December 16, 1971 | From East Pakistan to Bangladesh.

Discussion in 'Bangladesh Defence Forum' started by T-Faz, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. T-Faz

    T-Faz RETIRED MOD

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    Reminiscing about December 16 – The Express Tribune

    The disaster that struck Pakistan on December 16, 1971 has few precedents in the history of nations. But whereas a national tragedy of such magnitude should be a source of eternal shame, such feelings have totally escaped the Pakistani intelligentsia and elite. Before this, Pakistan never had such a pariah status in the international community. At the time, the news of the ‘genocide’ of Bengalis was making headlines in international media. President Yahya Khan’s interview with French daily Le Figaro in October 1971 appeared with an apology from the chief editor “for the violence of the language of the president”.

    It was a cold morning on December 17, 1971. When I entered the Pakistani embassy in Colombo, as a young ambassador, I saw hundreds of Sri Lankans sitting on the lawns. The high commissioner, in a brusque official tone, asked me to meet them. The 500 or so Muslims were sobbing and crying over the Dhaka surrender.

    I sat for a while, consoling them. When I went back to the high commissioner, he was entertaining another Pakistani diplomat en route to his posting in Kuala Lumpur. The commissioner asked me to bring him the gradation list of the Foreign Office to ascertain his seniority after the exodus of the Bengali officers. No expression of grief or loss. The tragedy was seen as holding promise of quick upward mobility in the service, following the departure of Bengali diplomats.

    This was not the only instance of our elite’s indifference. A retired general had planned a big bash to celebrate his daughter’s birthday on December 16. After the news of the fall of Dhaka, some officers meekly suggested that the celebration was improper but were chastised by the ambassador for their impudence.

    The fact is that West Pakistani leaders regarded East Pakistan as a millstone in the neck of the federation. The following paragraph from former chief justice of Pakistan Muhammad Munir’s book, From Jinnah to Zia (Vanguard 1980), is instructive.

    “When I joined Ayub’s Cabinet… every day was spent listening to long speeches of East Pakistan members of exploitation of East Pakistan…. None of the ministers or members of the Assembly, whether from East Pakistan or West Pakistan, rose to rebut these allegations. I spoke to Ayub… and asked him whether it would not be better… to ask East Pakistan to take their affairs in their own hands. He suggested that I should talk about it to some influential leader from East Pakistan. One day while I was talking to Mr Ramizuddin who had been a minister in Bengal or East Pakistan I broached the matter…. He said, ‘look here we are the majority province and it is for the minority province to secede because we are Pakistan.’ The matter ended there and complaints in the Assembly continued as before.”

    Readers can judge for themselves who wanted separation and who wanted secession.

    Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.
     
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  2. sparklingway

    sparklingway PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Written by one of the greatest, if not the greatest intellectual born in Pakistan, these prophetic words should be a lesson to all.

    Letter to a Pakistani Diplomat
    SEPTEMBER 2, 1971
    Eqbal Ahmad

    After the publication of a letter in The New York Times (April 10, 1971) signed by me jointly with three other West Pakistani scholars and after subsequent statements of mine opposing the Pakistani military government’s intervention in East Bengal, several Pakistani officials protested my position. They all pointed out that: 1) The army, under General Yahya, is only protecting national integrity against a secessionist movement which would cause the 70 million people in East Pakistan to break away from the 56 million in West Pakistan; 2) The army intervened only after the Bengali nationalists had started killing West Pakistani residents in East Pakistan and the minority Bihari refugees from India; 3) Since the leaders of the Awami League of East Pakistan have pro-Western sympathies and connections, and the Chinese “support” the federal government, anti-imperialist and radical elements should not oppose the military’s action. The following is a reply to one such “friend”.

