Emergence of Bangladesh
Awami Muslim League:
Awami League one of the oldest and major political parties in Bangladesh. It was founded in Dhaka on 23
June 1949 at a convention of the leaders and workers known to have been a faction of the Bengal Provincial
Muslim League and headed by HUSEYN SHAHEED SUHRAWARDY and ABUL HASHIM. The new party was
named East Pakistan Awami Muslim League. It was established with Maulana ABDUL HAMID KHAN BHASANI
as president, ATAUR RAHMAN KHAN, Sakhawat Hossain and Ali Ahmed Khan as vice-presidents, Shamsul
Huq of Tangail as general secretary, SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN (then interned in jail), KHONDAKAR MOSTAQ
AHMAD and AK Rafiqul Husain as joint secretaries, and Yar Mohammad Khan as treasurer. At the party's
third council meeting held in Dhaka on 21-23 October 1955, the word 'Muslim' was dropped out from the
name of the party to make it sound secular. The party believes in welfare-oriented economy. It has front
organisations among the students, labours, peasants, youths and women.
The Awami League was the first opposition party in the then Pakistan. At its birth the party adopted a 42-
point programme with special emphasis on the demand for provincial autonomy. Recognition of Bangla as
one of the state languages of Pakistan, one man one vote, democracy, framing of a constitution,
parliamentary system of government, regional autonomy and removal of disparity between the two wings
had been the popular demands of Awami League during the initial period of the Pakistani rule. In the 1954-
elections in East Pakistan, it was the Awami Muslim League which was instrumental in forming the UNITED
FRONT with other opposition parties in order to unseat the ruling MUSLIM LEAGUE from power.
In the elections, out of the 237 Muslim seats the Muslim League was able to secure only 9 seats as against
223 seats (Awami League secured 143 seats) bagged by the Front. During the 24 years of Pakistan, Awami
League was in power in the province for only about two years (1956-1958) headed by Ataur Rahman Khan,
and at the centre for 13 months (12 September 1956 to 11 October 1957) as a coalition government headed
by Suhrawardy. In spite of many constraints, these governments made several attempts to meet the just
demands of the Bangalis. The role played by Suhrawardy in the passing of a law in the National Assembly
introducing joint electorate system (14 October 1956) deserves special mention.
In 1957, Awami League had to face a crisis resulting in a split in the party over the issue of foreign policy.
Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhasani were having a difference of opinion for quite some time, the former
favoured strong links with the West, particularly with America, while the latter was in favour of a non-
aligned foreign policy. The division came to the fore at the KAGMARI CONFERENCE (Tangail) of the Awami
League (7-8 February 1957). The rift eventually led to the formation of a new political party named National
Awami Party headed by Maulana Bhasani.
During General Ayub's autocratic rule (1958-1969), the Awami League emerged as the vanguard spirit of
the autonomy movement. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could establish his supreme control over the party during
this period. In February 1966, at a conference of opposition parties in Lahore Sheikh Mujib presented the
historic SIX-POINT PROGRAMME of the Awami League. The programme included: federal parliamentary
system at the centre including universal adult franchise; all powers in the federating units except foreign
relations and defence; separate currencies for East and West Pakistan; right of the federating units to levy
taxes and duties; right to negotiate trade and commerce with foreign countries by the federating units; and
finally, para-militia or para-military forces for their own defences. The Ayub government reacted to Mujib's
charter of demands by instituting the AGARTALA CONSPIRACY CASE (1968) against him and 34 others. The
case led to a MASS UPSURGE in 1969 which forced Ayub Khan to step down from power.
In the backdrop of mass movement and fall of AYUB KHAN, the Awami League won a stunning victory in the
1970 general elections bagging 160 out of 162 territorial seats in East Pakistan allotted in the central
legislature. Awami League had a similar landslide victory in the Provincial Assembly elections in East
Pakistan bagging 288 seats out of 300. It also won all the 7 women seats in the National Assembly and the
10 women seats in the Provincial Assembly.
Thus Awami League emerged as the single majority party in the Pakistan National Assembly with 167 seats
out of a total of 313. But instead of allowing Awami League to form government, the military junta of
YAHYA KHAN resorted to his military machine to deal with the situation. The Awami League and its chief
Sheikh Mujib called a massive non-cooperation movement in East Pakistan from 2 March (1971) onward to
which most people of East Pakistan declared solidarity. The attack on the unarmed Bangalis in Dhaka and
other places in East Pakistan by the Pakistani army in the night of 25 March 1971 sealed the fate of Pakistan.
Mujib was arrested and flown to West Pakistan to face a trial for treason. Soon the WAR OF LIBERATION
began and the government in exile (MUJIBNAGAR GOVERNMENT) formed by the leaders of Awami League led
the war which ended in victory on 16 December 1971.
Lahore Resolution adopted at the general session of the MUSLIM LEAGUE. In 1940 MOHAMMED ALI JINNAH
called a general session of the All India Muslim League in Lahore to discuss the situation that had arisen due
to the outbreak of the Second World War and the Government of India joining the war without taking the
opinion of the Indian leaders, and also to analyse the reasons that led to the defeat of the Muslim League in
the general election of 1937 in the Muslim majority provinces.
HUSEYN SHAHEED SUHRAWARDY left with a small group of Muslim League workers for Lahore on 19 March
1940. AK FAZLUL HUQ led the Bengal Muslim League contingent and reached Lahore on 22 March. The
Chief Ministers of Bengal and the Punjab were two dominant figures in the conference.
