Bangladesh: From a Nation to a State

By Craig Baxter | Go to book overview

7 A PROVINCE OF PAKISTAN

The people of East Bengal have achieved independence twice. The area became independent of Great Britain as a province of Pakistan on August 15, 1947, but to the majority of East Pakistanis this would not prove to be the independence they desired. For a number of reasons to be discussed in this chapter, East Pakistanis believed they had become colonials once again, this time to the Muslim state they had supported so strongly in the 1945-1946 elections. Their grievances led eventually to the dissolution of united Pakistan. Bangladesh became independent of Pakistan on December 16, 1971. It was often said, only partly tongue in cheek, that Pakistan was held together by a common belief in Islam, a mutual fear of Hindu India, and the flights of Pakistan International Airlines across the 1,000-mile stretch of India separating the two wings. It was not enough. Today both successors to united Pakistan are members of the Islamic Conference; each has major foreign policy concerns with India; and PIA files once again from Karachi to Dhaka, as does Bangladesh Biman.

In 1947 the new Pakistani province of East Bengal was ruled by the majority Muslim League. Suhrawardy had blotted his copybook with Jinnah by espousing the united Bengal scheme and paid the penalty by being dropped from the premiership (now designated chief ministership). As already noted, he was replaced by Nazimuddin, and the cabinet consisted largely of the Urdu-speaking, nationally oriented elite. Suhrawardy, although a member of both the Constituent Assembly and the provincial assembly, remained behind in Calcutta. He did join the Constituent Assembly and on March 6, 1948, gave his first speech, in which he pled for "justice and fair play for the minorities" of Pakistan.1 Suhrawardy delivered his speech when Hindus and Sikhs were still fleeing Pakistan. His plea was

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Bangladesh: From a Nation to a State
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • knowledgments xv
  • 1 - A Delta and its People 1
  • Notes 9
  • 2 - Hindus and Buddhists 11
  • Notes 16
  • 3 - Bengal Under Muslim Rule 17
  • Notes 26
  • 4 - Bengal Under the Company 27
  • 5 - Bengal Under The Raj 35
  • 6 - Toward Independence and Partition 49
  • Notes 58
  • 7 A Province of Pakistan 61
  • Notes 80
  • 8 - Democracy, Authoritarianism, Limited Democracy, 1972-1982 83
  • Notes 105
  • 9 - Military Rule and Democracy Restored, 1982-1996 107
  • Notes 130
  • 10 - Economic and Social Development 131
  • Notes 143
  • 11 - Bangladesh in the World System 145
  • Notes 158
  • 12 - Democracy or Authoritarianism? Development or Stagnation 159
  • Notes 161
  • Bibliographic Note 163
  • About the Book and Author 167
  • Index 169
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