    Dear——

    I hope you understand that it was not easy for me and my brother Saghir Ahmad to publish the statement you saw in The New York Times (April 10, 1971). First, I did not have any natural sympathy for the Bangla Desh movement. In fact, I had a definite feeling of antipathy for Sheikh Mujib [East Pakistan’s leader whose party, the Awami League, won a governing majority in the national assembly and 98 percent of Bengali votes]. He impressed me as being a limited man, impetuous and unimaginative. But then I have less regard for his West Pakistani counterparts—the miserable Mr. Bhutto who changes his politics like a lizard his color, or the generals who, bred by colonial Britain and armed by the USA, appear bent on turning the country into a Muslim version of Greece and Spain.

    Secondly, as you know, I am originally from Bihar, and most of my people had migrated to East Pakistan. Several of them were killed by Bengali zealots during the period immediately preceding the military’s intervention. Furthermore, I grew up during the Movement for Pakistan, and it is hard not to cherish the idea of national unity. Lastly, as a radical and an internationalist, I do not believe that separatist movements constitute a forward step in the right direction. For these reasons, my inclinations should be to support a policy of maintaining the integrity of Pakistan.

    However, as I see the facts surrounding recent developments, I am able to find neither a political and economic nor a moral justification for the current policy of military intervention. I have been examining the facts as closely as it is possible to do, given the censorship of news by the military regime and the resulting imbalances in news reports, some of which necessarily emanate from India.

    My considered opinion is that:

    1) The East Pakistanis had genuine grievances against the federal government, dominated by the military since at least 1957. Not even the most hawkish West Pakistanis deny the gross economic inequities and exploitation suffered by the Bengalis. Politically, twelve years of direct military rule deprived them of even a minor share in the exercise of power.

    2) The nearly unanimous electoral support for the Awami League’s demand for provincial autonomy was the result of the neglect of East Pakistan, climaxing in the example of the incredible negligence in the relief of cyclone victims last November. I recognize that the poor in West Pakistan have suffered also. The callousness of our rulers may be undiscriminating. Yet the more disadvantaged people of East Pakistan could only comprehend their condition as caused by regional discrimination.

    3) Having failed to arrive at an extra-parliamentary settlement, the military, supported by West Pakistani leaders, intervened on March 25, 1971, to offset the results of Pakistan’s first freely held elections. Perhaps the army had little hope of obtaining the capitulation of Pakistan’s elected representatives. It is now clear that the army used the negotiations between General Yahya and Sheikh Mujib as a cover to prepare for its intervention.

    4) There is absolutely no popular base of support for the federal government. Even after four months of terror it has been unable to produce a group of political quislings capable of lending some legitimacy to the army’s occupation.

    5) While the military has the power to lord over East Pakistan, the cost of this colonization will be very high for the peoples of both East and West. For the latter it must include increasing economic hardships, militarization of our politics and society, and total denial of civil liberties. The closing of journals like Asad and Lail-O-Nahar, the recent jailing without trial in West Pakistan of 800 persons, including leaders like Afzal Bangash, Mukhtar Rana, and G.M. Syed, intellectuals like Abdullah Malik and Sheikh Ayaz, academicians like G.M. Shah, and the recent public floggings of dissenters against the government in Lyalpur and Sialkot are indicative of the shift toward totalitarianism.

    Similarly I worry over the statements and editorials which provoke public paranoia by suggesting an Indian-Jewish-American conspiracy in this conflict. This, regardless of the fact that with arms and money the American government is underwriting the murderous mission of the military dictatorship. Above all I am distressed by the promotion of religious fundamentalism and the systematic killing and harassment by the army of our Hindu citizens. I shudder when I think of the repercussions this policy may have for the 80 million ******* in India.

    6) Unless there is an immediate end to military rule in East Pakistan, famine and pestilence as well as periodic massacres by the army will cost millions of lives in the coming months. The intervention has already caused an estimated 250,000 deaths of unarmed civilians. Six million refugees have reached India. Between 60,000 and 100,000 are arriving daily and are facing infection from cholera and the hostility of poor Indians. Millions languish in the interior of East Pakistan, hungry and terrorized, potential statistics in what threatens to become the greatest holocaust in history.

