Archive | Pakistani Views RSS feed for this section

A khaki dissident on 1971

by Colonel Nadir Ali, retired Army Officer , Punjabi poet and short story writer

“It is Mujib’s home district. Kill as many bastards as you can and make sure there is no Hindu left alive,” I was ordered. I frequently met Mr Fazlul Qadir Chaudhry, Maulana Farid Ahmed and many other Muslim League and Jamaat leaders. In the Army, you wear no separate uniform. We all share the guilt. We may not have killed. But we connived and were part of the same force

During the fateful months preceding the dismemberment of Pakistan, I served as a young Captain, meantime promoted to the rank of the Major, in Dhaka as well as Chittagong. In my position as second-in-command and later as commander, I served with 3 Commando Battalion.

My first action was in mid April 1971. “It is Mujib-ur-Rahman’s home district. It is a hard area. Kill as many bastards as you can and make sure there is no Hindu left alive,” I was ordered.

“Sir, I do not kill unarmed civilians who do not fire at me,” I replied.

“Kill the Hindus. It is an order for everyone. Don’t show me your commando finesse!”.

I flew in for my first action. I was dropped behind Farid Pur. I made a fire base and we fired all around. Luckily there was nobody to shoot at. Then suddenly I saw some civilians running towards us. They appeared unarmed. I ordered “Stop firing!” and shouted at villagers, questioning them what did they want. “Sir we have brought you some water to drink!”, was the brisk reply.

I ordered my subordinates to put the weapons away and ordered a tea-break. We remained there for hours. Somebody brought and hoisted a Pakistani flag. “Yesterday I saw all Awami League flags over your village” I told the villagers. That was indeed the fact. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Later the main army column caught up to make contact. They arrived firing with machine guns all around and I saw smoke columns rising in villages behind them. “What’s the score?” the Colonel asked.

“There was no resistance so we didn’t kill anyone,” he was informed.

He fired from his machine gun and some of the villagers who had brought us water, fell dead. “That is the way my boy,” the Colonel told this poor Major.

I was posted there from early April to early October. We were at the heart of events. A team from my unit had picked up Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman from his residence on 25th March, 1971. We were directly under the command of Eastern Command. As SSG battalion commander, I received direct orders from General Niazi, General Rahim and later Gen Qazi Majid of 14 Div Dhaka.

Ironically, the resistance was led by General Zia Ur Rehman (later to become Bangladesh’s military ruler) was a fellow instructor at Pakistan Military Academy. Similarly, General Khalid Musharaf, who overthrew Zia in a counter-coup, was my course mate as well as a room-mate at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA). He was also a fellow officer in SSG. Brig Abu Tahir, who brought General Zia back to power in a counter-counter coup, was also a friend and fellow officer in SSG. He was a leftist, jailed and later hanged by Gen Zia Ur Rehman whom he brought back to power in the fateful months in Bangladesh’s history, after the murder of founding father, Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman.

Another leftist friend was Major Zia Ud Din. He was a freedom fighter and as Naxalite remained under ground from 1971 to1989 when a general amnesty was declared.

I came back to West Pakistan for getting my promotion to Lt. Colonel, in my parent corp, Ordnance, in October 1971.From December 1971 onwards, I began to suffer memory loss till my retirement on medical grounds in 1973. I remained in the nut house for six months in 1973. As a Punjabi writer, I regained my memory and rebuilt my life. I remember every moment from the year 1971.

For operations and visits to my sub units, I travelled all over East Pakistan. I never killed anybody nor ever ordered any killing. I was fortunately not even witness to any massacre. But I knew what was going on in every sector. Thousands were killed and millions rendered homeless. Over nine million went as refugees to India. An order was given to kill the Hindus. I received the same order many times and was reminded of it . The West Pakistani soldiery considered that Kosher. The Hamood Ur Rehman Commission Report mentions this order. Of the ninety-three lakh (9.3 million) refugees in India, ninety lakh were Hindus .That gave us, world-wide, a bad press and morally destroyed us. Military defeat was easy due to feckless military leader ship. Only couple of battalions in the north offered some resistance. For example, the unit of Major Akram, who was awarded highest military medal, Nishan-e-Haider, resisted and he lost his life.

East Pakistan, part of the country a thousand miles away, was “a geographical and political absurdity” as John Gunther said in “Inside Asia Today”.

With federal capital in Islamabad, dominated by West Pakistani civil servants and what they called a Punjabi Army, East Pakistanis felt like subjects of a colony. They never liked it ever since 1947. In early sixties, my fellow Bengali officers called each other general, a rank they would have in an independent East Pakistan. We all took it in good humour. But 1971 was not a joke. Every single Bengali felt oppressed. Their life and death was now in the hands of what they called “Shala Punjabies”.

I granted a long interview, recounting what I saw and felt in 1971, to BBC Urdu Service in December 2007. The Bangladesh Liberation Museum asked for a copy of the interview. It was too lengthy for me to transcribe, translate and type. Here, I attempt to re-collect bits and pieces yet again.

What drove me mad? Well I felt the collective guilt of the Army action which at worst should have stopped by late April 1971. Moreover, when I returned to West Pakistan, here nobody was pushed about what had happened or was happening in East Pakistan. Thousands of innocent fellow citizens had been killed, women were raped and millions were ejected from their homes in East Pakistan but West Pakistan was calm. It went on and on .The world outside did not know very much either. This owes to the fact that reporters were not there. General Tikka was branded as “Butcher Of Bengal”. He hardly commanded for two weeks. Even during those two weeks, the real command was in the hands of General Mitha, his second-in-command. General Mitha literally knew every inch of Bengal. He personally took charge of every operation till General Niazi reached at the helm. At this juncture, General Mitha returned to GHQ. General Tikka, as governor, was a good administrator and made sure that all services ran. Trains, ferries, postal services, telephone lines were functioning and offices were open. There was no shortage of food, anywhere by May 1971. All in all, a better administrative situation than Pakistan of today ! But like Pakistan of today, nobody gave a damn about what happens to the poor and the minorities. My worry today is whether my granddaughter goes to Wisconsin University or Harvard. That nobody gets any education in my very large village or in the Urdu-medium schools of Lahore, where I have lived as for forty years so called concerned citizen, does not worry me or anyone else.

In Dhaka, where I served most of the time, there was a ghostly feeling until about mid April 1971. But gradually life returned to normal in the little circuit I moved: Cantonment, Dacca Club, Hotel Intercontinental, the Chinese restaurant near New Market. Like most human beings, I was not looking beyond my nose. I moved around a lot in the city. My brother-in-law, Riaz Ahmed Sipra was serving as SSP Dhaka. We met almost daily. But the site of rendezvous were officers’ mess, some club or a friend’s house in Dhan Mandi. Even if I could move everywhere, I did not peep into the hearts of the Bengalis. They were silent but felt oppressed and aware of the fact that the men in uniforms were masters of their lives and properties. I frequently met Mr Fazlul Qadir Chaudhry, Maulana Farid Ahmed and many other Muslim League and Jamaat leaders in one government office or the other. Prof. Ghulam Azam and Ch Rehmat Elahi also used to meet me to provide me volunteers to carry out sabotage across the Indian Border.

Dr Yasmin Sakia, an Indian scholar teaching in America, told me once an anecdote. When she asked why in the 1990s she could not find any cooperation in tracing rape-victims of 1971, she was told by a victim,” Those who offered us to the Army are rulers now.”

One can tell and twist the tale. The untold part also matters in history. Two Bengali soldiers whom I released from custody, were issued weapons and put back in uniform. They became POWs along 90 thousand Pakistani soldiers and spent three years in Indian jails. I discovered one of them serving as a cook in 1976 in Lahore. I had regained my memory. “Kamal –ud-Din you?” I exclaimed on sighting him. “Sir you got me into this!”

The Pakistani Army had thrown them out. The other guy teaches in Dhaka now.

The untold part of the story is that one day I enquired about one soldier from Cammandos unit. He used to be my favourite in 1962. “Sir, Aziz-ul –Haq was killed”, the Subedar told me rather sheepishly.

“How?” was not a relevant question in those days. Still I did ask.

“Sir! first they were put in a cell, later shot in the cell”.

My worst nightmare even forty years later is the sight of fellow soldiers being shot in a cell. “How many ?” was my next question. “There were six sir, but two survived. They pretended to be dead but were alive,” came the reply.

“Where are they ?”

“In Cammilla sir, under custody”.

I flew from Dacca to Commilla. I saw two barely recognizable wraiths. Only if you know what that means to a fellow soldier! It is worse than suffering or causing a thousand deaths. I got them out, ordered their uniforms and weapons. “Go, take your salary and weapons and come back after ten days.” They came back and fought alongside, were prisoners and then were with difficulty, repatriated in 1976. Such stories differ, depending on who reports.

