. Below includes the historical six points:-
- The Constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense based on the Lahore Resolution, and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a Legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
- The federal government should deal with only two subjects: Defence and Foreign Affairs, and all other residual subjects should be vested in the federating states.
- Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate Banking Reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.
- The power of taxation and revenue collection should be vested in the federating units and the federal centre would have no such power. The federation would be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.
- There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
- East Pakistan should have a separate military or paramilitary force, and Navy headquarters should be in East Pakistan.
Ayub Khan was replaced by general Yahya Khan who became the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Khan organized the Pakistani general election, 1970. The 1970 Bhola cyclone was one of the deadliest natural disasters of the 20th century. The cyclone claimed half a million lives. The disastrous effects of the cyclone caused huge resentment against the federal government. After a decade of military rule, East Pakistan was a hotbed of Bengali nationalism. There were open calls for self-determination.
When the federal general election was held, the Awami League emerged as the single largest party in the Pakistani parliament. The League won 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan, thereby crossing the half way mark of 150 in the 300-seat National Assembly of Pakistan. In theory, this gave the League the right to form a government under the Westminster tradition. But the League failed to win a single seat in West Pakistan, where the Pakistan Peoples Party emerged as the single largest party with 81 seats. The military junta stalled the transfer of power and conducted prolonged negotiations with the League. A civil disobedience movement erupted across East Pakistan demanding the convening of parliament. Rahman announced a struggle for independence from Pakistan during a speech on 7 March 1971. Between 7–26 March, East Pakistan was virtually under the popular control of the Awami League. On Pakistan's Republic Day on 23 March 1971, the first flag of Bangladesh was hoisted in many East Pakistani households. The Pakistan Army launched a crackdown on 26 March, including Operation Searchlight and the 1971 Dhaka University massacre. This led to the Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence.
As the Bangladesh Liberation War and the 1971 Bangladesh genocide continued for nine months, East Pakistani military units like the East Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles defected to form the Bangladesh Forces. The Provisional Government of Bangladesh allied with neighboring India which intervened in the final two weeks of the war and secured the surrender of Pakistan.
With Ayub Khan ousted from office in 1969, Commander of the Pakistani Army, General Yahya Khan became the country's second ruling chief martial law administrator. Both Bhutto and Mujib strongly disliked General Khan, but patiently endured him and his government as he had promised to hold an election in 1970. During this time, strong nationalistic sentiments in East Pakistan were perceived by the Pakistani Armed Forces and the central military government. Therefore, Khan and his military government wanted to divert the nationalistic threats and violence against non-East Pakistanis. The Eastern Military High Command was under constant pressure from the Awami League, and requested an active duty officer to control the command under such extreme pressure. The high flag rank officers, junior officers and many high command officers from the Pakistan's Armed Forces were highly cautious about their appointment in East-Pakistan, and the assignment of governing East Pakistan and appointment of an officer was considered highly difficult for the Pakistan High Military Command.
East Pakistan's Armed Forces, under the military administrations of Major-General Muzaffaruddin and Lieutenant-General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, used an excessive amount of show of military force to curb the uprising in the province. With such action, the situation became highly critical and civil control over the province slipped away from the government. On 24 March, dissatisfied with the performance of his generals, Yahya Khan removed General Muzaffaruddin and General Yaqub Khan from office on 1 September 1969. The appointment of a military administrator was considered quite difficult and challenging with the crisis continually deteriorating. Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, Chief of Naval Staff of Pakistan Navy, had previously served as political and military adviser of East Pakistan to former President Ayub Khan. Having such a strong background in administration, and being an expert on East Pakistan affairs, General Yahya Khan appointed Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan as Martial Law Administrator, with absolute authority in his command. He was relieved as Chief of Naval Staff, and received extension from the government. On 1 September Admiral Ahsan assumed the command of the Eastern Military High Command, and became a unified commander of Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan. Under his command, the Pakistani Armed Forces were removed from the cities and deployed along the border. The rate of violence in East Pakistan dropped, nearly coming to an end. Civil rule improved and stabilised in East Pakistan under Martial Law Administrator Admiral Ahsan's era.
The tense relations between East and West Pakistan reached a climax in 1970 when the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, (Mujib), won a landslide victory in the national elections in East Pakistan. The party won 160 of the 162 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 300 seats in the Parliament. This gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government without forming a coalition with any other party. Khan invited Mujib to Rawalpindi to take the charge of the office, and negotiations took place between the military government and the Awami Party. Bhutto was shocked with the results, and threatened his fellow Peoples Party members if they attended the inaugural session at the National Assembly, famously saying he would "break the legs" of any member of his party who dared enter and attend the session. However, fearing East Pakistani separatism, Bhutto demanded Mujib to form a coalition government. After a secret meeting held in Larkana, Mujib agreed to give Bhutto the office of presidency with Mujib as prime minister. General Yahya Khan and his military government were kept unaware of these developments and under pressure from his own military government, refused to allow Rahman to become the prime minister of Pakistan. This increased agitation for greater autonomy in East Pakistan. The military police arrested Mujib and Bhutto and placed them in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. The news spread like a fire in both East and West Pakistan, and the struggle for independence began in East Pakistan.
The senior high command officers in Pakistan Armed Forces, and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, began to pressure General Yahya Khan to take armed action against Mujib and his party. Bhutto later distanced himself from Yahya Khan after he was arrested by Military Police along with Mujib. Soon after the arrests, a high level meeting was chaired by Yahya Khan. During the meeting, high commanders of Pakistan Armed Forces unanimously recommended an armed and violent military action. East Pakistan's Martial Law Administrator Admiral Ahsan, unified commander of Eastern Military High Command (EMHC), and Air Marshal Mitty Masud, Commander of Eastern Air Force Command (EAFC), were the only officers to object to the plans. When it became obvious that a military action in East Pakistan was inevitable, Admiral Ahsan resigned from his position as martial law administrator in protest, and immediately flew back to Karachi, West Pakistan. Disheartened and isolated, Admiral Ahsan took early retirement from the Navy and quietly settled in Karachi. Once Operation Searchlight and Operation Barisal commenced, Air Marshal Masud flew to West Pakistan, and unlike Admiral Ahsan, tried to stop the violence in East Pakistan. When he failed in his attempts to meet General Yahya Khan, Masud too resigned from his position as Commander of Eastern Air Command, and took retirement from Air Force.