Jinnah, in his speech, criticised the Congress and the nationalist Muslims, and espoused the Two-Nation
Theory and the reasons for the demand for separate Muslim homelands. His arguments caught the
imagination of the Muslim masses. Sikandar Hayat Khan, the Chief Minister of the Punjab, drafted the
original Lahore Resolution, which was placed before the Subject Committee of the All India Muslim League
for discussion and amendments. The Resolution, radically amended by the Subject Committee, was moved
in the general session by Fazlul Huq on 23 March and was supported by Choudhury Khaliquzzaman and
other Muslim leaders. The Lahore Resolution ran as follows:
That the areas where the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the Northwestern and Eastern zones of
India should be grouped to constitute 'independent states' in which the constituent units shall be autonomous
The Resolution was adopted on 24 March with great enthusiasm. The Hindu Press dubbed it as the "Pakistan
Demand", after the scheme invented by Rahmat Ali, an Indian Muslim living at Cambridge. The 1940
resolution nowhere mentioned Pakistan and in asking for 'independent states' the spokesmen of the League
were far from clear what was intended. The Hindu press supplied to the Muslim leadership a concerted
slogan, which immediately conveyed to them the idea of a state. It would have taken long for the Muslim
leaders to explain the Lahore Resolution and convey its real meaning and significance to the Muslim
masses. Years of labour of the Muslim leaders to propagate its full importance amongst the masses was
shortened by the Hindu press in naming the Resolution as the 'Pakistan Resolution'. By emphasizing the idea
of Pakistan the Hindu press succeeded in converting a wordy and clouded lawyer's formula into a clarion
The Muslims of Bengal, who were searching for an identity throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, finally found it in the Lahore Resolution. The Lahore Resolution gave them a sense of nationhood.
Henceforth the dominant theme in Muslim politics was not complaint against Hindu injustice, but a demand
for separate political existence.
On 15 April 1941 the Lahore Resolution was incorporated as a creed in the constitution of the All-India
Muslim League in its Madras session. It continued to be the League's creed until its dissolution after the
independence of Pakistan in 1947.
Indeed, from 1940 onward, Pakistan was the great talking point of the Indian independence debate. When
the CABINET MISSION arrived in India in March 1946 to consult Indian leaders and to help facilitate self-
government, the All India Muslim League decided to hold a three day Convention of the members of the
Central and Provincial Legislatures belonging to the Muslim League on 7 April at Delhi to reiterate their
'Pakistan Demand'. The Working Committee of the Muslim League had appointed a Sub Committee with
Choudhury Khaliquzzaman, Hasan Ispahani, and others to draft a resolution to be placed before the
Convention. Choudhury Khaliquzzaman prepared a draft of the resolution, which was discussed with other
members and, after some minor changes here and there, was approved by the Sub Committee and then by
the Subject Committee. This resolution made a fundamental departure from the original Lahore Resolution
in using the word 'state' in the singular replacing the term 'states'.
The resolution that was placed before the Delhi Convention of Muslim Legislators in 1946 included the
principle that the zones comprising Bengal and Assam in the Northeast and the Punjab, North West Frontier
Province, Sind and Baluchistan in the Northwest of India, namely Pakistan zones, where the Muslims are in
a dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent 'state' and that an unequivocal undertaking
be given to implement the establishment of Pakistan without delay. The Committee did not question the
The resolution was proposed in the open session by Suhrawardy and seconded by Choudhury
Khaliquzzaman. ABUL HASHIM claimed that he raised the voice of protest against the resolution on a point of
order in the Subject Committee on the previous day when Jinnah placed it before the Committee. He
maintained that the draft resolution looked like an amendment of the Lahore Resolution though it had not
been said or it was not placed in the form of amendment of the Lahore Resolution. He claimed to have
argued that the Lahore Resolution envisaged two sovereign states in Northeastern and Northwestern zones
of India, and the Resolution was accepted by the All-India Muslim League in its Madras session of 1941 as
the creed of that political party. He claimed to have insisted that the Convention of the Muslim League
legislators was not competent to alter or modify the contents of the Lahore Resolution.
Jinnah at first took the plural 's' of the Lahore Resolution as an 'obvious printing mistake'. But when, on
Abul Hashim's insistence, the original minute book was checked, Jinnah found under his own signature the
plural 's'. Abul Hashim claimed that he had suggested for erasing the word 'one' and replace it with 'a'.
Jinnah is said to have accepted Abul Hashim's suggestion. According to Hashim, Suhrawardy placed in the
open session of the Convention a modified form of the resolution on Jinnah's advice.
It may, therefore, appear that even after the Delhi Convention of the Muslim Legislators Jinnah was not
thinking in terms of amending the Lahore Resolution. The Subject Committee presided over by Jinnah
seemingly accepted the constitutional position that the Convention of the Muslim Legislators was not the
forum competent to amend the Lahore Resolution. Nor could Jinnah amend it after the General Election in
the country in which the Muslim League contested on the basis of the Lahore Resolution. He assured the
Muslim League leaders from Bengal who met him on a deputation that the Lahore Resolution was not
amended. At his Malbari Hill House on 30 July 1946 Jinnah encouraged Abul Hashim to work on the basis
of the Lahore Resolution.
Six-point Programme a charter of demands enunciated by the AWAMI LEAGUE for removing disparity
between the two wings of Pakistan and bring to an end the internal colonial rule of West Pakistan in East
Bengal. The Indo-Pak War of 1965 ended with the execution of Taskent Treaty. To the old grievances of
economic disparity added the complain of negligence and indifference of central government towards the
defence of East Pakistan. Bangabandhu SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN was vocal on this issue.
