Historical, Political, Economic, Religious and Architectural Aspects
Edited By Thierry Di Costanzo and Guillaume Ducœur
The Long-Term Effects of Decolonization of the British Empire in South Asia: the 1971 Secession of Bangladesh and its International Consequences
In 1971 India and Pakistan fought their third war in less than thirty years. The history of hostile relations between the two countries is not sufficient to understand the genesis of the 1971 conflict, which was not fought, as the first two were, to rule over Kashmir. The key to comprehension lies rather in the domestic situation of Pakistan. This article demonstrates that the third Indo-Pakistani war originated from the actions of the authoritarian Pakistani governments that repeatedly negated and repressed regional identities and claims for decentralisation. The direct consequence of these policies was the eruption in East Pakistan of a civil war in 1971, which ended up involving India and triggering the third Indo-Pakistani war.
In the first section of the article the causes of the East Pakistan civil war are analysed to provide the tools for understanding the 1971 events. Cultural, sociological, political and economic disparities between East and West Pakistan were the bases for the regional political movement that emerged in East Pakistan. Some of these imbalances, like the territorial conformity of Pakistan, the sociological dominance of the Punjabi ethnic group in the military and civilian administration, the vice-regal pattern of government, and the lack of strong and rooted political parties were inherited from the colonial period. However, colonial legacies alone cannot fully explain this discord. The second section of this article indeed shows that by worsening these imbalances and by repressing democratic claims for major regional autonomy, the Pakistani...
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