Emergence of Bangladesh

Home Emergence of Bangladesh

In the background of the nationalistic struggle against British Colonial Rule in India since the mid 20′s of the last century, Hindu-Muslim communal tensions led in 1947 to the partition of India and Pakistan was created as a separate homeland for Muslims. This unnatural separation of the Bengali society on the basis of religion created deep fissures in a society – which had hitherto had a pluralistic character. The Province of East Pakistan was physically separated from West Pakistan by a thousand miles. Pakistan therefore, was an unrealistic state from the very beginning.

Since its very inception, the Pakistani rulers denied the democratic aspirations of the Bengalees and their national rights. The country declared itself as an Islamic Republic in 1956 and military rule was imposed from 1958. The Pakistani rulling elite followed by the military rulers tried to subjugate the Bengalees politically, culturally and economically and naturally the disillusionment with the new nation was not surprising. The struggle for a separate homeland manifested itself right from 1948 through a continuous, united and popular struggle for democracy, autonomy and for the upholding of its secular cultural identity. Successive Pakistani governments exploited the Bengalis and although most of the country’s foreign exports were generated in East Pakistan, less than 20% was actually allocated to the Bengalis.

In the first-ever national Parliamentary elections held in 1970 based on a one man-one vote basis, the Bengalee nationalist forces led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won landslide victory and his party, the Awami League became majority party in the whole of Pakistan. However, the Pakistani military machinery refused to accept this electoral verdict; thus leading to a non-violent non-cooperation movement in East Pakistan.

In an attempt to crush the nationalistic movement in East Pakistan, the Pakistani Military Junta unleashed a systematic genocide against Bengalee people on the fateful night of March 25, 1971. The Junta received support from a handful religion based local parties and religious fundamentalists.

The Pakistani rampage resulted in the worst genocide since the Second World War, and an estimated 3 million people were killed, some 278,000 women were raped and 10 million had to take refuge in neighboring India.

In this background, the independence of Bangladesh was declared and elected representatives of 1970’s election from East Pakistan formed the Bangladesh Government in Exile on the 10th of April, 1971. The Cabinet took oath of office at Baiddyanathtala in Meherpur, later renamed as Mujibnagar on April 17, 1971. Young people from the villages and students took military training and the Mukti Bahini (freedom fighters) fought back the occupation forces under 11 Sectors, adopting guerilla tactics and kept the Pakistani army in a harassed and indefensible state. International condemnation of Pakistan’s atrocities came from governments, public leaders, cultural personalities and media. Unfortunately, the Nixon administration of United States and China supported Pakistan government, more from global strategic interests, while India and The Soviet Union supported the Bangladesh cause. India provided humanitarian aid to the refugees as well as trained the freedom fighters. By September these half-trained young men had infiltrated deep inside Bangladesh and a large part of the land was virtually self-ruled.

On December 3, after Pakistan attacked and bombed airfields in the western part of India, The Allied Command of the Indian Army and the Muktibahini (Bangladesh Freedom Fighters) was formed and they started the formal armed assault. On December 16, 1971, the Pakistan Armed Forces ignominiously surrendered to this Allied Command and independent Bangladesh was born as democratic and secular state.


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