Document Sample

The separatist movement in East Bengal was a response of the Bengalis masses to the misrule by all-powerful and irresponsible military and civil bureaucracy dominated by the persons belonging to West Pakistan. This response found its ideological and political manifestation in the emergence of Awami League as a mass political party. It was a strange combination of a sense of belonging to the same religion, sharing a religion-based common culture, a fear of domination by the Hindu majority , a longing for freedom from the overlordship of Hindu feudal and capitalist class, a hope for a mysterious new world free of want and injustice that created the Muslim League demand for Pakistan. Those who witnessed the birth of Pakistan saw moving scenes of sacrifice and devotion for the sake of nation that was to be. It was this spirit of extreme sacrifice and devotion that kept the newborn state alive during formative phase. The more one contemplates the will to

nationhood demonstrated by resolute the Muslim to be Pakistanis in 1947 the more one is puzzled by the equally stubborn resoluteness of the splinter nationalism of 1971. Historians, political scientists, and writers have spilt a great amount of ink of their pens on the causes and factors responsible for the dismemberment of Pakistan. This term paper focuses on the role of East Pakistan Awami League (AL) in it because AL was the only mass political party which had spearheaded the movement for Bangladesh. It briefly traces the origin of this political party and discusses political as well as economic factors which caused the growth and popularity of this party among the Bengali masses. It was AL under Sheikh Mujibur Rehman which played decisive role for complete separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan and appearance of

Bangladesh. AL‘s role in mobilization of Bengalis masses on the questions of cultural exploitation, Bengali language movement, autonomy demand, and economic disparity created an awareness which widened gulf between East Pakistan and West Pakistan so much that it became almost impossible to bridge that gulf. The Hindu population of East Pakistan, which was against the partition of India from the very beginning, also played a role in sharpening the antagonism between two wings of Pakistan on the questions of Bengali language controversy and separate electorate. The events related to Agartala Conspiracy, the Six-Point Programme of 1966 and the fateful election of 1970 precipitated the civil war. Mukti Bahini (Bangladesh Liberation Army) duly trained and armed by the Indians intensified the civil war that led to direct Indian military intervention in December 1971. AL exploited failure on the part of ruling elite in West Pakistan to accommodate politically the legitimate demands of Bengali nationalists. This led to Bengali separatist sentiments of which AL took political advantage.


The political parties are, broadly speaking, conceived to provide expression for congeries of people pursuing distinct and yet related interests. They, in effect, are coalitions of individuals and groups, aggregated for the purpose of satisfying particular objectives within context of organizational solidarity.

The Muslim League was the party responsible for the creation of

Pakistan in 1947. It treated other parties with contempt, and by its repressive tactics drove them to bitter reprisal. The policy of Muslim League governments both in centre and provinces was hardly conducive to the growth of healthy opposition necessary for parliamentary politics. This attitude was reflected in the speeches of the first Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan by remarks like ―as long as I am alive no other political party will be allowed here‖2 Awami Muslim League was formed in Dacca on June 23, 1949 in a Convention of workers at Naryanganj to challenge the Muslim League claims that it was the only legitimate political party being the leading party of the Pakistan Movement. Abdul Hamid Bhashani, a former president of Assam Muslim League, found that Muslim League had lost its mass appeal after its mismanagement and bad governance of the East Bengal resources.3 The inaugural convention was chaired by Atur Rehman, and organizing committee was assembled comprising Maulana Abdul Hamid Bhashani as president, Atau Rehman as its vice president, Shamsul Haq as general secretary and Mujibur Rehman as joint secretary.4 The party objective included some of the sensitive issues of immediate provincial concern—i.e. the food situation, nationalization of the jute trade, release of political prisoners, including the students leaders; Bengali as one of the state languages; and general elections on the basis of adult franchise. The party protested against the decision not to devalue its currency and the procession was tearing gassed and batoncharged. Bahashani and other leaders were arrested. The combination of organizational skills possessed by Suharwardy and Bhashani and zeal of young leaders like Mujibur Rehman made the AML a mass opposition party. The AML had a large number of followers, mostly young, who were secular in their attitude and anxious to establish communal true democracy in the

country. The decision to avoid communal nomenclature of the party was postponed as according to Bhashani the ‗masses of Bengal were still steeped in communalism.‘5

Hussain Shaheed Suhrawary‘ eloquence and stature gave the Awami League a high profile, but he never touched the people of West Pakistan as he touched the Bengalis. He had a tremendous parliamentary experience and ability to crush the ruling Muslim League. In March 1948, while in India, Suharwardy reiterated demand for a ―Pakistan National League‖ with membership open to all Pakistan nationals. Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy had ideas of transforming the Muslim League into non-communal party. In 1948, he attended a session of the Constituent Assembly while staying in India and criticized the Pakistan government for tending ‗to be in the direction of establishing a communal state.‖ He reiterated his demand for Pakistan National League with membership open to all Pakistan nationals irrespective of cast, creed and religion. But his efforts were rebuffed by the ruling Muslim League.6 It was Suharwardy‘s criticism of Pakistan

government policies that hastened the amendment of the rules of Constituent Assembly which restricted the membership of the Assembly to the permanent residents of Pakistan and he was deprived of an Assembly seat. In March 1949, Suhrawardy decided to settle in Pakistan and tried to reenter politics but his move was again rebuffed by the ruling Muslim League. In a convention of political workers in February 1950, the formation of All-Pakistan Muslim League was announced and Suhrwardy was elected as its president. Abdul al-Sattar Niazi was appointed general secretary, and a committee was set up to draft a consultative constitution and a manifesto. It had a semblance of country wide base. It was in fact loose association of provincial opposition parties set up by the former Muslim Leaguers at different times.7 Suhrawardy made efforts to line the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (EPAML), of which he was then unofficial spokesman and leader, with All-Pakistan Awami Muslim League, the opposition party formed by him and other disgruntled leaders of former All India Muslim League.8 The ruling ML labeled the AML as cause of disruption and demanded that there should be no parties other than itself and all other parties must be crushed out of existence.9 Towards the end of 1950, Nawab of Mamdot and Mian Abdul Bari organized a new political party in opposition to the ruling Muslim League called Jinnah Muslim League the aim establishing a ―true democracy in Pakistan in accordance with the ideals laid down by the Quaid-i-Azam‖. In

January 1951, Suhrwardy‘s All Pakistan Muslim League and Mamdot‘s Jinnah Muslim League were merged and the lengthy name of the All-Pakistan Jinnah Muslim League (APJAML) was adopted for the new party.10 East Pakistan Awami Muslim League agreed to affiliate with All Pakistan Jinnah Awami Muslim League on the condition that the name of East Pakistan Awami Muslim League and its programme of provincial autonomy or land reforms will not be affected. The alliance of these two parties, characterized by the conflicting personalities and class interest, soon fell apart.11

The misrule of Muslim League during the first few year disillusioned the people of East Pakistan. The slogans of ―Islam‖ and ―Muslim nation‘ lost their appeal for Bengali Muslims as they were frustrated by the sheer neglect of their province by their fellow Muslim brothers of West Pakistan. The rapid development of West Pakistan under the patronage of the central ruling elite of the Muslim League made them very apprehensive. The opportunities created in the services, professions, and business by the migration of Hindus was quickly absorbed by the West Pakistan and non Bengali Muslim refugees. The economic and political plight of the Bengali Muslim led them to form the Awami Muslim League (AML) in early 1949. The AML made good use of all opportunities to expand its support base. The 1952 language movement gave it‘s universally popularity issue which was crucial to its development. 12

East Pakistan lacked a strong capitalist class which could guard its interest against the West Pakistani feudal dominated Muslim League at the Centre. Nor it had strong representation in civil and military bureaucracy who had dominant say in the economic administration of the country and allocation of funds for development in East Pakistan to keep the political position of East Pakistan strong in the face of military and feudal elite of West Pakistan. The celebrated "robber barons" of West Pakistan would have faced competition from, and yielded some ground to, the emerging bourgeoisie in Bengal had the rules of "free enterprises and competitive capitalism prevailed.13 The US aid to Pakistan till 1960s amounted to $ 3 billion, most of which was allocated for development of industries and other projects in West Pakistan. The ruling circles gave priority to the development of Karachi and West Punjab, that is, to the areas where

the economic interests of the Punjabi feudal and landlord Muslim Leaguers and Karachi capitalists were concentrated. The greater part of the state allocations for economic development was spent in these two regions, and favorable conditions for the utilization of loans were created there. For example, of the loans which the central government granted to the provinces to finance development projects 1948-49, the West Pakistan received 41.6 per cent, or 50 million rupees out of a total of 120 million, and in 1949-50 its share rose to 49.5 per cent. In two years alone, the West Pakistan was giving loans amounting to 100 million rupees. East Pakistan, with a population more than double that of the West Punjab, received 82.1 million rupees during the same period, Sind, 25 million, and NWFP, 14.2 million rupees, while Baluchistan did not get a single anna.14 The bulk of the foreign currency obtained from the sale of the jute which was grown in East Pakistan was also used to finance the development of the West Punjab and Karachi. East Pakistan and the smaller units were deprived of the revenue from number of taxes and duties collected on their territory, since these funds were placed at the disposal the centre shortly after the establishment of Pakistan. The preference shown to Punjab and Karachi was at variance with economic expediency and the talks of developing the economy of the country as a whole, for it increased the uneven economic development of the various regions of Pakistan. 15 The discrimination which the middle class of East Pakistan encountered in the principal

economic spheres and in social and economic life, and the neglect displayed by the ruling Muslim League elite towards the language and culture of the individual nationality of East Pakistan found its main expression in language controversy. The West Pakistan ruling elite sought to subjugate the people of East Pakistan culturally. Khawaja Nazimud Din belonged to Urdu speaking elite of East Pakistan so he was least disturbed by the imposition of Urdu on 55 per cent Bengali speaking population of East Pakistan. These economic and political

developments were bound to engender protests and to make the national question of the most and acute political problems of the country.16 According to Census of 1951; Urdu was the mother tongue of 2.4 million inhabitants, or 3.3 percent of the country‘s population, the bulk of which had emigrated from India. In East Pakistan only 1.1 per cent spoke Urdu and 98 per cent spoke Bengali.17


