History of Bangladesh

By | April 28, 2022

The independence of British India in August 1947 was accompanied by its division along religious lines into two independent states—the Indian Union and Pakistan. The northwestern and northeastern regions inhabited by Muslims were ceded to Pakistan. The latter constituted the province of East Bengal (since 1955, East Pakistan). She occupied an unequal economic and political position in the state (although more than 1/2 of the population of the entire country lived in it). The growth of Bengali nationalism was facilitated by an attempt by the central authorities to make Urdu the only state language of the country, which was practically not spoken in East Pakistan. It took years of heated discussions and bloody clashes so that in 1954 the Bengali language was recognized along with Urdu as the official language of Pakistan.

According to historyaah, the dissatisfaction of the population of East Pakistan with their financial situation, political discrimination caused a movement for the expansion of provincial rights, and then the creation of their own state. The movement was headed by the Avamilig (People’s League) party, founded in 1949. In 1966, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a prominent state political figure and a supporter of the province’s broad rights, became its leader. The situation escalated sharply after the general elections in December 1970, in which the Awami League won. The military regime of General A.M. Yahya Khana refused to redistribute power in accordance with the will of the people and tried to solve the problem by military means. The army attacked the Awami League (whose activities were banned) and other national democratic organizations. Mujibur Rahman and some of his associates were thrown into prison. All over the province there were clashes between troops and rebel groups (“mukti bahini”). The mass of refugees rushed to India. In response to the repressions of the Pakistani military authorities, on March 26, 1971, the independence of a new state, Bangladesh, was proclaimed. The actions of the Mukti Bahini detachments with Indian military assistance led to the complete surrender of the Pakistani troops on December 16, 1971. On January 10, 1972, Mujibur Rahman returned to Bangladesh. On November 4, 1972, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution, which entered into force on December 16, 1972. Mujibur Rahman headed the country’s government.

The young state inherited a difficult legacy, born of several centuries of colonial enslavement, decades of unequal status in Pakistan, as well as devastating military operations on the territory of the country. The situation was complicated by the worsening global economic situation, as well as huge natural disasters. Carrying out positive socio-economic measures, the leadership of Bangladesh relied more and more on administrative and political measures. In December 1974, a state of emergency was introduced in the country. In January 1975, the parliamentary form of government was replaced by a presidential one. Mujibur Rahman took over as head of state, concentrating all power in his hands. In February 1975 he dissolved all parties and on the basis of the “Awami League” he created a single party – the “Peasant-Workers’ People’s League of Bangladesh” (BAKSAL). However, such measures did not give ordinary people anything, they only gave rise to a feeling of discontent in them. In this situation, on August 15, 1975, a coup took place in the country, carried out by a group of military men. Mujibur Rahman and many members of his family were killed. Martial law was introduced in the country. In the military administration, the role of the chief of staff of the army (commander of the Ground Forces), General Ziaur Rahman, was significant. In November 1976 he became the head of the military administration, and in April 1977 – the president of the country.  Right-wing religious forces have strengthened in the new situation. The principle of “absolute loyalty to Islam” was proclaimed. In 1988 Islam was declared the state religion. See ehistorylib for more about Bangladesh history.

The military were in power until the end. 1990. During this time, the country has not achieved any impressive economic achievements. The economic possibilities of the military bureaucracy of Bangladesh turned out to be very low. In addition, the military leaders paid the main attention to political problems, issues of strengthening their position, and the fight against rivals. And the Bangladeshi army itself did not provide a solid basis for its leaders. Civil strife, bloody showdowns, military clashes, conspiracies, and putsch attempts often took place in the army. During one such attempt in Chittagong on May 30, 1981, General Ziaur Rahman was killed. The head of the military administration was the chief of staff of the army, General Kh.M. Ershad. In December 1983, he assumed the powers of the President. On October 15, 1986, the general was elected president for a term of 5 years.

During the period of military rule, the political situation in the country was unstable. Weak, insecure military leaders constantly shuffled the “political deck”: introduced and lifted a state of emergency, dissolved representative bodies and re-elected them, banned political parties, then allowed them and created various party blocs and coalitions, constantly amended the Constitution. This situation seriously complicated the internal political situation of the country, it had a negative impact on the development of its economy and foreign policy.

All this caused dissatisfaction among the broad masses of the population, opposition to the regime, and a broad movement for the restoration of civil democratic forms of government. Mass anti-government demonstrations, the “siege of Dhaka” followed constantly. In the midst of the crisis, H.M. Ershad did not receive support from the army leadership and on December 6, 1990, he resigned, and then was imprisoned on charges of corruption.

In the subsequent period, the mainspring of the internal political struggle was the rivalry between two large centrist parties – the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Awamilig. The first was created in 1978 by Ziaur Rahman; after the assassination of the president, his widow Khaleda Zia Rahman took over the party. Since 1981, Hasina Vazed, the daughter of Mujibur Rahman, has become the head of Avamilig.

The BNP won the parliamentary elections on February 27, 1991. Khaleda Rahman became the first prime minister since the end of military rule in the country. The BNP also won the next election on February 15, 1996. However, Awami League organized a powerful anti-government campaign, accusing the BNP of numerous election violations. The opposition managed to secure early elections in June 1996, which were won by Avamilig; Hasina Wazed headed the government of the country. However, in the next elections in October 2001, the BNP won the majority, Khaleda Rahman again became the country’s prime minister, heading a coalition government in alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami and the United Islamic Front.

During the period of civil rule, to a certain extent, the economic and political situation in Bangladesh stabilized. The country managed to achieve self-sufficiency of the population with food, poverty decreased somewhat, and literacy increased. Foreign investment has grown. Despite the sharp struggle of rival parties, the political process as a whole did not go beyond the constitutional framework. Bangladesh has signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a number of treaties on conventional weapons, disarmament and human rights.

The internal situation is complicated by the growth of criminal offenses and the strengthening of Islamic extremism. The latter circumstance negatively affects relations with India.

History of Bangladesh