Lieutenant-General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan was sent into East Pakistan in emergency, following a major blow of the resignation of Vice Admiral Ahsan. General Yaqub temporarily assumed the control of the province, as he was made the unified commander of Pakistan Armed Forces. General Yaqub mobilised the entire major forces in East Pakistan, and were re-deployed in East Pakistan.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a declaration of independence at Dacca on 26 March 1971. All major Awami League leaders including elected leaders of National Assembly and Provincial Assembly fled to neighbouring India and an exile government was formed headed by Mujibur Rahman. While he was in Pakistan Prison, Syed Nazrul Islam was the acting president with Tazuddin Ahmed as the prime minister. The exile government took oath on 17 April 1971 at Mujib Nagar, within East Pakistan territory of Kustia district and formally formed the government. Colonel MOG Osmani was appointed the Commander in Chief of Liberation Forces and whole East Pakistan was divided into eleven sectors headed by eleven sector commanders. All sector commanders were Bengali officers who had defected from the Pakistan Army. This started the Bangladesh Liberation War in which the freedom fighters, joined in December 1971 by 400,000 Indian soldiers, faced the Pakistani Armed Forces of 365,000 plus Paramilitary and collaborationist forces. An additional approximately 25,000 ill-equipped civilian volunteers and police forces also sided with the Pakistan Armed Forces. Bloody guerrilla warfare ensued in East Pakistan.
The Pakistan Armed Forces were unable to counter such threats. Poorly trained and inexperienced in guerrilla tactics, Pakistan Armed Forces and their assets were defeated by the Bangladesh Liberation Forces. On April 1971, Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan succeeded General Yaqub Khan as Commander of unified forces. General Tikka Khan led the massive violent and massacre campaigns in the region. He is held responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Bengali people in East Pakistan, mostly civilians and unarmed peoples. For his role, General Tikka Khan gained the title as "Butcher of Bengal". General Khan faced an international reaction against Pakistan, and therefore, General Tikka was removed as Commander of Eastern front. He installed a civilian administration under Abdul Motaleb Malik on 31 August 1971, which proved to be ineffective. However, during the meeting, with no high officers willing to assume the command of East Pakistan, Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi volunteered for the command of East Pakistan. Inexperienced and the large magnitude of this assignment, the government sent Vice-Admiral Mohammad Shariff as second-in-command of General Niazi. Admiral Shariff served as the deputy unified commander of Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan. However, General Niazi proved to be a failure and ineffective ruler. Therefore, General Niazi and Air Marshal Enamul Haque, Commander of Eastern Air Force Command (EAFC), failed to launch any operation in East Pakistan against Indian or its allies. Except Admiral Shariff who continued to press pressure on Indian Navy until the end of the conflict. Admiral Shariff's effective plans made it nearly impossible for Indian Navy to land its naval forces on the shores of East Pakistan. The Indian Navy was unable to land forces in East Pakistan and the Pakistan Navy was still offering resistance. The Indian Army, entered East Pakistan from all three directions of the province. The Indian Navy then decided to wait near the Bay of Bengal until the Army reached the shore.
The Indian Air Force dismantled the capability of Pakistan Air Force in East Pakistan. Air Marshal Enamul Haque, Commander of Eastern Air Force Command (EAFC), failed to offer any serious resistance to the actions of the Indian Air Force. For most part of the war, the IAF enjoyed complete dominance in the skies over East Pakistan.
On 16 December 1971, the Pakistan Armed Forces surrendered to the joint liberation forces of Mukti Bahini and the Indian army, headed by Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Arora, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army. Lieutenant General AAK Niazi, the last unified commander of Pakistan Armed Forces' Eastern Military High Command, signed the Instrument of Surrender at about 4:31 pm. Over 93,000 personnel, including Lt. General Niazi and Admiral Shariff, were taken as prisoners of war.
On 16 December 1971, East Pakistan was liberated from Pakistan as the newly independent state of Bangladesh. The Eastern Military High Command, civilian institutions and paramilitary forces were disbanded.
In contrast to the desert and rugged mountainous terrain of West Pakistan, East Pakistan featured the world's largest delta, 700 rivers and tropical hilly jungles.
East Pakistan inherited 18 districts from British Bengal. In 1960, Lower Tippera was renamed as Comilla. In 1969, two new districts were created with Tangail separated from Mymensingh and Patuakhali from Bakerganj. East Pakistan's districts are listed in the following.
|Division||East Pakistani District||Current Bangladeshi Districts|
|Dhaka Division||Dhaka District||Dhaka Division without Tangail and Greater Faridpur|
|Faridpur District||Greater Faridpur|
|Mymensingh District||Mymensingh Division|
|Chittagong Division||Chakma (Hill Tracts) District||Chittagong Hill Tracts|
|Chittagong District||Chittagong District|
|Comilla (Lower Tippera) District||Comilla, Chandpur, Brahmanbaria|
|Noakhali District||Noakhali, Feni, Lakshmipur|
|Jalalabad District||Sylhet Division|
|Cox's Bazar District||Cox's Bazar District|
|Rajshahi Division||Boghurabad District||Bogra, Joypurhat|
|Dinajpur District||Dinajpur, Thakurgaon|
|Rajshahi District||Rajshahi, Nawabganj, Natore, Naogaon|
|Rangpur District||Rangpur Division without Dinajpur and Thakurgaon|
|Pabna District||Pabna, Sirajganj|
|Khulna Division||Bakerganj District||Barisal, Jhalokati, Pirojpur|
|Jessore District||Jessore, Narail, Magura|
|Khulna District||Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat|
|Kushtia District||Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Jhenaidah|
|Patuakhali District||Patuakhali, Barguna, Bhola|
At the time of the Partition of British India, East Bengal had a plantation economy. The Chittagong Tea Auction was established in 1949 as the region was home to the world's largest tea plantations. The East Pakistan Stock Exchange Association was established in 1954. Many wealthy Muslim immigrants from India, Burma and former British colonies settled in East Pakistan. The Ispahani family, Africawala brothers and the Adamjee family were pioneers of industrialization in the region. Many of modern Bangladesh's leading companies were born in the East Pakistan period.
