The Beginnings of Indian Civilisation to 500 BC

India was the home of one of the oldest civilisations of history, which grew up along the banks of the Indus River. The Indus Valley culture and the Vedic culture, which succeeded and were influenced by it, were the basis for the development of later Indian society, in particular for the major religious systems of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

 

7

 

3500 BC: beginning of Early Indus period

2500 BC: beginning of Harappa culture in the Indus valley

1750 BC: Abandonment of Major Indus Valley cities

1650 BC: Indo-Aryans begin to arrive in India

1000 BC: Indo-Aryan settlements established in the Upper Ganges plains.

600 BC: Kausambi and Ujjayini develop as earliest post-Harappa cities

The early history of India is very difficult to recover. Archaeology can reveal something about the way of life of its earliest inhabitants but little can be learned from written evidence. The earliest works of Indian literature, the Vedas, were composed in the centuries after 1200 BC, but they were not written down until probably the 5th century

 

8
Map 1

 

 

10
Terracotta figure from Mohenjo-Daro probably representing a mother goddess. A large number of such figurines have been found in the Indus valley. The worship of goddesses was common in this period and became a feature of Hindu worship. The figurine May, however, be more closely connected with Sumerian deities.

 

 

9
Map 2

 

 

12
Mohenjo-Daro

 

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

Although the subcontinent had substantial human occupation from the Stone Age onwards (see Map 1), the first great Indian civilisation was the Harappan culture which emerged in the Indus valley in the third millennium BC. Like the slightly older civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt it was based on flood-plain agriculture, as the cultivation of the fertile land on either side of the Indus was able to provide enough of a surplus to support a complex urban society. Several substantial cities were built (see map 2), of which the best explored are Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

The Indus civilisation also developed writing and about 200 seals with short pictograph inscriptions on them have been discovered. Although it has not yet convincingly deciphered, the language was almost certainly an early form of Dravidian related to languages still spoken in southern India and the hills of Pakistan and distinct from the Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit, that became prominent in the following millennium.

The cities of the Indus valley engaged in some kind of trade with Mesopotamia as goods marked with Indus seals have been found in Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian cylinder seals have been found in Mohenjo-Daro. However, in the first half of the 2nd millennium the major Indus Valley cities declined, probably as a result of climatic change, although smaller settlements remained inhabited.

Vedic culture

From around 1500 BC a new culture becomes apparent in India. This is now known as Vedic civilisation, and was characterised by a new language and rituals, and the use of horses and two-wheeled chariots. The traditional way to explain the changes was to talk of an “Aryan invasion” with mounted bands of warriors riding in from the northwest and conquering the indigenous Indus population before moving eastwards to the Ganges. Support for this picture was claimed from one of the Vedas, the Rig Veda, where the Aryans are presented as conquering the cities of the darker skinned indigenous Dasas. It is more likely that the process was gradual and that small groups of nomads entered the subcontinent from the northwest in the early second millennium and settled alongside the existing population. They absorbed elements of the Harappan culture, but were able to establish themselves as the dominant elite (arya is the Sanskrit word for nobility). Over the next centuries their Aryan language was adopted by more of the population and at the same time their influence spread eastwards to the upper Ganges.

The South

Southern India was left largely untouched by the civilisations of the north. There were probably trading links between the Indus valley and the southern tip of the peninsula, but there was no urbanism in the south, where villages were the normal form of social organisation. However, some limited form of common culture in the south is suggested by the distinctive megalithic tombs found over most of the area.

In the north, where unlike the hilly fragmented geography of the south, great plains lent themselves to large-scale agriculture and the growth of substantial kingdoms, cultural coherence became more widespread as, in the centuries that followed the emergence of the Vedic culture, the new civilisation spread gradually east from the Indus to the Ganges. Evidence from finds of pottery characteristic of particular periods suggests that there was also movement southwards (see map 3).

 

13
Map 3

The early Aryans had been pastorals, but over time they adopted agricultural practices and as they became increasingly settled, they established larger communities. Once again cities began to be built although they were not on the scale of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, being constructed largely from mud bricks. No known public buildings survive from this period. Yet by the 5th century BC there were political entities that might be called states or polities, most significantly Magadha, with its substantial fortified capital at Pataliputra.

Vedic religion

  • The religious practices of the Vedic society were influenced in part by the earlier Indus Valley culture, and animal sacrifice had a central role in it.
  • Vedic religion was polytheistic, and the Rig Veda includes hymns to a number of deities, including the warrior god, Indra, the fire god, Agni, and Soma, identified with mind altering drug of some kind, possibly derived from mushrooms.
  • Vedic religion is the forerunner of Hinduism, and the urban societies that developed along the Ganges were the communities among whom appeared in the 5th century, Mahavira, the founder of a Jainism, and the Buddha himself.

By courtesy

thumbnail_IMG_0187

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India the First Empires 500 BC to AD 550

 

1

 In 500 BC, north India (map above) was dominated by small polities, one of which, the eastern kingdom of Magadha contained the seeds of empire. Eastern India was also the home of Gautama Buddha who was born in around 486 BC in Lumbini near Kapilavastu, renounced the pleasures of royal life and attained spiritual enlightenment at Bodhgaya. He gave his first sermon at Sarnath and died at Kusinagara from where his remains were carried away by kings and enshrined in burial mounds known as stupas.

 

2
Map 2

Chandragupta Maurya transformed the Magadhan kingdom into an empire, which was further extended and consolidated by his grandson Ashoka (map above). After the violent conquest of Kalinga, Ashoka converted to Buddhism and pursued a policy of conquest through moral teachings (dhamma). Many of his edicts are located near Buddhist places of worship. According to Buddhist legends, Ashoka built and embellished 84,000 stupas and sent Buddhist missions to many regions, including the Hellenistic kingdoms to the west, south India and Sri Lanka.

 

3
This capital above topped an Ashoka pillar inscription in Sarnath. The capital in its original form has a wheel atop the lions. The wheel symbolised the world, and Ashoka was deemed a chakravartin, an imperial title that meant “wheel turner.

In the first century BC migrations by the Shaka clans had destabilised the northwest. They were followed by new invaders, the Kushans, who reduced the Shakas settled in western India to provincial governors (Satrapas) and subjugated much of north India, although they failed to dislodge the powerful Satavahanas of Central West India (map below). By the 3rd century AD, the Kushan empire had ended: its western reaches were tributary to the Persian Sassanids and its eastern provinces fragmented into small polities.

4
Map 3

As a result of the martial alliance, the Guptas maintained friendly relations with the Vakatakas (map below), but were hard pressed by the Huns from the late 5th century. After a number of invasions, the Hun king Tormana defeated the Guptas at Airkina and then sacked the Gupta city of Prayaga in AD 511. However, the resulting Hun rule over North India was short lived.

5
Map 4

The first centuries of the Christian Era witnessed the efflorescence of urban life, in part facilitated by vigorous trade with the Mediterranean world and with China (map below). Roman coins and artefacts indicate an influx of gold in exchange for Indian exports. At the same time, Buddhism spread along the trade routes across central Asia and beyond to China.

6

From 500 BC to AD 550 south Asia witnessed a succession of metropolitan empires centred in north India – the Kushanas and the Guptas. Although centralised political control was often weak, for the first time the entire subcontinent was integrated within a single but diverse cultural field.

By about 500 BC North India sustained 16 well-articulated polities, or mahajanapadas some still essentially tribal republics and others already monarchies (see map 1). The region witnessed tremendous change, as the consolidation of settled agriculture led to the emergence of cities and more complex political systems. Such changes made the older sacrificial cult of the Vedas, which had its origins in the pastoral communities of the Aryan tribes, increasingly obsolete. In its place, at the end of the 5th century BC in the heart of the Gangetic plains, the founders of Buddhism and Jainism formulated their radical new teachings.

The First Empire

During the 5th century BC, the number of mahajanapadas gradually diminished to four – Vajji, Kosala, Kasi and Magadha. After a century of wars, the single kingdom of Magadha dominated with its splendid new capital of Pataliputra. This was to be the nucleus of the first Indian empire. Shortly after Alexander’s incursion into India in 327 BC, the Mauryan prince Chandragupta seized the Magadhan throne. Chandragupta then conquered the land east of the Indus, swung south to occupy much of central India and in 305 BC decisively defeated Alexander’s successor in the northwest Seleucus Nicator.

The Mauryan empire that Chandragupta founded reached its zenith under his grandson, Ashoka who established his rule over most of the subcontinent (see map 2). Ashoka’s empire was composed of a centralised administrative system spread over a number of thriving cities and their hinterlands. After his conquest of Kalinga in 260 BC, Ashoka publicly converted to Buddhism and adopted a policy of “conquest through righteousness”, or dhammavi jaya. In a number of public orders inscribed on pillars and rock faces throughout the subcontinent Ashoka called for peace, propagated moral teachings (dhamma), and prohibited Vedic animal sacrifices. These edicts written in Prakrit, are the first specimens of royal decrees In South Asia, a type of public communication which would remain important in subsequent times.

 The Kushan Empire

Mauryan rule did not long survive Ashoka’s death in 252 BC. In the 2nd century BC, the northwest was repeatedly invaded, both by Greeks from Bactria and Parthia, and then by new nomad groups themselves displaced from Central Asia. First among these were Scythian tribes called the Shakas, who overran Bactria and the Indus Valley in the first century BC. Then the Kushana branch of the Yuehchih horde who had settled in the Oxus valley after 165 BC, gradually extended their rule inland, subduing the Shakas in western India and reaching Varanasi in the 1st century AD. As well as the Oxus and Indus valleys, large parts of Khotan were included in their cosmopolitan empire, centred in Purusapura. Kushana India was a melting pot of cultures – Indian, Chinese, central Asian and Helleno-Roman. The empire reached its height of power and influence under Kanishka, who patronised Buddhism and became extensively involved in political conflicts in Central Asia.

Both the Shakas and the Kushanas took Indian names and were the first kings to adopt Sanskrit at their courts- the first courtly poems and inscriptions in Sanskrit date from this period – though the native kingdom of the Satavahanas of the Deccan continued to use Prakrit. In the northwest Mahayana Buddhism emerged at this time from the more conservative Episcopalians teachings known as Theravada, and developed a more eclectic outlook emphasising compassion and worship in an enlarged Buddhist pantheon.

In the same period, India’s ancient trading links with the West were revitalised and greatly extended as the Roman Empire rose to power (see map 5). Ports such as Barbaricum on the Indus delta, and the entrepot of Barygaza exported

  • turquoise
  • diamonds
  • indigo
  • tortoise shells

receiving in return a flow of

  • pearls
  • copper
  • gold
  • slaves

from the Arab and Mediterranean worlds. Much of the Chinese silk traffic found its way to the city of Taxila before caravans took it further west. Trade led to other exchanges, as Buddhism spread to Central Asia and China.

By the middle of 2nd century AD, the south had also witnessed economic development. The Satavahanas of the Deccan developed a powerful empire and established overland and coastal trading networks and the weaker Tamil speaking kingdoms of the south established poets on both coasts of the peninsula.

The Guptas

In the 4th century, the native dynasty of the Guptas imposed a new rule based again in Pataliputra. Following the campaigns of Samudragupta and his son Chandragupta II, their suzerainty was acknowledged over an area almost as great as that of the Mauryan empire. Until repeated Hun invasions ended Gupta power in the 6th century, the Gupta power saw the blossoming of earlier cultural trends, and has become known as the classical or epic age of Indian history.

By courtesy

thumbnail_IMG_0187

 

Sequence of the signals exchanged between Dacca and Rawalpindi during the Crisis of 1971

Sequence of the signals

We now propose to examine how the situation developed from the beginning of the war,
i.e. the 21st November, 1971 till the surrender and it will be necessary for this
purpose to quote extensively from the signals exchanged during the period between
the relevant authorities for only then will it be possible to paint the full picture.
The first relevant signal is dated 21st November, 1971 numbered G-1104 from the
Commander to the Chief of General Staff.
“From COMD for CGS as you must have noticed from strips, INDIANS have aggressed and
started attacking in strength along with rebels; fighting taken place in areas JESSORE,
BHURANGAMARI, SYLHET, CHITTAGONG AND DACCA suburbs; JESSORE airfield shelled by INDIAN med guns;
in view of this pressure own Razakars stated blowing up bridges and laying ambushes against own troops; highly grateful for having allotted additional infantry battalions; move programme for all elements very slow; time against us; Therefore request move all battalions on emergency basis as done during war; new raising likely to take time therefore dispatch battalions already raised; also since full DIV NOT being provided, provisions of two more infantry battalions raising total to ten battalions, squadron tanks, one BDE HQ extremely essential which be considered and dispatched immediately; request confirm.”

It will be seen that, right from the commencement, the note struck by the Commander is far from a happy one, although not quite as dismal as the later signals were. The picture given is of fighting having started in various areas and a demand is made for two more battalions, i.e. in addition to the 8 already promised him.

From the record of the signals we do not find any answer to this request; the next signal,
that is on record is dated 22nd November and numbered G-1086 from the Chief of Staff to the Commander warning him that the enemy is aiming at capture of CHITTAGONG from land and sea and requiring him, therefore, “to reinforce defences CHITTAGONG area by pulling out troops from less important sectors as necessary.

On 28th November, 1971 the Commander sent a signal in the following terms: – “G-0866; CONFD; for COMMANDER IN CHIEF from COMD; G-022, of 27 Oct. Most gratefully acknowledge your kind consideration in conveying highly inspiring appreciation at performance of our basic duty EASTERN COMMAND and myself; indeed indebted for great confidence that is reposed in us; nevertheless reassure you that all ranks by grace of ALL are in high morale and fine shape and imbued with true spirit of extreme sacrifice to zealously of defend the priceless honour, integrity and solidarity of our
beloved PAKISTAN; rededicating at this critical juncture of our history I pledge on behalf of all ranks that we are at the highest STATE of readiness to teach a lasting lesson to HINDUSTAN should they dare cast an evil eye on our sacred soil in any manner, may be through open aggression or otherwise; trusting in GOD and your kind guidance, the impact and glorious history of our forefathers would INSHALLAH be fully revived. Maintaining highest traditions of our army in case such a GRAND Opportunity afforded.”

It will be noticed that at this stage the Commander not only expresses his determination to fight but even boasts of hoping to teach a lasting lesson to Hindustan and looks upon the coming events as a “grand opportunity afforded”.

As we have noticed elsewhere the Indian intention to attack openly and all out war was not merely a possibility but a distinct anticipation of which the Commander had been forewarned much earlier, nevertheless, on the 5th December, 1971 by message numbered G-0338 the Chief of Staff stated this clearly in the following terms: “exclusive for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF: It is now evident from all sources including intelligence channels that INDIANS will shortly launch a full scale offensive against EAST PAKISTAN; mean total war; the time has therefore come when keeping in mind current situation you redeploy your forces in accordance with your operational task; such positioning would of course take into consideration areas of tactical, political and strategic importance we are all proud of our EASTERN COMMAND; well done.”

A clear command was thus given to the Commander to redeploy his forces in accordance with his operational tasks. The fact the message also talks of taking into consideration areas of tactical, political and strategic importance implies, we think, liberty to give up other territory if necessary. However, that has been made clearer later.

On the 5th December, 1971 again by message numbered G-0235 the Chief of Staff informed the Commander as follows: “personal for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF: The enemy has stepped up pressure against you and is likely to increase it to maximum extent; he will attempt to capture EAST PAKISTAN as swiftly as possible and then shift maximum forces to face WEST PAKISTAN; this must NOT be allowed to happen;
losing of some territory is insignificant but you must continue to concentrate on operational deployments in vital areas aiming at keeping the maximum enemy force involved in EAST PAKISTAN; every hope of CHINESE activities very soon’; good luck and keep up your magnificent work against such heavy odds; may Allah bless you”.

It will be noticed that now, at any rate, if not earlier, the question of territory had become of minor importance; far more material was now the defence of East Pakistan in the sense of continuing to occupy the bulk of it or, in the last resort, a vital part of it so as not to allow the occupation of East Pakistan by Indian forces to become a reality. It is characteristic of the methods of G.H.Q. at this juncture, however, that most unrealistically and even without any foundation, the hope of Chinese activities starting very soon is being held out. We cannot help observing that not only at this stage but elsewhere the GHQ held out vague or even fraudulent promises of foreign help. We are not detracting from General Niazi’s share of responsibility when we say that GHQ on its own part also led him up to entertain expectations which could not possibly be fulfilled.

In answer the Commander on the 6th December, 1971 by a signal numbered G-1233 said: “for MO DTE; special situation report general comments:
Since 3 Dec on start all out hostilities, intensity and weight enemy offensive in all fronts this theatre highly increased; enemy strength comprising eight divisions supported by four tank regiments, full complement of support service elements in addition to 39 battalions BORDER SECURITY FORCE and 60 – 70 thousand trained rebels now fully committed; besides all enemy offensive supported by air;
INDIAN AIR FORCE causing maximum damage; Have started using rockets and napalm against own defensive positions; internally rebels highly active; emboldened and causing maximum damage in all possible ways including cutting off lines means of communication; this including destruction of roads/bridges/rail ferries/boats etc.;Local populations also against us; lack of communications making it difficult to reinforce or replenish or readjust positions; CHITTAGONG likely to be cut off and thus depriving that line of communication also additional INDIAN NAVY now seriously threatening
this sea port with effective blockade of all river approaches; DINAJPUR, RANGPUR, SYLHET, MAULVI BAZAR, BRAHMANBARIA, LAKSHAM, CHANDPUR and JSSORE under heavy pressure; situation likely becoming critical own troops already involved in active operations since last nine months and now committed to very intense battle; obviously they had NO rest or relief due pitched battles fought since last 17 days own casualties’ rate both in men and material fairly increased. Absence of own tank, artillery
and air support has further aggravated situation; defection of razakars/mujahids with arms also increased; none the less, in process defensive battle, own troops inflicted heavy casualties on enemy and caused maximum possible attrition on them; enemy thus paid heavy cost for each success in terms of ground based on foregoing and current operations situation of formations this command now reaching pre-planned line of defensive resorting to fortress/strong point basis enemy will be involved through all methods including unorthodox action will fight it out last man last round request expedite actions vide your G-0235 of 5 Dec 71”.

This is a fairly detailed statement of the situation and clearly now depicts a more pessimistic picture. There are passages, however, in this, which we find it difficult to regard as being accurate. The statement, for example, that there had been pitched battles for the last 17 days with increased casualty rates is not really supported by the evidence which does not justify the statement either that heavy casualties had been inflicted on the enemy and maximum attrition caused to them. The last words in the message are significant but, of course, entirely natural since they asked for expedition of the action promised, namely that of Chinese activity.

On the same day desperately by message numbered G-1234 the Commander signalled to the Chief of Staff to inquire when the likely help was to come.

The next signal is from the Governor of East Pakistan to the President and before we quote the same it is necessary to state the circumstances we have now learnt from the evidence and which led to the message. A meeting had apparently taken place and a quotation from the statement of Major General Rao Farman Ali is worth reproduction:

“On the evening of 6 December, Governor Malik asked me about the situation as he was receiving disturbing reports from all over the province. I suggested that he should visit the Corps HQ and get a direct briefing from Gen Niazi. Gen. Niazi briefed him. I did not accompany the Governor. On 7 December, after I returned from the Corps HQ morning briefing the Governor asked me to arrange for transportation for the ministers to go to their districts to mobilize public opinion.
He said that Gen. Niazi had told him that the situation was under control and that the Corps could provide Helicopters to the ministers. (There were only four/five helicopters).
I told him that situation had perhaps changed a bit since yesterday and suggested if he could have another meeting with Gen. Niazi. Gen. Niazi came. He was in a terrible shape, haggard, obviously had no sleep. The Chief Secretary Mr. Muzaffar Hussain was also present.
The Governor had hardly said a few words when Gen. Niazi started crying loudly.
I had to send the bearer out. The Governor got up from his chair, patted him and said a
few consoling words. I also added a few words saying, “Your resources were limited.
It is not your fault etc.” We discussed the situation after he regained his poise.
The governor suggested that an effort was required to be made to bring about a peaceful
solution to the problem. After the conference I went out to see Gen. Niazi off. He said, in
Urdu that the message may be sent for the Governor’s House. “I agreed as I thought it was important for the morale of the troops to keep up the image of the Commander.”

The account of the meeting is substantially corroborated by Mr. Muzaffar Hussain, the Chief secretary.

The message that the Governor then sent on the 7th December, 1971 numbered A-6905 is as follows: “for PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN, It is imperative that correct situation in EAST PAKISTAN is brought to your notice. I discussed with GEN. NIAZI who tells me that troops are fighting heroically but against heavy odds without adequate artillery and air support rebels continue cutting their rear and losses in equipment and men very heavy and cannot be replaced the front in EASTERN and WESTERN SECTOR has collapsed; loss of whole corridor EAST OF MEGHNA RIVER cannot be avoided. JESSORE has already fallen which will be a terrible blow to the morale of PRO-PAKISTAN elements, civil administration ineffective as they cannot do much without communication. food and other supplies running short as nothing can move from CHITTAGONG or within the province even , DACCA city will be without food after 7 days (.) without fuel and oil there will be complete paralysis of life, law and order situation in areas vacated by army pathetic as thousands of PRO-PAKISTAN elements being butchered by rebels
millions of non-BENGALIS and loyal elements are awaiting death
No amount of lip sympathy or even material help from world powers except direct physical intervention will help.If any of our friends is expected to help that should have an impact within the next 48 repeat 48 hours. If no help is expected I beseech you to negotiate so that a civilised and peaceful transfer takes place and millions of lives are saved and untold misery avoided. Is it worth sacrificing so much when the end seems inevitable? If help is coming, we will fight on whatever consequences there may be request be kept informed”.

It must be conceded that this is a message which depicts a very grim picture indeed but we are unable to say that it was inaccurate. The statement that Dacca city itself would be without food after 7 days is not irreconcilable with what has been said by General Niazi that he had stocks to last much longer: General Niazi was thinking of perhaps, provision for troops while the Governor was thinking of the over-all position of Dacca. It is true also that there is an appeal in this message which questions whether it is worth sacrificing so much when the end appears inevitable, but the appeal is not for permission to surrender but for permission to negotiate a political settlement, of course, involving a civilised and peaceful transfer. General Niazi claims that this message issued without his concurrence, but we are entirely unable to agree that this was so. The evidence is that the message itself was shown to him and in any case, we are wholly unable to believe that Dr. Malik would have stated in this message that General Niazi said that he was fighting against heavy odds without adequate artillery and air support and, so far as the message talks of the military situation, he is expressly saying that he is depending on what General Niazi told him.

On the same day the Chief of Staff by his message # G-0908 informed the Commander that his message G-1234 quoted above in regard to the Chinese help was under consideration.
Also on the same day the Chief of General Staff sent a message # G-0907 which reads thus: “for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF: Your G-1233 of 6 December refers position as explained fully appreciated and the outstanding combat performance of all ranks is a matter of great pride; your tactical concept approved; hold positions tactically in strength without any territorial considerations including CHITTAGONG with a view to maintaining the entity of your force intact and inflicting maximum possible attrition in men and material on the enemy”.

It is upon the words “your tactical concept approved” that General Niazi bases his claim of the approval of his tactical concept. This reference, however, is really to the Commander’s signal already quoted of the 6th December, 1971 and numbered G-1233 in which he speaks of “reaching pre-planned lines of defence.” It is not, therefore, a new approval that has been given, but implies an acceptance of the timing of withdrawing to these pre-planned lines.

The President also on that day sent a message to the Governor numbered A-4555 which is in response to the Governor’s own message which we quoted above (No. A-6905) and read thus: “from PRESIDENT for GOVERNOR: Your flash signal # A-6905 dated 7 December refers all possible steps are in hand; full scale and bitter war is going on in the WEST WING; world powers are very seriously attempting to bring about a cease-fire
the subject is being referred to the general assembly after persistent vetoes in the security council by the RUSSIANS; a very high-powered delegation is being rushed to NEW YORK; Please rest assured that I am fully alive to the terrible situation that you are facing; CHIEF OF STAFF is being directed by me to instruct GENERAL NIAZI regarding the military strategy to be adopted; you on your part and your government should adopt strongest measures in the field of food rationing and curtailing supply of all essential items as on war footing to be able to last for maximum period of time and preventing a collapse; GOD be with you; we are all praying”.

This is characteristic of the kind of messages which the President has sent giving full but vague assurances. He talks of all possible steps being in hand and of world powers seriously attempting to bring about a cease-fire. He mentions efforts going on in the United Nations and gives advice as to food rationing.

On the 8th December, 1971 there are two messages from the Chief of Staff to the Commander numbered G-0910 and G-0912 which it is unnecessary to quote, but in regard to which it suffices to say that once again General Niazi was being told that actual territory was becoming of less and less importance.

9th December, 1971 was an important date by reason of exchange of several critical signals also. The first of these is No. G-1255 from the Commander to the Chief of Staff and reads thus: “for CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF from COMMANDER

  • regrouping readjustment is NOT possible due to enemy mastery of skies
  • population getting extremely hostile and providing all out help to enemy
  • NO move possible during night due intensive rebel ambushes
  • rebels guiding enemy through gaps and to rear
  • airfields damaged extensively, NO mission last three days and not possible in future
  • all jetties, ferries and river craft destroyed due enemy air action
  • bridges demolished by rebels even extrication most difficult.
  • extensive damage to heavy weapons and equipment due enemy air action
  • troops fighting extremely well but stress and strain now telling hard
  • NOT slept for last 20 days
  • are under constant fire, air, artillery and tanks
  • #situation extremely critical. We will go on fighting and do our best
  • Request following: immediate strike all enemy air bases this theatre; If possible, reinforce airborne troops for protection DACCA”.

We consider that no more hopeless a description could have been given from a Commander in an independent theatre to his distant Supreme Commander than this message was. Every possible element which would total up to a situation of utter helplessness is present in the message. Despite the fact that the Commander does say “we will go on fighting and do our best” we cannot but feel that these were empty words and the impression conveyed and intended to be conveyed was of an army on the verge of capitulation. The request for re-enforcement by airborne troops for the protection of Dacca was unreal for the Commander knew very well that even if troops were available the physical means of sending them to Dacca were not existent. The Dacca airfield was no longer usable and the Commander himself refers to enemy air action. In these circumstances we cannot believe that the Commander meant the request to be seriously taken. We are of the view that the request was deliberately put in for the purpose of providing an excuse for himself.

On the same day some nine hours later, clearly after having consulted General Niazi the Governor sent signal # A-1660 to the President which reads thus: “A-4660 of 091800; for the PRESIDENT:

  • military situation desperate
  • enemy is approaching FARIDPUR in the WEST and has closed up to the river MEGHNA in the EAST by-passing our troops in COMILLA and LAKSHAM
    CHANDPUR has fallen to the enemy thereby closing all river routes
  • enemy likely to be at the outskirts of DACCA any day if no outside help forthcoming
  • SECRETARY GENERAL UN’S representative in DACCA has proposed that DACCA CITY may be declared as an open city to save lives of civilians especially NON-BENGALIS
    am favourably inclined to accept the offer. strongly recommend this be approved
  • NIAZI does not agree as he considers that his orders are to fight to the last and it would amount to giving up DACCA
  • this action may result in massacre of the whole army, West Pakistan police and all non-locals and loyal locals
  • there are no regular troops in reserve and once the enemy has crossed the GANGES or MEGHNA further resistance will be futile unless CHINA or USA intervenes today with a massive air and ground support
  • Once again urge you to consider immediate cease-fire and political settlement otherwise once INDIAN TROOPS are free from EAST WING in a few days even WEST WING will be in jeopardy
  • understand local population has welcomed INDIAN ARMY in captured areas and are providing maximum help to them
  • our troops are finding it impossible to withdraw and manoeuvre due to rebel activity
  • with this clear alignment sacrifice of WEST PAKISTAN is meaningless”.

