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

Philip Oldenburg
The Journal of Asian Studies
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Aug., 1985), pp. 711-733
DOI: 10.2307/2056443
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2056443
Page Count: 23
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Abstract

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.

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