Bangladesh Table of Contents
The United States and Pakistan were allies when Bangladesh became independent in 1971. The Pakistan Army used United Statessupplied military equipment, and the movement of the United States Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal during the war signaled support for Pakistan (see The War for Bangladeshi Independence, 1971 , ch. 1). Because Pakistan was closely tied to the economic policies of the United States and its allies, the Awami League saw a link between the economic collapse of East Pakistan and United States policies. Under these circumstances, the United States had a negative image in independent Bangladesh. After April 1972, when the United States formally recognized Bangladesh, relations remained cool, and there were frequent public anti-American demonstrations, including the burning of the United States Information Service library in Rajshahi in December 1972.
After Mujib's asassination, the government of Khondakar Mushtaque Ahmed was closely tied to the United States, and there was increased cordiality during the Zia and Ershad administrations, as denationalization widened the economic linkages between the two nations. Bangladesh's positions on some international issues, including the China-Vietnam border war of 1978, Cambodia, and Afghanistan, came to resemble those of the United States. In 1979 Bangladesh signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, clearing the way for United States help in setting up a nuclear research reactor near Dhaka. During the 1980s, a new level of cooperation began, signaled by the visits to Washington of Zia in 1980 and Ershad in 1983.
By the late 1980s, the United States had become one of the closest international friends of Bangladesh, a major international donor, and a partner in 133 different accords. United States agencies operated a wide variety of development projects in Bangladesh, including programs to increase agricultural production, create new employment opportunities, and reduce population growth. Only disagreements on Bangladeshi garment exports to the United States clouded bilateral relations.
Data as of September 1988