 

The President answered back immediately by his signal # G-0001 which read thus: “from PRESIDENT to GOVERNOR Repeated to COMMANDER EASTERN COMMAND;
Your flash message A-4660 of 9 Dec received and thoroughly understood; you have my permission to take decisions on your proposals to me; I have and am continuing to take all measures internationally but in view of our complete isolation from each other decision about EAST PAKISTAN I leave entirely to your good sense and judgement; I will approve of any decision you take and I am instructing GEN NIAZI simultaneously to accept your decision and arrange things accordingly; whatever efforts you make in your decision to save senseless destruction of the kind of civilians you have mentioned in particular the safety of our armed forces, you may go ahead and ensure safety of armed forces by all political means that you will adopt with our opponent”.

In view of what followed this is a very interesting response. In clear words General Yahya says “you have my permission to take decisions on your proposals to me”. Although he says that he is continuing to take all measures internationally he leaves the decision about East Pakistan entirely to the Governor’s good sense and judgement and undertakes in advance to approve of any such decision and also to instruct General Niazi to accept his decision. We cannot see how any interpretation can be placed on this message other than one of leaving the Governor entirely free to reach a political settlement.

Accordingly on the 10th December 1971 by message No. A-7107 the Governor informed the president what he had done. (By some clerical mistake two messages bear the same number A-7107 as is the case in respect of two other messages both of which bear the number G-0002): “For PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN; your G-0001 of 092300 DEC as the responsibility of taking the final and fatal decision has been given to me, I am handing over the following note to ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL MR. PAUL MURE HENRY after your approval; note begins:
it was never the intention of the armed forces of PAKISTAN to involve themselves in an all-out war on the soil of EAST PAKISTAN, however, a situation, arose which compelled the armed forces to take defensive action;
the intention of the GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN was always to decide the issue in EAST PAKISTAN by means of a political solution for which negotiations were afoot; the armed force, have fought heroically against heavy odds and can still continue to do so but in order to avoid further bloodshed and less of innocent lives I am making the following proposals: as the conflict arose as a result of political causes, it must end with a political solution;I therefore having been authorised by the PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN do hereby call upon the elected representatives of EAST PAKISTAN to arrange for the peaceful formation of the government in DACCA; In making this offer I feel duty bound to say the will of the people of EAST PAKISTAN would demand the immediate vacation of their land by the Indian forces as well; I therefore call upon the UNITED NATIONS to arrange for a peaceful transfer of power and request an immediate cease-fire repatriation with honour of the armed forces of PAKISTAN TO WEST PAKISTAN; repatriation of all WEST PAKISTAN personnel desirous of returning to WEST PAKISTAN; the safety of all persons settled in EAST PAKISTAN since 1947; guarantee of no reprisals against any person in EAST PAKISTAN; in making this offer, I want to make it clear that this is a definite proposal for peaceful transfer of power; the question of surrender of the armed forces would not be considered and does not arise and if this proposal is not accepted the armed forces will continue to fight to the last man.

Note ends GEN. NIAZI has been consulted and submits himself to your command.”

We then come to the 9th December, 1971 on which date the well-known message, which General Rao Farman Ali is alleged to have issued, was delivered to the Assistant Secretary of the United nations Mr. Paul M. Henry. There is no denying that this message had a disastrous effect upon our stand in the United Nations; at that time, it was thought, and it certainly was our impression also when we wrote the Main Report, that General Rao Farman Ali apparently issued this on his own.

We are now convinced that this is not in fact so. He acted on the direction of the Governor and with the concurrence of General Niazi. His own version of it, which in the light of all other evidence now available to us, we see no reason to doubt, is as follows: “On 9 Dec. Asstt Secretary UN Mr Paul M. Henry saw the Governor. I was not present during their meeting. After the meeting and after he discussed it with Gen Niazi on telephone he initiated the signal A-1660 of 091800 hrs. a copy is attached at Anx ‘C’. Main recommendation was: “Once again urge you to consider immediate cease-fire and political settlement”.

(The president’s reply (below Annexe ‘C’) was received at night. The Governor and the Chief Secretary discussed it. I was not present. They concluded that the responsibility to take the historic-decision was being placed on the shoulders of the Governor. I may add here that before the war a high-powered Committee had been established which could take decision acting as the Central Government under a situation where communication broke down between the Centre and Dacca. The Committee consisted of the

Governor,
Minister of Finance,
Niazi,
Chief Secretary

and I was to be its member Secretary.

The Chief Secretary drafted a signal (Annexe D) to the President with a copy to UN Secretary General. (The draft clearly shows that it is a civilian type message). I was asked by the Governor to take it to Gen. Niazi and get his approval for the step proposed. I along with the Chief Secretary went to Gen. Niazi. Present were Gen. Jamshed and Admiral Sharif. “After I had read out the proposals to UN. Gen Jamshed was the first one to speak with an enthusiastic response of: ” That’s it. This is the only course open now.” Or words to that effect. Admiral Sharif Approved in Gen. Niazi asked in what capacity was the required to approve the proposed move. The chief Secretary said. “In your capacity as member of the high-powered Committee.”

He gave his approval, I returned to the Governor House where I found the Governor and Mr. Paul M. Henry in my office (In my earlier report I had said that the Chief Secretary was also present. It was, perhaps, a case of mis-recollection. The chief Secretary tells me now that though he had arranged for Mr. Paul Mark Henry to be at the Governor House he himself was not there).

The Governor asked me to hand over a copy of the signal to Mr. Henry which I did. “The signal bore my signatures as it was to be transmitted though Army channels. Mr. Henry said that it will be discussed between Mr. Agha Shahi and the Secretary General and if M. Agha Shahi approved it will be taken up.” It is true that this statement was countermanded by the President but the damage that it could cause was done. With that aspect of the matter, however, we have already dealt in the Main Report. 23: Although this message is of the 10th and uses the words “I am handing over the note to Assistant Secretary General Mr. PAUL M. HENRY after your approval” the note had been handed over on Dec 9.  Clearly the Governor gave directions to General Farman Ali and, at the same time, dictated the message.

This completes the story of the note which was handed over to Mr. Paul Mark Henry and now it is clear not only that Major General Rao Farman Ali handed over his note with the Governor’s approval but that the Governor himself acted under the belief that he was authorising it in turn with the President’s approval. We consider it in the circumstances a wise settlement and indeed the only settlement which by this time was possibility of the proposal being treated a surrender for the expressly says that no such question will even be considered and that if his proposal is not accepted the armed forces will continue to fight to the last man.

We are, therefore, astonished to read the President’s re-action to this message which he conveyed by his message of the same date # G-0002 which reads thus: “from PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN; your flash message A-7/07 of 10 Dec; the proposed draft of your message his gone much beyond what you had suggested and I had approved; it gives the impression that you are talking on behalf of PAKISTAN when you have mentioned the subject of transfer of power, political solution and repatriation of troops from EAST TO WEST PAKISTAN; this virtually means the acceptance of an independent EAST PAKISTAN; the existing situation in your areas requires a limited action by you to end hostilities in EAST PAKISTAN; therefore, suggest a draft which you are authorized to issue; quote:  in view of complete sea and air blockade of EAST PAKISTAN by overwhelming INDIAN armed forces and the resultant senseless and indiscriminate bloodshed of civil population have introduced new dimensions to be situation in EAST PAKISTAN the PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN has authorised me to take whatever measures I may decide; I have therefore decided that although PAKISTAN armed forces have fought heroically against heavy odds and can still-continue to do so yet, in order to avoid further bloodshed and loss of innocent lives I am making the following proposals

  • an immediate cease-fire in EAST PAKISTAN to end hostility;
  • guarantee of the safety of personnel settled in EAST PAKISTAN since 1947;
  • guarantee of no reprisals against any person on EAST PAKISTAN;
  • I want to make it clear that this is definite proposal of ending all hostilities and the
  • question of surrender of armed forces would not be considered and does not arise, unquote.

Within this framework you may make addition or ………………………(blurred print) ……..

That the President, in fact earlier, really authorised the Governor fully is indicated by the message of the Chief of Staff to the Commander of the 10th December, 1971 numbered (1-10237, the time of which is precisely the same as the President’s own message. i.e. 7.10 P.M. and reads thus: “For COMD from COS ARMY: PRESIDENTS signal message to GOVERNOR copy to you refers, PRESIDENT has left the decision to the GOVERNOR in close consultation with you; as no signal can correctly covey the degree of seriousness of the situation I can only leave it to you to take the correct decision on the spot;
it is however, apparent that it is not only a question of time before the enemy with its great superiority in numbers and material and the active cooperation of rebels with dominate EAST PAKISTAN completely; meanwhile a lot of damage is being done to the civil population and the army is suffering heavy causalities; you will have to assess the value of fighting on if you can and weigh it against the heavy losses likely to be suffered both civil and military; based on this you should give your frank advice to the GOVERNOR who will give his final decision as delegated to him by the PRESIDENT; whenever you feel it is necessary to do so you should attempt to …by maximum military equipment so that it does not fall into enemy hands; keep me informed; ALLAH bless you.”

It will be seen that the Chief of Staff re-affirms that the Governor will take the final decision. As the power to do so had been delegated to him by the President. We confess to a sense of bewilderment: so express is these messages from the President and his Chief of Staff that the President’s repudiation of the Governor’s decision is cannot be explained.

On the 10th December also the Commander signalled to the Chief of Staff s follows: “From COMMANDER for CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF, operational situation: all formations this command in every sector this under extreme pressure formations troops mostly isolated in fortresses which initially invested by enemy now under heavy attacks and may be liquidated due overcoming strength of enemy enemy possesses mastery of air and freedom to destroy all vehicles at will and with full concentration of effort
local population and rebels not only hostile but all out to destroy own troops in entire area; all communication road river cut.; orders to own troops issued to hold on last man last round which may NOT be too long due very prolonged operations and fighting troops totally tired; any way will be difficult to hold on when weapons ammunition also continues to be destroyed by the enemy rebels’ actions besides intense rate battle expenditure; submitted for information and advice.”

This again is consistent with the situation so far reported. Indeed, now Commander admits that the orders that he had issued to his own troops to hold out to the last man and the last round may not be for too long and he asked for information and advice.

28. the 11th December, 1971 the President sent another message to the Governor which is numbered G-0002 and reads thus: “for GOVERNOR from PRESIDENT: do NOT repeat NOT take any action on my last message to you; very important diplomatic and military moves are taking place by our friends; is essential that we hold on for another thirty six hours at all costs (please also pass this message to GEN. NIAZI and GEN. FARMAN.”

Presumably the order not to take any action on the last message refers to his message in which he gives directions for further proposals. It cannot be merely a repudiation of his earlier authorisation of the Governor for that had been already countermanded. It would seem by reason of the reference to General Rao Farman Ali that it had come to the notice of the President that it was General Rao Farman Ali who had handed over the note to the representative of the United Nations Secretary General. Plainly General Yahya Khan was hoping to retrieve he situation in the United Nations. It is to be remembered that Mr. Z.A. Bhutto then deputy Prime Minister designate, had already reached the United Nations and found his hands tied. We do not enter into detailed discussions of this aspect of the matter now as it has been adequately dealt with in the main Report.
Having been advised and even ordered to hold on for 36 hours at least and also having been assured of intervention by friends on the 11th December the Commander sent signal # G-127 to the Chief of staff in these terms: “from COMMANDER FOR CHIEF OF STAFF; enemy has helidropped approximately one brigade SOUTH OF NARSINDI and at 1630 hours dropped one PARA brigade in TANGAIL area. request friends arrive DACA by air first light 12 Dec.”
The Chief of Staff, not in answer to this message, but in response to earlier messages sent signal # G0011 on the 11th December, 1971 to the Commander as follows:”for COMMANDER FROM chief of staff; your # G-1275 Dec and PRESIDENTS message to GOVERNOR with a copy to you vide signal # G-0002 of 11-13 December refer;
for your personal information UNTTED STATES SEVENTH FLEET will be very soon in position; also NEFA front has been activated by CHINESE although the INDIANS for obvious reasons have not announced it.
very strong pressure internationally has been brought upon RUSSIA and INDIA by UNITED STATES; INDIA is therefore desperately in a hurry to take maximum possible action against you in EAST PAKISTAN to achieve a fait accompli before vents both political and military are against them.
it is therefore all the more vital for you to hold out as the PRESIDENT had desired in his signal # G-0002 o 10430 DEC
good luck to you.”

On what basis the Chief of Staff was stating that the Unites State’s Seventh Fleet would soon be in position and also that the NEFA front had been activated by Chinese we cannot even conjecture.

The Commander’s next message dated the 12th December, 1971 and numbered G-127 makes interesting reading: “from COMD for COS: your G-0011 of 110245 Dec.
thanks for info and good wishes.vide my previous sig Comm 1 had issued orders to troops to fight out last man last round in their respective areas by estb fortresses.situation own doubtlessly extremely critical but will turn DACCA into fortress and fight it out till end.”

As to fighting to the last man last round we have already seen his earlier signal but it is to be stressed that he now talks of turning Dacca into a fortress and fighting it out ill the end. Presumably in Dacca. The sudden change in the tone of the signal of 12th December and afterwards, appears to be the result of the COS signal G-0011 of 11th December informing “also NEFA front has been activated by Chinese etc.”

The next signal is by the Commander on the 12th December, 1971 numbered G-1279: “from COMD for COS:

one of our officers taken POW sent to COMILLA FORTRESS by enemy with following messages, quote “if your all do not surrender, we will HAND over all your prisoners to MUKTI-FAUJ for butchery unquoterequest immediately take up with world red cross authorities and C in C INDIA, matter serious.”

It is interesting in the first place to notice that this was an unclassified, and secondly to note that the only purpose of this signal was to complain of a threat that unless the Pakistan army surrendered prisoners would be handed over to the Mukti Fauj for butchering. As we think that this threat might have played some part in the final decision to surrender, we merely take not of this for the present and will comment upon it later.

On the 13th December, 1971 the Commander sent message # G-1282 which read thus: “For MO DTE; special situation report number 4; enemy build up at MATTARL SO 7344 by heliborne troops cont.; enemy at MATTARL 7344 now advancing along road MATTAR-DMR RL 5624; details contact by para troop awaited; enemy cone also reported at DAUDKANDI RL 7903 and two helicopters landed SOUTH OF NARAYANGAJ RL 5713(.) details awaited; enemy making all out efforts to capture DACCA ASP;
DACCA fortress defences well organised and determined to fight it out.”–of immediate interest to us is only the part which states that Dacca fortress defences are well organised and that the Commander is determined to fight it out. It may also be pointed out that the information of helicopters landing was incorrect.

On the same date he sent another message numbered G-1286 which reads thus: “from COMD for COS: fortresses in all sectors under heavy pressure. I am though with formations only on wireless. NO replenishment of even ammunition; DACCA under heavy pressure rebels have already surrounded by city and firing with RRS and mortars supported by IAF armed helicopters.
INDIANS also advancing; situation serious; fortress defence organised and will fight it out. Promised assistance must take practical shape by 14 Dec. CHINESE fighting in NEFA will have NO effect; is effect can only be felt in SILLIGUR and by engaging enemy air bases around us.”

Obviously an even more grim situation is now reported and even Chinese fighting, the Commander asserts, will have no effect. Nevertheless, he re-affirming that the fortress defence is organised and that he will fight it out.

The need, however, for holding on for some time is stressed again by the Chief of Staff on the 14h December, 1971 by message numbered G-012 which reads: “for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF:“your G-1286of 3 Dec., the UNITED NATION SECRURITY COUNCIL. is in session and is most likely to order a cease-fire; knowing this the INDIANS ARE DOING all they can to capture DACCA and form a BANGLADESH GOVERNMENT before the cease-fire resolution is passed; as far as we can anticipate it is only a matter of hours;  I need not therefore urge you to hold out till the United Nation Resolution is passed; I am saying this with full realization of the most critical situation that you and your command are facing so valiantly; ALLAH is with you.” The emphasis is on holding out until the United Nations Resolution is passed which, it is anticipated, will be in only a matter of hours.

Apparently this message was not clear to the Commander who by message # G-1288 asked for clear instructions and upon this message there is an endorsement of the Private Secretary to the Chief of Staff as follows: “Have spoken to commander Eastern Command at 0825 hours. He is now quite clear on the action to be taken. Have told him that Security Council is in session in spite of Russian veto. It is imperative that Dacca is held on at least till the decision is taken by the Security Council.”
On 14th December 1971 the President sent Signal # G-0013 to the Governor and General Niazi as follows: “for GOVERNOR and GENERAL NIAZI from PRESIDENT;

GOVERNOR’S flash message to me refers; you have fought a heroic battle against overwhelming odd; the nation is proud of you and the world full of admiration; I have done all that is humanly possible to find an acceptable solution to the problem; you have now reached a stage where further resistance is no longer HUMANLY possible nor will it serve any useful purpose; you should now take all necessary MEASURES TO STOP THE FIGHTING AND PRESERVE the lives of all armed forces personnel all those from WEST PAKISTAN and all loyal elements; meanwhile I have moved UN to urge INDIA to stop hostilities in EAST PAKISTAN forthwith and guarantee the safety of the armed forces and all other people who may be the likely target of miscreants.”

The time given on the signal is 1332, i.e. 1.32 P.M. West Pakistan time. On the other hand,
the witnesses who were in Dacca are unanimous that the message came at night. We have made all efforts to verify from the original and it is clear that the original does bear this time.
Two circumstances moreover confirm that the time is correctly stated in the message.
Signal # G-0012, which we have quoted and which advises the Commander that the United Nations Security Council is in session, and, therefore, urges him to hold on was sent at 1235 A.M., i.e. West Pakistan time. Signal #  G-1288 from the Commander which asks that this signal be clarified is timed 8.45 A.M. (East Pakistan time) corresponding to 7.45 A.M. (West Pakistan time). On this last there in the endorsement which we have quoted and which speaks of the PS(C) to the Chief of Staff having spoken to the Commander at 8.25 A.M. West Pakistan time. Clearly these signals could not have been exchanged nor the conversation held to which this endorsement refers if the disputed time is 1.32 A.M. for obviously the commander would then say that neither the message nor the telephone conversations make any sense after the signal. We think, therefore, that the time is correctly mentioned on the message (signal G-0013) as 1.32 but are unable to explain the contradiction in the oral evidence.

We consider this is the most significant message of all the various messages that we have
referred to and think it necessary to make some analysis of it. In the first place it might
be noticed that it is an unclassified message. i.e. it was sent in clear and was, therefore,
capable of being listened to and, probably was listened to by India, as indeed by any other country. By itself and without reference to any other factor this alone must have had disastrous effect. The United Nations Security Council was in session, but it is difficult to see how we could with any confidence expect to secure any success there with this open confession of our weakness and clear willingness to accept any terms. Even those nations upon whose help we could have in some degree relied were hardly able to help after this.

Besides this important effect on Pakistan’s case in the United Nation we think that it might we have prompted General Manekshaw to insist upon a surrender even though General Niazi was only proposing a cease-fire.
We have not been able to understand how such an important message came to be unclassified.
Some mistake has occurred for it is both the duty of the Staff Officers ad that of the signal
centre to ensure that some classification is given. The world “clear” although we have used it is not a classification used and when we have used it, we mean only that bearing no classification
it is, as we would put it in non-technical language, is clear.
The fact that it was unclassified also led to the feeling in the mind of those in Dacca that
it might not be an authentic message but a hoax. Quite naturally, therefore, the Commander wanted to verify this and also to be sure whether this was meant to be surrender. It would be profitable to reproduce the following passage from General Niazi’s written statement to us:

“This signal being unclassified was probably intercepted by the Indians in clear. As a first reaction we thought that it might be an Indian plant. However, I wanted to confirm its authenticity and also its implications: –

I was not fighting an independent war as commander of an independent army of a different country.
I wanted to check about the overall GHO plan or cease-fire with India and is terms etc.
If I was to negotiate my independent ceasefire, I would not be from a position of strength.
It would tantamount to surrender. Brigadier Janjua on request from my COS confirmed that this signal was meant to be UNCLAS on telephone. By about noon 14 December i.e. 9 hours after the receipt of the President’s signal, I could get through to the CGS, Lt. Gen Gul Hassan Khan, and told him about the order of the President. He asked me as to what signal and what cease-fire or surrender I was talking about. When I explained to him, he replied that he did not know about this order and since the President had issued these orders, I should talk to him and he then banged the telephone. Earlier in the day, 14th December 1971, Governor A M Malik talked to me on telephone about the President’s order. I told him that I had asked for clarification of the signal from the GHQ. He asked me whether I am going to agree to stopping the war or not. I replied him that I still had every intention to continue fighting. I heard about Governor’s resignation in the afternoon and after strafing of the Government House same day he moved to Hotel Intercontinental. With him moved his ministers and all civil and police officers.

He wrote me a letter on the subject on 15th December as under: “My dear Niazi, May I know if any action has been taken, from your side, on PAK ARMY Signal # G-0013 dated 14-12-71 from the President to you and to me as the Governor. This message clearly said
” you should take all necessary measures to stop the fighting and preserve the lives of
all armed forces personnel, all those from West Pakistan and all loyal element.”
The signal also says “you have now reached a stage where further resistance is no longer
humanly possible nor will it serve any useful purpose.” Hostility is still continuing and
loss of life and disaster continue. I request you to do he needful. With regards,
Yours Sincerely, A.M. Malik Phone 25291-12″

It is a sad reflection on the state of affairs then prevailing at Rawalpindi, though in view
of what we have said in the Main Report this can only be now a side light – that at this
critical juncture the Commander could not immediately get through on the telephone to
the Chief of Staff, much less the President. The only person to whom he could speak immediately was Brigadier Janjua who, however, confirmed that the signal was meant to be unclassified.
Not until about noon could the Commander speak even to the Chief of the General Staff
who apparently did not even know what orders were being talked about. It does not seem that at any time the Commander could speak to the President himself and the highest that he could reach was only the Chief of Staff and that not until the evening of the 14th and the Chief of Staff, according to General Niazi, merely sad “act accordingly” and the Air Force Commander-in-Chief, Ali Marshal M. Rahim Khan also insisted that the President’s order be obeyed.

General Niazi has claimed both in view of the language of the message itself and of his
subsequent conversations with officers at Rawalpindi that it amounted to an order to surrender.
For reasons which we shall elaborate a little later we are unable so to read it, but only as
a permission to surrender. On the other hand, however, we are not impressed by the contrary argument that it did not refer to a surrender at all, for this, we think, amounts to mere quibble on words. It is true that the actual world “surrender” has not been used, but it is expressly stated that further resistance is no longer humanly possible. This surely means surrender; at the most is might be interpreted to mean surrender on the best terms that could be obtained, but, if necessary, unconditionally.

There follow some signals in regard to destruction of war material which it is not necessary for our present purposes to quote. Where or not General Niazi understood this message as an order or permission to surrender he did convey through the American Counsel General to the Indians his request for cease-fire under the following conditions:

* Regrouping of Pakistan Armed Forces in designated areas to be mutually agreed upon between the commanders of the opposing forces.
* To guarantee the safety of all military and para-military forces.
* Safety of all those who settled in East Pakistan since 1947.
* No reprisals against those who helped the administrations since March, 1971.

In the meantime the Indians dropped by leaflets a message from General Manekshaw to General Rao Farman Ali Khan which reads thus:

“I have sent out two messages already but there has been no response from you so far. I was to repeat that further resistance is senseless and will mean deaths of many poor soldiers under your command quite unnecessarily. I reiterate my guarantee of complete protection and just treatment under the Geneva Convention to all Military and Quasi-military personnel who surrender to my forces. Neither need you have any apprehension with regard to the forces of the Bangladesh as these are all under my command and the government of Bangladesh has issued instructions for the compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention. My forces are now closing in and around DACCA and you … prisons there are within the range of my Artillery, I have issued instructions to all my troops to afford complete protection to foreign nationals and all ethnic-minorities.
If should be the duty of all Commanders, to prevent the useless shedding of innocent blood, and I am therefore appealing to you once again to cooperate with me in ensuring that this human responsibility is fully discharged by all concerned. Should you however, decide to continue to offer resistance may I strongly urge that you ensure that all civilians and foreign nationals are remove to a safe distance from the area of conflict. For the sake of your own men I hope you will not compel me to reduce your garrison with the use of force.”

In response to General Niazi’s proposal General Manekshaw sent a radio broadcast message to General Niazi, the gist of which was the he expected General Niazi to issue orders to cease-fire immediately and to surrender. In return he promised that they would be treated with dignity and consistently with the Geneva conventions and that he wounded would be looked after as the dead would be given proper burial. He also arranged for radio links between Calcutta and Dacca.

In response specifically to General Niazi’s message General Manekshaw replied on the 15th December, 1971 as follows:

1. I have received your communications of cease-fire in Bangladesh at 1430 hours today through the American Embassy at New Delhi.

2. I had previously informed General Farman Ali in two messages that I would guarantee

(a) the safety of all your military and para-military forces who surrender to me in Bangladesh;
b) complete protection to Foreign Nationals. Ethnic minorities and personnel of West Pakistan origin no matter who they may be. Since you have indicated your desire to stop fighting I expect you to issue orders to all forces under your command in Bangladesh to cease-fire immediately and surrender to my advancing forces wherever they are located.

3. I give you my solemn assurance that personnel who surrender shall be treated with the dignity and respect that soldiers are entitled to and shall abide by the provisions, of the Geneva Conventions. Further as you have many wounded, I shall ensure that they are well cared for and your dead given proper burial. No one need have any fear for their safety, no matter where they come from. Nor shall there be any reprisals by forces operating under my command.

4. Immediately I receive a positive response from you I shall direct General Aurora the Commander of Indian and Bangladesh Forces in the Eastern Theatre to refrain from all air and ground actions against your forces. As a token of my good faith I have ordered that no air action shall take place over Dacca from 1700 hours today.

5. I assure you I have no desire to inflict unnecessary casualties on your troops as I abhor loss of human lives. Should however you do not comply with what I have stated you will leave me with no other alternative but to resume my offensive with the utmost vigour at 0900 hours Indian standard time on 16th December.

6. in order to be able to discuss and finalise all matters quickly I have arranged for a Radio link on listening from 1700 hours Indian standard time today 15th December, the frequency will be 6605 (6605) KHZ by day and 3216(3216) KHZ by night. Call signs will be Cal (Calcutta) and DAC (Dacca). I would suggest you instruct your signallers to restore micro wave communications immediately ”

It is to be noticed that the world “surrender” is for the first time used in these messages
from India.

51. Here then follows a signal on the 15th December, 1971 numbered G-0015 From Chief of Staff to General Niazi as follows:
“For COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF ARMY: your G-1310 of 15230 Dec refers: I have seen your reply to the PRESIDENT and I have also heard over all INDIA RADIO GENERAL MANEKSHAW’s reply to your message to him through UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC channels. While I leave to you the decision I suggest that you accept the terms laid down by Chief of Staff INDIA as they appear to meet your requirements;  this is a purely local military decision and has NO repeat NO bearing on the political outcome which has to be decided separately; mutual decisions now arrived at by you will not be acceptable if repugnant to any UNITED NATIONS DECISION.”

