Skip to main content Accessibility help

“A Place Insufficiently Imagined”: Language, Belief, and the Pakistan Crisis of 1971

  • Philip Oldenburg


The breakup of Pakistan in 1971 can be explained in pt by a failure of understanding on the part of the West Pakistani leadership of Pakistan, a seeming inability to recognize what the meaning of Pakistan was for Bengalis, and thus the cause of the demand for Bengali as a state language equal to Urdu. Exploration of the language issue in the period before and afterndependence helps to illuminate the divergence of belief about the form of the new state and the meaning of parity in representation between east and west wings of the country. The final tragedy of the attempted crushing of the movement for an autonomous Bangladesh is also in part an outcome of this pattern of belief, in particular the belief about the role of Hindus in the expression of Bengali identity.



Hide All
Ahmad, Jamil-ud-din, compiler. 1970. Historic Documents of the Muslim Freedom Movement. Lahore: Publishers United Ltd.
Ahmad, Kamruddin. 1975. A Socïo Political History of Bengal and the Birth of Bangladesh. Fourth edition. Dacca: Zahiruddin Mahmud Inside Library.
Ahmed, Moudud. 1978. Bangladesh: Constitutional Quest for Autonomy, 1950–1971. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.
Ahmed, Rafiuddin. 1981. The Bengal Muslims, 1871–1906: A Quest for Identity. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Ali, Chaudhri Muhammad. 1967. The Emergence of Pakistan. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ali, Chaudhri Muhammad. 1971. “The Unremitting Struggle with India.” In Ali 1974:373390.
Ali, Chaudhri Muhammad. 1974. The Task Before Us. Lahore: Research Society of Pakistan, University of Punjab.
Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta).
Ayub Khan, Mohammad. 1967. Friends Not Masters: A Political Autobiography. London: Oxford University Press.
Aziz, K. K. 1976. Party Politics in Pakistan, 1947–1958. Islamabad: National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research.
Aziz, Qutubuddin. 1974. Blood and Tears. Karachi: United Press of Pakistan.
Bangla Desk Documents. [1971–73] 2 vols. India. Ministry of External Affairs.
The Bangla Desh Papers, n.d. Lahore: Vanguard Books, Ltd.
Baxter, Craig. 1976. “Studies in the Development of Muslim Separatism.” In Gustafson, W. Eric, ed., Pakistan and Bangladesh: Bibliographic Essays in Social Science, pp. 158. Islamabad: University of Islamabad Press.
Baxter, Craig. 1984. “Pakistan and Bangladesh.” In Shiels, Frederick L., ed., Ethnic Separatism and World Politics, pp. 209–62. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America.
Baxter, Craig, and Rashiduzzuman, M.. 1981. “Bangladesh Votes: 1978 and 1979.” Asian Survey 21, 4:490500.
Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali. 1971. The Great Tragedy. Karachi: Pakistan People's Party.
Binder, Leonard. 1963. Religion and Politics in Pakistan. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Brass, Paul. 1974. Language, Religion, and Politics in North India. London: Cambridge University Press.
Callard, Keith. 1957. Pakistan: A Political Study. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Casey, R. G. 1947. An Australian in India. London: Hollis & Carter.
Chopra, Pran. 1974. India's Second Liberation. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press.
Choudhury, G. W. 1959. Constitutional Development in Pakistan. Lahore: Longmans, Green.
Choudhury, G. W. 1974. The Last Days of United Pakistan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Collins, Larry, and Lapierre, Dominique. 1975. Freedom at Midnight. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates (19471956).
Coupland, R. 1944. The Future of India. Bombay: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.
Durrani, F. K. Khan. 1944. The Meaning of Pakistan. Lahore: Sh. Muhammed Ashraf.
Feldman, Herbert. 1975. The End and the Beginning: Pakistan, 1969–1971. London: Oxford University Press.
“Genocide.” Sunday Times (London), June 13, 1971. Reprinted in U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees, Relief Problems in East Pakistan and India, Part I: Hearing, 92nd Congress, 1st sess., June 28, 1971, Appendix 6, pp. 118–20.
Gordon, Leonard A. 1978. “Divided Bengal: Problems of Nationalism and Identity in the 1947 Partition.” The Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 16, 2:136168.
Hardy, Peter. 1972. The Muslims of British India. London: Cambridge University Press.
Husain, Mahmud. 1970. “Dacca University and the Pakistan Movement.” In Philips and Wainwright 1970:369373.
The Indian Annual Register.
India's Problem of Her Future Constitution. 1940?. Bombay: M. H. Saiyid.
