Regarding 1971

Posted by sepoy on May 25, 2009 · 1 min read

Action for a Progressive Pakistan, a group of like-minded folks (I am a proud member) has just published an op-ed in Dhaka's Daily Star concerning the actions of West Pakistan's army against the people of (now) Bangladesh: We Apologize.

On May 13th, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dipu Moni asked that Pakistan formally announce an apology for 1971. To which Pakistan answered: Let bygones be bygones. I thought the Daily Star had a powerful retort.

APP wanted to chime in:

The outrageous dismissal of Bangladesh's demand by the Pakistani foreign office -- "let bygones be bygones" -- is a shameful reflection of Pakistan's constructed amnesia over the horrific actions of its army and its political leadership. Not only has there never been any move on the part of the Pakistani state to apologise to Bangladesh, there has not even been any sustained effort by citizens' groups to pressure the government to publicly acknowledge the truth.

As Pakistanis, we find this unconscionable. We find it unconscionable that the Pakistani army raped, killed and pillaged our brothers and sisters in East Pakistan in 1971. We find it unconscionable that the Pakistani state has steadfastly refused to acknowledge these atrocities for the past 38 years, leave alone hold those responsible for them accountable as suggested by its own chief justice in the state commissioned inquiry. We reject the Pakistani state and army's claim that these atrocities were committed in our name.


COMMENTS


elizabeth | May 24, 2009

This is moving and heartening. As many of you are no doubt aware, last December a group of Turkish academics, activists, writers, and public figures published a similar statement on the Armenian genocide, although they shied away from using the g-word itself (in contrast to the detailed and forceful APP statement). The Özür Diliyoruz ("We Apologize") campaign they launched has garnered nearly 30,000 signatures since (and a certain amount of flak in both Turkey & Armenia, though less than I might have expected in the former). While I am skeptical about the political games that get played around the official recognition issue (at least in the Turkish case), I think these sort of grassroots/civil society-based gestures offer very real promise, as steps to open up these overdue conversations about silenced histories. In that sense, they may be even more productive in the long term than the official apologies whose shameful absence they seek to address.


jan | May 25, 2009

“Today, as we stand at the brink of yet another army action aimed at our own people, at the brink of another human catastrophe brought about by and for the same interests and institutions, namely the Pakistani military, we remember 1971.” http://progpak.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/healing-the-wounds-of-the-past/ “If we keep responding out of fear, fear of Taliban, the army or whoever else, and refuse to acknowledge the humanity of our own people, poor people, then we are lost and we perhaps deserve everything that will happen to us at the hands of these forces. We should be in the streets demanding this war to be shut down because it is not acceptable by any moral standard that 2 million people pay the price for our fears.” http://progpak.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/declining-morals-of-a-failing-people/


Conrad Barwa | May 25, 2009

Laudale sentiments though I would assume a considerable part of educated elite opinion in Pakistan now ackowledges what happened in 1971; the only dissonance I come across is the fact that quite a few still seem to blame Sheikh Mujib as much as the West Pakistani establishmment for failing to reach an accomadation. But this might just be my reading since I am not that familiar with the nuances of Pakistani opinion on the issue. The HR Commission does underplay the level of violence that happened and is focused more on identifying the weakness in military and political administration and personnel that led to the breakdown. Some parts of the report are alarming, particularly the castigating of Niazi (an incompetent and opressive adminstrator) for not mounting a defence of Dhaka instead of surrendering. This would have been a suicidal and immensely destructive course of action.


Umair | May 25, 2009

I wonder if any of you have read... "Blood and Tears" Book by Qutubuddin Aziz and what is your note on it?


“We Apologize” « DigDeeper.us | May 25, 2009

[...] You can read the full opinion piece by Action for a Progressive Pakistan below. There is additional insightful discussion of the piece at Manan Ahmed’s Chapati Mystery. [...]


Yes man | May 26, 2009

the pakistani military is amazingly efficient when confronted with civilians. But if there is an army on the other side, well...


omar ali | May 26, 2009

This is a great initiative and you deserve to be complimented. One point i would like to make is that the apology you have crafted implies that the killings of large numbers of bengalis were somehow indiscriminate. Actually, this is NOT the case. The real mass killings were not totally indiscriminate. The targets were Bengali Hindus. This fact is considered inconvenient by some progressives in Pakistan (and unknown to most others) because it introduces a religious angle, but it must also be faced. There were three different groups getting killed: 1. Bengalis active against the army action. By definition, this was targeted killing (which does not make it acceptable or even legal). 2. Intellectuals. In the mind of the army, this group seems to have been targeted because the Pak army really looked upon the Bengali intelligentsia as being left-wing, pro-indian and anti-islam. 3. Hindus. This was the group that suffered the MOST casualties in absolute terms. This was classic genocide. Not collateral damage, not targeted killing of enemy sympathizers or activists, but just indiscriminate killing of hindu bengalis because they were considered the enemy just by dint of the fact that they were hindus. That is why 10 million bengalis became refugees. Because almost every single Hindu ran away. Muslim bengalis did become refugees, but if muslim villagers were non-political and cooperated with the army, there was no special reason they would be targeted. (in some areas where extensive fighting took place, people escaped as they do from any war zone, but such areas were very few). It is necessary to have some idea of what the military operation looked like. Keep in mind that after some fighting in the initial crackdown (especially in Chittagong) there was no organized resistance for a while. By June, the mail was being delivered and the trains were running on time. Genocide was NOT official policy. Some officers committed no mass killings in their area of control. Others killed by the thousands (especially Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab) . The high command was complicit in the sense that they did not stop these atrocities. General Hamid (army commander) visited his jawans and in the presence of my father, asked them: "Jawan, kitna hindu mara?". This was 6 months before the Indian army came in, so the question had nothing to do with killing Indians. Hamid and his gang understood that Hindu Bengalis were being indiscriminately killed, and they approved. Oh, and to the target groups we can add those locals against whom the collaborators had a beef of any kind. Keep in mind that over 100,000 local collaborators were recruited into razakar militias (al shams and albadar among them). Most of these were biharis but many bengalis also joined. And they got to kill people they didnt like, rape women, loot property. And so on....


Conrad Barwa | May 26, 2009

Omar but weren't some groups pretty much killed indiscriminately? Dhaka university students were mowed down in their hundreds regardless of religion because of the perception that the institution was a hotbet of separatism and Awami league activity. also I thought most Mukti Bahini militants were not Hindus and the reprisals that followed areas where they carried out successful operations were pretty indiscriminate. Most eyewitness accounts that I have read like Mascenharas don't emphasise that level of disproportionatility amongst the casualties.