General Niazi asserts that although the Chief of Staff used the word “suggest” this
amounted to an order. This might be true in general but in the peculiar context with which we are dealing we are not impressed by General Niazi’s claim, for as we have said, he had been authorised and not ordered to surrender.

52. The reply of the Commander to the President to which reference is made in this signal dated 15th December and is as follows: G-1305. SECRET; From Command for PRESIDENT; your signal G-0013 14 December; I met AMERICAN Council General and gave him following in writing. Quote: in order to save further hostilities in the major cities like DACCA I request you to arrange for an immediate cease-fire under the following conditions:
regrouping of PAKISTAN armed forces in designated areas to be mutually agreed upon between the commanders of the opposing forces; to guarantee the safety of all military and para military forces;safety of all those who had settled in EAST PAKISTAN since 1947; on these conditions, the PAKISTAN armed forces and para military forces would immediately cease all military operations.

I would further abide by any resolutions which the security council of the UNITED NATIONS may pass for the permanent settlement of the present dispute; make this proposal with full authority vested in me by virtue of my position as martial law administrator of ZONE B (EAST PAKISTAN) and commander  EASTERN COMMAND exercising final authority overall PAKISTAN military and paramilitary forces in this  area. Unquote. reply still awaited.

This completes the sequence of the message exchanged during the period immediately before the surrender.

Hamoodur Rahman Commission Supplementary Report published in Indian weekly magazine India Today and reproduced by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

This commission of Inquiry was appointed by the President of Pakistan in December, 1971 to inquire into and find out “the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern command, surrendered and the members of the Armed Forces of Pakistan under his command laid down their arms and a ceasefire was ordered along the borders of West Pakistan and India and along the ceasefire line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.” After having examined 213 witnesses the Commission submitted its report in July 1972. 2. 2. Before we submitted that report of necessity, we did not have the evidence of most of the persons taken as prisoners of war, including the major personalities, who played a part in the final events culminating in the surrender in East Pakistan with the exception only of Major General Rahim. Although we did our best to reconstruct the East Pakistan story with the help of such material, as was then available, inevitably our conclusions had to be of a tentative character. We also felt that since we had found reasons adversely to comment upon the performance of some of the major figures involved it would have been unfair to pass any final judgment upon them without giving them an opportunity of explaining their own view point. For this reason, we said that “our observations and conclusions regarding the surrender in East Pakistan and other allied matters should be regarded as provisional and subject to modification in the light of the evidence of the Commander, Eastern Command, and his senior officers as and when such evidence becomes available.” (Page 242 of the Main Report). Commission Reactivated

  1. Accordingly, after the prisoners of war and the civil personnel who had also been interned with the military personnel in India returned to Pakistan, the Federal government issued a notification directing “that the Commission shall start inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and complete the inquiry and submit its report to the President of Pakistan, with its findings as to the matters aforesaid, within a period of two months commencing from the date the commission starts functioning.” A copy of this notification is annexed as Annexure A to this Chapter. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Altaf Qadir, who had also previously acted as Military Adviser to the Commission, was re-appointed as such as also was Mr. M.A Latif as Secretary to the Commission. At the request of the commission the government also appointed Col. M.A Hassan as Legal Advisor.
  2. The commission issued a Press Release on the 1st June, 1974 offering an opportunity to the prisoners of War and others repatriated from East Pakistan to furnish such information as might be within their knowledge and relevant to the purposes of the Commission. A copy of this Press Release is in Annexure B to this Chapter.

Proceedings

  1. Commission held an informal meeting at Lahore on the 3rd June, 1974 to consider various preliminary matters and then decided to resume proceedings at Abbottabad from the 16th July, 1974. In the meantime, a number of questionnaires were issued to various persons, including those who were at the helm of affairs in East Pakistan, at the relevant time and others whom we considered likely to have relevant knowledge. Statements were also sent from members of armed forces, civil services and the police services involved and we then proceeded after scrutiny of these statements to summon the witnesses. We recorded evidence of as many as 72 persons and these included particularly Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, Commander Eastern Command, Major Generals Farman Ali, Jamshed ad the generals who held during the relevant time commands of divisions, Rear Admiral Sharif, who was the senior most Naval Officer, Air Commodore Inam the senior most Air Officer, and civilian personnel, including the then Chief Secretary Mr. Muzaffar Hussain and the Inspector General of Police Mr. Mahmood Ali Chaudhry. Besides, Maj. Gen. Rahim was re-examined. The only exception which was unavoidable was that Dr. Malik who till very nearly the end was the Governor of East Pakistan, but in his case also we had first-hand evidence of every important event and we, therefore, now feel ourselves competent to submit our final conclusions.
  2. After the examination of evidence the Commission, finding itself unable to submit its report for a number of reasons by the 15th of September 1974, asked for time which was extended till the 15th of November 1974 and again till the 30th November 1974. At the conclusion of the recording of evidence on the 5th September 1974 we had to disperse principally because two of us were required to attend the special session of the Supreme Court at Karachi from the 9th to the 21st September, 1974 and the President had also to proceeded to Geneva to attend an International Conference. We, therefore, reassembled on the 23rd of October, 1974 at Abbottabad to prepare this Supplement to our main report.

Scheme of the supplementary report

  1. In general although we have examined a considerable volume of fresh evidence we have found no reason whatever to modify the conclusions that we reached and stated in the Main Report; if anything by reasons of more detailed information we are confirmed in those conclusions. We, therefore, propose to avoid a repetition of what we stated in the Main Report except to some slight degree necessary for restating briefly some of the conclusions with which we are principally concerned in this supplement. There are also some matters upon which our information was then scanty if not negligible and, these we, therefore, propose to deal with in some detail. We do, however, propose to write this, supplement, following the same pattern as far as is practicable, as we did in the main report.

In Part II of that report we dealt with the political background and to this we now intend to add only matters which occurred in 1971, or to be more specific on and after the 25th March, 1971.

We have nothing to add to Part III of the Main Report dealing with International Relations.

As to Part IV we propose to say nothing in regard to the military aspect in so far as it concerned West Pakistan except to a limited extent as to its repercussions in East Pakistan and as to some controversy that has been raised before us as to the wisdom of opening the Western Front at all.

Of necessity in this part, however, we shall deal in greater detail with the matters dealt with in Chapters II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX of the Main Report in so far as they concern East Pakistan. We then propose to deal with the subject of discipline of the armed forces in East Pakistan which would include the questions of alleged military atrocities in East Pakistan. We shall of necessity, mainly in this part, have to deal with the individual conduct of several persons though aspects of this will emerge from earlier Chapters. We shall then need to discuss some evidence which has come before us suggesting that there were, during the period of captivity in India, concerted efforts on the part of some high officers to present a consistent, if it necessarily accurate, account of what took place. We propose finally to wind up this supplement by making the recommendations. (Cabinet Division) Rawalpindi, the 25th May, 1974 # 107/19/74-Min -Whereas the Commission of Inquiry appointed under the late Ministry of Presidential Affairs Notification No. 632 (1)/71, dated the 26th December, 1971, had, in its report of 8th July, 1972, submitted, interalia, that the Commission’s findings with regard to the courses of events in East Pakistan were only tentative and recommended that “as and when the Commander Eastern Command and other senior officers now prisoners of war in India are available, a further Inquiry should be held into the circumstances which led to the surrender in East Pakistan”; AND WHEREAS all the prisoners of war and civil internees have now returned to Pakistan; AND WHEREAS the Federal Government is of the opinion that it is necessary in the light of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry to finalise the said inquiry as to the circumstances which led to the surrender in East Pakistan, after examining any of the said prisoners of war and civil internees whose examination is considered necessary by the Commission; Now, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (I) of Section 3 o the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956 (VI of 1956) the federal government is pleased to direct that the commission shall start inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and complete the inquiry and submit its report to the President of Pakistan, with its findings as to the matter aforesaid, within a period of two months commencing from the date the Commission starts functioning. Sd/VAQAR AHMAD Cabinet Secretary

Lahore, the 1st June, 1974 press release

The War Inquiry Commission which has been asked by the government of Pakistan to resume its deliberations and submit a final report was appointed by the then President of Pakistan, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, on the 26th December, 1971 to enquire into the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern Command surrendered and the members of the armed forces of Pakistan under his command laid down their arms and a ceasefire was ordered along the borders of West Pakistan and India and along the ceasefire line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Commission is headed by the

  • Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Hamoodur Rahman.

The other two members of the Commission are

  • Justice S. Anwarul Haq, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan and
  • Justice Tufaif Ali Abdur Rahman, Chief Justice of Sind and Baluchistan High Court.

 

  1. Gen (Retired) Altaf Qadir and
  2. M.A Latif, Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

are Military Adviser and Secretary of the Commission, respectively.

The Commission which had started its proceedings in camera in Rawalpindi on the 1st February, 1972 recorded evidence of 213 witnesses. It had submitted its report to the then President of Pakistan on the 12th July, 1972. In the Report the Commission had observed that its findings with regard to the causes of surrender in East Pakistan were only tentative. It, therefore, recommended that as and when the Commander, Eastern Command and other senior officers who were in India at that time were available, a further inquiry should be held into the circumstances which led to the surrender in East Pakistan. Now that all the prisoners of war and civil internees have returned to Pakistan, the Government has asked the Commission to complete this part of its inquiry. A temporary office of the Commission has been set up for the present in the Supreme Court building at Lahore and the Commission has decided that before commencing its proceeding a place to be announced later on the members of the public civil services and the armed forces who were either prisoners of war in India or were otherwise repatriated from East Pakistan should be given an opportunity to furnish to the commission such relevant information as may be within their knowledge relating to the causes of surrender in East Pakistan. This information should be submitted in writing, preferably 5 copies, as briefly as possible by the 30th June, 1974 at the latest to the Secretary of the Inquiry Commission care of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Lahore. The informant should also state whether he will be willing to appear before the Commission. All such information and particulars of the persons given the information will be strictly confidential. It may be mentioned that according to a public announcement of the Government of Pakistan published in newspapers on the 11th January, 1972 all proceedings before the Commission would be in camera and the statements made before and addressed to it would be absolutely privileged and would not render a person making any such statement liable to any civil or criminal proceedings except when such statement is false. The Commission is empowered to call before it any citizen of Pakistan to seek information. The Commission can if necessary even issue warrants to secure the attendance of any person unless he is otherwise exempted by law from personal appearance before a Court. The serving personnel of defence services who are willing to give evidence before the Commission should have no apprehension of victimization for assisting the Commission in its task.

The moral aspect: introductory

In Chapter I of Part V of the Main Report, we have dealt at some length with the moral aspect of the causes of our defeat in the 1971 War. This became necessary in view of the vehement assertions made before the Commission by a large number of respectable witnesses drawn from various sections of society, including highly placed and responsible Service Officers, to the effect that due to corruption arising out of the performance of Martial Law duties, lust for wine and women and greed for lands and houses, a large number of senior Army Officers, particularly those occupying the highest positions, had not only lost the will to fight but also the professional competence necessary for taking the vital and critical decisions demanded of them for the successful prosecution of the war. It was asserted by these witnesses that men given to a disreputable way of life could hardly be expected to lead the Pakistan Army to victory.

  1. After analysing the evidence brought before the Commission, we came to the conclusion that the process of moral degeneration among the senior ranks of the Armed Forces was set in motion by their involvement in Martial Law duties in 1958, that these tendencies reappeared and were, in fact, intensified when Martial Law was imposed in the country once again in March 1969 by General Yahya Khan, and that there was indeed substance in the allegations that a considerable number of senior Army Officers had not only indulged in large scale acquisition of lands and houses and other commercial activities, but had also adopted highly immoral and licentious ways of life which seriously affected their professional capabilities and their qualities of leadership. 3. We then offered specific comments on the conduct of certain high officers including the Commander, Eastern Command, Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi. However, we observed, in Paragraph 35 of that Chapter, that “as we have not had the opportunity of putting these allegations to Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi any finding in this behalf must await his return from India where he is at present held as a prisoner of war”. We have now examined not only Lt. Gen. Niazi but certain other witnesses as well in relation to his personal conduct, and the general allegations made against the Pakistan Army during its operations in the former East Pakistan, and are accordingly in a position to formulate our final conclusions in the matter.

Excerpts of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report

Nature of disciplinary action

  1. In view of the glaring weaknesses and negligence displayed by some of the senior officers operating in East Pakistan, we have anxiously considered the nature of the disciplinary action required in the case. We find that there are several provisions in the Pakistan Army Act 1952 having a direct bearing on this matter. In the first place, there is section 24 which is in the following terms: – “

Offences in relation to enemy and punishable with death. Any person to this Act who commits any of the following offenses, that is to say, –

(a) Shamefully abandons or delivers up any garrison, fortress, airfield, place, post or guard committed to his charge or which it is his duty to defend, or uses any means to compel or induce any commanding officer or any other person to do any of the said acts; or

(b) in the presence of any enemy, shamefully casts away his arms, ammunition, tools or equipment, or misbehaves in such manner as to show cowardice; or

(c) intentionally uses word or any other means to compel or induce any person subject to this Act, or to the Indian Air Force Act, 1932 (XIV of 1932) or Pakistan Air Force Act 1953 or too the Pakistan Navy Ordinance, 1961, t abstain from acting against the enemy or to discourage such persons from acting against the enemy; or

(d) directly or indirectly, treacherously holds correspondence with or communicates intelligence to, the enemy or who coming to the knowledge of such correspondence or communication treacherously omits to discover it to his commanding or other superior officer; or

(e) directly or indirectly assists or relies the enemy with arm, ammunition, equipment, supplies or money or knowingly harbours or protects an enemy not being a prisoner; or

(f)treacherously or through cowardice sends a flag of truce to the enemy; or

(g) in time of war, of during any operation, intentionally occasions a false alarm in action, camp, garrison or quarters, or spreads reports calculated to create alarm or despondency; or

(h) in time of action, leaves his commanding officer, or quits his post, guard, picquet, patrol or party without being regularly relieved or without leave; or

(i) having being made a prisoner of war, voluntarily serves with or aids the enemy; or

(j) knowingly does when on active service any act calculated to imperil success of the Pakistan forces or any forces-operating therewith or of any part of such forces’ shall, on conviction by court martial, be punished with death or with such less punishment as it is in this Act mentioned”,

  1. Section 25 is also relevant, and reads as under: – 25. Offences in relation to the enemy and not punishable with death. Any person subject to this Act who, on active service –

(a) without order from his superior officer leaves the ranks in order to secure prisoner, animals or materials, or on the pretence of taking wounded men to the rear;

or (b) without orders from his superior officer, wilfully destroys or damages any property; or

(c) is taken prisoner for want of due precaution or through disobedience of orders or wilful neglect of duty, or, having been taken prisoner, fails to re-join service when he is able to do so; or

(d) without due authority, either holds correspondence with, or communicates intelligence, or sends a flag of truce to the enemy; or

(e) by words of mouth, or in writing, or by signals, or otherwise spreads reports calculated to create alarm or despondency; or

(f) in action, or previously to going into action, uses words calculated to create alarm or despondency; shall on conviction by court martial, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years, or with much less punishment as is in this Act mentioned”.

  1. Finally, there is section 55 which is of a general nature, and provides;

Violation of good order and discipline-Any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct, disorder and of military discipline shall , on conviction by court martial, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned”

  1. We are fully cognizant of the fact that defeat in war, even entailing surrender, is not necessarily punishable as a military offence unless it has been occasioned by wilful neglect of the Commander concerned in the performance of his duties in respect of the appreciation of the situation regarding the enemy’s intention, strength, own resources, terrain, etc; or in the planning and conduct of the operations; or a wilful failure to take action as required under the circumstances. A callous disregard of the recognised techniques and principles of warfare would clearly amount to culpable negligence, and could not be excused as an honest error of judgement. A deliberate failure to adopt the proper course of action to meet a certain contingency cannot be covered by taking shelter behind the plea that his superiors did not advise him properly in time. It further appears to us that every Commander must be presumed to possess the calibre and quality, appurtenant to his rank, and he must per force bear full responsibility for all the acts of omission and commission, leading to his defeat in war, which are clearly attributable to culpable negligence on his part to take the right action at the right time, as distinguished from (illegible) or circumstances beyond his control. He would also be liable to be punished if he shows a lack of will to fight and surrenders to the enemy at a juncture when he still had the resources and the capability to put up resistance. Such an act would appear to fall clearly under clause (a) of section 24 of the Pakistan Army Act.                    Need and justification for trial and punishment
  2. Having heard the views of a large number of witnesses drawn from all sections of society, professions and services, the Commission feels that there is consensus on the imperative need to book these senior army commanders who have brought disgrace and defeat to Pakistan by their professional incompetence, culpable negligence and wilful neglect in the performance of their duties, and physical and moral cowardice in abandoning the fight when they had the capability and resources to resist the enemy. We are also of the view that proper and firm disciplinary action , and not merely retirement from service, is necessary to ensure against any future recurrence of the kind of shameful conduct displayed during the 1971 war. We believe that such action would not only satisfy the nations demand for punishment where it is deserved, but would also serve to emphasise the concept of professional accountability which appears to have been forgotten by senior army officers since their involvement in politics, civil administration and Martial Law duties.

Cases requiring action by way of court martial

  1. In Part III of the present report, we have discussed and analysed at some length the concept of defence of East Pakistan adopted by Lt. Gen Niazi, and the manner in which he and his Divisional and Brigade Commanders formulated their plans to implement that concept within the resources available to them in East Pakistan. We have then narrated the important events involving the surrender of well-defended strong points and fortresses without a fight , desertion of his area of responsibility by a Divisional Commander, disintegration of brigades and battalions in frantic and foolish efforts to withdraw from certain posts , and abandoning of the wounded and the sick in callous disregard of all human and military values. We have also seen how the Eastern Command had failed to plan for an all-out war with India and particularly to provide for the defence of Dacca which had been described as the political and military lynch-pin of East Pakistan. We have also described the painful events leading to the ultimate surrender of such a large body of men and materials to the Indian Army at juncture when, by all accounts, the Pakistan Army was still able to put up resistance for anything up to two weeks or more. In this context we have also taken note of the inexplicable orders issued by the Eastern Command to stop the destruction of war before material before the surrender, and the abject and shameful attitude adopted by the Commander, Eastern Command, at various stages of the surrender ceremonies in the presence of the Indian Generals. Finally, we have observed that during his period of captivity at Jabalpur (India) Lt General Niazi made efforts to persuade, by threats and inducements, his subordinate Commanders to present a coordinated story so as to mitigate his responsibility for the debate.
  2. Judged in the light of this analysis of the events leading to the surrender of our Army in East Pakistan, and the relevant provisions of the Pakistan Army Act and the considerations thereto, as outlined in the preceding paragraphs, we are of the considered opinion that the following senior officers ought to be tried by court martial on the charges listed against them , and we recommend accordingly.

(1) Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi, Commander, Eastern Command

(i) That he wilfully failed to appreciate the imminence of all-out war with India, inspite of all indications to the contrary, namely the declarations of the Indian Prime Minister and other important Government leaders, the signing of the Indo-Soviet treaty in August, 1971, the amassing of eight divisions of the Indian Army, eleven squadrons of the Indian Air Force, and a large task force of the Indian Navy in and around East Pakistan, and the clear warning given to him by the GHQ on the basis of reliable intelligence regarding Indian plans of invasion of East Pakistan, with the n consequence that he continued to deploy his troops in a forward posture although that deployment had become entirely unsuited for defence against open Indian aggression;

(ii) That he displayed utter lack of professional competence, initiative and foresight, expected of an Army Commander of his ran, seniority and experience, in not realising that the parts of his mission concerning anti-insurgency operations and ensuring that “no chunk of territory” was to be allowed to be taken over by the rebels for establishing Bangladesh, had become irrelevant in the context of the imminence of all-out attack by India on or about the 21st of November ,1971, and that the mast important part of his mission from that juncture onwards was to “defend East Pakistan against external aggression”‘ and “keep the Corps in being and ensure the entity of East Pakistan”‘ with the result that he failed to concentrate his forces in time , which failure later led to fatal results;

(iii) That he displayed culpable negligence in adopting the concept of fortresses and strong points without fully understanding its technical implications as regards their ability to lend mutual support, availability of the necessary reserves to strike at the enemy in the event of his by passing any of the fortresses or overwhelming them with superior numbers, and the existence of a non-hostile population, with the disastrous consequence that was forced to surrender even though several of the fortresses and strong points were still intact on the 16th of December, 1971;

(iv) That he was guilty of criminal negligence in not including in his operational instruction No. 4 of 1971, issued on the 15th of July, 1971, any clear directive for a planned withdrawal of forces behind ?? river obstacles to face the Indian onslaught and to defend what may be described as the Dacca Triangle for the purpose of keeping East Pakistan in being by giving up non-vital territory;

(v) That he in fact showed wilful neglect and culpable negligence of the worst order in failing to make any positive plan for the defence of Dacca;

(vi) That he displayed lack of generalship and mature judgement in requiring his subordinate commanders to simultaneously maintain a forward defence posture, occupy unmanned fortresses, and yet not withdraw from any position without sustaining 75% casualties and obtaining clearance from two-up, a variation from the norm of one-up, with the result that several formation commanders felt confused and bewildered and acted in a manner prejudicial to the sound conduct of operations and resulting in unnecessary casualties, as well as disorder and chaos arising from haphazard and unplanned withdrawals under pressure from the enemy;

(vii) That he displayed culpable negligence and wilful disregard of established principles of warfare by denuding Dacca of all regular troops by moving out 53 Brigade, which had been previously held as Corps reserve, on the expectation that he would be getting more troops as agreed to by GHQ on the 19th of November, 1971;

(viii) That he was guilty of criminal negligence in not ensuring beforehand satisfactory arrangements for transport, ferries, etc., with the result that even his last minute desperate efforts to withdraw troops from forward positions for the defence of Dacca were unsuccessful, and whatever troops did manage to reach Dacca did so minus their heavy equipment, besides suffering unnecessary casualties en route.

(ix) That he wilfully failed to defend Dacca, and agreed to a shameful and premature surrender inspite of his own assertion before the Commission that Indians would have required at least a period of seven days to mount the offensive and another week to reduce the defences of Dacca, notwithstanding the shortcomings of his concept and plans, inadequacies and handicaps in respect of men and materials as compared to the enemy, the absence of air support and the presence of Mukti Bahini in and around Dacca.

(x) That he deliberately and wilfully sent unduly pessimistic and alarming reports to GHQ with a view to eliciting permission to surrender as he had lost the will to fight as early as the 6th or 7th of December, 1971, owing to his own mismanagement of the entire of war and his inability to influence, inspire and guide the subordinate Commanders;

(xi) That he wilfully, and for motives and reasons difficult to understand and appreciate, stopped the implementation of denial plans, with the result that large quantities of valuable war materials wee handed over intact to the Indian forces after surrender, inspite of the fact that GHQ had specifically ordered by their Signal of the 10th December ,1971, to carry out denial plans;

(xii) That he displayed a shameful and abject attitude in agreeing to surrender when he had himself offered a ceasefire to the Indian Commander-in-Chief; in signing the surrender document agreeing to lay down arms to the joint command of the Indian forces and the Mukti Bahini; in being present at the Dacca Airport to receive the victorious Indian General Arora; in ordering his own ADC to present a guard of honour to the said General; and in accepting the Indian proposal for a public surrender ceremony which brought everlasting shame to the Pakistan Army.

(xiii) That he was guilty of conduct unbecoming a Officer and Commander of his rank and seniority in that he acquired a notorious reputation for sexual immorality and indulgence in the smuggling of Pan from East to West Pakistan, with the inevitable consequence that he failed to inspire respect and confidence in the mind of his subordinates impaired his qualities of leadership and determination, and also encouraged laxity in discipline and moral standards among the officers and men under his command;

(xiv) That during the period of his captivity as a prisoner of war in Jabalpur (India) and on repatriation to the Pakistan he made efforts to subvert the truth by trying to exercise undue influence on his Divisional and Brigade Commanders by offering them threats and inducements , so as to persuade them to present before th GHQ Briefing Committee and the Commission of Inquiry , a coordinated and coloured version of the events in East Pakistan for the purpose of mitigating his own responsibility for the defeat; and (xv) That, on repatriation to Pakistan, he deliberately adopted a false and dishonest stand to the effect that he was willing and able to fight but was ordered to surrender by General Yahya Khan, and that as a dutiful soldier he had no option but to obey the said order against his best judgement.

2. Maj Gen Mohammad Jamshed, ex-GOC 36 (ad hoc) Division, Dacca

(i) That having been appointed as GOC 36 (ad hoc) Division for the express purpose of taking over from 14 Div., major responsibility for the defence of Dacca, he wilfully failed to plan for the same, in accordance with sound principles of warfare, and showed culpable lack of initiative in this behalf;

(ii) That in the aforesaid capacity he wilfully neglected to point out to Lt Gen Niazi, during various conference, the inadequacy of the resources at his disposal for the defence of Dacca, pointing out after the 19th of Nov, 1971, when 53 Brigade was sent out of Dacca to Feni;

(iii) That he displayed gross neglect in ordering the abrupt withdrawal of 93 Brigade from Jamalpur to Dacca without planning for it, well knowing that it was defending Dacca by holding that fortress, and in consequence of this ill-planed move 93 Brigade got completely disintegrated enroute owing to the capture by the enemy of the Brigade Commander and a considerable portion of the Brigade;

(iv) That he showed complete lack of courage and will to fight in that he acquiesced in the decision of the Commander, Eastern Command, to surrender to surrender to the Indian forces at a juncture when it was still possible, in spite of the paucity o resources, to hold the enemy for a period of two weeks or so;

(v) That he deliberately and wilfully neglected to inform the authorities concerned, on his repatriation to Pakistan, about the facts that he had got distributed Rs 50,000 out of Pakistan currency notes and other funds at his disposal or under his control, amongst certain evacuated from Dacca on the morning of December, 1971, and the manner in which he did so.

(3) Maj Gen M. Rahim Khan, ex-GOC 3? (ad hoc) Division

(a) In Paragraphs 9 to 11 of Chapter III of P art V of the Main Report , we had occasion to comment upon the conduct of Maj Gen Rahim Khan, GOC 39 (ad hoc) Division, who abandoned his Division , and evacuated his Divisional HQ from Chandpur , of course, with the permission of the Commander, Eastern Commander, with no replacement, and with the consequence that his Division disintegrated and had to be replaced with another Headquarter called the Narayan Sector Headquarter under a Brigadier. We had then recounted that the conduct of Maj Gen Rahim Khan in abandoning his troops and shifting to a place outside his area of responsibility prima facie called for a proper inquiry to determine whether the General was guilty of dereliction of duty or/and cowardice. We also added some other points which needed to be looked into in this behalf.

