Why Bangladesh?


(By a group of Scholars in Vienna compiled in April, 1971)

The Bengalis’ demand for independence had been forced upon the people of East Pakistan by the savage and atrocious action of the West Pakistani army government. What the Bengalis had really been wanting were regional autonomy and social and economic justice. Recent events have conclusively proved that there was no plan for secession and there was no armed preparation on the part of the Bengalis to achieve that. They were confidently expecting a good result from President Yahya Khan’s democratic gesture. But the West Pakistani army, through its systematic butchery of unarmed civilians, forced the Bengalis to take the ultimate decision-to become a completely independent sovereign state. A clear cut line has been drawn decisively, separating the Bengali speaking people of the East and the people of West Pakistan. The decision was inevitable because of the continuous exploitation of the East by the West. To the world it naturally did not come as a surprise. On the other hand many voices had been predicting it for a long time. Besides religion, there was nothing common between these two people. Ethnically, culturally, in their thought, language, way of life-in everyway they were two nations. There was no attempt towards reconciliation but only economic exploitation and social injustice. East Pakistan existed only for the benefit of the West Pakistani capitalist merchants, industrialists and contractors, for the militarists and civil bureaucrats. For the last 24 years the Pakistan Government, manned mostly by West Pakistanis, dominated the state policy aiming to develop the barren deserts of West Pakistan by a deliberate policy which impoverished East Pakistan. Cleverly enough, Pakistan Government tried its best not to reveal the figures separately to show the gross disparity. Nevertheless, from available figures, mostly official, the truth could not be kept concealed.


Total Revenue Rs. 6,000 million W.P. E.P.
Expenditure on Defence Total 60% 50% 10 %
Civil Expenditure Total 40 % 25% 15%

While E.P. provides 60% of the total revenue, it receives only about 25% for its expenditure and West Pakistan providing 40% in the central exchequer receives 75% of the remaining.


During 10 year period 1958-68

West Pakistan East PakistanExport Import Export Import£820 m £2,315 m £1,153 m £1,000 m

41% 70 % 59% 30%

In foreign trade East Pakistan exports constitute 59 % of the total but imports only 30% of the imports which consists of consumer goods and food, very little is left for development projects. During the same period West Pakistan earned 41 % of the total foreign exchange and was allowed 70% of the foreign exchange earnings. Major portion of this was spent on various development projects in West Pakistan.


Exports from West to East Pakistan Rs. 5,292 million

Exports from East to West Pakistan Rs. 3,174 million

This is an example of continuous drain of East Pakistani capital to West Pakistan. It has been estimated that total transfer of resources from East Pakistan to West Pakistan since 1947 had been £3,000 million.

Let us look at typical Export items for the year 1964-65: Rs.

Jute and jute products (all from East Pakistan): 124,580 m
Cotton & cotton manufactures (many from W.P.): 51,880 m
Hides & Skins (mainly from East Pakistan): 6,130 m
Tea (all from East Pakistan): 1,000 m
Wool (all from West Pakistan): 7,300 m
Others (East & West together): 56,200 m

Item West Pakistan East Pakistan
Foreign Exchange

for various developments: 80 % 20%
Foreign Aid (excluding U.S. AID): 96% 4%
U.S. Aid: 66% 34%
Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation: 58% 42%
Pakistan Industrial Credit & Investment
Corporation: 80% 20%
Industrial Development Bank: 76% 24%
House Building: 88% 12%
———- ———
77 % 23%

Above figures are clearly indicative for the tremendous industrial growth in West Pakistan which received 77% of the total development expenditure for its 40% of the total population.


Chinese loan to Pakistan U.S. $ 60 m in 1965 mostly spent in West Pakistan including a Heavy Machinery Complex costing U.S. $ 9 m, but only U.S. $ 125,000 for East Pakistan Water & Power Development. But the loan is to be repaid by exporting jute and jute products.

World Bank credits in 1954 $ 14 m and in 1965 $ 15 m for Sui Gas Project in West Pakistan. Same source supplied $ 17 m in 1964 for Karachi Port Deve­lopment and $ 30 m to Pakistan Investment and Credit Corporation to finance mostly projects in West Pakistan. International Development Association (U.N. Agency) gave a credit of $ 8.5 m to West Pakistan and $ 4.5 m to East Pakistan in 1964 for educational projects.

Russian Aid of £ 11 m to £ 18 m was given to West Pakistan in 1965 for oil prospecting.

U.K. Loan during the period 1947-1965 amounted to £ 64 m has been spent mostly in West Pakistan.

U.S. Aid of $ 3.6 billion-$ 2.7 billion spent for Mangla Dam & Tarbela Dam in West Pakistan and only $ 0.9 billion for control of flood in East Pakistan. These loans no doubt converted the barren lands of West Pakistan into fertile ones whereas very little was done to tackle effectively the flood problem of East Pakistan-the most fertile land in the world. The people of East Pakistan had been allowed to suffer from recurring cyclones and flood disasters since 1953.