omar ali | May 26, 2009

Students were indeed killed without asking about religion in that particular massacre. About the killing of Hindus, my knowledge is based on the fact that my father was an army officer in East Pakistan from March to November 1971 (he actually volunteered to rejoin the commandos from a desk posting in March...motivated by the feeling that the army is fighting and he needs to do his part). Because of this family history, I have always been especially interested in that war. My father was in Dacca, at headquarters, in a "helimobile" commando unit that saw action in many parts of the country. He says the massacre figures are exaggerated but massacres did happen. And when they did, the army was much more likely to kill hindus than muslims. But a few things first: 1. It would be wrong to imagine that some kind of organized insurgency was being fought on a large scale prior to october or so. The first action was against awami league workers and supporters and was indiscriminate and violent but the killings were in hundreds, not thousands (I am not excusing the action, just trying to be accurate). Most of those attacked were defenseless against the army (like the students are Dacca university). The exceptions were the soldiers of the East Bengal Regiment and East Pakistan Rifles. At a few places, they did indeed put up real resistance (as in chittagong, where Colonel Zia ur Rahman was the CO and was the first to go on radio and proclaim the birth of BD, if I am not mistaken). 2. In this early phase, there were massacres in some places because the army found dead West Pakistanis and took indiscriminate revenge. But even at this point, there was a preference to find the nearest hindu and kill him or her. 3. The razakars were the main local "eyes and ears" and they hated hindus more than the pak army did. They played a role in steering reprisals and massacres in that direction. 4. once "order" was established, the army did not face serious resistance. Yet a flood refugees headed out to India because Hindus were still being targeted by particular officers (not be all of them and not by some kind of official order). The actual numbers killed may not have been as large as later claimed, but the fear generated in the Hindu community was very real. 5. Things changed late in the year when the Mukti Bahini became a more serious force. But even at a very late stage, they were not the kind of fighting force that the taliban (for example) can put up in Swat or the Tigers had in Sri Lanka omar


Qalandar | May 26, 2009

Conrad: in addition to omar's comments, I would add that in the "iconography" of the day, the Bengali was derided as a "half-Hindu", Bengali culture dismissed as irredeemably tainted with "Hinduness" etc. In a sense, this was a kind of "virtual" genocide of Hindus -- even when Hindus weren't killed, to be Bengali was to be Hindu-enough to be killed in the eyes of many, and in the stereotypes/hysteria of the day.


Qalandar | May 26, 2009

And point (3) in omar's comment, about the complicity of parties like the Jamaat, is crucial -- because in many ways the killings were the result of intra-Bengali conflict as well as a conflict between the two wings of Pakistan. Omar: I am not sure I agree that we can conclude so easily that there was no order from "on high", especially given persistent reports that Yahya Khan had said things like "kill a million of them and the rest will be eating from our hand"; Tikka Khan's reported comments re: raping as many Bengali women as possible so that the next generation would only be half Bengali, etc. Now, personally I don't know if there is incontrovertible evidence that these things were said, but I have heard multiple reports of them, they have been cited in books, and even a couple of Pakistani relatives of mine have cited them to me.


omar ali | May 26, 2009

About "orders from on high" (and this is based entirely on my father's reporting, but as I said, he was at headquarters and able to see and hear whatever was happening there): He reports that senior officers would say: such and such place has rebelled. They have to be "taught a lesson". When he asked what that means, he was told "kill the hindus". He said he would do no such thing (and did not) and there were other officers who did not do it, but many were only too happy to do the needful. But what I meant is that no formal orders to kill people were issued. This was informally communicated in briefings and knowing the Pak army, I think that it was not some kind of thought out policy. It was more automatic. It is level at which the average officer thinks. Also, Tikka Khan is usually presented as the villian of the piece. And I would say letting this happen was villianous enough, but I do believe that he was NOT the most villainous of the lot. He was a ranker and a "by the book" soldier compared to the Napoleons of the upper classes. When he was appointed in Rann of Kuch in 1965, he shone because he actually visited all the troops and made sure the supplies got there. That alone was enough to set him above the average goof who becomes a general in that army. He did the same thing in East Pakistan. He got the trains to run on time. The massacres did not have to be ordered by him, or even desired by him. Having soldiers rape every bengali does not sound like the kind of thing he would say. by the way, you can read my father's detailed interview in Urdu (from BBC Urdu) at http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/interactivity/specials/1143_16_december/index.shtml


krishna | May 27, 2009

Omar, Thanks for being so honest about this. I have seen very few Pakistanis, if any, acknowledge this dimension to the Bangladeshi genocide (many of them refuse to even acknowledge that anything happened prior to 1971).


Conrad Barwa | May 27, 2009

Omar thanks for that, especially interesting to hear your father's interview. Yes, I agree tha the Mukti Bahini were not a factor in the early stages but I think they became quite important later on; Indian commanders particularly noted that their operations would have been difficult without their assistance. OF course you can't compare them to the Taliban in Swat etc. but they had little organisation or experience - what they did have was a largel sympathetic population. Re: the Hindu angle; that is interesting but I remain a bit sceptical about the actual spread of casualty figures as a whole. After all resistance was not exactly confined to them but widespread and it would have been impossible for Pakistani officers to miss this. I also wonder just how good the West Pakistanis would have been in being able to tell the difference between Bengali Muslims and Hindus - arguably from the point that Q makes, if all Bengalis were seen as 'half-Hindu' this would not have perhaps been somethign they would have been overyl concerned with. It is interesting that most Indian accounts don't mention this aspect; when I would have thought they would have to exploit and play up the role of the Pak army as a communally inclined forces - of course this doesn't mean it didn't happen, just a point of note. I would agree with you mostly on the issue of orders; of course many things didn't need to be overtly mentioned. The knowledge that mass rapes were occurring was common currency even in West Pakistan despite the censorship on the conflict; as one can see from the notorious jokes that were circulating at the time.


Qalandar | May 27, 2009

Conrad: I have read (can't remember where at this point) that although Hindus constituted approximately 17-19% of East Pakistan's population, they made up 50% of those who died or fled. And while I think it is pretty clear that all Bengalis were "half-Hindus" in the racial rhetoric of the times, and thus agree they wouldn't have been "overly concerned" about the distinction (but IMO the key word is "overly"; they might well have been concerned ENOUGH to regard religious affiliation as some kind of barometer -- and let's not forget the role of the Bengali collaborators: the Jamaat/religious right that was cooperating with the army would likely not be indifferent to this distinction), I do not think it would have been hard to tell Hindus from Muslims in very many instances, in the urban areas/among the bourgeoisie (in more traditional, "liminal" communities, such as the Sundarbans memorably evoked by Amitav Ghosh in "The Hungry Tide", the "Hindu" and "Muslim" categories become blurred and possibly even meaningless).


Via Chapati Mystery, comes news that a g… « Talk Islam | May 27, 2009

[...] Chapati Mystery, comes news that a group of Pakistani activists has apologised for the war crimes committed by the [...]


Qalandar | May 27, 2009

Just heard about the Lahore blast, hope everyone here, and friends/family, are safe. My condolences.


kabir | May 27, 2009

I'm from Lahore and was actually planning on going to visit my relatives there this summer, but am now seriously reconsidering it. I suppose it was expected that there would be some reprisal for the operation in Swat, but it's horrible anyway. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. I'm also really disturbed by how quickly the Islamophobic commenters take over the discussion (I read about this attack on WSJ), saying things like "Jihad is one of the five pillars of Islam. What do these Pakis expect?". There are a lot of ignorant people out there.


Neena | May 27, 2009

Omar-Thanks for the insight and your link to your faher's interview. As for East Pakistan issue yes indeed our Pak Army need to apologize Bengladeshi people officially but then they have to apologize for numerous other incidents, such as judicail of Bhutto, taking over civilian governments of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto and etc. and etc.


sepoy | May 27, 2009

Omar: Thank you for that link. It is a remarkable account.


Aniket Alam | May 28, 2009

Omar: I am really touched and happy to read your accounts. I hope more people in South Asia have the courage to be honest like you have been.


Sikha Ghosh | May 29, 2009

Omar, Thank you so much for bringing us this account .


morgahi | May 29, 2009

Omar: thanks for the link and your upright comments. I wrote an M.A thesis about the 'positions of the west Pakistani intellectuals' about East Pakistan in the end 1990s. Some of them, some form Punjabi background, were even then not willing to be straight forward in thier comments.