An airline founded in British Bengal, Orient Airways, launched the vital air link between East and West Pakistan with DC-3 aircraft on the Dacca-Calcutta-Delhi-Karachi route. Orient Airways later evolved into Pakistan International Airlines, whose first chairman was the East Pakistan-based industrialist Mirza Ahmad Ispahani.
By the 1950s, East Bengal surpassed West Bengal in having the largest jute industries in the world. The Adamjee Jute Mills was the largest jute processing plant in history and its location in Narayanganj was nicknamed the Dundee of the East. The Adamjees were descendants of Sir Haji Adamjee Dawood, who made his fortune in British Burma.
Natural gas was discovered in the northeastern part of East Pakistan in 1955 by the Burmah Oil Company. Industrial use of natural gas began in 1959. The Shell Oil Company and Pakistan Petroleum tapped 7 gas fields in the 1960s. The industrial seaport city of Chittagong hosted the headquarters of Burmah Eastern and Pakistan National Oil. Iran, an erstwhile leading oil producer, assisted in establishing the Eastern Refinery in Chittagong.
In 1965, Pakistan implemented the Kaptai Dam hydroelectric project in the southeastern part of East Pakistan with American assistance. It was the sole hydroelectric dam in East Pakistan. The project was controversial for displacing over 40,000 indigenous people from the area.
The centrally located metropolis Dacca witnessed significant urban growth.
Although East Pakistan had a larger population, West Pakistan dominated the divided country politically and received more money from the common budget. According to the World Bank, there was much economic discrimination against East Pakistan, including higher government spending on West Pakistan, financial transfers from East to West and the use of the East's foreign exchange surpluses to finance the West's imports.
The discrimination occurred despite fact that East Pakistan generated a major share of Pakistan's exports.
|Year||Spending on West Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees)||Spending on East Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees)||Amount spent on East as percentage of West|
|Source: Reports of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 1970–75, Vol. I,|
published by the planning commission of Pakistan.
The annual rate of growth of the gross domestic product per capita was 4.4% in the West Pakistan versus 2.6% in East Pakistan from 1960 to 1965. Bengali politicians pushed for more autonomy, arguing that much of Pakistan's export earnings were generated in East Pakistan from the exportation of Bengali jute and tea. As late as 1960, approximately 70% of Pakistan's export earnings originated in East Pakistan, although this percentage declined as international demand for jute dwindled. By the mid-1960s, East Pakistan was accounting for less than 60% of the nation's export earnings, and by the time Bangladesh gained its independence in 1971, this percentage had dipped below 50%. In 1966, Mujib demanded 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 in wheat and from the expansion of markets for West Pakistani textiles, while East Pakistan's standard of living remained at an abysmally low level. Bengalis were also upset that West Pakistan, the seat of the national government, received more foreign aid.
Economists in East Pakistan argued of a "Two Economies Theory" within Pakistan itself, which was founded on the Two Nation Theory with India. The so-called Two Economies Theory suggested that East and West Pakistan had different economic features which should not be regulated by a federal government in Islamabad.
East Pakistan was home to 55% of Pakistan's population. The largest ethnic group of the province were Bengalis, who in turn were the largest ethnic group in Pakistan. Bengali Muslims formed the predominant majority, followed by Bengali Hindus, Bengali Buddhists and Bengali Christians. East Pakistan also had many tribal groups, including the Chakmas, Marmas, Tangchangyas, Garos, Manipuris, Tripuris, Santhals and Bawms. They largely followed the religions of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. East Pakistan was home to immigrant Muslims from across the Indian subcontinent, including West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, the Northwest Frontier Province, Assam, Orissa, the Punjab and Kerala. A small Armenian and Jewish minority resided in East Pakistan.
The Asiatic Society of Pakistan was founded in Old Dacca by Ahmad Hasan Dani in 1948. The Varendra Research Museum in Rajshahi was an important center of research on the Indus Valley Civilization. The Bangla Academy was established in 1954.
At the time of partition, East Bengal had 80 cinemas. The first movie produced in East Pakistan was The Face and the Mask in 1955. Pakistan Television established its second studio in Dacca after Lahore in 1965. Runa Laila was Pakistan's first pop star and became popular in India as well. Shabnam was a leading actress from East Pakistan. Feroza Begum was a leading exponent of Bengali classical Nazrul geeti. Jasimuddin and Abbasuddin Ahmed promoted Bengali folk music. Munier Chowdhury, Syed Mujtaba Ali, Nurul Momen, Sufia Kamal and Shamsur Rahman were among the leading literary figures in East Pakistan. Several East Pakistanis were awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz and the Pride of Performance.
Bengalis were hugely under-represented in Pakistan's bureaucracy and military. In the federal government, only 15% of offices were occupied by East Pakistanis. Only 10% of the military were from East Pakistan. Cultural discrimination also prevailed, causing the eastern wing to forge a distinct political identity. There was a bias against Bengali culture in state media, such as a ban on broadcasts of the works of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Since its unification with Pakistan, the East Pakistan Army had consisted of only one infantry brigade made up of two battalions, the 1st East Bengal Regiment and the 1/14 or 3/8 Punjab Regiment in 1948. These two battalions boasted only five rifle companies between them (an infantry battalion normally had 5 companies). This weak brigade was under the command of Brigadier-General Ayub Khan (local rank Major-General – GOC of 14th Army Division), together with the East Pakistan Rifles, which was tasked with defending East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. The PAF, Marines, and the Navy had little presence in the region. Only one PAF combatant squadron, No. 14 Squadron Tail Choppers, was active in East Pakistan. This combatant squadron was commanded by Air Force Major Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi, who later became a four-star general. The East Pakistan military personnel were trained in combat diving, demolitions, and guerrilla/anti-guerrilla tactics by the advisers from the Special Service Group (Navy) who were also charged with intelligence data collection and management cycle.