(b) As Maj Gen Rahim Khan was one of the senior officers serving in East Pakistan during the war, he voluntarily appeared before the Commission during the present session, primarily for the purpose of clearing his position. As will be seen from a detailed discussion of the operation of the 39 (ad hoc) Division in the narration of the military events, the Commission is far from satisfied with the performance of this General Officer. In the light of the information now available we now consider that he should be tried by a court martial on the following charges:

(i) that he shameful cowardice and undue regard for his personal safety in seeking, and obtaining, permission from the Eastern Command to abandon his Division and vacate his Divisional Headquarters from Chandpur on the 8th of December 1971, simply because Chandpur was threatened by the enemy, with the result that he deserted his troops and his area of responsibility in the middle of the war with India;

(ii) that his wilful insistence on moving by day against competent advice, owing to fear of Mukti Bahini, caused the death of fourteen Naval ratings and four officers of his own HQ, besides injuries to several others, and to himself due to strafing by Indian aircraft;

(iii) that in his anxiety to get away from Chandpur, he wilfully abandoned valuable signal equipment with the result that the communication system of the Division disintegrated and his subordinate commanders and troops were left to their own fate;

(iv) that he on the 12th of December, 1971, by word of mouth, caused alarm and despondency by General Niazi, Jamshed and Farman Ali that “it is all over, let us call it a day”‘ and that the Mukti Bahini might resort to massacre’

(v) that he wilfully avoided submitting a debriefing report to GHQ, on being specially evacuated to Pakistan in early 1971, so as to conceal the circumstances of his desertion from his Division HQ at Chandpur with the consequence that the authorities were persuaded to appoint hi as Chief of the General Staff without any knowledge of his performance in East Pakistan

4. Brig. G.M. Baqir Siddiqui, former COS, Eastern Command, Dacca

(i) That as Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, he was guilty of wilful neglect in failing to advise the Commander, Eastern Commander, on sound professional lines in regard to the matters mentioned in charges (i) to (ix) framed against Lt. Gen Niazi;

(ii) That he wilfully collaborated with, and assisted, the Commander, Eastern Command, in sending unduly pessimistic and alarming reports and signals to GHQ with a view to elicit permission to surrender, as he had also lost the will to fight owing to his culpable negligence and failure in the performance of his professional duties as the Chief of Staff of the Eastern Command;

(iii) That he showed culpable disregard of sound principles of planning for the war in that he excluded the Commanders of the supporting arms like signals, engineers, logistics, medical, etc. from full participation before the plans of the Eastern Command were finalized, with the result that the full benefit of the advice of these Commanders was not available to Lt Gen Niazi at the proper time;

(iv) That he was guilty of culpable negligence in not properly advising the Commander, Eastern Command, of the imminence and enormity of the Indian threat even though he had been fully briefed in this behalf by the GHQ at a conference in Rawalpindi in October 1971, and he also similarly failed to advise the Commander on the imperative need of readjusting troops to meet this threat;

(v) That he was responsible for abrupt changes in command in the middle of the war , and also for giving orders to subordinate formations over the head of their superior commanders, thus resulting in uncertainty and confusion during the critical days of the war;

(vi) That he wilfully, and for motives and reasons difficult to understand and appreciate stopped the implementation of denial plans with the result that large quantities of valuable war materials were handed over intact to the Indian forces after the surrender, in spite of the fact the GHQ had specifically ordered by their of the 10th December 1971 to carry out denial plans;

(vii) That in particular, he instructed the commander Signals to keep the inter-wing transmitter in operation even after the surrender, apparently for the purpose of conveying recommendations to GHQ for the grant of gallantry awards etc. with the result that this valuable equipment fell intact into the hands of the enemy;

(ix) that he was unduly friendly with the enemy during the period of his captivity, so much so that he was allowed to go out shopping in Calcutta, a facility not allowed to anyone else by the Indians;

(x) that he acted against good order and the custom of the Service in being instrumental in conveying threats and inducements to formation commanders for the purpose of presenting a coordinated story before the GHQ and the Commission of Inquiry in regard to the events leading to surrender in East Pakistan.

5. Brig Mohammad Hayat, former Commander. 107 Brigade. (9 Division)

(i) That as Commander 107 Bde., he displayed neglect in not formulating a sound plan for the defence of the fortress of Jessore;

(ii) That while launching counter attack at Gharibpur he neglected to obtain full information about the enemy strength, and did not himself command this important Brigade counter attack, in consequence whereof he lost seven tanks, his en suffered heavy casualties, and the defence of Jessore fortress was seriously jeopardised;

(iii) That on a report that enemy tanks had broken through the defences of Jessore he, without even verifying the same, shamefully abandoned the fortress of Jessore without a fight on the 6th of December 1971, delivering intact to the enemy all supplies and ammunition dumps stocked in the fortress, and without issuing any orders to his unit in contact with the enemy, who had to fight their own way during the following night.

(iv) That after abandoning Jessore without contact with the enemy, he withdrew to Khulna in wilful and intentional violation of the clear orders of G.Q.C. 9 Division to withdraw to Magura in the event of a forced withdrawal from Jessore, thus making it impossible for the Divisional Commander to give battle to the enemy across the Madhumati River.

6. Brig. Mohammad Aslam Niazi, former Commander., 53 Bde (39 Ad hoc Div.)

(i) That as Commander 53 Bde. he displayed culpable lack of initiative, determination and planning ability in that he failed to prepared defences of Mudafarganj as ordered by the G.O.C. 39 (As hoc) Division on the 4th of December 1971, with the result that the place was occupied by the enemy on or about the 6th of December 1971 , thus seriously endangering the line of communication between Tripura and Chandpur where the Divisional Headquarters was located;

(ii) That he showed culpable lack of courage, planning ability and determination in failing to eject the enemy fro Mudafarganj as ordered by the GOC on the 6th of December 1971, with the result that contingents of 23 Punjab and elements of 21 A.K. surrendered to an Indian unit on the 11th of December 1971 in highly adverse circumstances, without water or food and the ammunition having been nearly exhausted;

(iii) That he shamefully abandoned the Fortress of Laksham on or about the 9th of December 1971, which it was his duty to defend;

(iv) That he displayed wilful neglect in failing to properly organize ex-filtration of his troops fro the fortress at Laksha to Comilla on the 9th of December 1971, with the result that out of a strength of about 4000 men only about 500 or so, including the Brigade Commander himself and C.O. 39 Baluch with approximately 400 men surrendered to the enemy when he was barely three miles outside Comilla, and as a consequence 53 Bde and all its battalions thus disintegrated;

(v) That he wilfully acted in callous disregard of military ethics in abandoning at Laksha 124 sick and wounded with two Medical Officers who were deliberately not informed about the proposed vacation of the fortress; and

(vi) That while vacating the fortress of Laksha he wilfully and intentionally abandoned all heavy weapons, stocks of ammunition and supplies for the use of the enemy, without implementing the denial plan;

Cases Requiring Departmental Action

(1) Brig. S.A. Ansari, ex-Commander, 23 Bde, (Div): This officer assumed command of 23 Bde on the 14th of November 1971 and was responsible for the civil districts of Rangpur and Denajpur, except the small area of Hilli which was under the control of 205 Bde. Right from the beginning he seems to have been losing ground, starting with the loss of Bhurungamari which was attacked by the Indians on the 14th or 15th of November 1971. His troops then lost the important position of Pachagarh mainly owing to Brig. Ansari’s inability to readjust his position. He then abandoned Thakargaon between 28th and 30th of November 1971 without offering any resistance to the enemy. As a result of these reverses he was relieved of his command on the 3rd of December 1971. His Divisional Commander, Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah formed a poor opinion of his performance in battle and we have no hesitation in endorsing the same fro evidence coming before us. We are of the view that he did not display qualities of courage, leadership and determination. The Commission feels that this Officer is not fit for further retention in service.

(2) Brig. Manzoor Ahmad, ex-Commander 57 Bde (9 Div): This Officer did not conduct the battle with sufficient grip and caused the loss of fortress of Jhenida without a fight , owing to his inability to clear an enemy block at Kot Chandpur. Then, contrary to the Divisional concept and without orders he withdrew his Brigade out of the Divisional area and had to be placed under 16 Division. He became detached from his main Headquarters and remained so till the end. He could therefore make no contribution to the war and his performance created the impression that he was shaky in battle. He does not appear to be fit for further retention in service.

(3) Brig. Abdul Qadir Khan, ex-Commander, 93 Bde. (36 Div): The work and the conduct of Brig. Abdul Qadir Khan has come to the notice of the Commission in two capacities, namely as the President of the Inter-Services Screening Committee at Dacca and later as Commander of 93 (Ad hoc) Brigade under 36 Division. In the former capacity, he was responsible for the screening of military and civilian personnel as well as non-officials who had either defected during the Awami League movement or had otherwise come to adverse notice. Allegations were made that some persons in his custody were eliminated without trial, or even without any ostensible cause. However, the allegations were not substantiated so as to fix personal responsibility on hi. As Commander 93 (Ad hoc) Brigade, he was captured by the Indians while withdrawing to Dacca from Mymensingh under the orders of Eastern Command. He sees to have reached his ceiling and the Commission formed the impression that his further retention in service would not be in the public interest. We were inferred by the GHQ representative that the officer had since been retired.

Performance of other senior officers

Besides Lt Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, Maj Gen. Mohammad Jamshed, and Maj Gen M Rahim Khan, with whose cases we have already dealt in the preceding paragraphs, there were four other General Officers serving in the East Pakistan at the time of the surrender, namely,

  • Maj Gen M.H. Ansari, GOC 9 Div.
  • Maj Gen Qazi Abdul Majid, GOC 14 Div.,
  • Maj Gen Nazar Hussain Shah, GOC 16 Div.
  • Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali, Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan.

Similarly, besides the Brigadiers, whom we have noticed in the preceding paragraphs, there were 19 other Brigadiers serving in various capacities as Brigade Commanders or Commanders of technical arms. Finally, there was a Rear Admiral of the Navy supported by three Commanders and one Air Commodore commanding the PAF in East Pakistan. 10. While we shall deal with the case of Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali separately, as he was not commanding any troops at the relevant time, we cannot help remarking that all the senior officers stationed in East Pakistan immediately before and during the war of 1971 must be held collectively responsible for the failings and weaknesses which led to the defeat of the Pakistan Army. However, while assessing their individual responsibility, the Commission was obliged to take note of the limitations imposed on them by the concepts and attitudes adopted by the Eastern Command, the admitted shortages and deficiencies in men and materials, faced by them as compared to the vast resources of the enemy and the general demoralisation which stemmed from the culpable acts of commission and omission on the part of the Army High Command at Rawalpindi and the Commander Eastern Command, at Dacca. Finally, there was also the unfortunate over-riding factor of a long and inherited tradition of unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the superior commander, which prevented most of these officers from questioning the soundness of the critical decisions and actions taken by the High Command, including the final act of surrender. Apart from a few individuals, the large body of officers and men operating in East Pakistan accepted the final decision without any thought of disobedience, even though the majority of them were undoubtedly willing to fight to the last and lay down their lives for the glory of Pakistan.

  1. Keeping in view these factors and circumstances we have examined the individual performance and conduct of these senior officers, as will be apparent from the relevant portions of the Main Report and this Supplement where we have narrated at some length the military events as they developed from day-to-day and we have come to the conclusion that adverse comment reflecting on their suitability for continued retention in military service would not be justified. We have also not thought it desirable to single out officers for special praise either, although it goes without saying that in several cases the officers did act with dedication and valour beyond the ordinary call of duty. Performance & conduct of junior officers
  2. In the very nature of things, the Commission was not in a position to examine at any length the conduct and performance of officers below the brigade level although some cases necessarily came to our notice where the performance of these officers had a direct bearing on the fate of important battles which were fought on various fronts, or where their conduct transgressed the norms of moral discipline. Such cases have found mention in the relevant portions of our report, but by and large cases of these junior officers must be left to be dealt with by the respective service headquarters who have ordained detailed briefing reports from all of them and are also in possession of their performance by their immediate superiors.

Tragic events of 1971: Hamoodur Rahman Commission Supplementary Report

Effect of martial law duties

  1. In the situation that developed after the military action of the 25th of March 1971, the civil administration in East Pakistan practically came to a standstill, and the burden of running the Province fell heavily upon the Army Officers. Their involvement in civil administration continued unabated even after the induction of a sizable number of senior civil servants from West Pakistan, including the Chief Secretary, the Inspector General of Police and at least two Division Commissioners.
  2. According to the Inspector General of Police, Mr. M.A.K Chaudhry (Witness No. 219), “after the disturbances of March-April 1971, there was a Military Governor with a Major General as his adviser at the head of the civil administration. There was a parallel Martial Law administration at all levels. All wings of administration, relating to law and order were under the control of Martial Law Authorities. A West Pakistan Deputy Inspector General of Police in the field was not permitted by the local Martial Law Authorities to come to the Provincial Headquarters” for a conference with the Inspector General of Police. In the view of Syed Alamdar Raza (Witness No. 226), Commissioner of Dacca Division, “efforts were made to make civilian officers responsible or at least routine matters within the general supervision and control of the Army Officers, but no substantial results could be achieved. Those Bengali Officers who had been restored lacked confidence and were not sure if their loyalties were not suspected. Action was taken against them, even their arrests were ordered without any body knowing about it, including their superiors or the Government of East Pakistan.”
  3. The Army’s involvement in civil administration did not come to an end even with the installation of a civilian governor (viz. Dr. A.M Malik), and the ministers appointed by him. The observations made in this behalf by Maj Gen. Rao Farman Ali (Witness No. 284), who held the appointment of Maj General (Civil Affairs) in the governor’s Secretariat are worth quoting: “A fully civil government could not be formed in East Pakistan as had been announced by the ex-President. Dr. Malik, an old man and politician with  a weak personality. He could not annoy, the Martial Law Administrator (Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi) also because of the unsettled conditions obtaining in the Wing. Gen Niazi, on the other hand, cherished and liked power, but did not have the breadth of vision or ability to understand political implications. He did not display much respect for the civilian Governor. The Army virtually continued to control civil administration”.
  4. The impression created on the mind of the West Pakistani civilian officials, then serving in East Pakistan, has been stated thus by Mr. Mohammad Ashraf, (Witness No. 275), former Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dacca: “The installation of a civilian governor in September 1971 was merely to hoodwink public opinion at home and abroad. Poor Dr. Malik and his ministers were figureheads only. Real decisions in all important matters still lay with the Army. I remember the first picture of the new Cabinet. Maj. Gen Farman Ali was prominently visible sitting on the right side of the Governor, although he was not a member of the Cabinet.”
  5. This impression is fortified by the fact that at a later stage even the selection of candidates for the by-elections ordered by General Yahya Khan was made by Maj Gen Farman Ali. Lt. Gen Niazi and, some of his subordinate martial law administrators have no doubt claimed that they allowed full liberty of action to the civilian officials at various levels, but conceded that in the peculiar situation prevailing in East Pakistan after the military action the Army necessarily continued to be deeply concerned with the maintenance of law and order, the restoration of communications and the revival of economic activity in the province.
  6. The evidence of Officers repatriated from India leaves no doubt that this extensive and prolonged involvement of the Pakistan Army in Martial Law duties and civil administration had a disastrous effect on its professional and moral standards. According to Brig. M. Saleemullah, who was commanding 203 (A) Brigade in East Pakistan, “prolonged commitment on Martial Law duties and interment security roles had affected the professional standards of the Army.” According to Rear Admiral M. Sharif (Witness No. 283) who was the Flag Officer Commanding the Pakistan Navy in East Pakistan, “the foundation of this defeat was laid way back in 1958 when the Armed Forces took over the country …While learning the art of politics in this newly assigned role to themselves, they gradually abandoned their primary function of the art of soldiering, they also started amassing wealth and usurping status for themselves.” Similar views were expressed before us by Commodore I.H. Malik (Witness No. 272) who was the Chairman of the Chittagong Port Trust until the day of surrender, Brigadier S.S.A Qasim, former Commander Artillery, Eastern Command, Col. Mansoorul Haq Malik, former GS-I, 9 Division, East Pakistan, and Col. Ijaz Ahmad (Witness No. 247) former Colonel Staff (GS) Eastern Command, to mention only a few.
  7. The fresh evidence coming before the Commission has thus served only to reinforce the conclusions reached by us in the Main Report that the involvement of the Pakistan Army in Martial Law duties and civil administration had a highly corrupting influence, seriously detracting from the professional duties of the Army and affecting the quality of training which the officers could impart to their units and formations, for the obvious reason that they did not have enough time available for this purpose, and many of them also lost the inclination to do so.

Living off the land

  1. A new aggravating factor made its appearance in East Pakistan in the wake of the military action of the 25th of March 1971, when units of the Pakistan Army undertook “sweep operations” throughout the Province to deal with the Awami League insurgents. The Army had to go out into the countryside without adequate logistic arrangements, and was compelled, at least in the early stages of its operations to take its requirements of food grains and other essential supplies from civilian sources. Unfortunately, however, the practice appears to have persisted even when it became possible to make proper logistic arrangements. There is evidence to the effect that civilian shops and stores were broken into by the troops without preparing any record of what was taken and from where. The need for commandeering vehicles, foodstuffs, medicines and other essential supplies can certainly be appreciated, but this should have been done under a proper method of accounting so that compensation could be paid on return of normal conditions. As no such procedure was adopted, it led to a general feeling among the troops, including their officers that they were entitled to take whatever they wanted from wherever they liked. This appears to us to be the genesis of the looting alleged to have been indulged in by the Army in East Pakistan.
  2. In the early stages this method of procurement seems to have been encouraged by senior commanders, including Lt. Gen Niazi, whose remarks on the very first day of his taking over command from Gen Tikka Khan have already been quoted by us in an earlier chapter, viz: “What have I been hearing about shortage of rations? Are not there any cows and goats in this country? This is enemy territory. Get what you want. This is what we used to do in Burma.” (vide Maj Gen Farman Ali’s evidence). Gen Niazi did not, of course, accept having made any such statement and asserted that “whatever we took we gave a chit so that civil government should pay for that”. This assertion is not supported by other officers. On the contrary, some officers like Lt. Col. Bokhari, (Witness No. 244) have made a positive statement that even written orders were received by them emanating from the Eastern Command to live of the land during sweep operations.
  3. However, at a later stage the Eastern Command and the divisional commanders issued strict instructions in an effort to stop such practices, and some commanders caused searches to be carried out of the barracks occupied by the troops for the recovery of looted material which included television sets, refrigerators, typewriters, watches, gold, air conditioners and other attractive items. We were informed that in several cases disciplinary action by way of Courts of Inquiries was initiated but the cases could not be finalised for one reason or the other before the surrender on the 16th of December 1971.

Glaring cases of moral lapses amongst officers posted in East Pakistan

(1) Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi

14. In the Main Report we have mentioned the allegations, and the evidence relating thereto as regards the personal conduct of Gen Yahya Khan, Gen. Abdul Hamid Khan the late Maj Gen (Retd) Khuda Dad Khan, Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi, Maj Gen Jehanzeb and Brig Hayatullah. We wish to supplement those observations as regards Lt. Gen Niazi.

15. From a perusal of Paragraphs 30 to 34 of Chapter 1 of Part V of the Main Report, it will be seen that the graveness of the allegations made against Lt. Gen. Niazi is that he was making money in the handling of Martial Law cases while posted as G.O.C Sialkot and later as G.O.C and Martial Law Administrator at Lahore; that he was on intimate terms with one Mrs. Saeeda Bukhari of Gulberg, Lahore, who was running a brothel under the name of Senorita Home, and was also acting as the General’s tout for receiving bribes and getting things done; that he was also friendly with another woman called Shamim Firdaus of Sialkot who was said to be playing the same role as Mrs. Saeeda Bukhari of Lahore; that during his stay in East Pakistan he came to acquire a stinking reputation owing to his association with women of bad repute, and his nocturnal visits to places also frequented by several junior officers under his command; and that he indulged in the smuggling of Pan from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. These allegations were made before the Commission by

  • Abdul Qayyum Arif (witness No. 6),
  • Munawar Hussain, Advocate of Sialkot (Witness No. 13),
  • Abdul Hafiz Kardar (Witness No. 25),
  • Maj Sajjadul Haq (Witness No. 164),
  • Squadron Leader C.A Wahid (Witness No. 57) and
  • Lt. Col Haliz Ahmad (Witness NO. 147).
  1. During the present phase of our inquiry damaging evidence has come on the record regarding the ill repute of General Niazi in sex matters, and his indulgence in the smuggling of Pan. A mention may be made in this behalf of the statements made before us by
  • Colonel Mansoorul Haq (Witness No. 260), ex GSO-I, 9 div.
  • Lt Commander A.A. Khan (Witness No. 262), of Pakistan Navy
  • Brigadier I.R. Shariff (Witness No. 269) former Comd. Engrs. Eastern Command
  • Mohammad Ashraf (Witness No. 275) former Addl. D.C. Dacca
  • Colonel. Aziz Ahmad Khan (Witness No. 276).

The remarks made by this last witness are highly significant: “The troops used to say that when the Commander (Lt. Gen. Niazi) was himself a raper, how could they be stopped. Gen. Niazi enjoyed the same reputation at Sialkot and Lahore.”

  1. Maj Gen Qazi Abdul Majid Khan (Witness No. 254) and Maj Gen Farman Ali (Witness No. 284) have also spoken of Gen Niazi’s indulgence in the export of Pan. According to Maj Gen Abdul Majid, Brig Aslam Niazi, commanding 53 Brigade, and Senior Superintendent of Police Diljan, who was residing with Gen Niazi in the Flag Staff House at Dacca, were helping Gen Niazi in the export of Pan. Maj Gen Farman Ali has gone to the extent of stating that “Gen Niazi was annoyed with me because I had not helped him in Pan business. Brigadier Hamiduddin of PIA had complained to me that Corps Headquarter was interfering in transportation of Pan to West Pakistan by placing limitation on poundage. I told ADC to Gen Niazi, who visited me in my office, that this was a commercial matter and should be left to the arrangements arrived at between PIA and Pan exporters.” We understand that the insinuation is that a son of Gen Niazi was engaged in the export of Pan from East Pakistan to West Pakistan.” According to Major S.S. Haider (Witness NO. 259) and Brig Atta Mohammed (Witness No. 257) even Brig Baqir Siddiqui, Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, was a partner of Gen Niazi in the export of Pan.
  2. The allegations mentioned in the preceding paragraphs were put to Lt. Gen. Niazi during his appearance before us, and he naturally denied them. When asked about his weakness for the fair sex, he replied, “I say no. I have been doing Martial Law duties. I never stopped anybody coming to see me. I became very religious during the East Pakistan trouble. I was not so before. I thought more of death than these things.”
  3. As regards the allegation that he was indulging in the export of Pan, he stated that he had ordered an enquiry into the matter on the complaint of a man called Bhuiyan who was aggrieved by the monopoly position occupied by the Pan exporters. He alleged that in fact Brig Hamiduddin and PIA staff were themselves involved in the smuggling of Pan.
  4. From the mass of evidence coming before the Commission from witnesses, both civil and military, there is little doubt that Gen. Niazi unfortunately came to acquire a bad reputation in sex matters, and this reputation has been consistent during his postings in Sialkot, Lahore and East Pakistan. The allegations regarding his indulgence in the export of Pan by using or abusing his position in the Eastern Command and as Zonal Martial Law Administrator also prima facie appear to be well-founded, although it was not our function to hold a detailed inquiry into the matter. It is for the Government to decide whether these matters should also form the subject of any inquiry or trial which may have to be ultimately held against this officer,

Maj Gen Mohammad Jamshed, former GOC 36 (A) Division, East Pakistan

  1. Col. Bashir Ahmad Khan (Witness No. 263) who was posted as DDML, Eastern Command, stated before the Commission that the wife of Maj Gen Jamshed Khan had brought some currency with her while being evacuated from Dacca on the morning of 16th of December 1971. He further alleged that Lt. Col Rashid, Col. Staff of the East Pakistan Civil Armed Forces, commanded by Maj Gen Jamshed Khan, was also reported to have been involved in the mis-appropriation of currency. It further came to our notice that the General had distributed some money among persons who left East Pakistan by helicopters on the morning of 15th or 16th of December 1971.
  2. An inquiry was made from Maj Gen Jamshed Khan in this behalf, and his reply is as under. : The total sum involved was Rs. 50,000 which I had ordered to be drawn from the currency that was being destroyed under Government instructions and the total amount was distributed by the officers detailed by me and strictly according to the instruction/rules and regulations to the Binaries and Bengalis, informers, and to the needy on night 15/16th December 1971. A secret fund was placed at my disposal by the Government of East Pakistan for the purpose of payment of rewards and purchase of information and in this case the expenditure was from the secret fund at my disposal. This fund was non-auditable. The money given to the needy families who were dispatched by helicopters on night 15th/16th December, 1971 was from the EPCAF Director General’s Fund. I was the sole authority to sanction from this fund and considering the circumstances under which this expenditure was made I had no intention to recommend recovery from persons concerned.

From the above clarification it will be appreciated that there was no requirement to furnish details of the above expenditure to any accounts department.”

  1. We regret we cannot regard the reply given by Maj. Gen Jasmhed as satisfactory. Even though the funds disbursed by him may not be auditable in ordinary circumstances, it would have been appropriate and advisable for him to supply such information as was possible for him to do in the circumstances once the question of the disposal of these funds had arisen on the basis of information supplied to the Commission by officers who heard of these transactions in East Pakistan and later in the prisoners of war camps. We suggest, therefore, without necessarily implying any dereliction on the part of the general, that the matter should be enquired into further so that the suspicion surrounding the same is cleared in the General’s own interest.

(3) Brig Jehanzeb Arbab, former Commander 57 Brigade.

(4) Lt. Col. (Now Brig) Muzaffar Ali Khan Zahid, former CO 31 field Regiment.

(5) Lt. Col. Basharat Ahmad, former CO 18 Punjab

(6) Lt. Col. Mohammad Taj, CO 32 Punjab

(7) Lt. Col Mohammad Tufail, Col 55 Field Regiment

(8) Major Madad Hussain Shah, 18 Punjab 24.

The evidence of Maj Gen Nazar Hussain Shah (Witness No. 242 GOC 16 Divisiom, Maj Gen M.H Ansari (Witness NO. 233) GOC, 9 Div, as well as of Brig Baqir Siddiqui (Witness No. 218) Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, disclosed that these officers and their units were involved in large scale looting, including the theft of Rs. 1,35,00,000 from the National Bank Treasury at Siraj Gaj. This amount was intercepted by a JCO at the Paksi Bridge crossing when it was being carried in the lower part of the body of a truck. The driver of the truck produced a chit reading “released by Major Maddad”. We were informed that a Court of Inquiry was conveyed under the Chairmanship of Maj Gen M.H Ansari who had recorded some evidence, but could not complete the inquiry owing to the outbreak of war.

  1. The GHQ representative was not able to inform us as to what action had ultimately been taken by GIIQ in respect of these officers, except that Brig Jehanzeb Arabab had been appointed to officiate as GOC of a Division. The Commission feels that this appointment, before the completion of the inquiry and exoneration of the officer from any blame, was highly inadvisable on the part of the GHQ. We recommend that action should now be taken without delay to finalise the proceedings of the inquiry commenced by Maj Gen Ansari in East Pakistan. There should be no difficulty in re-constructing the record, if necessary, as the material witness appear to be now available in Pakistan.
  2. Before we conclude this Chapter, we would like to state that we had no desire to embark on any inquiry into personal allegations of immorality an dishonestly against senior army commanders, but were persuaded to examine these matters owing to the universal belief that such infamous conduct had a direct hearing on the qualities of determination and leadership displayed by these officers in the 1971 war. We have regretfully found that this was indeed so. It is, therefore, imperative that deterrent action should be taken by the Government, wherever it is justified by the facts, in order to maintain the high moral standards and traditions for which the Muslim Army of Pakistan was justly proud before degeneration set in.