All these incidents, often gone unreported, are not meant to boast about my innocence. I was guilty of having volunteered to go to East Pakistan. My brother-in-law Justice Sajjad Sipra was the only one who criticized my choice of posting. “You surely have no shame,” he said to my disconcert. My army friends celebrated my march from Kakul to Lahore. We drank and sang! None of us were in two minds. We were single-mindedly murderous! In the Air Force Mess at Dacca, over Scotch, a friend who later rose to a high rank said, “ I saw a gathering of Mukti Bahini in thousands. I made a few runs and let them have it. A few hundred bastards must have been killed” My heart sank. “Dear! it is the weekly Haath (Market) day and villagers gather there,” I informed him in horror. “ Surely they were all Bingo Bastards!,” he added. There were friends who boasted about their score. I had gone on a visit to Commilla. I met my old friend, then Lt. Col. Mirza Aslam Beg and my teacher, Gen. Shaukat Raza. Both expressed their distaste for what was happening. Tony, a journalist working with state-owned news agency APP, escaped to London. He wrote about these atrocities that officers had committed and boasted about. It was all published by the ‘Times of London’. The reading made me feel guilty as if I had been caught doing it myself! In the Army, you wear no separate uniform. We all share the guilt. We may not have killed. But we connived and were part of the same force. History does not forgive!

Source: Viewpoint, a Pakistani a non-profit venture having a long history of struggle for democracy, human rights and justice in Pakistan.

http://www.viewpointonline.net/a-khaki-dissident-on-1971.html

Read full story · Comments are closed

Rape of Bengal: Humanity’s Darkest Hour

Photo: Potrait of Ahmed Makhdoon, a staunch Sindiyat nationalist, written on his mind, inscribed in his heart and injected into his soul

Photo: Potrait of Ahmed Makhdoon, a staunch Sindiyat nationalist, written on his mind, inscribed in his heart and injected into his soul

– AHMED MAKHDOOM

ساٸين سسداٸين ڪرين مٿي سنڌ سڪار؍ دوست مٺا دلدار؍ عالم سڀ آباد ڪزين شاھ

ON 16TH December 1971 one of the most horrifying and horrendous, shameful and scandalous, disgraceful and dishonourable, ignominious and infamous act of cowardice and inhumanity came to an end after nine month long saga of chaos, genocide, arson and rape. It is on this day that the barbaric, savage and brutal Pakistan army – about 96,000 animals in uniform – surrendered in Dhaka to the Indian army. The preceding nine months of horror, tyranny and terror will go down in the history of mankind, without any doubt as its darkest hour.

And, I saw with my sinful eyes the rape of the daughters of Bengal and the massacre of the millions of innocent sons of Bengal take place right in my own front yard. And, I lived to tell the world what I saw!

Saturday, 7th November 2009, I was in London, where I attended a gathering – organised by Liberation Group at Irish Cultural Centre – gathering of the tortured, troubled, truncated, tormented and terrorised nations of the world–being brutally bludgeoned by the tyrants of the day. As a humble son of Jeejal Sindhrree, I was there, together with my evergreen warrior sister, Suraiya, and a young, proud dedicated Sindhi with a Sindhi cap, Saaeen Aachar Bozdar.

There were Palestinians, Iraqis, Kurds from Iraq and Turkey, Polisario from Morocco and Bengalees from Bangladesh. We were thoroughly entertained by a remarkable group of Turkish Kurds – with their traditional music and songs. There were speeches too by various nations screaming, sacrificing, striving, struggling g for freedom and human rights.

I, too, had an opportunity to present the case of my brutalised motherland, and fatherland, Sindh, savaged by the vultures, wolves and werewolves of the erstwhile, godless, gutless, senseless country known as Pakistan.

Although not much of a singer, I was so much impressed and inspired by an Irish gentleman and a young Kurdish girl and the lilting melodies of Turkish music band, that I had to come on the floor and dance and sing too in my course voice – I sang a song of Sindh, in sweet language of my motherland, “Peirein pawandee saan, chawandee saan, rahee vancju raat Bhambhore mein.”

پيرين پوندي سان؍ چوندي سان؍ رھي وڃ رات ڀنڀور ۾؍

This prompted a middle-aged handsome Bengalee brother to come forward and embrace and hug me. He told me about Bangladesh and asked me where I was at the time Bengalees got their independence. Here is what I told him……

1964 – I joined Juldia Maritime Academy, Chittagong, on a two-year Maritime Studies Course. We were three Sindhis at that time – from 2nd and 3rd Batches of the Academy: Saaeen Altaf Shaikh, who later became a Chief Engineer and a well-known Sindhi travelogue writer, Saaeen Bashir Vistro, my ggothaaee ڳوٺاٸي (from nearby village in Sindh, where I spent my childhood), who later on became a Master Mariner and a senior officer in the Shipping Company in Karachi, and myself.

We had Bengali friends who used to regularly take us to their homes in Dacca, Chittagong, and elsewhere in the then East Pakistan and introduce us to their folks. We had a special relationship with these cultured, artistic-minded, literate, highly sober, astute and loveable Bengalis. In return, we Sindhis were adored, respected and pampered with love and gifts and treated as members of their families.

One of my best friend was a Bengali from Dacca, Nurul Amin. They were seven brothers and had a little sister whom they used to call “Champa,” a sweet, cherubic, angel-faced girl of twelve, with pony tails and a flower in her hair. What a talented little angel she was! She used to play piano – a must item in almost every Bengali’s home – and used to sing with such a sweet and graceful voice that we used to sit transfixed and mesmerised as we heard her play the rhythmic tones of piano and sing.

There was one particular song that I loved to listen over and over again, and she used to always oblige me and my constant demands (farmaaish) and requests. The song was:

“Shaat bhaaee champa, jago rei jago rei; ghuum ghuum thaakei na ghuumei ree ghorei…..”
شات ڀاٸي چمپا جاگو ري؍ جاگو ري؍ گھوم گھوم ٿاڪي نا گھومي ري ھوري؍

This song was about seven brothers and their little sister (just like her own family). Till this day I have not forgotten that cherubic pony-tailed face, and that golden voice and the sweet melodies of her song, “Shaat bahee champa….”

1971 – I was a young Navigating Officer on board a ship and we were in Chittagong, the premier port of the then East Pakistan, loading Jute for Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Suddenly, we heard the guns screaming all over the ship. My wonderful friend, a Bengali, Second Officer, and the Bengali crew were massacred by the brutal, cowards and animals in uniform of the Pakistani Punjabi Army. I survived as I hid myself for four days – without any food, without any water – in the Fore Peak store of the ship.

Bangladesh was born as I came out of my sanctuary. My Bengalee brethren helped me, fed me, took care of me and showered love, affections and kindness over me. They paid for my Air Passage to Singapore, where I was to start a new life, a new beginning, a new chapter in the not-so-long history of my life, far, far away from my motherland, my fatherland, Sindh.

Singapore became my homeland for over forty years since then – and my friends the Bengalees constructed a beautiful home, cottages, palaces in my heart, mind and soul, which I would cherish for as long as I live.

Back to 1971 – what I saw in Chittagong had left deep wounds on my heart and soul – wounds inflicted by the rapists, murderers, barbarian Pakistani soldiers, as I saw streets reddened by the blood of innocent Bengalees, young girls raped and brutally cut into pieces, infants snatched from the arms of their mothers and banged viciously in cold blood against the walls and tree trunks till only the tiny feet were left in the pitiless, merciless. Filthy hands of the barbarians and savages in uniform. The young mothers were than brutally gang-raped and subsequently dismembered, tortured and bludgeoned to death. What I saw was much, much and much more – even the animals will not do the same to their pray – I do not have any words to describe the way children, men and women were lynched by these barbarous, sadistic savages as they shouted, “Allah-o-Akbar.”

I went to Dacca to meet my dear friend, Nurul Amin, and his family and especially to hear the song of Shaat Bhaaee Champa. What I heard and saw made me to scream at my Creator, “Why, Oh Lord, Why?” My dear friend was savagely murdered by the coward Pakistan Army and my sweet dear little twelve-year Champa was gang-raped by these animals, and was grabbed by these barbarians from her tiny legs and continuously hit on the walls of the house, till there were nothing but pieces of her flash and bones and blood all over.

Bengalees were now free – freedom that came at a great expense and tremendous sacrifices – free to take destiny in their own hands. JOEI BANGLA – amee tomakei bhalo bhashee.

جوٸي بنگلا؍ امي توماڪي ڀالو ڀاشي؍

I love you my brave, valiant brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Bangladesh!. We Sindhis had loved you and will always love you, my dear Bengalees. Long Live Bangladesh! Long Live Sindh!

And, Murshid Saaeen Bhittai says:

جي مون گھر اچين سپرين٫ ھوڏَ ڇڏي ھيڏي٫ ڳالھيون ڳجھ اندر جيون٫ تنِ گھريون تو ڏي٫ جي وھين گڏ گوڏي٫ تَ دونر سڻاياٸن دل جا ………(سر بروو ۱؍۱۸)

Jei muun ghari acheen supreen, hodda chhaddei heiddei, Ggaalhiyuun ggujha andara jyuun, tani ghuriyuun to ddei, Jei wiheen gaddu goddei, ta donra sunnaayaeen dil jaa. (Barwo:1/18) Supposing, Beloved! Thou cometh hither, Leaving Thy Vanity far, far away yonder; Fabulous anecdotes aplenty hidden within, Lifting the veil surely with Thee whisper; Supposing, Beloved! Thou knelth together, Carols within heart, chant for Thine pleasure.

……… Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom

First published in Ahmed Makhdoom’s Facebook, December 17, 2009

Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom, Professor, Oceanographic Sciences and Maritime Studies, Singapore, Malaysia

Via: Bangladesh Watchdog

Read full story · Comments are closed

Zulfiker Ali Bhuttos speech in UN Security Council on December 15, 1971

December 15: UN Security Council

We have met here today at a grave moment in the history of my country and I would request the Council kindly to bear with me and to hear the truth, the bitter truth. I know the United Nations; I know the Security Council I have attended their sessions before. The time has come when, as far as Pakistan is concerned, we shall have to speak the truth whether members of the Council like it or not. We were hoping that the Security Council, mindful of its responsibilities for the maintenance of world peace and justice, would act according to principles and bring an end to a naked, brutal aggression against my people. I came here for this reason. I was needed by the people of Pakistan, and when I was leaving Pakistan I. was in two minds whether: to go to the Security Council to represent the cause of my country, to represent the cause of a people that had been subjected to aggression, or to remain with my people, by their side, while they were being subjected to attack and violence. However, I felt that it was imperative for me to come here and seek justice from the Security Council. But I must say, whether the members like it or not, that the Security Council has denied my country that justice. From the moment I arrived we have been subjected to dilatory tactics.

It will be recalled that when the Indian Foreign Minister spoke and I spoke after him, I said that filibustering was taking place. That was my immediate observation. The Security Council, I am afraid, has excelled; in the art of filibustering, not only on substance but also on procedural matters. With some cynicism, I watched yesterday a full hour of the Security Council’s time wasted on whether the members of the Council would be ready to meet at 9.30 a.m. or that bed and breakfast required that they should meet at 11 a.m.

The representative of Somalia referred to the population of East Pakistan as 56 million, but later on he corrected himself to say that the population of Bengal-of Muslim Bengal-was 76 million. If he had waited for a few more days he need not have corrected himself because millions are dying, and it would have come to 56 million if the Council had kept on filibust ering and discussing whether it should meet today or tomorrow or the day after tomorrow-whether the lines of communication between New York and Moscow and Peking and other capitals would permit the members to obtain new instructions. Thus, we could have gone on and on. That is why I requested you, Mr. President, to convene a meeting of the Security Council immediately and I am thankful to you for having convened this meeting, because precious time is being lost. My countrymen, my people, are dying. So I think I can facilitate your efforts if I speak now. Perhaps this will be my last speech in the Security Council. So please bear with me because -I have some home truths to tell the Security Council. The world must know. My people must know. I have not come here to accept abject surrender. If the Security Council wants me to be a party to the legalization of abject surrender, then I say that under no circumstances shall it be so. Yesterday my eleven year old son telephoned me from Karachi and said “Do not come back with a document of surrender. We do not want to see you back in Pakistan if you do that.” I will not take back a document of surrender from the Security Council. I will not be a party to the legalization of aggression.

The Security Council has failed miserably, shamefully. “The Charter of the United Nations,” “the San Francisco Conference,” “international peace and justice”-these are the words we heard in our youth, and we were inspired by the concept of the United Nations maintaining international peace and justice and security. President Woodrow Wilson said that he fought the First World War to end wars for all time. The League of Nations came into being, and then the United Nations after it. What has the United Nations done? I know of the farce and the fraud of the United Nations. They come here and say, “Excellence, Excellence, comment allez-vous?” and all that. “A very good speech-you have spoken very well, tres bien.” We have heard all these things. The United Nations resembles those fashion houses which hide ugly realities by draping ungainly figures in alluring apparel. The concealment of realities is common to both but the ugly realities cannot remain hidden. You do not need a Secretary-General. You need a chief executioner.

Let us face the stark truth. I have got no stakes left for the moment. That is why I am speaking the truth from my heart. For four days we have been deliberating here. For four days the Security Council has procrastinated. Why? Because the object was for Dacca to fall. That was the object. It was quite clear to me from the beginning. All right, so what if Dacca falls? Cities and countries have fallen before. They have come under foreign occupation. China was under foreign occupation for years. Other countries have been under foreign occupation. France was under foreign occupation. Western Europe was under foreign occupation. So what if Dacca falls? So what if the whole of East Pakistan falls? So what if the whole of West Pakistan falls? So what if our state is obliterated? We will build a new Pakistan. We will build a better Pakistan. We will build a greater Pakistan.

The Security Council has acted short-sightedly by acquiescing in these dilatory tactics. You have reached a point when we shall say, “Do what you like.” If this point had not been reached we could have made a commit ment. We could have said, “All right, we are prepared to do some things.” Now why should we? You want us to be silenced by guns. Why should we say that we shall agree to anything? Now you decide what you like. Your decision will not be binding on us. You can decide what you like. If you had left us a margin of hope, we might have been a party to some settlement.

But the Indians are so short-sighted. Mr. President, you referred to the “distinguished” Foreign Minister of India. What may I ask is so “distin guished” about a policy of aggression he is trying to justify. How is he distinguished when his hands are full of blood, when his heart is full of venom? But you know they do not have vision.

The partition of India in 1947 took place because they did. not have vision. Now also they are lacking in vision. They talk about their ancient civilization and the mystique of India and all that. But they do not have vision at all. If I had been in his place, I would have acted differently. I extended a hand of friendship to him the other day. He should have seen what I meant. I am not talking as a puppet. I am talking as the authentic leader of the people of West Pakistan who elected me at the polls in a more impressive victory than the victory that Mujibur Rahman received in East Pakistan, and he should have taken cognizance of that. But he did not take cognizance of it. We could have opened a new page, a new chapter in our relations.

As I said, if the French and the Germans can come to terms, why cannot India and Pakistan come to terms? If the Turks and the Greeks can still talk sensibly as civilized people over Cyprus, why cannot India and Pakistan do likewise? If the Soviet Union and the United States can open a new page in their history, if China and the United States can open a new page in their history, why can we not usher a new era in. our relations? We could have done so. But as it was said about the 1967 Arab-Israel war, the military victory of Israel made it more difficult for Israel and the Arabs to reach a settlement. If you want to subjugate Pakistan militarily, you will find it more difficult to bring peace. I say that the choice for us is either to accept living in the-same subcontinent and co-operating for peace and progress, or to be implacable enemies of each other forever.

The Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union does not like my reference to the Roman Empire. I do not know what objection he has to it, unless he sees some similarity between his empire and the Roman Empire. I do not really see why he had any objection to that. But I shall again refer to the Roman Empire, and I hope that the Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union will have no objection to it because we want to have good relations with the Soviet Union and we want to open a new chapter with the Soviet Union because we are neighbors. I go back to the Roman Empire and I say what Cato said to the Romans, “Carthage must be destroyed.” If India thinks that it is going to subjugate Pakistan, Eastern Pakistan as well as Western Pakistan-because we are one people, we are one state- then we shall say, “Carthage must be destroyed.” We shall tell our children and they will tell their children that Carthage must be destroyed.

So please, Mr. President and members of the Security Council, realize the implications. The Pakistani nation is a brave nation. One of the greatest British generals said that the best infantry fighters in the world are the Pakistanis. We will fight. We will fight for a thousand years, if it comes to that. So do not go by momentary military victories. Stalingrad was over whelmed. Leningrad was besieged for a thousand days. People who want to be free and who want to maintain their personality will fight and will continue to fight for principles.

We were told about the realities; to accept the realities. What are the realities? Realities keep changing, the Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union knows that once the reality was that the Nazis were out side the gates of Moscow, but you fought valiantly, bravely, and the world saluted the Soviet Union for having resisted the realities that were sought to be imposed on it. The reality was that China was under the occupation of Japan, that Manchuria was taken-half of China. That was the reality. Since the Opium War, China has seen reality. The reality for France was that it was under occupation. But there were great men like President de Gaulle who left France and fought from across the seas. Ethiopia was under Fascist domination. But the Ethiopians fought. The Emperor of Ethiopia left his country and sought asylum in Britain. Ethiopia is free today. The realities that matter are those which are not temporary phenomena which are rooted in historic principles. The principle is that Pakistan is an indepen dent, sovereign state which came into being because of the volition of its people. That is the basic reality which has existed for 24 years. Pakistan would not have faced dismemberment like this if it had not been attacked by another country. This is not an internal movement. We have been subjected to attack by a militarily powerful neighbor. Who says that the new reality arose out of free will? Had there been the exercise of free will, India would not have attacked Pakistan. If India talks about the will of the people of East Pakistan and claims that it had to attack Pakistan in order to impose the will of the people of East Pakistan, then what has it done about Kashmir? East Pakistan is an integral part of Pakistan. Kashmir is a disputed territory. Why does India then not permit it to exercise its will?

But yesterday I saw how the Security Council was pandering to India. Even the great powers are pandering to India, saying to us, “Do not misunderstand,” “Would you please let us know” and “Would you please answer the following questions; I am not insisting on those questions, but if you do not mind.” India is intoxicated today with its military successes.

I told the Indian Permanent Representative in 1967 that we wanted good relations between the two countries-but based on principles, based on justice, based on equity, not based on exploitation and domination, because such relations cannot be lasting. What we want is a lasting, a permanent solution. I do not say this just today; I said that in 1967 to their Permanent Representative who was then the High Commissioner of India to Pakistan. I said that to the Foreign Minister of India when we were negotiating on Kashmir, “Let us settle this problem on the basis of equity and justice, so that we can live as good neighbors.” And I add today: we can still live as good neighbors, as friends. Do not wipe out that possibility by military conquest and military power.