The leaders of the opposition parties of West Pakistan convened a national convention at Lahore on 6
February 1966 with a view to ascertain the post-Taskent political trend. Bangabandhu reached Lahore on 4
February along with the top leaders of Awami League, and the day following he placed the Six-point
Charter of demand before the subject committee as the demands of the people of East Pakistan. He created
pressure to include his proposal in the agenda of the conference. They rejected the proposal of
Bangabandhu. On the following day the newspapers of West Pakistan published reports on the Six-point
programme, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was projected as a separatist. Consequently Sheikh Mujib
abandoned the conference.
The Six-point programme along with a proposal of movement for the realisation of the demands was placed
before the meeting of the working committee of Awami League on 21 February 1966, and the proposal was
carried out unanimously. A booklet on the Six-point Programme with introduction from Bangabandhu
Sheikh Mujib and Tajuddin Ahmad was published. Another booklet entitled 'Amader Banchar Dabi : 6-dafa
Karmasuchi' (Our demands for existence : 6-points Programme) was published in the name of Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman, and was distributed in the council meeting of Awami League held on 18 March 1966.
1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the Lahore Resolution
and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a Legislature directly elected on the
basis of universal adult franchise.
2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects : Defence and Foreign Affairs, and all
other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.
3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced ; or if this is not
feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions
should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate
Banking Reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East
4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal
centre will have no such power. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its
5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings ; the foreign
exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio
to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution
should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary force.
The opposition leaders of West Pakistan looked at Mujib's Six-point Programme as a device to disband
Pakistan, and hence they outright rejected his proposal. The Ayub government arrested him and put him on
trial what is known as AGARTALA CONSPIRACY CASE. The case led to widespread agitation in East Pakistan
culminating in the mass uprising of early 1969. Under public pressure, government was forced to release
him unconditionally on 22 February 1969.The Awami League sought public mandate in favour of the six
point programme in the general elections of 1970 in which Mujib received the absolute mandate from the
people of East Pakistan in favour of his six point. But Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttu refused to join the session of the
National Assembly scheduled to be held on 3 March 1971 unless a settlement was reached between the two
leaders beforehand. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party sat in a protracted dialogue from 15 March 1971.
The dialogue failed to produce any positive result. The army crackdown of 25 March sealed the fate of the
six point including the fate of Pakistan.
Jinnah, Mohammed Ali (1876-1948) lawyer, statesman and founding father of Pakistan. He was born on 25
December 1876 in Karachi where his parents migrated from their native land Kathiawar, on the west coast
of India. Jinnah had his early education in a school in Karachi, Gokul Das Tej Primary School in Bombay,
Sind Madrasah High School in Karachi and then entered the Christian Missionary Society High School.
Having got his matriculation from the Mission School, Jinnah
sailed for London in 1892 to study law at Lincoln's Inn. He
returned to Karachi in 1896. He moved to Bombay in 1897, but
the first three years of his legal career were of great hardship.
His fortunes changed at the turn of the century. Once he was
established, Jinnah probably earned more than any other lawyer
in Bombay. Jinnah's first active move toward politics took place
during the 1906 session of the INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS in
Calcutta in the wake of the Hindu community's adverse reaction
to the PARTITION OF BENGAL in 1905.
Dadabhai Naoroji's slogan, Swaraj, was now writ on the new banner of Congress, behind which Jinnah
Jinnah's ascent to political influence began with an important piece of legislation passed by British
Parliament in 1909, the Indian Councils Act, expanding the Viceroy's Executive Council into the Imperial
Legislative Council by the addition of 35 nominated members and 25 elected members with special
representation for Muslims and landowners. Jinnah became one of the elected members of the Council from
Bombay. His association with the MUSLIM LEAGUE began with the event of the annulment of partition of
Bengal in 1911. At their next session in December 1912, which Jinnah attended, the League proposed to
amend its constitution so that it would ally them with Congress in a common demand for 'Swaraj'. On
request from Maulana Mohammed Ali and Syed Wazir Hassan, Jinnah joined Muslim League in 1913.
In December 1915, Congress was to hold its annual session in Bombay. Jinnah, with the approval of leading
local Muslims, sent a letter inviting the All India Muslim League to hold its annual session in the same place
and at the same time. He had, however, to endure strong opposition from extremists in both Congress and
the League. In the autumn of 1916 he was elected once again to the Imperial Legislative Council. In
December 1916 he succeeded in prevailing upon both Congress and Muslim League to hold their annual
sessions in the same place, Lucknow, and at the same time. Jinnah presided over the League session. The
sessions warmly assented to the 'irreducible minimum' of reforms worked out by their joint committee and
passed it to the Government of India. The main domestic problem of separate electorates was overcome with
Congress agreeing to Jinnah's plea to allow weightage of seats in the legislative councils of certain provinces
where the Muslims were in the minority. This became known as the historic Lucknow Pact and it made
Jinnah a leader of Indian Muslims.
After the Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919 to give the Government of India summary powers to curb
seditious activities, Jinnah in protest resigned from the Imperial Legislative Council and Gandhi launched a
movement of non-violent CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. In early April Gandhi's followers resorted to rioting in
Amritsar killing three European bank managers which led to the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13.
Then Gandhi called off his civil disobedience movement. Jinnah's disillusionment became complete during
the Congress session at Nagpur in December 1920, and after this he parted with Congress. His link with the
Muslim League was also getting bitter, because aristocratic Muslim leadership was not inclined to abandon
their traditional loyalty to the raj and considered the British as their patrons. The promises made by
Congress in Lucknow Pact in 1916 were never honoured and the rift between the two communities
continued to widen.