Pakistan inherited a large non Muslim minority particularly in east Bengal where it made up nearly one-fourth of total population. ‗The Hindus constituted the bulk of non-Muslim minority in East Bengal where 13 out of 14 people in the minority were Hindus but they were politically, economically, and socially far more advanced than the Muslims. Numerically they were in minority but they dominated all fields of trade and commerce, administrative services, and the professions.‘18 The Hindus did not feel secure in the new Pakistan because it was meant to be a Muslim state and the communal harmony was already upset due to communal violence in Calcutta between Hindus and Muslims just before the partition. ‗Hindus feared that they would diminish in size, in wealth and in talent.‘19 Hindus of east Bengal who had enjoyed dominant position before partition were thrown into a minority position. They perceived a great threat to their continued dominance and survival. The Bengalis Hindus were champions were Hindu nationalism. The creation of Pakistan came as a great shock to them. The typical Hindu attitude towards Pakistan is described Pravash Chandra Lahiry, a prominent Congress leader of East Bengal, in his memoirs. Recalling the first day of independence in his home town Rajshahi, he lamented that he was freedom fighter of the Indian nationalist movement. It was unfortunate that he was no longer an Indian, but had become a Pakistan. He had to accept this dishonor. Kiran Shankar Roy, a leader of the Opposition Congress Party, admitted in the first of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (CAP) that he and his party were not happy with the division of India and the partition of Bengal.20 They tried to readjust politically by expressing demands for secular constitution, and preservation of the Bengali language and culture in the name of struggle against alien Urdu language and hegemony of the West Pakistan. They also thought it necessary to ‗divide the majority community‘ and weaken its internal cohesion to bargain and maximize their interests.21 Kabir quoting the official documents of debates held in the CAP supports this position. The demand for Bengali as one of the state languages of Pakistan was also first voiced by the Hindu members. D.N Dutta moved on 25 February 1948 amendment which sought to make Bengali one of the official languages of the Constituent Assembly. ―The State language…‖ he demanded, ―should be language which is used b y the majority of the people of the State, and for that, Sir, I consider that Bengali is lingua franca of our State.‖ The motion was opposed by Liaqat Ali Khan who alleged that the mover tried ―to create misunderstanding between the different parts of Pakistan.‖

The language issue began to be

raised by Bengali students who on 11 March, 1948 observed strike and formed Action Committee. The premier of East Bengal was compelled to sign an agreement with the students pledging the recognition of Bengali. Hindu member of the CAP supported the motion of Nor Ahmad, a Bengali Muslim, that Bengali along with Urdu should be made the state language of Pakistan. Another issue for which the Hindu Congress members of CAP like S.C Chattopadhyaya fiercely debated was that of joint electorate. The resolution of the Minority Conference in March 1952 favored the reforms in the electoral law to pave the way for joint electorate.23

Awami League‘s intellectual and ideological orientation as manifested in language movement or autonomy demand was influenced by Hindu intelligentsia. Z A Bhutto believes in the existence of a Hindu intelligentsia in East Pakistan as ‗fifth column.‘ ―We have suffered almost

irremediably, he says, "by leaving the youth of East Pakistan to the care of Hindu teachers and professors. We have lost the present generation but we cannot afford to lose the generation of tomorrow .‖24


AWAMI LEAGUE STRATEGIES OF MOBILIZATION AND POLITICAL MANIPULATION OF ISSUES From the very beginning, Awami League had shown a remarkable skill to manipulate the political issues and mobilize the Bengali people on them. The pioneers of Awami League like Maulana Bhashani and Sheik Mujibur Rehman ‗mobilized the poor, landless people‖ of East Bengal.1 With the creation of Pakistan, the many of Bengali Hindu landlord and members of Hindu business elite fled to India abandoning their properties which were seized by the Muslim League government and largely redistributed to those non-Bengalis mohajirs who had left their property in India. Clearly, this arrangement did not favour the Bengalis of East Pakistan. Awami League leaders skillfully exploited the fear of non-Bengali intrusion into Bengalis‘ affairs. The East Pakistan Awami Muslim League which was the parent organization of Awami League mobilized the Bengali public opinion on the issue of the Pakistan Muslim League control of all

government offices, resources and government funds which it used to benefit its non-Bengali cadre. 2 The Muslim League personalities like Khawja Nazimuddin and Nurul Amin were citified personalities without roots or clientele in the rural areas of East Pakistan.3 Awami League leader Shiekh Mujibur Rehman adopted different strategies to mobilize the Bengali public opinion on different political issues in East Pakistan. When AL was AML, Shiekh Mujib favoured East Bengal State Acquistion and Tenancy Bill that was moved on 7 April 1948 in East Bengal Legislative Assembly. The Bill aimed at making the ‗tillers of the soil‘ the owners of the land they cultivated by taking away the land from landlords, mostly Hindu, by giving compensation to them. But Mujib did not even allow the compensation to be paid to landlords.4 It helped Mujibur Rehman to increase his political stature in provincial politics and his position in organizing Awami Muslim League on his lines. When East Pakistan Communist Party was banned in 1954 by the Central government which branded it enemy (Indian) agents, the Awami Muslim League absorbed most of its leadership and rank and file into its organization. Sheikh Mujib was very active in mobilizing the support of

peasants and students for the AML which strengthened his position vis-à-vis his rivals like Ataur Rehman in the party. Until 1955, both parties had restricted membership to Muslims. There was a sharp cleavage between the secular elements of the Awarni League who wanted to make it a non-communal organization and those who insisted on retaining a Muslim character. The first draft of the Awami League Manifesto published by its General Secretary, Shamsul Huq, clearly stated that the main objective of the party was to establish an Islamic social order.5 The secular group, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, came to prominence when Shamsul Huq was in jail as a political prisoner. The confusion within the Awami League on this issue, however, continued for several years. Only a few months before the 1954 elections in East Pakistan, A. K. Fazlul Huq, the former Premier of undivided Bengal, revived his old Krishna Praia Party (Peasant-Tenant Party formed in 1927) with the nomenclature of Krishna Sami Party ( Peasants-workers party or KSP) was formed on July 27, 1953. Political activities in the province had greatly increased on the eve of elections.

A new political party, the Nizami-i-

Islam, also was formed, with the objective of establishing an administration based on the principles of Islam whose leader Maulana Athar Ali supported Fazlul Haq on ideological differences with the leftist parties like Gantantri Dal.7 Both AML and KSP were constitutional parties with an electoral programme. On the eve of elections in East Bengal, the Awami League appeared to be the strongest of the parties. The two leaders of the Krishak Sramik Party and the Awami League, Fazlul Huq and Maulana Bhashani, respectively came to terms and decided to form a United Front against the Muslim League on the basis of a "common minimum program.". They realized that in order to defeat the Muslim League it was necessary to mobilize the entire opposition into a single force.8 THE 21-POINT MANIFESTO OR ‗CHARTER OF FREEDOM’ The United Front issued a 21-point Manifesto on the basis of which they it contested elections. It did not only raise Bengali language issue but ―the 21-Point manifesto was directed towards mobilizing support from the workers and peasants as well. The manifesto,thereofore, was very broadly-based and was primarily the programme of the Bengali nationliast movement.‖9 The 21point electoral program announced by the United Front of the Awami League and KSP struck a popular response among the students, the intellectuals, the workers and the peasants. It provided

