East Pakistan

East Pakistan (Bengali: পূর্ব পাকিস্তান Purbo Pakistan; Urdu: مشرقی پاکستان‎ Mashriqī Pākistān) was a provincial state of Pakistan that existed in Bengal region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent from 1955 until 1971, following the One Unit programme which laid the existence of East Pakistan.

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

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

East Pakistan's culture was influenced by the Communism in neighbouring India. In 1954, the Communist Party had brutally defeated the Pakistan Muslim League and had major influence in poor mass of East Pakistan. East Pakistan initially allied with Soviet Union where the tendency of communism was far greater than the West. East Pakistan had an area of 147,570 km2 (56,977 mi2), bordering India on three sides (East, North, and West) and the Bay of Bengal to the South. East Pakistan was one of the largest provincial states of Pakistan, with the largest population, largest political representation, and sharing the largest economic share. A nine-month long war ended on 16 December 1971, when the Pakistan Armed Forces overran in Dhaka, ultimately signing the instrument of surrender which resulted the largest in number of prisoners of war since World War II. Finally on 16 December 1971, East Pakistan was officially disestablished and was succeeded as the independent state of Bangladesh.

Read more about East Pakistan:  Geographical History, Political History, Military, Governors, Chief Ministers, Memorials and Legacy

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