The British quit India after a reign of 200 years which resulted in the partition of 1947. The leader of All India Muslim League, Mohammed Ali Jinnah demanded a separate homeland for the Muslims apprehending unequal opportunities for his people. Contrary to his view, The Indian National Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi believed that India should remain as one and undivided. Months of tough negotiations were fought between Nehru, Jinnah, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. Throughout the country, communal violence kept spreading and the final decision to partition India was taken resulting in – The Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan, which consisted of half of the Punjab in the West, and half of Bengal in the East, areas with predominantly Muslim populations. Viceroy Mountbatten made a colossal mistake to keep secret, a design of boundaries by British Barrister Sir Cyril Radcliff until Independence of 1947 with no knowledge of ethnic and cultural backgrounds of people along the boundaries. Just after the independence, the strife and violence throughout the borders and the country reached epic proportions.

Oppression in East Pakistan

West Pakistan faced a huge population influx while the Bengalis in East Pakistan realised they are ruled by West Pakistani bureaucracy and all legislative and economic powers were in the hands of the West Pakistan. Faced with great economic exploitation by West Pakistan the Bengalis in East Pakistan were also oppressed by linguistic and cultural divisions.The announcement of Urdu as the sole national language by the Pakistani Government, an overburdening imposition on Bengalis in East Pakistan.

The Population Problem

The resettlement of refugees in Pakistan from 1947-1957 disrupted the administration and formation of a stable nation of West Pakistan. So far as the settlement of refugees in Pakistan was concerned, 97.4% of the refugees were from East Punjab and its contiguous areas went to West Punjab; 95.9% from Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa to the erstwhile East Pakistan; 95.5% from UP and Delhi to West Pakistan, mainly Karachi and Sind; 97.2% from Bhopal and Hyderabad to West Pakistan, mainly Karachi; and 98.9% from Bombay and Gujarat to West Pakistan, largely to Karachi; and 98.9% from Madras and Mysore went to West Pakistan, mainly Karachi. West Punjab received the largest number of refugees (73.1%), mainly from East Punjab and its contiguous areas.

A Weak Military Strength

The division of the British Indian Army occurred on June 30, 1947 in which Pakistan received six armored, eight artillery and eight infantry regiments compared to the forty armored, forty artillery and twenty one infantry regiments that went to India. Pakistan was forced to accept a smaller share of the armed forces as most of the military assets, such as weapons depots, military bases, etc., were located inside the new Union of India, while those that were in the new Dominion of Pakistan were mostly obsolete. By October 1947, Pakistan had raised four divisions in West Pakistan and one division in East Pakistan with an overall strength of ten infantry brigades and one armored brigade with thirteen tanks. Many brigades and battalions within these divisions were below half strength, but Pakistani personnel continued to arrive from all over India, the Middle East and North Africa and from South East Asia

Assassinations, Coups and Separatism

In the midst of this the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, died 13 months after independence. Then, 2 years later, his protege and the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated. From 1951 to 1957 Pakistan churned through 6 Prime Ministers until Iskander Mirza seized power in the 1958 Pakistani coup d’état. The Military maintained control until the disastrous 1970 elections that set in motion the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Liaquat Ali Khan still holds the record for longest serving Prime Minister of Pakistan 62 years after his death. In East Pakistan, the political turmoil rose in 1958 between the members of the Pakistan Muslim League and East Pakistan police. At the same time unruliness in the East Pakistan parliamentary elections and tension of Baloch separatism were imminent threats to The Government of Dominion of Pakistan.

The Bhola Cyclone

The 1970 Bhola cyclone already left people of East Pakistan devastated. About 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm and the delayed relief by the junta leader General Yahya Khan was criticized for its delayed handling of the relief operations by local political leaders and the international media. This increased the chances for a landslide victory of the Awami League in 1970 elections.

The Political Strife

Ayub Khan’s almost escaped an assassination and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arrested as the instigator after riots in East Pakistan following this incident. Ayub decided to not run for the presidential election of 1970 and anarchy spread throughout East Pakistan. The administration was handed over to General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan and the country was placed under martial law. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party lost to the The Awami League’s electoral victory with Mujib as the country’s prime minister, but the inaugural assembly never happened due to denial and resistance to give away the power to the people’s representative.