The East Pakistan Navy had only one active-duty combatant destroyer, the PNS Sylhet; one submarine Ghazi (which was repeatedly deployed in West); four gunboats, inadequate to function in deep water. The joint special operations were managed and undertaken by the Naval Special Service Group (SSG(N)) who were assisted by the army, air force and marines unit. The entire service, the Marines were deployed in East Pakistan, initially tasked with conducting exercises and combat operations in riverine areas and at near shoreline. The small directorate of Naval Intelligence (while the headquarters and personnel, facilities, and directions were coordinated by West) had vital role in directing special and reconnaissance missions, and intelligence gathering, also was charged with taking reasonable actions to slow down the Indian threat. The armed forces of East Pakistan also consisted the paramilitary organisation, the Razakars from the intelligence unit of the ISI's Covert Action Division (CAD). All of these armed forces were commanded by the unified command structure, the Eastern Military High Command, led by an officer of three-star rank equivalent.
|Tenure||Governor of East Pakistan||Political Affiliation|
|14 October 1955 – March 1956||Amiruddin Ahmad||Muslim League|
|March 1956 – 13 April 1958||A. K. Fazlul Huq||Muslim League|
|13 April 1958 – 3 May 1958||Muhammad Hamid Ali (acting)||Awami League|
|3 May 1958 – 10 October 1958||Sultanuddin Ahmad||Awami League|
|10 October 1958 – 11 April 1960||Zakir Husain||Muslim League|
|11 April 1960 – 11 May 1962||Lieutenant-General Azam Khan, PA||Military Administration|
|11 May 1962 – 25 October 1962||Ghulam Faruque||Independent|
|25 October 1962 – 23 March 1969||Abdul Monem Khan||Civil Administration|
|23 March 1969 – 25 March 1969||Mirza Nurul Huda||Civil Administration|
|25 March 1969 – 23 August 1969||Major-General Muzaffaruddin, PA||Military Administration|
|23 August 1969 – 1 September 1969||Lieutenant-General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, PA||Military Administration|
|1 September 1969 – 7 March 1971||Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, PN||Military Administration|
|7 March 1971 – 6 April 1971||Lieutenant-General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, PA||Military Administration|
|6 April 1971 – 31 August 1971||Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, PA||Military Administration|
|31 August 1971 – 14 December 1971||Abdul Motaleb Malik||Independent|
|14 December 1971 – 16 December 1971||Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, PA||Military Administration|
|16 December 1971||Province of East Pakistan dissolved|
|Tenure||Chief Minister of East Pakistan||Political Party|
|August 1955 – September 1956||Abu Hussain Sarkar|
|September 1956 – March 1958||Ataur Rahman Khan||Awami League|
|March 1958||Abu Hussain Sarkar|
|March 1958 – 18 June 1958||Ataur Rahman Khan||Awami League|
|18 June 1958 – 22 June 1958||Abu Hussain Sarkar|
|22 June 1958 – 25 August 1958||Governor's Rule|
|25 August 1958 – 7 October 1958||Ataur Rahman Khan||Awami League|
|7 October 1958||Post abolished|
|16 December 1971||Province of East Pakistan dissolved|
The trauma was extremely severe in Pakistan when the news of secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh arrived – a psychological setback, complete and humiliating defeat that shattered the prestige of Pakistan Armed Forces. The governor and martial law administrator Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi was defamed, his image was maligned and he was stripped of his honors. The people of Pakistan could not come to terms with the magnitude of defeat, and spontaneous demonstrations and mass protests erupted on the streets of major cities in (West) Pakistan. General Yahya Khan surrendered powers to Nurul Amin of Pakistan Muslim League, the first and last Vice-President and Prime minister of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Amin invited then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the Pakistan Peoples Party to take control of Pakistan. In a color ceremony where, Bhutto gave a daring speech to the nation on national television. At the ceremony, Bhutto waved his fist in the air and pledged to his nation to never again allow the surrender of his country like what happened with East Pakistan. He launched and orchestrated the large-scale atomic bomb project in 1972. In memorial of East Pakistan, the East-Pakistan diaspora in Pakistan established the East-Pakistan colony in Karachi, Sindh. In accordance, the East-Pakistani diaspora also composed patriotic tributes to Pakistan after the war; songs such as Sohni Dharti (lit. Beautiful land) and Jeevay, Jeevay Pakistan (lit. long-live, long-live Pakistan), were composed by Bengali singer Shahnaz Rahmatullah in the 1970s and 1980s.
According to William Langewiesche, writing for The Atlantic, "it may seem obvious that the loss of Bangladesh was a blessing"— but it has never been seen that way in Pakistan. In the book "Scoop! Inside Stories from the Partition to the Present", Indian politician Kuldip Nayar opined, "Losing East Pakistan and Bhutto's releasing of Mujib did not mean anything to Pakistan's policy – as if there was no liberation war." Bhutto's policy, and even today, the policy of Pakistan is that "she will continue to fight for the honor and integrity of Pakistan. East Pakistan is an inseparable and inseverable part of Pakistan".
The defeat of the Pakistan army traumatized West Pakistan and considerably dented the prestige of the armed services ... The defeat suffered in Dacca and the break-up of the country traumatized the population from top to bottom.
Thirty-four years later it may seem obvious that the loss of Bangladesh was a blessing—but it is still not seen so today in Pakistan, and it was certainly not seen so at the time ... One month after the surrender of Pakistan's army in Bangladesh [Bhutto] called a secret meeting of about seventy Pakistani scientists ... He asked them for a nuclear bomb, and they responded enthusiastically.