This has been the worst form of aggression, of naked aggression. Even Poland was not invaded by Germany in this fashion. Even in that case there were some pretences, some excuses that were made. Here the excuse was, “We have refugees, so we must invade another country.” We said, “We are prepared to take those refugees back.” If we had said, “We arc not prepared to take them back,” then you could have said, “Well, you will be sunk.” India’s population rises by 13 million a year. The number of refugees was alleged to be 9 million, 10 million. According to our estimate they were 5 million. But that is not important; figures are not important. The point is that we were prepared to take them back. If India’s population can grow by 13 million a year, then with all the aid and assistance that India was getting for the refugees, it could have held on for a short period till Pakistan had a civilian government to negotiate the return of the refugees. I told the United States Ambassador in Pakistan that once a civilian govern ment came into power in Pakistan, was prepared to go to the refugee camps myself to talk to them. But India pre-empted it all because the refugee problem was used as a pretext to dismember my country. The refugee problem was used as a pretext, an ugly, crude pretext, a shameful pretext to invade my country, to invade East Pakistan.

The great powers will forgive me. I have addressed them in this moment of anguish, and they should understand. The great powers or the super powers-the super-duper-powers, the razzling-dazzling powers-the super powers have imposed their super will for the moment. But I am thankful to the people and the Government of the United States among the super powers, for the position it has taken. The people of the United States, to some extent have been misled by massive Indian propaganda. Because we had no paraphernalia of popular administration and government in Pakistan, there was a political vacuum. The Indians took advantage of that political vacuum and they spread out fast to project their point of view. As a result, American public opinion and public opinion in Great Britain and France and other countries was influenced. Unfortunately, nothing was said of the massacres that took place between 1 March and 25 March. No doubt there were mistakes on our side. I said yesterday that mistakes were made, and the Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union said that I had admitted mistakes. Well, that is not a sign of weakness, is it? Do we not all make mistakes? Are India and the Soviet Union the only two countries that have never made mistakes? I have made mistakes personally. But mistakes do not mean that my country must be destroyed, that my country must be dismembered. That is not the consequence of mistakes of government. Which government does not make mistakes? But if some government has made a mistake, does it-follow that the country itself must be dismembered, obliterated? Is that going to be the conclusion of the Security Council if it legalizes Indian aggression on the soil of Pakistan?

So you will see now: this is not the end of the road, this is the beginning of the road; this is not the end of the chapter, a new chapter has begun a new page has been written in international relations. This is gunboat diplomacy in its worst form. In a sense, it makes the Hitlerite aggression pale into insignificance because Hitlerite aggression was not accepted by the world. If the world is going to endorse this aggression, it will mean a new and most unfortunate chapter in international relations. A new chapter may have begun in India and Pakistan, but please do not start a new dreadful chapter in international relations. For us, it is a hand-to-hand, day-to-day, minute-to-minute fight. But do not do that to the rest of the world. Please do not permit this kind of naked, shameful barbaric aggression to hold sway. In the old days great warriors swept over the world-Changiz Khan, Subutai Khan, Alexander, Caesar, coming down to the great Napoleon. But this is worse, this is much worse than all that was done by the great conquerors of the world in the past. If the United Nations becomes a party to this kind of conquest, it will be much worse than all that has been done in the past. You will be turning the medium-sized and the small countries into the harlots of the world. You cannot do that. It is against civilized concepts: it is against all the rules of civilization and of international morality and justice.

The United States Government was criticized for supporting the position of Pakistan. What crime has the United States Government committed? It has taken a position identical to that of the whole world on the India-Pakistan conflict. That position was supported by 105 countries-it was 104 officially, but it was really 105 because one representative did not press the right button. That was the voice of the world. It was an international referendum. You talk about the election of 1970. Well, I am proud of the election of 1970 because my party emerged as the strongest party in West Pakistan. But here was an international poll and India flouted it. With such an attitude towards international opinion, how can India pretend to be sensitive to a national election in another country? The same India that refuses to hold a referendum in Kashmir?

The Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union talked about realities. Mr. Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union look at this reality. I know that you are the representative of a great country. You behave like one. The way you throw out your chest, the way you thump the table. you do not talk like Comrade Malik; you talk like Czar Malik. I see you are smiling. Well, I am not because my heart is bleeding. We want to be friends, but this is not the way to be friends when my country is decimated, sought to be destroyed, wiped out.

Why should China and the United States be criticized when the whole world is for Pakistan? You know that we have won a great political victory. We might have suffered a military defeat, but a political victory is more important than a military defeat because political victory is permanent while military defeat is temporary. The United States Government has acted according to its great traditions by supporting Pakistan, and I. will go to the people of the United States before I return home and tell them the truth. The United States has stood by the traditions of Jefferson, Madison. Hamilton, right down to Roosevelt and Wilson by supporting Pakistan as an independent state, its national integrity and its national unity. What wrong and crime has the United States committed? Why is the Indian delegation so annoyed with the United States? The Indian delegation is annoyed with U.S.-can you imagine that? If it had not been for the massive food assistance that the United States gave to India, India would have had starvation; its millions would have died. What hope will India give to the people of East Pakistan? What picture of hope is it going to give when its own people in Western Bengal sleep in the streets, where there is terrible poverty, where there is terrible injustice and exploitation, when the parlia mentary rule in West Bengal has been superseded by presidential rule? Is India going to do better for East Pakistan, for Muslim Bengal, than it has done for West Bengal? Thousands of West Bengali people sleep in the streets of Calcutta. The people of West Bengal are the poorest. India goes hat in hand to the United States for six million tons of food. If they are going to impose presidential-rule in West Bengal, in their Bengal, how can they do any better in our Bengal? They will not. And time will show that they will not.

So the United States has taken a correct and moral position. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I have sworn eternal hostility against any form of tyranny practiced over the mind of man”. This is a vast form of tyranny practiced over the mind of man and over the body of man. So the United States has adhered to its tradition. And if some misguided Senators were here, some young, misguided Senators who have been overtaken by Indian propaganda-and if the Permanent Representative of the United States were not from Texas-I would have told those young Senators that I was setting up the headquarters for a republic of Texas and making the former President-of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, the chief of that republic, in order to spread the cult of Bangladesh everywhere. Why can Texas not be free? Let there be a republic of Texas. We did not buy Bengal as Alaska was bought by the United States. We did not pay money to get our territory. We did not pay dollars to acquire territory. The people of the United States should appreciate the position taken by their Government.

Muslim Bengal was a part of Pakistan of its free will, not through money. We did not buy it as Alaska was purchased. Why do the people of the United States not see that? And we are beholden and thankful to the great People’s Republic of China. We shall always remain thankful for the position it has taken. It has taken a position based on principles of justice. And I thank the Third World for having supported a just cause, a right cause.

And now in the Security Council we have been frustrated by a veto. Let us build a monument to the veto, a big monument to the veto. Let us build a monument to the impotence and incapacity of the Security Council and the General Assembly. As you sow, so shall you reap. Remember that Biblical saying. Today, it is Pakistan. We are your guinea pigs today. But there will be other guinea pigs and you will see what happens. You will see how the chain of events unfolds itself. You want us to lick the dust. We are not going to lick the dust.

Britain and France have abstained from voting in order to play a role. I said the other day, with all due respect to those two great powers, that they have really exhausted their position in trying to play a role because now the only role they can play is to accept a shameless fait accompli. Britain and France abstained, and that abstention has cost us dearly. Gallic logic and Anglo-Saxon experience, whatever it is, have cost us dearly. If Britain and France had put their powerful weight behind the international community rather than sitting on the fence, the issue might have been different. There is no such animal as a neutral animal. You take positions. In that respect we admire the Soviet Union; it took a position, a wrong position, but it took a position. You have to take a position on these matters. You have to be either on the side of justice or on the side of injustice; you are either on the side of justice or on the side of injustice; you have to be either on the side of the aggressor or of the victim. There is no third road. It is a black and white situation in these matters; there is no grey involved. You are either for right or you are for wrong; you are either for justice or for injustice; you are either for aggression or for the victim. If the United Kingdom and France had earlier put their full weight behind the verdict of the inter­national community, I think that we would not have reached this position. But Great Britain and France want to come back into the subcontinent as Clive and Dupleix, in a different role, the role of peacemakers. They want a foot here and they want a foot there. I know that British interests in East Pakistan required this kind of opportunistic role because in East Pakistan they have their tea estates. They want the jute of East Pakistan. So that is why they sat on the fence. And I am sorry at France’s position because with France we had developed very good relations, extremely good relations. But they took this position. And now, today, neither Britain nor France can play a role because their resolution has been overtaken by events. There is a lot of goodwill for France in Pakistan, and they will not get the same goodwill in East Pakistan because in East Pakistan already the clock is now moving in another direction. Everyday that the Indian Army of occupation stays there, it will be a grim reminder for Muslim Bengal that they are under Hindu occupation, and you will see the result of it. You will see how it will turn out. Let them stay-why not? Let them stay. Let them swagger around. If they want to take East Pakistan, let them stay as an army of occupation. They are an army of occupation; how can they be called liberators? They will stay, and they will see how the clock is going to move in a different direction.

