Brief Review of Sordid History - By : Rana Abdul Baqi

imageBrief Review of Sordid History
Rana Abdul Baqi

On December 16, 1971, the official Pakistani media in West Pakistan continued to look normal and unconcerned to Pakistan's political and military debacle in East Pakistan. For days, people in West Pakistan did not believe the foreign media reports of Pakistani troops surrendering to Joint Eastern Command of Indian and Bangladesh Mukti Bahini jointly led by Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Arora. Meanwhile, the fact may not be ignored that India was secretly conspiring to dismember Paistan since the new born state came into being on 14 August, 1947 after an agreement signed by the three stake holders in British India i.e., Lord Mount Batten the last Britsh Viceroy, Indian National Congress led by Jawahar Lal Nehru, Ghandi Ji / their Sikh partners, and Muslim League led by Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, dated 3rd of June, 1947. Since India gained independence, the Indian Leaders continue to conspire to dismember Pakistan, by forcefully occupying Kashmir and by organized killing of Muslims in India by extermist Hindu and Sikh terrorist organization, forcing a large population of Muslims to migrated to newly born country Pakistan. However, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah foiled their early conspiracies to undo Pakistan. India also failed to achieve its objective in 1965 war, the two sides held a Summit Conference at Tashkentand signed an agreement on 10 January, 1966, agreeing upon that both sides will create good neighbourly relations in accordance with the United Nations Charter. It was also agreed upon that relations between India and Pakistan shall be based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other. However, after singning the Tashkent declaration India started interfering in the internal affairs of East Pakistan through Agarthala Conspiracy in June 1968. Mr. Mujeeb ur Rehman never denied its links with Indian Agencies in his life time, while her daughter Hasina Wajid, the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh has also verified in her recent statements that his father (Mujeeb ur Rehman) had a detailed meeting with RAW (Indian intelligence) in London and finalized stretegy for the creation of Bangldesh. The current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also verified the fact during his recent visit of Bangladesh. In fact India helped organize ĎMukti Bahinií for acts of terrorism in formerly East Pakistan who were trained at the Establishment Base-22 Comando Training base in Chakrata Deradoon. Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman was, however, released unconditionaly after the creation of Bangladesh but Hasina Wajid in a vindictive mood continued punishing Pakistan supporters even after 43 years of the creation of Bangladesh, visibly defying her late father Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehmanís commitment made with late Zlfikar Ali Bhutto to let the bygone be bygones. To bury the hatchet, Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman also attended the 1974 Islamic Conference at Lahore on the invitation of Pakistan Premier Z.A Bhutto.
There is no denying the fact that Lt. Gen. Amir Abdullah Niazi, Commander Eastern Command signed the instrument of surrender before Gen. Arora in the presence of seemingly large hostile Dhaka crowd of Awami League, chanting slogans against Pakistan. It was only a few days before, Gen. Niazi had spoken of defending Dhaka until last soldier standing and over his dead body. However, he seemed to have lost faith after Indian MIG war planes dropped bombs on Governor House, Dhaka. Subsequently, he started impressing upon the GHQ, the need for an early cease-fire or surrender to avoid bloodshed. He was also encouraged in his pursuit by the then Governor East Pakistan by conveying similar themes to President Gen. Yahya Khan at Rawalpindi. Gen. Niazi who had lost all hopes; spoke to Gen. Hameed, then Chief of General Staff in GHQ on the night falling on 13/14 December asking him for convincing President Yahya Khan to move swiftly to consent his so called proposal for a cease-fire. Brig. Siddique Salik, then Chief of ISPR in Dhaka, through his eye-witness-account, as quoted in his book, described the details of the lost wisdom of Eastern Command. Brig. Salik was visibly surprised over certain very ill-conceived moves of Gen. Niazi, which led to abject surrender and killing of a large number of innocent West-Pakistanis, Beharis and other loyal Bengali citizens at the hands of Indian saboteurs and Mukti Bahini insurgents, while hundreds and thousands of Behari Pakistanis still languishing in Bagladeshi Refugee Camps.
Coming back to the events of the sordid history, In fact, President Gen. Yahya did not endorse the cease-fire/surrender plan put forward by Eastern Command to GHQ. However, as narrated by Brig. Salik in his book (Main Nay Dhaka Doobtay Dekha), a telegram dated December 14, 1971, was received in Dhaka at 1730 hours, in which Gen. Yahya reportedly agreed to the idea for local ceasefire and finding a solution for the safety of Armed Forces personnel, the people of West Pakistan serving in East Pakistan, Beharis and other loyal Bengali citizen. But due to the inept handling of the crisis management, Chief of Eastern Command ignored the instructions for ensuring the safety of all concerned, resulting in large scale killings of West Pakistanis, Beharis and the loyal citizen by the Mukti Bahini insurgents duly supported by Indian troops. The Eastern Command also failed to issue any notice to West Pakistanis and loyal citizens to move to Cantonment areas, before proposing a so-called cease-fire / surrender to Gen. Manak Shah through the US Counsel General. So much so that many of these loyal citizens came to know about the abject surrender through All India Radio, and when they tried to move towards Cantonments, many of innocent west Pakistanis and Behari citizen were brutally killed by the Mukti Bahini terrorists.

