AWAMI LEAGUE (AL) The Awami League was formed in 1949 by a group of leaders from East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) who were not satisfied with the role they were playing in the evolving political structure in Pakistan There was a widespread impression in East Pakistan that the leaders of West Pakistan were discriminating against the people of the eastern wing The first set of leaders of the AL belonged to the left wing of the Muslim League, the party that had fought successfully for the establishment of Pakistan They took control of the new party, with Maulana Bhashani as their leader The AL was the most important component of the United Front, which won the provincial elections of 1954 and effectively marginalized the Muslim League in East Pakistan However, serious dissension within the ranks of the United Front leadership led to Bhashani’s resignation and the election of H S Suhrawardhy as president Following Suhrawardhy’s death in 1963, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the party’s president It was under Mujibur that the party developed its Six Point Program for obtaining greater autonomy for the federating provinces of Pakistan

The program announced in 1966 prepared the ground for the Awami League’s extraordinary victory in the elections of 1970 Following the breakup of Pakistan in December 1971 and the return of Mujibur Rahman in January 1972 from imprisonment in West Pakistan, the Awami League came to power in Dhaka, the capital of BangladeshHosina Wajid, Mujibur Rahman’s daughter, succeeded her father as the president of AL when he was assassinated by a group of army officers For two decades, Bangladesh was governed by military presidents The Awami League emerged on the political scene once again when democracy returned but had to share power with the Bangladesh National Party, led by Khalida Ziaur Rahman, the widow of the first military president of the country While the Awami League retained a close relationship with India, developed during East Pakistan’s conflict with the western wing, the BNP drew closer to Pakistan Bangladesh’s relations with Pakistan accordingly followed a roller coaster ride, depending on which of the two parties was in power in Dhaka

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