Sahil Baig | May 31, 2009

I feel that the pakistani government does not owe an apology to the Bengalis. The questions I have are: 1) Did the government of Pakistan or the army adopt an active policy of human rights abuse? 2)Did the government of Pakistan imply that the army commit these excesses? 3)Did the government of Pakistan condone or encourage such behaviour? I believe the answer to this question is a NO. Any act commited was an act of an individual and not an execution of a military or civil policy.Pakistan cannot be held responsible for individuals who acted out of their own accord. Coming from a family of 3 generation of officers of Pakistan armed forces, I can say with certainity that I have never in my life come across an officer lacking the moral scruple that would permit them to commit the acts the like of which happened in Bangladesh. What my friends seem to be forgetting is that the atrocities were committed on both sides and most of them were retaliatory in nature... both parties killing each other in vengence and locked in a perpetual cycle of slaughter. The pakistanis however seem to be suffering till date as stranded refugees in Bangladesh. The legal dimension to this issue is that if pakistan apologises then it is legally implying that it was responsible for the carnage and had a deliberate hand in it. This could lead Pakistan to face international law suites and inquiries and a substantial increase in the already tremendous amount of pressure it is facing. In the end however I would add that every life lost, whether hindu, bengali, muslim or from any other classification, is a tragedy and the people that were involved in the carnage, whether muslim or hindu, bengali/pakistani or indian, they are accountable to their families, the victims and their families, their countrymen, to God and finally to their own conscious.


Akbar | May 31, 2009

"I have never in my life come across an officer lacking the moral scruple that would permit them to commit the acts the like of which happened in Bangladesh." "Pakistan military Officers and Moral Scruple" Now who would like to write a book on this topic?


omar ali | June 01, 2009

About Pakistani army officers and scruples, I think the spread is no different from other third world armies of British origin (which means they are probably a little better than third world armies of militia origin; this sounds colonialist or whatever, but I think its probably true, cannot prove it). But to say "I have never in my life come across an officer lacking the moral scruple that would permit them to commit the acts the like of which happened in Bangladesh" is an amazing statement. So wh0 were the officers and men committing well documented atrocities if they were not Pakistanis? you can read my father's account for a few incidents (like the officer who tested how many bengalis could be killed with one bullet of an M-1 rifle)...


Neena | June 01, 2009

Sahil Baig denial is not a river in Egypt, but then it explains everything. Coming from a family of 3 generation of officers of Pakistan armed forces, Pakistani Army never considered East Pakistanis as their own they always treated them like a burden or disease. We still witness this attitude of Army towards non Punjabi and Non Pathan somewhat. The need of the day is to diversify Army and other government agencies according to respective quotas and hopefully democracy flourishes. I'm all for secular government and only vote for national secular party which is right now only one i.e PPP but if by fair election we have religious party, I want them to go for full term. Only healthy competetion among civilian leaders give Pakistani people the respect they deserve.


Feisal Khan | June 01, 2009

Conrad, We have a friend in common, Vikash Y. As far as the fighting in E. Pakistan is concerned, have to remember that the E. Pakistan Rifles (EPR--akin to your BSF) and E. Bengal Regiment (EBR--regular army) units mutinied en masse and killed their W. Pakistani officers and JCOs and their families. Of 16 wings (battalions) of the East Pakistan Rifles, 14 mutinied and killed all their W. Pakistani officers and JCOs (and in many cases their families as well). This explains, in part, the level of violence carried out by the Pakistani forces: partly payback and of course massive escalation. This combined was probably something in the order of 13,000+ EPR and 6,000 EBR (according to Wikipedia). The combined regular PA troops available there totalled 18,000 (with an overstrength tank regiment and of course the regular artillery regiments attached to an army division plus the small Pak Air Force contingent in E. Pakistan) and some 2,000 W. Pakistani personnel seconded to the EPR. One should also include the several thousand Bengali police (who however ill armed and trained were presumably better than completely unarmed and untrained Bengali civilians) who went over to the Mukti Bahini. The two Pakistani infantry divisions and several wings (battalions) of Civil Armed Forces sent to E. Pakistan came well after the fighting had started. The scale of the fighting can be gauged by the fact that, according to the Indian official history of the 1971 war, they estimate that Pakistani forces suffered 5,409 killed and 4,674 wounded between March 26th and Dec 3rd 1971 (I assume that these ratios are not a typo in the official history). One would usually expect to see 1:3-4 killed:wounded ratio, perhaps this unusual ratio was because of the extremely poor medical facilities available to the PA and that would help account for the PAs generally poor troop morale by Dec. 1971. Dec 3rd is, of course, a purely arbitrary date as brigade-strength-plus actions were already being fought between the Indians and the Pakistanis by mid-November 1971 (e.g., Battle of Hilli started on Nov. 23rd; Albert Ekka got the PVC--posthumously--on Dec. 3rd). Quite a few of the 'Mukti Bahini' were actually Indian BSF soldiers disguised as E. Pakistani insurgents, which might also help account for the PA being particularly brutal where Hindus were concerned. According to the Indian official history (p215-216) by the end of June, the Indian Army already had over 1,600 special commandos in training to carry out missions in E. Pakistan. Reading between the lines, it is clear that the IA decided to use its own men after the Mukti Bahini rapidly proved itself unable to neutralize the Pakistan Army. Major Gen Uban, in charge of training these special forces, had 1,600 Indian Army commandos and 350 "Freedom Fighters" at his disposal (p216 of the official history). I agree with Omar that Tikka Khan was certainly very much a 'by the book' soldier and not someone who would order troops to carry out mass atrocities. This was pretty much done by individual units and not as official policy--though I am sure that no officers/troops were reprimanded or punished for being too brutal with the Bengalis. Many officers gave their troops free rein to do as they wanted after seeing how the Awami League thugs and mutineers murdered W. Pakistanis and Biharis--or so they claimed afterwards anyway. Sarmila Bose's work certainly does substantiate the claim of Awami League atrocites/pogroms against Biharis (including the much published picture of dead 'Bengalis' killed by the Pakistan Army which turned out to be actually a picture of Bihari workers killed by Awami Leaguers)--although many have found fault with her analysis. Anyway, this has turned into an extremely long post and its time for me to go! Regard.


omar ali | June 02, 2009

Feisal, I disagree with your view of how intense the fighting was in the first half of the year. It is true that several EPR units mutinied and killed West Pakistani officers and civilians, but the numbers killed were small (dozens to low hundreds killed) and these units rarely stood and fought once regular army units responded. Instead they ran away and tried to melt away into the civilian population, or escaped to India when reprisals became very harsh. When the military action started on 25th March, resistance was minimal (by the standards of modern wars). I have spoken to several officers who were there and they all report the same thing: when the army units marched in with guns blazing, they usually found the place abandoned. Random civilians (preferrably hindus) and supposed separatists were killed in retaliation by some units and not by others, but very few armed clashes of serious intensity took place. Resistance was frequently exaggerated in reports to make it look good, but real fighting was minimal. For example, in one action Brigadier Atif was still "bringing up Div artillery" when Major Nadir Pervez walked into town and "recaptured" it without a shot being fired. Those casualty figures are for the whole war, not the first 6 months when casualties were lighter. Indian commandos probably did get used in the manner you describe. But that was not so much because "india was disappointed at the mukti bahini's lack of success", but because the whole purpose was to prepare the ground for conventional war and prevent Pakistan from consolidating and "burying" the issue, not to fight Vietnam all over again. It is not easy to organize an insurgent force and train it when the raw material is a million frightened refugees with no martial background. In time, something would have been organized, but I think it was never India's plan to have guerrillas conquer BD street by street. They had an army and they used it when they were good and ready. positive and negative mythmaking about the events has reached the point where truth is hard to get at, but the broad outlines are not that hard to find. In my personal opinion, the real issue is not whether half a million were massacred or 50,000 or whatever (though that is of considerable historical interest), it is the framework in which the Pak army high command was thinking: they did not plan to kill millions, but they DID believe in the efficacy of beating up and killing people to "set an example" and "clean out the place" and then everyone will behave and take orders like good "loyal" subjects of the crown. This was one hundred percent colonial thinking and Bengal was the colony. In that sense, it remains a crime and the outcome would have been the same (much slower without Indian army action, but no different in the end, this kind of direct colonialism was becoming impossible for the actual "crown", it was beyond the abilities of GHQ), no matter how many of the later Bangladeshi myths turn out to be mythical...


