1971 Bangladesh split or debacle should not have happened as Bengal was original Pakistan. Before the 1971 war, Bangladesh was firmly Pakistan.
Bengali freedom-from-colonists leaders were the first to accept the idea of a nation of Islam.
Going back a little further, a lot of influential Bangladeshi leaders were either Hindus themselves or 1st generation Muslim converts [Murshid Kuli Khan (1717-27), Rabrinder Nath Tagore, Ram Mohan Roy] –— they weren’t firmly into the ‘Muslim nation’ card — this influenced their society.
Bengali Muslim strain is a more mystical & syncretic mix of Hinduism and Islam. Some followers revered Hindu deities as pirs’ even after conversion to Islam.
The Eastwards spread of Islamic cultural influence suffered a setback in the waning empires of Baghdad & Spain, by the time it firmly arrived in Bengal in late 1300. Also, there was no long-term Muslim ruler like Aurangzeb to force puritanical Islam on converts in the Bengal region, mostly because it was inaccessible over land after the monsoon season.
Mr. Jinnah got conditional support for a separate Muslim state in the elections of 1946 mostly because of Hindu population’s selfish opposition to the East-West Bengal divide in 1911.
Bangladesh had a significant Hindu population (15%) in 1947, mystical culture, and rampant poverty that needed significant political autonomy to correct. This autonomy never came after General Ayub Khan’s coup that lasted, more or less, up to the Bengali’s separation.
To add to the injury, the ‘one unit ’1962 constitution and assemblies of Gen Ayub granted representation to the western unit districts, but not the eastern one — thereby taking powers away from the Bengalis and making them poorer
Bengal was 1500 km from the one-unit mainland of West, separated by an inimical state, it was impossible to be governed from there.
The 1971 Bangladesh debacle was followed by the Pakistani blunder of squeezing out Pakistan’s global influence by:
- Aligning firmly behind the USA (U-2 flights), against USSR; USSR actively tutored India on how to disturb and carve out territory.
- The bungled attempt at snatching Kashmir from regional giant India in 1965, by using the resources meant to be distributed evenly in the two units. Kashmir needed political support of Bengalis — that was never sought.
- Not getting written assurances from the USA to actively help shield from the blowback.
Then importing Muslim bureaucracy from India that wasn’t totally loyal to the cause of democracy and giving power to the people
When Gen Ayub felt the heat of his follies from his former masters and the giants he has roused in the neighborhood, he hurriedly handed power to another General Yahya Khan, instead of complete civilian control for them to iron out differences.
General Yahya, an elitist himself, couldn’t have reconciled the insurmountable grievances of the East that included the Urdu issue, cyclone rehabilitation, autonomy and amicable distribution of resources for the nationalist Bengali.
Mrs. Indra Gandhi, a shrewd leader, surgically engineered a new nation by political militancy, sabotage, international support, military swiftness, and post-war legitimization.
Operation searchlight, to suppress the insurgency, which is at best a last-ditch effort to hang on to the eastern flank, resulted in 60,000-200,000 (citing BBC, Hamood Commission) dead in the new country — and made a complete fool of the idea of Pakistan.
Had the 1971 Bangladesh debacle not happened, East Pakistan could’ve easily have become a lost dominion with the west wing through political negotiations under the constitution— an option made impossible by decades of suppression of dissent.
Even now, Bangladesh teaches their children to hate for Pakistan, in their textbooks, thanks to our not-so-friendly neighbor.
So, the takeaway from this 1971 Bangladesh debacle is not to align with any Giant in the world completely; not to mess with regional bullies, and to devolve power through the constitution to people.
My final question is for the Bangladeshi nationals: Was it worth engineering a breakaway from the greater ideal of Pakistan, using India, if India diplomats decide poll results, your constitution, your waters, and base diplomatic support to you on how anti-Pakistan you are? Then they are kicking out Muslim Bengalis from Indian Bengal, sending junk as export to you, suppressing dissent through your paramilitaries? Are you really free Bengalis?
Disclaimer: This is my research; if you have any evidence to negate this, please do comment below.
I am collecting 1971 India Pakistan war photos and war maps and will be pasting some soon. In 1971 Pakistan’s population was 59 million and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) was 65 million, with 8% Hindus. The 1971 Bangla movie is propaganda for a country trying to justify its sins of treachery, otherwise, there was no genocide or mass slaughter — only atrocities on both sides. As war is meant to achieve political aims, India was the winner of the 1971 war, but lost in the long term, by the instability it brought to the region. For all those sizing di*ks between Bangladesh Vs Pakistan economy, it is immaterial as long as Bangladesh lives under the shadow of India.
For more related links you can go to these links