West Pakistan

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Coat of arms of Pakistan

West Pakistan was the popular and sometimes official (1955–1970) name of the western wing of Pakistan until 1971 when the eastern wing became independent as Bangladesh. The politically dominant western wing was composed of three Governor's provinces (North-West Frontier, West Punjab and Sind), one Chief Commissioner's province (Baluchistan), the Baluchistan States Union, several other princely states (notably Bahawalpur, Chitral, Dir, Hunza, Khairpur and Swat), the Federal Capital Territory (around Karachi) and the tribal areas.

The eastern wing formed the single province of East Bengal (including the former Assam district of Sylhet), which despite having over half of the population had a disproportionately small number of seats in the Constituent Assembly. This inequality of the two wings and the geographical distance between them was believed to be holding up the adoption of a new constitution. To diminish the differences between the two regions, the government decided to reorganise the country as two distinct provinces under the One Unit policy announced by Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali on 22 November 1954.



The province of West Pakistan was created on 14 October 1955 by the merger of the provinces, states and tribal areas of the western wing. The province was composed of twelve divisions and the provincial capital was established at Lahore. The province of East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan with the provincial capital at Dhaka. The federal government moved in 1959 from Karachi to Rawalpindi (provisional capital until Islamabad was finished), whilst the federal legislature moved to Dhaka.

West Pakistan formed a seemingly homogeneous block but with marked linguistic and ethnic distinctions and the One Unit policy was regarded as a rational administrative reform which would reduce expenditure and eliminate provincial prejudices. However with the military coup of 1958, trouble loomed for the province when the office of Chief Minister was abolished and the President took over executive powers for West Pakistan. The province of West Pakistan was dissolved in July 1970 by President Yahya Khan.

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