Few people in Karachi's Chittagong Colony can forget Dec 16, 1971 – the Fall of Dhaka
The 1969 uprising in East Pakistan (ঊনসত্তরের গণঅভ্যুত্থান) was a democratic political movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The uprising consisted of a series of mass demonstrations and sporadic conflicts between government armed forces and the demonstrators. Although the unrest began in 1966 with the Six point movement of Awami League, it got momentum at the beginning of 1969 and culminated in the resignation of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the first military ruler of Pakistan. The uprising also led to the withdrawal of Agartala Conspiracy Case and acquittal of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his colleagues from the case.1970 Bhola cyclone
The 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck Bangladesh on November 3rd 1970. It remains the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded and one of the deadliest natural disasters. At least 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This cyclone was the sixth cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, and also the season's strongest.The cyclone formed over the central Bay of Bengal on November 8, and traveled northward, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) on November 11, and made landfall on the coast of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) the following afternoon. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected Upazila, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm.
The Pakistani government, led by junta leader General Yahya Khan, was criticized for its delayed handling of the relief operations following the storm, both by local political leaders in East Pakistan and in the international media. During the election that took place a month later, the opposition Awami League gained a landslide victory in the province, and continuing unrest between East Pakistan and the central government triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War, which led to widespread atrocities and eventually concluded with the creation of the country of Bangladesh. This storm as well as the Bangladesh Liberation War and 1971 Bangladesh genocide and the subsequent refugees led ex-Beatle George Harrison and Bengali musician Ravi Shankar to organize The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 in Madison Square Garden, New York City.1970 Pakistani general election
General elections were held in Pakistan on 7 December 1970. They were the first general elections held in Pakistan (East and West Pakistan) and ultimately only general elections held prior to the independence of Bangladesh. Voting took place in 300 parliamentary constituencies of Pakistan to elect members of the National Assembly of Pakistan, which was then the only chamber of a unicameral Parliament of Pakistan. The elections also saw members of the five Provincial assemblies elected in Punjab, Sindh, North West Frontier Province, Balochistan and East Pakistan.
The elections were a fierce contest between two socialist parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami League. The Awami League was the sole major party in East Pakistan, while in the four provinces of West Pakistan, the PPP faced severe competition from the conservative factions of Muslim League, the largest of which was Muslim League (Qayyum), as well as Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP).
The Awami League won a landslide victory by winning an absolute majority of 160 seats in the National Assembly and 298 of the 310 seats in the Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan. The PPP won only 81 seats in the National Assembly, but were the winning party in Punjab and Sindh. The Marxist National Awami Party emerged victorious in Northwest Frontier Province and Balochistan.
The Assembly was initially not inaugurated as President Yahya Khan and the PPP did not want a party from East Pakistan in government. This caused great unrest in East Pakistan, which soon escalated into a civil war that led to the formation of the independent state of Bangladesh. The Assembly was eventually opened when President Yahya resigned a few days later and PPP leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over. Bhutto became Prime Minister in 1973, after the post was recreated by the new Constitution.1971 Bangladesh genocide
The genocide in Bangladesh began on 26 March 1971 with the launch of Operation Searchlight, as West Pakistan began a military crackdown on the Eastern wing of the nation to suppress Bengali calls for self-determination rights. During the nine-month-long Bangladesh War for Liberation, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias from Jamaat-e-Islami killed between 300,000 and 3,000,000 people and raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women, according to Bangladeshi and Indian sources, in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape. In December 2011, a BBC News report cited unnamed "independent researchers" as claiming that between 300,000 and 500,000 people were killed. The actions against women were supported by Muslim religious leaders, who declared that Bengali women were gonimoter maal (Bengali for "public property"). As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people, mostly Hindus, fled the country at the time to seek refuge in neighbouring India. It is estimated that up to 30 million civilians became internally displaced. During the war, there was also ethnic violence between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking Biharis. Biharis faced reprisals from Bengali mobs and militias and from 1,000 to 150,000 were killed. Other sources claim it was up to 500,000.There is an academic consensus that the events which took place during the Bangladesh Liberation War constituted a genocide, and warrant judicial accountability. However, some scholars deny it was a genocide.A. K. Fazlul Huq
Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq (26 October 1873 — 27 April 1962) was a Bengali lawyer, legislator and statesman in the 20th century. Huq was a major political figure in British India and later in Pakistan (including East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh). He was one of the most reputed lawyers in the High Court of Dacca and High Court of Calcutta . Born in Bakerganj, he was an alumnus of the University of Calcutta. He worked in the regional civil service and began his political career in Eastern Bengal and Assam in 1906.
Huq was first elected to the Bengal Legislative Council from Dacca in 1913; and served on the council for 21 years until 1934. He was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly for 2 years, between 1934 and 1936. For 10 ten years between 1937 and 1947, he was an elected member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly, where he was Prime Minister and Leader of the House for 6 years. He was later elected to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly, where he was Chief Minister for 2 months; and to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, where he was Home Minister for 1 year, in the 1950s.
Huq boycotted titles and knighthood granted by the British government. He is popularly known with the title of Sher-e-Bangla (Lion of Bengal). He was notable for his English oratory during speeches to the Bengali legislature. Huq courted the votes of the Bengali middle classes and rural communities. He pushed for land reform and curbing the influence of zamindars. Huq was considered a leftist and social democrat on the political spectrum. His ministries were marked by intense factional infighting. In 1940, Huq had one of his most notable political achievements, when he presented the Lahore Resolution. During the Second World War, Huq joined the Viceroy of India's defence council and supported Allied war efforts. Under pressure from the Governor of Bengal during the Quit India movement and after the withdrawal of the Hindu Mahasabha from his cabinet, Huq resigned from the post of premier in March 1943. In the Dominion of Pakistan, Huq worked for five years as East Bengal's attorney general and participated in the Bengali Language Movement. He was elected as chief minister, served as a federal minister and was a provincial governor in the 1950s.