Akbar | June 02, 2009

Sahil Baig wrote The questions I have are: 1) Did the government of Pakistan or the army adopt an active policy of human rights abuse? 2)Did the government of Pakistan imply that the army commit these excesses? 3)Did the government of Pakistan condone or encourage such behaviour? I believe the answer to this question is a NO. In my opinion these questions are irrelevant and this line of inquiry leads to the "few bad apples" conclusion. The relevant questions might be(even though there is enough blame to go around for everybody all the politicians and public included all the way back to arrival of Muhammad Bin Qasim if you may!) 1) When Ayub khan in his own constitution had clearly spelled out the line of succession, then why did he not follow it? Why did he hand the Govt. to COAS, Gen. Yahya Khan? 2) How did an officer of Yahya Khan's "moral scruple" reach the post of COAS?(you can ask same question about Gen. Musharraf, and on and on again) 3) Why were the results of the elections not implemented?, 4) Why did he( Yahya Khan and the military) start a military action to solve a political problem? Those were the actions that led to the final chapter of the tragedy,that some still want to rationalize or deny. As the persian saying goes" Khasht-e awal choon mamar kaj........."


Akbar | June 02, 2009

Please pardon my italics


Neena | June 02, 2009

Sahil Baig you said The questions I have are: 1) Did the government of Pakistan or the army adopt an active policy of human rights abuse? 2)Did the government of Pakistan imply that the army commit these excesses? 3)Did the government of Pakistan condone or encourage such behaviour? I believe the answer to this question is a NO. Even if they didn't (which I doubt since there are numerous neutral accounts which suggest otherwise and even in present time we saw how Army treated Sindh (Zia Regime) and Baloachistan people (all regimes) ) ruling leaders are responsible whatever happens under their rule. But I guess you being an Army Jawan knows more about organization/Chain of Command than us.


Feisal Khan | June 02, 2009

Omar, I believe the original Indian plan was to arrange a 'liberation' of a small piece of E. Pakistani territory, install a Bangladeshi govt there and get most of the world to recognize it as the 'legitimate' govt. That is why the PA was spread out all over the country, to deny the Indians the opportunity to do this. As far as organizing the insurgents go, the 'raw material' was not a million frightened refugees but almost twenty thousand fully trained EPR and EBR soldiers--as good or as bad as the rest of the PA, or IA for that matter. That was supposed to be the hard core of the Mukti Bahini forces. I have seen accounts, some by Indians, describing the almost wholesale induction of BSF units into the 'Mukti Bahini;' the Indian Official History (p.101-102) openly boasts that BSF units were involved in carrying out actual operations inside E. Pakistan before the end of March 1971. It even goes so far as to identify officers and units by name: Brigs. P. C. Pandey and M. S. Chatterjee, and Cols. Megh Singh and Rampal Singh, COs of the 18 BSF Commando Bn and 103 BSF battalion. However, the Official History states that these were 'spontaneous' operations undertaken by the BSF and not authorized by the central government! On 9 May 1971 the Mukti Bahini was transferred to the Indian Army and a Director Mukti Bahini Operations (Maj Gen Kalkat) appointed who reported directly to the GoCinC Eastern Command (p.183). The fighting was pretty heavy for a counter insurgency: in 8 months, the PA suffered 237 officers, 136 JCOs and 3,559 ORs KIA (according to Brig. Salik's book; p.118). IIRC, Salik differentiated between 'counter insurgency' and pitched battles against Indians, such as Hilli. The Indian Official History is openly contemptous of the contributions of the Mukti Bahini and makes it clear that their military contribution was relatively inconsequential (as opposed to providing local knowledge, guides, etc, to the advancing IA): By October 1971 there were over 50,000 Mukti Bahini troops operating in E. Pakistan but, almost always, the Official History reports seem to indicate that they suffered heavier casualties than the PA forces they attacked. However, the Official History does single out some insurgents, e.g., Kader Siddique, as being particularly effective. Regards.


Sahil Baig | June 03, 2009

@Neena,@akbar,@omar ali First of all, I am not an 'army jawan', second of all I am not what you might say a typical pakistani who denies every pakistani fault and believes that all is hunky dory in this country. FYI my grandfather was a POW in 1971, he was an non combatant in the Air Force, an accounts offices, he was also one of Quaid-e-Azam's body guard while studying in Islamia college, in addition to being a relief worker in kashmir in the late 40's. I doubt that such a person or some one of his ilk will commit any egregious act. Another thing that I feel the people over here do not realize is about the meaning of the word 'apologize'. In diplomacy its meaning is 'yes it's my fault, I did it deliberately and now I am sorry'. For eg, after the americans bombed the chinese embassy in Belagrade, they did not apologize but said that they regretted the incident, this was to avoid having to pay the chinese a huge amount of compensation and to avoid being dragged to an Inernational court. I have no problem in apologizing to the bengalis and all those who suffered at the hands of pakistanis, I APOLOGIZE, but the Pakistani Govt cannot for fear of reprisals, such as sanctions, compensations and as mentioned earlier, an increase in international pressure offer an official apology. I would never wish suffering on any human. I being an apologist for the Pakistani govt, but I believe we should not just divorce reasoning and jump to conclusions and make declarations in 'holier than thou' fashion My whole point was that just because of a 'few bad fish' you cannot say that the whole pond is dirty. Finally I would like to ask you what would you do if some one raped your mother/sister, killed your father/brother? And should your society or country at large be held responsible for any act you commit in vengence? Should all muslim countries apologize for 9/11 just because OBL was a muslim? Of course not unless off coursethey if they helped OBL do it. And as far as Balochistan and Sindh are concerned, please let me know if you have ever visited these places or you are just reiterating what arm chair think tanks around the world say. Dont forget my friends that our very existence has been christened by the blood of these people that you so complacently condemn, so I for one will not let their sacrifices go waste or be marred by the few who have shamed not only our country but the muslims as well. *BTW, it was yahya khan who prevented the Indians from relocating the library at Quetta Staff college to India, he kept a vigil on the library armed with only a handgun. **Mujeeb ur Rehman was one of the staunchest proponent of Pakistan in his youth. What to say of humans, even Azazeel was once an angel!! What happened to them???? I guess we will have to figure out what the went through, now wont we?????


Sahil Baig | June 03, 2009

@Neena Pleanse dont get me started on the PPP.


