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Liberation of Bangladesh and After

The disillusionment of the people of Bangladesh with the state of Pakistan began early on. The decision of the central authorities in Pakistan to opt for Urdu as the only state language of the country militated against the emotions of the Bengali-speaking people, who constituted the majority in Pakistan. The then East Pakistan rose in protest, first in 1948 and then, in a more concerted form, in 1952. The death of a number of young men resulting from Police firing on demonstrators in Dhaka on 21 February 1952 proved to be the catalyst for what eventually became the nationalist struggle of the Bengali-speaking people of Pakistan.

The frustration and resentment continued and culminated in a mass upsurge in 1969. There came a sudden change over in the government � Martial Law was re-imposed. Consequently, the general elections held throughout Pakistan in 1970 gave the people of Bangladesh a remarkable opportunity to claim their rightful place in national politics. But that hope was soon to prove illusory when the military establishment refused to transfer power. Instead on the night of 25 March, 1971, they embarked on a systematic policy of repression and genocide. This prompted the declaration of independence of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971.

The liberation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971 after nine months of a sustained war ushered in a new period of hope for the people of the country The Constitution of Bangladesh was framed and came into effect on 16 December 1972. Bangladesh became a member of the UN on 17 September 1974. In January 1975, the system of government was changed to a one party Presidential from on 15 August, 1975, then President late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed by some elements in the armed forces along with most  of his family members. In the chaotic condition that followed, several national leaders and cabinet members were also killed. It was against this backdrop that late President Ziaur Rahman was called upon to take over the affairs of the state on 7 November 1975.

Late President Ziaur Rahman�s life was cut short in May 1981 when he was assassinated in Chittagong by a section of military officers. A coup in March 1982 forced the elected government of BNP to step down. But soon the misuse of power and corruption of the military regime caused widespread disillusionment. A relentless struggle for restoring democratic system was launched by the national political parties and alliances, which mobilized the masses and forced the autocratic regime to step down in December 1990.

The BNP under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Zia was voted to office through the general elections organized by a neutral caretaker government in February 1991. Within months of taking over the administration, Begum Zia undertook to take the country back to a parliamentary form of government. Fresh elections were organized in February 1996 for making the necessary amendment to the Constitution to facilitate holding of elections under a neutral caretaker administration. Following elections of June 1996, the Awami League formed a new government, and BNP took its place in parliament as the opposition. In the general election of October 2001, Begum Khaleda Zia led a four-party alliance to victory with a clear two-thirds majority in parliament.

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tel: (880-2)9562862 l Fax: (880-2) 9555283 l E-mail: webmaster@mofabd.org
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