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The writer Mulk Raj Anand said of the Pakistani army actions, "The rapes were so systematic and pervasive that they had to be conscious Army policy, "planned by the West Pakistanis in a deliberate effort to create a new race" or to dilute Bengali nationalism".and Major Ikram Sehgal both resigned in protest, as did Air Marshal Asghar Khan.To the surprise of many, East Pakistan's Awami League, headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a clear majority.The West Pakistani establishment was displeased with the results.The Bengali-speaking people of East Pakistan were chiefly Muslim, but their numbers were interspersed with a significant Hindu minority.Very few spoke Urdu, which in 1948 had been declared the national language of Pakistan.
Bina D'Costa believes an anecdote used by Khan is significant, in that it provides proof of the mass rapes being a deliberate strategy.
The stories of the rape victims have been told in movies and literature, and depicted in art.
Following the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan the East and West wings were not only separated geographically, but also culturally.
In the next decade and half, Bengalis became gradually disenchanted with the balance of power in Pakistan, which was under military rule during much of this time; eventually some began to call for secession. There had been opposition to military rule in West Pakistan as well.
By the late 1960s, a perception had emerged that the people of East Pakistan were second-class citizens. Eventually the military relented, and in December 1970 the first ever elections were held.