Finally, I am not a rat. I have never ratted in my life. I have faced assassination attempts, I have faced imprisonments. I have always confront ed crises. Today I am not ratting, but I am leaving your Security Council. I find it disgraceful to my person and to my country to remain here a moment longer than is necessary. I am not boycotting. Impose any decision, have a treaty worse than the Treaty of Versailles, legalize aggression, legalize occupation, legalize everything that has been illegal upto 15 December 1971. I will not be a party to it. We will fight; we will go back and fight. My country beckons me. Why should I waste my time here in the Security Council? I will not be a party to the ignominious surrender of a part of my country. You can take your Security Council. Here you are. I am going.

Via Doc Kazi

Read full story · Comments are closed

Pakistanis were misled into thinking that Bangladeshis were Hindus

Noted Pakistani writer Ahmad Salim has said that before the independence of Bangladesh the Pakistan government told the people of the then West Pakistan that the then East Pakistanis were Hindu due to their multi-dimensional culture.

Ahmad SelimSalim, a former professor of the Karachi University, said that in 1971 the people of West Pakistan were in the dark totally about what was really going on in the eastern part due to the false and malicious propaganda of the then military rulers of Pakistan.

Ahmad Salim, honorary coordinator of the South Asian Research and Resource Centre under the SAARC secretariat who is visiting Bangladesh, was giving a lecture on ‘Creative Responses in West Pakistan Regarding the Tragedy of 1971’ on Saturday.

The lecture at the RC Majumdar Arts Auditorium of Dhaka University was organised by Unnayan Onneshan, a centre for development research and action.

Presided over by Zaheda Ahmed, professor of history department of DU, the discussion meeting was attended, among others, by the chairman of Unnayan Onneshan, Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir.

Ahmad Selim, who suffered jail terms for writing against military atrocity in Bangladesh in 1971, also said that there were a good number of poems and other writings in different languages by renowned Pakistani writers protesting against the West Pakistani attack on East Pakistan. ‘But most of them were banned by the military rulers,’ he said.

A book containing the writings of Pakistani wordsmiths about the West Pakistani oppression of East Pakistan in 1971 will be published simultaneously in Pakistan and Bangladesh within a few months, said Salim.

He said the book, titled ‘Another Side of a Medal’, would be a compilation of writings that will explain a lot about the thoughts of the Pakistani people who did not agree with the atrocities of the then Pakistani government on the Bangladeshi people.

The New Age, May 20, 2007

Read full story · Comments are closed

Road To Bangladesh – Part Four : Rewards For The Demons

THE military problems of East Pakistan had been clearly seen by US consular at Dacca as early as 1958, several months before the Ayub Khan’s coup. In his telegram to State Department on May 29, 1958, he wrote, “To hold East Pakistan, a dictator would have to strengthen army here, now one under-strength division, including two Bengali battalions which might mutiny.”
Such foresight would be a very rare commodity in Pakistani leadership.

In a multi-ethnic state, the composition of the armed forces has both negative and positive impact on the society at large. This becomes especially important when military as an institution is involved in the direct running of the state as is the case of Pakistan. Both factors of low inclination of Bengalis towards soldiering and British theory of ‘Martial Races’ were responsible for almost no Bengali representation in the armed forces of Pakistan at the time of independence.

The first battalion of East Bengal Regiment (EBR) was raised in February 1948. The second battalion of EBR was raised in December 1948. This policy of incorporating the Bengalis was done half heartedly in the beginning as by 1968, there were only four Bengali regiments. There were several reasons for that. In a multi-ethnic society, where one dominant group defines the parameters of national security and proper code of patriotism, the group, which has different opinion, is seen as less ‘patriotic’. If the Bengali is less inclined to join the armed forces (which may have historical, social or cultural reasons), then it is assumed that he is less patriotic and his allegiance to the state is suspect. This is exactly what Pakistani leadership did in case of Bengalis.

The British theory of Bengalis being non-Martial was also prevalent among the Punjabi and Pushtun officers (the dominant groups in Pakistan army). In Air Force and Navy, the numbers of Bengalis were steadily increased. There were several reasons for that. Compared to army, these two arms of armed forces are less politically involved in coups. Second, these two arms require more technical skills and higher education standards to run state of the art machines and Bengalis were able to perform these functions. In the military academy, Kakul, the Bengali cadets were considered inferior to the ‘Martial Races’. One former instructor at the academy in 1950s stated that Bengalis were generally given poor grades and seldom given any higher appointments. Many of them were shunted out as ‘Duds’. The gulf between Bengali and non-Bengali officers was as wide as between the general populations of the two wings.

The total disregard of Bengali sentiments can be gauged by one incident which one Bengali cadet experienced during his stay at Kakul in 1970. At a dinner night, Major Shabbir Sharif (a good and well-respected officer of 6 Frontier Force Regiment who died in action in 1971 at Suleimanki sector) was sitting at the table with the Bengali cadet. He commented about the recent devastating cyclone in East Pakistan that more than hundred thousand people have perished. He then added that there were so many Bengalis that “I’m sure they will not be missed”.

The commander of Eastern theatre, Lt. General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi’s plan which he presented to the central government in June 1971 (when he was facing a full blown rebellion of his own population with no heavy equipment and air force), in his own words was, “… I would capture Agartala and a big chunk of Assam, and develop multiple thrusts into Indian Bengal. We would cripple the economy of Calcutta by blowing up bridges and sinking boats and ships in Hoogly River and create panic amongst the civilians. One air raid on Calcutta would set a sea of humanity in motion to get out of Calcutta”.

In summer of 1971, when Niazi was asked what will be his strategy in case of war, he had these words, which he uttered in the presence of senior military officers, “Have you not heard of the Niazi corridor theory? I will cross into India and march up the Ganges and capture Delhi and thus link up with Pakistan. This will be the corridor that will link East and West Pakistan. It was a corridor that the Quaid-e-Azam demanded and I will obtain it by force of arms”.

REWARDS FOR DEMONS

The tragic part is that no one was held accountable let alone punished for the tragedy. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the powerful chief executive of the country in the aftermath, therefore who was going to question him about his role? Many civilian bureaucrats close to regime enjoyed the same immunity. None of them felt any remorse or acknowledged even a grain of responsibility for their actions. Information Secretary of Yahya Khan, Roedad Khan continued to climb the ladders of promotions and retired with all perks and privileges from the senior most post. Ghulam Ishaque Khan weathered the socialism of Bhutto and Islamization of Zia very smoothly and ended up occupying the President House for quite a while.

The military as institution also failed in this regard. Even if one accepts the notion that a particular individual has not committed any wrong, decency demands that in the wake of such a disaster, one should honourably leave the scene quietly and let others take charge. Rather than held accountable, many key players in 1971 tragic drama rose in ranks and held cushy appointments after retirement. Yahya Khan died while he was confined to his house. To his credit, when the time came to face the truth and informing the nation about ceasefire, he said, “The responsibility is mine and I am not going to shift it to anybody else. Whether it is popular or not, I will do it”.

Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt. General Gul Hassan became C-in-C for a while and after being fired from the post accepted the ambassadorial assignment in Austria. Air Force Chief Air Marshal Rahim Khan became ambassador to Greece. Lt. General Tikka Khan (the architect of “Operation Searchlight” in East Pakistan) rose to become Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Major General Rahim Khan (he was accused of deserting his command and escaping in a helicopter to Burma hours before surrender at Dacca) became CGS after his return from Burma. After retirement, he served as Defence Secretary and later Chairman of Pakistan International Airline. Major General Rao Farman Ali (Political advisor of the regime in East Pakistan) became Managing Director of Fauji Foundation. He also served in the election cell set up by General Zia in July 1977, to utilize his skills of political manoeuvring which he had sharpened in East Pakistan.

Director General of Inter Services Intelligence (DG ISI) Major General Akbar Khan served as High Commissioner to United Kingdom. Director General of Military Intelligence (DG MI) Major General Iqbal Khan rose to become a four star general and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC). Major General Ghulam Omar (Secretary of National Security Council) served as Chairman of National Language Authority after retirement. Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Majeed Malik was promoted to Lt. General. After retirement, he served as ambassador to Morocco and later Minister of Kashmir Affairs.

Lt. General Niazi states that he sent back Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab to West Pakistan on charges of corruption. Arbab rose to become Lt. General, Corps Commander and Governor of Sindh province. After retirement, he served as ambassador to United Arab Emirates. Niazi after his release from India, became a politician for a while and started to address public rallies. The in charge of Khulna Naval Base, Commander Gul Zareen took a gunboat and escaped towards sea, where he was picked by a foreign ship. This occurred on December 7, nine days before the surrender. It is not known what action, if any, was taken against this officer.

General Musharraf’s comments about accountability of officers accused of misconduct in 1971 is not correct. He stated, “It was a tragic part of our history but the nation should move forward rather than living in the past. We should leave the matter to history. As a Pakistani, I would like to forget 1971”. If the nation forgets 1971, it is more likely that the mistakes will be repeated. Many actors of 1971 have died. It is the moral duty of those who are living to honestly admit about their role. Admitting one’s mistake is a sign of greatness and not weakness. In the strict legal sense, everybody is innocent as no one has been tried in a competent court of law and convicted. There are more higher values, which need to be upheld. The code of conduct of a soldier and moral law necessitates that those individuals who are still alive should come up with the truth rather than attempting to save their distorted sense of ‘honour’.