Alleged atrocities by the Pakistan army

As is well-known, the conduct of the Pakistani army, while engaged in counter-insurgency measures is East Pakistan since March 1971, has come in for a lot of criticism from several quarters. We had occasion to deal with the subject in Paragraphs 5-8 of Chapter II of Part V of the main report. We have examined this question further in the light of fresh evidence recorded by us. Misdeeds of the Awami League Militants:

  1. It is necessary that this painful chapter of the events in East Pakistan be looked at in its proper perspective. Let it not be forgotten that the initiative in resorting to violence and cruelty was taken by the militants of the Awami League, during the month of March, 1971, following General Yahya Khan’s announcement of the Ist of March regarding the postponement of the session of the National Assembly scheduled for the 3rd of March 1971. It will be recalled that from the 1st of March to the 3rd of March 1971, the Awami League had taken complete control of East Pakistan, paralysing the authority of the federal government. There is reliable evidence to show that during this period the miscreants indulged in large scale massacres and rape against pro-Pakistan elements, in the towns of Dacca, Narayanganj, Chittagong, Chandragona, Rungamati, Khulna, Dinajpur, Dhakargaoa, Kushtia, Ishuali, Noakhali, sylhet, Maulvi Bazaar, Rangpur, Saidpur, Jessore, Barisal, Mymensingh, Rajshal??, Pabna, Sirojgonj, Comilla, Brahman, Baria, Bogra, Naugaon, Santapur and several other smaller places.
  2. Harrowing tales of these atrocities were narrated by the large number of West Pakistanis and Biharis who were able to escape from these places and reach the safety of West Pakistan. For days on end, all through the troubled month of March 1971, swarms of terrorised non-Bengalis lay at the Army-controlled Dacca airport awaiting their turn to be taken to the safety of West Pakistan. Families of West Pakistani officers and other ranks serving with East Bengal units were subjected to inhuman treatment, and a large number of West Pakistani officers were butchered by the erstwhile Bengali colleagues.
  3. These atrocities were completely blacked out at the time by the Government of Pakistan for fear of retaliation by the Bengalis living in West Pakistan. The Federal Government did issue a White Paper in this behalf in August 1971, but unfortunately it did not create much impact for the reason that it was highly belated, and adequate publicity was not given to it in the national and international press. 5. However, recently, a renowned journalist of high-standing, Mr Qutubuddin Aziz, has taken pains to marshal the evidence in a publication called “Blood and Tears”. The book contains the harrowing tales of inhuman crimes committed on the helpless Biharis, West Pakistanis and patriotic Bengalis living in East Pakistan during that period. According to various estimates mentioned by Mr. Qutubuddin Aziz, between 100,000 and 500,000 persons were slaughtered during this period by the Awami League militants.
  4. As far as we can judge, Mr Qutubuddin Aziz has made use of authentic personal accounts furnished by the repatriates whose families, have actually suffered at the hands of the Awami League militants. He has also extensively referred to the contemporary accounts of foreign correspondents then stationed in East Pakistan. The plight of the non-Bengali elements still living in Bangladesh and the insistence of that Government on their large-scale repatriation to Pakistan, are factors which appear to confirm the correctness of the allegations made against the Awami League in this behalf.

Provocation of the army

  1. We mention these facts not in justification of the atrocities or other crimes alleged to have been committed by the Pakistani Army during its operations in East Pakistan, but only to put the record straight and to enable the allegations to be judged in their correct perspective. The crimes committed by the Awami League miscreants were bound to arouse anger and bitterness in the minds of the troops, especially when they were not confined to barracks during these weeks immediately preceding the military action, but were also subjected to the severest of humiliations. They had seen their comrades insulted, deprived of food and ration, and even killed without rhyme or reason. Tales of wholesale slaughter of families of West Pakistani officers and personnel of several units had also reached the soldiers who were after all only human, and reacted violently in the process of restoring the authority of the Central Government

The nature of allegations

  1. According to the allegations generally made, the excesses committed by the Pakistani Army fall into the following categories:
  2. a) Excessive use of force and fire power in Dacca during the night of the 25th and 26th of March 1971 when the military operation was launched.
  3. b) Senseless and wanton arson and killings in the countryside during the course of the “sweeping operations” following the military action.
  4. c) Killing of intellectuals and professionals like doctors, engineers, etc and burying them in mass graves not only during early phases of the military action but also during the critical days of the war in December 1971.
  5. d) Killing of Bengali Officers and men of the units of the East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles and the East Pakistan Police Force in the process of disarming them, or on pretence of quelling their rebellion.
  6. e) Killing of East Pakistani civilian officers, businessmen and industrialists, or their mysterious disappearance from their homes by or at the instance of Army Officers performing Martial Law duties.
  7. f) Raping of a large number of East Pakistani women by the officers and men of the Pakistan army as a deliberate act of revenge, retaliation and torture. g) Deliberate killing of members of the Hindu minority.

Substance of evidence

  1. In view of the seriousness of the allegations, their persistence and their international impact as well as their fundamental importance from the point of view of moral and mental discipline of the Pakistan Army, we made it a point of questioning the repatriated officers at some length in this behalf. We feel that a brief reference to some typical statements made before us by responsible military and civil officers will be instructive, and helpful in reaching the necessary conclusions.

10) Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, apparently in an endeavour to put the blame on his predecessor, then Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan, stated that “military action was based on use of force primarily, and at many places indiscriminate use of force was resorted to which alienated the public against the Army. Damage done during those early days of the military action could never be repaired, and earned for the military leaders names such as “Changez Khan” and “Butcher of East Pakistan.” While the military action was on, the then Martial Law Administration alienated the world press by unceremoniously hounding out foreign correspondents from East Pakistan, thus losing out in the propaganda war to the Indians completely.” He went on to add: “on the assumption of command I was very much concerned with the discipline of troops, and on 15th of April, 1971, that is within four days of my command, I addressed a letter to all formations located in the area and insisted that loot, rape, arson, killing of people at random must stop and a high standard of discipline should be maintained. I had come to know that looted material had been sent to West Pakistan which included cars, refrigerators and air conditioners etc.” When asked about the alleged killing of East Pakistani officers and men during the process of disarming, the General replied that he had heard something of the kind but all these things had happened in the initial stages of the military action before his time. He denied the allegation that he ever ordered his subordinates to exterminate the Hindu minority. He denied that any intellectuals were killed during December, 1971. He admitted that there were a few cases of rape, but asserted that the guilty persons were duly punished. He also stated that “these things do happen when troops are spread over. My orders were that there would not be less than a company. When a company is there, there is an officer with them to control them but if there is a small picket like section, then it is very difficult to control. In Dacca jail we had about 80 persons punished for excesses.”

  1. Another significant statement was made in this regard by Maj. Gen. Rao Farman Ali, Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan namely: “Harrowing tales of rape, loot, arson, harassment, and of insulting and degrading behaviour were narrated in general terms…. I wrote out an instruction to act as a guide for decent behaviour and recommended action required to be taken to win over the hearts of the people. This instruction under General Tikka Khan’s signature was sent to Eastern Command. I found that General Tikka’s position was also deliberately undermined and his instructions ignored…excesses were explained away by false and concocted stories and figures.”
  2. About the use of excessive force on the night between the 25th and 26th March 1971, we have a statement from Brigadier Shah Abdul Qasim (witness No. 267) to the effect that “no pitched battle was fought on the 25th of March in Dacca. Excessive force was used on that night. Army personnel acted under the influence of revenge and anger during the military operation.” It has also been alleged that mortars were used to blast two Residence Halls, thus causing excessive casualties. In defence, it has been stated that these Halls were at the relevant time not occupied by the students but by Awami League insurgents, and were also being used as dumps for arms and ammunition stored by the Awami League for its armed rebellion.
  3. Still another significant statement came from Brigadier Mian Taskeenuddin (Witness No. 282): “Many junior and other officers took the law into their own hands to deal with the so-called miscreants. There have been cases of interrogation of miscreants which were far more severe in character than normal and in some cases blatantly in front of the public. The discipline of the Pakistani army as was generally understood had broken down. In a command area (Dhoom Ghat) between September and October miscreants were killed by firing squads. On coming to know about it, I stopped the same forthwith.”
  4. Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah, GOC 16 Division, conceded that “there were rumours that Bengalis were disposed of without trial.” Similarly, Brigadier Abdul Qadir Khan (Witness No. 243) Commander 93 (A)? admitted that “a number of instances of picking up Bengalis did take place.” Lt. Col. S. S. H. Bokhari, CO of 29 Cavalry, appearing as Witness no 244, stated that “In Rangpur two officers and 30 men were disposed of without trial. It may have happened in other stations as well.” An admission was also made by Lt. Col. S. M. Naeem (Witness No 258) CO of 39 Baluch that “innocent people were killed by us during sweep operations and it created estrangement amongst the public.”
  5. Lt Col. Mansoorul Haq, GSO-I, Division, appearing as Witness No 260, has made detailed and specific allegations as follows:

“A Bengali, who was alleged to be a Mukti Bahini or Awami Leaguer, was being sent to Bangladesh-a code name for death without trial, without detailed investigations and without any written order by any authorised authority.” Indiscriminate killing and looting could only serve the cause of the enemies of Pakistan. In the harshness, we lost the support of the silent majority of the people of East Pakistan…. The Comilla Cantt massacre (on 27th/28th of March, 1971) under the orders of CO 53 Field Regiment, Lt. Colonel. Yakub Malik, in which 17 Bengali Officers and 915 men were just slain by a flick of one officer’s fingers should suffice as an example. There was a general feeling of hatred against Bengalis amongst the soldiers and officers including Generals. There were verbal instructions to eliminate Hindus. In Salda Nadi area about 500 persons were killed. When the army moved to clear the rural areas and small towns, it moved in a ruthless manner, destroying, burning and killing. The rebels while retreating carried out reprisals against non-Bengalis.

  1. Several civilian officers have also deposed in a similar vein, and it would suffice to quote here the words of Mr. Mohammad Ashraf, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dacca, to whose evidence we have also referred earlier in another context. He stated that “after the military action the Bengalis were made aliens in their own homeland. The life, property, and honour of even the most highly placed among them were not safe. People were picked up from their homes on suspicion and dispatched to Bangladesh, a term used to describe summary executions. …. The victims included Army and Police Officers, businessmen, civilian officers etc….There was no Rule of Law in East Pakistan. A man had no remedy if he was on the wanted list of the Army…. Army Officers who were doing intelligence were raw hands, ignorant of the local language and callous of Bengali sensibilities.”
  2. About the attitude of senior officers in this behalf, Brigadier Iqbalur Rehman Shariff (Witness no. 269), has alleged that during his visit to formations in East Pakistan General Gul Hassan used to ask the soldiers “how many Bengalis have you shot”.
  3. The statements appearing in the evidence of Lt. Col. Aziz Ahmed Khan (Witness no 276) who was Commanding Officer 8 Baluch and then CO 86 Mujahid Battalion are also directly relevant. “Brigadier Arbbab also told me to destroy all houses in Joydepur. To a great extent I executed this order. General Niazi visited my unit at Thakargaon and Bogra. He asked us how many Hindus we had killed. In May, there was an order in writing to kill Hindus. This order was from Brigadier Abdullah Malik of 23 Brigade.”
  4. While the extracts of evidence given above reflect the general position in regard to the allegations we are considering, it appears to be necessary to deal specifically with certain matters brought to the notice of the Prime Minister of Pakistan by the Bangladesh authorities, or which have otherwise been particularly mentioned by certain witnesses appearing before the Commission during the present session.

Painting the green of East Pakistan red

  1. During his meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan at Dacca on Friday, the 28th of June 1974, the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sh. Mujibur Rehman, complained inter-alia that Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali had written in his own hand on Government stationery that “The green of East Pakistan will have to be painted red.” Sh. Mujibur Rehman promised to supply a photostat copy of this document to the Government of Pakistan.” The same has since been received and is added to annexure “A” to this chapter. The insinuation is that this writing amounted to a written declaration of the intentions of the Pakistan Army and the martial law administration in East Pakistan to indulge in large-scale bloodshed in order to suppress the movement for Bangladesh. This writing is being put forward as a proof of the killings alleged to have been carried out in East Pakistan during the military operations.
  2. We asked Maj. Gen. Farman Ali to explain the significance of this writing and the circumstances under which it came to me made by him. He has stated that the words “the green of East Pakistan will have to be painted red” were uttered by one of the NPA leaders in Paltan Maidan, Dacca in a public speech during June 1970. The Martial Law headquarters thought that these words had been uttered by Mr Mohammad Toha of the NAP, and the General was asked to call for the explanation of Mr Tolia and warn him not to say things prejudicial to public peace. To remind himself he wrote these words down on the back of his table diary, when they were repeated to him on telephone by Lt. Gen. Yakub, the then Zonal Martial Law administrator in East Pakistan. Toha later denied having uttered these words and mentioned the names of Qazi Zafar and Rashid Memon in this connection. As these gentlemen had gone underground, General Farman Ali could not take any further action against them. The General has further explained that as Mr Toha and his associates had communist leanings, these words were intended to convey their conviction and objective that East Pakistan would be turned into a communist state, and not that there would be bloodshed. Finally, Maj. Gen. Farman Ali has stated that he did not give any importance to this note and it must have fallen into the hands of his Bengali Personal Assistant, when the diary for the year 1970 was replaced at the close of that year.
  3. From the photostat copy sent to the Government of Pakistan by the Government of Bangladesh, it becomes clear that the paper on which these words are written was apparently in the nature of a writing pad on which notes are jotted down as an aid to memory. The paper bears the heading:- “Governor’s secretariat, East Pakistan” Then there are miscellaneous entries, which do not have any connection with each other, for instance, “Siraj-Iqbal Hall, D.C.”

Below these words a line in ink is drawn and then appear the words “Case against Mr. Toha and others”. These words are followed by the telephone number of the Chief Justice and then by some other entries relating to some accommodation and the name of one Mr. Karamat. Then appear the words in question, enclosed by a circle in black ink. There is a further entry of an Officer’s name below these words, which apparently has no connection with this matter.

  1. A perusal of this document leave no doubt in our mind that it was indeed in the nature of a writing pad or table diary on which the General made miscellaneous notes during course of his work. The words “Case against Mr Teha and others”, appearing in the same page, do support Maj. Gen. Farman Ali’s contention that it was in this connection that he noted these words to remind himself, while confronting Mr Toha as directed by the Martial Law Administrator. We consider that it is highly fanciful to regard this note as being in the nature of a solemn declaration of Maj. Gen. Farman Ali’s intention to shed blood on the soil of East Pakistan. The explanation given by the General appears to us to be correct.

Alleged killing of intellectuals during December 1971

  1. This again is a matter, which was specifically raised by Sh. Mujibur Rehman during his meeting with the Prime Minister at Dacca. According to Maj. Gen. Farman Ali it was on the 9th and 10th of December 1971 that he was rung up in the evening by Maj. Gen. Jamshed, who was the Deputy Martial Law Administrator for Dacca Division and asked to come to his headquarters in Peelkhana. On reaching the headquarters he saw a large number of vehicles parked there. Maj. Gen. Jamshed was getting into a car and he asked Maj. Gen. Farman Ali to come along. They both drove to Headquarters of Eastern Command to meet Gen. Niazi and on the way Maj. Gen. Jamshed informed Gen. Farman that they were thinking of arresting certain people. Gen. Farman Ali advised against it. On reaching General Niazi’s headquarters he repeated his advice, on which Gen. Niazi kept quiet and so did Gen. Jamshed. Gen. Farman Ali has stated that he cannot say anything as to what happened after he came away from the headquarters but he thinks that no further action was taken.
  2. When questioned on this point, Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi stated that the local Commanders had, on the 9th of December 1971, brought a list to him which included the names of miscreants, heads of Mukti Bahini etc but not any intellectuals but he had stopped them from collecting and arresting these people. He denied the allegation that any intellectuals were in fact arrested and killed on the 9th December 1971 or thereafter.
  3. Maj. Gen. Jamshed has, however, a slightly different version to offer. He says that it was on the 9th and 10th of December 1971 that General Niazi expressed his apprehension of a general uprising in the Dacca city and ordered him to examine the possibility of arresting certain persons according to lists which were already with the various agencies, namely the Martial Law Authorities and the Intelligence Branch. A conference was held on the 9th and 10th of December 1971 in which these lists were produced by the agencies concerned and the total number of persons to be arrested came to about two or three thousand. According to him, arrangements for accommodation, security guards, missing and the safety of the arrested persons from bombing/strafing by the Indian Air Force presented insurmountable problems and therefore, he reported back to Gen. Niazi that the proposal be dropped. He states that thereafter no further action was taken in this matter.
  4. From the statements made by the three Generals who appear to be directly concerned in the matter, it seems that although there was some talks of arresting persons known to be leaders of the Awami League or Mukti Bahini so as to prevent chances o a general uprising in Dacca during the closing phases of the war with India, yet no practical action was taken in view of the circumstances then prevailing, namely the precarious position of the Pakistan Army and the impending surrender. We consider, therefore, that unless the Bangladesh authorities can produce some convincing evidence, it is not possible to record a finding that any intellectuals or professionals were indeed arrested and killed by the Pakistan Army during December 1971.

Killings during disarming of East Pakistan units

  1. In the evidence specific allegations were made before the Commission that Lt. Col. Yakub Malik, CO of 53 Field Regiment was responsible for the killing of 17 Officers and 915 other ranks at Comilla Cantt., while disarming 4 EBR, 40 Field Ambulance and Bengali SSG personnel. An explanation was accordingly called from this officer, in which he has denied the allegation, and has asserted that resistance was put up by the particular units aforementioned as a result of which casualties were sustained on both sides. He asserts, however, that in April 1971 when the situation stabilised a large number of disarmed Bengali personnel detained in the barracks were reported to Headquarters 9 Div., thus implying that no such killing took place during the disarming process towards the end of March 1971.
  2. Similar allegations have also been made before the Commission regarding the disarming of East Pakistani personnel of 29 Cavalry at Rangpur, although the number of persons said to have been killed is mentioned as being only two officers and 30 other ranks. An explanation was called from the Commanding Officer, Brigadier, Saghir Hussain and he has denied the allegation stating that all the personnel, barring a few who had either deserted or did not return from leave, were safely evacuated to West Pakistan under arrangements of Eastern Command, and they were later repatriated to Bangladesh along with other East Pakistani personnel.
  3. The evidence before the Commission in respect of these allegations is obviously not conclusive, It is possible that there may have been other instances of casualties inflicted during the disarming of East Pakistani personnel. The Commission feels that the Army authorities must conduct a thorough inquiry into these matters so as to elicit the truth and fix responsibility.

Magnitude of atrocities

  1. In the circumstances that prevailed in East Pakistan from the 1st of March to the 16th of December 1971, it was hardly possible to obtain an accurate estimate of the toll of death and destruction caused by the Awami League militants and later by the Pakistan Army. It must also be remembered that even after the military action of the 25th of march 1971, Indian infiltrators and members of the Mukti Bahini sponsored by the Awami League continued to indulge in killings, rape and arson during their raids on peaceful villages in east Pakistan, not only in order to cause panic and disruption and carry out their plans of subversion, but also to punish those East Pakistanis who were not willing to go along with them. In any estimate of the extent of atrocities alleged to have been committed on the East Pakistani people, the death and destruction caused by the Awami League militants throughout this period and the atrocities committed by them on their own brothers and sisters must, therefore, be always be kept in view.
  2. According to the Bangladesh authorities, the Pakistan Army was responsible for killing three million Bengalis and raping 200,000 East Pakistani women. It does not need any elaborate argument to see that these figures are obviously highly exaggerated. So much damage could not have been caused by the entire strength of the Pakistan Army then stationed in East Pakistan even if it had nothing else to do. In fact, however, the army was constantly engaged in fighting the Mukti Bahini, the Indian infiltrators, and later the Indian army. It has also the task of running the civil administration, maintaining communications and feeding 70 million people of East Pakistan. It is, therefore, clear that the figures mentioned by the Dacca authorities are altogether fantastic and fanciful.
  3. Different figures were mentioned by different persons in authority but the latest statement supplied to us by the GHQ shows approximately 26,000 persons killed during the action by the Pakistan Army. This figure is based on situation reports submitted from time to time by the Eastern Command to the General Headquarters. It is possible that even these figures may contain an element of exaggeration as the lower formations may have magnified their own achievements in quelling the rebellion. However, in the absence of any other reliable date, the Commission is of the view that the latest figure supplied by the GHQ should be accepted. An important consideration which has influenced us in accepting this figure as reasonably correct is the fact that the reports were sent from East Pakistan to GHQ at a time when the Army Officers in East Pakistan could have had no notion whatsoever of any accountability in this behalf.
  4. The falsity of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s repeated allegation that Pakistani troops had raped 200,000 Bengali girls in 1971 was borne out when the abortion team he had commissioned from Britain in early 1972 found that its workload involved the termination of only a hundred or more pregnancies.

Question of Responsibility

  1. For almost three years now, the world has repeatedly heard a list of 195 names said to have been prepared by the Dacca authorities in connection with the commission of these atrocities and crimes. As the Commission has not been supplied with a copy of this list, it is not possible for us to comment upon the justification or otherwise of the inclusion of any particular names therein. It is, however, clear that the final and overall responsibility must rest on General Yahya Khan, Lt. Gen. Pirzada, Maj Gen. Umar, Lt. Gen. Mitha. It has been brought out in evidence that Maj. Gen. Mitha was particularly active in East Pakistan in the days preceding the military action of the 25th of March 1971, and even the other Generals just mentioned were present in Dacca along with Yahya Khan, and secretly departed there on the evening of that fateful day after fixing the deadline for the military action. Maj. Gen. Mitha is said to have remained behind. There is also evidence that Lt. Gen Tikka Khan, Major Gen. Farman Ali and Maj. Gen Khadim Hussain were associated with the planning of the military action. There is, however, nothing to show that they contemplated the use of excessive force or the Commission of atrocities and excesses on the people of East Pakistan.
  2. The immediate responsibility for executing the plan of this action fell on Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan who succeeded Lt. Gen. Mohammad Yakub on the 7th of March 1971 as Zonal Administrator, Martial Law, as well as Commander Eastern Command. This last responsibility was passed on by him to Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi on the 7th of April 1971. From that day until the day of surrender the troops in East Pakistan remained under the operational control of Lt. Gen. Niazi who also assumed powers of the Martial Law administrator on the appointment of a civilian Governor in August 1971. It is a question for determination as to what share of responsibility must rest on these commanders for the excesses allegedly committed by the troops under their Command. It is in evidence that Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan was always willing to redress grievances and take disciplinary action whenever complaints of excesses were brought to his notice. It has also to be said that both these Generals had issued repeated warnings to troops to refrain from acts of violence and immorality. At the same time there is some evidence to suggest that the words and personal actions of Lt. Gen. Niazi were calculated to encourage the killings and rape.
  3. The direct responsibility of the alleged excesses and atrocities must, of course, rest on those officers and men who physically perpetuated them or knowingly and deliberately allowed them to be so perpetuated. These officers and men not only showed lack of discipline in disobeying the directives of the Eastern Command and Zonal Martial Law Administrator, but also indulged in criminal acts punishable under the Army Act as well as the ordinary law of the land. Conclusions and recommendations
  4. From what we have said in the preceding paragraphs it is clear that there is substance in the allegations that during and after the military action excesses were indeed committed on the people of East Pakistan, but the versions and estimates put forward by the Dacca authorities are highly coloured and exaggerated. Some of the incidents alleged by those authorities did not take place at all, and on others fanciful interpretations have been deliberately placed for the purpose of maligning the Pakistan army and gaining world sympathy. We have also found that the strong provocation was offered to the army owing to the misdeeds of the Awami League. It has also been stated that use of force was undoubtedly inherent in the military action required to restore the authority of the Federal Government. Nevertheless, inspite of all these factors we are of the view that the officers charged with the task of restoring law and order were under an obligation to act with restraint and to employ only the minimum force necessary for the purpose. No amount of provocation by the militants of the Awami League or other miscreants could justify retaliation by a disciplined army against its own people. The Pakistan Army was called upon to operate in Pakistan territory, and could not, therefore, be permitted to behave as if it was dealing with external aggression or operating on enemy soil.

Irrespective, therefore, of the magnitude of the atrocities, we are of the considered opinion that it’s necessary for the Government of Pakistan to take effective action to punish this who were responsible for the commission of these alleged excesses and atrocities. Inquiries and trials

  1. On the basis of the evidence coming before the Commission, we have been able to indicate only in general terms the direct and indirect responsibility of certain senior commanders and others, but the question of fixing individual responsibility and awarding punishment appropriate thereto need to be determined according to the prescribed procedures available under the Pakistan Army Act and other applicable laws of the land. We would, accordingly, reiterate the recommendation made by us in Paragraph 7 of Chapter III of Para V of the main report that the Government of Pakistan should set up a high-powered Court or Commission of Inquiry to investigate these allegations, and to hold trials of those who indulged in these atrocities, brought a bad name to the Pakistan Army and alienated the sympathies of the local population by their acts of wanton cruelty and immorality against our own people. The composition of the Court of Inquiry, if not its proceedings, should be publicly announced so as to satisfy national conscience and international opinion.
  2. The Commission feels that sufficient evidence is now available in Pakistan for a fruitful inquiry to be undertaken in this regard. As the Government of Bangladesh has been recognised by Pakistan, it may be feasible to request the Dacca authorities to forward to this Court of Inquiry whatever evidence may be available with them.

Professional responsibilities of certain senior army commanders

In Chapters 1, 2 and 5 of Part 5 of the main report we have dealt with the moral and disciplinary aspects of tee events and causes leading to the defeat of the Pakistan Army in the 1971 war, and have also touched upon the individual responsibility of certain senior officers. In the preceding two chapters of the Supplementary Report, we have offered further observations on these aspects and have commented upon the conduct of certain Army Officers posted in East Pakistan. There, however, still remains the question of determining whether any disciplinary action is called for against certain senior army commanders for their failings in the discharge of their professional duties in the conduct ad prosecution of the war in East Pakistan.

The Military Aspect and Surrender Excerpts from the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Supplementary Report

Military aspect

  1. While discussing the military aspect of the war in the Main Report we came to the conclusion that the major role in the 1971 disaster had been that of the ground forces, that the strategic concept embodied in war Directive No.4 of 1967, required a drastic revision in the light of the political and military situation developing as a result of the military action in East Pakistan in March 1971, but the Army High Command did not carry out any study in depth of the effect of these new factors, nor did it pay any attention to the growing disparity between the war preparedness and the capability of the armed forces of Pakistan and India as a result of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Aug 1971. We dealt at length with the concepts of defence as well as the plans formulated by the General Headquarters both for East and West Pakistan, and pointed out the defects and deficiencies in those plans, apart from the inadequacy of resources available on both fronts as compared to those of the enemy. However, we observed that our study of the military aspect of the war in East Pakistan, both limited and total, was inconclusive on account of the non-availability of the evidence of the Commander, Eastern Command, and other senior officers then serving in East Pakistan.
  2. Having now had the advantage of examining these commanders at considerable length we feel we are in a position to formulate our final conclusions as to the causes of surrender in East Pakistan.
  3. There has been some controversy as to the exact status of Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi, namely, whether he was a Theatre Commander or merely a Corps Commander although he has been officially described as Commander, Eastern Command. While a Corps Commander is merely a Commander of a number of divisions placed under his command, a Theatre Commander is in command of all the forces in the area, including the Naval and the Air Forces.

