Updated: May 28
0n Dec 16, 1971, a new state was born; it got independence not from any colonial state, but from a country with whom it shared the same religious (although not cultural) dynamics. The state was Bangladesh, which once saw the same vision as the state from which it was carved out. That event marks a very tragic blow in the history of Pakistan because not only a huge territorial mass was lost but also more than half of the population rescinded to stay. However, it is a fact of history; just as a Human evolves, the political map of the globe also changes itself.
This article contains comprehensive historical facts that one after one propelled Pakistan towards disintegration. When Pakistan came into being, it was unjustified colonial demarcation that they bestowed on the Muslims of the sub-continent – where a country was divided by a 1600 km gap, fulfilled by a foe-like nation – who always remained in search to weaken and destabilize its neighbor.
Nevertheless, the vision of the founders was clear that the two parts of the same motherland would set their paths in line with each other. However, it did not happen as conceived; just soon after independence from colonials, a severe ideological war had been started. Where, on the one hand, Bengalis were asked to formulate a constitution not specific to any particular religious’ supremacy, on the other hand, the west Pakistan side was forced to build the foundation of a newly born state on Islam. However, the objective resolution was passed, where Pakistan’s permanent trajectory was drawn as west Pakistan’s leader sought.
The other discontents emerged when the language issue was highlighted. Bengalis, undoubtedly, were in majority, but Quaid-e-Azam’s wish was to formulize Urdu as a stand-alone national language. However, time passed, and some positive development was seen in terms of the constitution; when in 1956, Pakistan got its first constitution, and the status of “Dominion State” is over. Moreover, the one-unit plan was sought as the panacea to all growing political problems. The state was constitutionalized into two wings: where all the diverse provinces of west Pakistan merged into a single unit and East Pakistan into another. In the same year “1956,” Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a prominent influential figure, founded a party named “Awami Muslim League.” Notably, those periods on 1950s were subjected to political turmoil because the leaders such as: Abdul Jabbar Khan and G.M Syed, openly opposed the one-unit solution, claimed that the voices of smaller provinces will be overshadowed by Punjab – under one unit-solution.
On one side, there was severe political turmoil, and, on the other hand, Iskandar Mirza enacts history’s first and only Bureaucratic Martial Law in 1958. Another parallel tragedy happens when Abdul Jabbar Khan had been assassinated. Amidst the ongoing political rifts, Bouts see the vacuum to fill the political designations. Therefore, in 1958, General Ayub Khan took the regime; and thus military comes into action to wipe out all problems.
Pakistan in the 1950s was going through a legion of challenges. Among them, the most important was the emergence of the separatist movement. For example, Abdul Jabbar Khan, G.M Syed, and Khans of Kalat were showing tendencies to follow the secessionist path. Therefore, according to my analysis, due to the fact of Pakistan’s extremely complicated and diverse demography, it was evident that any particular group can raise separationist voices if deprived. Therefore, the Bengalis' slogans of separation were not astonishing.
The genesis of two leaders: one under political shelter and the other under military:
A young statesman “Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto” becomes the youngest minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet. He proved himself effective when dealing with the strategic problems of the country. For instance, he had figured out the massive energy resource holding capacity of Pakistan. Therefore, in 1961, he, successfully, negotiated a treaty with the Soviet Union to exploit unearthed oil and gas reserves. Later, he was designated a very important credential Foreign Ministry.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party unleashed its efforts to remove the authoritarian regime of Ayub Khan. The sister of Quaid-e-Azam was most prominent among all – when during the election of 1965, she became the most detrimental threat to Ayub’s presidency. Although she lost the elections due to maneuvering of bouts, she left a breed of charismatic political leadership. Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rahman was among them, who overwhelmingly supported Fatima Ali Jinnah for her efforts against Ayub.
Bhutto, who remained firmly attached to Ayub Khan, also turned against Ayub Khan. The reasons were many, but according to me, the proximity of Bhutto to the Soviets and Ayub’s romance with the west, perhaps, could be the one of the following. Therefore, he resigned from Ayub’s cabinet, and Bhutto formed his political party named “Pakistan People’s Party” in 1967. Ayub had realized that now his regime could not have sustained further, and it is prudent to transfer the power to civilian leadership. Consequently, Ayub resigns and makes Yahya Khan his successor as commander-in-chief.
Pakistan’s first general election (1970):
The first general election of Pakistan wasn’t just controversial, but also proved the most painful election of history; because a part of Pakistan was separated due to it. The political contenders of this election were Bhutto and Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman. Both had splendid rhetoric and charismatic personalities. Bhutto raised the slogan of Roti, Kapra, and Makan while Mujeeb ur Rehman prevailed on the perspective of constitutional and administrative clarity within the polity of Pakistan.
However, the election, which was supposed to be a streamliner in the political vacuum of Pakistan, created a deadlock in politics. Especially, Bhutto wasn’t happy with the election results because he only got a 20 percent majority nationwide including in East and West Pakistan. On the other hand, Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman succeeded with an overwhelming majority by gaining 38 percent of the votes. In the midst of the political deadlock, General Yahya, who was in favor of Bhutto, tried to ease the tensions. On the other hand, Mujeeb ur Rehman unequivocally remained strict with his demands.
Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman six points:
Mujeeb wanted a concrete parliamentary representative system because, after the fall of the founder’s regime, the authority remained in the hand of authoritarians. Moreover, He stressed limiting the control of federation to foreign policy and military; others must be the subjects of elected representatives. Both federating units would have their domestic legislation-making processes such as fiscal policy and economics. Furthermore, a different exchange rate system would be introduced, so that each unit can have a separate treasury bank to control economic functioning. The last demand was very astonishing because Mujeeb demanded to allow both units to have their paramilitary commandos and militias to protect the sovereignty of the people from each other.
However, Bhutto delayed to respond Mujeeb ur Rehman’s demands, and in this way, the wrath from East Pakistan started turning into separatist movements such as Mukti Bahini. In that scenario, General Yahya Khan called “All Parties Conferences,” in which all political forces of the country participated, but Yahya excluded Awami League from that meeting. Therefore, the sense of being alienated was further grown among Bengalis Leaderships. When Mujeeb ur Rehman became uncontrolled, Yahya accused Rehman in charge of treason. Later, Operation Search Light was unleashed by Yahya against Mukhti Bahini, where thousands of Bengali people were killed and murdered.
Afterward, the War of 1971 was the last blow when after the Indian intervention, on 16 Dec, Pakistan was disintegrated, and a new nation-state was born named “Bangladesh.”