Conclusion: In a multi-ethnic society like Pakistan, where all ethnic groups are not represented in the institution of armed forces can result in a very complicated situation when army takes control of the state. The military’s seizure of power have the effect of ethnicization of areas of politics not formerly ethnically salient and/or intensifying ethnic awareness where it already exists. This is a prelude to a violent showdown between the state and the aggrieved ethnic group. The country has seen this with Bengalis, Baluchs, Sindhis and Muhajirs.

The reason of opening of old wounds (over) thirty years later is the tragic fact that the nation and its leaders refuse to face the facts. As a nation, the first step for Pakistan is to admit its mistakes and tender apology to Bengalis for the conduct in 1971. For a fresh start, it is essential that all skeletons in the closets should be taken out. Unless, all old demons are taken out from darkness and exorcised, they will keep haunting the nation forever.

[This is the concluding part of the Pakistan Defence Journal analysis released by SAN-Feature Service in four abridged installments.- SAN-Feature Service]

Read full story · Comments are closed

Road to Bangladesh- Part Three A Pakistani Defence Journal report

1954 provincial elections were a watershed in the history of Pakistan. The United Front (consisting of Fazlul Haq’s Krishak Sramik Party and Suharwardy’s Awami League) swept the elections. United Front won 223 of the 237 Muslim seats and had many allies among the 72 non-Muslim elected members. Muslim League was wiped out of the East Bengal during this election.

West Pakistani ruling elite’s apprehensions about the new Bengali leadership were re-enforced by the international politics and Pakistan’s attempts to join US sponsored military pacts against the Communism. When the defence treaty with United States was announced in February 1954, there was a general protest in East Bengal. Several demonstrations were held and newly elected assembly members signed a protest statement. This signature proved to be the death sentence of the provincial assembly. The ruling group in Karachi (Governor General Ghulam Muhammad, C-in-C General Ayub Khan and Defence Secretary Sikander Mirza) saw this situation as a grave threat to their vision for the country and future relationship with US, which would be a foundation stone of this policy. They concluded that to show to Washington that Pakistan was a serious ally and in full control of its house, East Pakistan’s political process has to be checked.

On May 19, 1954, the mutual defence agreement was signed in Karachi between US and Pakistan and eleven days later, Governor General dismissed East Bengal Provincial Assembly (In fact it was not the Assembly but the cabinet was dismissed: editor) on the flimsy charge that Fazlul Haq had uttered separatist words to Indian media. The central government sent two of its most notorious bureaucrats as Governor (Iskandar Mirza) and Chief Secretary (N.M. Khan) to East Pakistan to bring Bengalis in line. The plan was not for a short- term scuttling of the political process but a long-term as Ayub Khan confided with US ambassador. Ayub very candidly told the US ambassador that, ‘it would be necessary to keep military rule in effect in East Pakistan for a considerable length of time’.

Ayub�s rule from 1958 to 1969 with banning of political activity and running of government through a strong central authority pushed Bengalis further in the background. The protests continue to simmer throughout this period, which finally exploded in Ayub’s face in 1969. By that time, Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the dominant force (in former East Pakistan) . The central government co-opted few Bengalis to give a facade of Bengali participation. They had no popular base. Out of 16 East Pakistanis who served as ministers in Ayub government, 4 were from civil services and one journalist(Dawan editor Altaf Hossain) . The remaining 11 members were secondary leaders of Muslim League, 8 of whom had contested and lost the election of 1954 (the only election held in East Pakistan on the basis of adult franchise). The governor of East Pakistan,(Monaem Khan) who held the office for seven long years, had lost so heavily in 1954 elections that his deposit was forfeited.

Dance of Death : ‘The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable.’ General Pervez Musharraf writing in the visitors’ book at Savar Memorial for the Martyrs of 1971 in Dacca, July 2002 31.When Yahya Khan took control of the state in 1969, the country was effectively divided on all known fault lines. The separation between the two wings had been completed at the psychological level. The military elite failed to understand the dynamics of their own society. They embarked on an ambitious but un-realistic goal of higher level of national cohesion in the absence of genuine participation.

In March 1971, they took the fatal decision on the basis of their thoughts that the conflict is an artificial one and they will control it by attacking it directly and with brutal force. In this assumption, all the civilians of West Pakistan acy and all political parties) were in agreement with the military’s point of view.

In the background of general mistrust and prejudice against Bengalis, when Bengali demands increased, so was the anger against them. The phenomenon was universal in West Pakistan affecting both civilians and army officers. By early 1971, there was a general consensus among the military leadership with probably very few exceptions (Lt. General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was one) that the only solution left was the use of force.

Gen. Yahya Khan called a meeting of Governors and Martial Law Administrators on February 22. Lt. General Yaqub Khan recalled the thought of Yahya Khan about use of strict measures. ‘He thought that a ‘whiff of the grapeshot’ would do the trick and reimposition of the rigours of martial law would create no problems.

To be fair to Yahya, he was not alone in this assessment. Almost all civil and military leadership was of the same view. Niazi explaining the apprehensions of West Pakistanis states, ‘The government would be formed by Bengalis, the iron fist in the velvet glove would be that of Hindus. …’. After the sweeping victory of Awami League in 1970, Yahya’s intelligence Chief, Major General Akbar Khan stated that, ‘we will not hand over power to these bastards’.

In June 1971, in a divisional commander’s meeting, almost all generals disapproved negotiations with Awami League and stated, ‘we must finish this thing’. During a visit to Dacca during the March 1971 operation, a close associate of Yahya stated, ‘There can be no political settlement with the ‘Bingos’ till they are sorted out well and proper. The civilians of West Pakistan in general had the same thinking. Bhutto had claimed that the bastions of power of Pakistan were Punjab and Sindh. The civil service held the general idea that, ‘a taste of the danda – the big stick – would cow down the Bengali babu’. The civilian bureaucrats serving the regime, like Information Secretary Roedad Khan were advising the generals about ‘putting some fear of God’ in Bengalis and how to purify Bengali race and culture by Arabising the Bengali script.

When the Bengali soldiers, police officials, diplomats and airline pilots were defecting en masse, the members of the regime were re-assuring the Pakistani envoys (Major General Ghulam Omar, Information Secretary Roedad Khan and Foreign Secretary Sultan Muhammad met with Pakistani envoys in Tehran and Geneva) that everything was under control and the majority of Bengalis were with Pakistan. This was being told when they could not get a single Bengali to work at Dacca radio station and in an ironic twist, Pakistani representative (Abu Saeed Chowdhry) attending a human right conference at Geneva had defected.

This general thought process was not limited to only senior level. In soldier’s mind when conclusion was reached that Bengalis are traitors then the next line of action was quite obvious. You don’t negotiate with traitors, you finish them off to save the country from their ravages. A Pushtun ex-cavalry officer has eloquently expressed this thinking. During a conversation in early 1971, he dismissed Bengalis as cowards and predicted that they will run when first shot is fired. He confidently stated, ‘Do you know what an armoured regiment can do in Bengal? It will go through the Bengalis (he used the derogatory term ‘Bingo’) like a knife through the butter.

In March 1971, when the military action started, most officers and rank and file justified their actions on the basis of whatever seems plausible to them. At 16th Division HQ, Anthony Mascarenhas(journalist) was told, “we are determined to cleanse East Pakistan once and for all of the threat of secession, even if it means killing off two million people and ruling the province as a colony for 30 years”. At 9th Division HQ at Comilla, Major Bashir justified the military action by stating that Bengali Muslims were ‘Hindu at heart’ and this was a war between pure and impure. His superior Colonel Naim justified the killing of Hindu civilian population to prevent a Hindu take over of Bengali commerce and culture.

A senior officer in Khulna told Maurice Quintance of Reuters, “It took me five days to get control of this area. We killed everyone who came in our way. We never bothered to count bodies”. Captain Chaudhry commented after the March operation that, “Bengalis have been sorted out well and proper – at least for a generation”. Major Malik agreeing with this assessment, remarked that, “Yes, they only know the language of force. Their history says so”.

The March 1971 military operation resulted in deaths of a large number of civilian Bengali operation. Bengalis being not in a position to tackle the well-organized army, turned their rage at the non-Bengali community amidst them. …….. On Bengali side, some have given exaggerated accounts of atrocities, while on Pakistan side there has been total denial, which has resulted in much confusion. Now there is enough evidence to suggest that there was a planned and systematic killing of civilians, especially educated elite and Hindu civilians. Niazi on his assumption of command in East Pakistan, issued a secret directive to all formations which stated, “Since my arrival, I have heard numerous reports of troops indulging in loot and arson, killing at random and without reason in areas cleared of the anti-state elements. Of late, there have been reports of rape… There is talk that looted material has been sent to West Pakistan through returning families”. A former Brigadier stated that Farman Ali was the principle architect of the plan to crush the Bengalis with force and was directly involved in the Hindu Basti massacre. Niazi also admits that a ‘scorched earth policy’ was carried by Tikka Khan and his orders of “I want the land and not the people” was carried out in letter and spirit by Major General Framan and Brigadier Jehanzeb Arbab in Dhaka. He also admitted that tanks and mortars were used against university students and 7th Brigade under Arbab not only killed people in Dacca but also resorted to looting banks and other places.The figures may be disputed by different parties but the fact remains that large scale death and destruction ensued since March 25 army operation. Enough information from Pakistani side and from Bengali side has emerged to support this conclusion.

