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East Pakistan ( Purbo Pakistan, Mashriqī Pākistān) was a former province of Pakistan which existed between 1947 and 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengalmarker Province based on a plebiscite in what was then British India in 1947. Eastern Bengal chose to join the Dominion of Pakistan and became a province of Pakistan by the name East Bengal. East Bengal, also comprised East Pakistan in 1956 and later became the independent country of Bangladeshmarker after the bloody Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, which took place after General Elections of 1970. Large sections of East Pakistan's people felt that they were colonised and suppressed by the West Pakistanis .


British India was partitioned in 1947, into the independent states of Pakistan and Indiamarker. The Province of Bengal was split between them. The western part of the province became the West Bengalmarker state of India and the eastern part became the East Bengal province of the Dominion of Pakistan, with an overwhelming Muslim majority and a large Hindu minority and much smaller minorities of Buddhists, Animists, and Christians. East Bengal formed one of the five provinces of unified Pakistan. The other four Pakistani provinces (West Punjabmarker, Sindhmarker, Baluchistanmarker, and the North-West Frontier Provincemarker) were positioned on the other side of India, forming West Pakistan.

After independence from British rule, East Bengal was neglected by the central government based in the Western wing, which was at times under military or martial law. A major cause of resentment among the Bengalis was economic exploitation. For example, between 1948 and 1960, East Pakistan's export earnings had been 70% of national total, while it only received 25% of the earnings. Between 1950 and 1970, only 34% of the development expenditure was spent in East Bengal despite having more than half the population. Growing tensions led to the One Unit Policy, implemented in 1955, which abolished the provinces. Under this policy, West Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, and the Northwest Frontier were merged under the nominal designation of West Pakistan and East Bengal became East Pakistan.

Tensions peaked in 1971, following the cancellation by Pakistani President Yahya Khan of election results that gave the Awami League a majority in the parliament. The Awami League won almost all the seats in East Pakistan, but none in West Pakistan. East Pakistan had more than half the parliamentary seats because it was home to more than half the population. Although the Awami League was in a position to form a government without any coalition partner, it was forced to start negotiations with the Pakistan Peoples Party which had won most of the seats in West Pakistan. The negotiations failed and a 'military government' cancelled the results of the elections in East Pakistan. Under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh began its struggle for independence. The official onset followed a harsh repression carried out by the Pakistan army on Bengali civilians on 25 March 1971. The Bangladeshi government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman claimed that an estimated 1-3 million Bengalis died during the war between March and December 1971, while the Pakistani sources maintained that the total number of people from East and West Pakistan who were killed was less than 100,000.

Independence of East Pakistan (Bangladesh)

The tension between East and West Pakistan reached a climax when in 1970 the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections in East Pakistan. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 300 seats in the National Assembly. This gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government. However, Yahya Khan, the leader of the Pakistan, refused to allow Rahman to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This increased agitation for greater autonomy in the East.

On 26 March 1971, the day after the military crackdown on civilians in East Pakistan, Sk. Mujibur Rahman declared the independence of Bangladesh just after midnight of March 25, 1971 before he was arrested by Pakistan army. All major Awami League leaders including elected leaders of national Assembly and Provincial Assembly fled to neighboring India and an exile government was formed headed by Sk. Mujibur Rahman. While he was in Pakistan Prison, Syed Nazrul Islam was the acting President with Tazuddin Ahmed as the Prime Minister. The exile government took oath on April 17, 1971 at Mujib Nagar, within East Pakistan territory of Kustia district and formally formed the government. Col (retd) MAG Osmani was appointed the commander in chief of liberation forces and whole East Pakistan was divided into eleven sectors headed by eleven sector commanders. All sector commanders were Bengali officers from Pakistan army. This started the Bangladesh Liberation War in which the freedom fighters, joined in December 1971 by 400,000 Indian soldiers, faced the Pakistani Army of 65,000 including the paramilitary forces. An additional approximately 25,000 ill-equipped civilian volunteers and police forces also sided with the Pakistan army. On 16 December 1971, the Pakistani Army surrendered to the joint liberation forces of Bangladesh freedom fighters and Indian army Headed by Lt. Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora. Air Vice Marshall AK Khondoker represented the Bangladesh freedom fighters. Pakistan General AAK Niazi signed the surrender letter. Bangladesh quickly gained recognition from most countries and with the signing of the Shimla Accord, most of the countries accepted the new state. Bangladesh joined the United Nations in 1974. Sk. Mujib returned to free Bangladesh on January 10, 1972. Upon his request, India withdrew all its army. 40 thousand Pakistan soldiers were transferred to India as prisoners of war as well as 45 thousand civilians.

Government of East Pakistan

On 14 October 1955, the last governor of East Bengal (Amiruddin Ahmad) became the first Governor of East Pakistan. At the same time the last Chief Minister of East Bengal became the first Chief Minister of East Pakistan. This system lasted until the military coup of 1958 when the post of Chief Minister was abolished in both East Pakistan and West Pakistan. From 1958 to 1971 the administration was largely in the hands of the President of Pakistan and the Governor of East Pakistan who at times held the title of Martial Law Administrator.

Tenure Governor of East Pakistan
14 October 1955 – March 1956 Amiruddin Ahmad
March 1956 – 13 April 1958 A. K. Fazlul Huq
13 April 1958 – 3 May 1958 Hamid Ali (acting)
3 May 1958 – 10 October 1958 Sultanuddin Ahmad
10 October 1958 – 11 April 1960 Zakir Husain
11 April 1960 – 11 May 1962 Lt Gen Azam Khan
11 May 1962 – 25 October 1962 Ghulam Faruque
25 October 1962 – 23 March 1969 Abdul Monem Khan
23 March 1969 – 25 March 1969 Mirza Nurul Huda
25 March 1969 – 23 August 1969 Maj Gen Muzaffaruddin (acting martial law administrator and governor as he was the GOC 14th Infantry Division)
23 August 1969 – 1 September 1969 Lt Gen Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (martial law administrator and governor)
1 September 1969 – 7 March 1971 Vice Admiral (R) Syed Mohammad Ahsan (governor)
7 March 1971 – April 1971 Lt Gen Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (martial law administrator and governor)
April 1971 – 31 August 1971 Lt Gen Tikka Khan (martial law administrator and governor)
31 August 1971 – 14 December 1971 Abdul Motaleb Malik (governor)
14 December 1971 – 16 December 1971 Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi (martial law administrator and governor)
16 December 1971 Province of East Pakistan dissolved

Tenure Chief Minister of East Pakistan Political Party
August 1955 – September 1956 Abu Hussain Sarkar Krishan Sramik Party
September 1956 – March 1958 Ata-ur-Rahman Khan Awami League
March 1958 Abu Hussain Sarkar Krishan Sramik Party
March 1958 – 18 June 1958 Ata-ur-Rahman Khan Awami League
18 June 1958 – 22 June 1958 Abu Hussain Sarkar Krishan Sramik Party
22 June 1958 – 25 August 1958 Governor's Rule
25 August 1958 – 7 October 1958 Ata-ur-Rahman Khan Awami League
7 October 1958 Post abolished
16 December 1971 Province of East Pakistan dissolved

See also


  1. War Statistics

External links

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