By Rob Johnson
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Extra info for A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts since 1947
Fearing yet more political bickering and the secession of East Pakistan, Yahya suspended the assembly. This only provoked a general strike in East Pakistan. When the army went in, it initially crushed the unarmed opposition, but, as 10 million civilians fled the fighting into India, thousands of young Bengali men joined resistance groups. Soon the regular Pakistan Army found itself bogged down in a bloody guerrilla war. India intervened, and a general war broke out along the borders of both East and West Pakistan.
Behind the violence, the JVP coordinated a series of strikes and political murders. The government, led by Ranasinghe Premadasa, tried to persuade the JVP to rejoin the political process and abandon its campaign, but it failed. Once again, force was applied. Premadasa unleashed paramilitary squads that killed JVP terror suspects and unceremoniously dumped their bodies. The reign of terror lasted three years and claimed the lives of 30,000 people. The Sri Lankan government swung between political concessions and military operations to find a solution, but neither brought the terrorism to an end for long.
This generated unforeseen consequences. Many Sufis played a crucial role in demanding a restoration of democracy. As a result, Pakistan still threatened to tear itself apart on the issue of national and religious identity. 4 'Islam in danger' is still the rallying cry of the Muslim League, and, after the setbacks of 1971, the traditionalists have continually advocated the supremacy of their atavistic programme over the modernists. In December 1979 Pakistan was suddenly thrust into the frontline of the Cold War by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the United States began sending generous shipments of arms to bolster Pakistan, which in turn assisted the Mujahideen and helped pay for the four million refugees who flooded across the North-West Frontier.
A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts since 1947 by Rob Johnson