For Jinnah the decade of the twenties was nothing but a series of political frustrations, especially centering
round British bungling with reforms, refusal of Congress to recognize the need to provide representational
guarantee to the Muslims, Gandhi's populist methods to deal with the fate of the Indians and the miserable
dilemma of the Muslims as to their position and strength. After attending the first fruitless Round Table
Conference in London in 1930 Jinnah found himself overshadowed in the second conference by the Aga
Khan as leader of the Muslim delegation, and by Gandhi. He was not included in third conference and was
not thought to represent any considerable school of opinion. In 1931 he decided to settle in London and
abandon Indian politics for ever. Jinnah started practicing at the Privy Council Bar.
The government of India Act of 1935 contained the so-called Communal Award that laid down the pattern
of representation to the various legislatures to satisfy the minorities, especially Muslims and the Scheduled
Castes. The Act provided electoral politics holding out great prospects for the non-aristocratic nationalist
politicians. Under the changed circumstances, Jinnah was motivated by some Muslim middle class leaders to
come back to India and take the leadership of Muslims. The elections under the Act in 1937 shockingly
proved that the 100 million Indian Muslims were hardly a coherent community; they were disparate,
unknown to each other and shared nothing in common but religion. In the North-West Frontier Province,
where Muslims were 90% of the population, not a single Muslim League candidate returned to the
In the Muslim majority Punjab, the Muslims were organised under older parties and showed no interest in
Jinnah's revived Muslim League. The Muslims in Sind had openly disowned the League and allied
themselves with Congress, rejecting any suggestion of partition. It was only in Bengal that the Muslim
League scored an electoral victory by securing the second highest majority and forming a coalition
government with AK FAZLUL HUQ's KRISHAK PRAJA PARTY. In 1938, Jinnah himself founded in Delhi an
English newspaper Dawn to fight the propaganda of the Hindus. By 1940 Jinnah started speaking of 'two
nations' and on March 23 of that year he presided over the All India Muslim League session in Lahore that
adopted the Pakistan Resolution moved by the Chief Minister of Bengal, AK Fazlul Huq.
Following the failure of the CRIPPS MISSION, Gandhi launched his QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT. Gandhi, Nehru and
other members of the Congress high command were taken into custody on charges of sedition. On 26 July
1943 Jinnah narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by a Khaksar volunteer.
Jinnah accepted the CABINET MISSION Plan which the Congress rejected. In retaliation Jinnah also withdrew
his concessions. On 28 July 1946 the Muslim League at its council meeting in Bombay withdrew its
acceptance of the Cabinet Mission proposals, and declared DIRECT ACTION to force the cause of Pakistan,
and protest Viceroy LORD WAVELL's invitation to Congress (August 8,1946) to form an interim government
at the centre. The Direct Action Day on August 16 set off the great Calcutta killing annihilating no less than
4000 Muslims and Hindus. In October and November about 8000 Muslims were killed in Bihar. Similar
killing of Muslims took place in the United Provinces.
Early in October Jinnah agreed, after further discussions with the Viceroy, to nominate to the Interim
Government five Muslim League ministers headed by LIAQUAT ALI KHAN. The last Viceroy LORD
MOUNTBATTEN arrived in Delhi on 22 March 1947 to preside over the partition of India. On 7 August 1947
Jinnah flew from Delhi to Karachi to be sworn in as the first Governor General of Pakistan on August 14. It
was due almost entirely to his leadership and his people's loyalty to him that the truncated infant state of
Pakistan was able to tide over the myriad initial problems and stand on its own feet. Mohammed Ali Jinnah
was assassinated on 11 September 1948 by one Rafiq Sabir Mazangvi.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, (Bangabandhu) :
Rahman, (Bangabandhu) Sheikh Mujibur (1920-1975) charismatic leader, President and Prime Minister of
Bangladesh. Bangabandhu, the architect of Bangladesh, was a founding member of the East Pakistan
Muslim Students League (est. 1948), one of the founding joint secretaries of the East Pakistan Awami
Muslim League (est. 1949), general secretary of the AWAMI LEAGUE (1953-1966), president of the Awami
League (1966-1974), president of Bangladesh (in absentia from 26 March 1971 to 11 January 1972), prime
minister of Bangladesh (1972-24 January1975), president of Bangladesh (25 January 1975-15 August 1975).
Born on 17 March 1920 in the village Tungipara under the GOPALGANJ
Sub-division (currently district) in the district of Faridpur, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman's father, Sheikh Lutfar Rahman, was a serestadar in the civil
court of Gopalganj. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman passed his matriculation from
Gopalganj Missionary School in 1942, IA (Twelfth Grade) from Islamia
College, Calcutta in 1944 and BA from the same College in 1947. In 1946,
Mujib was elected general secretary of the Islamia College Students
Union. He was an activist of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League and a
member of the All-India Muslim League Council from 1943 onwards.
As an activist he had been a supporter of the Suhrawardhy-Hashim faction of the Muslim League. During
the 1946 general elections, the Muslim League selected Mujib for electioneering in Faridpur district.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one of the principal organisers behind the formation of the East Pakistan
Muslim Students League (est. 1948). After partition (1947), he got himself admitted into the UNIVERSITY OF
DHAKA to study law but was unable to complete it, because, he was expelled from the University in early
1949 on charge of "inciting the fourth-class employees" in their agitation against the University's
indifference towards their legitimate demands.
Sheikh Mujib's active political career began with his election to one of the posts of joint secretaries of the
East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (1949). As a political prisoner, he was then interned in Faridpur jail.
In 1953, Sheikh Mujib was elected general secretary of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League, a post that
he held until 1966 when he became president of the party. Like his political mentor HUSEYN SHAHEED
SUHRAWARDY, Mujib also underscored the importance of party organisation and management. To organise
the party, he resigned from the Cabinet of ATAUR RAHMAN KHAN (1956-58) and devoted himself to the task
of taking the party to grassroots level. A charismatic organiser, Sheikh Mujib had established his firm
control over the party. He had the mettle to revive the Awami League in spite of the fact that his political
guru, HS Suhrawardy, was in favour of keeping political parties defunct and work under the political
amalgam called National Democratic Front.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman entered parliamentary politics first in 1954 through his election as a member of the
East Bengal Legislative Assembly on the UNITED FRONT ticket. He was also a member of the Pakistan
Second Constituent Assembly-cum-Legislature (1955-1958).
