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dated April 5, 1957: Dacca seeks full autonomy

The East Pakistan Assembly on April 3 adopted a resolution, demanding full regional autonomy for East Pakistan. The resolution was passed by a voice vote by the entire House, including the Opposition. The resolution moved by Mr. Mohiuddin Ahmed (Awami League) said: "This Assembly is of opinion that the Government of East Pakistan should represent to the Government of Pakistan for taking suitable steps for provincial autonomy for East Pakistan, leaving the following subjects only to be the concern of the Centre: Currency, Foreign Affairs and Defence." After the resolution was passed, Mr. Abu Hossain Sarkar, Leader of the Opposition, urged the Government to see that it was placed before the National Assembly at the earliest opportunity for giving effect to the recommendation. The House was then prorogued. During the discussion on the autonomy resolution, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Commerce Minister, in a forceful speech, said that the demand for regional autonomy was that of the entire population of this province "for their very existence." Mr. Rahman, who is also General Secretary of the East Pakistan Awami League, declared that the demand for full regional autonomy was not for secession but to make Pakistan strong and prosperous. It was not a political demand, but an economic and fiscal demand for the very existence of the four-and-a-half crore people in East Pakistan. He added that the people of the province had voted for the demand for full regional autonomy at the last general elections as part of the 21-point programme. Mr. Rahman said that this demand would not have arisen if East Pakistan was geographically contiguous to West Pakistan.

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