Friday, March 26, 2021

Why East Pakistan Became Bangladesh: Part 1- Economic Exploitation of the East

Why East Pakistan Became Bangladesh (Part 1)

Part 1- Economic Exploitation of the East

Part 2: Language and Culture

Part 3: Cyclone Bhola

The Final Part (Part 4): Military and Politics

In this series of posts, I will highlight just a few of the many reasons why East Pakistan seceded from Pakistan and became Bangladesh. Today, I want to focus on the economic disparity between the two wings before Liberation.

Part 1- Economic Exploitation of the East

Take a look at the chart. In almost every year since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, spending was more on West Pakistan than East Pakistan. 

This, despite the fact that the majority of Pakistanis were Bengalis and lived in East Pakistan.
Here are some highlights amongst the stats:
  • During the period of 1947-55 only 10% of total expenditure of the central government was spent in East Pakistan.
  • In 1948 there were 11 textile mills in the East and only 9 in the West.
  • In 1971 there were 26 in the East as opposed to 150 in the West.
  • Presence of the country's capital city and more immigrant businessmen in the Western wing directed greater government allocations there.
  • Much lower foreign investment in Eastern wing as opposed to West.
  • The Pakistani state's economic outlook was geared towards urban industry, which was not compatible with East Pakistan's mainly agrarian economy.
  • In 1947 and 1966, East Pakistan had a trade surplus of Rs. 4924.1 million where West Pakistan ran into a deficit of Rs. 16,634.6 million. Naturally, East Pakistan’s surplus was used to meet up West Pakistan’s deficit.
  • Three capital cities - Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad were built in phases in West Pakistan. An amount of Rs. 5700 million was spent till 1956 for Karachi alone to build it up but Dhaka got only Rs. 250 million.
As can be seen, despite more Pakistanis being Bengalis, and living in the East, money, resources and man power was always directed at the Western wing, despite Ayub Khan's brief investments in East Pakistan.

Thus it isn't hard to see why the people of Bengal felt exploited. The British had left, but the Bengalis had remained a colony. This time in their "own" country.
To be continued ...

1. Economic Exploitation of East Pakistan, by Shanawaz Ahamed
2. Reports of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 1970–75, Vol. I, published by the planning commission of Pakistan.

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