East Pakistan was a non-conterminous province of Pakistan between 1955 and 1971. It was initially known as East Bengal. East Pakistan waged an armed struggle for independence in 1970 and declared independence on March 26, 1971, as the state of Bangladesh. It was officially recognized as a sovereign state on December 16, 1971, and it drafted its first constitution on November 4, 1972.
History of East Pakistan
East Pakistan was part of the Bengal region of India and was under the rule of the same empire who ruled over central India. The British Crown established the Raj Kingdom between 1858 and 1947, which also included East Pakistan. During the petition and independence of British India, the Muslim-dominated regions of Bengal and Punjab were separated from India and awarded to Pakistan for it was a Muslim state. After India gained independence in 1947, the Bengal region became a non-contagious province of Pakistan known as “East Pakistan” while India regained Punjab.
The region was in an odd position because it was separated from the rest of the country by a 1,000-mile stretch of Indian territory. It was also linguistically and ethnically different from Pakistan. The region suffered political and economic neglect from the rest of the country for 24 years, leading to political unrest and coups as the military constantly overthrew elected governments. Political leaders in the province began rallying for the separation and creation of an independent state. The separatist Awami League Party won all the parliamentary seats, in the 1970–71 elections, further fueling the calls for secession. Talks between West and East Pakistan failed to find an amicable solution prompting Sheikh Mujib Rahman of East Pakistan to declare independence on March 27th, 1971. West Pakistan sent the military to quell the secessionists, but India responded by sending its troops to support the secession of Bangladesh. In January 1972, Bangladesh declared itself an independent parliamentary democracy. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the first leader of the newly formed state until he was assassinated in 1975.
The secession of Bangladesh delivered a psychological setback and a humiliating defeat to Pakistan. State and military leaders were rebuked and defend for their inability to protect the sovereignty of the country. Protests and demonstrations erupted in the cities of Pakistan prompting General Yahya Khan to step down from office. Pakistan launched a project to develop the atomic bomb in 1972 as a defense mechanism to prevent further secession and encroachment of its territory. Thousands of Pakistani loyalists migrated to conterminous Pakistan and established a colony in Karachi. Despite independence, Bangladesh remains politically unstable as frequent coups continue to destabilize the government. Poverty is widespread although there is an improvement in public education and health.