Akbar | June 03, 2009

First of all, I am not an 'army jawan', second of all I am not what you might say a typical pakistani who denies every pakistani fault and believes that all is hunky dory in this country. FYI my grandfather was a POW in 1971, he was an non combatant in the Air Force, an accounts offices, he was also one of Quaid-e-Azam's body guard while studying in Islamia college, in addition to being a relief worker in kashmir in the late 40's. I doubt that such a person or some one of his ilk will commit any egregious act. Sahil, it is very courageous of you to join this discussion and your family back ground may be laudable, but it is not anybody's personal life under discussion here. We are talking about events , cause and effect, closure and moving forward. Another thing that I feel the people over here do not realize is about the meaning of the word 'apologize'. In diplomacy its meaning is 'yes it's my fault, I did it deliberately and now I am sorry'. For eg, after the americans bombed the chinese embassy in Belagrade, they did not apologize but said that they regretted the incident, this was to avoid having to pay the chinese a huge amount of compensation and to avoid being dragged to an Inernational court. I have no problem in apologizing to the bengalis and all those who suffered at the hands of pakistanis, I APOLOGIZE, but the Pakistani Govt cannot for fear of reprisals, such as sanctions, compensations and as mentioned earlier, an increase in international pressure offer an official apology. The Govt. is nothing but the representative of the people. If it followed wrong headed policies that lead to disaster then by all mean it should own up to its mistakes and that is the only way to move forward.We can worry about costs latter, but giving analogy to American Hubrious behaviour is only compounding the blunder. My whole point was that just because of a 'few bad fish' you cannot say that the whole pond is dirty. Finally I would like to ask you what would you do if some one raped your mother/sister, killed your father/brother? And should your society or country at large be held responsible for any act you commit in vengence? Should all muslim countries apologize for 9/11 just because OBL was a muslim? Of course not unless off coursethey if they helped OBL do it. It was not a few bad fish. It was a policy which led to the whole disaster. Apolicy run by the military controlled govt of Pakistan. So it was not few bad fish, it was a policy. No room for denial here. If those who were responsible for this policy did not get punished then it happens over and over again. By the way, I personally felt as if those wronged in EAST Pakistan, were my mother, sisters and brothers. And I cannot feel enough shame for that. As it was being done in the name of saving us all in west Pakistan. "And as far as Balochistan and Sindh are concerned, please let me know if you have ever visited these places or you are just reiterating what arm chair think tanks around the world say. Dont forget my friends that our very existence has been christened by the blood of these people that you so complacently condemn, so I for one will not let their sacrifices go waste or be marred by the few who have shamed not only our country but the muslims as well." All I can say is I have lived in both places and am well aware of Pak Army's record there. So your Argument does not hold any water. Again if you look at the oath that Army officers take and the things that they do once reach the highest rank, is shameful, shameful, and in my view there are no twom opinions about it. "*BTW, it was yahya khan who prevented the Indians from relocating the library at Quetta Staff college to India, he kept a vigil on the library armed with only a handgun." Yep, we should convert that library into a musuem with artefacts, how valiently Yahya, save Half of the country and lost its 76 million muslims. "What to say of humans, even Azazeel was once an angel!! What happened to them???? I guess we will have to figure out what the went through, now wont we?????" Sahil the problem in simple words is as follows. The Pak army/military's training is around the myth of saving "Pakistan's Idealogical and Geoghraphical boundaries." So instead of thinking about it, interms of a volunteer army, which is getting paid by a very poor nation for doing its job( btw that is exactly what Yahya was supposed to do, without doing any favor to any body's family). The military has assumed the mental of a sacred,institution, even though how it has safe guarded the Idealogical and Geoghraphical boundries is there for all to see, yet well meaning people like you find it bloody civilians fault, who are not letting Military do its noble mission. Lokk at Pakistan History closely. All major disasters happened on Military's watch and the denial gets even stonger.


Salman | June 03, 2009

My friends tell me this is not the time to be critical of Pak Army, it is time to believe in Pak-Army and accept that there is collateral damage in wars and that this war is Pakistan's last resort. I am sure the same token phrases were uttered about all past "military solutions" and will continue to be uttered for future "regrettable incidents" as well. There has been a good exchange between Daily Times columnists about military myths and yellow ribbons. Check it out: Where is our yellow ribbon? —Ayeda Naqvi http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200955\story_5-5-2009_pg3_2 I enjoy Naqvi's articles but she uses cliché phrases in this article; clichés like "our way of life", "national interest", "patriotic", "When Jinnah created Pakistan" ," These are men who willingly lay down their lives, men who often return maimed or paralysed to their families. In other countries, such men would enjoy heroic statures. And yet, here in Pakistan, when they turn on their television sets at night, they see their nation scoffing at them.", "But I, for one, am putting a Pakistani flag outside my house today to show my solidarity with my nation — the one created by Jinnah, not the Taliban." The great TALIBOTHRA in action. So scared are some people of the menace of the day that they are willing to do and accept anything as long as they are able to just wish the bogeyman away. Honourable men! —Ejaz Haider http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009%5C05%5C06%5Cstory_6-5-2009_pg3_5 Taking care of myths —Nasir Abbas Mirza "Military myths have been the same in all history. Mysterious tales of heroism, honour, valour and martyrdom abound. How the soldiers care about others — the buddies, the service, the nation — more than they care about themselves. You could easily spoil such myths by saying something like, “it is economic pressures that drive people into the military”. And then there are the history books and news media that give us an endless parade of uniformed heroes, looking noble and handsome. Military culture has to be different from the civilian culture. While we live in a chaotic world, they must seem to be disciplined and incorruptible (remember we are talking myths). They must live in cantonments as far away from civilians as possible. They must have as little interaction with the civilian world as possible. They are different people who live and think differently. They must shoot first and ask questions later; that's what the dacoits of Sindh used to say about the military." http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200961\story_1-6-2009_pg3_2


Salman | June 03, 2009

Don't know why the links didn't appear correctly. For Ayeda Naqvi's article - see Daily Times 5/5/2009 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?date=5/5/2009 For Nasir Abbas Mirza's piece change the date in the UrL to 6/1/2009


Neena | June 03, 2009

Akbar - all excellent points. Sahil - Please do say whatever you wanna share about PPP or other political parties. I like to discuss and learn things whenever possible. Salman - We need to look at our mistakes to become better and thriving nation. Everyone is accountable in Pakistan but the supreme Army, it got to change and I'm glad it is , thanks to free media.


Sahil Baig | June 04, 2009

I agree with you akbar that it was a policy failure.Blame then rests on every one involved in this policy failure including the politicians,the bureaucrats, media , army and even the Bengal and it would be wrong to just select one section for castigation. However I am not sure about what you said about Balochistan and Sindh, infact I have found contemporary journalism woefully inadequate in their coverage of these parts of our country. Perhaps someone can refer to some informative articles or books. Now I would like to say something slightly irrelevant to the discussion going on. Due to the strategic location of Balochistan we will see alot of foreign involvement in the region. So it is imperative for the govt to remove any misapprehension and resentment of the people in the region before things worsen and for us, I would like to add that we should scrutinize every thing in Balochistan very carefully so that we are able to distinguish between legitimate movement of the people and any implanted insurgencies( some say already happening). The media can play a tremendous part in this regard in highlighting not only govt inadequacies but also in helping to uncover conniving chieftains and other people on top of the manipulation chain.


umer | June 04, 2009

Now that we are on East Pak issue, a quick question for anyone to answer. Someone told me that the NFC award (or whatever it was called back then) between east and west pak was based on geographic area instead of population. True? Any references? If not, then how was it calculated?


