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What did they feel while receiving the Gallantry Awards? (Part-4)

While the administrative policy of centralization and cultural policy of assimilation added an emotional appeal to the demand for autonomy and helped develop a linguistic nationalism among the various classes in East Pakistan, the economic policies, which directly affected the emerging middle classes, led to a wholesale alienation, added militancy to the autonomy movement and helped strengthen nationalistic bond among the Bengalis. The Bengali military officers were deeply influenced by it.

As it has been already discussed, the two regions of Pakistan were dissimilar in many respects, but they were similar in the both were industrially underdeveloped and had been the producers of agricultural raw materials. At independence, the industrial bases of two regions were almost of the same size. The small gap that existed between the two regions widened rapidly over the years and in the 1960s it took critical proportion. In 1949/50 the disparity was 19 percent but in 1959/60 it rose to 32 percent and in 1969/70, to 61 percent.

These differential rates of growth in the two regions were primarily due to different rates of industrialization. In East Pakistan the industrial sector accounted for 9.4 percent of regional output in 1949/50 and it rose to about 20 percent in 1969/70, but in West Pakistan the industrial sector came to account for almost a third of the regional output, though it was only 14.7 percent in 1949/50. The principal reason for the differential rates of growth in the two regions was the differential shares of investment and various policies the Government of Pakistan followed since 1948. East Pakistan’s share of investment varied from 21 percent to 26 percent in the 1950s and from 32 percent to 36 percent in the 1950s, but by far the larger shares of both revenue and development outlay went to West Pakistan. During the pre-plan period (1947- 1955), the per capita development and revenue expenditures on an average were Rs. 22.08 and Rs. 37.75 respectively in East Pakistan as against Rs. 108.03 and 201.94 respectively in West Pakistan. A similar policy was followed in respect of allocation of foreign aid and loans. East Pakistan received only 17 percent and 30 percent of the foreign aid and the US commodity aid, whereas West Pakistan enjoyed 83 percent and 70 percent of the external assistance.

Disparity in the allocation of resources, both domestic and external, in the two regions was the inevitable outcome of the development strategy pursued in Pakistan. An entrepreneurial approach based on a one-economy policy in Pakistan comprising basically two different regions lying far apart from each other was the main feature of the development strategy. The bureaucrats defended it on grounds of efficiency and productivity. West Pakistan had a large stock of social and economic overheads in the form of power, transportation and communication facilities and higher ration of natural resources with relatively lesser density of population. The West Pakistan railway system was more developed and less affected by partition. The port of Karachi was more developed. In East Pakistan transport and communication facilities were poor. Chittagong port was yet to be developed. Under these circumstances, the adoption of one-economy policy based on an entrepreneurial approach accelerated the rate of disparity.

The allocative bias in favour of West Pakistan, concentrating nearly 75 percent of the total expenditure in a region where only 46 percent of the total population lived, generated not only income and employment opportunities, but also a favourable climate for private investment. Such financial institutions in Pakistan as the Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan (IDBP), the Pakistan Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation (PICIC) also followed a kind of discriminatory attitude to East Pakistan.

Apart from the disproportionate expenditure and differential growth of the private sectors in the two regions, disparity increased because of the government’s agricultural policy. The Government of Pakistan adopted a policy of industrialization through private sector and to make industrialization a success, fiscal and monetary policies were geared to extract adequately the surplus from agriculture and thus re-channel it to industries. It was estimated that over 15 percent of the value of gross agricultural output was extracted and re-directed to industries and manufacturing. Its burden on the farmers was over 10 percent of their income. East Pakistan was severely affected by the policies because East Pakistan accounted for a larger share of export than West Pakistan and a greater proportion of agricultural goods in total export package. The transfer of surplus from agriculture to industry was in effect a transfer of agricultural surplus of East Pakistan to industries in West Pakistan. Furthermore, through a surplus in international trade and a deficit in the inter-wing trade, a sizable amount of East Pakistan’s foreign exchange earnings was diverted to West wing. Added to this was East Pakistan’s foreign aid which was utilized in West Pakistan. Mahbub-al Haq estimated that such transfer amounted to Rs. 210 million per year from 1950 to 1955 and perhaps Rs. 100 million per year from 1950 to 1969. The advisory panel of economists showed that net transfer amounted to Rs. 31,120 million at the rate of 1,556 million a year. In other words, West Pakistan grew at the expense of East Pakistan. All these created awareness among the Bengali elite and they became anxious for effective participation in the political system, especially at the policy-making level. When they felt that the bureaucrats-dominated wystem prevented them from enjoying equal share of the national pie, they became determined to bring about a structural change in the system. The Six-Point Programme, which was a reaction of, and a challenge to, the policy measures of the bureaucrats, can be understood only in this context.

The Six-Point Programme was a significant politico-economic document. Politically it sought to re-structure the political system in a manner which might ensure effective participation of the Bengalis; economically, it was designed to put the East Pakistani resource management at the disposal of the Bengalis; militarily, it wanted to make East Pakistan self-sufficient militarily. The Six-Point Programme, thus fabricated in 1966 differed radically from the Bengalis’ autonomy demand of the 1950s in that it advocated that regional governments have the right to establish separate trade and commercial relations with foreign countries and keep separate accounts of foreign exchange earnings and suggested that the regions have their own military or para-military forces. For all practical purpose, a confederal rather than a federal form of government was built into the Six-Point Programme.

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