Sheikh Mujib was a pragmatic politician. In the Pakistan state, he appeared as the undaunted advocate of the
Bengali interests from the start. He was among the first language prisoners. However, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman grew in political eminence in the early 1960s. Through his organising ability Mujib was able to
salvage the Awami League from a series of defections and exit of various factions from the mainstream
party. He reorganised the Awami League and put it on a firm foundation. In 1966, he announced his famous
six-point programme, calling it 'Our [Bengalis'] Charter of Survival', which aimed at self-rule for East
Pakistan. Struck sharp at the roots of West Pakistani dominance, the six-point programme at once drew the
attention of the nation. Though conservative elements of all political parties looked at it with consternation,
it instantaneously stirred the younger generation, particularly the students, youth and working classes.
Disturbed by the radical political views of Sheikh Mujib, the Ayub regime put him behind bars. A sedition
case, known as AGARTALA CONSPIRACY CASE, was brought against him. It may be noted that during most of
the period of the Ayub regime Mujib was in jail, first from 1958 to 1961 and then from 1966 to early 1969.
During the second term in jail, Mujib's charisma grew so much that a mass uprising took place in his favour
in early 1969 and Ayub administration was compelled to release him on 22 February 1969 unconditionally.
On the following day of his release, the Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad (All Parties Students
Action Committee) organised a mass reception to him at RAMNA RACECOURSE (now, Suhrawardy Uddyan)
and accorded him the title 'Bangabandhu' (Friend of the Bengalis). In him they saw a true leader who
suffered jail terms for about twelve years during the 23 years of Pakistani rule. Twelve years in jail and ten
years under close surveillance, Pakistan, to Sheikh Mujib, indeed proved to be more a prison than a free
The general elections of December 1970 made Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the sole spokesman
of East Pakistan. The people gave him the absolute mandate in favour of his six-point doctrine. Now it was
his turn to implement it. Mujib was so serious about the six-point that on 3 January 1971, he held a solemn
ceremony at Ramna Race Course with all the East Pakistan representatives and took an oath never to deviate
from the six-point idea when framing the constitution for Pakistan.
Mujib's most uncompromising stand on the six-point programme led ZA Bhutto and Yahya's military junta
to take a stringent view. Instead of allowing the Sheikh to form the government, the junta resolved to undo
the results of the elections. President Yahya Khan cancelled unilaterally the National Assembly meet Dhaka
scheduled to be held at on 3 March 1971. The announcement triggered off the death-knell of Pakistan. Mujib
called an all-out non-cooperation movement in East Pakistan. The whole province supported the non-
cooperation movement. During the course of non-cooperation (2-25 March 1971) the entire civil authorities
in East Pakistan came under the control and directives of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, himself becoming the de
facto head of government of the province.
During this time, on 7 March Mujib made a historic address at a mammoth gathering at the Race Course
which marked a turning point in the history of the Bengali nation. In his address Mujib made specific
charges against the Martial Law authorities which failed to transfer power to the elected representatives. At
the end of his speech, he made a clarion call, saying: "Build forts in each homestead. You must resist the
Pakistani enemy with whatever you have in hand..Remember, we have given a lot of blood, a lot more blood
we shall give if need be, but we shall liberate the people of this country, Insha Allah [ie, if God
blessed]..The struggle this time is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle this time is the struggle for
Meanwhile, President Yahya Khan and other leaders from West Pakistan came to Dhaka on 15 March to
start a dialogue with Sheikh Mujib and his party. The dialogue began on the following day and continued
intermittently down to 25 March morning. During the period, non-cooperation and hartals continued
relentlessly. Students and leaders of various political parties had been declaring independence from March 2
and the spree continued down to 25 March. At mid-night of 25 March 1971, the Pakistan army launched its
brutal crackdown in Dhaka. Sheikh Mujib was arrested and kept confined at Dhaka Cantonment until he was
lifted to West Pakistan for facing trial for sedition and inciting insurrection.
Although during the WAR OF LIBERATION was begun in the wake of the 25 March army crackdown
Bangabandhu had been a prisoner in the hands of Pakistan, he was made, in absentia, the President of the
provisional government, called the MUJIBNAGAR GOVERNMENT, formed on 10 April 1971 by the people's
representatives to head the Liberation War. He was also made the Supreme Commander of the Armed
Forces. Throughout the period of the War of Liberation, Sheikh Mujib's charisma worked as the source of
national unity and strength. After the liberation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971 from Pakistani
occupation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from Pakistan jail and via London he arrived in Dhaka on
10 January 1972.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman headed the first government of the post-liberation Bangladesh for a
period of three years and a half. Starting from scratch his government had to deal with the countless
problems of a war ravaged country. Restoring law and order, rehabilating the mukhtijodhas, restoring the
ruptured communication system, saving lives of the people hostile to the War of Liberation from the public
wrath, and, most importantly, feeding the hungry millions and many other problems bedeviled his
administration. Sheikh Mujib created Rakshi Bahini to restore law and order and recover illegal arms, but
the system failed and brought in its trail considerable unpopularity for his government. Corruption and black
marketing became rampant. Famine was taking its tolls by the thousands. Confused and perturbed Mujib,
depending on his charisma, made a "Second Revolution" by establishing a one-party BAKSAL and District
Governor system. But the measures made him further alienated from the people and his own party. Taking
advantage of his precarious situation, a group of army adventurers assassinated him along with all his other
family members on 15 August 1975.
