ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Ides of March

Vol VI, No 10 MARCH 6, 1971

Political events in Pakistan have moved fast in the last three weeks. On February 14 the Awami League’s working committee meeting in Dacca, reiterated its firm adherence to the six-point programme envisaging complete autonomy for East Pakistan. The next day Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of West Pakistan’s People’s Party, demanded an assurance from Mujibur Rahman that the Awami League would not insist on a constitution based on the six points. Bhutto added that if this assurance was not forthcoming his party would boycott the Constituent-cum-National Assembly session. Mujibur Rahman ignored Bhutto’s threat. On February 19 President Yahya Khan met Bhutto and followed this up with meetings with other West Pakistani political leaders. Three days later he had dissolved his cabinet of civilian ministers “in view of the ­political situation obtaining in the country” and was conferring with the five Provincial Governors and Martial Law Administrators. On February 28 Bhutto publicly sought a postponement of the Assembly session due to begin on March 3. The very next day Yahya Khan announced the indefinite postponement of the Assembly session. The announcement has sparked off a mass civil disobedience movement in East Pakistan and there have been reports of violent clashes between demonstrators and the army. Mujibur Rahman has accused the army of “behaving like an occupation force”.

 

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