an alternative to all those who wanted to see the end of the Muslim League administration. While the pro-government elements described the electoral program as utterly impractical and impossible of implementation,, the public considered it to be a "Charter of Freedom" for East Pakistan.10 Two main students' organizations of the province, the East Pakistan Students‘ Union (reputed for its leftist leanings) and the East Pakistan Students' League, combined to support the United Front candidates. The results of 1954 elections in East Pakistan were conclusive. The United Front won 210 of the 237 Muslim seats in the provincial assembly and obtained nearly 64% of the votes. In contrast the Muslim League won only 10 seats and secured less than 27% of the votes polled in the contested constituencies. Among the most exciting aspects of the election was the defeat of several ministers including Nurul Amin, the Muslim League Chief Minister.11 WOOING THE SUPPORT OF HINDU POPULATION BY CHANGING NOMENCLATURE An important event which emphasized the urgency of winning support of Hindu population of East Pakistan for AWL occurred during formation KSP ministry. The details how AML became AL are given below. In March 1954 historic provincial elections were held in East Pakistan. The elections were contested on 21-point programme which included full regional autonomy for East Bengal excluding defense, foreign affairs, and currency) and the recognition of Bengali as one of the state languages. United Front was composed of many parties but mainly it had Faull Haw‘s Krishak Sramik Parry (KSP), formed in 1953, and Awami Muslim League. The KSP and AML had conflicting interest in politics. Their alliance was a marriage of convenience to fight the ruling Muslim League elite of West Pakistan. United Front won 227 out of 237 Muslim seats and Muslim League got only 10 seats. In April 1954 UF formed its government with Fazlul Haq as its chief minister. But the central ruling elite of Pakistan could not accept the UF victory and it was dismissed within 2 months of its assumption of power by invoking Article 92A. The UF government was accused of ―bringing about the disintegration of Pakistan and called Haq as a traitor.12. PARTY

After the dismissal of the UF ministry a new re-alignment of political forces took place when Governor-General Guam Muhammad dissolved CAP in October 1954 for failing to produce constitution over pass 7 years and for losing legitimacy the UF leaders hailed the dissolution because it made possible for the UF to take pat in central government. KSP leader Fazlul Haq and AML leader H.S Suhrawardy were political rivals and Ghulam Muhammad took advantage of this rivalry and he played one against the other. There was a prospect of restoration of EBLA and withdrawal of 92A. Both KSP and AML vied for the position of Prime Minister in the Central government. AML was the majority in the East Pakistan provincial assembly and wanted chief minster ship. The AML passed a no-confidence motion against Fazul Haq but due to Hindu members of the assembly he survived the AML no-confidence motion. Another Bengali politician Bogra entered the political scene and used KSP against AML. Abu Hussain Sarkar, a nominee of Fazul Haq was given chief minstership of East Pakistan. Hindu plays crucial part in formation of Sarkar Ministry. Had there been no support of minority bloc of 72 members for SKP, Sarkar would not have formed his ministry. The Hindu minority members did not side with AML as they considered him the author of Calcutta riots of 1946.13 Moreover, Fazul Haq assured the Hindus that he would fight for secular democratic constitution and joint electorate. AML leadership including Bhashahni, Suharwardy and Mujib, became very clear that without Hindu support, AML would not be able to fight KSP. The 3-day Council meeting of AML was held at Rupamahal Cinema and the decision of drop term ‗Muslim‘ from the party was made. This was AL strategy of mobilization Hindu support in its politics. It dropped the word ‗Muslim‘ from its nomenclature and adopted a new name Awami League. AL leaders knew that Hindus had psychological reservations about working in cooperation with a party having communal nomenclature and membership restricted to Muslims only. The AL opened its doors to non-Muslims as well. AL DEMAND FOR JOINT ELECTORATE To get Hindu population support, AL demanded that clause of joint electorate be included in the new constitution of Pakistan. Hindu leaders wanted joint electorate because it would make the election of Muslims dependent on their support and every Muslim candidate would have to

approach the minority for elections. In this way, the concerns and interests of Hindu would be looked after. Awami League got the return when Hindu members of the Assembly withdrew their support for Sarkar‘s ministry in the assembly for UF failing to fight the case of joint electorate in the new Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Awami League made most of this opportunity and won the support of Hindu populations and its leadership in East Pakistan. Awami League reached an agreement with Hindu-dominated Pakistan National Congress on the basis of a 5-point programme.14 The agreement included a commitment by the AL to fight for joint electorate and to amend the Constitution, in case AL came into power at the Centre. AL also assured Hindu minority that 23% quota of services for the minorities would be implemented. Awami League launched a campaign for joint electorate through propaganda, leaflets and newspapers which gave reference to Jinnah‘s speech in the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 14 August, 1947. Jinnah said: ―The Hindus will no longer be Hindus, and Muslims no longer Muslims, not in the religious sense of the word but in political sense will be as citizens of state.‖15 As a result Sarkar ministry fell on September 6, 1956. AL-Congress ministry came to power with Hindu members support, Ataur Rehman became the chief minister. The first step which he took was to pass a resolution in the assembly which made clause of joint electorate for election to National

Assembly and Provincial assembly a demand to be incorporated into the 1956 Constitution by means of amending it. H S Suharwardy came to power at the Centre on September 12, 1956. In the first session of National Assembly which met at Dacca, Suharwardy introduced a Joint Electorate Bill, 1956 on October 10. The Bill provided for Joint Electorate for East Pakistan and Separate Electorate for West Pakistan. The Bill was passed before his departure for China on October 15.16 Thus Awami League succeeded in mobilizing Hindu electorate in its favor by accommodating minority demands. By brining Hindu population in its fold, the AL was gradually becoming the populist and nationalist party of the province. It gave him confidence to represent all sections of the East Pakistani society. AL MOBILIZATION OF BENGALIS DURING AYUB ERA

Ayub Khan imposed Martial Law on October 7, 1958 and abrogated the 1956 Constitution. He banned all political parties and their activities. By the beginning of 1962, the Student of Dacca University and other cities demonstrated in the streets for the restoration of democracy and end of Martial Law. AL and its affiliated student‘s organization East Pakistan mobilized the Bengali masses in protest against Ayub‘s autocracy. Ayub alleged that Communists of Calcutta and Agartala were behind the unrest in East Pakistan. The agitation compelled Ayub to promulgate a Constitution on March 1, 1962 that came into effect on June 8 , 1962. The new constitution provided for presidential form of government and the office of president of Pakistan was reserved for Muslim. On June 25, 1962, nine leading Bengali leaders of defunct AL, NAP and other parties demanded the framing a new constitution which provided for parliamentary form of government and adult franchise. National Democratic Front (NDF) with AL its main component under the leadership of Suhrwardy. Out of necessity, Ayub regime passed Political Parties Bill 1962 which provided for revival of political parties under some constraints. Ayub received support from section of old Muslim League of which he became president after revival. Another section of Muslim League (Council) led by Khawaj Nazimuddin did not support Ayub. After the death of AL leader H S Suharwardy in December, 1963, NDF was divided and all major parties taking independent lines of action. AL RESISTING HINDU-MUSLIM COMMUNAL RIOT IN DACCA IN 1964 On the issue of sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which was found missing from mosque of Hazrat Bal in Indian part of Kashmir, Communal riots broke out in Dacca in June 1964. AL leaders like Mujibur Rehman, Atur Rehman and the East Pakistan Student League (EPSL) sensing the alleged hand of Ayub‘ Convention Muslim League dominated by nonBengalis in the riots, fully resisted the violence and maintained the communal harmony. AL and EPSL launched anti-riot campaign through pamphlets and newspapers.17 AL ANTI-AYUB MOBILIZAITON AND SIX-POINT PRGORAMME In 1965 election, AL joined Combined Opposition Parties (COP) and supported Miss Fatima Jinnah against Ayub Khan. Fatima Jinnah was defeated. Mujibur Rehman was now convinced more than ever that Ayub Khan could not be dislodged under the existing electoral system of Basic Democracy. He was thinking of mass movement. The AL determination was increased by

1965 Indo-Pak War when East Bengal was totally left helpless cut off from other parts of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman missed no opportunity to exploit situation. As Maniruzzaman notes: ―Political entrepreneur in East Pakistan thought that East Pakistan‘s sense of isolation could be manipulated to spark a nationalist explosion among the politically discontented and economically frustrated Bengalis‖18. At a Press Conference, Sheik Mujib declared that ―The question of autonomy appears to be more important after the war. Time has come for making East Pakistan self-sufficient in all respects.19 At this opportune moment, Awami League came out with a radical programme to consolidate it mobilization of Bengali support for a rising nationalist movement. In early 1966, Sheikh Mujib put forward his famous six-point prgramme, ―the charter of survival‖.20 The six-point programme was significant departure from the past autonomy demands of the Bengalis as it aimed not at calling upon the Central government to do more for East Pakistan, but aimed at asking the Central government to let East Pakistan do more for itself.21 The Six-Point sparked a political movement in East Pakistan. Complete support for the movement was shown in the different mass meetings, students‘ rallies, and street corner meetings. The climax of the AL mobilization of Bengali