West Pakistan East Pakistan
Established INDUSTRIAL in both wings 1947-48 1966-67 1947-48 1966-67
Cot-.on Textile production in million yds 350 6,836 508 550
1,853% increase 8.26% increase
Sugar production in ‘ 000 tons 10 304 25 112
2,940 % increase 348 % increase
Cement production in ‘000 tons 305 1,934 46 75
534% increase 63 % increase

Above tables clearly show how the established industries in East Pakistan had been allowed to grow extremely slowly in comparison with the extremely fast growing industries in the West. With the influx of capitalists from Bombay the picture began to change rapidly.

In the field of new industries, the percentage of investments in West and East Pakistan is roughly 75% and 25% respectively. Moreover, East Pakistani industries are mainly owned and controlled by the West Pakistanis whose main interest is to transfer the profits to West Pakistan instead of helping East Pakistan’s prosperity. It has been calculated that since 1947 the real transfer of resources from East to West has been to the tune of £ 3,000 million. There was no state control over private investment and as such the flow had been completely unchecked.

Steel-the basic item required for any development-is now being produced in two mills in West & East Pakistan. Funds provided for these mills were £ 56 million for West Pakistan and £ 11 million for East Pakistan.

West Pakistan East Pakistan

Fertiliser distribution during 1964-68,
in ‘ 000 nutrient tons 739 66 % 371 33%
Improved seed distribution during
1964-69, in ‘ 000 tons 342 89 % 40 11 %
1951-52 1966-67 1951-52 1966-67
Increase in fish production in ‘ 000 mts 56 153 175 259
273 % increase 48 % increase
Distribution of tractors
Wheel type (numbers) 20,069 1,825
Other large (numbers) 2,000 350
91% 9%

Needless to mention that the agricultural land in East Pakistan has more acreage and most lands produce 2 to 3 crops a year, whereas in the West the acreage is less and the productivity per acre is much smaller. One fails to understand the logic in these state of affairs.

In agriculture finance, the Pakistan Agricultural Development Bank has lent over Rs. 600 million, but most of these went to West Pakistani farmers. Most of the large irrigation projects have been treated as federal projects and financed by the Central Government and has been completed in West Pakistan. This was a deliberate attempt to keep the 75 million Bengalis at starvation level. In the federal army of 500,000 only 20,000 are Bengalis. Those 480,000 West Pakistanis spend their income in the West which indirectly help the economy of that part of the country. Economic experts have evidence that in 1959 an average East Pakistani was 20% worse off than another in the West. In 1968, he was 40% worse off than his brother in Islam in West Pakistan.


Another criterion to measure progress is the consumption of electric power per head of the population. In Pakistan growth in power production has grown considerably. West Pakistan generates by hydel, thermal and other means a total of 838,000 KW (83% of the total) whereas East Pakistan generates 179,500 KW (17% of the total). A great share of foreign aid had been spent on various power development projects. Two giant irrigation and power development projects in Indus Basin cost $ 1800 million and WAPDA spent Rs. 1453 m in 5 years 1959-64.

EDUCATION: Progress in 20 years
Area West Pakistan East Pakistan
1947-48 1968-69 1947-48 1968-69
Primary Schools 8,413 39,418 29,663 28,308
Number increase Number decreases in spite
4 times of increased children

1947-48 1965-66 1947-48 1965-66
Secondary Schools 2,598 4,472 3,481 3,964
176% 114%
increase increase
1947-48 1968-69 1947-48 1968-69
Colleges-various Types 40 271 50 162
675% 320%
increase increase
Agricultural colleges 4 17 3 9
425% 300%
increase increase
Universities 2 1
(654 scholars) (1620 scholars)
6 4
(18.708 scholars) (8,831 scholars)
Increase in scholars 30 times 5 times

It is interesting to note that although the school going population increased in East Pakistan the number of schools decreased through deliberate policy of neglect, whereas during the same period the Pakistan government spent vast sums of money and increased the number of schools in West Pakistan by 4} times. Was not that a systematic plan for giving the West Pakistani children a better academic start so that their future career was firmly assured? The natural result was the vast increase in the number of colleges of all kinds and universities. This is a clear evidence of Government policy aiming at keeping the East Pakistani children intellectually inferior by not providing the facilities they deserve. The end product that we see is in the number of University scholars. In East Pakistan, which had double the number of scholars in 1947, the number only increased by five times in 20 years and in West Pakistan the corresponding increase is thirty times. In the field of research and development centres established for agricultural, medical, scientific, industrial research. out of 16 centres 13 are located in West Pakistan. As far as the scholarships and training grants for studies abroad under Colombo Plan, Ford Foundation. Cotnmonwealth Aid and many others the bulk of these go to the West Pakistanis. Some of these are not even advertised in the East Pakistani press and many of these are awarded directly from West Pakistan.

