This map shows South Asia today. West Pakistan is now called Pakistan. East Pakistan is now called Bangladesh. Ceylon is now called Sri Lanka. What geographic reason made it difficult for Pakistan to retain control of Bangladesh?
In the 1980s, the Hindu nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), began to challenge the secular, or nonreligious, Congress Party. The BJP accused Indira Gandhi of overstepping her authority and favoring minority religions at the expense of Hinduism. They wanted a government based on Hindu traditions. Religious minority groups accused the party of stoking violence.
How did the Indian government try to improve conditions for lower castes?
When Pakistan gained independence in 1947, it was a divided country. West Pakistan and East Pakistan were located on either side of India, separated by a thousand miles. India made trade and travel between the two Pakistans difficult.
Although East and West Pakistanis were Muslim, their languages and cultures differed. Bengalis in the east outnumbered Punjabis in the west, but Punjabis dominated the government. The government concentrated most economic development programs in West Pakistan, while East Pakistan remained deep in poverty. Many Bengalis resented governmental neglect of East Pakistan.
In 1971, Bengalis in East Pakistan declared independence. They named their country Bangladesh, or “Bengali nation.” Pakistan's military ruler ordered the army to crush the rebellion. Millions of Bengalis fled into India. India responded by attacking and defeating the Pakistani army in Bangladesh. Pakistan was then compelled to recognize the new country.
After independence, Pakistan struggled to build a stable government. Power shifted back and forth between elected civilian leaders and military rulers. Tensions among the country's diverse ethnic groups posed problems. The fiercely independent people in the northwestern “tribal areas” were left largely on their own and resisted government control.
The activities of Islamic fundamentalists created tension. The fundamentalists wanted a government that followed strict Islamic principles, while other Pakistanis wanted greater separation between religion and state.