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WHAT LED TO THE DEBACLE OF THE EAST PAKISTAN?

  • Muntaha Azhar
  • Dec, 2017
  • 87
  • CSS

At the time of independence in 1947, there came into being a strange country, federation of Pakistan, which had three remarkable features that led to the ultimate dismemberment of its eastern wing. The factors were: East and West Pakistan were 1600 kilometers apart– separated by the territory which was part of India, second was the shattered economy and third was the culturally marked differences. Hence the culmination of cultural, political and economic differences took place on December 16, 1971 with the separation and debacle of East Pakistan.

Culturally the two wings had a marked social stratification with the West Pakistan possessed ethnically varied groups while East Pakistan had no such ethnic groups but had religious groups i.e. 14% population of East Pakistan was Hindu while in Eastern wing the population was larger than Western wing.  Along with it, West Pakistan was based on a feudal society whereas East Pakistan only had a remnant of it. The cultural differences between the two parts started becoming prominent when the Bengalis plotted stiff resistance against the Urdu language. It was decided before the formation of Pakistan that Urdu would be the lingua franca of the new state but people of East Pakistan demanded to replace it with Bengali which was highly unacceptable to the people of West Pakistan. On the other side, Bengalis took procession in the favor of Bengali language and the issue became the apple of discord because of the stubbornness from both sides.

Conflicts of East Pakistan were not of inter-province nature but the intra-provincial conflicts were also persisting. There was a conflict in East Pakistan between those who represented popular masses and those who represented conservative elements which also resulted in chaotic and anarchic situation in East Pakistan.

Political system in Pakistan broke down in 1971 when the conflict between the two provinces reached on the extreme edge. An unprecedented propaganda storm was projected behind it, being propagated by the Hindus who did not want to see Pakistan flourishing as a nation-state. The 14% of West Pakistan’s population consisted of Hindus which had a strong control over the economy as well as upon the illiterate Muslim population of East Pakistan because Hindus were better educated than the Muslims. Thus from the very outset, they easily propagated the agenda of contiguous India in the East Pakistan. For this purpose they used mass media and press which was owned by them which acted as training for Bengali students for guerilla warfare in order to prolong the unrest.

However, it cannot be put down that there were also the myriad of ambitions of the politicians that added fuel to the fire. Nobody in the ruling political clique of East and West Pakistan tried to redress the grievances of the people of East Pakistan. Moreover, the leaders representing East Bengal were from the upper-class while the selfish politicians were only busy in fighting among themselves. In doing this, the simmering ethnic hatred for the language and culture of West Pakistan flared up by the leaders like Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman. The manipulation of such leaders filled up the environment with hatred.The Hindus of West Pakistan, on the other side, founded their own organization namely Pakistan National Congress (PNC). The members of this organization were the agents of India who ensured the dismemberment of East Pakistan.

Such causes aggravated with the failure of cabinet of Muslim League to pay due attention to the miseries of the people of East Pakistan. On the other side, police and law enforcement agencies were not fulfilling their duties rather these were busy playing the role of accomplices in the civil riots. Slogans of Pakistan Murdabad were being chanted in the streets of East Pakistan. Such resentment made it imperative to give considerable autonomy to the federating units and hold regular elections. In this disorder, general elections of1970 were held and Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman got the absolute majority in East Pakistan. President General Yahya Khan declared Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman as the next premier of Pakistan but Mujib-ur-Rehman denied it because he wanted the presidentship. On the other side, Zulfiqar Bhutto – the winner of the West Pakistan, also wanted the same. So this tussle continued till the debacle of East Pakistan occurred.

In such crucial circumstances, Bengalis attributed all their economic deprivations to the West Pakistan because it was economically more prosperous. It was common those days to hear from them that they were alone producing the expenses of Islamabad from their own blood; the capital which was located in West Pakistan. This situation made it important to weld all the ethnic groups together and for this purpose there was needed...

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