Sinthia Hoque:-A country which was previously known as East Pakistan became its own nation on December, 16th, 1971 after a liberation war took place in March of 1971 and lasted for about nine months, ending with what we now know as Bangladesh.
The country now celebrates independence day every year on March 26th, with today marking the 50th. The day on which Sheikh Mujibur, now known as Bangladesh’s first leader had declared independence before the war had begun.
Though those living in East and West Pakistan were both Muslim, they had faced many hardships due to differences in cultures and language.
Despite Bengali’s being the vast majority in population of East Pakistan, they still feared living there as West Pakistan’s government got more controlling with time.
They felt they were being discriminated and not provided with resources and facilities, especially after the 1971 cyclone had hit East Pakistan, causing severe damage and 500, 000 people to lose their lives. Due to which the central government of Pakistan was accused of being slow to respond and leading to further resentment between both parts.
The real conflict had begun after an East Pakistani party, the Awami League won the elections, causing an argument between both political parties and the military over forming a new government, as many Bengali’s began to believe that West Pakistan is intentionally stopping it from happening.
Soon after a campaign was started by Sheikh Mujibur, leader of the Awami League which also involved breaking various laws just to prove their opposition and with supporters attacking even those who weren’t Bengali.
The battle entailed of thousands of soldiers flown in on March 25th to attack the Awami League, including those who were viewed as a threat. In addition to this, the Hindu community which made up about 20 per cent of the population were also attacked, many of whom were forced to convert to Islam.
The war which initially began and was within soldiers had later reach to ordinary people after the Pakistani army and an unofficial liberation Army called the Mukti had wanted complete independence of East Pakistan. This had caused ordinary people to be robbed, attacked, taken from their homes and even killed.
Due to which many Bengali’s decided to leave East Pakistan in the hopes of finding safety and travelled as refugees to West Bengal, located in India, causing Indian armed forces to get involved in the conflict, as they sided with Bangladeshi forces in the remaining two weeks if the war and eventually winning the battle.
According to independent researchers, the war had killed between 300, 000 and 500, 000 people.
The first parliamentary elections were held and won by the Awami League in 1973 and just two years after election, Sheikh Mujibur and his family were killed due to a military coup.
Though democracy had been restored in 1990, Bangladesh had spent 15 years under military rule.