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Bangladesh, independence of (1971)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


East Pakistan was economically underdeveloped and impoverished 20 years after independence in 1947. It contained 55 per cent of Pakistan's population and earned most of Pakistan's foreign currency with its export of jute, yet less was invested in East than in West Pakistan. Many in the East regarded it as a colony of the West, administered mainly by civil servants from Punjab who spoke Urdu, not Bengali. East Pakistan was kept under control by an army and air force, which was almost completely dominated by Pathan, Baluch and Punjabi officers. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Bengali leader of the popular Awami League, decided to end the dependence of the East on the West. In 1966 he put forward a Six-Point Programme, which called for the autonomy of East Pakistan and a separate militia. ayub khan charged Mujibur and eight others with treason in 1968 and flew West Pakistan troops into Dhaka, the Eastern capital, a few days before he declared martial law in 1969. General Yahya Khan, who replaced Ayub as President in 1969, announced that parliamentary elections – the first since independence -would be held throughout Pakistan in October 1970, after which he would hand over power to elected representatives. In the 1970 elections the Awami League won 160 out of the 162 seats allotted to the East in Pakistan's National Assembly, Zulfikar Ali bhutto winning a majority in the West. Yahya, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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