BANGLADESH HAS UNDERGONE a variety of regimes since it became independent in 1971. Amendments to the constitution of 1972 have changed the form of government from the original parliamentary system to a presidential system in 1975 and back to a parliamentary system in 1991. The goal of the newly independent state was to establish a socialist, democratic regime, but this goal proved short-lived as Mujibur Rahman became increasingly authoritarian and the experiment ended in a one- party, single-leader government under him. His assassination in 1975 brought a weak government for a brief period, followed by a military government that gradually liberalized the political system under Ziaur Rahman ("Zia"). In turn, Zia's assassination in 1981 was followed by a weak government and a further dose of military rule that was unable to transform itself into something resembling an open democratic system. The collapse of that government in 1990 was followed by free and fair elections and the return to a parliamentary system in 1991. The party of Ziaur Rahman, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), won the 1991 election, but the party of Mujibur Rahman ( Awami League) won the election of 1996. Table 15.1 presents a list of heads of government in Bangladesh along with their respective titles.
The surrender of the Pakistan army to the Indian army on December 16, 1971, was largely an Indian matter, but it led to the creation of Bangladesh as a state. Absent from the initial weeks of independence was Mujibur Rahman ("Mujib"), who was a prisoner of the Pakistanis. The surrender was accompanied by the fall of the regime of Yahya Khan in Pakistan. His successor, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, released Mujib and permitted him to return to Bangladesh via London and, at Mujib's choice, New Delhi. There the leader met with Indira Gandhi, whose ideas on the political, social,