Khan, (Field Marshal) Mohammad Ayub (1908-1974) military ruler and President of Pakistan. Ayub Khan
was born at Abottabad in the Northwest Frontier Province in 1908. He was educated at Aligarh Muslim
University and at Royal Military College, Sandhurst, UK. He joined the army in 1928. He was promoted to
the rank of Major General in December 1948 and was then appointed the General Officer Commanding
(GOC) in the province of East Bengal. He discharged the responsibility of the Defence Minister of Pakistan
between 1954 and 1956.
In collusion with the then President Iskandar Mirza, army chief Ayub
Khan imposed martial law in Pakistan on 7 October 1958, and
abrogated the Constitution of 1956. Ayub Khan was appointed the
Chief Martial Law Administrator by President Mirza on 8 October. But
only after a few days, he ousted Iskandar Mirza from power (27
October) and declared himself the President of Pakistan.
Ayub Khan's martial law regime was a form of representational dictatorship, and he introduced a new
political system in 1959 as BASIC DEMOCRACIES. The Basic democracies system set up five tiers of
institutions. The lowest tier was composed of union councils. Each union council comprised ten directly
elected members and five appointed ones designated as basic democrats. Union councils were responsible
for local agricultural and community development and for rural law and order maintenance. The next tier
consisted of the tehsil (subdistrict) councils, which performed coordinating functions. Above, the district
(zila) councils were composed of nominated official and non-official members, including the chairmen of
union councils. The district councils were assigned both compulsory and optional functions pertaining to
education, sanitation, local culture, and social welfare. Above them, the divisional advisory councils
coordinated the activities with representatives of government departments. The highest tier consisted of one
development advisory council for each province chaired by the Governor and appointed by the President.
The urban areas had a similar arrangement, under which the smaller union councils were grouped together
into municipal committees to perform similar duties. In 1960, the elected members of the union councils
voted to confirm Ayub Khan's presidency, and under the 1962 Constitution they formed an electoral college
to elect the President, the National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies. The system of Basic
democracies did not have time to take root or to fulfil Ayub Khan's intentions before he and the system fell
By 1958 Ayub Khan and his fellow officers decided to turn out the politicians, a task easily accomplished
without bloodshed. He then took some fiscal measure especially in land holding. The landholding ceiling
was raised from thirty-three hectares to forty-eight hectares. Landholders retained their dominant positions
in the social hierarchy. Some 4 million hectares of land in West Pakistan, much of it in Sindh, was released
for public acquisition between 1959 and 1969 and sold mainly to civil and military officers, thus creating a
new class of farmers having medium-sized holdings. These farms became immensely important for future
agricultural development, but the peasants benefited scarcely at all.
In 1958, a legal commission was set up to suggest reforms of the family and marriage laws. Ayub Khan
examined its report and in 1961 issued the Family Laws Ordinance. Among other things, it restricted
polygamy and 'regulated' marriage and divorce, giving women more equal treatment under the law than they
had before. It was a humane measure supported by women's organisations in Pakistan. However, this law
which was similar to the one passed on family planning, was relatively mild and did not seriously transform
the patriarchal pattern of society.
Ayub Khan adopted an energetic approach toward economic development that soon bore fruit in a rising rate
of economic growth. Land reform, consolidation of holdings, and stern measures against hoarding were
combined with rural credit programmes and work programmes, higher procurement prices, augmented
allocations for agriculture, and, especially improved seeds to put the country on the road to self-sufficiency
in food grains in the process described as the Green Revolution. The Export Bonus Vouchers Scheme (1959)
and tax incentives stimulated new industrial entrepreneurs and exporters. Bonus vouchers facilitated access
to foreign exchange for imports of industrial machinery and raw materials. Tax concessions were offered for
investment in less-developed areas. These measures had important consequences in the development of
industry and gave rise to a new class of small industrialists.
On 1 March 1962, Ayub Khan introduced a Constitution based on the presidential system and thereby
became all-powerful in the country. In November 1964, election of basic democrats was held in both the
wings of Pakistan. On 2 January 1965, election for the presidency of Pakistan was held through an indirect
system of voting. The 80,000 basic democrats elected earlier had to act as the electoral college in this
election. Ayub Khan was elected President by defeating the opposition candidate Fatema Jinnah.
Ayub Khan articulated his foreign policy on several occasions, particularly in his autobiography, Friends not
Masters. His objectives were the security and development of Pakistan and the preservation of its ideology
as he saw it. Toward these ends, he sought to improve, or normalise, relations with Pakistan's immediate and
looming neighbours-India, China, and the Soviet Union. While retaining and renewing the alliance with the
United States, Ayub Khan emphasised his preference for friendship, not subordination, and bargained hard
for higher returns to Pakistan.
Other than ideology and Kashmir, the main source of friction between Pakistan and India was the
distribution of the waters of the Indus River system. A compromise that appeared to meet the needs of both
countries was reached during the 1950s; it was not until 1960 that a solution finally found favour with Ayub
Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru. Broadly speaking, the agreement allocated use of the three western Indus rivers
(the Indus itself and its tributaries, the Jhelum and the Chenab) to Pakistan, and the three eastern Indus
tributaries (the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) to India. The agreement also detailed transitional arrangements, new
irrigation and hydroelectric power works, and the waterlogging and salinity problems in Pakistan. The Indus
Basin Development Fund was established and financed by the World Bank.