Ispahani, M. A. H. 1966. Quaid-E-Azam Jinnah As I Knew Him. Karachi: Forward Publications Trust.
Jahan, Rounaq. 1972. Pakistan: Failure in National Integration. New York: Columbia University Press.
Jinnah, Mahomed Ali. n.d. Speeches as Governor-General of Pakistan 1947–1948. Karachi: Ferozesons.
Jinnah, Mahomed Ali. n.d. 1976. Speeches, Statements, Writings, Letters, etc. Ed. Shahid, Muhammad Haneef. Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.
Khaliquzzaman, Choudhury. 1961. Pathway to Pakistan. Lahore: Longmans.
Loshak, David. 1971. Pakistan Crisis. London: Heinemann.
Madan, T. N. 1974. “The Dialectic of Ethnic and National Boundaries in the Evolution of Bangladesh.” In Navlakha, Suren, ed., Studies in Asian Social Development, No. 2, pp. 158–83. Delhi: Vikas.
Maniruzzaman, Talukder. 1971. The Politics of Development. Dacca: Green Book House.
Marwah, Onkar. 1979. “India's Military Intervention in East Pakistan, 1971–1972.” Modern Asian Studies 14, 4:549–80.
Mascarenhas, Anthony. 1971. “Why the Refugees Fled.” Sunday Times (London), June 13, 1971. Reprinted in U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees, Relief Problems in East Pakistan and India, Part I: Hearing, 92nd Congress, 1st. sess., June 28, 1971, Appendix 6, pp. 120–32.
Memon, Muhammad Umar. 1983. “Pakistani Urdu Creative Writing on National Disintegration: The Case of Bangladesh.” Journal of Asian Studies 43, 1:105–27.
Mujeeb, M. 1970. “The Partition of India in Retrospect.” In Philips and Wainwright 1970:406–14.
Nagarkar, V. V. 1975. Genesis of Pakistan. Bombay: Allied.
Navlakha, Suren. 1974. “Emergence of Bangladesh: A Study of Political Development in Pakistan.” In Navlakha, Suren, ed., Studies in Asian Social Development, No. 2, pp. 184216. Delhi: Vikas.
Newman, K. J. 1956. Essays on the Constitution of Pakistan. Dacca: Pakistan Co-operative Book Society.
Nichols, Beverley. 1944. Verdict on India. London: Jonathan Cape.
Oldenburg, Philip. 1980. “The Breakup of Pakistan.” In Lloyd I. Rudolph et al., The Regional Imperative: U.S. Foreign Policy Towards South Asian States, pp. 143–69. New Delhi: Concept.
Pakistan. 1971. White Paper on the Crisis in East Pakistan.
Philips, C. H., and Wainwright, Mary Doreen, editors. 1970. The Partition of India: Policies and Perspectives, 1935–1947. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press.
Rahman, Mizanur. 1978. Emergence of a New Nation in a Multi-Polar World: Bangladesh. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.
Rahman, Mujibur. 1966. 6-Point Formula; Our Right To Live. Dacca: East Pakistan Awami League.
Rushdie, Salman. 1983. Shame. New York: Alfred Knopf.
Salik, Siddiq. 1979. Witness to Surrender. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Sayeed, Khalid B. 1967. The Political System of Pakistan. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Sayeed, Khalid B. 1968. Pakistan: The Formative Phase, 1857–1948. Second edition. London: Oxford University Press.
Sayeed, Khalid B. 1980. Politics in Pakistan: The Nature and Direction of Change. New York: Praeger.
Schanberg, Sydney H. 1971. “Hindus Are Targets of Army Terror in East Pakistan Town.” New York Times, July 4, 1971. Reprinted in U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees, Relief Problems in East Pakistan and India, Part I: Hearing, 92nd Congress, 1st. sess., June 28, 1971, Appendix 6, pp. 152–54.
Sen, Shila. 1976. Muslim Politics in Bengal, 1937–1947. New Delhi: Impex India.
Sen Gupta, Jyoti. 1963. Eclipse of East Pakistan. Calcutta: Renco.
Shaikh, Farzana. Forthcoming. Islam: Ideology or Instrument? Muslims and Political Representation in British India, 1860–1946. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sobhan, Rehman. 1973. “Negotiating for Bangla Desh: A Participant's View.” South Asia Review 4:315326 (July 1971). Reprinted in Bangla Desh Documents, vol. 2, pp. 12–20.
Stephens, Ian. 1963. Pakistan. New York: Praeger.
Stern, Joseph J. 1971. “Growth, Development, and Regional Equity in Pakistan.” In Falcon, Walter P. and Papanek, Gustav F., eds., Development Policy II—the Pakistan Experience, pp. 855. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Syed, Yehia. 1976. “How Quaid-i-Azam Calmed an Indignant East Bengal.” In Shahid, M. H., ed., Tributes to Quaid-i-Azam, pp. 157–64. Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.
Williams, L. F. Rushbrook. 1972. The East Pakistan Tragedy. London: Tom Stacey.
Zaidi, A. M., ed. 1979. Freedom At Last; Evolution of Muslim Political Thought in India: Volume 6. Delhi: S. Chand.
Ziring, Lawrence. 1971. “Politics and Language in Pakistan: Prolegomena 1947–1952.” Contributions to Asian Studies 1:109–22.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9118
  • EISSN: 1752-0401
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed