The break-up of Pakistan in 1971

Nasir Khan, December 9, 2014

In 1971, under the orders of President Yahya the Pakistani army unleashed Operation Searchlight in East Pakistan. What the army was asked to do was to crush all opposition after political negotiations between Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to form the national government failed. In fact, it was Sheikh Mujib’s Awamy League that had won the majority of seats and its leader, Sheikh Mujib, was entitled to become the prime minister of Pakistan. But it did happen this way.

Some prominent politicians in West Pakistani didn’t want Sheikh Mujib to gain power or were unwilling to share power with him. This led to public protests in East Pakistan and opposition to West Pakistan’s domination. Soon the opposition became a rebellion that became a war of independence for the people of East Pakistan to overthrow the yoke of West Pakistan’s political and economic domination. After making enormous sacrifices and receiving military help from India to defeat the beleaguered Pakistani army, the Mukti Bahini, the volunteer liberation army, achieved independence. Bangladesh came into existence as a new sovereign state.

After the tragic destruction and suffering of the people in East Pakistan and the humiliating surrender of Pakistani army there, Mr Bhutto emerged as the most powerful leader in Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) while Shiekh Mujib became the iconic figure and ruler of Bangladesh.

In 1971, the two-winged Pakistan lost its one wing. Since then it has been flying on only one wing! If the high horizons set by its leaders and its mullahs remain undisturbed, it may soon reach some new universe.

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