The formulation of the four principles in Bangladeshi constitution

In this article we will explain in detail, how the oppression and exploitation of Pakistan, and the struggles of Bangladesh against them, led to the formulation of the four principles in Bangladeshi constitution. 

The formulation of the four principles in Bangladeshi constitution


The 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh against Pakistan continues shaping the mindset of Bangladeshi people until present day. This bloodstained historical event has constructed Bangladeshi sense of nationalism and has forged their contemporary Constitution. The Bangladesh we see today is essentially the fruit of the liberation war of 1971. In order to understand ongoing Bangladeshi politics and the socio-economic sphere, it is required to analyse the history of Pakistani colonialism and the events surrounding the 1971 liberation war that turned Bangladesh into an independent sovereign State. This research paper provides a profound overview of these historical narratives and draws a comparison between present day Bangladesh and Pakistan.

• The Partition of the Indian Subcontinent and Creation of Pakistan

The liberation war of Bangladesh was not merely a war for independence fought by Bangladeshi nationalists one of its main triggers was religion. The Pakistani government wanted to turn Bangladeshis into exemplary Muslims by alienating them from their Hindu background. This concept of religious division was also used as a root cause for the creation of Pakistan in the first place following British colonialism of the

following British colonialism of the Subcontinent. Ironically, religion brought together Bangladesh and Pakistan as one State during the partition of the subcontinent and later the very same religion separated the two. Comprehending the development of the liberation war of Bangladesh involves a meticulous retrospective look into the events leading to the partition of the Indian subcontinent. Following the devastating effects of the Second World War, the British colonialists gave up their control over the Indian subcontinent and the 1947 partition outlined two independent nations - India and Pakistan.

• Lahore Resolution

The outcry for a Muslim state started long before the partition. The demand for a Muslim state by the Muslim leaders of British India was strongly expressed during 1940 through the Lahore Resolution, also known as the Pakistan Demand or Pakistan Resolution. The Pakistan Demand was born out of fear of Muslims becoming a minority in predominantly Hindu India. Muslim leaders were worried that in a Hindu-majority democratic State, Muslims would have a difficult time protecting their rights. During a three day long (March 22 - 24, 1940) annual session of the political group of British India called the All India Muslim League, the Lahore Resolution was crafted as a political demand to create a separate state for the Muslims of British India. It was a joint effort of the Muslim authorities from present day Pakistan and the Bengal state of British India. According to them, Muslims, on their own, were a distinct nation. Their philosophy regarding life was significantly different compared to that of Hindus. Even though the demand was based on religious differences, the Lahore Resolution did not imply a desire for an Islamic State. It suggested the creation of a self-determined Muslim region where they can exercise their rights without being subject to any racial or religious discrimination. The Lahore Resolution gained popularity among the Muslim majority of British India, especially in those provinces that perceived discrimination from Hindu leaders. Their social and political grievances found expression in the Lahore resolution. The phrasing of the latter did not mention Pakistan, however it was labelled as the Pakistan demand by the Hindu dominated media, which described it as a conspiracy aiming to divide the Indian subcontinent. Despite the fact that the text of the resolution mentioned the creation of "Independent States" instead of only one single State, leader of the Muslim League, Jinnah, diverged from this statement later on.

• The Partition

Migration During Partition of 1947 The dream of creating a separate Muslim state came into being when the partition of the subcontinent finally happened during 1947. Unfortunately, this partition was a tragic one. It led to the migration of millions of people. Muslims left India for Pakistan and Hindus left Pakistan for India. Massive communal violence took place during the process. Millions of lives were lost. Many became homeless, abandoning everything they had behind for their new homeland. Bangladesh, being Muslim a majority area was incorporated in Pakistan as East-Pakistan. Religious affinity was given priority over geographical distance and cultural and linguistic differences.

Discrimination and Exploitation by West-Pakistan

The Muslims of Bengal hoped that in the new Muslim state they would finally achieve a better standard of life. Given their past inferiority to Hindu landlords, Bengal Muslims were looking forward to the West-Pakistani government to ensure their fundamental rights. However, events did not unfold as the Bengali people had hoped. The West-Pakistani government proved even more discriminatory towards the people of East-Pakistan in all spheres of life - social, political and economic.

