Six-point Programme

Six-point Programme a charter of demands enunciated by the awami league for removing disparity between the two wings of Pakistan and to put an end to the internal colonial rule of West Pakistan in East Bengal.

The Indo-Pak War of 1965 ended with the execution of Taskent Treaty. To the old grievances of economic disparity added the complain of negligence and indifference of central government towards the defence of East Pakistan. Bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman was vocal on this issue.

The leaders of the opposition parties of West Pakistan convened a national convention at Lahore on 6 February 1966 with a view to ascertain the post-Taskent political trend. Bangabandhu reached Lahore on 4 February along with the top leaders of Awami League, and the day following he placed the Six-point charter of demand before the subject committee as the demands of the people of East Pakistan. He created pressure to include his proposal in the agenda of the conference. The subject committee rejected the proposal of Bangabandhu. On the day following, the newspapers of West Pakistan published reports on the Six-point Programme, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was projected as a separatist. Consequently Sheikh Mujib abandoned the conference.

The Six-point Programme along with a proposal of movement for the realisation of the demands was placed before the meeting of the working committee of Awami League on 21 February 1966, and the proposal was carried out unanimously. A booklet on the Six-point Programme with introduction from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmad was published. Another booklet titled Amader Banchar Dabi: 6-dafa Karmasuchi (Our demands for existence: 6-points Programme) was published in the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and was distributed in the council meeting of Awami League held on 18 March 1966.

Six Points

1. The Constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the Lahore Resolution, and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a Legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: Defence and Foreign Affairs, and all other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.
3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate Banking Reserve should be established, and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.
4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal centre will have no such power on the issue. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.
5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the Constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary force.

The opposition leaders of West Pakistan looked at Mujib's Six-point Programme as a device to disband Pakistan, and hence they rejected his proposal outright. The Ayub government projected Sheikh Mujib as a separatist and later instituted the agartala conspiracy case against him. He was arrested and put on trial. The case led to widespread agitation in East Pakistan culminating into the mass uprising of early 1969. Under public pressure, the government was forced to release him unconditionally on 22 February 1969.

The Awami League sought public mandate in favour of the Six-point Programme in the general elections of 1970 in which Sheikh Mujib received the absolute mandate from the people of East Pakistan in favour of his Six-point. But Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto refused to join the session of the National Assembly scheduled to be held on 3 March 1971 unless a settlement was reached between the two leaders beforehand. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party sat in a protracted dialogue from 15 March 1971. The dialogue failed to produce any positive result. The army crackdown of 25 March sealed the fate of the Six-point including the fate of Pakistan. [Ashfaq Hossain]