Pakistan: Bangladesh and Bhutto
Bangladesh and Bhutto
The Awami League, under Sheik Mujibur Rahman, in a campaign for full autonomy in East Pakistan, won an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly by taking 153 of the 163 seats allotted to East Pakistan. The opening session of the National Assembly, scheduled to meet in Dhaka in Mar., 1971, was twice postponed by Yahya Khan, who then canceled the election results, banned the Awami League, and imprisoned Sheik Mujib in West Pakistan on charges of treason. East Pakistan declared its independence as Bangladesh on Mar. 26, 1971, but was then placed under martial law and occupied by the Pakistani army, which was composed entirely of troops from West Pakistan. In the ensuing civil war, some 10 million refugees fled to India and hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. India supported Bangladesh and on Dec. 3, 1971, sent troops into East Pakistan. Following a two-week war between Pakistan and India, in which fighting also broke out along the India-West Pakistan border, Pakistani troops in East Pakistan surrendered (Dec. 16) and a cease-fire was declared on all fronts.
Following Pakistan's defeat, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister, came to power in West Pakistan. Sheik Mujib was released from prison and eventually allowed to return to Bangladesh. Relations with India remained strained over the issue of the more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers who had surrendered after the civil war and become prisoners of war, over Pakistan's refusal to recognize Bangladesh, and over Bangladesh's declared intention to bring to trial some Pakistani soldiers on war-crimes charges. A summit meeting held in Shimla, India, in July, 1972, resulted in an easing of tensions and an agreement to settle differences between the two nations peacefully.
Demarcation of the truce line in Kashmir was finally completed in Dec., 1972. In Aug., 1973, India and Pakistan reached an agreement on the release of Pakistani prisoners-of-war and the exchange of hostage populations in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—especially of the Bengalis in Pakistan and the Biharis in Bangladesh. Bhutto recognized Bangladesh in Feb., 1974, prior to the start of a world Islamic summit conference in Lahore. In the mid-1970s Bhutto's government faced increasing regional tensions among Pakistan's various ethnic groups. After Bhutto's 1977 election victory was challenged by the opposition, widespread riots ensued.
Sections in this article:
- Recent History
- Bangladesh and Bhutto
- The Ayub Khan Regime
- <named-content content-type="print">Independence and After</named-content><named-content content-type="electronic">Partition and Conflict</named-content>
- British Control and the Muslim League
- Early History
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