Few countries can have suffered such protracted and agonizing birth pangs as those endured by the infant republic of Bangladesh in 1971. But the country not only has survived but has also restored parliamentary democracy after 13 years of repressive military rule as part of Pakistan.
In February the United Nations secretary general, Kurt Waldheim, issued an appeal for $565 million in contributions from the international community by the end of 1972. With 5 million houses razed to the ground, Bangladesh has a homeless population of 30 million, including almost 10 million refugees who trekked back from India but are now accommodated in suppurating shantytowns. The Pakistanis also destroyed hundreds of bridges, schools, and colleges. No jute or paddy crops were planted, and farmers had to eat their seed grain.