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  • Date Submitted: 04/14/2013 11:40 AM
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The Regime of Yahya Khan, 1969–1971

After Ayub Khan’s resignation, power was not transferred to the Democratic Action Committee, who had negotiated with the government in the Round Table Conference, but to a military government. The Jama‘at’s first reaction was to negotiate with the government rather than to appeal to the masses, who were clamoring for economic justice and provincial autonomy. When Yahya Khan assumed power, the Jama‘at quickly renewed its demands for the restoration of democracy and Islamization and for the reinstatement of the constitution of 1956 as the only satisfactory framework for putting the state on the road to Islam and democracy.[54] Although Yahya Khan, a Shi‘i with a reputation for heavy drinking, was by no means a favorite of the Jama‘at, the party once again acceded to an alliance of convenience. Both were opposed to the left and looked upon Bengali nationalism with suspicion. With no political manifesto to recapture popular support, the Jama‘at was compelled to cast its lot with the central government, hoping that the system could be democratized after the left had been routed. Without the left to turn to, the people would cast their vote for the Jama‘at in the elections. The party assumed that the investiture of Yahya Khan meant the army was going to crush both the Awami League and the People’s Party, because Yahya Khan had often declared that no party opposed to the “ideology of Pakistan”—by which the Jama‘at understood he meant Islam—would be acceptable to his government. The Jama‘at could only rejoice at the prospect and lend support to the regime and its promise of a democracy cleansed of the left.
These impressions were strengthened in personal contacts between the Jama‘at’s leaders and members of Yahya Khan’s circle of advisers, including Nawwabzadah Shair ‘Ali Khan, the minister of information, who was the main architect of the new regime’s political strategy,[55] through whom they lobbied to become the party that would...


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