Opinions on East Pakistan

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East Pakistan (Bengali: পূর্ব পাকিস্তান Pūrbô Pākistān; Urdu: مشرقی پاکستانMas̱ẖriqī Pākistān IPA: [məʃrɪqiː pɑːkɪst̪ɑːn]), present-day Bangladesh, was a provincial state of Pakistan that existed in the Bengal region of the northeast of South Asia from 1955 until 1971, following the One Unit programme that laid the existence of East Pakistan.

In 1947, the region of Bengal under the British Empire was divided into East and West Bengal that separated the eastern areas with a Muslim majority from the western areas with a Hindu majority. The partition of Bengal saw the mainstream revival of Hindu–Muslim riots that drove both Bengali Muslims and Hindus further apart, leading to more unrest in Bengal. In 1947, districts of Bengal with a Muslim majority favoured the division after approving the 3 June Plan presented by the Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, and merged with the new province of East Bengal of the Dominion of Pakistan. From 1947 until 1954, East Bengal was an independent administrative unit which was governed by the Pakistan Muslim League led by Nurul Amin. In 1955, the Bengali Prime minister Muhammad Ali Bogra devolved the province of East Bengal and established the state as East Pakistan with Dhaka its state capital. During this time, the 1954 elections were held which saw the complete defeat of Pakistan Muslim League led by the United Front coalition of the Awami League, the Krishak Praja Party, the Democratic Party and Nizam-e-Islam. The Awami League gained the control of East Pakistan after appointing Huseyn Suhrawardy for the office of Prime minister. This authoritarian period that existed from 1958 until 1971, is often regarded as period of mass repression, resentment, and political neglect and ignorance. Allying with the population of West, the East's population unanimously voted for Fatima Jinnah during the 1965 presidential elections against Ayub Khan. The elections were widely believed to be heavily rigged in the favour of Ayub Khan using state patronage and intimidation to influence the indirectly elected electoral college. The economic disparity, impression that West Pakistan despite being less populated than East Pakistan was ruling and prospering at its cost further popularize the Bengali nationalism. The support for state autonomy grew when Awami League introduced the Six point movement in 1966, and participated with full force in the 1970 general elections in which the Awami League had won and secured the exclusive mandate of East-Pakistan.

After the general elections, President General Yahya Khan attempted to negotiate with both Pakistan Peoples Party and Awami League to share power in the central government but talks failed when President Yahya Khan authorised an armed operation (codename Searchlight) to attack the Awami League. As response to this operation, the Awami League announced the declaration of independence of East Pakistan on 26 March 1971 and began an armed struggle against the Pakistan, with India staunchly supporting Awami League by the means of providing arm ammunition to its guerrilla forces.

East Pakistan had an area of 147,570 km (56,977 mi), bordering India on three sides (East, North, and West) and the Bay of Bengal to the South. East Pakistan was one of the largest provincial states of Pakistan, with the largest population, largest political representation, and sharing the largest economic share. A nine-month-long war ended on 16 December 1971, when the Pakistan Armed Forces were overrun in Dhaka, ultimately signing the instrument of surrender which resulted in the largest number of prisoners of war since World War II. Finally on 16 December 1971, East Pakistan was officially disestablished and was succeeded as the independent state of Bangladesh.


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