Pakistan's tentative approaches to China intensified in 1959 when China's occupation of Tibet and the flight
of the Dalai Lama to India ended five years of Chinese-Indian friendship. An entente between Pakistan and
China evolved in inverse ratio to Sino-Indian hostility, which climaxed in a border war in 1962. This
informal alliance became a keystone of Pakistan's foreign policy and grew to include a border agreement in
March 1963, highway construction connecting the two countries at the Karakoram Pass, agreements on
trade, and Chinese economic assistance and grants of military equipment, which was later thought to have
included exchanges in nuclear technology. China's diplomatic support and transfer of military equipment
was important to Pakistan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War over Kashmir. The Soviet Union strongly
disapproved of Pakistan's alliance with the United States, but Moscow was interested in keeping doors open
to both Pakistan and India. Ayub Khan was able to secure Soviet neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan
Ayub Khan was the architect of Pakistan's policy of close alignment with the United States, and his first
major foreign policy act was to sign bilateral economic and military agreements with the United States in
1959. Nevertheless, Ayub Khan expected more from these agreements than the United States was willing to
offer and thus remained critical of the role the United States played in South Asia. Especially troublesome to
Pakistan was United States neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. Pakistan did not extend the ten-
year agreement signed in 1959.
The 1965 war began as a series of border flare-ups along undemarcated territory at the Rann of Kutch in the
southeast in April and soon after along the cease-fire line in Kashmir. The Rann of Kutch conflict was
resolved by mutual consent and British sponsorship and arbitration, but the Kashmir conflict proved more
dangerous and widespread. Each country had limited objectives, and neither was economically capable of
sustaining a long war because military supplies were cut to both countries by the United States and Britain.
On September 23, a cease-fire was arranged through the UN Security Council. In January 1966, Ayub Khan
and India's prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, signed the Tashkent Declaration, which formally ended
hostilities and called for a mutual withdrawal of forces.
When war broke out between Pakistan and India on 6 September 1965, Ayub Khan promoted himself to the
rank of Field Marshal. Then in 1966, he chose the path of repression of his political opponents when the Six-
point demand for autonomy of East Pakistan was raised by the AWAMI LEAGUE. The leaders of the Awami
League including party chief SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN were arrested. In the backdrop of an intense anti-
Ayub movement during the period of 1966-68, Ayub Khan convened a round table conference of opposition
political leaders at Rawalpindi on 26 February 1969. But when the conference failed to resolve the crisis,
Ayub Khan handed over power to the army chief General AGHA MOHAMMAD YAHYA KHAN on 24 March
1969, and retired from politics. He died on 20 April 1974.
Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani:
Bhasani, (Maulana) Abdul Hamid Khan (1880-1976) religious personality and politician. Popularly known
as Maulana Bhasani, Abdul Hamid Khan was self-educated, village-based, a fire-brand, and skeptical about
colonial institutions. Though immensely influential throughout his political career and instrumental in
winning many general and local government elections since 1946, he consistently stayed away from holding
actual power. His leadership was rooted in his relentless and incessant struggle for safeguarding the rights
and interests of the peasantry and the labouring classes.
Bhasani was born in 1880 at village Dhanpara of Sirajganj district. His
father was Haji Sharafat Ali Khan. Apart from a few years of education at
the local school and madrasa, he did not receive much formal education.
He began his career as a primary school teacher at Kagmari in Tangail and
then worked in a madrasa at village Kala (Haluaghat) in Mymensingh
Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan
In 1919, Bhasani joined the NON-COOPERATION MOVEMENT and KHILAFAT MOVEMENT to mark the launching
of his long and colourful political career. He went to Santosh in Tangail to take up the leadership of the
oppressed peasants during the Great DEPRESSION period. From Tangail he moved to Ghagmara in ASSAM in
the late 1930s to defend the interests of Bangali settlers there. He made his debut as a leader at Bhasan Char
on the BRAHMAPUTRA where he constructed an embankment with the co-operation of the Bangali settlers,
thereby saving the peasants from the scourge of annual inundation. Relieved of the recurring floods the local
people fondly started to call him Bhasani Saheb, an epithet by which the Maulana has been known from then
The Assam government made a law restricting Bangali settlement beyond a certain geographical line, an
arbitrary settlement which severely affected the interests of the Bangali colonisers. Protected by this
restrictive law the locals had launched a movement to oust the Bangali settlers across the so-called line. In
1937 Bhasani joined the MUSLIM LEAGUE and became president of Assam unit of the party. On the 'line'
issue, hostile relations developed between the Maulana and the Assam Chief Minister, Sir Muhammad
Sa'dullah. At partition, Maulana Bhasani was in Goalpara district (Assam) organising the farmers against the
line system. He was arrested by the government of Assam, and released towards the end of 1947 on
condition that he would leave Assam for good.
Early in 1948 Maulana Bhasani came to East Bengal only to find himself brushed aside from the provincial
leadership set-up. Disheartened, Bhasani contested and won a seat in the provincial assembly from south
Tangail in a by-election defeating Khurram Khan Panni, the Muslim League candidate and ZAMINDAR of
Karatia. But the provincial governor nullified the results on grounds of foul play in the elections, and
disqualified all the candidates from taking part in any election until 1950. Strangely enough, the ban on
Panni was lifted in 1949 even though it remained in force on Bhasani.
In 1949 he went to Assam again, and was arrested and sent to Dhubri prison. On his release he came back to
Dhaka. At about this time, the East Pakistan Muslim League was passing through a leadership crisis. The
discontented elements of the Muslim League called a workers' convention in Dhaka on June 23 and 24 of
1949. Nearly 300 delegates from different parts of the province attended the convention. On June 24 a new
political party, the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League, was launched with Maulana Bhasani as president
and Shamsul Huq of Tangail as general secretary.