Huq became secretary of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League in 1913. In 1929, he founded the All Bengal Tenants Association, which evolved into a political platform, including as a part of the post-partition United Front. Huq held important political offices in the subcontinent, including President of the All India Muslim League (1916-1921), General Secretary of the Indian National Congress (1916-1918), Education Minister of Bengal (1924), Mayor of Calcutta (1935), Prime Minister of Bengal (1937-1943), Advocate General of East Bengal (1947-1952), Chief Minister of East Bengal (1954), Home Minister of Pakistan (1955-1956) and Governor of East Pakistan (1956-1958). Huq was fluent in Bengali, English and Urdu, and had a working knowledge of Arabic and Persian. Huq died in Dacca, East Pakistan on 27 April 1962. He is buried in the Mausoleum of Three Leaders. The Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area of Dhaka, which houses the National Parliament, is named after Huq. The Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium is also named after him. In 2004, Huq was voted fourth in a BBC poll of the Greatest Bengali of all time.Awami League
The Bangladesh Awami League (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ আওয়ামী লীগ; translated from Urdu: Bangladesh People's League), often simply called the Awami League or AL, is one of the two major political parties of Bangladesh.
The All Pakistan Awami Muslim League was founded in Dhaka, the capital of the Pakistani province of East Bengal, in 1949 by Bengali nationalists Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, Shawkat Ali, Yar Mohammad Khan, Shamsul Huq, and joined later Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy who went on to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Pakistan Awami Muslim League was established as the Bengali alternative to the domination of the Muslim League in Pakistan and over centralisation of the government. The party quickly gained massive popular support in East Bengal, later named East Pakistan, and eventually led the forces of Bengali nationalism in the struggle against West Pakistan's military and political establishment.
The party under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, led the struggle for independence, first through massive populist and civil disobedience movements, such as the Six Point Movement and 1971 Non-Cooperation Movement, and then during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
After the emergence of independent Bangladesh, the Awami League won the first general elections in 1973 but was overthrown in 1975 after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The party was forced by subsequent military regimes onto the political sidelines and many of its senior leaders and activists were executed and jailed. After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the Awami League emerged as one of the principal players of Bangladeshi politics.
Amongst the leaders of the Awami League, five have become the President of Bangladesh, four have become the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and one became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The incumbent Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has headed the party since 1981.Bangladesh Liberation War
The Bangladesh Liberation War (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ Muktijuddho), also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh, was a revolution and armed conflict sparked by the rise of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement in what was then East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. It resulted in the independence of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The war began after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan on the night of 25 March 1971. It pursued the systematic elimination of nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel. The junta annulled the results of the 1970 elections and arrested Prime minister-designate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The war ended on 16 December 1971 after West Pakistan surrendered.
Rural and urban areas across East Pakistan saw extensive military operations and air strikes to suppress the tide of civil disobedience that formed following the 1970 election stalemate. The Pakistan Army, which had the backing of Islamists, created radical religious militias – the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams – to assist it during raids on the local populace. Urdu-speaking Biharis in Bangladesh (ethnic minority) were also in support of Pakistani military. Members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias engaged in mass murder, deportation and genocidal rape. The capital Dhaka was the scene of numerous massacres, including the Operation Searchlight and Dhaka University massacre. An estimated 10 million Bengali refugees fled to neighboring India, while 30 million were internally displaced. Sectarian violence broke out between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking immigrants. An academic consensus prevails that the atrocities committed by the Pakistani military were a genocide.
The Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from Chittagong by members of the Mukti Bahini – the national liberation army formed by Bengali military, paramilitary and civilians. The East Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles played a crucial role in the resistance. Led by General M. A. G. Osmani and eleven sector commanders, the Bangladesh Forces waged a mass guerrilla war against the Pakistani military. They liberated numerous towns and cities in the initial months of the conflict. The Pakistan Army regained momentum in the monsoon. Bengali guerrillas carried out widespread sabotage, including Operation Jackpot against the Pakistan Navy. The nascent Bangladesh Air Force flew sorties against Pakistani military bases. By November, the Bangladesh forces restricted the Pakistani military to its barracks during the night. They secured control of most parts of the countryside.The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was formed on 17 April 1971 in Mujibnagar and moved to Calcutta as a government in exile. Bengali members of the Pakistani civil, military and diplomatic corps defected to the Bangladeshi provisional government. Thousands of Bengali families were interned in West Pakistan, from where many escaped to Afghanistan. Bengali cultural activists operated the clandestine Free Bengal Radio Station. The plight of millions of war-ravaged Bengali civilians caused worldwide outrage and alarm. The Indian state led by Indira Gandhi provided substantial diplomatic, economic and military support to Bangladeshi nationalists. British, Indian and American musicians organised the world's first benefit concert in New York City to support the Bangladeshi people. Senator Ted Kennedy in the United States led a congressional campaign for an end to Pakistani military persecution; while US diplomats in East Pakistan strongly dissented with the Nixon administration's close ties to the Pakistani military dictator Yahya Khan.
India joined the war on 3 December 1971, after Pakistan launched preemptive air strikes on North India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War witnessed engagements on two war fronts. With air supremacy achieved in the eastern theatre and the rapid advance of the Allied Forces of Bangladesh and India, Pakistan surrendered in Dacca on 16 December 1971.
