The Liberation of Bangladesh (1971) | GCE O Level Notes

Why did Bangladesh separate from Pakistan? If it is what made you come here, then be confident that you are in the right place.

It is much better to talk about Bangladesh separation from Pakistan in view of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan). 

It is because, after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, Pakistan was a nation that comprised of two wings, the East and the West as mentioned above.

It was later that after the liberation of Bangladesh, it was no more called East Pakistan

Before getting into the reasons for the liberation of Bangladesh, let’s start from the very beginning”

The Liberation of Bangladesh (1971) | GCE O Level Notes
Bangladesh on World Map

What is Bangladesh?

It is a densely populated country in South Asia that before separation from Pakistan was said to be its eastern wing. It was named the People’s Republic Of Bangladesh because the name refers to the ‘People Of Bengal‘ or the ‘Country Of Bengal’. 

Bangladesh is the worlds 8th most populous country in the world because of its massive population of 163 million!

Moreover, Bangladesh is a country whose national language is Bengali and has an interesting past if viewed objectively.

Brief History Of Bangladesh 1947 onwards: 

Khawaja Nizamuddin (Governor General Of Pakistan, 1948) and Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy (Prime Minister Of Pakistan, 1956) were the few personalities from West Pakistan that worked tirelessly for the well-being of Bangladesh. However, problems between the two wings of Pakistan gradually grew. Among these, a few are:

  • East Pakistan wanted Bengali to be the national language while those of West accepted Jinnah’s view of Urdu as the official language.
  • East Pakistan wanted a greater number of seats in the national assembly on the basis of its 10% higher population but West Pakistan granted equal seats to them.
  • East Pakistan’s demand for provincial autonomy was neglected.
  • East Pakistan was given less importance in terms of that its export earnings were used in the development of the West. Therefore differences arose. 
Now let’s come to the main subject on the reasons Bangladesh was created:

Reasons For The Creation Of Bangladesh:
  • The economic problems were a major reason. There were very few industries in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and thus Bangladesh had a very weak industrial base. Moreover, this industrial base was furthered damaged by natural calamities such as floods and cyclones and problems started arising. 
The people of Bangladesh were aggrieved when they found that every West Pakistani was 10% richer than an East Pakistani.
Bangladesh was one of the largest exporters of jute all around the world, still, it was underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure. This was all export earnings of East Pakistan were used on the development of the West.
Due to all these, a strong sense of separatism among East Pakistanis grew.  
  • There were certain political factors as well. Bangladesh had a higher population as compared to West Pakistan. Therefore it demanded a higher number of seats than the West. When this demand was turned down by the West, people of East Pakistan were enraged
Moreover, there were very few political figures from the East and the majority came from the West. This along with the denial of Bengali as the official language further escalated the problems.  

  • Furthermore, the 1970 elections is also a significant reason for the creation of Bangladesh. Awami League was a political party of East Pakistan under Mujeeb Ul Rehman. The Awami League’s victory caused a massive constitutional crisis.
It was because even though the Awami League won the elections, still the leaders of the West did not allow Sheikh Mujeeb to form a government. Instead, he was arrested an operation searchlight was started in East Pakistan by General Yahya Khan. It was an operation that aimed at crushing Bengali separatist ideas. 
Meanwhile, Mukhti Bahni was formed. It was a group formed to liberate East Pakistan from the West and was constantly funded by the Indian government.
All these factors merged, and thus, Bangladesh was created. 
  • Lastly, the misgovernance in Bangladesh was also a reason. East Pakistan was constantly damaged by floods and cyclones. However, the Pakistani government failed to provide timely relief facilities to the residents. However, the Indian government did so. All these created a sense of separatism and thus the final nail the coffin was drawn, East Pakistan announced it to the Republic Of Bangladesh. 
The Liberation of Bangladesh (1971) | GCE O Level Notes
South Asia Map
These are some of the reasons behind the liberation of Bangladesh. Now let’s take a look at some important information that has been discussed earlier but lacks detail. 

What was Mukhti Bahni? 
It was a separatist militant body that was created in the early 1970s. Without a doubt, the role of Mukhti Bahni in the creation of Bangladesh is the most important. It was a body that was constantly funded by the Indian government with arms and ammunitions.
Another reason is that support in terms of motivation and relief during floods and cyclones was also given. The troops forming the Mukhti Bahni were trained by Indians. In this way, it became a body that made it inevitable for the Pakistani government to stop the crisis in Pakistan.
What was ‘Operation Searchlight’?
It was a military operation started by the Cheif of army staff, General Yahya Khan. It was started to crush Bengali nationalism to halt the ideas of separatism. 
Moreover, restrictions on media and newspaper were imposed and massive killing was also seen.
Meanwhile, the Indo-Pak war also broke out in 1971, the defeat in that can be considered as the final nail in the coffin in the liberation of Bangladesh.

Brief Detail on Indo-Pak War, 1971:

India announced the second Indo-Pak war in 1971 when the tensions in Bangladesh were on a height. Pakistan had lost its support from its eastern wing. This is because Bangladesh rejected to support Pakistan in the war. President, General Yahya Khan quickly dispatched troops to East Pakistan but India did not allow Pakistans aircraft to pass through India.

The result was a horrible defeat of Pakistan and 93,000 Pakistani troops were taken as prisoners by India. Shortly afterwards, Bangladesh was liberated!

The Liberation of Bangladesh (1971) | GCE O Level Notes
Bangladesh Flag.


With this, almost the entire topic of the liberation of Bangladesh is covered. We tried to our utmost to provide you with a well-investigated and factual article.

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Respected reader, if you want any guidance regarding the topic, feel free to contact us. You can have access to more interesting articles below:

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