masses was reached on June 7, 1966 when province-wide strike paralyzed the whole life of East Pakistan.22 Ayub branded Mujibur Rehman as ‗secessionist‘ and threatened to use the language of weapon. The Six-Point Programme received full support from Hindus. AL EXPLOITS AND MANIPULATES ECONOMIC GREIVANCES Awami League tactfully exploited the economic grievances between two wings of Pakistan. It used the economic disparity to its political advantage to deepen the already existing rift between two wings. Disparity in development increased during the second and third plan periods because the policies that had created this disparity also continued unchanged. It is a strange but understandable commentary on the irresponsiveness of policy makers to the demands and grievances of East Pakistanis that even though the wave of resentment in East Pakistan against this disparity had been rising ever since the 1954 elections, there was no significant change in these policies. Thus, during the second plan, in terms of actual implementation, the share of East Pakistan in the total public and private sector expenditure was about 32 percent. During the third plan, the share was 36 percent. The figures of development and non-development expenditure in per capita terms are even more graphic. During the third plan (1960-65) the per capita

development and revenue expenditures in West Pakistan were Rs. 521.05 and Rs. 390.35, respectively, whereas the expenditures for East Pakistan were as low as Rs. 240 and Rs. 70.29 respectively. Regional economic disparity provoked bitter opposition and resentment in East Pakistan towards the central government. 23 AL POSITION ON SHARE OF EAST PAKISTAN IN ARMY AND CIVIL SERVICES East Pakistan Awami League often exploited politically the bitter complaint that there were few East Pakistani officers at the highest levels of the civil service. In some of the key ministries associated with economic policy making, particularly at the secretary level, all the officers until 1969 were from West Pakistan or had emigrated from the Muslim-minority provinces of India.24 AL also continued to mobilize public opinion against West Pakistan on the fact that 60 per cent of the Budget (sometimes even more) was allocated for defense in which the eastern wing had only a nominal share. The Pakistan army was almost entirely recruited from four districts of northern Punjab (Rawalpindi, Campbellpur, Jhelum and Gujrat) and two districts of the Frontier Province (Peshawar and Kohat). Sixty per cent of the army was Punjabi and 35 per cent were Pakhtuns. Generals, admirals or air marshals occupying positions such as the presidency, the deputy commander-in-chief of the army, chief of the general staff, the commanders-in-chief of the navy and air force, the director of inter-services intelligence, the military governor of a province and the command of certain divisions constituted the military elite.25 AL MOBILIZATION OF BENGALIS IN 1970 ELECTIONS After the fall of Ayub in March, 1969, Yahya Khan came to power and second Martial Law was proclaimed in Pakistan. He promised general elections on the basis of universal adult franchise to be held in October, 1970. Awami League again placed hands on the pulse of Bengali masses and its leader Shiekh Mujib called it ‗referendum‘ on the Six-Point Programme. AL won 167 seats out of 169 seats with overwhelming and unqualified support of Hindus and Muslims In elections, AL received unqualified support from Hindus and Muslims alike.


AWAMI LEAGUE AND DEMAND FOR REGIONAL AUTONOMY The Awami League faced a situation of conflicting loyalties to the people of East Pakistan and to the central government of Pakistan when it assumed offices in the 1950s. But being an opposition party for many years, the Awami League was freer to ventilate the grievances of East Pakistan. The East Pakistan Awami League, started in 1949 as a purely provincial organization, was subsequently merged with the Jinnah Awami League in West Pakistan organized by H. S. Suhrawardy. Nevertheless, the East Pakistan Awami League continued to retain its provincial character, and the first manifesto of the Awami League clearly stated that it stood for "the right of self-determination of the regional units," and had also demanded that East Pakistan should have its own defense forces.1 On April 26, 1951, East Pakistan Awami Muslim League first time raised voice against the ‗appropriation of resources of East Bengal by the Central government.‖ It also voiced sentiments in favour of regional autonomy in which all subjects except foreign affairs, defense, and currency should be transferred to the province of East Bengal.2 Awami League pressure in support of regional demands increased.

After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Khawaja Nazimuddin became Prime Minister of Pakistan and it was during a visit to Dacca that he declared that Urdu should be the sole state language in Pakistan. A sharp reaction followed this speech. On January 31, 11952, an AllParties Action Committee was formed consisting of representatives of the opposition such as the Awami League, Tamaddun Majlis, the Islamic brotherhood, the Youth League and the student bodies of various schools, colleges and Dacca University to launch a province wide movement in support of Bengali as a state language. In the February 1952 language movement in the province, some students were killed, and many leading Awami Leaguers, including Maulana Bhasani and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, were jailed. On January 28, 1952. Quaid-e-Azam M. A.

Jinnah made the first announcement in 1948 to the effect that Urdu alone should be the state language of Pakistan which was protested in East Pakistan. The 21-point electoral program of the 1954 United Front also included a categorical demand for the recognition of Bengali as one of the state languages in Pakistan East Bengal autonomy demand on the basis of Lahore Resolution. Later, AL leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman went even further with his demand that Bengali be introduced at all stages of education and administration, and that the Central Government's powers should be restricted to three subjects-i.e., defense, foreign policy and currency-and that other subjects should be left with the provincial government.3 The Awami League had to moderate its demand for East Pakistan's autonomy while Suhrawardy was Prime Minister of Pakistan. While this situation provided some protection for the Awami League cabinet in East Pakistan against the central government's interference with the provincial administration, the Awami League ministry in East Pakistan also could not press its demands too far and thus embarrass its Awami League colleagues at the Center. Pressure for regional autonomy, however, continued at the party level. At the Kagmari session of the Awami League Council on February 7, 1957, Maulana Bhasani bluntly stated that the Eastern Wing should say "good bye" to West Pakistan if the latter failed to concede her demands by amending the 1956 Constitution.4 The Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, took very prominent part in the opposition against Field Marshal Ayub Khan, but when the results were announced the people were surprised to find that Ayub Khan had been elected by a majority of 21, 260 votes. Although the popular estimate was that Mohatarma Fatima Jinnah had received the sold support of all urban areas. People suspected foul play and charged that elections were rigged. As a result they took no further interest in the elections of the majority. Ayub Khan was sworn in on 23 March, 1965, and was set for another period of rule with a more than comfortable majority in the Legislature. It is significant to note that it was during these elections that Mujib in June 1964 released his Awami League elections manifesto calling for ―two economies‖ and a Constitution based on interpretation of Lahore Resolution of 1940, which he claimed envisaged two independent sovereign states. It is further alleged that the defeat suffered by the combined opposition in the Presidential elections led by Sheikh Mujib and others in East Pakistan, forced

them to think also of more extreme measures for realizing the demand of autonomy for East Pakistan.5 The draft manifesto of the Awami League after its revival in 1964 demanded full autonomy for the regions of Pakistan, as well as the removal of disparities between the two wings of Pakistan in the economic, administrative and political spheres by treating the two wings of Pakistan as two separate economies."6 The real purpose of the Awami League demand for regional

autonomy was to establish a balance of power for East Pakistan which would introduce faster economic development in the province. It was argued repeatedly that West Pakistan had been the beneficiary of the Central Government expenditure, and this imbalance can be set right only by giving the East Wing greater autonomy.7 MUJIB’S SIX- POINT FORMULA The resentment against the Tashkent Declaration gave another opportunity to the opposition parties to muster strength to condemn the government. A conference of all the opposition parties was convened by the Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan at Lahore on February 5, 1966, and it was at this conference that Sheikh Mujibur Rehman for the first time put forward his ―Six Points‖. Sheikh Mujib himself did not possess the necessary intelligence to formulate Six Points and according to Mu Nurul Amin were inspired by some foreign power or some CSP officers of East Bengal were behind it. A witness Rafiqul Hasan in the Commission alleged that Altaf Gahur was the author of the draft of Six Point at the instance of Ayub Khan who wanted to wreck the all parties Conference.8 Mujibur Rahman‘s Six-Point Program was the culmination of the Awami League demand for regional autonomy came when Sheikh It was virtually a blue print of Bengalis‘ right to selfdetermination which may be summed up as follows: (1) The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the basis of 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, Defense 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 Pakistan. (4) The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal center will have no such power. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures. (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 link with foreign countries. (6) East Pakistan should have a separate militia or para-military force.9 It was different from the Bengali autonomy demands of 1950 and 1954 since it specifically denied the centre the right to taxation and allowed the provinces to have the right to establish separate trade and commercial relations with foreign countries and to keep separate accounts of their foreign earnings. In essence, it was a demand for full provincial autonomy. Mujeeb described it a as ‗question of conflict between vested interests of West Pakistan and the 56 per cent of the population living in East Pakistan and that there was no conflict between the SixPoint and the people of West Pakistan.‘10 The impact of the six-point demand of the Awami League was felt far and wide. AL found support for the programme in all parts of East Pakistan. Sheikh Mujeeb put all his energies to launch a vigorous mass campaign and gave a call to the people to prepare themselves for mass movement for achieving their demands. East Pakistan Students‘ League (EPSL), the student party affiliated with AL launched drive for Six-Point Programme and urban centres of East Pakistan were virtually in the grip of a ‗mass revolution‘.11