The war changed the geopolitical landscape of South Asia, with the emergence of Bangladesh as the seventh-most populous country in the world. Due to complex regional alliances, the war was a major episode in Cold War tensions involving the United States, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. The majority of member states in the United Nations recognised Bangladesh as a sovereign nation in 1972.Bengali nationalism
Bengali nationalism (Bengali: বাঙালি জাতীয়তাবাদ) is a form of nationalism that focuses on Bengalis as a singular nation. It is one of the four fundamental principles according to the original Constitution of Bangladesh. It was the main driving force behind the creation of the Independent nation state of Bangladesh through the 1971 liberation war. The people of Bengali ethnicity speak Bengali Language. Apart from Bangladesh, people of Bengali ethnicity live across the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and some parts of Jharkhand known as united Bengal during the British period. After the 19th century's Bengal Renaissance occurred in Bengal, it then was the four decades long Bengali Nationalist Movement that shook the region which included the Bengali Language Movement, the Bangladesh Liberation War and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.Communist Party of Bangladesh
The Communist Party of Bangladesh (Bengali: বাংলাদেশের কমিউনিস্ট পার্টি) is a Marxist-Leninist political party in Bangladesh, founded in 1948 as the Communist Party of East Pakistan.Dhaka Stock Exchange
The Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) (Bengali: ঢাকা স্টক এক্সচেঞ্জ Dhaka stôk ekschenj), located in Motijheel, Dhaka, is one of the two stock exchanges of Bangladesh (the other being the Chittagong Stock Exchange). In 2015, the combined market capitalisation of listed companies on the Dhaka bourse stood at over $40 billion.Faridpur District
Faridpur (Bengali: ফরিদপুর জেলা) is a district in south-central Bangladesh. It is a part of the Dhaka Division. It is bounded by the Padma River to its northeast. The district is named after the municipality of Faridpur. Historically, the town was known as Fatehabad. It was also called Haveli Mahal Fatehabad.Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which led to the commencement of hostilities with Pakistan and Indian entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western fronts; the war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, East Pakistan had earlier called for its secession from the unity of Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately 90,000 to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army, which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of the Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan. The remaining 10,324 to 12,500 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars). It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh. As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias called the Razakars raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.Mukti Bahini
The Mukti Bahini (Bengali: মুক্তি বাহিনী, translates as 'freedom fighters', or liberation army), also known as the Bangladesh Forces, was the guerrilla resistance movement formed by the Bangladeshi military, paramilitary and civilians during the War of Liberation that transformed East Pakistan into Bangladesh in 1971. An earlier name Mukti Fauj was also used.On 7 March 1971 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman issued a call to the people of East Pakistan to prepare themselves for an all-out struggle. Later that evening resistance demonstrations began, and the military began a full-scale retaliation with Operation Searchlight, which continued through May 1971.A formal military leadership of the resistance was created in April 1971 under the Provisional Government of Bangladesh. The military council was headed by General M. A. G. Osmani and eleven sector commanders. The Bangladesh Armed Forces were established on 4 April 1971. In addition to regular units, such as the East Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles, the Mukti Bahini also consisted of the civilian Gonobahini (People's Force). The most prominent divisions of the Mukti Bahini were the Z Force led by Major Ziaur Rahman, the K Force led by Major Khaled Mosharraf and the S Force led by Major K M Shafiullah. Awami League student leaders formed militia units, including the Mujib Bahini, the Kader Bahini and Hemayet Bahini. The Communist Party of Bangladesh, led by Comrade Moni Singh, and activists from the National Awami Party also operated several guerrilla battalions.Using guerrilla warfare tactics, the Mukti Bahini secured control over large parts of the Bengali countryside. It conducted successful "ambush and sabotage" campaigns, and included the nascent Bangladesh Air Force and the Bangladesh Navy. The Mukti Bahini received training and weapons from India, where people in the eastern and northeastern states share a common Bengali ethnic and linguistic heritage with East Pakistan.During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Mukti Bahini became part of the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces. It was instrumental in securing the Surrender of Pakistan and the liberation of Dacca and other cities in December 1971.Razakar (Pakistan)
Razakar (Urdu: رضاکار, literally "volunteer"; Bengali: রাজাকার) was an anti-Bangladesh paramilitary force organised by the Pakistan Army in then East Pakistan, now called Bangladesh, during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Since the 1971 war, it has become a pejorative term (implying traitor) in Bangladesh due to the numerous atrocities committed by the Razakars during the War. The Razakar force was composed of mostly anti-Bangladesh and pro-Pakistan Bengalis and Urdu-speaking migrants who lived in Bangladesh at the time.Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bengali: শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান); (17 March 1920 – 15 August 1975), shortened as Sheikh Mujib or just Mujib, was a Bangladeshi politician and statesman. He is the founding father of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. He served as the first President of Bangladesh and later as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 17 April 1971 until his assassination on 15 August 1975. He is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh. He is popularly dubbed with the title of Bangabandhu (Bôngobondhu "Friend of Bengal") by the people of Bangladesh. He became a leading figure in and eventually the leader of the Awami League, founded in 1949 as an East Pakistan-based political party in Pakistan. Mujib is credited as an important figure in efforts to gain political autonomy for East Pakistan and later as the central figure behind the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Thus, he is regarded Jatir Janak or Jatir Pita (Jatir Jônok or Jatir Pita, both meaning "Father of the Nation") of Bangladesh. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current leader of the Awami League and also the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
An advocate of democracy and socialism, Mujib rose to the ranks of the Awami League and East Pakistani politics as a charismatic and forceful orator. He became popular for his opposition to the ethnic and institutional discrimination of Bengalis in Pakistan, who comprised the majority of the state's population. At the heightening of sectional tensions, he outlined a 6-point autonomy plan and was jailed by the regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan for treason. Mujib led the Awami League to win the first democratic election of Pakistan in 1970. Despite gaining a majority, the League was not invited by the ruling military junta to form a government. As civil disobedience erupted across East Pakistan, Mujib indirectly announced independence of Bangladesh during a landmark speech on 7 March 1971. On 26 March 1971, the Pakistan Army responded to the mass protests with Operation Searchlight, in which Prime Minister-elect Mujib was arrested and flown to solitary confinement in West Pakistan, while Bengali civilians, students, intellectuals, politicians and military defectors were murdered as part of the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. During Mujib's absence, many Bengalis joined the Mukti Bahini and defeated the Pakistan Armed Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War. After Bangladesh's independence, Mujib was released from Pakistani custody due to international pressure and returned to Dhaka in January 1972 after a short visit to Britain and India.
