On this day, 7 December in 1970, Pakistan's first general election took place. We write on the significance of the day for the results it led to in the interest of history. It is especially for the young who ought to be given the full details of the events and incidents which were to lead to the emergence of the independent state of Bangladesh.
In these past four decades plus, we have rightly made it known to the young that it was the failure of the Pakistan military junta to transfer power to the victorious Awami League led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which created the crisis that would eventually compel Pakistan to bid farewell to its eastern province. That eastern province was to become Bangladesh.
Studies of history must be detailed affairs. Where the 1970 election is concerned, our young citizens should be duly informed of everything that preceded the voting, happenings that clearly led to growing Bengali disenchantment with Pakistan as it then existed.
Pakistan took nine years to produce a constitution, which was then abrogated a mere two years later when Iskandar Mirza and Ayub Khan imposed martial law in the country in October 1958. The coup came at a time when both wings of Pakistan were looking forward to the country's first general election in February 1959.
This is part of history we should be teaching our young men and women as they research on the events leading to our freedom struggle. That the Awami League won the election with 167 of the 169 seats earmarked for East Pakistan, that Z.A.
Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party emerged as the leading party in West Pakistan with 88 of the 138 seats given to that wing, that Bangabandhu and the Awami League were denied power by the machinations of the junta and the PPP should be part of the curriculum in Bangladesh and, yes, even in Pakistan.
The 7 December 1970 election was a turning point for Bengalis, for they gave Bangabandhu a formal mandate to speak for them. In the end, 7 December 1970 paved the way to our liberation as a nation. The rest of the story is known.
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