In case of East Pakistan, the Flag Officer Commanding the Navy and the Air Force Commander of the Pakistan Air Force were directly under their own respective Commanders-in-Chief, although they were instructed to liaise and coordinate with the Commander, Eastern Command. Technically speaking, therefore, Gen Niazi was not a Theatre Commander and was never designated as such. Nevertheless, situated as he was, we consider that at least from the 3rd of Dec 1971 onwards, on which date war broke out on the Western Front as well, Lt Gen Niazi became, for all intents and purposes, an independent Corps Commander, possessing of necessity and by force of circumstances all the powers of a Theatre Commander, and even the General Headquarters expected him to act as such, for there was no possibility thereafter of replacing him by another Commander of equivalent rank. General Niazi’s conduct of war, as also his final decision to surrender, have, therefore, to be judged in this light.

  1. The traditional concept of defence adopted by Pakistan Army was that the defence of East Pakistan lies in West Pakistan. However, Lt Gen Niazi contented before the Commission that the Indians would not have started an all-out war in East Pakistan if the Western Front had not been opened by Pakistan. It seems to us that this contention is based on a lack of proper appreciation of the enemy threat which was fast developing in the Eastern Theatre. It had become quite evident that the Mukti Bahini, on their own, even after their training in India would never be able to face a pitched battle with the Pakistan Army, and the Indians could not afford to prolong the war by proxy for an indefinite period. The plan of capturing a sizeable chunk of territory for setting up Bangladesh had also been frustrated by the forward deployment of our troops. An all-out war had, therefore, become inevitable for India, and in such an event the only course open for Pakistan was to implement the traditional concept of defending East Pakistan from West Pakistan in a determined and effective manner. The concept, therefore, that the defence of East Pakistan lies in West Pakistan remained valid and if ever there was need to invoke this concept it was on the 21st of Nov 1971 when the Indian troops had crossed the East Pakistan borders in naked aggression. Unfortunately, the delay in opening the Western front and the half-hearted and hesitant manner in which it was ultimately opened only helped in precipitating the catastrophe in East Pakistan.
  2. The operational instructions issued by the Eastern Command as 3 November 1971 contemplated a forward defensive posture with strong points and fortresses which were to be made logistically self-sufficient to fight a battle lasting for at least 30 days, even if by-passed. They were also expected to act as firm bases or jumping-off points for actions against the enemy from the flanks or from behind. Dacca was to be defended at all costs by being made into a fortress, as it was the lynch-pin, both politically and militarily.
  3. The plan envisaged as many as 25 fortresses and 9 strong points, consisting mainly of built up areas such as district or sub-divisional headquarter towns, large villages and cantonments. The paucity of troops did not permit them to be manned but it was expected that the troops deployed along the border and in counter insurgency operations would gradually fall back and take up defensive positions within the fortresses and strong points. His concept further contemplated that the fortresses would be defended to the last man and last round.
  4. the fortress concept postulates 3 essential conditions for its success namely: a) that there must be adequate reserves to strike the enemy if he bypasses the fortress, and to give mutual support to another fortress; b) that the fortress must be so located as to be able to mutually support each other and c) that the population in the areas in which such fortresses are located is not hostile.

Gen Niazi was fully aware that none of these conditions was fulfilled in East Pakistan as he did not have enough troops to man 34 fortress and strong points with his 29 battalions: his fortress and strong points were so located that they were not in a position to mutually support each other, and he also knew that the local population was hostile and movement of his troops would be made impossible by the Mukti Bahini. We are at a loss to understand how he expected the concept to succeed in these circumstances.

  1. The evidence clearly discloses that none of the fortresses were manned nor did they have protective defences capable of withstanding enemy attacks supported by armour. Troops were expected to man these fortresses after falling back from their forward positions: even such artillery or heavy weapons as the troops possessed were to be brought back with them. The withdrawal of the troops to the fortresses as expected in these circumstances, was by no means an orderly withdrawal, but in most cases, it was a disorderly retreat, leaving even the heavy equipment behind. There were no reserves with any local Commanders, except for 16 Division, and the command reserve of only a brigade strength had also been committed in the Eastern sector, through which the main enemy thrust came. This soundness of the fortress concept thus stood thoroughly exposed by the end which it produced.
  2. In our view, the concept was utterly inappropriate for achieving the mission assigned to the Commander, Eastern Command, of defending East Pakistan and maintaining his presence in East Pakistan in the changed situation created by the war launched by the enemy. The wisest course of action for Gen Niazi would have been to concentrate his troops in a smaller area, protected by the major natural obstacles around the military and political lynch pin- Dacca.
  3. At any rate, there should have been a contingency plan for a planned withdrawal into the Dacca triangle to cater for fighting an all-out war with an enemy vastly superior in resources and capabilities both on the ground and in the air. The failure on part of the Eastern Command to so plan, amounts to gross negligence for, in fact, what was done was merely to give battle in weakness and be forced to retreat in disorder. The fortress strategy might have been suitable for carrying out the counter insurgency operations, but after the 21st of Nov 1971, it became redundant. The net result of this strategy was to give the opposite advantage to the enemy, who at his leisure routed and dispersed our troops while advanced himself, in order, towards Dacca.
  4. The tragedy with Gen Niazi has been his obsession that he will not be called upon to fight any major battles with the Indians in East Pakistan, in spite of enormous Indian build-up around East Pakistan, the detailed briefing given by GHQ to his Chief of Staff about the Indian plans and the advice given to him by the Chief of the General Staff and the Vice-Chief of the General Staff, during their last visit to the Eastern Theatre, for the deployment of his troops. Gen Niazi’s only reaction to these warnings about the new threat was to hastily raise two ad-hoc divisions namely 36 Division in Sept 1971 and 39 Division on the 19th of Nov 1971 by committing his command reserves.
  5. Lt Gen Niazi tried to justify the deployment of his reserves by saying that he had been promised 8 more battalions, and if these had been sent, he would have had enough troops to create a command reserve as also to meet then deficiencies of the new ad hoc formations. The evidence unfortunately does not disclose that any firm commitment was made by GHQ. We also find that even if the extra battalions had been sent the position would not have materially improved as there was no clear plan for their deployment. Gen Niazi was therefore not justified in denuding himself of his reserves before the actual arrival of the additional troops.
  6. We are also not impressed by the excuse put forward by the Commander, Eastern Command for not modifying his plans, namely that the mission originally assigned to him hold every inch of territory in East Pakistan and to prevent the establishment of Bangladesh by the capture of any sizeable chunk of territory, was never changed by the High Command. As an independent Corps Commander, thousands of miles away from the GHQ, it should have been apparent to him that at least from 21 Nov 1971 onwards the more important part of his mission was to defend East Pakistan and to keep the Corps in being, by giving up territory if necessary.
  7. We also find that it is not correct to say that the mission given to the Eastern Command was never changed, because the GHQ had given him through more than one message a clear indication that territory had become less important, and that the Command should fight for time keeping in view only territories of strategic importance.
  8. The detailed narrative of events as given by us in the Supplementary Report, clearly shows that the planning was hopelessly defective and there was no plan at all for the defence of Dacca, nor for any concerted effort to stem the enemy onslaught with a division or a brigade battle at any stage. It was only when the general found himself gradually being encircled by the enemy which had successfully managed to bypass his fortresses and reached Faridpur, Khulna, Daudkandi and Chandpur (the shortest route to Dacca) that he began to make frantic efforts to get the troops back for the defence of Dacca. It was unfortunate then too late, the ferries necessary for crossing the troops over the big Jamna river from the area of 16 division had disappeared and the Mukti Bahini had invested the area behind, making vehicular movement impossible. Orderly withdrawal of troops in time for concentrated defence was also made impossible by the unfortunate orders issued by Lt Gen Niazi that no withdrawal was to take place unless cleared two up and without suffering 75% casualties.
  9. In the absence of contingency plans for the withdrawal of troops into the Dacca triangle area behind the big rivers, to prevent the enemy breakthrough and to deal if need be with the known capability of the enemy to helidrop troops behind our lines after it had acquired mastery of the air by either eliminating or neutralising our Air Force of only one squadron, it was not at all a matter of surprise that the defences should have collapsed immediately in thin lines in the forward positions were pierced by the enemy. On the fourth day of the all-out war major fortresses were abandoned without a fight, namely,
  • Jessore and Jhenidaon the West and the
  • Brahmanbaria in the east. On the next day the
  • Comilla fortress was isolated by encirclement from all sides, and on
  • the 9th of Dec. 1971 even a divisional commander abandoned his area of responsibility with his headquarters, leaving his formation behind.
  • On the same day 2 more fortresses Kushtia and Laksham were abandoned. At the latter fortress even the sick and the wounded were left behind.
  • By 10 Dec 1971, even Hilli, where a determined battle had been fought for 16 days had to be abandoned.
  • The Brigade returning from Mymensingh got entangled with helidropped Indian troops, and the Brigade Commander and some of his troops were taken prisoner.

Surrender

  1. The painful story of the last few days immediately preceding the surrender on 16 Dec 1971 has been narrated in Part 1V of the Supplementary Report. We have come to the conclusion that there was no order to surrender, but in view of the desperate picture painted by the Commander, Eastern Command, the higher authorities only gave him permission to surrender if he in his judgement thought it was necessary. Gen Niazi, could have disobeyed such an order if he thought he had the capability of defending Dacca. On his own estimate, he had 26,400 men at Dacca in uniform and he could have held out for at least another 2 weeks, because the enemy would have taken a week to build up its forces in the Dacca area and another week to reduce the fortress of Dacca. If Gen Niazi had done so and lost his life in the process, he would have made history and would have been remembered by the coming generations as a great hero and a martyr, but the events show that he had already lost the will to fight after the 7th December 1971, when his major fortresses at Jessore and Brahmanbaria had fallen. The question of creating history, therefore, was never in his mind.
  2. Even more painful than the military failures of Lt. Gen Niazi is the story of the abject manner in which he agreed to sign the surrender document laying down arms to the so-called joint-command of India and Mukti Bahini, to be present at the Airport to receive the victorious Indian General Aurora, to present a guard of honour to the Indian General, and then to participate in the public surrender ceremony at the Race Course, to the everlasting shame of Pakistan and its Armed forces.

Even if he had been obliged to surrender, by force of circumstances, it was not  necessary for him to behave in this shameful manner at every step of the process of surrender. the detailed accounts which have been given before the commission by those who had the misfortune of witnessing these events, leave no doubt that Lt. Gen Niazi had suffered a complete moral collapse during the closing phases of the war.

  1. While undoubtedly the responsibility for these failures lies with the Commander, Eastern Command, GHQ cannot escape its responsibility, as the plan had been approved by it. It was also the responsibility of GHQ to correct the mistakes of the Eastern Command, as communications were open to the last. It was incumbent upon GHQ to guide, direct and influence the conduct of the war in the Eastern Theatre, if the Commander himself in that Theatre was incapable of doing so. But the GHQ failed in this important duty. The Commander-in-Chief remained indifferent.
  2. While we have not specially condemned the performance of senior Officers other than Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi, Maj Gen Mohammad Jamshed, Maj Gen M. Rahim Khan and some of the Brigadiers, we cannot help remarking that all the senior officers stationed in East Pakistan immediately before and during the war of 1971 must be held collectively responsible for the failings and weaknesses which led to the defeat of the Pakistan Army. The only thing which goes in their favour is that while assessing their individual responsibility the Commission was obliged to take note of the limitations imposed upon them by the concepts and attitudes adopted by the Eastern Command, the admitted shortages and deficiencies in men and materials faced by them as compared to the vast resources of the enemy, and the general demoralization which stemmed from the culpable acts of commission and omission on the part of the Army High Command at Rawalpindi and the Commander, Eastern Command at Dacca. Finally, there was also the unfortunate overriding factor of a long and inherited tradition of unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the superior Commander which prevented most of these officers from questioning the soundness of the critical decisions and actions taken by the High Command, including the final act of surrender.
  3. Before we conclude this part of the discussion, we would like to place on record that, apart from a few individuals, the large body of officers and men operating in East Pakistan accepted the final decision without any thought of disobedience only owing to their ingrained sense of discipline, and the majority of them would have been undoubtedly willing to fight to the last and lay down their lives for the glory of Pakistan. The gallantry and determination with which some of the battles were fought in East Pakistan has been acknowledged even by the enemy.

Charles James Napier

General Sir Charles James Napier, GCB (10 August 1782 – 29 August 1853), was an officer and veteran of the British Army’s Peninsular and 1812 campaigns, and later a Major General of the Bombay Army, during which period he led the military conquest of Sindh, before serving as the Governor of Sindh, and Commander-in-Chief in India.

Early life
He was the eldest son of Colonel (the Honourable) George Napier, and his second wife, Lady Sarah Lennox, with this being the second marriage for both parties. Lady Sarah was the great-granddaughter of King Charles II.

Napier was born at the Whitehall Palace in London, When he was only three years old his father took up an administrative post in Dublin, moving his family to live in Celbridge. His early education was at the local school in Celbridge. At the age of twelve, he joined the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the British Army in January 1794, but quickly transferred to the 89th and did not immediately take up his commission, but returned to school in Ireland. In 1799, aged 17, he took up active service in the army as aide-de-camp to Sir James Duff.

Peninsular War
Napier commanded the 50th (Queen’s Own) Regiment of Foot during the Peninsular War in Iberia against Napoleon Bonaparte. Napier’s activities there ended during the Battle of Corunna, in which he was wounded and left for dead on the battlefield. Napier was rescued, barely alive, by a French Army drummer named Guibert, and taken as a prisoner-of-war. Nevertheless, Napier was awarded an Army Gold Medal after he was returned to British hands.

Napier recuperated from his wounds while he was being held near the headquarters of the French Marshall Soult and afterwards Michel Ney. On 21 March 1809, a British sloop approached Corunna with a letter for the commandant of the city, requesting information about the fate of Napier on behalf of his family. After an agreement between Ney and Napier, the latter was released on a convalescence leave at home for three months, under parole to return to Ney’s quarters wherever he was on the first of July 1809.

Napier volunteered to return to the Iberian Peninsula in 1810 to fight again against Napoleon in Portugal, notably in the Battle of the Côa, where he had two horses shot out from under him, in the Battle of Bussaco, in the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, and in the Battle of Badajoz (1812) (the second siege of Badajoz) in Extremadura, Spain, in which he was a lieutenant colonel in the 102nd regiment. For his deeds at Bussaco and at Fuentes de Oñoro, Napier won the silver medal with two clasps. Napier returned to England and became the General Officer Commanding of the Northern District in England in April 1839.

Service in India

In 1842, at the age of 60, Napier was appointed Major General to the command of the Indian army within the Bombay Presidency. Here Lord Ellenborough’s policy led Napier to Sindh Province (Scinde), for the purpose of quelling the insurrection of the Muslim rulers who had remained hostile to the British Empire following the First Anglo-Afghan War. Napier’s campaign against these chieftains resulted in victories in the Battle of Miani against General Hoshu Sheedi and the Battle of Hyderabad, and then the subjugation of the Sindh, and its annexation by its eastern neighbours as the Sind Division.

His orders had been only to put down the rebels: by conquering the whole Sindh Province, he greatly exceeded his mandate. Napier was supposed to have despatched to his superiors the short, notable message, “Peccavi”, the Latin for “I have sinned” (which was a pun on, I have Sindh). This pun appeared under the title ‘Foreign Affairs’ in Punch magazine on 18 May 1844. The true author of the pun was, however, Englishwoman Catherine Winkworth, who submitted it to Punch, which then printed it as a factual report. Later, Napier made several comments on the Sindh adventure to the effect of: “If  this was a piece of rascality, it was a noble piece of rascality!”

On 4 July 1843, Napier was appointed Knight Grand Cross in the military division of the Order of the Bath, in recognition of his leading the victories at Miani and Hyderabad. He was also in 1843 given the colonelcy of the 97th (The Earl of Ulster’s) Regiment of Foot, transferring later in the year to be colonel of the 22nd (The Cheshire) Regiment of Foot.

Napier was appointed Governor of the Bombay Presidency by Lord Ellenborough. However, under his leadership the administration clashed with the policies of the directors of the British East India Company, and Napier was accordingly removed from office and returned home in disgust. Napier was again dispatched to India during the spring of 1849, in order to obtain the submission of the Sikhs. However upon arriving once again in India, Napier found that this had already been accomplished by Lord Gough and his army.

Napier remained for a while as the Commander-in-Chief in India. He also quarrelled repeatedly with Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India. The source of the dispute was Dalhousie’s behaviour on India’s north-west frontier. Dalhousie had requested repeated punitive raids against villagers who had not paid taxes. Napier was opposed to these tactics but accompanied a column of East India Company troops under Sir Colin Campbell and Punjab troops under George Lawrence. The Punjab troops were not under Napier’s command and began burning villages on Lawrence’s orders. ‘This was as impolitic as it was dishonourable to the character of British soldiers,’ protested Napier, “yet no power was entrusted to me, and I had been sufficiently cautioned against interfering with the Punjaub civil authorities.”

Napier returned home to England for the last time. He was still suffering with physical infirmities which were results of his wounds during the Peninsular War, and he died about two years later at Oaklands, near Portsmouth, England, on 29 August 1853, at the age of 71. However his quarrel with Dalhousie was not over. In his posthumously published “Defects, Civil and Military of the Indian Government” (Westerton, 1853) he detected and condemned the growing superciliousness of the English in India towards the Indians; “The younger race of Europeans keep aloof from Native officers … How different this from the spirit which actuated the old men of Indian renown,” he wrote. He proposed that British officers should learn the language of the natives and that native officers be appointed as ADCs and Companions of the Bath. “The Eastern intellect is great, and supported by amiable feelings’, he wrote, ‘and the Native officers have a full share of Eastern daring, genius and ambition; but to nourish these qualities they must be placed on a par with European officers.”

When revolt broke out in 1857, Napier’s ‘Defects’ was hailed as a prophetic work which correctly identified many of the seething tensions in the sub-continent. The problem was as one of his contemporaries observed ‘Had he made his representations with sober moderation, eschewing all offensive exaggeration, his warnings and suggestions would have commanded attention. Instead they were pooh-poohed as the emanations of a distempered mind.’

Views

On Sati
Napier opposed suttee, or sati. This was the custom of burning a widow alive on the funeral pyre of her husband. Sati was rare in Sindh during the time Napier stayed in this region. Napier judged that the immolation was motivated by profits for the priests, and when told of an actual Sati about to take place, he informed those involved that he would stop the sacrifice. The priests complained to him that this was a customary religious rite, and that customs of a nation should be respected. As recounted by his brother William, he replied:

“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

On slavery and plunder
Napier opposed slavery. According to the memoir on Napier by William, the Sindh cultivator was bonded and oppressed, and the numerous Hindus were plundered people and their faith was condemned by Balochis and Sindhis alike. They were eager for peace and protection.Napier removed the Amirs from power, dismantled their private assembly of armed men, proclaimed that taxes previously collected by the Amirs from the peasants be paid to the English instead, and that slavery was abolished throughout the land. This was vehemently opposed by Balochi masters, but welcomed by slave-girls of the harems.

Napier found that the Sindh was divided into land parcels called kardarats, under a headman called kardar, who were under an Arabian cadi. The cadi had powers to summarily fine and imprison, and in practice exercised powers of life, death and torture. The kardar collected land taxes and customs, frequently fining and torturing the villagers to a level of fear that they were slaves of the chief to whose estate their village belonged. Napier continued the old system of kardars, but made them official collectors giving them government salaries, allowing villagers to file complaints against any kardar.

While stationed at Karachi, Napier found that the land was owned by the state, Amirs were collecting land taxes with “shocking cruelty – mutilations and tortures”, with land tax rates between half and two-thirds. The due collectors enjoyed hereditary tenures in a feudal jagir system where the husbandman was a mere slave. These oppressive practices had led many Sindh farmers to abandon their farms and move to the desert. Napier challenged this oppression.

Napier opposed the slavery custom where, according to William’s memoir, young girls would be dragged from “their homes for the harems of the great”. His efforts to respect the rights of women and children required him to battle numerous Amirs who previously exercised “unmitigated cruelty and debauchery”.

IMG_6552(1)

On subduing insurgencies
General Napier put down several insurgencies in India during his reign as Commander-in-Chief in India, and once said of his philosophy about how to do so effectively:

The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.

That may help explain both why he felt rebellions should be suppressed with vigour, and the lack of reprisals after victory (contrary to local practice).

He also once said: the human mind is never better disposed to gratitude and attachment than when softened by fear.

An implementation of the theory would be after the Battle of Miani, where most of the Mirs surrendered. One leader held back and was told by Napier:

Come here instantly. Come here at once and make your submission, or I will in a week tear you from the midst of your village and hang you.

He also mused: so perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another.

He regarded misgovernment as a lack of liberal attitudes. Contrary to the traditional Indian rulers’ glorification of war, he wrote “War is detestable and not to be desired by a nation,” adding, “it falls not so heavily upon soldiers – it is our calling; but its horrors alight upon the poor, upon the miserable, upon the unhappy, upon those who feel the expense and the suffering, but have not the glory.”
In 1903, the 25th Bombay Rifles (which as the 25th Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry had formed part of Napier’s force in the conquest of Sindh) was renamed the 125th Napier’s Rifles. Since amalgamated, it is now the 5th Battalion (Napier’s) of the Rajputana Rifles.

A bronze in honour of Sir Charles Napier by George Gamon Adams (1821–1898) surveys from its plinth the southwest corner of Trafalgar Square, while a marble stands in the Crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

His remains lie in the now-ruined Royal Garrison Church, Portsmouth.

• The city of Karachi in Sindh (Pakistan) earlier had a Napier Road (now Shahrah-e-Altaf Hussain), Napier Street (now Mir Karamali Talpur Road) and Napier Barracks (now Liaquat Barracks) on Shara-e-Faisal. In the port area, there is also a Napier Mole. In Manora, the St. Paul’s Church, erected in 1864, is a memorial to Napier. There is also Residential area in Quetta named as Napier Lines after his name.

• Karachi Grammar School named its second-oldest house “Napier” after Sir Charles Napier (the oldest House is named Frere after Sir Henry Bartle Frere).

• The city of Ambala in Haryana (India) has a road named after him in the cantonment area. 54, Napier Road, the official residence of the Commissioner Of Police of Ambala is on this road.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

 

3
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1st and 4th President of Bangladesh; In office 11 April 1971 – 12 January 1972

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (17 March 1920 – 15 August 1975), was a Bengali politician and statesman. He is the founding father of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. He served as the first President of Bangladesh and later Prime Minister of Bangladesh from March 1971 until his assassination in August 1975.

  • He was the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh.
  • He is popularly known under the title of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal).
  • He became a leading figure in and eventually the leader of the Awami League, founded in 1949 as an East Pakistan-based political party in Pakistan.
  • Mujib is credited as an important figure in efforts to gain politician autonomy for East Pakistan and later as the central figure behind the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
  • Thus, he is regarded Jatir Janak or Jatir Pita (meaning Father of the Nation) of Bangladesh.

An advocate of socialism, Mujib rose to the ranks of the Awami League and East Pakistani politics as a charismatic and forceful orator. He became popular for his opposition to the ethnic and institutional discrimination of Bengalis in Pakistan, who comprised most of the state’s population. At the heightening of sectional tensions, he outlined a 6-point autonomy plan and was jailed by the regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan for treason.

Mujib led the Awami League to win the first democratic election of Pakistan in 1970. Despite gaining a majority, the League was not invited by the ruling military junta to form a government. As civil disobedience erupted across East Pakistan, Mujib indirectly announced independence of Bangladesh during a landmark speech on 7 March 1971. On 26 March 1971, the Pakistan Army responded to the mass protests with Operation Searchlight, in which Prime Minister-elect Mujib was arrested and flown to solitary confinement in West Pakistan, while Bengali civilians, students, intellectuals, politicians and military defectors were murdered as part of the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. Despite Mujib’s absence, Bengalis from all walks of life joined the Mukti Bahini and fought and won against Pakistan Armed Forces in Bangladesh Liberation War. After Bangladesh’s independence, Mujib was released from Pakistani custody due to international pressure and returned to Dhaka in January 1972 after a short visit to Britain and India.

Sheikh Mujib became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh under a parliamentary system adopted by the new country. His government enacted a constitution proclaiming socialism and secular democracy. The Awami League won a huge mandate in the country’s first general election in 1973. However, Mujib faced challenges of rampant unemployment, poverty, and corruption. A famine took place in 1974. The government was criticized for denying constitutional recognition to indigenous minorities and human rights violations by its security forces, notably the National Defence Force para militia. Amid rising political agitation, Mujib initiated one party socialist rule in January 1975. Six months later, he and most of his family were assassinated by renegade army officers during a coup. A martial law government was subsequently established.

In a 2004 BBC poll, Mujib was voted the Greatest Bengali of all time.

Personal details

  • Born: 17 March 1920; Tungipara, Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Bangladesh)
  • Died: 15 August 1975 (aged 55) Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Cause of death: Assassination
  • Nationality: Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Political party: Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (1975)
  • Other political affiliations: All-India Muslim League(Before 1949); Awami League(1949–1975)
  • Alma mater
  • Islamia College
  • University of Dhaka
  • Spouse: Sheikh Fazilat-un Nisa Mujib

Children
Sheikh Hasina: leader of the Awami League and the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Sheikh Kamalwas an organizer of the Mukti Bahini guerrilla struggle in 1971 and received wartime commission in Bangladesh Army during the Liberation War. He was perceived to be the successor to Sheikh Mujib
Sheikh Jamal trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Great Britain and later joined the Bangladesh Army as a Commissioned Officer.
Sheikh Rehana
Sheikh Rasel

The Sheikh Family was under house arrest during Bangladesh liberation war until 17 December, Sheikh Kamal and Jamal found the means to escape and cross over to a liberated zone, where they joined the struggle to free the country. Almost entire Sheikh family was assassinated on 15 August 1975 coup d’état . Only Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, who were visiting West Germany, escaped. Sheikh Mujib is the maternal grandfather of Tulip Siddiq, British-born Labour politician, and member of parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn since the 2015 general election.

Early life and education

1
The house where Mujib was born in Tungipara 

Mujib was born in Tungipara, a village in Gopalganj District in the province of Bengal in British India, to Sheikh Lutfur Rahman, a serestadar (court clerk) of Gopalganj civil court. He was born into a Muslim, native Bengali family as the third child in a family of four daughters and two sons.  In 1929, Mujib entered into class three at Gopalganj Public School, and two years later, class four at Madaripur Islamia High School. From very early age Mujib showed a potential of leadership. His parents noted in an interview that at an young age, he organized a student protest in his school for the removal of an inept principal. Mujib withdrew from school in 1934 to undergo eye surgery, and returned to school only after four years, owing to the severity of the surgery and slow recovery.

Later, he passed his Matriculation from Gopalganj Missionary School in 1942, Intermediate of Arts from Islamia College (now Maulana Azad College) in 1944 and BA from the same college in 1947. After the partition of India, he got himself admitted into the University of Dhaka to study law but could not complete it due to his expulsion from the University in early 1949 on the charge of inciting the fourth-class employees in their agitation against the University authority’s indifference towards their legitimate demands. After 61 year, in 2010, the expulsion was withdrawn terming it as unjust and undemocratic.