-SAN-Feature Service

[An unusual analysis of events by Pakistan defense Journal on the Pakistani misrule on the majority Bengalis and the birth of Bangladesh in 1971]

Read full story · Comments are closed

Road to Bangladesh-2 An unusual Pakistani analysis

[This article ‘Demons of December, Road from East Pakistan to Bangladesh’ by Hamid Hussain of the Pakistan Defence Journal,a magazine devoted to military affairs and closely connected to Pakistan military establishment, gives an unusual Pakistani view on Bangladesh independence . It will not obviously satisfy everyone in its account of historical background, but its final conclusion is a welcome.]

“AFTER independence, several factors contributed to the gradual widening of gulf between the two wings. The fundamental factor was the difficulty of West Pakistani elite to accept Bengalis as equal partners. The rapid alienation of Bengalis was partly due to the fact that Bengali elite’s access to power had traditionally been through political mobilization and not bureaucracy. In the absence of a democratic culture and stark absence of Bengalis from the two most important decision making bodies, civilian bureaucracy and military, made the Bengali apprehensions acute. The establishment of a highly centralized regime in 1958 and banning of political parties effectively cut them out of the national scene with no voice at national level.

Poorly thought out decisions made by a small clique, which were either made in total ignorance of ground realities or with deep-seated prejudice against the Bengalis contributed to increasing Bengali alienation. In the absence of detailed thought out policies, which are discussed at various forums, resulted in total ignorance on part of the general population of West Pakistan what was being done to the Bengali majority in the name of national unity. The initial discontent was based on the language issue, when Pakistan government decided that there will be only one national language and that will be Urdu. Even Bengali Muslim League leaders (Tajuddin Ahmad and Abul Hashim) expressed their apprehensions about the neglect of Bengali and its consequences.

In September 1947, government of Pakistan printed currency notes, issued coins, printed money orders and post cards in English and Urdu only. In 1947, the circular of Pakistan Public Service Commission had made provision of Urdu, English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Latin and other languages but made no provision of Bengali. In an attempt to ‘purify’ Bengali culture of Hindu influences, Pakistan government decided to change the script of Bengali. In total disregard of the local sentiments and even constitution itself, central government set up centres teaching Bengali in Arabic script. The Bengali protest started on this language issue. Pakistan government was forced to acknowledge Bengali as one of the state language in 1954 due to overwhelming Bengali demands but in the process, the gulf between two wings further widened.

Every genuine demand by Bengalis was denounced as ‘a conspiracy to destroy Pakistan’. The ruling elite dubbed the Bengali advocates of their rights as ‘anti-state’ and ‘anti-Islam’ and used epithets like ‘dogs let loose on the soil of Pakistan’. Suharwardy was threatened with the loss of his citizenship. The Punjabi Governor of East Pakistan, Firoz Khan Noon described the Bengali voice of dissent as a conspiracy of ‘clever politicians and disruptionists from within the Muslim community and caste Hindus and communists from Calcutta as well as from inside Pakistan’. These ill-thought policies of central government further hardened the Bengali attitude.

The debates about the future constitution of the country further revealed the different thought process prevalent among the representatives of the two wings. A very important fact, which has been overlooked, is the membership of first Constituent Assembly. It had 44 members from East Bengal, 22 from Punjab, 5 from Sindh, 3 from North West Frontier Province and one from Balochistan. In 1949, the Basic Principles Committee submitted its report and recommended a federal democracy for the new nation. The members from Punjab objected that just because of being larger in number, Bengalis should not be allowed to have a dominant position (a similar stand taken by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1971 when he stated that the bastions of power are Punjab and Sindh). They probably had a different idea about parliamentary democracy. If this view is accepted then this means that ‘certain citizens are more equal than others’. Bengalis accepted the principle of parity in the legislature on the assumption that same will apply to Bengali representation in other areas including economic, civil service and military. Fearing the prospects of Bengalis joining hands with smaller provinces of the Western wing to press for their demands, Ayub Khan (who was C-in-C and also Defence Minister) came with the idea of ‘Unification of West Pakistan’ and initiated the process of merger of four provinces.

After the 1958 coup, Ayub held the firm control and ran all affairs with the help of civilian bureaucracy. Ayub’s own hand picked cabinet members from East Pakistan (Muhammad Ibraheem, Abul Qasim Khan and Habib ur Rahman) demanded greater autonomy during discussions on Constitution and warned of grave dangers of a highly centralized government. Several 4:3 votes (there were four members from West Pakistan and three from Eastern wing) during these deliberations clearly indicated a genuine different thought process and different perspective among ministers from the two wings. Ayub’s response to the arguments of ministers from East Pakistan was that after the promulgation of the constitution, he dropped all three from the cabinet. This shows that Ayub kept these three Bengali ministers during the deliberations to show that the Bengali view was being considered while actually, he resented their views. As expected, the promulgation of 1962 Constitution resulted in massive protests in Eastern wing led by the students.

Similarly, economic issue was also a thorny one. The central government kept avoiding this on one or other pretext but was forced to address it as there was a unanimous consensus of Bengalis on the economic issue. In 1951, Sir Jeremy Reisman was invited to evaluate the existing allocation of revenues and recommend any changes. The results of this award gave credence to Bengali point of view. The highly centralized rule of Ayub Khan further alienated the Bengalis as their representation in military and civilian bureaucracy was very low. The Bengali disaffection was obvious even to a blind man but the rulers chose to ignore it. In July 1961, Intelligence Bureau (IB) report about the feelings of Bengali population clearly stated that, �The people in this province will not be satisfied unless the Constitution ensures them in reality equal and effective participation in the management of the affairs of the country, equal share of development resources and, in particular, full control over the administration of this province. The intelligentsia would also like to see a directive principle in the Constitution to increase speedily East Pakistan’s share in the defence services as well as equal representation of East Pakistanis in the central services’. Alas, a mid-level police official of IB was more farsighted than the rulers of the country.

Face To Face:

‘Does it not put you to shame that every bit of reasonable demand of East Pakistan has got to be secured from you at tremendous cost and after bitter struggle as if snatched from unwilling foreign rulers as reluctant concessions’. Said Awami League’s Leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 1966, to the West Pakistani rulers.

1971 did not occur in a vacuum. It was the logical outcome of the trends, which were operational for at least few decades, and no attempt was made to address the fundamental issues. The initial Bengali attempts were to get their due share in the country’s decision-making process. It later evolved into Bengali nationalism and moved from greater autonomy to finally into struggle for complete independence. Every ill-thought step taken by the central government from banning the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore on national media to administrative and economic measures radicalized the Bengali population one step further.

Even three decades later, with all the hindsight, Pakistan is unable to comprehend the root causes of Bengali alienation. In 1998, a retired Lt. General is of the view that, ‘Bengali nationalism was only incidental, fostered by India to serve her purpose and larger interests in the region’. Major General (r) Rao Farman Ali (the political advisor of the military regime in former East Pakistan and most informed person about the crisis) with all the hindsight has this to say about the landslide victory of Awami League in 1970 elections, ‘Total 37% votes were polled. Of this 20% were polled by Hindus from India, Awami League got 15% and Jamaat-e-Islami 2%’. Another commentator views the poor relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the ‘stubbornness of Indian lobby in the bureaucracy of BD (Bangladesh)’ and this according to him is due to the ‘self-assigned objectives of keeping both the brothers apart’. Complete lack of understanding about the basic facts about their own society and paucity of information is quite evident from such assumptions.

-SAN-Feature Service

Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Road to Bangladesh-1 An unusual Pakistani analysis

By Hamid Hussain

DECEMBER is the anniversary month of the independence of Bangladesh and break up of Pakistan. The memories of that critical period of the history of the two countries are very painful for everyone who was affected in one way or the other. There has been very little attempt to dispassionately and critically analyze various aspects of that period. Most of the writings have been limited to accusations and counter-accusations and mud slinging. Some have picked up on one person and blamed him for the whole disaster. Others have tried to defend their favourite and passed the buck to someone else. Most of the discussion has been limited to the last act of the play, which was played in 1971, ignoring the whole historical context. At the end stage of a crisis when the powerful currents of history are in full swing, as one commentator has correctly pointed that an individual cannot alter the movement of historical forces, which are far stronger than any individual actor.
Several ethnic sub-groups in Pakistan, in addition to the clash on material issues have jealousies, deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes about each other. The ruling elite of Pakistan views the political consciousness of ethnic groups as subversive. They have tried to use ‘the twin instruments of Islam and the state to overcome this subversive force’. This creates a vicious cycle, where every attempt to centralize control over periphery results is hardening of the attitude of the one’s at the receiving end. The threat to state’s territorial integrity tends to arise out of local reaction to the centre’s heavy handed imposition of uniformity on diverse communities in the first instance, and the violent repression of subsequent local dissent.This is the essential component of the whole affair.