Sheikh Mujib became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh under a parliamentary system adopted by the new country. His government enacted a constitution proclaiming socialism and secular democracy. The Awami League won a huge mandate in the country's first general election in 1973. However, Mujib faced challenges of rampant unemployment, poverty and corruption, as well as the Bangladesh famine of 1974. The government was criticized for denying constitutional recognition to indigenous minorities and human rights violations by its security forces, notably the National Defence Force para militia. Amid rising political agitation, Mujib initiated one party socialist rule in January 1975. Six months later, he and most of his family were assassinated by renegade army officers during a coup. A martial law government was subsequently established. In a 2004 BBC poll, Mujib was voted the Greatest Bengali of all time.Six point movement
The six point movement was a movement in West Pakistan, spearheaded by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which called for greater autonomy for East Pakistan. The movement's main agenda was to realize the six demands put forward by a coalition of Bengali nationalist political parties in 1966, to end the perceived exploitation of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani rulers. It is considered a milestone on the road to Bangladesh's independence.Tikka Khan
General Tikka Khan (Urdu: ٹِکّا خان ),
(February 1915 – 28 March 2002) HJ, S.Pk, was a four-star rank army general in the Pakistan Army who served as the first chief of army staff from 3 March 1972 till retiring on 1 March 1976.Gaining commission as an artillery officer in the British Indian Army to participate in World War II in 1940, his military career commanded the infantry divisions in the war with India in 1965. In 1969, he was posted to command the IV Corps while acting as martial law administrator in West Pakistan under President Yahya Khan. In 1971, he took over the command of army's Eastern Command in East Pakistan and appointed as Governor of East Pakistan where he oversaw the planning and the military deployments to execute the military operations to quell the liberation war efforts by Awami League. His tough rhetoric to deal with political enemies earned him the notoriety and a nickname of "Touka", and was soon relieved of his command by President Yahya Khan.
After commanding the II Corps in the war with India in 1971, Tikka Khan was promoted to four-star rank and appointed as the first chief of army staff of the Pakistan Army in 1972. As an army chief, he provided his support to the clandestine nuclear weapons programme alongside with Ghulam Ishaq Khan— a bureaucrat. Upon retirement from the military in 1976, he was subsequently appointed as National Security Advisor by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, only to be removed in 1977 as a result of enforced martial law. In the 1980s, he remained active as a political worker of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and emerged as its leader when appointed as Governor of Punjab after the general elections held in 1988. After Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990, his tenure was terminated and was succeeded by Mian Muhammad Azhar. He retired from the politics in 1990. He died on 28 March 2002 and was buried with full military honours in Westridge cemetery in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan.West Pakistan
West Pakistan (Urdu: مغربی پاکستان, Mag̱ẖribī Pākistān IPA: [məɣrɪbiː pɑːkɪstɑːn]; Bengali: পশ্চিম পাকিস্তান, Pôśchim Pākistān) was one of the two exclaves created at the formation of the modern State of Pakistan following the 1947 Partition of India.After gaining independence from the British in 1947, the State of Pakistan was physically separated into two exclaves, with the western and eastern wings separated from each other by the Republic of India. The western wing of Pakistan comprised three Governor's provinces (North-West Frontier, West-Punjab and Sindh Province), one Chief Commissioner's province (Baluchistan Province), and the Baluchistan States Union along with several other independent princely states (notably Bahawalpur, Chitral, Dir, Hunza, Khairpur and Swat), the Federal Capital Territory around Karachi, and the tribal areas. The eastern wing of the new country – East Pakistan – formed the single province of East Bengal (including the former Assam district of Sylhet).
West Pakistan was politically dominant despite East Pakistan having over half of the population and a disproportionately small number of seats in the Constituent Assembly. This inequality of the two wings and the geographical distance between them were believed to be delaying the adoption of a new constitution. To diminish the differences between the two regions, the government decided to reorganise the country into two distinct provinces under the One Unit policy announced by Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali on 22 November 1954.
In 1970, President General Yahya Khan enacted a series of territorial, constitutional and military reforms. These established the provincial assemblies, state parliament, and the current provisional borders of Pakistan's four provinces. On 1 July 1970, West Pakistan was devolved and renamed "Pakistan" under Legal Framework Order No. 1970, which dissolved the "One Unit" and removed the term "West", simply establishing the country as Pakistan. The order had no effect on East Pakistan, which retained the geographical position established in 1955. The next year's civil war, however, resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh.Yahya Khan
Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan (Urdu: آغا محمد یحییٰ خان; 4 February 1914 – 10 August 1980), widely known as Yahya Khan, NePl, was the third President of Pakistan, serving in this post from 25 March 1969 until turning over his presidency in December 1971.Having participated in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II on behalf of Great Britain's British Indian Army, he opted for Pakistani citizenship and joined its military after the United Kingdom partitioned India in 1947, and helped in executing the covert infiltration in Indian Kashmir that sparked the war with India in 1965. After being controversially appointed to assume the army command in 1966, he took over the presidency from unpopular former dictator and elected President Ayub Khan, who was not able to deal with the 1969 uprising in East Pakistan, forced to resign by protests and offered him the office. Yahya Khan subsequently enforced martial law by suspending the constitution. Holding the nation's first nationwide elections in 1970, 23 years after independence, he delayed the power transition to victorious Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from East Pakistan, which further inflamed the civil violent unrest in the East, and authorized the East Pakistani authorities to violently suppress the rebellion in which somewhere from several hundred thousand to about 3,000,000 were killed in what is today widely considered the 1971 Bangladesh genocide.
Pakistan suffered a decisive defeat in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, resulting in the dissolution of the Eastern Command of the Pakistan Army and the secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh – thus Yahya Khan's rule is widely regarded as a leading cause of the break-up of the unity of Pakistan. Following these events, he turned over the leadership of the country to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the leading politician from West Pakistan, and resigned from the command of the military in disgrace, both on 20 December 1971. He was then stripped of his service honors and put under house surveillance for most of the 1970s.After being released from these restrictions in 1977, he died in Rawalpindi in 1980. He is viewed largely negatively by Pakistani historians and is considered among the least successful of the country's leaders.
|History and events|
Bengali language portal
|Events and conflicts|