Conrad Barwa | June 04, 2009

Greetings Feisal, yes we have a mutual link in Vikash, though I would consider him more an extended family member rather than just a friend! I too have some family connections with the Indian army and have a few members currently serving and retired, I was able to spend some time in Kashmir with two on active duty last year. From the interactions I have had with army officers, both formal and informal and what I have read, has given me a fair if not extensive understanding; my experience with the Pak military has been much more limited but reinforces what I have learnt from the Indian side. While in terms of personnel command, courage under fire and strict military professionalism under wartime conditions the forces are praiseworthy; I have to say in terms of strategic vision and political acumen as well as understanding, there is a serious deficiency of understanding that borders on the stupidly insane. Distorted views of history, unrealistic political assumptions about how societies actually function and how international relations work and a total lack of understanding of production and financial economics seem endemic within the officer corps. I would say that army officers as a consequence make very poor policymakers or decision-makers as a rule; I can't see much difference between Indian and Pakistan on this, except for the fact that in India such officers have never been in the position to make policy, which I think has been a positive development. On the issue of killings, we grew up being told of a genocide being committed as a direct result of Operation Searchlight upon the Bengalis in East Pakistan by the Pakistani army and irregulars. There has obviously been a lot of controversy over this issue and much exchanging of claims; I used to accept the extremely high death figures put forward by those who claimed that genocidal violence was occurring such as Mascenharas and the few other reporters covering the issue at the time. Now I am not too sure since some researchers such as Rose and Sisson have placed the figure much lower at 30,000-40,000. The Pak army didn't provide any figures, rather like the Americans in Iraq, the haste with which mass graves were dug indicates that they were not interested in counting the dead accurately; the HR commission gave the figure of 26,000. Mujib and the Bangladesh govt of course insist on the figure of 3 million; which seems quite high. The Blood telegram from the US consulate in Dhaka mentions a policy of 'selective genocide' and estimates deaths at 1 million. Most median estimates give the range of 200,000-400,000 with the proviso that not all the deaths would have been due to violent action but also disease, malnutrition etc. I think Wikipedia gives the estimate of 200,000 also. IMO the final figure is likely to be in the hundreds of thousands rather than thousands. I think the issue is indeterminate and am willing to be sceptical about a policy that undeniably was engaging in a genocide. I would have to be since if a genocide had definitely or was definitely occurring; I would be extremely reluctant to participate in a conversation that excludes those who were their victims. From my knowledge of past genocides, one thing that emerges is that genocide denial is deeply entrenched within the 'perpetrator nationality/community' and is only resolved either through an imposed victor's justice system as at Nuremberg or though a mutually accepted TRC method as in Rwanda. Since neither has occurred in the wake of the 71 war, there is little use in a discussion where the only sides are the interested parties and those who represent the perpetrators. Which is why I set this question aside in the considerations that follow and it isn't an unreasonable presumption to make. What is known and what I would accept is that indiscriminate mass killings of civilians was occurring at whatever level one chooses to peg it at (genocidal or some lesser level). Clearly this was unacceptable and it forms the basis for some of the specific points discussed. Obviously from the above discussion most of the commenters would be operating with the assumption that the scale of violence veers very much towards the lowest available estimate of death, which I don't. This is not said to open a debate about the issue but merely to record the difference since I don't think there is much point in debating this directly. Re: the killing of Hindus — my query is that while Hindus were no doubt targeted, and perhaps singled out — were they done so in a fashion that would mean they would disproportionately make up the casualty figures? I haven't seen any evidence to this fact. The participation of BSF forces in disguised operations, whether true or not, I don't think is directly relevant since these killings long preceded any putative Indian action. Unless one makes the claim that the killings were indiscriminate initially but became more 'anti-Hindu' once guerrilla operations began which is possible but again speculation unless some evidence can be so offered. The Awami league was and is hardly a 'Hindu' organisation and nor were the demands for autonomy limited to the Hindu population in East Pakistan; given the Muslim majority without deep and entrenched support within this community no such movement could have hoped to have lasted. Hence my puzzlement at the targeting of Hindus — it may have had some communal or visceral rationale but it doesn't seem to consistent with any attempt to repress either the Awami league or Bengali separatism. Re the mutiny of the Bengali forces — yes though I should add that given the disproportionate level of violence I mentioned earlier, I don't really see this as a mitigating factor. Initial massacres such as those that took place at Dhaka University were coterminous with the mutinies and did not follow them. A better argument would be to point out, which is often overlooked, that West Pakistani soldiers have for some months before Operation searchlight, been effectively confined to barracks in East Pakistan due to repeated attacks by discontented groups and militants some of which led to several soldiers being killed. They were being socially targeted and boycotted by a hostile local population which could not have helped matters. It should however be added that the mutiny was in most cases a direct result of the order to disarm the Bengali soldiers; an order which could only have been interpreted as an expression of distrust and a downgrading of service at the very least, possibly dismissal or worse. As the HR commission reports, this as with so many Pak Army operations in this theatre, went horribly wrong with only 4,000 of the 17,000 estimated Bengali troops being disarmed effectively, the rest mutinying and escaping with their arms. The reaction of Bengali soldiers to the order to be disarmed was generally a uniform resistance; even when this meant effective suicide as happened at the Jessore barracks where despite being outnumbered and outgunned the Bengali troops chose to resist. Re the issue of 'orders' and the killings: I think here we need to be a bit careful. Are formal orders necessary for a policy of mass killings to occur; these tend to be rare in the post-1945 period outside the Communist states. No such formal orders or recorded policy existed in the second phase of the 1948 war between the Israeli forces and the Arab states, yet there was a clear influx of 300,000 Palestinian refugees out of areas that fell under Haganah control. Individual orders to 'secure' and 'hold' certain towns and villages were passed down but there was no blanket order concerning ethnic cleansing. There didn't need to be since local unit commanders knew what was expected of them. Similarly, with the recent war in Darfur; there were no 'formal orders' or recorded policy of ethnic cleansing given to the nomadic militias that made up the janjaweed; but central govt knew very well what it was doing when it armed and supported one side in an unrestrained fashion against the other to create ethnic cleansing and mass killings. Similarly, I don't think the absence of any specific order or formal policy — necessarily in itself invalidates the fact that such a policy might have been occurring on the ground. The level of killing and flow of refugees were certainly not stopping or ceasing and if allowed to continue could have reached arguably much higher levels. Unit and local commanders, in an environment where they are given carte blanche to implement a policy of targeted repression can quickly escalate killing levels dramatically. We have seen this in countless campaigns from Vietnam onwards. Re the actual 1971 campaign — I haven't read the Official Indian history so you have the advantage of me there. There is a debate over the effectiveness of the Mukti Bahini with credible accounts giving differing views of their capacity. I had the privilege to interview Lt. Gen. Aurora before his death and his view on this issue is that the MB consisted of several different groups of varying quality but while not a critical factor, they did provide substantial assistance to the Indian army once operations had commenced and cut short the length of campaigning considerably. I think this is a reasonable view on the matter. I don't know where you got the idea that the Indian 'original' plan was to liberate a small piece of Pakistan and get the rest of the world to recognise this as Bangladesh. This sounds unrealistic to me given the US and Chinese hostility to Indian actions and the overwhelming reluctance of the UNGA to intervene — in the event the GA voted by a massive margin for a ceasefire, before the war was finished and for Indian troops to pull back, despite the popular sympathy for Bangladesh, violation of international borders on such a large scale was not regarded favourably by any except the Soviet bloc which extended their support to India. Whatever may have been the case, it was quite clear by the mid-summer that a substantial campaign was being planned for; as Indira Gandhi had instructed Manekshaw to prepare for the eliminating all Pakistani independent resistance in East Pakistan. The IA had the luxury of building up their supplies and stockpiles in anticipation of an extended campaign into potentially hostile territory. While Dhaka was not the immediate objective; the multi-pronged attack quite clearly envisaged an extension of control over the whole territory and not some isolated piece of it. The Official history should have made this clear. On Pak strategy, I don't think much can be said. IMO like most militaries that control their political structure, the Pak army doesn't seem to be acknowledge the fiasco of what happened. Niazi's strategy was incredibly naive and had little chance of success since it depended on the Indian army doing exactly what he expected it to do, and when it didn't and by-passed all the strong points, the whole plan collapsed. Some of the orders issued by Niazi are frankly amazing, the order that no unit should retreat unless it suffers 75% casualties and then should fall back to their secondary positions to regroup the remaining 25 has been described by one military historian as one of the most stupid orders given in the history of modern warfare. This kind of stuff might have been appropriate on the eastern front of WWII but was wholly inappropriate in the conditions of 1971 East Pakistan. By the time that the main Indian forces had launched the formal ground campaign, with no air cover, locally hostile population, cut off by sea and no help forthcoming; this was simply a suicidal venture. After having left his forces strung out so that they were not very concentrated anywhere except Dhaka, this was an inevitable collapse. Thankfully “Tiger” Niazi's initial claims about defending Dhaka to the last turned out to be hot air otherwise there would have been a bloodbath that would not have changed the outcome. This whole episode reminds me of the 1962 humiliation that India suffered at the hands of China. Weak planning, unrealistic assumptions and a miscalculation politically about what the opponents and allies would do led to disaster then for India. Similarly factors led to a disaster for Pakistan in 1971. While India seemed to have learnt some lessons from 1962, it seems that the Pak army has not really learnt the lessons of 1971 at an institutional level. I attribute this to the problems of having the military in control of policy-making but that is a separate discussion.