Political activism in British India

2
Mujib (right) with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy in 1949 

Mujib became politically active when he joined the All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940, when he was a student of Islamia College. He joined the Bengal Muslim League in 1943. During this period, he worked actively for the League’s cause of a separate Muslim state of Pakistan, and in 1946 he went on to become general secretary of the Islamia College Students Union. M. Bhaskaran Nair describes that Mujib emerged as the most powerful man in the party because of his proximity to Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.  After obtaining his BA degree in 1947, he was one of the Muslim politicians working under Suhrawardy during the communal violence that broke out in Calcutta, in 1946, just before the partition of India.

Leader of Pakistan 
After the Partition of India, Mujib chose to stay in the newly created Pakistan. On his return to what became known as East Pakistan, he enrolled in the University of Dhaka to study law and founded the East Pakistan Muslim Students’ League. He became one of the most prominent student political leaders in the province. During these years, he developed an affinity for socialism as the solution to mass poverty, unemployment, and poor living conditions.

4
Rally on 21 February 1954 by Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman marching barefoot to pay their tributes to the Language Movement Martyrs

Following the declaration of Muhammad Ali Jinnah on the 21 March 1948, that the people of East Bengal would have to adopt Urdu as the state language*, protests broke out amongst the population. Mujib immediately decided to start a movement against this former planned decision of the Muslim League. At the same year, 2 March, a conference was held at Dhaka University’s Fazlul Haq Muslim Hall, with leaders of different political parties. In this conference, discussions about the movement against the Muslim League were discussed. From here on, the decision of the constitution of the All-party Parliamentary Council was decided. The strike was celebrated in Dhaka on March 11, 1948, in the call of this council. During the strike, some other political activists including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were arrested in front of the secretariat building. But due to pressure from the student protest, Mujib and other student leaders were released on March 15. On the occasion of their release, Rastrabhasa Sangram Parishad (National Language Action Committee) arrange a rally which took place at Dhaka University. Police had blocked this rally. In protest of police activities Sheikh Mujib immediately announced nationwide student strike on March 17, 1948. On 19 March, he organized a movement aimed at securing the rights of the fourth-class employees of Dhaka University. On 11 September 1948, he was again arrested.

*Jinnah has asked that Urdu should be the lingua franca which is not the state language

The founding of the Awami League

5
Sheikh Mujib with his mentor H. S. Suhrawardy and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in Dhaka, 1957 
6
Sheikh Mujib (standing second from left on bottom row) in the cabinet of A. K. Fazlul Huq in East Bengal, 1954

Mujib left the Muslim League to join Maulana Bhashani and Yar Mohammad Khan in the formation of the Awami Muslim League, the predecessor of the Awami League. Maulana Bhashani was elected as President while Yar Mohammad Khan was the treasurer. He was elected joint secretary of its East Bengal unit in 1949. While Suhrawardy worked to build a larger coalition of East Bengali and socialist parties, Mujib focused on expanding the grass-roots organization. In 1953, he was made the party’s general secretary, and elected to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly on a United Front coalition ticket in 1954. Serving briefly as the minister for agriculture during A. K. Fazlul Huq’s government, Mujib was briefly arrested for organizing a protest of the central government’s decision to dismiss the United Front ministry.

He was elected to the second Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and served from 1955 to 1958. The government proposed to dissolve the provinces in favour of an amalgamation of the western provinces of the Dominion of Pakistan in a plan called One Unit; at the same time the central government would be strengthened. Under One Unit, the western provinces were merged as West Pakistan during the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956. That year East Bengal was renamed as East Pakistan as part of One Unit at the same time. Mujib demanded that the Bengali people’s ethnic identity be respected and that a popular verdict should decide the question of naming and of official language:
Sir [President of the Constituent Assembly], you will see that they want to place the word East Pakistan instead of East Bengal. We had demanded so many times that you should use Bengal instead of Pakistan. The word Bengal has a history, has a tradition of its own. You can change it only after the people have been consulted. So far as the question of One Unit is concerned it can come in the Constitution. Why do you want it to be taken up just now? What about the state language, Bengali? We will be prepared to consider one-unit with all these things. So, I appeal to my friends on that side to allow the people to give their verdict in any way, in the form of referendum or in the form of plebiscite.

In 1956, Mujib entered a second coalition government as minister of industries, commerce, labour, anti-corruption and village aid. He resigned in 1957 to work full-time for the party organization.
In 1958 General Ayub Khan suspended the constitution and imposed martial law. Mujib was arrested for organizing resistance and imprisoned till 1961. After his release from prison, Mujib started organizing an underground political body called the Swadhin Bangal Biplobi Parishad (Free Bangla Revolutionary Council), comprising student leaders, to oppose the regime of Ayub Khan. They worked for increased political power for Bengalis and the independence of East Pakistan. He was briefly arrested again in 1962 for organizing protests.

Six-point movement

7
Sheikh Mujib announcing the Six Points in Lahore, 1966 

Following Suhrawardy’s death in 1963, Mujib came to head the Awami League, which became one of the largest political parties in Pakistan. The party had dropped the word Muslim from its name in a shift towards secularism and a broader appeal to non-Muslim communities. Mujib was one of the key leaders to rally opposition to President Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies plan, the imposition of martial law and the one-unit scheme, which centralized power and merged the provinces. Working with other political parties, he supported opposition candidate Fatima Jinnah against Ayub Khan in the 1964 election. Mujib was arrested two weeks before the election, charged with sedition and jailed for a year. In these years, there was rising discontent in East Pakistan over the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Armed Forces against Bengalis and the neglect of the issues and needs of East Pakistan by the ruling regime. Despite forming a majority of the population, the Bengalis were poorly represented in Pakistan’s civil services, police and military. There were also conflicts between the allocation of revenues and taxation. The 1965 war between India and Pakistan also revealed the markable vulnerability of East Pakistan compared to West Pakistan.

Unrest over continuing denial of democracy spread across Pakistan and Mujib intensified his opposition to the disbandment of provinces. In 1966, Mujib proclaimed a 6-point plan titled Our Charter of Survival at a national conference of opposition political parties at Lahore in which he demanded self-government and considerable political, economic and defence autonomy for East Pakistan in a Pakistani federation with a weak central government. According to his plan:

1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the Lahore Resolution and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a legislature directly elected based on the universal adult franchise.
2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: defence and foreign affairs, and all other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.
3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate banking reserve should be established, and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.
4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal centre will have no such power. The Federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.
5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary forces.

Mujib’s points catalysed public support across East Pakistan, launching what some historians have termed the 6-point movement – recognized as the definitive gambit for autonomy and rights of Bengalis in Pakistan. Mujib obtained the broad support of Bengalis, including the Hindu and other religious communities in East Pakistan. However, his demands were considered radical in West Pakistan and interpreted as thinly veiled separatism. The proposals alienated West Pakistani people and politicians, as well as non-Bengalis and Muslim fundamentalists in East Pakistan.

Anti-Ayub movement
Mujib was arrested by the army and after two years in jail, an official sedition trial in a military court opened. Widely known as the Agartala Conspiracy Case, Mujib and 34 Bengali military officers were accused by the government of colluding with Indian government agents in a scheme to divide Pakistan and threaten its unity, order and national security. The plot was alleged to have been planned in the city of Agartala, in the Indian state of Tripura. The outcry and unrest over Mujib’s arrest and the charge of sedition against him destabilized East Pakistan amidst large protests and strikes. Various Bengali political and student groups added demands to address the issues of students, workers and the poor, forming a larger 11-point plan. The government caved to the mounting pressure, dropped the charges on February 22, 1969 and unconditionally released Mujib the following day. He returned to East Pakistan as a public hero. He was given a mass reception on February 23, at Racecourse ground and conferred with the title Bangabandhu, meaning Friend of the Bengal.

Joining an all-parties conference convened by Ayub Khan in 1969, Mujib demanded the acceptance of his six points and the demands of other political parties and walked out following its rejection. On 5 December 1969 Mujib made a declaration at a public meeting held to observe the death anniversary of Suhrawardy that henceforth East Pakistan would be called Bangladesh:

There was a time when all efforts were made to erase the word “Bangla” from this land and its map. The existence of the word Bangla was found nowhere except in the term Bay of Bengal. I on behalf of Pakistan announce today that this land will be called Bangladesh instead of East Pakistan.

Mujib’s declaration heightened tensions across the country. The West Pakistani politicians and the military began to see him as a separatist leader. His assertion of Bengali cultural and ethnic identity also re-defined the debate over regional autonomy. Many scholars and observers believed the Bengali agitation emphasized the rejection of the Two-Nation Theory – the case upon which Pakistan had been created – by asserting the Ethnocultural identity of Bengalis as a nation. Mujib was able to galvanize support throughout East Pakistan, which was home to a majority of the national population, thus making him one of the most powerful political figures in the Indian subcontinent. It was following his 6-point plan that Mujib was increasingly referred to by his supporters as Bangabandhu (literally meaning “Friend of Bengal” in Bengali).

1970 elections and civil disobedience

8
Mujib campaigning in East Pakistan before the 1970 general election 

A major coastal cyclone struck East Pakistan on 12 November 1970, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. Bengalis were outraged, and unrest began because of what was considered the weak and ineffective response of the central government to the disaster. Public opinion and political parties in East Pakistan blamed the governing authorities as intentionally negligent. The West Pakistani politicians attacked the Awami League for allegedly using the crisis for political gain. The dissatisfaction led to divisions within the civil services, police and Pakistani Armed Forces.

In the Pakistani general elections held on 7 December 1970, the Awami League under Mujib’s leadership won a massive majority in the provincial legislature, and all but two of East Pakistan’s quota of seats in the new National Assembly, thus forming a clear majority.

The largest and most successful party in the western wing of the nation was the Pakistan People’s Party headed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was completely opposed to Mujib’s demand for greater autonomy. Bhutto threatened to boycott the assembly and oppose the government if Mujib was invited by Yahya Khan (then president of Pakistan) to form the next government and demanded inclusion of the PPP. Much of the Pakistani military and the Islamic political parties opposed Mujib’s becoming Pakistan’s prime minister. At the time neither Mujib nor the Awami League had explicitly advocated political independence for East Pakistan, but smaller nationalist groups were demanding independence for Bangladesh.

Bhutto feared civil war and sent a secret message to Mujib and his inner circle to arrange a meeting with them. Hassan met with Mujib and persuaded him to form a coalition government with Bhutto. They decided that Bhutto would serve as President, with Mujib as Prime minister. These developments took place secretly and none of the Pakistan Armed Forces personnel were kept informed. Meanwhile, Bhutto increased the pressure on Yahya Khan to take a stand on dissolving the government.

Establishment of Bangladesh

Following political deadlock, Yahya Khan delayed the convening of the assembly – a move seen by Bengalis as a plan to deny Mujib’s party, which formed a majority, from taking charge. It was on 7 March 1971 that Mujib called for independence and asked the people to launch a major campaign of civil disobedience and organized armed resistance at a mass gathering of people held at the Race Course Ground in Dhaka.

The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla! Since we have given blood, we will give more blood. God-willing, the people of this country will be liberated … Turn every house into a fort. Face (the enemy) with whatever you have.

Following a last-ditch attempt to foster agreement, Yahya Khan declared martial law, banned the Awami League and ordered the army to arrest Mujib and other Bengali leaders and activists. The army launched Operation Searchlight to curb the political and civil unrest, fighting the nationalist militias that were believed to have received training in India. Speaking on radio even as the army began its crackdown, Mujib asked his fellows to create resistance against Pakistani Army of occupation by a telegraph at midnight on 26 March 1971:

The Pakistan Army have suddenly attacked the Pilkhana EPR Headquarter and the Rajarbag Police Line as well as killed many innocents in Dhaka. The battle has started in various places of Dhaka and Chittagong. I am asking help to all the nations of this world. Our freedom fighters are valiantly fighting against the foes to save their motherland. In the name of Almighty Allah my last request and order to you all is to fight for independence till death. Ask your brothers of Police, EPR, Bengal Regiment and Ansar to fight with you. No compromise, the victory is ours. Execute the last foe from our holy motherland. Carry my message to all the leaders, activists and the other patriots from every corner of the country. May Allah bless you all. Joy Bangla. – from Shadhinota Shongrame Bangali by Aftab Ahmad

Sheikh Mujib was arrested and taken to West Pakistan after midnight from Tejgaon Airport on a PAF C-130 flight right under the noses of ATC Officer Squadron Leader Khwaja, Senior Operations Officer Wing Commander Khadem ul Bashar and Director of Airport and Flight Security Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan. All were on duty that night due to the state of emergency. Mujib was moved to West Pakistan and kept under heavy guard in a jail near Faisalabad (then Lyallpur). Many other League politicians avoided arrest by fleeing to India and other countries. Pakistani General Rahimuddin Khan was appointed to preside over Mujib’s military court case in Faisalabad, the proceedings of which have never been made public.

The Pakistani army’s campaign to restore order soon degenerated into a rampage of terror and bloodshed. With militias known as Razakars, the army targeted Bengali intellectuals, politicians and union leaders, as well as ordinary civilians. Due to deteriorating situation, large numbers of Hindus fled across the border to the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The East Bengali army and police regiments soon revolted, and League leaders formed a government in exile in Kolkata under Tajuddin Ahmad, a politician close to Mujib. A major insurgency led by the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters) arose across East Pakistan. Despite international pressure, the Pakistani government refused to release Mujib and negotiate with him. Most of the Mujib family was kept under house arrest during this period. General Osmani was the key military commanding officer in the Mukti Bahini, which was a part of the struggle between the state forces and the nationalist militia during the war that came to be known as the Bangladesh Liberation War. Following Indian intervention in December 1971, the Pakistani army surrendered to the joint force of Bengali Mukti Bahini and Indian Army, and the League leadership created a government in Dhaka which was called Mujibnagar Government.

Upon assuming the presidency after Yahya Khan’s resignation, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto responded to international pressure and released Mujib on 8 January 1972. After release from prison, Bhutto and Mujib met in Rawalpindi. In that meeting, Bhutto proposed some links between Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, Mujib said he could not commit to anything until he visited Bangladesh and talked to his colleagues. He was then flown to London where he met with British Prime Minister Edward Heath and addressed the international media at the Claridge’s Hotel. Mujib then flew to New Delhi on a Royal Air Force (RAF) plane provided by the British government to take him back to Dhaka. In New Delhi, he was received by Indian President Varahagiri Venkata Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as well as the entire Indian cabinet and chiefs of armed forces. Delhi was given a festive look as Mujib and Indira addressed a huge crowd where he publicly expressed his gratitude to Indira Gandhi and the best friends of my people, the people of India. From New Delhi, Sheikh Mujib flew back to Dhaka on the RAF jet where he was received by a massive and emotional sea of people at Tejgaon Airport.

Governing Bangladesh

9
Mujib as Prime Minister of Bangladesh with U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1974 

Mujib briefly assumed the provisional presidency and later took office as the prime minister. A new country Bangladesh begins with a lot of ‘rampage and rape of Bangladesh economy’ by Pakistani occupation force. In January 1972 Time magazine reported:
In the aftermath of the Pakistani army’s rampage last March, a special team of inspectors from the World Bank observed that some cities looked like the morning after a nuclear attack. Since then, the destruction has only been magnified. An estimated 6,000,000 homes have been destroyed, and nearly 1,400,000 farm families have been left without tools or animals to work their lands. Transportation and communications systems are totally disrupted. Roads are damaged, bridges out and inland waterways blocked. The rape of the country continued right up until the Pakistani army surrendered a month ago. In the last days of the war, West Pakistani-owned businesses—which included nearly every commercial enterprise in the country—remitted virtually all their funds to the West. Pakistan International Airlines left exactly 117 rupees ($16) in its account at the port city of Chittagong. The army also destroyed bank notes and coins, so that many areas now suffer from a severe shortage of ready cash. Private cars were picked up off the streets or confiscated from auto dealers and shipped to the West before the ports were closed.

The politicians elected in 1970 formed the provisional parliament of the new state. The Mukti Bahini and other militias amalgamated to form a new Bangladeshi army to which Indian forces transferred control on 17 March. Mujib described the fallout of the war as the biggest human disaster in the world, claiming the deaths of as many as 3 million people and the rape of more than 200,000 women.

Although the state was committed to secularism, Mujib soon began moving closer to political Islam through state policies as well as personal conduct. He revived the Islamic Academy (which had been banned in 1972 for suspected collusion with Pakistani forces) and banned the production and sale of alcohol and banned the practice of gambling, which had been one of the major demands of Islamic groups. In his public appearances and speeches, Mujib made increased usage of Islamic greetings, slogans, and references to Islamic ideologies. In his final years, Mujib largely abandoned his trademark Joy Bangla salutation for Khuda Hafez preferred by religious Muslims. He also declared a common amnesty to the suspected war criminals in some conditions to get the support of far-right groups as the communists were not happy with Mujib’s regime.

He declared, I believe that the brokers, who assisted the Pakistanis during the liberation war has realized their faults. I hope they will involve themselves in the development of the country forgetting all their misdeeds. Those who were arrested and jailed in the Collaborator act should be freed before the 16 December 1974. He charged the provisional parliament to write a new constitution, and proclaimed the four fundamental principles of “nationalism, secularism, democracy, and socialism,” which would come to be known as Mujibism. Mujib nationalized hundreds of industries and companies as well as abandoned land and capital and initiated land reform aimed at helping millions of poor farmers. A constitution was proclaimed in 1973 and elections were held, which resulted in Mujib and his party gaining power with an absolute majority. He further outlined state programs to expand primary education, sanitation, food, healthcare, water and electric supply across the country.

Economic policies
The Mujib government faced serious challenges, which including the rehabilitation of millions of people displaced in 1971, organizing the supply of food, health aids and other necessities. The effects of the 1970 cyclone had not worn off, and the state’s economy had immensely deteriorated by the conflict. Economically, Mujib embarked on a huge nationalization program. By the end of the year, thousands of Bengalis arrived from Pakistan, and thousands of non-Bengalis migrated to Pakistan; and yet many thousand remained in refugee camps. Major efforts were launched to rehabilitate an estimated 10 million refugees. The economy began recovering and a famine was prevented. A five-year plan released in 1973 focused state investments into agriculture, rural infrastructure and cottage industries. But a famine occurred in 1974 when the price of rice rose sharply. In that month “widespread starvation started in Rangpur district. Government mismanagement had been blamed for that. During Mujib’s regime the country witnessed industrial decline, Indian control over Bangladesh’s industries and counterfeit money scandals.

Foreign policies
After Bangladesh achieved recognition from major countries, Mujib helped Bangladesh enter into the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. He travelled to the United States, the United Kingdom and other European nations to obtain humanitarian and developmental assistance for the nation. Mujib maintained a close tie with India. He signed a treaty of friendship with India, which pledged extensive economic and humanitarian assistance and began training Bangladesh’s security forces and government personnel. Mujib forged a close friendship with Indira Gandhi, strongly praising India’s decision to intercede, and professed admiration and friendship for India. Mujib sought Bangladesh’s membership in the Organization and the Islamic Development Bank and made a significant trip to Lahore in 1974 to attend the OIC summit, which helped repair relations with Pakistan to an extent. On the international stage, Mujib and his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi signed the 25-year Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace. Bangladesh joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. Mujib was invited to Washington DC and Moscow for talks with American and Soviet leaders. Mujib declared that Bangladesh would be the “Switzerland of the East” and by this declaration he meant that Bangladesh would steer clear from the Cold War and would remain non-partisan in the tug of Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. In the Delhi Agreement of 1974, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan pledged to work for regional stability and peace. The agreement paved the way for the return of interned Bengali officials and their families stranded in Pakistan, as well as the establishing of diplomatic relations between Dhaka and Islamabad. Japan became a major aid provider to the new country. Although Israel was one of early countries to recognize Bangladesh, the government in Dhaka strongly supported Egypt during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. In return, Egypt gifted Bangladesh’s military with 44 tanks. Many Eastern European countries, particularly Yugoslavia, East Germany and Poland, enjoyed excellent relations with Bangladesh. The Soviet Union supplied several squadrons of Mig-21 planes for the Bangladesh Air Force.

Left wing insurgency
At the height of Mujib’s power, left wing insurgents, organized by Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal’s armed wing Gonobahini fought against the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in order to establish a Marxist government.
The government responded by forming an elite para-military force Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini on 8 February 1972, initially formed to curb the insurgency and maintain law and order. The force began a campaign of brutal human rights abuses against the general populace, including the force became involved in numerous charges of human rights abuse including political killings, shooting by death squads, forced disappearances and rape. Members of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini were granted immunity from prosecution and other legal proceedings. The force had sworn an oath of loyalty to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

BAKSAL
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL) the only legally recognized party of Bangladesh founded on 7 June 1975 following the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh. Mujib’s government soon began encountering increased dissatisfaction and unrest. His programs of nationalization and industrial socialism suffered from lack of trained personnel, inefficiency, rampant corruption, and poor leadership. Mujib focused almost entirely on national issues and thus neglected local issues and government. The party and central government exercised full control and democracy was weakened, with virtually no elections organized at the grass roots or local levels. Political opposition included communists as well as Islamic fundamentalists, who were angered by the declaration of a secular state. Mujib was criticized for nepotism in appointing family members to important positions. A famine in 1974 further intensified the food crisis, and devastated agriculture – the mainstay of the economy. Intense criticism of Mujib arose over the lack of political leadership, a flawed pricing policy, and rising inflation amidst heavy losses suffered by the nationalized industries. Mujib’s ambitious social programs performed poorly, owing to scarcity of resources, funds, and personnel, and caused unrest amongst the masses. BAKSAL was protested by different groups but they were punished by Sheikh Mujib. It was known that Sheikh Mujib never accepted any criticism against him. Mujib was widely accused for 40000 killings by his Rakkhi Bahini.

The 1974 famine had personally shocked Mujib and profoundly affected his views on governance, while political unrest gave rise to increasing violence. During the famine, 70000 people were reported as dead.

In response, he began increasing his powers. In 1974, Mujib declared a state of emergency. In 1975, his political supporters approved a constitutional amendment with few other parties of a new system called BAKSHAL. Banning all opposition political parties against BAKSHAL. Mujib assumed the presidency and was given extraordinary powers. According to Time magazine:
Under the new system, executive powers are vested in the President, who will be elected directly every five years, and in a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Although an elected Parliament can pass legislation, the President has veto power and can dissolve Parliament indefinitely.
His political supporters amalgamated to form the only legalized political party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League, commonly known by its initials—BAKSAL. The party identified itself with the rural masses, farmers, and labourers and took control of government machinery. It also launched major socialist programs. Using government forces and a militia of supporters called the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini, Mujib oversaw the arrest of opposition activists and strict control of political activities across the country.

Assassination
On 15 August 1975, a group of junior army officers invaded the presidential residence with tanks and killed Mujib, his family and personal staff. Only his daughters Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Sheikh Rehana, who were visiting West Germany, escaped. They were banned from returning to Bangladesh. The coup was planned by disgruntled Awami League colleagues and military officers, which included Mujib’s colleague and former confidante Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, who became his immediate successor. There was intense speculation in the media accusing the US Central Intelligence Agency of having instigated the plot. Lawrence Lifschultz has alleged that the CIA was involved in the coup and assassination, basing his assumption on statements by the then US ambassador in Dhaka, Eugene Booster.

Mujib’s death plunged the nation into many years of political turmoil. The coup leaders were soon overthrown, and a series of counter-coups and political assassinations paralyzed the country. Order was largely restored after a coup in 1977 gave control to the army chief Ziaur Rahman. Declaring himself President in 1978, Ziaur Rahman signed the Indemnity Ordinance, giving immunity from prosecution to the men who plotted Mujib’s assassination and overthrow.

Legacy

Tomb of Sheikh Mujibur in Gopalganj; The Bangabandhu Square Monument

Mujib has been depicted in Bangladeshi currency, Taka and is the namesake of many Bangladesh public institutions.

During Mujib’s tenure as the premier leader, Muslim religious leaders and some politicians intensely criticized Mujib’s adoption of state secularism. He alienated some segments of nationalists and those in the military who feared Bangladesh would become too dependent on India. They worried about becoming a satellite state by taking extensive aid from the Indian government and allying with that country on many foreign and regional affairs. Mujib’s imposition of one-party rule and suppression of political opposition with censorship and abuse of the judiciary, also alienated large segments of the population. Historians and political scientists think that it derailed Bangladesh’s development as a democratic state, contributing to its subsequent political instability and violence. The economy also collapsed due to widespread corruption in the same period.

Lawrence Lifschultz wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review in 1974 that Bangladeshis considered the corruption and malpractices and plunder of national wealth unprecedented.
Zafrullah Chowdhury asserts that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself was a major impediment to the fulfilment of those aspirations of the liberation, although he admits that he was a great leader.

Following his assassination, succeeding governments offered low-key commemorations of Mujib. Restoration of his public image awaited the election of an Awami League government in 1996, which was led by his eldest daughter, Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the party. 15 August has since been commemorated as National Mourning Day. The country keeps it flags lower to half-mast in this day as a sign of mourning. In 2016, the Awami League government passed a law that criminalized any criticism of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Despite controversy and disagreement among politician, Mujib remain a popular figure in Bangladesh. In a 2004 BBC Bengali opinion poll, Mujib was voted as the Greatest Bengali of All Time. The waistcoat coat that Mujib used to wore during his political campaign is called Mujib coat in Bangladesh.

Worldwide
After one year of independence and Mujib rule, Time magazine wrote: in sum, Bangladesh had little reason to enjoy a happy first birthday. If it is not the basket case that Henry Kissinger once called it, neither has it become the Shonar Bangla (Golden Bengal) envisioned by Mujib. How much this is the fault of Mujib is a moot question. It is true that he has had little time in which to combat some of Bangladesh’s immense problems. Nevertheless, some critics contend that he has wasted some time playing the role of popular revolutionary figure (such as personally receiving virtually any of his people who call on him) when he should have been concentrating more on serious matters of state. If, as expected, he is elected in March, Mujib will face a clear test of whether he is not only the father of Bangladesh but also its savior.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro compared Mujib’s personality with the Himalayas during the Non-Aligned Summit in 1973. 

Time Magazine USA 25 August 1975 wrote ten Days after his death: Mujib returned to the most tumultuous welcome Dacca had ever seen—and a staggering array of problems in probably the poorest (and most densely populated) country on earth. There were virtually no civil servants and little industry. Ports were clogged, railroads destroyed, the educated elite savaged. Worse, what had not been destroyed in war was soon destroyed by a devastating drought in 1973 and floods last year that inundated three-quarters of the country

Authored books

Sheikh Mujib wrote two volumes of his autobiography, where he expressed his view on politics and described his personal life. Both books were published after his death by his daughter and current Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
• The Unfinished Memoirs. The University Press Limited, Penguin Books and Oxford University Press. ISBN 9789845061100.
• Karagarer Rojnamcha. Bangla Academy. ISBN 978-0-470-60264-5.

By Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Pakistan Language, Population, Migration

Language and Identity

Tariq Rahman has engagingly traced the history of the ‘upstart’ Urdu language, involving its gradual displacement of Persian from the middle of the nineteenth century to its blossoming as a ‘badge of identity, a mark of sophistication and refinement’ for elite Muslims. Its journey was to culminate in it being accorded the status of Pakistan’s national language, although at the time of independence only around 7% of the population spoke it as a mother tongue. The initial refusal to accord a similar status to Bengali, the language spoken by most Pakistanis in 1947, was a factor in the growing tensions between the country’s eastern and western wings.

