Partition: the Creation of Pakistan (06:29)
This segment opens with a brief introduction of the long-standing divide between Bangladesh and Pakistan. Of the many people who took part in the Liberation War, the most celebrated is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a student leader who would come to be known as Banghabandhu, the Friend of Benghal. Violence between Hindus and Muslims marred the migrations to the new land of Pakistan for which Mujib and Muhammad Ali Jinnah had fought so hard.
Bengali Language Movement (06:25)
In 1948, Mohammed Ali Jinnah addressed the crowds gathered at the Ramna Race Course, declaring Urdu to be the one and only state language of Pakistan, but his decrees were met with fierce opposition by proponents of the Bengali language. Disillusioned with the growing oppression by West Pakistan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman launched the Bangla Language Movement following Jinnah’s death which would steadily gain traction until the acceptance of Bengali as a national language in 1956. Despite their success, the Bengali people were still severely limited in their ability to participate in politics due to West Pakistani racism.
Calls for Bengali Independence (06:04)
The West Pakistani government announced elections in response to growing protests led by Sheikh Majibur Rahman against the One Unit plan, but a 1958 coup by military chief Ayub Khan derailed these ambitions and ushered in an era of military dominance and oppression. Khan’s five-year plan revolutionized the economy of West Pakistan through the diversion of profits from jute exportation to the military and infrastructure. Before his arrest and subsequent rise to the status of national hero, Mujib toured East Pakistan, espousing his Six Point plan and calling for Bengali autonomy in light of abuses under Ayub Khan.
Growing Bengali Disenfranchisement (05:45)
Following Yahya Khan’s gaining the presidency from Ayub Khan in 1969 and with elections promised for the following year, Bengali nationalist Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Pakistan People’s Party leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto campaigned for the prime ministership. After a cyclone devastated East Pakistan, limited government relief and President Khan’s brief visit left Bengalis feeling deserted and led to an easy 1970 election for Mujib and the Awami League. Unwilling to accept their loss, President Khan and Bhutto’s representatives traveled to East Pakistan, using negotiations to distract the authorities from the advancing Pakistan Army.
War for Bangladeshi Independence (09:33)
A broadcast from Kalurghat radio station declaring Bangladeshi independence ushered in swift response by the Pakistan Army, with Abdullah Niazi—West Pakistan’s top general—sent to oversee things. Despite government attempts to control the media, journalist Anthony Mascarenhas documented the savagery of the military crackdown in his article, “Genocide,” generating an international outcry and providing Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with an opportunity to cripple Pakistan. With the army outnumbered and diversionary airstrikes and Jamaat-e-Islami allies failing to slow the Mukti Bahini freedom fighters and Indian Army, West Pakistan forces received orders to surrender on December 16, 1971.
Aftermath of the Liberation War (03:03)
Despite the signing of the of the instrument of surrender by Generals Aurora and Niazi and the joy of independence, many Bengalis still felt a sense of loss for the numerous dead. The Bangladesh Liberation War claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides and resulted in the capture of 93 thousand Pakistani troops and civilians as prisoners of war. One month after the surrender, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from prison and sworn in as prime minister, solidifying the rift between the two former Pakistani provinces and inspiring hope for the future of Bangladesh.
Mujib's Legacy (07:25)
Though Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sought out foreign aid to rebuild Bangladesh, his creation of a secular, one-party government culminated in his and his family’s assassination on August 15th, 1975, plunging the country into a series of coups until General Ziaur Rahman seized control. His establishment of an Islamic government and halting of war crimes tribunals set the stage for Mujib’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina, to win the 1996 election for prime minister. Reinstitution of her father’s policies resulted in violence as the Shahbag Movement called for the hanging of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for crimes during the Liberation War.
Stranded Pakistanis of Dakha (03:27)
India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh all refuse to accept the 500 thousand Urdu-speaking Bihari people currently living in Bangladesh as citizens. Stuck in the squalid conditions of Camp Geneva, these "non-Bengalis" cannot gain visas or hold government positions, leading many to feel betrayed by Pakistan, the country they left their homes in India to serve. The dream of a South Asian Muslim state was first tested in 1947 and has continued to smolder as battles between secular and Islamic forces in Bangladesh continue.
Rise and Fall of Mujib: Credits (00:29)
Rise and Fall of Mujib: Credits
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