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Birth of Bangladesh from India Pakistan rivalry

Sukhdev Singh

In 1971, Bangladesh emerged as a separate and independent country. The 50th birth anniversary of this country was celebrated in Dhaka on 26 March. Since the formation of Pakistan in 1947, it had been called the Eastern Province of Pakistan. The Indian army defeated the Pakistani army in a 15-day war and brought the eastern province of Pakistan into existence as a new, independent Bangladesh.

Undoubtedly, the structure of Pakistan was seen by Hindutva thinking as a fatal phenomenon for the dream of restoration of the “Unified Indian Empire”. Therefore, after winning the war against Pakistan in 1971, there was great joy in the country. Indira Gandhi was the heroine of that war.

Although Bangladesh might not have emerged as an independent country without the military intervention of India, the people of East Pakistan being upset with the people of Pakistan was a very internal phenomenon. In the subsequent Indian elections, the Congress party had a huge advantage.

Indira Gandhi used the rise of Bangladesh as a defeat for the “two-nation principal” of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and the promotion of Nehru’s so-called secularism. To this day, a large number of Indian scholars have blindly accepted this straightforward parable. I consider this thinking to be completely baseless and contrary to the facts.

What did/does Bangladesh mean to India? It is not possible to understand this without a thorough examination of West Pakistan’s relations with East Pakistan before 1971.

Mutual discord between the two parts of Pakistan did not arise overnight.

The root cause of internal discontent in the Eastern part was cultural. East and West Punjab had a religious bond but were not connected by the language. Imposing Urdu as the national language in East Pakistan became the first major cause of anger among the Bengalis. Interestingly, by imposing Hindi, India has been doing the same thing with Punjab, Kashmir, and Tamil Nadu.

The second reason was racial. The Bengalis were physically weak, short in height, and meeker in nature, while the Punjabis were physically strong and strict, and aggressive in nature. This division was often reflected in the joint forces.

The third major difference was the economy between the two sides. The Bengalis believed that a large portion of East Pakistan’s foreign exchange earnings were kept by the West and they did not get their full share.

The fourth and most important fact of the difference was political. In Pakistan’s general elections of December 1970, Mujibur Rehman’s Awami Party was to become the ruling party of the whole of Pakistan, by winning 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan alone.

West Pakistanis, led by General Yahya Khan, became upset that the next Prime Minister, Mujibur, will bring new, federal-style legislation to the country and, as per the thoughts of that time; Mujib will leave only the defense and foreign departments with the central government. The federal structure will be imposed on the country and East Pakistan will use all its resources.

In West Pakistan, such a possible arrangement was seen as a major attack on Pakistan’s concept. Keeping this in mind, the army began to crush the intellectual support section of Mujib in the universities in East Pakistan. This action led to counter-insurgency.

The fact that has not been allowed to emerge in the Indian media so far is that Indira and her supporters were disturbed at Mujib’s party’s original program to leave the colonial mentality of the West Pakistanis. They were scared that the same federalist disease can enter India. It was this Indian thinking that led the Awami League to move towards independence rather than federalism. Yahya’s military thinking complemented Indira Gandhi’s planning.

The seeds of this Bangladeshi idea sprouted the following year as the “Blue Star”. That is, maximum freedom for the regional powers of the enemy country and great suffering and a strict centralist structure for own country!

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