The central government as Islamabad dubbed it as a demand for the separation of the Eastern Wing from the rest of the country, and launched a propaganda campaign which called for a strong central government and decried the autonomists. On June 7, 1966, there was a provincewide hartal (strike) in East Pakistan sponsored by the Awami League to press the demands embodied in the Six-Point programme. There were several clashes between the police and the strikers during which 11 persons were killed. In late June, EPAL observed ―Anti-Repression Days‖ to protest against the police firing. As expected, the central government resorted to force and arrested many leaders of AL.12 Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, along with several of his lieutenants, were again put into the prison. Ayub regime‘s policy towards the Six-Point demand of the AL was one of total suppression. It showed once again that government failed to respond positively to political demands supported by the masses. AGARTALA CONSPIRACY The greatest threat to AL came from Agartala Conspiracy Case which the party weathered through its own skillful strategy and the government‘s mishandling of the case. The decision to give extensive publicity of to the proceedings of the Case, with a view to discrediting Mujibur Rehman proved counter productive and made him a ‗national hero‘ in the eyes of Bengalis.13 The government also blamed "foreign interests" in the agitation led by the six-pointers. On January 6, 1968, the Central government charged Mujib and East Pakistan members of the Civil Service and twenty-four junior officers in the armed forces with a conspiracy to bring about secession of East Pakistan with Indian help. The charge was also leveled against Deputy High Commissioner of India in Dacca. The government press note also accused some the officers of visiting Agartala in India for holding important discussions with Colonel Mishra, Major Menon and others from Indian armed forces and intelligence agencies. Eventually, the so-called "Agartala Conspiracy case" was initiated against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 34 others for alleged high treason. The trial was opened at the Dacca Cantonment by a special tribunal consisting of senior judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts of Pakistan. Eleven of the accused turned approver- witness on behalf of the government They were pardoned by the Government) but the rest, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, denied the charges brought against them. The "Agartala Trial" was soon synchronized with the country-wide movement against the Ayub regime which also demanded greater autonomy for East Pakistan. The opposition leaders met at Dacca and formed the

Democratic Action Committee (DAC) which demanded the restoration of parliamentary democracy and a direct franchise. The formation of the DAC was warmly welcomed by the student community of East Pakistan who spearheaded the anti-Ayub movement in the province. Two leading student parties in East Pakistan, the East Pakistan Students' League (aligned with the Awami League) and the East Pakis.tan Students' Union (aligned with the NAP), formed a Students' Action Committee (SAC). While Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in jail, the Awami League became a divided house, with two clear divisions-the six-pointers and the pro-PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of the major opposition parties in Pakistan formed in 1967 to fight the Ayub regime). Undoubtedly, the six-pointers formed the majority faction in the party. East Pakistan Students‘ League and East Pakistan Students‘ Union formed a Students Action Committee to press for NAP‘s 11-Point Programme during the detention of Mujib. The political demands incorporated in the 11-point programme formulated by Students‘ Action Committee( SAC) included: parliamentary democracy on the basis of adult franchise; full autonomy for East Pakistan and also autonomy for the former provinces of West Pakistan: restriction of the Federal Government to only three functions, defense, foreign policy and currency. It also proposed that East Pakistan be given the power to form a militia or paramilitary force and that the headquarters of the Navy be transferred to the province. For all practical purposes, the eleven-point student program was an expanded version of the Awami League's sixpoint demand for autonomy. It sought to radicalize the Bengali politics in a way that never happened before. By including the AL‘s Six-Point Programme within its leftist planks of socialist reforms, the SAC aroused massive popular support among all classes of the people East Pakistan. The whole of East Pakistan revolted against him.14 MASS UPSURGE AND RELEASE OF MUJIBUR REHMAN The government policy of repression did not work. Even Muslim Leaguer Nur al Amin accused the government of perpetuating the rule of bullets and repression.15 Under great pressure, President Ayub was compelled to withdraw the "Agartala Conspiracy" case against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his codefendants. He also agreed to meet the opposition leaders at a Round Table Conference to discuss the constitutional problems of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

emerged from being the primary defendant in a treason trial to the status of a leader dominating national opinion. The feelings in the East Wing ran high against West Pakistan and the central administration. During the political turmoil, the army (mostly from West Pakistan) had been used to put down agitations and many had been killed in East Pakistan. In West Pakistan, the political agitation turned against Ayub because of his "failure" in the 1965 war with India, but East Pakistan looked upon his political system as the instrument of West Pakistan's domination. The political concession made by President Ayub did not satisfy the people in the East where the agitations and violence gradually spread into the rural areas. In this context, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could not moderate his demand for regional autonomy without risking his political future. On March 10, 1969, at the Round Table Conference, he demanded full autonomy for the Eastern Wing and representation in the central legislature on the basis of population (which would give a majority to East Pakistan).16 After agreeing at the conference table to introduce a parliamentary system and direct adult franchise, President Ayub was reported to have asked Sheikh Mujibur Rahman privately (over dinner) not to push his demands for regional autonomy and proportional representation until these two basic reforms had been passed in the National Assembly. Only four days before Martial Law was again imposed. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman submitted draft constitutional amendments to the President, which envisaged a federal parliamentary system with regional autonomy based on the six-point programme of the Awami League and SAC'S eleven-point demands. President Ayub was shocked to learn that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in fact planning to place before the National Assembly his own draft bill. He apprehended that Rehman's amendment might just be carried with the support of Sindhis, Bengalis, Pathans and Baluchi members or that the private bill would create another stalemate in the Assembly itself. Eventually, President Ayub handed over power to the Army stating that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's amendment "would liquidate the Central Government and Army.17 Gen. Yahya Khan declared Martial Law in March, 1969. On November 28, 1969, he promulgated the Legal Framework Order (LFO) on March 30, 1970. Under the LFO General Muhammad Yahya Khan announced that the people of Pakistan would elect the National Assembly on October 5, 1970 and elect Provincial Assemblies on October 19. The National Assembly would frame a

constitution for the country. Mujib was consulted in drafting LFO‘s vital aspects.18 The LFO fixed the strength of the National Assembly at 313, including 13 seats reserved for women( 7 in East Pakistan and 6 in West Pakistan). AWAMI LEAGUE AND 1970 ELECTIONS The AL under Mujib drew support from virtually all areas of East Pakistan and had particularly appealed to the student community, which has its parallel demands in the form of the Eleven Points. Party General Secretary Iajuddin Ahmad and economist Kamal Hussain were among the key advisers of Mujib. The party favors a moderately socialist economic program which had been embodied in the manifesto. Its following in West Pakistan was limited. An attempt to strike a deal with G M Syed could fail. Yahya had decreed that the National Assembly would have 300 seats, giving East Pakistan 162 seats and West Pakistan 138. In addition, 13 women would be elected to the Assembly by vote of the directly elected members, seven from East Pakistan and six from West. The 138 West Pakistan seats were further apportioned among the four new provinces and delimitation completed. The Awami League had launched a vigorous election campaign in East Pakistan with the six-point program as their election manifesto. Later, on March 30, 1970 President Yahya Khan announced the Legal Framework Order which would govern the conduct of elections as well as the role of the future National Assembly (consisting of 313 members of whom 169 will be from East Pakistan) in framing a Constitution. The Order declared that the future constitution of Pakistan must preserve five fundamental principles: an Islamic ideology; territorial integrity; free elections and the independence of judiciary: a federal system ensuring autonomy to the provinces as well as adequate legislative, administrative and financial powers for the Central Government; and full opportunities to the people of all regions for participation in national affairs. The Order stipulates that if the President refuses to authenticate the constitution, the National Assembly would stand dissolved and that he would be the sole arbiter in interpreting the Order. The Awami League as well as some other political parties in East Pakistan had challenged these provisions of Legal Framework Order which they argued amount to the negation of democratic principles. The Awami League was particularly apprehensive of the fact that the Legal Framework Order might be utilized by the President to refuse authentication of any Constitution which would give maximum autonomy to East Pakistan in conformity with the party's six-point

election manifestos. On December 7, 1970, the people of Pakistan were called upon to elect the National Assembly for the first time since 1947 on the basis of adult franchise by direct vote. On December 17, they elected the provincial assemblies of their respective five provinces. In East Pakistan these elections were the first direct elections since 1954. The results of the elections both at the national and provincial levels showed a sweeping victory for the Awami League in East Pakistan and a substantial majority for the People's Party in West Pakistan. The East Pakistan outcome was not unexpected, except perhaps in its magnitude. The East Pakistanis, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of the Awami League who himself had just been released from prison, asserted their claim to "one-man, one-vote" representation which would have given East Pakistan a majority in the new assembly. Ayub regime had failed to respond to the growing political awareness in the country and to the peoples‘ unhappiness with a system that concentrated political-and to an important extent, economic-power in the hands of a relatively small number of persons. The Bengali complaints of unequal treatment were heightened under a constitution which limited them to parity in the legislative branch of government. Yahya's announcement on November 28, 1969, that elections would be held on October 5, 1970 and the One-Unit of West Pakistan government would dissolve into four provinces. The newly elected parliamentary body would be based on population and not on parity between the two wings, thereby giving East Pakistan a majority of the seats. He also decreed that elections would be direct and on universal suffrage-"one man, one vote." On January 1, 1970 following this announcement the political activities were resumed. The elections were postponed, however, to December 7, 1970, as a result of late summer flooding in East Pakistan. When the cyclone and tidal bore devastated parts of East Pakistan in November 1970, election preparations had passed the nomination stage, and polling was postponed only in those constituencies directly affected by the storm. New elements entered politics and while in East Pakistan they supported an established political party, the Awami League, in the West, they turned to a new Pakistan People‘s Party (PPP) headed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The AL stood for redress of Bengali grievances, the PPP for the improvement of the lot of the "underprivileged" in both urban and rural areas. A senior Bengali politician and companion of Jinnah, Khawja Nazimud din

reorganized the Muslim League under the name of Council Muslim League (CML) Mumtaz Daultana from Punjab was its chief voice in the West Pakistan. CML stood for the united Pakistan.