The events in Dhaka verify that Gen. Niazi made hasty moves after receiving the said telegraphic instructions from Rawalpindi. He ignored adequate planning, to accopmlish the given task by GHQ in a befitting manner. Immediately after receiving consent to his local ceasfire proposal, he rushed to U.S Consulate General in Dhaka and sought help from the American Consul General for facilitating contact with Gen. Manak Shah, ostensibly for immediate cease-fire, thus opening the gate for unauthorised surrender. According to some reliable reports, the much baffled US Consul General, promised to help Gen. Niazi and informed Washington about the amazing development, before communicating the same to Gen. Manak Shah. The Indian General sensing moral collaspe of Gen. Niazi, responded swiftly through his communication dated December 15, 1971, demanding immediate ceasefire and surrender of Pakistani Forces before the so called Joint Indian / Bangladesh Eastern Command. Gen. Niazi endorsed Manak Shahís message to GHQ wherefrom Gen. Hameed advised Gen. Niazi to deal with the cease-fire as a local arrangement, if it fulfills his requirement, as the matter is before the United Nations and as such the local arrangements of ceasefire will not be binding on the Govt. of Pakistan.

The News about this ill-conceived request reached Washington at a time, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was confronting a tough Polish Resolution in the Security Council forcing on Pakistan, a cease-fire demanding withdrawal of Pakistani troops and handing over power to Bangladesh Leaders. Media reports at that time suggested that United States Government was busy in consultation with UN Security Council Members to elicit suppor for British / Italian Resolutions for a cease-fire, but the onus was immediately shifted to a cease-fire on West Pakistan borders when United States came to know about Eastern Commandís intention for surrender. Mr. Bhutto was much baffled to know about the pitiable move and it was in the backdrop of this move that Bhutto tore his papers and walked out of the Security Council meeting refusing to become a party to the abject surrender in former East Pakistan.

It appears from the relevant media record that the US Government was not happy, the way Eastern Command handled the crisis situation in East Pakistan. Earlier, the then US Secretary of State William Rogers announced on December 05, 1971 that the deteriorating situation in the South Asia posed a threat to international peace and security. Hence the United States joined other members of the Security Council in requesting an emergency session of the Security Council to discuss India-Pakistan war. The Security Council considered a resolution duly supported by the United States asking for cease-fire and with-drawl of troops. But the Soviet Union, holding a permanent right of veto, negated the majority view. The matter was transferred to General Assembly, where the sentiments of the member countries went in favour of the resolution casting 104 votes in favour and 11 against, with ten abstentions. But the General Assembly resolution was not binding, so India took advantage of the situation.

A lot more has been said about the movement of 6th US Fleet during East Pakistan crisis. Pakistani public opinion in those burning days had great expectations from the United States and most of the populace in West Pakistan criticized United States for not supporting Pakistan at the hour of need. But the fact of the matter is that the then military leadership in East Pakistan, visibly demoralized had failed to put up a bold face against insurgency with-in while Indian Forces knocking on the borders. Gen. Niazi, in fact, proved an utter failure. He could neither plan a proper war strategy to defend East Pakistan, nor could save the innocent lives of loyal citizens. Gen. Yahya's military top brass also failed to put up a bold show on West Pakistan front as well. Hence, no plausible reason can be offered for territorial losses on West Pakistan and Kashmir fronts. It seems that our war strategy was primarily based on US and Chinese physical intervention in the conflict and was not based on our determination to defend our country against heavy odds.

Pakistan should have learnt lessons that no country can fight for you a war when you donít have the will to defend yourself. As for as US 6th fleet is concerned, the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise with a task force of several amphibious ships and destroyers, did reach the Straits of Malacca Bay but by that time Gen. Niazi had already surrendered. One purpose of the movement of 6th Fleet towards East Pakistan could have been to counter the Russian Naval presence in the area, while giving moral support to Pakistani defenders, another to evacuate American citizens in case of emergency. However, Gen. the hasty surrender when not a single major town was conquered by the Indian troops by then, and at a time when Enterprise was closing in to Bay of Bengal and Bhutto trying for an honorable cease-fire in the Security Council, dashed all hopes to nothingness. Pakistani troops surrendered and the US Naval Fleet, after staying in the Bay of Bengal for about a month left for Philippines, on January 11, 1972. Thus the East Pakistan chapter was closed once forever leaving behind a chapter of sordid history.

The writer of this article Rana Abdul Baqi is a regular columnist and author of three books on South Asian Affairs, and can be approached on Email:, and, End

Posted on Dec 16, 17 | 1:14 am