Assistant professor department of international relations uniersity of karachi university of karachi pakistan

Pakistan 1969-77: ethnic conflict and class conflict

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Pakistan 1969-77: ethnic conflict and class conflict
The decade of authoritarianism gave rise to ethnic and class conflict. The rise of Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan, and Sindh nationalism in West Pakistan and moreover, class conflict emerged in West Pakistan. Yahaya Khan, accepted these challenges and took refuge in Islam. He believed that Islam was the only ideology which would not only release the pressures, but also silence the opposition and in this way kept Pakistan under one fold. But Islamic solidarity failed to reduce the intensity of Bengali nationalism.

In this background, elections held in 1970. The Awami League emerged as the single largest party in East Pakistan demanded broad autonomy. In West Pakistan, People’s Party won 81 of 138 seats. After the elections, Bhutto and military refused to allow the Awami League to form government and deliver power to East Pakistan, pushing that province to succession.37 In reaction, the Awami League turned to violence, the Military then used brute force which resulted in loss of East Pakistan and its defeat to India.

On the other hand, Bhutto faced tough resistance in NWFP and Balochistan. He used strong tactics to dismiss the two non–People’s Party’s provincial governments. Against his action, turmoil started in Balochistan , Baloch resisted and a brutal guerilla war broke out, which pitched the Baloch tribes against the Pakistan army. The army action in Balochistan sharpened the ethnic feelings among Balochs. The Opposition blamed Bhutto in bringing back military into politics. Thus, Bhutto’s era, failed to reverse the erosion of state authority that had followed the fall of Ayub Khan and the loss of East Pakistan. His socio- economic programme faced a strong Opposition, he failed to give strong democratic institution, at the end, Zia-ul-Haq, the then Chief of Army staff took the power through a military coup in order to save Pakistan from the power struggle between Islamism and the State.38

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