• Political Discrimination

The government's headquarters were established in the Western Wing. Besides, the political representation of the different ethnic groups was not equal in the Central Government. It was dominated by elite groups of West-Pakistan, mainly the Punjabis. Minority ethnic groups, such as the Bengali population, did not have significant representation in the government. Consequently, control over state owned organizations, governmental mechanisms and the armed forces were in the hands of the dominant ethnic group. During the years of 1947 - 1971, Pakistan experienced prolonged phases of military rule, which made it more difficult for ethnic minorities to gain access to political power. The Bengali population did not even have satisfactory political representation in their own province. Even for higher government posts such as "Governor-General," Bengalis considered good enough. 

Such positions were awarded to people from West-Pakistan or migrants from India who assumed Pakistani citizenship. At the initial stages of the government's creation, the West Pakistanis sought various mechanisms to avoid handing over power to East Bengal, which harboured the majority in terms of population size. The elites of West-Pakistan tried several ways to capture the control and succeeded in their attempts to dominate East Bengal through the central government in West Pakistan. However, the power struggle continued between different political parties and the Western elites were forced to accept the role of Bengalis in politics, through the process of creating and abandoning several drafts of the National Assembly, that gave Bengalis a satisfactory share of representation in the constitution of 1956. Before this could yield any positive outcome for the unification of the two wings of Pakistan, the country fell prey to military rule and previous assemblies were again dissolved.

• The Founding of Awami League

During the reign of the military General Ayub Khan, the Eastern Wing suffered immeasurable losses. Political parties were not allowed to participate in the 1962 elections and many politicians of East-Pakistan were prevented from propagating their ideologies. The Ayub Khan Government was exclusively in favour of the Western Wing and kept power highly concentrated there. East-Pakistan's discontent against the West-Pakistani Government exacerbated when security measures adopted to defend the Eastern Wing were neglected during the war between India and Pakistan in 1965. Following the fall of General Ayub Khan, the next General, Yahya Khan attained dominance over Pakistan. Yahya Khan promised to hold the first General Elections in Pakistan and eventually fulfilled his pledge in 1970. Yahya's hope to restore peace and mutual co operation among the Eastern and Western wing were soon banished. The results of the 1970 elections were fatal for the political elites of the Western Wing because Awami League, a dominant political party from the Eastern Wing, won the elections. They were able to secure 160 seats out of 300 seats despite failing to secure any seats in the Western Wing. Similarly, no political party from the Western Wing was able to obtain a seat in the Eastern Wing. The parties were only capable in mobilizing the population in their respective provinces. Based on the majority of votes secured by Awami League, for the first time in history, an East-Pakistani political group were to get access to power in Pakistan. Since this did not meet the interests of the Western Wing political elite, a conspiracy was hatched. Following the victory of Sheikh Mujib, leader of Awami League, and his demands for East Pakistan's development, General Yahya Khan declared that a meeting of the National Assembly will be held on the 3rd of March 1971. Dominant political leaders of the political parties in the Western Wing including Zulfiqar

Ali Bhutto of Pakistan's Peoples Party and other army officials convinced Yahya Khan to cancel the National Assembly, which was supposed to be held in Dhaka in March. The cancellation announcement came on the 1st of March 1971. Immediately after this notice civil unrest spread over East-Pakistan and mass demonstrations flooded the streets. Protests were held and calls for independence were chanted. The spark of the Liberation War of Bangladesh was ignited.

• Economic exploitation

The misery of East-Pakistan was not only due to the political hegemony of the Western Wing. Although political power was concentrated in West-Pakistan, in theory the authorities were capable of pacifying the people of East Pakistan if only economic claims were satisfied. East-Pakistan faced severe economic exploitation and the relation between the two wings was analogous to the ruthless economic abuse of the British colonial power over the subcontinent. Alike the British, the West Pakistani government profited from the Eastern Wing but did not invest adequately in its development. The number of East Pakistanis employed in the Western Wing, particularly in higher respectable positions was insignificant compared to that of West Pakistanis. Even though the population size of West-Pakistan was smaller compared to that of East-Pakistan after the partition, a major share of national budget (75%) was spent on West Pakistan, leaving a negligible portion for East Pakistan. The latter was financially deprived although it was responsible for the generation of 62% of the revenue income. Gross negligence towards the region was evident in the distribution of other resources as well. The Western Wing had 25 times higher military personnel compared to that of the Eastern Wing. The indifference of the West-Pakistan

