Bangladesh, formely the east wing of Pakistan, emerged as an independent nation in December 1971. The exclamation on the occasion--"Joi Bangla! Joi Bangla!" (Victory to Bengal! Victory to Bengal!) was a collective and plaintive cry following a particularly bitter and bloody struggle for freedom. These words echoed the cultural and ethnic disposition of the new state--in short the ethos of the people--that Bangladesh was to be a culturally and linguistically cohesive unit. Pakistan itself had been created on August 15 1947 largely the result of communal passions pitting Hindus against Muslims. Pakistan was divided into two wings separated by 1 600 kilometers of Indian territory with Islam only a tenuous link between the two wings. Of paramount importance to East Pakistanis was the Bangla (before 1971 usually referred to as Bengali) language and culture a consideration not appreciated by the West Wing of Pakistan until it was too late.