    As you know, the balance of survival is delicate in East Pakistan. Minor disruptions often cause major tragedies. Nineteen seventy and 1971 have been particularly hard years. The floods last August and September were the worst of the last decade and destroyed about half a million tons of rice. The cyclone in November, the most severe of the century, destroyed an equal amount of rice and rendered one thousand square miles of rice lands uncultivable for at least one year.

    Then the army, in an effort to deny supplies to the Bengali opposition, started confiscating and burning the food reserves. Many displaced or frightened peasants in the villages have not harvested the winter crop. The combined losses, amounting to about 2.5 million tons of rice, must be replaced immediately if mass starvation is to be prevented. The recent survey by the World Bank, as well as the disclosures by Senator Kennedy of suppressed State Department reports, indicate that Western and US officials in East Pakistan have been warning Washington of the “specter of famine.”

    Others have been more concrete in their predictions. Three months ago, Iain MacDonald, Relief Coordinator for Oxfam and other agencies, warned that 1.5 million persons may face starvation. Recently the Financial Times of London estimated that possibly four million would die unless relief and reconstruction were speedily begun. Alan Hart, a BBC reporter, believes it “probable that twenty or more million East Pakistanis will be starving by September or October.”

    The dispatch of more supplies for relief is by itself unlikely to avert the impending tragedy. Only a quick restoration of civilian rule can prevent the use of food grains and medicine as military weapons; and only such a restoration can ensure both the distribution of relief and an effective role for international agencies in the administration of such relief.

    7) Lastly, I should stress that no genuine restoration of civilian government will be possible until the East Pakistanis have been conceded their right to autonomy or even secession.

    For these reasons, I believe that the only workable course for West Pakistanis is to insist on immediate and unconditional termination of martial law, the convening of the duly elected national assembly, and a commitment that the majority decisions of that assembly shall be binding on all, even if these decisions dismember Pakistan as a state consisting of East and West. We must reject the army’s absurd claim that it has intervened to protect the nation’s “integrity” from the party that had just won, in Pakistan’s only freely held elections, a governing majority in the national assembly.

    In fact, the elected representatives of East Pakistan had insisted only on fulfilling their mandate to achieve autonomy for their province. The proclamation by the East Pakistanis of the independent state of Bangla Desh took place only after the army refused to convene the national assembly and after it had brutally intervened in East Pakistan on March 25, 1971. In his speech of June 28, General Yahya denied the right of the national constituent assembly to draw up a constitution and he harshly attacked all the leaders of the Awami League. This destroyed the possibility of any settlement based on the mandate of the elections.

    I know that I shall be condemned for my position. For someone who is facing a serious trial in America, it is not easy to confront one’s own government. Yet it is not possible for me to oppose American crimes in Southeast Asia or Indian occupation of Kashmir while accepting the crimes that my government is committing against the people of East Pakistan. Although I mourn the death of Biharis by Bengali vigilantes, and condemn the irresponsibilities of the Awami League, I am not willing to equate their actions with that of the government and the criminal acts of an organized, professional army.

    According to reliable reports, which were not challenged by the government, no more than 10,000 persons were killed or wounded by Bengali nationalists in the riots against the Biharis. At the beginning of August, however, West Pakistan military authorities issued a white paper which claimed that 100,000 people were killed by the Bengali opposition. These and other exaggerated claims in the white paper were obviously intended to justify trials and possible death sentences for opposition leaders. As this letter is being written, the military government has announced that Sheikh Mujib will face a secret military tribunal on August 12, on charges of “waging war” against Pakistan. Since the white paper announced that seventy-nine members of the unconvened national assembly will face criminal charges, Mujib’s trial may foreshadow more secret prosecutions.

    I know that the army did not intervene in East Pakistan to stop the killing of non-Bengalis, which went on for three weeks while the generals pretended to seek extra-parliamentary deals with the politicians. Saving civilian lives was not the motive behind the vast repressions that have already cost countless Pakistanis their lives and property and forced millions to flee to India. Unequal bartering of brutalities is not a function of responsible government. The very fact that this military regime seeks justification for its behavior by referring to the excesses of the Awami League and the aroused masses is a measure of the steep decline in the civic standards of our army and civil services. Above all, criminality is not a commercial proposition: one cannot deposit the crimes of one into the account of another.