1970 ELECTION AND ITS AFTERMATH Awami League won 160 seats out 162 general seats reserved for East Pakistan. The other party which emerged victorious in West Pakistan was People‘s Party which won 81 seats out total 138 general seats reserved for West Pakistan. AL secured 74% of total votes caste in East Pakistan while PPP got 19.5% of total votes cast in West Pakistan.19 AL and PPP emerged as victorious in East and West Pakistan. Bhutto on December 21, 1970 expressed his desired to sit in coalition government with Awami League.20 On January 3, 1971 AL MNAs assembled at Romna Race Course in a Public meeting and pledged their loyalty to Six-Point Formula. Next day, Mujib repeated that new Constitution would be based on Six-Point and blood of martyrs would not go in vain. He insisted on naming East Pakistan as Bangladesh and started referring to the people of East Pakistan as Bengalis. Bhutto after talks with Mujib in Dacca admitted that AL could frame the constitution but without consensus it would be ‗barren exercise‘.21 Yahya in a meeting with Governors and Martial Law Administrators on February 22 decided to take military action in case Mujib refused to modify his Six-Point Programme and some additional troops were sent to East Pakistan.22 On February 27, AL Parliamentary Party approved a draft Constitution in which East Pakistan was named Bangladesh and Pakistan was as Federal Republic of Pakistan. Yahya postponed the session of newly elected National assembly scheduled for March 3, 1971.


GATHERING STORM OF INDIGNATION AND HATRED Awami League was the master of exploiting the political mishandling and misgovernance on the part of central government in Islamabad. Its organizational network magnified many times the mistakes made by the central government. One such instance was the Central government handling of the situation arising out of natural calamity The cyclone that hit the eastern part of Pakistan on November 12, 1970 was termed as the worst natural disaster of the century. The sufferings caused to the millions of Bengalis were only partly man- made. The people of East Pakistan were annoyed at the way the ruling classes in West Pakistan dealt with that unprecedented tragedy in the history of region. The initial failure of the Centra1 Government to provide succor to the victims inflamed the Bengalis. The people of East Pakistan charged the ruling classes of West Pakistan with ‗callous indifference‘ to the fate of villages and affectees. This became the ‗final proof‘ of the neglect of the people of East Pakistan by ruling circles.1 Awami League which was gaining popularity due to Six-Point Programme with Bengali masses exploited the Central Government handling of the situation and the gulf widened and nothing was in sight to bridge it. What had started off in 1947 as an agreement between the two geographically separated and culturally dissimilar parts to share a common destiny was going to turn into a military occupation of one region by the other. The Bengali Left, represented by the National Awami Party, failed to recognize the importance of Bengali national question and left the leadership of the struggle in the hands of the petty-bourgeois Awami League--a mistake which not only isolated the left itself but deprived the national movement of a progressive content and a clear direction. The consequences of this failure were manifested in the undifferentiated hatred against West Pakistanis and isolated attacks on non-Bengalis residing in East Pakistan.2

The Awami League, tried to capitalize on the national chauvinistic feelings. The people of East Pakistan gave an overwhelming verdict in favor of the Awami League's Six-Point program. Against all expectations, the AL captured a simple majority in the assembly; it was now in a position to frame a constitution of its choice without the help of any other party. It was clear from the outset that the ruling clique in West Pakistan, especially the military, would not, accept a constitution based on the Awami League's six points. As long as there was a hope of reaching compromise with the AL, the military did not want to hurt its image as a promoter of democracy by nullifying the elections or vetoing the constitution. It simply kept delaying the convening of the National Assembly. General Yahya Khan portrayed himself as an honest broker between the contending parties -the AL and the Pakistan People's Party, which had emerged as the strongest party in West Pakistan. In spite of being an advocate of strong center, the PPP had remained silent on the constitutional issues during the campaign and, unlike the right wing parties had not accused the AL of being anti-national. But after its surprising victory at the polls, its leader, Z.A. Bhutto, emerged as the chief antagonist of the six-point program. Bhutto, encouraged by the military, demanded concessions from the AL as a pre- condition for participating in constitution making. His rationale for opposing the AL program was that the injustices done to the eastern part could be undone without weakening the center, especially so because his party was socialist and had no interest in the exploitation of the working classes of East Pakistan. Having failed in persuading the Awami League to moderate its program, Bhutto declared that his party would not participate in the assembly session which was scheduled for March 3.1971. The military backed him up by postponing the assembly session indefinitely. A wave of indignation swept across East Pakistan and a general strike called by the Awami League paralyzed life completely in the province. General Yahya Khan, in a broadcast only five days after the cancellation of assembly session, blamed the Awami League leader Sheikh Mujib, instead of Bhutto, for creating the constitutional crisis and dispatched troops to put down demonstrations. On March 4, AL

launched a civil disobedience Movement which spread throughout the province The killing of several hundred demonstrators by the army confirmed the Bengali fears that the military was out to rob them of their victory achieved at the polls and triggered off a civil disobedience movement that led to a de facto control of the province by the Awami League. On March 7, Mujib announced to run a parallel government and formally issued some directives.3

Hamoodur Rehman Commission report disples the impression that Gen. Yahya and Bhutto enjoyed cordial and close relations. PPP thought that Gen. Yahya was trying to reach secret deal with AL. Yahya was in fact trying to play off one party against the other in attempt to evade the transfer of power.4 The writ of the military government stopped in East Pakistan. Public officials as well as private businesses took their orders from the Awami League. Even the Chief Justice refused to swear-in the hard liner new governor sent by the Central Government. The Awami League demanded that the government be officially handed over to the elected representatives and the martial law be lifted. The President Yahya made an effort to solve the impasse caused by Awami League leader‘s ‗take it or leave it‘ attitude. Since Sheikh Mujib could not come to see him, Yahya went to Dacca on March 15 to see him. In ten days of negotiations, Gen Yahya tried to prevent breach between the two parts of Pakistan. He offered to set up Commission to enquire into circumstances in which army acted in aid of civil power. But Mujib rejected Commission saying that it would work under Martial Law which must first be lifted.5 When the President next met Sheikh Mujib and his principal lieutenants on March 20, he made it clear that his agreement to whatever plan was settled on for his handing over of power dependent upon it acceptance by all political leaders..6 Awami League was defying Central Government authority in capital and districts of East Pakistan. AL seemed determined to establish its order. The supporters of Bangladesh were now claiming that were maintaining order better than the Central authorities. AL gradually took over administrative machinery in its hands and began to direct mob violence against it antagonists most of them were non-Bengalis. The mobilized the people by inflammatory speeches and cyclostyled leaflets and pamphlets distributed widely throughout towns and countryside. These pamphlets announced that National Liberation Movement was in progress and incited the people to take up arms, liquidate the ‗enemy troops‘ arm themselves with any weapons and destroy roads and bridges. 7 On March 23, Resistance Day was observed in East Pakistan under Mujib‘s directions. The flag of Bangladesh was hoisted on his residence and armed rallies were held in the cities. The Pakistani flag was destroyed when 31st anniversary of Lahore Resolution was observed in West Pakistan. On the same day ceremony to unfurl flag of Bangladesh on the office of AL organ The People was arranged and Mujib took salute under the shadow of flag on which it was inscribed in bold words: ― A new country has emerged today.‖8 On March 24 and 25, circumstances were