Qalandar | June 04, 2009

Re: "Hence my puzzlement at the targeting of Hindus — it may have had some communal or visceral rationale but it doesn't seem to consistent with any attempt to repress either the Awami league or Bengali separatism." The "puzzlement" only proceeds if one has your assumptions -- but not if one has the army's assumptions, no? For instance, we now know that the Nazis insisted on a conflation of "Bolshevism" and "Jewry" -- thus, their standard response to partisan attacks in occupied Soviet territory was (among others) to shoot Jews (I am talking about 1941-42 here). This seems crazy to us, and hardly would have impressed the Soviets, but is not irrational GIVEN the assumptions the Nazis were operating on. Similarly, I think we cannot discuss the question of Hindus/East pakistan without focusing on the space occupied by "the Hindu" and "the Bengali" in the discourse of the times -- more accurately, the notion that "the Bengali" was an intermediate category between "Hindu" and "Muslim", and hence that even Bengali Muslims were "tainted" with "Hinduness". Thus in the discourse aspects of Bengali culture -- like saris, Devanagari script -- were held up in the rhetoric as evidence of distance from "Muslimness" (at least vis-a-vis the Persian script-writing West Pakistanis). The Sisson & Rose book ("War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh") also touches upon these aspects, and some of my relatives have testified to it also. The Bengali Hindu, by this logic, would be the ne plus ultra of "otherness", and it would "make sense" form within that worldview to disproportionately target Hindus (and Communists, who were decimated).


Qalandar | June 04, 2009

BTW, wanted to make the general point that this has been a really stimulating (if depressing) discussion, thanks to all.


Qalandar | June 04, 2009

Re: "Re the issue of 'orders' and the killings: I think here we need to be a bit careful. Are formal orders necessary for a policy of mass killings to occur; these tend to be rare in the post-1945 period outside the Communist states. " Excellent points here; heck, even in the pre-1945 world, and the case of the genocide that has been the most studied/analyzed, namely the Nazi extermination of European Jews, the question of orders is a thorny one. As a philosophical and/or ethical matter, it is by no means clear why "orders" should be the litmus test. And as a LEGAL matter, the definition of genocide in the genocide convention does not turn on orders either (this is not to say that orders have no significance; they constitute rather clear proof of intent, which is precisely why so few written orders are given in these situations -- but to suggest that there cannot be proof of intent absent proof of orders is to turn the question on its head). The broader question of labeling something a genocide doesn't interest me all that much, although these days everyone feels anxious unless they can shoehorn "their" cause into the genocide box (witness M.I.A. calling the Sri Lankan military action a genocide; one can lament the civilian casualties, but I think one does the cause of human rights grave harm by making such demonstrably false claims) -- in fact even in the case of Darfur I would recommend Gerard Prunier's book "Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide" which complicates the issue of what is a genocide, and whether this qualifies (while, of course, re-affirming the atrocious nature of what is going on there)...


Qalandar | June 04, 2009

PS-- On the question of Hindus/East Pakistan, I would add that we also need to consider the stereotype -- that I think the likes of Yahya Khan were sympathetic to -- that the Bengali Muslim was basically "a peasant", susceptible to being misled by wily sorts like Hindus, lefties, etc. There was definitely a strain of thought that if the fount of troublesome ideas was decapitated, the "mass" would be docile and passive. [By way of analogy, some would argue that the post-genocide Tutsi government in Rwanda has had a similar attitude toward the Hutus, in this instance using the threat of prosecution/indictment for complicity in the 1994 genocide, combined with selective assassinations, etc., to cow down the whole population. "Africa's World War", again by Prunier, has an excellent discussion of the often overlooked post-genocide atrocities that are occurring in Rwanda.]


omar ali | June 06, 2009

Conrad has hit the nail on the head. And I especially agree with the point about the infantile and idiotic "analysis" that is mainstream among army officers. That is probably true in a relatively broad based and educated army like the US army (where most officers come up from the ranks, social stratification is practically nil and formal University education is common among the officers) and practically the rule in subcontinental armies....


Akbar | June 07, 2009

"Conrad has hit the nail on the head. And I especially agree with the point about the infantile and idiotic “analysis” that is mainstream among army officers." In his book General Musharraf writes and I paraphrase, I did war game with AMERICA after I received a call From Colin Powel,after 9/11, and I came with the results that we will be defeated , so I saved the country by cooperating. In 2008 when he left as commander inchief,we had Indian Army on east, hostile americans/Karzai/Afghans on the west, Pak Army engaged in killing its own citizens, and CIA & special forces gangs operating freely in the country. A testament to power of his vision and analysis .Musharraf still posturing to come back to save the country yet again.


Qalandar | June 07, 2009

Akbar: Not to mention Muslim extremists far more active at the end of Musharraf's rule than at the beginning (even with respect to electoral politics, he is widely believed to have himself rigged provincial elections to ensure the religious right won in NWFP and Balochistan). I might add that I have myself met many who insist that the civilian government has failed (in just 6-9 months!) and that military rule is best for Pakistan! Truly, the bankruptcy of the urban well-heeled knows no bounds.


