EAST PAKISTAN: Poor Relation

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When Founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah took over the leadership of his new nation eleven years ago, he complained of the "mutilated, truncated, moth-eaten Pakistan" that the British partition plan had given him. In a divided nation, where East is East and West is West, the Pakistanis of the neglected East have long regarded their own half as by far the more mutilated, truncated and moth-eaten.

Last week East Pakistanis no longer even had a government of their own. After two provincial governments collapsed within three days in Dacca, Pakistan's Strongman Iskander Mirza suspended the East Pakistan provincial assembly and imposed direct presidential rule on the province. That meant that 55% of the population of Pakistan were being ruled under autocratic control from the distant national capital.

United by Religion. Even to reach the nation's capital in Karachi, a, citizen from East Pakistan must fly 1,000 miles across Indian territory—the distance from Massachusetts to Missouri—or travel 3,000 miles by sea. All that unites the two widely separated provinces is the Moslem religion. They even speak different languages: in the East, Bengali; in the West, Urdu. East Pakistan is mostly swamps and rivers; West Pakistan, deserts and mountains. The East is almost drowned in water; the West parched for lack of it.

Though East Pakistan has more people (46 million to 38 million), West Pakistan has the capital and the lion's share of government jobs. Many of the programs in the East are run by bureaucrats shipped in from the West. East Pakistan, say its politicians, is treated as a "poor relation." The East produces about two-thirds of the nation's foreign exchange (exports of jute, tea and goatskins), yet gets fewer development loans than West Pakistan.

Divided by Politics. Tucked into a far corner of the subcontinent next to Burma, East Pakistan has little real concern for the issues that seem important to General Mirza's central government. Politicians in the provincial capital of Dacca, where goats wander in the unpaved streets, argue that it makes little sense for Pakistan to spend 70% of its budget on arms when industry so desperately needs capital. East Pakistan inclines more to a neutralist foreign policy, and can see little profit in joining anti-Communist alliances such as the Baghdad Pact (though, if profit is the standard, Pakistan has received on a per-capita basis three times the U.S. aid given neutralist India). Nor are East Pakistanis much agitated over Kashmir, because if Kashmir were absorbed by West Pakistan, it would reduce the population edge that is about the only political advantage East Pakistan has.

After eleven years of nationhood, Pakistan has yet to hold its first national election. One is scheduled for next November, but East Pakistanis fear that the politicos of outnumbered West Pakistan will somehow get the election put off.