Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Wahiduddin Mahmud
Chapter 3: Bangladesh
Wahiduddin Mahmud Political and economic history The present political boundary of Bangladesh was drawn for the ﬁrst time in 1947 when it emerged as the eastern wing of Pakistan as a consequence of the independence and partitioning of British India. It consisted of the Muslim majority districts of the former province of Bengal and a part of the adjoining province of Assam. During the quartercentury of association with Pakistan, there was growing disparity in economic development and living standards between East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively). The people of East Pakistan felt economically deprived and politically dominated, and this led to the demand for greater regional autonomy of East Pakistan – a demand that gradually developed into a powerful movement and ultimately resulted in the war of independence of 1971. The independence war was preceded by the elections held in 1970, in which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League achieved an overwhelming mandate to negotiate full regional autonomy within a new constitution for Pakistan. Subsequently, the negotiations broke down and the military rulers of Pakistan resorted to a massive use of force against the civilian population to put down the uprising of the Bengalis. A guerrilla war was waged by the Bengali defectors from the Pakistan army along with new recruits, using bases in India. Towards the end of 1971, war broke out between India and Pakistan. The Indian armed forces, supported by the Bengali guerrillas, marched into Bangladesh, forcing the Pakistan army there to surrender. On 16 December,...
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