December 16, 1971 marks one of the darkest days in Pakistani history. Signifying an immense irony and tragedy that Pakistan was divided in Dhaka, the same Dhaka where the All-India Muslim League took its first steps towards Muslim freedom in 1906.
When Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947, India aggressively tried to sabotage the newly created state. The new homeland, which was free of the Hindu Raj, still had a lot of problems at its hands.
Pakistan had to build its administration from the ground up, officers were brought in especially from Delhi to build a basic administration. There was a dearth of infrastructure and makeshift offices had to be created under trees. Meanwhile, the Hindu leaders manipulated the Sikhs to wreak havoc upon poor Muslim families in Punjab. The streets of Punjab were full of Muslim blood and amputated limbs. About 600,000 Muslims were said to have be killed in 7 days!
The massive influx of refugees who reached Pakistan alive had to be rehabilitated, which was further entangled into multiple complications when India held against its promise. In a bid to further embarrass Pakistan financially, India treacherously only gave Rs.200 million instead of the Rs.750 million awarded to Pakistan. The division of military assets was also unfair and Pakistan had to accept the faulty weapons, because the new state was incapable of waging war against India.
Pakistan was a heterogeneous inception of different languages, when Quaid E Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared Urdu as the official language, it didn’t bode well with the Bengalis. This resulted in mass riots, and in a failed attempt to control the unrest the establishment of the time ended up firing on crowds. This planted the first seeds of Bengal’s stance on a separate nation.
East Bengal was impossible to access though land, on account on India being present in the middle which caused further issues. Bengal was deprived of supplies and development, due to the location supplies could only reach Bengal by sea and this caused further problems for the people of Bengal.
India has speculated that the newly created Pakistan would eventually not be able to cope with the lack of funds and infrastructure and join India. However, when it became apparent that Pakistan would not rejoin, India decided to wage “a war of a thousand cuts” and used propaganda to manipulate the suffering people of Bangladesh.
The sense of deprivation grew in Bengal as West Pakistan dominated the ruling class of early Pakistan, even though the literacy rate was far higher in Bengal. West Pakistan failed to understand the Bengali point of view. Any Bengali demand for funds for development was treated with contempt by the West Pakistani rulers. The services were also dominated by Punjabis through quotas. Top seats in the civil services exams always went to East Pakistan. Pakistan couldn’t tackle the strange phenomenon of being divided by a thousand miles of India.
Eventually, the lack of support from Pakistan due to the demographic and the suffering of Bengali people was enough to alienate the Bengalis from Pakistan. The poorly defended East Pakistan was eventually taken over by the Indian army dressed as civilians, who backed the Bengalis after they succumbed to their propaganda. East Bengal broke away from Pakistan, an event that came to be known as “The Fall of Dhaka”. Mujib Ur Rehman declared that Pakistan Day would be celebrated as Resistance Day in East Pakistan as hundreds of Bangladesh flags were raised in Dhaka.
When musing about Bangladesh, there is no doubt we learnt a lesson from the tragedy of East Pakistan. However, if we still treat issues provincial autonomy like Mujib’s Six points, we might have not learned after all.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The ACE News.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *