On 26 March, 1971 the independence of Bangladesh was declared and the Liberation War began. The people of then-East Pakistan took part in this war to liberate Bangladesh from the oppression of military leaders of Pakistan. Independence for Bangladesh was gained through a nine-month civil war against the Pakistani Army, which resulted in the loss of about 3 million lives. The Mukti Bahini (Bengali "freedom fighters"), with military support from India, defeated the Pakistani Army on 16 December in the same year, which is celebrated as Victory Day. Bangladesh and Pakistan
The creation of Pakistan contained the germs of discord between "West Pakistanis" and Bangalis. Initially, the population of East Bengal supported the creation of Pakistan, that is, the partition of the Indian subcontinent into two constituent parts following the withdrawal and departure of the British. The Bengali support for the creation of Pakistan was a result of the transformation of the Bangalis in British occupied India. During the British rule in the Indian subcontinent, the dominant section of the Muslim upper class had two components, the zamindars (landlords) and the ulema (clergy). A few words about these "landlords" is absolutely necessary. The British consolidated their rule in Bengal by instituting the zamindars. The zamindari and-holding system gave the land-owners the right to crop share and revenue collection from the cultivators in the land entitled to them by the British. In return these land-owners would provide an annual entitlement charge to the colonial authorities. The Muslim League represented these "men of property and influence." In order to counter the Indian Congress' support among the nationalist Muslim communities as well as serve as a counter-weight to Indian nationalism, the Muslim League advanced the notion of "two-nation theory."
The communal separatists devised the "two-nation theory." This "theory" claimed that the Muslims and the Hindus in the subcontinent constituted two different and irreconcilable nationalities. This "theory" did not explain how in spite of vast class, linguistic, ethnic, social, and cultural differences, Muslims in the subcontinent constituted one nation, other than that the Muslim constitute a unified nation on a basis of "divine sanction."
The idea of a distinct state for the Indian Muslims was first proposed by Muhammed Iqbal; his scheme, which did not include Bengal, was confined to setting up a separate state for Indian Muslims in the North-West of the subcontinent. The name Pakistan was coined by Chaudhuri Rahmat Ali along with a group of students in Cambridge. Pakistan was an acronym that stood for Punjab, Afgania (Pathan), Kashmir, Sind, and istan, which is Persian for country. Hence, Rahmat Ali's scheme too failed to include the "lesser breed" of Bangali Muslims.
The demand for Pakistan was originally dismissed as a naive scheme. It was initially viewed as nothing more than a bargaining tool for the leaders of the Indian Muslims. Despite the incorporation of the demand for Pakistan into its program, the Muslim League failed to mobilize grass-root Muslim support for itself. This fact is reflected in the Muslim League inability to attain a majority among Indian Muslims prior to the election of 1946.
In its struggle for independence from the British, the Indian National Congress had utilized the religious sentiment of Muslims towards the Turkish Sultanate under the Caliphate title. The Muslims supported Turkey which had entered the First World War on the German side against the British. The Indian nationalist leaders built up the Khalifat movement against the British. However, the Khalifat movement died its natural death when Kamal Atuatur, the reformist dictator, abolished the nominal position of Caliphate in 1924. The Indian Congress' strength among Indian Muslims never quite reached the level that it had during the Khalifat movement. Subsequently, the Muslim League gained...
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