From the 1900 foundation of the Urdu Defence Association onwards, Urdu was a major symbol of Muslim political identity in colonial India. The association owed its birth to the success of partisans of Hindi, securing its recognition alongside Urdu as an official language in the United Provinces (UP). Urdu had been adopted as the official language of UP in 1858, but Hindi language activists mounted increasingly vociferous public campaigns to change this government decision. Altogether 118 memorials signed by 67,000 persons submitted in favour of Hindi as the medium of instruction when the Commission on National Education sat in 1882. The Hindi-Urdu controversy really intensified, however, at the beginning of the next century, arising from the anti-Urdu stance of the Lieutenant Governor of the North-Western Provinces, Sir A.P. MacDonnell. During its course, both Urdu and Hindi became identified as the language of essentialized ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’ religious communities. In this respect language advocacy intersected with the growing impact of socio-religious reform in North India.

Urdu was not only the mother tongue of the UP Muslim elite, but was spoken by members of the Muslim upper classes throughout India. The mass of the Muslim population, however, spoke a variety of other languages, with Punjabi and Bengali having the greatest number of users. The British had made Urdu, however, the official vernacular language in Punjab from 1854 onwards, thereby marginalizing the Punjabi mother tongue. The decision, partly taken for administrative convenience and resting on official prejudices against the ‘rustic’ Punjabi language, possessed profound long-term significance.

Attachment to Urdu became a key component of the Muslim separatist platform in colonial India. Nonetheless, Urdu has proved much less effective in promoting a national Pakistani identity than have regional languages in articulating ethnic identity. Centralization around one language has strengthened the role of regional languages in identity politics. This is especially marked in Sindh, where the language movement emerged in resistance to the local influx of Urdu-speaking Mohajirs as well as to the national domination by the ruling Mohajir and later Punjabi elites. It is present in most parts of Pakistan, although it is muted in Punjab, outside of its Seraiki-speaking belt. This arises from the colonial tradition of subsuming Punjabi to Urdu. It also reflects the fact that the Punjab has been the core of the Pakistan state. Influentials segments of its inhabitants have largely been prepared to eschew cultural nationalism in favour of physical control of state political and economic power.

The rapid social mobility arising from internal migration has certainly strengthened Urdu as a common lingua franca. The process has its limitations, however, because of the politicization of language in smaller provinces of Pakistan. Urdu itself became the focus of an ethnic identity, rather than of Pakistan nationalism with the emergence of a Mohajir political identity in urban Sindh early in the 1980s.

Sindhi has long been an important element in identity politics along with other community markers relating to dress (wearing of the ajrak shawl), poetry and Sufism. Indeed, it was Sufi poems (kafi) which helped to establish Sindhi linguistic traditions, despite their ancient origins. The nationalist politician and writer G.M. Syed drew on these ancient cultural traditions to support the demand for an independent Sindhi homeland, Sindhu Desh, in the 1970s, although the driving force of his separatist stance was the ‘Punjabi-‘ political domination. Syed had warned even in the early 1940s that Pakistan was likely to be a Punjabi-dominated state. There was considerable resentment the influx of Punjabi agriculturists following the completion of the Sukkur Barrage irrigation scheme in 1932. This was nothing compared with the flood of Urdu-speaking refugees from India in 1947.

During the colonial era, Sindhi was standardized in the Arabic script, formerly having also been written in Nagri and Gurumukhi. Since independence, Sindhi language activists have been engaged in clashes with the state. A strong sense of Sindhi cultural identity lay behind the resistance to the centralizing and Islamizing policies of Zia, as can be glimpsed in such poems as Naz Hamayooni’s ‘Love for Homeland’. G.M. Syed, despite his long-term resistance to the Pakistan state, stood aloof from this movement, however, in the main because of his hostility to the PPP. Ironically, Karachi’s Urdu-speakers celebrated the veteran Sindhi nationalist 81st birthday in January 1984.

Pashto from the colonial era onwards has become an important component of Pakhtun ethnic identity, although before this Persian was the ‘language of sophisticated discourse’ and the moral code of Pakhtunwali undergirded identity. The British imposition of Urdu as the official vernacular language encouraged the promotion of Pashto as a symbol of anti-colonial resistance by Red Shirt movement of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Whilst the use of Pashto thereafter became central to the Pakhtun identity, along with Pakhtunwali and Islam, it met with resistance from both Hindko-speaking Muslims and the Hindu-Sikh population. The Pakistan state viewed Pashto with similar suspicion as did their colonial forebears, because of Afghanistan’s irredentist claims and the Afghan state’s promotion of Pashto over Dari as symbol of Pakhtun domination. During the 1950s and 1960s, the issue of Pashto was central to the aspirations of Pakhtunistan secessionists. More recently, the integration of Pakhtuns into the Pakistan state has seen the rise in Urdu use, although Pashto retains its symbolic significance in identity politics and demands for greater autonomy, which culminated in the renaming of the North West Frontier Province as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Tribal social structures have been more important in framing Baloch political identity than language, as Balochistan’s multilingualism has limited such possibilities. Its linguistic mix resulted not only from the presence of a sizeable Pashto-speaking Pakhtun population in such areas as Sibi, Zhob and Pishin, but also from the prevalence of a Brahvi-speaking Baloch ethnic group. Indeed, the Khan of Kalat’s family were Brahvi-speaking, but inspite of this Baloch nationalists have looked to Mir Nisar Khan, who had forged the Kalat state in the second half of the eighteenth century, as an inspiration for independent statehood. Seraiki-speaking tribes such as the Jamalis also identify themselves as Baloch. Urdu was the recognised vernacular language of the British administered Balochistan. Since independence, the Pakistan state has promoted Urdu as a vehicle for national integration. Its prevalence among the Baloch elite, the underdeveloped nature of Balochi as a written language and the divide between it and Brahvi have led to tribal loyalties and economic and political grievances, rather than language driving nationalist resistance to the Pakistan state.

Modernising states’ reactions to ‘sub-national’ political identities based on ethnicity, language and religion have been a major factor in encouraging authoritarianism not only in South Asia but throughout the developing world. Superficially, Pakistan’s limited range of politically-conscious ethnic groups in comparison with India’s appear less of a threat to democratic consolidation. A number of scholars have argued conversely, however, that India’s complex ethnic structure has worked as an enabling factor for democracy by for example preventing the state from being captured by a single dominant ethnic group.

Population

In any other region of the world, a state of Pakistan’s size with a population of around 175 million, an army of around 500,000 and a GDP of over $160 billion would be a significant power. India, however, with its 1 billion plus population, 1 million of which are in arms, and GDP eight times higher than Pakistan’s, dwarfs it and in doing so perpetuates the sense of insecurity which has dogged Pakistan’s history.

While Pakistan cannot match India’s size, military and economic might, its population and economy have grown rapidly since 1947. According to the 1951 census the population for what now includes Bangladesh as well as Pakistan was just 73 million. Today’s truncated Pakistan, with an estimated population of 185 million, is the sixth largest country in the world in terms of its population. The rate of increase is still around 2.2% per annum; this compares with 1.4% and 0.6% respectively for its Indian and Chinese neighbours. Around half of Pakistan’s people are under the age of 15. Some estimates put the population under the age of 25 as high as 100 million, making this one of the largest youth populations in the world. This youthful dynamism is a factor in the state’s resilience. The youth bulge could either prove a demographic dividend, helping to drive forward economic growth, or it could prove to be a time-bomb, if the state is unable to educate and utilize it.

Rapid population has been a contributory factor to Pakistan’s poor achievements in educational provision for its citizens, although they are primarily a result of the state’s historically low tax levels and the privileging of defence expenditure over that on both health and education. Literacy stands at around 55% of the population, although this masks significant regional and gender imbalances. Only around a third of adult women are literate, while little more than a fifth participate in the labour force. Women made up only 10.96 million out of a total labour force 51.78 million in 2007-8. Pakistan in 2007-8 stood 125 out of 138 countries in terms of the Gender-related Development Index, and ranked 82 out of 93 in the Gender Empowerment Measure. The following year, the increasing security crisis in the Malakand division and parts of the NWFP kept girls especially from education. According to one report perhaps as many as 80,000 girls in Swat were deprived of education. Scandalously high rates of female illiteracy in the more conservative areas of Pakistan such as the Frontier and the Tribal Areas (with just 18% female literacy in the former and 3% in the latter) have exacerbated the failures of half-hearted government programmes of family planning. A recent report revealed that only 18% of the women in the countryside use the modern method of family planning. Around 200,000 women are admitted to hospital each year because of unsafe abortions, at a conservatively estimated cost of $22 million. A dramatic expansion of female education is essential, not only in terms of addressing gender inequalities, but because if its historical connection with the slowing of population increase. Bangladesh’s better record than Pakistan in reducing fertility rates is directly attributable not only to its more effective family planning policies, which have been largely provided by NGO (in Pakistan they account for around 13% of family planning services), but to its policies designed to educate and economically empower women. According to some accounts, there is a gap of 25% between the demand and supply of contraceptive services in Pakistan. Its consequences are revealed by the slow pace in the decline if fertility and the chilling statistic that 1 in 7 pregnancies end in induced abortion.

Population growth continuing at its current rate of over 2% per annum could in future reach crisis proportions. Some demographers project that this will result in a population of around 335 million by the mid twenty-first century, this would make Pakistan the fourth populous country in the world. More immediate high levels of population increase poverty in the absence of policies of economic redistribution; around 1 in 5 Pakistanis continue to live beneath the poverty line. About 60% of Pakistan’s population subsist on less than $2 a day.

There are again marked regional differences in this exposure to poverty, with the poorest populations being found in the Tribal Areas, the interior of Sindh and Balochistan. It is significant to note that the areas which were most developed in the colonial era have retained their advantage since independence. There are parallels with India with respect to the former Princely States, in that there were pockets of deep poverty in some of the Princely States which acceded, while other states were ‘progressive’ (e.g. Mysore in the Indian context) and had similar standards of living to those of neighbouring British India districts. Khairpur and Bahawalpur were the most developed states that acceded to Pakistan, as they shared in the irrigation (the Sutlej Valley Project) and communication developments of the adjacent British provinces. The Frontier Princely States of Amb, Chitral and Dir lagged far behind the settled districts of the Frontier. Swat had a literacy rate of just 1.75% in 1951. Education was banned by the Nawab of Dir in case it undermined his autocratic rule by which he owned all the land in his state. However, the Balochistan states with their poor communications and nomadic inhabitants were the most backward of all the states that acceded to Pakistan. Kharan and Lasbela had only one middle school each for boys by 1949. The disparity of socio-economic development between the Princely States and the former British provinces, together with their strategic location, complicated their integration in Pakistan. With the notable exception of Kalat, extremely low levels of political consciousness accompanied the poor social development indicators.

Even in the most prosperous areas of Pakistan such as the Punjab, the rural areas lag behind their urban counterparts. The absence of amenities and life chances in rural Pakistan has contributed to another marked feature of the country’s economic profile: that of high levels of migration. Rural-urban migration has resulted in Karachi and to a lesser extent Lahore as emerging mega cities. Future migration trends will increase their size and those of other urban combinations, so that by 2030 it is estimated that half of the population will live in urban centres. Nonetheless, Pakistan continues at present to have a large rural population. Agriculture still accounts for around 20% of the annual GDP and provides employment for over 40% of the country’s labour force. The extensive production of rice and wheat is possible because of the existence of one of the largest irrigation networks in the world, which waters around 16 million hectares of land.

Migration

Pakistan is a society on the move. Its birth was accompanied by by the Partition of the subcontinent and the division of the two Muslim major priory provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The Partition-related violence sparked the largest uprooting people in the twentieth century. While the two way transfer of 9 million Punjabis in the short period of August-December 1947 forms the iconic representation of this upheaval, migration of Muslims into Sindh continued well into the1950s. By 1951, the Urdu-speaking UP migrants (mohajirs) numbered around 50% of Karachi’s population. The creation of a UP Urdu speaking enclave in the sands if Sindh was to have profound consequences for Pakistan’s politics. The cultural and political assimilation of Punjabi-speaking migrants, unlike their Urdu counterparts in Sindh, has obscured the fact that the greatest number of migrants from India (over 5 million) came from East Punjab. They settled on the agricultural land abandoned by the outgoing Sikh farmers in the Canal Colony areas and in the towns and cities of West Punjab, where they frequently accounted for over 50% of the population. The Punjabi migrants have formed a constituency for Islamists and extremist sectarian movements as well as for the mainstream factions of e Muslim League. They are also staunch upholders of the Kashmir cause, reflecting the fact that there was not only a significant influx of Kashmiri refugees into Pakistan in 1947, but the experiences of upheaval by ethnic Punjabis led them to an anti-Indian stance. The Punjabi refugee element in Pakistan’s politics has been overlooked, but in fact has formed another of the longer-term shaping factors which are not always recognized in contemporary security driven analyses.

Since independence, internal migration has formed an important feature of Pakistan’s experience and helped shape its political developments. There has been outright rural-urban migration, but also movement from countryside to small towns, sometimes as a staging post in the migration process, while the overall population increased by 250% in the period 1947-81, urban population growth was close to 400%. Karachi’s population had risen from under half a million in 1947 to 13 million in 2007. Lahore’s population stood at 5 million, with six other cities having a population of over 1 million. By 2025 it is projected that Pakistan’s urban population will total over 100 million, with Karachi and Lahore, both forming mega-cities of around 19 and 10 million respectively. The presence of large migrant communities in towns and cities has sustained outlooks and community networks from the rural setting rather than resulting in the emergence of a new ‘modern’ urban class. Small towns especially represent more of a village environment than is expected by the Western conception of an urban society. The migration of Pakhtuns throughout Pakistan, alongside the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, may be seen as a factor in introducing tribal cultural mores and norms into a growing ‘orthodox’ expression of Islam.

It is impossible to understand Karachi’s political turmoil in the 1990s (which by 2010 had shown dangerous signs of resurgence) without acknowledging the fact that this is not only the city of Indian migrants (mohajirs) but is the third largest Pakhtun city in the world and has a greater Baloch population than Quetta. Ethnic struggles for power and control over resources, in which criminal mafias play a role, have been contributory factors in the city’s reputation for violence. While Karachi is the melting pot par excellence, no area of Pakistan is homogenous, although provincial politics are frequently discussed in these terms. Around 40% of e population of Balochistan is, for example Pakhtun. There are significant Kashmiri populations in such Punjabi cities as Lahore and Sialkot. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan brought an influx of 3 million Afghans. Internal displacement of populations has been a feature of the military operations in the Tribal Areas. Indeed one aspect behind the resurgence of violence in Karachi in 2010 was the growing number of Pakhtuns who had moved to the city from the Tribal Areas. Alongside economic migrants and victims of military conflict, the natural disaster of the 2010 floods was another factor in internal displacement. Finally, there is little reported movement of perhaps as many 100,000 Punjabi settlers from Balochistan as a result of the growing number of targeted killings of Punjabis in the current phase of insurgency in the province.

Overseas migration has also impacted both on Pakistan’s economy and its international image. During the colonial era there was considerable migration from the Punjab future heartland of Pakistan; this included Muslim Rajputs from the poorer northern areas of the province as well as Sikh Jats from its central districts. Military service was a common feature for both areas, providing exposure to lands well beyond the native home (Desh) and creating a culture of international migration. There was also a tradition of migration from the Sylhet region of Assam ( now part of Bangladesh) based on the poorer sections of its population turning to careers as lascars (sailors) which led them to life overseas. Independence continued the earlier pattern of migration in that most international migrations were from Punjab and East Bengal. One discontinuity was provided by the push to overseas migration for the population of Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, following the displacement created by the construction of the Mangla Dam.

North America, Europe and the UK were the main centres of permanent migration, although large number of workers also moved for short-term contracts to the Middle-East from the 1970s and 1980s. This has undoubtedly increased the size and scale of middle-class wealth in Pakistan. The psychological reactions arising from the frustrations of newly enriched returnees has been dubbed the Dubai chalo (Let’s go to Dubai) theme in Pakistani society. Overseas Pakistanis in UAE and Saudi Arabia provide the largest inflows of remittances. In the period July 2010 to January 2011, for example, almost half of the $5.3 billion in remittances came from Pakistanis in these two areas.

However, Pakistanis living permanently in the West also provide large sums for their homeland’s foreign exchange reserves. The cultural impact of overseas migration is much less quantifiable than its economic consequences. The growing religious orthodoxy coincided with the increase of labour migration to the Gulf and Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. Assessments of the ‘Arabization’ of Pakistani Islam tend to focus on the Saudi export of Wahhabism in the political context of the Iranian revolution and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In doing so, they overlook the influence of growing numbers of migrant oil and construction workers who returned home to Pakistan,not only with increased prosperity, but commitment to a scriptural Islam in opposition to popular ‘folk Islam’.

The UK received the largest number of migrants, with the 2001 Census revealing a population of over 1 million persons with Pakistani or Bangladeshi origins. The growing South Asian diaspora in the US from 1965 onwards was dominated by Indian migrants, although there also the emergence of a professional Pakistani class, comprising engineers, academics, and especially medical practitioners. The size of the Pakistani population in the US is disputed, as US Census figures which put it around 200,000 do not include college students or second and third generation members, if they are accounted the numbers can increase to 700,000. While the Pakistani diaspora has not played a pivotal role in national politics as have, for example, overseas Tamils through their support for LTTE, all parties have overseas branches. London and Dubai were twin poles of the PPP during the years of exile of its leader Benazir Bhutto. London has also been the residence of Baloch nationalists. The MQM is run by Altaf Hussain from its London Secretariat. Former President Musharraf launched his All Pakistan Muslim League in London at the beginning of October 2010. Within the UK, , Birmingham because of its large diaspora community is another centre of intense political activity.

The diaspora represents an important economic resource through remittances, support for the major parties and for humanitarian aid, as at the time of the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. The US community is the wealthiest Pakistani diaspora and provides the most in remittances (around $1.73 billion p.a.by 2007-8). Indeed periods of Pakistan’s rapid economic growth in the early 1980 and again two decades later appear to have been driven in part by overseas remittances which increased consumer demand for housing and transport. The involvement in the 7 July 2005 London bombings of the British-born young Muslims of Pakistani descent who had visited radical mosques in Pakistan, followed by the failed Times Square bombing in New York in May 2010, represented a more disturbing element in the ongoing diaspora-homeland connection. Further evidence came from the fact that the grey-bearded Swat Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, was a returned former painter and decorator from the Boston area.

Courtesy of:

Pakistan: the Geo-Political Context

Pakistan’s sensitive geo-political situation to the east of the Persian Gulf and in close proximity to Russia, China and India has given rise to it being termed a garrison state in which the military role is inevitably over-developed. Critics of militarism have seen the army as turning to its advantage enmity with India and regional Western strategic concerns, firstly derived from the Cold War and latterly the War on Terror to transform Pakistan into a permanent insecurity state. The cost of the army’s positioning and repositioning itself as the state’s predominant institution has been Pakistan’s neo-vassal status.

The fact that Pakistan was carved out of the British Indian Empire has meant that its history has been profoundly influenced by relations with its mighty neighbour Indian attitudes have been coloured by the fact that Pakistan is seen as a secessionist state; while in Pakistan there has been the abiding fear that India will seek to undo the 1947 Partition. This intensified with the breakaway of its eastern wing to form Bangladesh in 1971.

Pakistan had emerged in 1947 with its eastern and western wings divided by over 1,000 miles of Indian territory. While this geographical absurdity by no means condemned it to division, the remoteness of Dhaka from the federal capital, first in Karachi and then later in Islamabad intensified the sense of marginality of the Bengali political elites. I feel a peculiar sensation when I come from Dacca to Karachi, the Bengal Chief Minister Ataur Rahman Khan declared early in 1956; I feel physically, apart from mental feeling, that I am living here in a foreign country. I did not feel as much when I went to Zurich, to Geneva . . . or London as much as I feel here in my own country that I am in a foreign land. This perception was materially based in the different topographies, landholding structures and population densities of the two wings and the fact that over 1 in 5 of East Pakistan’s population was non-Muslim, whereas the figures for West Pakistan were less than 1 in 30. The loss of the eastern wing profoundly transformed Pakistan in terms of its demography. It also encouraged the country to look more to the Middle-East than to South Asia as its neighbourhood region in cultural and economic terms. It was not fully recognised at the time but the federal government’s use of Islamic irregulars (Razakars) drawn from the Urdu-speaking Bihari population in East Pakistan in 1971 encouraged notions of Islamic militants’ value as strategic assets in the enduring rivalry with India. Pakistan was greatly weakened in relation to India by the loss of its eastern wing, but this did not abate their enduring rivalry, which was rooted in the Kashmir issue.

While Pakistan’s territorial dispute with India over Kashmir has symbolised the distrust between the two countries over the past six decades, it also inherited another disputed border with Afghanistan. In July 1949 the Afghan parliament formally renounced the Durand Line border which the British had negotiated with Amir Abdur Rahman Khan in 1893 to demarcate the frontier of the Raj. Kabul laid claim to the territories it had lost to Pakistan. This was a serious threat because of Pakistan’s immediate post-Partition weakness and because it occurred in the context of Afghanistan’s support for ethnic Pakhtun nationalists across the Durand Line in Pakistan, who sought to create their own Pakhtunistan state. The date of 31 August was earmarked in Afghanistan as the official annual celebration of a Greater Pakhtunistan Day. The goal of a Greater Pakhtunistan was designed not only to increase the power of the Afghan state, by absorbing a Pakhtunistan area carved out of Pakistan, but to cement the ethnic dominance of Pakhtuns within it at the expense of the Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks, Kabul’s posture exacerbated Pakistan’s insecurity, which was already fevered by the 1947-8 clash with India over Kashmir. The geo-political imperative for a strong military received further encouragement. Within less than a decade of independence, Pakistan and Afghanistan became part of competing Cold War alliance systems within the region. Pakistan became a member of the US Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). Although India and Afghanistan retained the fiction of non-alignment, they received increasing amounts of aid from the USSR. Soviet assistance encouraged closer ties between Kabul and New Delhi, adding a further antagonistic element to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.

During the Cold War and the post 9/11 War on Terror,  Pakistan has found itself in the front line of an international conflict because of its geo-strategic location. Pakistan’s support was vital in the October 2001 war which removed the Taliban regime from power. It also became an important ally as NATO battled to contain the Taliban-led insurgency from 2006 onwards. By 2010-11, around 40% of all fuel and 80% of all containerised cargo for Western forces was passing through the country.

 Some authors have gone so far as to declare that Pakistan has been a prisoner of its geography. The region’s geo-politics since the 1980s have brought Pakistan economic benefits, but high costs in terms of internal instability arising from the ‘blowback effects’ of weaponization, the influx of Afghan refugees and the support afforded to militant and sectarian expressions of Islam. The US strategy of encouraging jihad in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the early 1980s did not initiate the Pakistan state’s alliances with Islamic proxies, but it profoundly influenced their development:

  • firstly, by introducing large numbers of foreign fighters into the region;
  • secondly by flooding weapons into the country;
  • thirdly by increasing the power and influence of Pakistan’s ISI and its links with militant groups;
  • fourthly by providing a template which Pakistan was to adopt in its strategic aims to dominate post-Soviet Afghanistan and to wear down India in Kashmir.

Since 9/11 Pakistan has feared encirclement as a result of growing Indian development assistance to Afghanistan, which it had hoped to dominate itself. By the end of 2007, India was second only to the US in the provision of aid. Moreover, non-Pakhtun minorities which have traditionally looked to India for support had gained a measure of power in Hamid Karzai’s regime. The resentment this generated, fuelled the growing Taliban insurgency, for since the foundation of the modern Afghan state in the mid-eighteenth century it has been ruled by Pakhtuns, with the exception of the brief Tajik hold on power during the reign of Habibullah II and the post-Soviet presidency of Burhanuddin Rabbani. Pakistan has seen the Pakhtuns as its natural allies in Afghanistan following the decline of an irredentist Pakhtunistan threat. The policy of securing influence in Afghanistan through the backing of Pakhtun Islamic militants pre-dates the 1979 Soviet invasion, but received major Western and Saudi backing at that juncture. It has persisted to the present day with Islamabad seeing its strategic interests being served through successive Pakhtun groups of Islamist and Deobandi militant clients, ranging from Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mullah Omar and the Taliban to the Haqqanis at the time of the post-2005 Taliban insurgency against the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The Tribal Areas which comprise the seven protected agencies of

  • Bajaur,
  • Khyber,
  • Khurram,
  • Mohmand,
  • Orakzai 
  • North Waziristan and
  • South Waziristan,

form a 280 mile wedge of mountainous land along this sensitive western border with Afghanistan. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have frequently been uneasy in this region. Contemporary Afghanistan presents itself as the victim of repeated cross-border incursions by Islamic militants based in this region, but it has not always been the case of one-way traffic. The Pakistan army for example had to repel major Afghan incursions into Bajaur in 1961.

Pakistan has continued the colonial strategy of regarding the Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan as a buffer zone in which rule was indirect, with stability being provided by the Political Agent working through tribal jirgas. Further legacies were the provision for the imposition of collective punishments under the Frontier Crimes Regulations and the absence of a permanent military presence in the tribal heartland. Another historical inheritance which pre-dated the colonial era was the raising of tribal revolt by charismatic Muslim leaders in the Pakhtun tribal areas abutting Afghanistan. This tradition can be linked as far back as the jihad against the Sikh rule led by Sayyid Ahmed Barelvi (1786-1831). The Hadda Mullah’s jihads against the British in 1893 and 1897 were in response to colonial encroachment into the region. Hadda Mullah and his successors fused religious revivalism with the allegiances arising from the traditional Sufi ties between pirs and their murids.

The unanticipated ramifications of inducting Pakistani troops into the area in pursuit of foreign militants linked with Al-Qaeda will be discussed later in the volume. Suffice it to say here that home-grown militancy directed increasingly not against the Afghanistan state, but Pakistan itself, can be explained in part by the region’s continued isolation from political and socio-economic change elsewhere in the country, the sixth Five Year Plan declared the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to be the least developed area of Pakistan, with an adult literacy rate of just 15%. This has perpetuated extreme social conservatism and a history of sporadic uprisings against state encroachments led by unifying Islamic leaders. Despite a dramatic increase in educational expenditure from 2005, militancy and state counter-insurgency measures, with their attendant population displacement, resulted in the FATA annual school census report for 2009-10 revealing a dropout rate in government primary schools of 63% among boys and 77% among girls.

 Pakistan’s geo-political location provides economic possibilities as well as strategic dangers. Pakistan could form an important hub for trade and energy transmission if regional relations were improved, with the country providing interconnecting links between Iran, Afghanistan and India. New Delhi has pulled out of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project because of US disquiet, which became institutionalised in the June 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Disinvestment Act. It is signed up however to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project which was agreed at Ashgabat in December 2010. This could eventually supply 30 billion cubic metres of gas a year from the Caspian Sea region. The pipeline would have to cross strategically sensitive areas of south-eastern Afghanistan, including Helmand and  Balochistan. It would however not only provide transit route fees of up to $160 million a year, equivalent to half of its national revenue and jobs for Afghanistan, but clean fuel for both Pakistan and India. US state department officials have termed TAPI’s route as a stabilising corridor which would link regional neighbours together in economic growth and prosperity. This has been echoed by an eminent Pakistani expert, who sees TAPI as having the potential for reshaping the security discourse in South Asia’ away from conflicting geo-political rivalries to mutually beneficial ‘geo-economics.

Courtesy of:

thumbnail_IMG_2188