combining to make Yahya‘s policy of cautious restraint in face of intense provocations more and more difficult. Serious arson incited by AL occurred at Golahat, North Saidpur. Moreover, a mob armed with lathis and lethal weapons numbering some 8000 converged on Saidpur to attack non Bengali residents.AL also incited mob to block communications between the port of Chittagong, and the city. Chittagong was the Headquarters of the East Bengal regiment. AL activists set up barricades in Dacca and Chittagong to prevent the supplies from reaching the army. In March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman made military appointments to prepare for the armed uprising. A certain ex-Colonel Usmani was named as commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary forces responsible directly to the Sheikh while Major-General (Retd.) Mujeed and Lt. Commander (Retd.) Moazzam were deputed to enlist ex-servicemen, of whom lists had been prepared in the Awami League Headquarters. Arms were coming in substantial quantities across the Indian Border Awami League relied upon the bulk of east Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles and many of the Border guards with their weapons Awami League kept 15000 Rifles and ammunitions at police Headquarters Dacca AL also made use of service-type wireless transmitters possessed by East Pakistan Rifles and East Bengal Regiment to pass the information quickly AL asked its rank-and-file to prepare for long drawn out gorilla-type struggle. Sheikh Mujib stated that it was impossible to subdue 70 million Bengalis by force. 9 AWAMI LEAGUE’S CONNECTIONS WITH THE INDIANS AL leadership had complete confidence in massive Indian support, based upon the obvious friendliness Indian press on AL victory in elections and on ‗heroic resistance movement‘ headed by Sheikh Mujib Rehman. The Indian military intelligence had already supplied huge amount of arms and ammunition into the hands of AL‘s supporters and its guerilla fighting force, Mukti Bahini. The instructors of Indian armed forces were imparting their skills to Mukti Bahini. India helped Awami League‘s resistance by imposing over-fly ban on flights over its territories from Pakistan to prevent the reinforcement from West Pakistan to the regular battalion stationed in East Pakistan. Mujib and AL had carefully advanced-planned military campaign. The first target of his Mukti Bahini or Liberation Army was Chittgong. The next stage was the capture of Dacca. AL and Mukti Bahini had received supplies from India for a long time in past which was hidden from the West Pakistan government.10

Concrete evidence is available to prove that during 1970-71 infiltration of armed personnel and transportation of ammunition from India into East Pakistan continued on a hectic speed under the supervision of Indian Border Security Force.11

MILITARY ACTION AND INDIAN INVOLVEMENT Before leaving Dacca for Karachi, Yahya ordered Gen.Tikka Khan to carry out military operation to put down the Awami League insurgency and Mukti Bahini (Liberation Army). On March 25, 1971 before 11 pm Seraj Alam Khan and some other student leaders met Mujib at his residence and urged him to issue a declaration of independence Maj.General Zia ur Rehman was approached and he read out this declaration of independence.12 On March 25, the military operation against AL and Mukti Bahini started. On March 26, Gen. Yahya in his address to nation told about his efforts to reach understanding with Awami League and stubbornness of AL leadership in negotiations. He announced the ban on Awami League and all political activities throughout the country. Yahya branded Mujib as traitor and vowed to punish him for treason against Pakistan. Mujib was arrested on March 26 at 1.30 am (midnight) while some of his lieutenants fled. By mid –night on March 25, troops were moving into Dacca and the army was taking up positions in all other important point in the city. All Bengalis in EBR, EPR and the armed reserved police and civil police had pledge loyalty to Sheikh Mujib Students engaged themselves in raiding arms shops in Dacca and Chittagong and carried away arms and ammunitions. The Army destroyed the buildings daily Bengali newspapers, Ittefaq, Sangbad, and the English newpaper, The People. The Pakistan army carried out killings and genocide of Bengalis who were in sympathy with AL. The targets of genocide were East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles, the police, and the paramilitary ansars and mujahids and recruits of Mukti Bahini. The aim of this genocide was to eliminate the political and intellectual leadership of Awami League.13 INTERNATIONAL REACTION

Pakistan was under intense international pressure due to the plight of Bengali refugees in India. Indira Gandhi‘s formulation of the problem found the worldwide support. She argued this was a case of ―historical upsurge of 75 million people of East Bengal whose elected leaders of had been arrested and fellow countrymen had been killed by the thousands. She argued India could not stand by in this situation. On Economic Assistance front, Bank of Reconstruction and Development policy reflected American views. American leaders pressured Rober McNamara to stop aid to Pakistan. On August 9, 1971, India and USSR announced the signing of twenty year Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation under which Russian would provide India with arms. In any case, the United States repeatedly made it clear that it would not support India in military action against Pakistan.14 Yahya Khan government went out of its way to court the US administration. Dr. Kissinger‘s trip to Peking via Pakistan was handled with fineness and perfect security. Pakistan projected this view that US has basically accepted Pakistan stand in the civil war. Dr Kissinger regarded India‘s intervention as ―invasion of East Bengal in the same light as Hitler‘s reoccupation of the Rhineland.‖ The USSR provided India with arms of worth $730 million since 1965.15 Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report on the basis of statements of Pakistan foreign officials like Agha Shahi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto says that despite Russia‘s repeated vetoes a few hours further resistance would probably have yielded a more favorable result in the world body. It was said that Russian would ensure the end of hostilities if Pakistan would agree to: 1. An Immediate ceasefire. 2. The Withdrawal of the troops, and 3. Political talks with the Awami League

But Gen. Yahya, opposed to any question of political negotiation with the Awami League, literally preferred loss of dignity to political settlement by asking his generals to surrender before Indian army.16


The view that Mukti Bahini had emerged overnight was no more than myth. Mukti Bahini was formed by July, 1970. Mukti Bahini was supposed to operate within the framework of united Pakistan. AL leaders never showed that it was expected to break the chains of exploitation.17 But this view is not shared by Bunyan who quotes Colonel Omani the C-in-C of liberation army as saying: ―The Mukti Bahini was manufactured overnight by the Pakistan Army. If Pakistanis had limited their attacked against selected politicians, Bengalis in the army and police might have stayed neutral. It was only after information got around that Pakistan army was out to kill Bengali intellectuals and servicemen as well that was revolting to a man.‖18 Originally the liberation army was called Mukti Fauj but it was renamed as Mukti Bahini sometimes later. Most probably two factors had worked together for the alternation of the name. Firstly, it was commonly felt that Bahini was more Bengali than Fauj. Secondly, by June the liberation army had attracted the air forces and naval officers. The resistance in Dacca by EBR, EPR, police and resevervists was quelled within 48 hours but it soon became widespread in countryside and other cities and assumed mass character.19 AWAMI LEAGUE GOVERNEMTN IN EXILE Due to military operation by the Pakistan Army, the steady evacuation of refugees started from East Pakistan to India. Within a month 3 lakh refuges crossed into India and Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi accused Pakistan of killing innocent people and creating this crisis. The problem of refugees was threatening to assume the unmanageable proportions.20 Indian government condemned the massacre of the people of East Pakistan and blamed Pakistan army for it. India issued warning that India could not be silent spectator while Pakistan condemned Indian interference in its internal affairs to fan flames of secession in East Pakistan by giving military aid to Mukti Bahini. On July 19, Yahya declared that Mujib would be tried a Military Court and he could be awarded death sentence. On September 3, Gen. A A Khan Niazi was appointed Martial Law administrator of East Pakistan. India had increased border raids and artillery fire. Their psychological warfare had already been stepped up. India gave training and shelter to Mukti Bahini fighters. Indian shelling helped them cross while it shelled East Pakistan border areas. When all out war was begun by Pakistani

attack on India in the West on December 1971, the Pakistan army had already suffered about four thousand dead and about same number wounded21. The so-called War of liberation for Indians started on November 21. 1971, not in the first week of December as told by the Indians. Maj.Gen Nazar Hussain Shah told Gen Niazi that all out attack was open invasion of East Pakistan Army by Indian army began in last week of November. The open war lasted for twentysix days rather than two week.22 This statement of Gen Niazi is confirmed by Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report which says that ―on the night of 20th and 21st November, 1971, the Indian army openly launched an attack with one infantry brigade supported by armor and air force in the Jessore Sector.23 The war in west Pakistan started on December 3, 1971 and no trained manpower was available as a reserve except ex-servicemen who had long passed the period of their reserve liability. The aim of Indian attack on East Pakistan was to occupy a large part part so that Bangladeshi government could be set up on the occupied territory.24 Eventually, Gen. Niazi offered to surrender and instrument of surrender was singed by him and J.S Aurora at Dacca Ramna Race Course from where nine months earlier Mujib had defied the Government of Pakistan. Pakistan Army surrendered unconditionally to the Indian Commander on December 16, 1971. This surrender was humiliating to the nation and without parallel in the history of Islam.25 On the morning of December 17, 1971, after securing the capitulation of Dacca, the Indian Prime Minister announced the unilateral cease fire on the western front with effect from 9 pm that evening. Gen.Yahya had to no option but to accept this offer.26 In the newly created state of Bangladesh, after some days war-cabinet of five, headed by Syed Nazrul Islam began working as post-war government of reconstruction. Its immediate problem was to secure the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman from detention in West Pakistan. On January 8, 1972, Sheikh Mujib was released from Pakistani prison and on January 10, he returned to Bangladesh after a short visit to London and New Delhi. With his return, the independence of Bangladesh attained its fullness.27


