Why Bengali needs separation from Pakistan? In August 1947, the Partition of India gave birth to two new states named Pakistan and India. Areas containing the Muslim-majority became Pakistan while areas with Hindu majority states became India. The new nation of Pakistan included two geographically and culturally separate areas in the east and the west of India. The western zone was popularly (and for a period of time, also officially) termed West Pakistan and the eastern zone (modern-day Bangladesh) was initially termed East Bengal and later, East Pakistan. It was widely perceived that West Pakistan dominated politically and exploited the East economically, leading to many grievances.
On the 25 March 1971, rising political discontent and cultural nationalism in East Pakistan was met by brutal suppressive force from the ruling elite of the West Pakistan establishment in what came to be termed Operation Searchlight.
The violent crackdown by West Pakistan forces led to East Pakistan declaring its independence as the state of Bangladesh and to the start of civil war. The war led to a sea of refugees (estimated at the time to be about 10 million) flooding into the eastern provinces of India Facing a mounting humanitarian and economic crisis, India started actively aiding and organizing the Bangladeshi resistance army known as the Mukti Bahini.
East Pakistani grievances
West Pakistan (consisting of four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and North-West Frontier Province) dominated the divided country politically and received more money from the common budget than the more populous East.
Year Spending on West Pakistan (in crore Rupees) Spending on East Pakistan (in crore Rupees) Amount spent on East as percentage of West
1950–55 1,129 524 46.4
1955–60 1,655 524 31.7
1960–65 3,355 1,404 41.8
1965–70 5,195 2,141 41.2
Total 11,334 4,593 40.5
Source: Reports of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 1970-75, Vol. I, published by the planning commission of Pakistan (Quick reference: crore = 107, or 10 million)
Although East Pakistan accounted for a majority of the country’s population (14), political power remained firmly in the hands of West Pakistanis, specifically the Punjabis. Since a straightforward system of representation based on population would have concentrated political power in East Pakistan, the West Pakistani establishment came up with the "One Unit" scheme, where all of West Pakistan was considered one province. This was solely to counterbalance the East wings votes. Ironically, after the East broke away to form Bangladesh, the Punjab province insisted that politics in West Pakistan now be decided on the basis of a straightforward vote, since Punjabis were more numerous than the other groups, such as Sindhis, Pashtuns, or Balochs.
After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistans first prime minister, in 1951, political power began to be concentrated in the President of Pakistan, and eventually, the military. The nominal elected chief executive, the Prime Minister, was frequently sacked by the establishment, acting through the President.
East Pakistanis noticed that whenever one of them, such as Khawaja Nazimuddin, Muhammad Ali Bogra, or Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy were elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, they were swiftly deposed by the largely West Pakistani establishment. The military dictatorships of Ayub Khan (27 October 1958 – 25 March 1969) and Yahya Khan (25 March 1969 – 20 December 1971), both West Pakistanis, only heightened such feelings.
Historic Speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 7 March 1971
The situation reached a climax when in 1970 the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 313 seats in the National Assembly. This gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government. However, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (a Sindhi), the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, refused to allow Rahman to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Instead, he proposed the idea of having two Prime Ministers, one for each wing. The proposal elicited outrage in the east wing, already chafing under the other constitutional innovation, the "one unit scheme". Bhutto also refused to accept Rahmans Six Points. On 3 March 1971, the two leaders of the two wings along with the President General Yahya Khan met in Dhaka to decide the fate of the country. Talks failed. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for a nation-wide strike.
On 7 March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered a speech at the Racecourse Ground (now called theSuhrawardy Udyan). In this speech he mentioned a further four-point condition to consider the National Assembly Meeting on 25 March:
1. The immediate lifting of martial law.
2. Immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks.
3. An inquiry into the loss of life.
4. Immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting 25 March.
He urged "his people" to turn every house into a fort of resistance. He closed his speech saying, "Our struggle is for our freedom. Our struggle is for our independence." This speech is considered the main event that inspired the nation to fight for their independence. General Tikka Khan was flown in to Dhaka to become Governor of East Bengal. East-Pakistani judges, including Justice Siddique, refused to swear him in.
Between 10 and 13 March, Pakistan International Airlines cancelled all their international routes to urgently fly "Government Passengers" to Dhaka. These "Government Passengers" were almost all Pakistani soldiers in civilian dress. MV Swat, a ship of the Pakistani Navy, carrying ammunition and soldiers, was harbored in Chittagong Port and the Bengali workers and sailors at the port refused to unload the ship. A unit of East Pakistan Rifles refused to obey commands to fire on Bengali demonstrators, beginning a mutiny of Bengali soldiers.
Bengalis were under-represented in the Pakistan military. Officers of Bengali origin in the different wings of the armed forces made up just 5% of overall force by 1965; of these, only a few were in command positions, with the majority in technical or administrative posts. West Pakistanis believed that Bengalis were not "martially inclined" unlike Pashtuns and Punjabis; the "martial races" notion was dismissed as ridiculous and humiliating by Bengalis. Moreover, despite huge defence spending, East Pakistan received none of the benefits, such as contracts, purchasing and military support jobs. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 over Kashmir also highlighted the sense of military insecurity among Bengalis as only an under-strength infantry division and 15 combat aircraft without tank support were in East Pakistan to thwart any Indian retaliation during the conflict.