Akbar | June 08, 2009

......(even with respect to electoral politics, he is widely believed to have himself rigged provincial elections to ensure the religious right won in NWFP and Balochistan). Yep it is generally thought that ISI was behind MMA's (Mutehida Majlis-e Amal) which some like to call Mullah Military alliance, electoral success in those elections, just like in another time ISI had created IJI(Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) against Benazir's PPP. In that election General Aslam Beg with the help of bankers from Mehran Bank bankrolled the IJI. The ISI chief at that time General Asad Durrani submitted an affidavit regarding those activities and the case Asghar Khan Vs ISI is still pending in Supreme court. "Eleven years ago, on June 16 1996, former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sajjad Ali Shah, regarding a matter of great national importance — the 1990 countrywide elections and the use of public money to 'buy' standing candidates. He requested that the matter be adjudged and action be taken against those found guilty. The good judge took cognizance of the request, converted it into a petition (19 of 1996), and fixed it for hearing on November 3. The respondents were Mirza Mohammad Aslam Beg, former Chief of Army Staff, retired Lt General Asad Durrani, ex-Director-General of Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, and Mr Younis Habib, ex-chief of ex-Mehran Bank Ltd, then confined in Central Jail, Karachi." "We never learn from History" http://www.dawn.com/weekly/cowas/20070819.htm


Salman | June 08, 2009

Speaking of Mushy, in his interview with Spiegel, he says: "Nothing can happen to Pakistan as long as the armed forces are intact and strong." Yes, the armed forces are the only thing that can ensure Pakistan's well-being. And "Maybe I should have said at the time: Ok, you want us to support you, give us $20 billion a year and don't ask what we are doing with it." And "I would just like to say that I am completely against torture. People in the West have to understand that we were not fighting a war in Germany or the United Kingdom. Under very unusual circumstances we had to deal with people who were vicious. You should not get into details of how we were fighting, how we were handling the war." http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,628960,00.html


Akbar | June 09, 2009

Gen Musharraf says, “Nothing can happen to Pakistan as long as the armed forces are intact and strong.” This is what Gen. Yahya Khan had to say in his first adress to the nation, on March 29, 1969. "The nation has to be pulled back to safety and normal conditions have to be restored without delay. The armed forces could not remain idle spectators of this state of near anarchy. They have to do their duty and save the country from utter disaster. I have, therefore, taken this step. My sole aim in imposing Martial Law is to protect life, liberty and property of the people and put the administration back on the rails. My first and foremost task as the Chief Martial Law Administrator, therefore, is to bring back sanity and ensure that the administration resumes its normal functions to the satisfaction of the people. We have had enough of administrative laxity and chaos and I shall see to it that this is not repeated in any form or manner. Let every member of the administration take a serious note of this warning. Fellow countrymen, I wish to make it absolutely clear to you that I have no ambition other than the creation of conditions constructive to the establishment of a constitutional Government. It is my firm belief that a sound, clean and honest administration is a prerequisite for sane and constructive political life and for the smooth transfer of power to the representatives of the people elected freely and impartially on the basis of adult franchise. It will be the task of these elected representatives to give the country a workable constitution and find solution to all other political, economic and social problems that have been agitating the minds of the people. I am, however, conscious of the genuine difficulties and pressing needs of various sections of our society, including the student community, the labor and our peasants. Let me assure you that my administration will make every endeavor to resolve these difficulties. A word about your brethren in the armed forces. You are well aware that they have always stood by the nation selflessly and gallantly. They have always responded to the call of duty with promptness and devotion. They have never regarded any sacrifice as too great to ensure and enhance the glory of Pakistan. The armed forces belong to the people; they have no political ambition and will not prop up any individual or party. At the same time, I wish to make it equally clear that we have every intention of completing the mission that we have embarked upon, to the nation's satisfaction." We all know how that mission was completed to the nation's satisfaction.


Qalandar | June 09, 2009

A choice quote indeed, akbar. My thoughts on the Der Spiegel interview: http://qalandari.blogspot.com/2009/06/general-or-why-film-would-be-no-better.html


bd history | Regarding 1971 | June 23, 2009

[...] original post here: Regarding 1971 Tags: archives, chapati-mystery, chapatis-explained, dear-spencer, elizabeth, flickr, [...]


Akbar | July 13, 2009

"In the end, here is part of a statement made by Ali Annan Qamar ACO (assistant coordination officer), Mardan, who was the officer in charge of the Sheikh Yaseen IDP camp, Mardan, and found himself on the wrong side of a Major Asad and a Lieutenant Haider of 32 Cavalry on the July 8. Quote: The jawans of the army led by Major Asad and Lt Haider started beating me up mercilessly with fists, shoes and butts … I was thrown on the ground … they dragged me towards the military vehicle … [the] jawans beat me continuously under the directions of Major Asad and forced me to sit on the floor … with my head down and … asked [me] to stand on the seat of the vehicle with my hands raised. The beating continued, the abuses continued. The IDPs were rounded up and … the message was given that this is your ACO, and we the army are throwing him out. We have taken over." http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/kamran-shafi-just-not-cricket-479 Here is a fine exhibit of ,we never learn from history


Anoop | September 10, 2009

Pakistan screwed up big time in 1970-71.. In a way its good that Bangladesh was born. Its far stable than Pakistan now.


Mahavira | May 12, 2010

I posted this comment on another blog; I think it far more pertinent as a comment to this post, however belated. Regarding Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and the anti-Hindu violence committed by both Bengali/East Pakistani Muslims and the Pakistani military, in 1972 the highly renowned and well-respected human rights organization the International Commission of Jurists did a report on what had occurred in then East Pakistan, today Bangladesh . I would exhort everyone if they can to read the full report and investigation about the events in East Pakistan/Bangladesh in 1971; 40 years after the fact it is still one of the best chronicles and investigations. Here is the link to the report put online:http://www.globalwebpost.com/genocide1971/docs/jurists/1_preface.htm If I may quote what is probably the most important conclusion and finding of the Commission, it is this: "As far as the other three groups are concerned, namely members of the Awami League, students and Hindus, only Hindus would seem to fall within the definition of' a national, ethnical, racial or religious group'[in the legal definition of genocide]. There is overwhelming evidence that Hindus were slaughtered and their houses and villages destroyed simply because they were Hindus. The oft repeated phrase 'Hindus are enemies of the state' as a justification for the killing does not gainsay the intent to commit genocide; rather does it confirm the intention. The Nazis regarded the Jews as enemies of the state and killed them as such. In our view there is a strong prima facie case that the crime of genocide was committed against the group comprising the Hindu population of East Bengal." "The Events in East Pakistan, 1971", International Commission of Jurists June 1972


indigenous | December 18, 2010

This is very good piece in Urdu by Wajhat Masood regarding 14 Dec killing of Bengali Intellectuals http://www.aajkal.com.pk/news/2010/12/16/edition_01.jpg


omar | December 22, 2010

http://www.facebook.com/notes/nadir-ali/revisiting-bangla-desh-1971/146348928749126


Rommel | February 20, 2011

But what is fault of those 1 million non- Bangali innocent men, women and children who were butchered by rebel Bangalies and Hindus. Did they deny them the right to Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman to sit at throne of Priemership. What was their fault? I am sure and 100% sure that the innocent blood will speak and speak loud in the whole world. Those who are responsible for that carnage, had seen and will see the doom's day. All the inteligent persons in the forum, please listen the call of the day:- THE INNOCENT BLOOD WILL SPEAK ONE DAY AGAINST EVERY BODY THE GAME WILL THEN BE OVER. Any comment?


RIP, Shahbaz Bhatti | Greased Cartridge | March 02, 2011

[...] What genocide in Bangladesh? It was India's instrumentalization of Bangalis that led to war between a “moth-eaten” Pakistan and a belligerent hegemon, India. The reports of mass rapes are, well, Indian propaganda. Those more committed to taking justice as the measure by which they make their judgments, all too often fall prey to a sense of balance, where both sides commit violence and both need to be condemned in the same breath. Context, larger inequities and proportionality be damned. Bangalis were killing Biharis. Good old Pakistan went in with good intentions, and in the fog of war a lot of violence occurred on *all* sides. The soldiers were basically good people, doing their job and following orders. Blame the higher ups — the other version of the “bad apples” theory. End of story. [...]