East Pakistan (Bengali: পূর্ব পাকিস্তান Purbo Pakistan, Urdu: مشرقی پاکستان Mashriqi Pakistan) was a former province of Pakistan which existed between 1955 and 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal Province based on a plebiscite in what was then British India in 1947. Eastern Bengal chose to join Pakistan and became a province of Pakistan by the name East Bengal. East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan in 1955 and later became the independent country of Bangladesh after the bloody Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Large sections of East Pakistan's people felt that they were colonised and suppressed by the West Pakistanis.
British India was partitioned in 1947, into the independent states of Pakistan and India. The Province of Bengal was split between them. The western part of the province became the West Bengal state of India and the eastern part became the East Bengal province of Pakistan, with an overwhelming Muslim majority and a large Hindu minority and much smaller minorities of Buddhists and Animists. East Bengal formed one of the five provinces of unified Pakistan. The other four Pakistani provinces (West Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and the North-West Frontier Province) were positioned on the other side of India, forming West Pakistan.
After independence from British rule, East Bengal was neglected by the central government based in the Western wing, which was at times under military or martial law. A major cause of resentment among the Bengalis was economic exploitation. For example, between 1948 and 1960, East Pakistan's export earnings had been 70% of national total, while it only received 25% of the earnings. Between 1950 and 1970, only 34% of the development expenditure was spent in East Bengal despite having more than half the population. Growing tensions led to the One Unit Policy, implemented in 1955, which abolished the provinces. Under this policy, West Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, and the Northwest Frontier were merged under the nominal designation of West Pakistan and East Bengal became East Pakistan.
Tensions peaked in 1971, following the cancellation by Pakistani President Yahya Khan of election results that gave the Awami League a majority in the parliament. The Awami League won almost all the seats in East Pakistan, but none in West Pakistan. East Pakistan had more than half the parliamentary seats because it was home to more than half the population. Although the Awami League was in a position to form a government without any coalition partner, it was forced to start negotiations with the Pakistan Peoples Party which had won most of the seats in West Pakistan. The negotiations failed and a 'military government' cancelled the results of the elections in East Pakistan. Under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh began its struggle for independence. The official onset followed a harsh repression carried out by the Pakistan army on Bengali civilians on 25 March 1971. The Bangladeshi government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman claimed that an estimated 1-3 million Bengalis died during the war between March and December 1971, while the Pakistani sources maintained that the total number of people from East and West Pakistan who were killed was less than 100,000.
The tension between East and West Pakistan reached a climax when in 1970 the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections in East Pakistan. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 300 seats in the National Assembly. This gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government. However, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, refused to allow Rahman to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This increased agitation for greater autonomy in the East.
On 26 March 1971, the day after the military crackdown on civilians in East Pakistan, Major Ziaur Rahman declared the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This started the Bangladesh Liberation War in which the Mukti Bahini, joined in December 1971 by 400,000 Indian soldiers, faced the Pakistani Army of 65,000 including the paramilitary forces. An additional approximately 25,000 ill-equipped civilian volunteers and police forces also sided with the Pakistan army. On 16 December 1971, the Pakistani Army was over-numbered by the Indians and had almost no Air Force to back it. The Pakistan forces surrendered to the Indian Armed forces Headed by Lt. Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora. Bangladesh quickly gained recognition from most countries and with the signing of the Shimla Accord, most of the countries accepted the new state. Bangladesh joined the United Nations in 1974.
|Tenure||Governor of East Pakistan|
|14 October 1955 - March 1956||Amiruddin Ahmad|
|March 1956 - 13 April 1958||A. K. Fazlul Huq|
|13 April 1958 - 3 May 1958||Hamid Ali (acting)|
|3 May 1958 - 10 October 1958||Sultanuddin Ahmad|
|10 October 1958 - 11 April 1960||Gov Zakir Husain|
|11 April 1960 - 11 May 1962||Lt Gen Azam Khan|
|11 May 1962 - 25 October 1962||Ghulam Faruque|
|25 October 1962 - 23 March 1969||Abdul Monem Khan|
|23 March 1969 - 25 March 1969||Mirza Nurul Huda|
|25 March 1969 - 23 August 1969||Major General Muzaffaruddin (acting martial law administrator as he was the GOC 14th Infantry Division)|
|23 August 1969 - 1 September 1969||Lt General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (martial law administrator)|
|1 September 1969 - 7 March 1971||Vice Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan (governor)|
|7 March 1971 - 31 August 1971||Lt General Tikka Khan (martial law administrator and governor)|
|31 August 1971 - 14 December 1971||Abdul Motaleb Malik (governor)|
|14 December 1971 - 16 December 1971||Lt General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi (martial law administrator)|
|16 December 1971||Province of East Pakistan dissolved|
|Tenure||Chief Minister of East Pakistan||Political Party|
|August 1955 - September 1956||Abu Hussain Sarkar||Krishan Sramik Party|
|September 1956 - March 1958||Ata-ur-Rahman Khan||Awami League|
|March 1958||Abu Hussain Sarkar||Krishan Sramik Party|
|March 1958 - 18 June 1958||Ata-ur-Rahman Khan||Awami League|
|18 June 1958 - 22 June 1958||Abu Hussain Sarkar||Krishan Sramik Party|
|22 June 1958 - 25 August 1958||Governor's Rule|
|25 August 1958 - 7 October 1958||Ata-ur-Rahman Khan||Awami League|
|7 October 1958||Post abolished|
|16 December 1971||Province of East Pakistan dissolved|