Bengalis had genuine grievances against the Western wing, but their success came, when it did, not because their assumptions were more accurate than those permeating the Pakistani elite-culture but because their strategic alliance with Delhi and Moscow gave them an advantage Islamabad was unable to match.

Historical Background: The prejudice against Bengali Muslims has a long history and was quite prevalent long before Pakistan emerged as an independent state. Muslim intellectuals, elites and politicians, which belonged to northern India, had the picture of a Muslim as tall, handsome and martial in character. As Bengali Muslims didn�t fit into this prejudiced and racist picture, therefore they were ignored at best and when even allowed to come closer, were considered inferior. Bengalis were shunned despite their political advancement and strong resentment against oppression and tyranny. A large portion of Bengali Muslims was converts from Hindu low castes. The ‘noble borns’ of Bengal claimed foreign ancestry (Syed, Afghan, Mughal). The majority of Bengali Muslim population which had customs common with Hindu peasantry and had a proud sense of their language was not considered as ‘proper Muslims’ by some Bengali ‘nobles’ and almost all of West Pakistan.
This perception later influenced the official decision to ‘Islamize’ and ‘purify’ East Bengali culture in Pakistan after 1947. The British theory of ‘Martial Races’ was generally well received by the natives in this background.

In later part of nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, several important Muslim leaders advocated division of India on the basis of separate Muslim identity. The prejudice against Bengali Muslims was so prevalent and widespread, that no body cared about them and did not consider them as part of Indian Muslim community. In fifty years, about 15 such schemes were proposed but not even a single one mentioned Bengal or Bengali Muslims. Sir Muhammad Iqbal who proposed the idea of Pakistan in his famous Allahabad address in 1930 did not include Bengali Muslims in his scheme. Chaudry Rehmat Ali who coined the word ‘Pakistan’ for his new country did not bother to fit the majority population of future Pakistan in his name. The Bengali leader, Fazlul Haq who presented the Pakistan Resolution in 1940 was forced to resign from Muslim League in September 1941. The Muslim League leadership never trusted Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy, who was the elected Chief Minister of Bengal. He was not given a seat at Working Committee of All India Muslim League. Upper class elite dominated Bengal Muslim League. It got political support from Khawaja Nazimuddin, financial support from Mirza Abul Hassan Ispahani and media support from Maulana Akram Khan.
In 1947, when the new state of Pakistan emerged, there was a very unique and difficult dilemma facing the new nation. More than a 1000 miles of hostile territory of India separated the two wings. East Pakistan contained more than half of the population but only one-sixth of the land. In Eastern wing, population was more homogenous ethnically and linguistically while Western wing had five clearly diverse groups (Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluch, Pushtuns and newly immigrated Muslims from India called Muhajirs). In eastern wing, the non-Muslim population was 23% while in western wing only 3 %. Peasant proprietors dominated agriculture sector in Bengal compared to large feudal estates in West Pakistan. Bengalis were the most politically conscious group of Pakistan. In addition, there was a long tradition of strong leftist presence in Bengal. Literacy rate was 30% in East compared to 20% in West Pakistan. In 1950, East Bengal Provincial legislature passed a landmark bill called East Bengal State Land Acquisition and Tenancy Act of 1950. This law abolished the permanent settlement, which ended the Zamindari system that supported the landed elite. The land holding was limited to 100 Bighas (about 33 acres) which affected both Hindu and Muslim landlords. In my view this little known single piece of legislation was a crucial factor which would impact the future course of relationship between the two wings. This law rang the alarm bells in West Pakistani ruling elite, which was dominated by the landed aristocracy.

The demand for Pakistan had a millennial appeal, which, for a while, covered up the deep divisions within the Muslim community. After the emergence of Pakistan, there were demands for clarity as to what it stood for, and fissiparous tendencies began to set in. This is the historical context of the events up to independence in 1947, which is very important in understanding of the events, which plagued the country later.

Second Class Citizens of the New Nation:

‘Your music is so sweet. I wish to God, you Bengalis were half as sweet yourself’. Said Field Marshal Ayub Khan to his Bengali friend.

[This article ‘Demons of December, Road from East Pakistan to Bangladesh’ by Hamid Hussain of the Pakistan Defence Journal,a magazine devoted to military affairs and closely connected to Pakistan military establishment, gives an unusual Pakistani view on Bangladesh independence . It will not obviously satisfy everyone in its account of historical background, but its final conclusion is welcome. SAN-Feature Service serializes the article in installments ]

http://www.bangladeshobserveronline.com//new/2003/12/04/editorial.htm

Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Road from East Pakistan to Bangladesh

An article of Hamid Hussain was published in the Pakistan defense journal magazine, which gives an unusual view by a Pakistani (They usually try to avoid the topic as if these are exaggerated facts). This was later published in the Bangladesh Observer in four parts:

* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 1)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 2)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 3)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis -Reward for the demons(Part 4)

Some excerpts from the articles are highlighted here:

* Historical Background- East Pakistanis were treated as second class citizens:

The prejudice against Bengali Muslims has a long history and was quite prevalent long before Pakistan emerged as an independent state. Muslim intellectuals, elites and politicians, which belonged to northern India, had the picture of a Muslim as tall, handsome and martial in character. As Bengali Muslims did not fit into this prejudiced and racist picture, therefore they were ignored at best and when even allowed to come closer, were considered inferior. Bengalis were shunned despite their political advancement and strong resentment against oppression and tyranny. A large portion of Bengali Muslims was converts from Hindu low castes. The “noble borns” of Bengal claimed foreign ancestry (Syed, Afghan, Mughal). The majority of Bengali Muslim population which had customs common with Hindu peasantry and had a proud sense of their language was not considered as “proper Muslims” by some Bengali “nobles” and almost all of West Pakistan.This perception later influenced the official decision to “Islamize” and “purify” East Bengali culture in Pakistan after 1947. The British theory of “Martial Races” was generally well received by the natives in this background.* Bangla language movement in 1952 paved the road:Pakistan government was forced to acknowledge Bengali as one of the state language in 1954 due to overwhelming Bengali demands but in the process, the gulf between two wings further widened. * Conspiracy theory propagated to the common people:

Every genuine demand by Bengalis was denounced as “a conspiracy to destroy Pakistan”. The ruling elite dubbed the Bengali advocates of their rights as “anti-state” and “anti-Islam” and used epithets like “dogs let loose on the soil of Pakistan”.

* Why the 1971 Liberation war:

1971 did not occur in a vacuum. It was the logical outcome of the trends, which were operational for at least few decades, and no attempt was made to address the fundamental issues. The initial Bengali attempts were to get their due share in the country’s decision-making process. It later evolved into Bengali nationalism and moved from greater autonomy to finally into struggle for complete independence. Every ill-thought step taken by the central government from banning the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore on national media to administrative and economic measures radicalized the Bengali population one step further.

* Even three decades later, with all the hindsight, Pakistan is unable to comprehend the root causes of Bengali alienation:

In 1998, a retired Lt. General is of the view that, “Bengali nationalism was only incidental, fostered by India to serve her purpose and larger interests in the region”.
Another commentator views the poor relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the “stubbornness of Indian lobby in the bureaucracy of BD (Bangladesh)” and this according to him is due to the “self-assigned objectives of keeping both the brothers apart”. Complete lack of understanding about the basic facts about their own society and paucity of information is quite evident from such assumptions.

* Some changing views but not convincing enough in admitting those crimes committed in 1971:

“The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable.” General Pervez Musharraf writing in the visitors’ book at Savar Memorial for the Martyrs of 1971 in Dacca, July 2002 31. He also said “It was a tragic part of our history but the nation should move forward rather than living in the past. We should leave the matter to history. As a Pakistani, I would like to forget 1971”.

* The proof of the crimes and the rationales:

In March 1971, when the military action started, most officers and rank and file justified their actions on the basis of whatever seems plausible to them. At 16th Division HQ, Anthony Mascarenhas(journalist) was told, “we are determined to cleanse East Pakistan once and for all of the threat of secession, even if it means killing off two million people and ruling the province as a colony for 30 years”. At 9th Division HQ at Comilla, Major Bashir justified the military action by stating that Bengali Muslims were “Hindu at heart” and this was a war between pure and impure. His superior Colonel Naim justified the killing of Hindu civilian population to prevent a Hindu take over of Bengali commerce and culture.A senior officer in Khulna told Maurice Quintance of Reuters, “It took me five days to get control of this area. We killed everyone who came in our way. We never bothered to count bodies”. Captain Chaudhry commented after the March operation that, “Bengalis have been sorted out well and proper – at least for a generation”* Reward for the Demons:The tragic part is that no one was held accountable let alone punished for the tragedy. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the powerful chief executive of the country in the aftermath, therefore who was going to question him about his role? Many civilian bureaucrats close to regime enjoyed the same immunity. None of them felt any remorse or acknowledged even a grain of responsibility for their actions.* Conclusion – Admit mistake and tender apology:

The reason of opening of old wounds (over) thirty years later is the tragic fact that the nation and its leaders refuse to face the facts. As a nation, the first step for Pakistan is to admit its mistakes and tender apology to Bengalis for the conduct in 1971. For a fresh start, it is essential that all skeletons in the closets should be taken out. Unless, all old demons are taken out from darkness and exorcised, they will keep haunting the nation forever.

Read full story · Comments { 0 }