Awami League (AL) played a major role in the emergence of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam but the ruling elite in West Pakistan used it as a political slogan to subjugate Bengali Muslims. The dismemberment of Pakistan was the culmination of AL movement against the exploitation of religion to deny Bengali Muslims their rights and share of power in the Centre. Moreover, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League could not implement the Lahore Resolution 1940 in letter and spirit. AL took up this issue and always referred to Lahore Resolution as a basis for political settlement. AL demand was not heeded and the fabric of the country was torn apart. It suffered humiliation and torture at the hands of the Army during Ayub‘s rule. AL under Sheikh Mujibur Rehman became convinced that it was not possible for the party to overthrow Ayub‘s regime through constitutional means. The other alternative for AL was to wage a liberation struggle with the help of Indian government which it eventually got in 1971. In 1965 war with India, the East Pakistan province was defenseless. This created suspicions in the minds of Bengalis about the vulnerability of Ayub‘s rule. AL‘s SixPoint Programme was announced in 1966 which Bengalis embraced as the demand for their political and national survival. In 1968, Ayub rejected through the trial of Agartala Conspiracy the demands for full provincial autonomy and right of self-determination of Bengalis. It strengthened the position of Mujib as chief spokesman of Bengali interests. AL won mass support articulated the politics of East Pakistan successfully for two reasons. The first reason was its success in grasping the importance of national question, and second was the failure of leftist parties to understand the depth of popular opinion. AL arose as the only meaningful opposition force to the rulers of West Pakistan. Its Six-Points represented the aspirations of Bengalis. The Pakistan military establishment was hostile to AL and to the prospect of AL civilian rule at the Centre because AL was determined to reduce the lavish military apparatus which absorbed not

less than 50% of total budget. AL wanted to end the status of East Pakistan as a captive market and supplier of jute and tea for West Pakistani capitalists. The rulers in West Pakistan did not like it. Although AL won massively in 1970 general elections, both Yahya and Bhutto took a very strong anti-Six Point stand and refused to hand over to or share power with AL‘s leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. Unfortunately, civil war broke out in East Pakistan and Bangladesh appeared as an independent state on December 16, 1971.

1. Lawrence Ziring, Bangladesh From Mujib to Ershad: An interpretive Study ( Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1992), 16. 2. M. Rafique Afzal, Political Parties in Pakistan (1947-1958) (Islamabad: National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research, 1976), vol 1. 87. 3. Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan, Emergence of Bangladesh and Role of Awami League (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1982), 22. 4. Afzal, 99. 5. Bhuiyan, 23. 6. Afzal, 95. 7. Ibid.,96. 8. Ibid.,99 9. Bhuiyan, 23. 10. Afzal, 97. 11. Ibid., 100. 12. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (Dacca: Oxford University Press, 1973), 38. 13. Feroz Ahmed, ―Alliances and the Break-up of Pakistan‖ Pakistan Forum 2, no. 7/8 (April -May, 1972): 10 14. W.Godfrey, Pakistan, Economic and Commercial Conditions in Pakistan (London: Tom Stacy, 1951), 65.

15. Y.V.Gankovsky, L.R.Gordon Polonskaya, A History of Pakistan (1947-1958) (Lahore: People‘s Publishing House, 1964), 149. 16. Ibid., 151. 17. Ibid., 152. 18. Muhammad Ghulam Kabir, Minority Politics in Bangladesh (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1980), 2. 19. Keith Callard, Pakistan: A Political Study ( New York: The Macmillan Co., 1957), 265. 20. Kabir, 14. 21. Ibid., 11. 22. Ibid.,23. 23. Ibid.,31. 24. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, The Great Tragedy ( Lahore: Pakistan People‘s Party Publication Press, 1971), 85.

1. Ziring, 12. 2. ibid. 3. Ibid., 13 4. Kabir, 35. 5. Shamsul Huq, East-Pakistan Awami Muslim Leugue Draft Manifesto, (Dacca: EPAL Press, 1955) 11. 6. Afzal, 123. 7. Ibid., 126. 8. Badruddin Umar, The Emergence of Bangladesh: Class Struggle in East Pakistan (1947-1958) (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 256. 9. Bhuiyan, 29. 10. M. Rashiduzzaman .‖The Awami League in the Political Development of Pakistan‖ Asian Survey, Vol. 10, No. 7. (Jul., 1970), pp. 574-587 11. Afzal, 128.


12. K.B. Sayeed, Pakistan : The formative Phase (Karachi Pakistan publishing House, 1960), 420. 13. J.K. Ray, Democracy and Nationalism on Trial: A Study of East Pakistan (Simla: Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, 1968), 112. 14. Kabir, 59. 15. Umar, 307. 16. Kabir, 60. 17. Ibid., 75 18. Talukder Maniruzzaman, The Politics of Development: The case of Pakistan (19471958) (Dacca: Green Book House, 1971), 258. 19. Ibid. 20. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, Six-Points-Our Demand for Survival (Dacca: East Pakistan Awami League Press, 1966), 1. 21. Jahan, 167. 22. Ibid., 180. 23. Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Islamic Pakistan: Illusion and Reality (Islamabad: Pakistan National Book Club, 1999), 56. 24. Khalid bin Sayeed, Politics in Pakistan, (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), 66. 25. Ibid., 71. CHAPTER 3 AWAMI LEAGUE AND DEMAND FOR REGIONAL AUTONOMY 1. Shamsul Huq, 13. 2. Umar, 188. 3. Ibid., 259. 4. Ibid., 334.. 5. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission of Inquiry into 1971 War As Declassified by the Government of Pakistan (Lahore; Vanguard Books (Pvt) Ltd., 2006), 47. 6. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,, East Pakistan Awami League Draft Manifesto (Dacca: EPAL Press, 1964), 5.

7. Khalib B. Sayeed, Political System of Pakistan (Boston: Houghton Miffin Company, 1967), 196. 8. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission of Inquiry, 48. 9. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, Six-Point, 3. 10. Bhuiyan,101. 11. Ibid., 103. 12. M. Rafique Afzal, Political Parties in Pakistan (1958-1969) (Islamabad: National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, 2000), vol I1, 173. 13. Ibid., 174. 14. Bhuiyan, 113. 15. Ibid., 115. 16. Ibid., 123. 17. Ibid., 127. 18. M. Rafique Afzal, Political Parties in Pakistan (1969-1971) (Islamabad: National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, 1998), vol 1II, 21. 19. Safdar Mahmood, Pakistan Divided (Lahore: Ferozsons Ltd.,1984), 89. 20. Ibid., 93. 21. Ibid., 102. 22. Ibid., 111

1. Wayne Wilcox, The Emergence of Bangladesh: Problems and Opportunities for

Redefined American Policy in South Asia (Washington, D.C.:American Enterprise Institute for Pubic Policy Research, 1973), 18.
2. Feroz Ahmed, ―The Second Cyclone‖ Pakistan Forum 1, no. 4. (April -May, 1971), 4. 3. Mahmood, 121. 4. Hamood ur Rehman Commission Report, trans. Ashfaq Ali Khan (Lahore: Dar ul Shaur,

2002), vol 2 , 201.
5. L. F. Rushbrook Williams, The East Pakistan Tragedy (London: Tom Stacy, 1971), 60.

6. Ibid., 61. 7. Ibid.,65. 8. Mahmood, 131. 9. L. F. Rushbrook Williams, The East Pakistan Tragedy (London: Tom Stacy, 1971), 66. 10. Ibid., 69. 11. Mahmood, 135. 12. Bhuiyan, 187. 13. Ibid., 191. 14. Wilcox,36. 15. Ibid.,46. 16. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission, 258. 17. Mahmood, 134. 18. Bhuiyan, 203. 19. Ibid., 204. 20. Ibid., 210 21. A.A.K. Niazi, The Betrayl of East Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998), 118. 22. Ibid., 120. 23. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission, 197. 24. Ibid., 184 25. Ibid., 259. 26. Ibid., 261. 27. Bhuiyan, 265.


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Gankovsky, Y.V., L.R.Gordon Polonskaya. A History of Pakistan (1947-1958). Lahore: People‘s Publishing House, 1964. Ghazali, Abdus Sattar. Islamic Pakistan: Illusion and Reality. Islamabad: Pakistan National Book Club, 1999. Godfrey,W. Pakistan, Economic and Commercial Conditions in Pakistan. London: Tom Stacy, 1951. Huq, Shamsul. East-Pakistan Awami Muslim Leugue Draft Manifesto. Dacca: EPAL Press, 1955. Jahan, Rounaq. Pakistan: Failure in National Integration. Dacca: Oxford University Press, 1973. Kabir, Muhammad Ghulam. Minority Politics in Bangladesh. Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1980. Mahmood, Safdar. Pakistan Divided. Lahore: Ferozsons Ltd.,1984. Maniruzzaman,Talukder. The Politics of Development: The case of Pakistan (1947-1958). Dacca: Green Book House, 1971. Niazi,A.A. The Betrayl of East Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998. Pakistan, Government of. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission of Inquiry into 1971 War As Declassified by the Government of Pakistan. Lahore; Vanguard Books (Pvt) Ltd., 2006. ---.Hamood ur Rehman Commission Report. Translated by Ashfaq Ali Khan. Vol 2. Lahore: Dar ul Sha‘ur, 2002.

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