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Thursday, February 5, 2015, Magh 23, 1421, Robi-Us-Sani 14, 1436 Hijr

Bangabandhu announces Six Points
Published : Thursday, 5 February, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 123
Daily Observer Report
On this day, 5 February in 1966, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made the first public announcement of the Six Point programme of the Awami League in Lahore. He was in the city to attend a conference of all opposition political parties in Pakistan. His plan of presenting the Six Points before his fellow politicians at the conference was rebuffed, following which he revealed the Points at a press conference. The Six Points, which were to have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan over the next five years, were the following:
1. The Constitution of Pakistan should provide for a federation of Pakistan in light of the Lahore Resolution adopted in March 1940, with the system of government being parliamentary in form;
2. The federal government will have authority over only defence and foreign affairs, with all other subjects being vested in the federating units of Pakistan;
3. The two wings of Pakistan will have two freely convertible currencies or there will be one currency for the entire country, with the provision that there will be no flight of currency from one wing to another;
4. The federating units of Pakistan will have the power of taxation and revenue collection and the federal government at the centre will have a share of state taxes to conduct its business;
5. There will be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings of Pakistan, with the governments of the two wings exercising authority over them. The foreign exchange requirements of the federal government will be met by the two wings either equally or along a ratio to be decided upon;
6. A militia or para-military force will be set up in East Pakistan for the defence and security of the province.
The announcement of the Six Points predictably caused consternation and anger, particularly in West Pakistan. President Mohammad Ayub Khan, who had seized power in October 1958, warned the proponents of the Six Point plan that they would be dealt with in the language of weapons. Other politicians across the country, particularly among the right wing, lost little time in condemning Mujib's plan as a conspiracy against the territorial integrity of Pakistan. The plan was dubbed a secessionist ploy aimed at separating East Pakistan from the rest of the country. Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto challenged Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to a public debate on the Six Points at Dhaka's Paltan Maidan. On Mujib's behalf, senior Awami League leader Tajuddin Ahmad accepted the challenge. Interestingly, however, Bhutto did not turn up for the debate.
The Pakistan government placed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in detention under the Defence of Pakistan Rules (DPR) on 8 May 1966. Other senior leaders of the Awami League were also carted off to prison. On 7 June 1966, though, the call of the Awami League for a province-wide general strike in support of the Six Points was observed successfully despite government attempts to clamp down on it. Two young Awami League politicians, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury and Amena Begum, were instrumental, in the absence of senior party figures, in organizing the strike.
The Six Point Plan would lead to increasingly repressive measures against its votaries by the Pakistan government, to a point where Mujib, already under arrest, would be implicated in the so-called Agartala Conspiracy Case in early January 1968. A mass upsurge against the Ayub regime would eventually compel the government to drop the case and free Mujib and all his co-accused in the case in February 1969. As the campaign for Pakistan's first general election on the basis of adult franchise got underway in January 1970, Bangabandhu made it clear that for Bengalis the election would be a referendum on the Six Points. His party won the election --- and the referendum --- in December of the year. Of an altogether 313 seats in the Pakistan national assembly, the Awami League won a clear majority through garnering 169 seats.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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