The time of Ayub khan’s reign is often cited as a golden period when Pakistan achieved unprecedented economic growth and several development programs were implemented throughout the nation. However not all of his policies were free of negative consequences and his administration helped plant the seeds of Bengali Nationalism.
Dubbed the “Great Decade”, it was a period of rapid industrialization and development but it also was a period of great economic disparity. Most of the wealth was concentrated in the hand of a few powerful families, virtually all from West Pakistan, controlling 66% of the industries and land and 80% of the banking and insurance . The disparity between the two wings grew significantly during his rule as the government prioritized the development projects in West Pakistan and treated the east wing like a colony. In the period between 1960 -65, Rs. 33.5 Billion of the national budget was invested in West Pakistan compared to only Rs. 14 billion for East Pakistan even though a majority of the export revenue came from it.
The War of 1965
Despite representing more than half the population of the country and nearly one-third of its territory, no adequate defenses were provided to East Pakistan during the entirety of the conflict. To add further injuries, finances were levied from East Pakistan to fund the war in Kashmir. The war ,which failed to achieve its aim ,caused great resentment in East Pakistan and Bengali leaders took the opportunity to call for greater autonomy.
Enter Yayha Khan
The last seed was planted with Ayub’s appointment of Yahya Khan as his successor. The precarious situation that was developing in East Pakistan demanded the need of astute leader. Yayha Khan was anything but such. The volatile situation in East Pakistan further escalated under his rule and eventually leads to the Pakistani Civil War and the creation of Bangladesh.
However it would be foolish to paint the entire picture in black and white and blame it on Ayub Khan. Many of the decisions he made were influenced by people around him and the interest of major actors behind the scenes . Had he surrounded himself with more trustworthy and able men, he would certainly have avoided creating some of the junctures leading to the rise of Bangladeshi war of Independence.