• Demonstration in Support of Six Point

government towards the development of East Pakistan was visible through the per capita income of that period, which was 32% higher for West-Pakistan during the period of 1959-60 and 61% during 1969-1970. In response to the war of 1965 between Pakistan and India, during which East-Pakistan was left with meagre military defense, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman drew up the Six Point Demand (known as the Six Point Movement or Charter of Freedom) to express the demands for economic development for the East Wing. The focus of the Six Point Demand was on establishing Pakistan as a Federal State in order to consolidate the autonomy of the East Wing and its control over resources. Proving grounds of this pledge were the creation of two separate currencies for the two wings; independent foreign reserves; East Wing's self governance over its foreign exchange earnings and taxes from trade. Additionally, to raise and maintain a self-contained armed force in the Eastern Wing as they further demanded access to economic and military resources. The Six Point Demands gathered widespread support from the Eastern Wing but were rejected by the political power of the Western Wing.

The Six Points Movement is a significant turnover in the history of Bangladesh. Despite being initially rejected, it became a core component of the election campaign of Sheikh Mujib during the election of 1970. It embraced the Mujib's campaign on yielding equal access to economic opportunities for everyone.

• Social Exploitation

Since the very formation of Pakistan, the Western part branded the Eastern as inferior, because it considered the Muslims in the Eastern Wing subordinate due to their social and cultural affiliation with the Hindu population, which were powerful, rich and dominating in East-Pakistan before the partition of the subcontinent. As a result of the partition many influential Hindus left East Pakistan to join India. Nonetheless, the Hindu population still counted as one of the major ethnic groups present in the Eastern Wing. Historically, people from various religions had always co-existed peacefully in the East Wing, as they were naturally adopting practices and customs from one another, while tolerating everyone's traditions and beliefs. Even today, Muslim communities celebrate programs that hold a Hindu foundation and have barely no roots or relevance to Islam. The West-Pakistani government was critical about the intimacy between the Muslim and the Hindu population. Even though the Muslims of the East Wing supported the partition, they were not willing to give up their own culture or language for the sake of becoming a Pakistani as envisioned by the elite of West-Pakistan. The West Pakistani government remained insensitive to the cultural sentiments of the East-Pakistani people. The selection of a national Pakistani language became a contentious issue since the onset of its genesis. The West-Pakistan government did not pay any heed to the language that predominated in East-Pakistan, namely Bengali. The number of Bengali speakers were higher in comparison with the number of Urdu speakers. Urdu was the language of the elite, used only by 7% of Pakistanis. In contrast, Bengali was spoken by 56% of Pakistanis. The West-Pakistani leaders did not consider this factor while choosing an official language. While arguing that Bengali can still remain a primary language for everyday use of the people in the Eastern Province, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founding Father of Pakistan and the first Governor General, declared on the 24th of March 1948 during a conference in Dhaka University that Urdu will become the State language. This declaration triggered a great outrage among the people of the Eastern Wing that became to be known as the Bengali Language Movement.

Monument Created in honor of the language martyrs Denying Bengali its status of a State language and its intended extinction were unacceptable to the Bengali people. They realized that their mother tongue would not survive the aggression of the West-Pakistani government if this decision was not protested. At that time, the abolition of the Bengali language was already felt by means of how it was being corrupted. The West-Pakistani elites


Social, Economic and Political inferiority can never bring prosperity to a nation. Undoubtedly, Bangladesh has been substantially better off after its liberation from Pakistan. Developmental problems across all socio-economic and political sectors still exist. Nevertheless, a remarkable achievement is that Bangladesh has managed to acquire its sovereignty and independence, and therefore it has the power to resolve its problems without the domination or interference of a superior political authority, which was the case before the Liberation War. Bangladeshi people are able to proudly speak in Bengali, their mother tongue, without any fear of persecution and aggression. The Muslim population can mix freely with people from other religions without being judged and subjected to discrimination by being labelled inferior.

Pakistan started its journey as an independent and sovereign state in 1947, Bangladesh started its journey almost 24 years later, yet the latter has managed to outperform the former in the long run. Given the fact that the growth rate of the GDP of Bangladesh is currently higher than the Pakistani GDP, it could be projected that Bangladesh will continue outrunning Pakistan in regards with the various sustainable development indexes. However, regional cooperation is crucial However, regional cooperation is crucial for achieving peace and stability in the country; It is essential for South Asian countries, including Bangladesh and Pakistan, to improve and strengthen the bonds with their neighbours.

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