If we consider the question of employment, we can see the repetition of the same injustice. While the state policy on education had kept the East Pakistanis less developed, in the case of recruitment in civil, military and other services the same policy of depriving the Bengalis had been effectively carried out. Having most of the recruitment centres, they have the most advantage. Headquarters of the army, navy, air force and all central government services as well as private employees of all kind are located in West Pakistan. Most of the vacancies are either not advertised in the East Pakistani press or the practical difficulty of being interviewed is present. Moreover, the various recruitment boards consisting mostly of West Pakistanis are not so well disposed to accept an East Pakistani. In the armed forces, by making a physical standard far too high for an average Bengali, the system of eliminating the Bengali candidates had been very easy and successful. The following figures show some examples of disparity in this field:
West Pakistan East Pakistan
Central Civil Service 84% 16%
Foreign Service 85% 15%
Foreign Head of Missions (numbers) 60 9
Army 95% 5%
Army: Officers of General
Rank (Numbers) 16 1
Navy Technical 81% 19%
Navy-non technical 91% 9%
Air Force Pilots 89% 11%
Armed Forces (Numbers) 500,000 20,000
Pakistan Airlines ,, 7,000 280
P.I.A. Directors ,, 9 1
P.I.A. Area Managers ,, 5 none
Railway Board Directors „ 7 1


The selection of the capital of Pakistan in Karachi in 1947 gave the West a boost to growth in all spheres. Rs. 200 million was spent on its development and when it was fully developed it was handed over to the West Pakistan provincial government. All incomes derived as a result went to the provincial government. Thereafter another Rs. 200 million was allocated for the capital development at Islamabad. A sum of only Rs. 20 million was provided for a second capital at Dacca, in East Pakistan.

All the offices of the central government are located in the West including the headquarters of the army, navy and airforce and all the military academies. It is important to note that 60% of Pakistan’s budget is spent on defence and 80% of that goes to the military contractors, armed personnel who are West Pakistanis.

Head offices of all the public and private establishments, e.g., State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan International Airlines, National Bank of Pakistan and other banks, Insurance companies, Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation, National Shipping Corporation, Foreign Missions and hundred other Pakistani and foreign agencies have their head offices in West Pakistan and with their West Pakistani bosses and West Pakistani connections made sure that the policies of those organi­sations favour West Pakistanis.


In the field of social welfare, the same pattern is reflected. Let us look at some of the statistics comparing the two wings.
West Pakistan East Pakistan
Population 55 million 75 million
Total number of doctors 12,400 7,600
Total number of Hospital beds 26,000 6,000
Rural Health Centres 325 88
Urban Community Development Centres 81 52

East Pakistan has been described as one of the poorest country in the world. Even the economists, impartial and foreign, admitted that. How does the average East Pakistani compare with his compatriat in West Pakistan?
West Pakistan East Pakistan
Rural Urban Rural Urban
Employment of civil labour force 59 % 41 % 86% 14%

In West Pakistan the industrial development provided 41 % of the total labour force, employment and a better standard of life. In East Pakistan, the poor development in industrial sphere made only 14% of the total employment available in the cities. The result is reflected in the figures for per capita income and gross domestic product.
West Pakistan East Pakistan
1960 1970 1960 1970
Per Capita income in Pakistan Rupees 355 492 269 308

The difference in per capita income between East and West Pakistan had been 86 in 1960. Ten years later the difference sored to 184. In other words while the standard of living had been increasing in the West it had been declining in East Pakistan.
West Pakistan East Pakistan
1959-60 1964-65 1959-60 1964-65
Gross domestic product per capital 312 391 242 297

Staple food of East Pakistani is rice and of West Pakistani is wheat. Let us compare the market price of the two.
West Pakistan East Pakistan
Rice per mound (82 lbs) Rs. 18 Rs. 50
Wheat per mound (82 Ibs) Rs. 10 Rs. 35

How could one expect a better health standard when the East Pakistani has to pay a far higher price for his food when his income is far below that of his compatriot in the West? The picture becomes clearer when we compare the average calories intake in rural areas.
West Pakistan East Pakistan
Calorie intake in rural areas in 1960-65 per
head per day 1,625 1,556

In the urban areas the disparity is even greater. (Calorie intake in U.K. is 3,250).

These facts and figures, backed by current available statistics, prove that East Pakistan is economically viable. The necessary resources vital for the development of a country are present, though undeveloped. Given substantial foreign aid, and opportunities to develop its natural resources, there is no reason why Bangla Desh should not be self-sufficient in course of time. World powers must realise that since Bangla Desh is fully capable of attaining economic stability, the right of self­determination, vital to her very existence, can no longer be denied.Above all, the injustice meted out to her, the social and economic neglect that was her share over the past two decades, justifies in all fairness that she be given the right to govern herself.——————————————————————————————
All these statistics have been taken from official and other reliable sources which include : National Planning Commission, 20 Years of Pakistan, Central Bureau of Education, Depart­ment of Investment Promotion, Central Board of Revenue, Central Statistical Office, Pakistan Year Book, 1970, Marine Fisheries Department, Pakistan Economic Survey, Government of Pakistan Budgets, Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Financial Times, The Economist, Developponent Prospects of Pakistan (by a Norwegian Economist).