On the day of its birth, the party held its first public meeting at Armanitola in Dhaka under the chairmanship
of Bhasani. After its second meeting in the same venue on October 11, he and many other leaders of the new
party were arrested while heading a procession of hunger strikers moving towards the government
secretariat to protest against the famine conditions prevailing in the province. When his life was at risk due
to his protracted hunger-strike, Bhasani was released from jail in 1950.
On 21 February 1952 several students taking part in the language movement were killed in a police firing in
Dhaka. Bhasani strongly condemned the brutality of the government. He was arrested on February 23 from
his village home and sent behind the bar. In the politics of East Bengal in the early 1950s Bhasani emerged
as the most vocal and respected politician of the time. As president of the Awami Muslim League, Bhasani
played the crucial role in forging a unity among five opposition political parties by forming an alliance
called the UNITED FRONT. Other leaders of the front were AK FAZLUL HUQ, HUSEYN SHAHEED SUHRAWARDY,
SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN, HAJI MOHAMMAD DANESH. In the elections held in March 1954 the United Front
won 223 seats as against the Muslim League's 7 seats.
There is reason to believe that frequent contact during prison life with the communists made the Maulana
more conscious about socialist ideology with which his personal political outlook and lifestyle were quite in
accord. He became president of the Adamjee Jute Mills Mazdoor Union and the East Pakistan Railway
Employees League. The Maulana was made to preside over two massive workers's rallies organised by the
communists on May Day in 1954 in Dhaka and Narayanganj. The same year he was made president of the
East Pakistan Peasants' Association. Soon after, he was made president of the East Pakistan chapter of the
communist-dominated International Peace Committee. In that capacity, he went to Stockholm to attend the
World Peace Conference in 1954. He visited several countries of Europe, gaining firsthand knowledge of the
socialist movements of the world.
At home, the United Front came close to collapsing mainly because of conflicts between the Awami Muslim
League and the KRISHAK SRAMIK PARTY over the question of power sharing. The Maulana tried his best to
overcome the problems of practical politics. But he was particularly disappointed at the turn of events under
which H S Suhrawardy formed the Awami coalition government at the centre with himself as prime minister
and with ATAUR RAHMAN KHAN as chief minister in East Bengal. Meanwhile, serious differences of opinion
arose between the Maulana and Suhrawardy on issues concerning the basic principles of the Pakistan
constitution then being finalized for promulgation. The Maulana opposed the constitution's provision for
separate electorate for the minorities which Suhrawardy supported. He also opposed Suhrawardy's pro-
American foreign policy and favoured closer relations with China.
In 1957 the Maulana called a conference of the party at Kagmari, and used the occasion to launch a bitter
attack on Suhrawardy's foreign policy, thereby signaling an imminent split in the organisation. Things came
to a point of no return when Maulana Bhasani called a conference in Dhaka of leftists from all over Pakistan
and formed a new party, called the National Awami Party (NAP), with himself as president and Mahmudul
Huq Osmani from West Pakistan as secretary general. From then onwards the Maulana followed left-
oriented politics openly.
Bhasani was interned once again when Pakistan's army chief General MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN seized power
in 1958. After his release from confinement in 1963, the Maulana went on a visit to China and also to
Havana in 1964 to attend the World Peace Conference. Bhasani bitterly opposed Ayub Khan's proposal for
creating a selective electorate of 'basic democrats' and fought for holding all elections on the basis of
universal adult franchise. In 1967 the socialist world split into pro-Soviet and pro-China blocs. The East
Pakistan NAP also split with the Maulana leading the pro-China fraction.
He branded the Ayub government as a lackey of imperialist forces and launched a movement to dislodge
him from power. In the face of mounting opposition movement, Ayub Khan resigned as President of
Pakistan, allowing army chief General AGA MOHAMMAD YAHYA KHAN to step in. To tide over the deepening
political crisis, Yahya Khan arranged for holding parliamentary elections on 7 December 1970. The
Maulana boycotted the elections and concentrated on providing relief to the victims of the devastating
cyclone that struck the coastal zone of Bangladesh in November. The apathy of the central government
towards the cyclone victims made the Maulana call openly for the separation of East Pakistan.
With the beginning of WAR OF LIBERATION in 1971 Maulana Bhasani took refuge in India, but he had to
spend the entire period of the liberation war in confinement in Delhi. One of his first demands after return to
Dhaka (22 January 1972) was to withdraw Indian troops from the soil of Bangladesh. On February 25 he
started publishing a weekly Haq katha and it soon gained wide circulation. The paper was soon banned.
After the parliamentary elections in 1973, the Maulana started a hunger strike to protest against the food
crisis, rise of price of essential commodities, and deteriorating law and order situation.
In 1974 Bhasani founded Hukumat-e-Rabbania order and declared a zihad or holy war against the AWAMI
LEAGUE government and Indo-Soviet overlordship. In April 1974 a 6-party united front was formed under
the Maulana's leadership. It served an ultimatum on the government to annul the Indo-Bangladesh border
agreement, and stop all repressive actions against the opposition. On June 30 the Maulana was arrested and
interned at Santosh in Tangail. He considered the Farakka agreement detrimental to the interest of
Bangladesh. On 16 May 1976 he led a long march from Rajshahi towards India's FARAKKA BARRAGE to
protest against plans to deprive Bangladesh of its rightful share of the GANGES waters. On 2 October 1976 he
formed a new organisation, Khodai Khidmatgar, and continued to work for his Islamic University at
Santosh. He also set up a technical education college, a school for girls and a children's centre at Santosh,
Nazrul Islam College at Panchbibi and Maulana Mohammad Ali College at Kagmari. He had earlier set up
30 educational institutions in Assam. He died on 17 November 1976 and was buried at Santosh.