    The Chinese rhetoric on this issue is irrelevant. They have offered Pakistan their support only against foreign interference; and indicated their belief that this conflict is an internal matter. Much more alarming is the American government’s decision to continue armaments sales and economic aid to the dictatorship, despite the unanimous opposition of its Western allies, of important men in the Congress, and of the World Bank. This is particularly striking in view of the long-standing loyalty to the West and to the US of Sheikh Mujib and his party.

    Washington’s assistance to the West Pakistan junta should be a lesson to those Pakistanis who believed that the US, given a choice between militarists and moderate democrats, would choose the latter. The leaders of the Awami League in East Pakistan failed to understand how important West Pakistan was to the Nixon-Kissinger strategy of building an informal anti-Soviet alliance of dependable clients around the Mediterranean and Indian oceans—from Spain and Portugal, through Greece and Israel, to Iran and Pakistan.

    It has been said that General Yahya is now being rewarded by US support for having arranged Mr. Kissinger’s recent mission to China. If this is so, then the Chinese-American detente will have started by being detrimental to the weak and poor in Asia. Whatever the reasons for US policy, however, one effect is clear: Americans have become silent accomplices in crimes against humanity in yet another part of Asia. But their obligations are not as urgent as yours and mine.

    I should also stress that the recent developments strengthen the possibility of a war between India and Pakistan. The two countries are more and more becoming pawns in world politics. India and the USSR have now signed a twenty-year friendship pact in which Russia promises to give military assistance to India in the event of war with Pakistan. This treaty cancels the gains that Pakistan had made at the Tashkent conference in 1966, when the Russians promised both to give aid to Pakistan and to be neutral in India-Pakistan relations.

    I do not know if my position would at all contribute to a humane settlement. Given the fact that our government is neither accountable to the public nor sensitive to the opinion of mankind, our protest may have no effect until this regime has exhausted all its assets and taken the country down the road to moral, political, and economic bankruptcy. However, lack of success does not justify the crime of silence in the face of criminal, arbitrary power.

    Letter to a Pakistani Diplomat by Eqbal Ahmad | The New York Review of Books
     
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  3. T-Faz

    T-Faz RETIRED MOD

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    All news and articles about the 1971 debacle should go into this thread. Please refrain from posting offensive, exaggerated or point scoring articles for the sake of better discussions.

    The concentration should be on Pakistan and Bangladesh, the past, present and future.


    My opinion about the events are clear to many here, as I have stated before, there would not even be a Pakistan if it wasn't for the Bengalis who supported an idea which neither mentioned them nor acknowledged them in our nations name. Yet they worked tirelessly with the father of our nation Jinnah to create Pakistan and they were the most patriotic of Pakistani's.

    The injustice that the Bengalis suffered from an early time in our nation is regrettable to say the least. While West Pakistan flourished, it was all at the expense of East Pakistan. The shortsightedness and power hungry attitude of our ruling elite is the main cause of the separation of Pakistan.

    When Mujib-ur-Rahman won the election, he should have been appointed as the leader but the mockery made of fair elections caused a damaging event to occur that left Pakistan open to attacks by any of it's enemies.

    The consequent military action to solve a political crisis was even worse and it led to an irreversible disaster.

    But the past is in the past now and nothing can change what occurred.

    There is a lesson in everything and we should have learned a lesson from the event in question - or did we?.
     
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  4. T-Faz

    T-Faz RETIRED MOD

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    Our 1971 debacle – The Express Tribune

    December is cold. Its nights are long and the days are sun-starved. Every December, since 1971, I get into an unexplainable mood of depression. That year, I had stepped into my teens and was like any other young lad, passionately in love with my beloved country, Pakistan. It was during this time that my ‘ideals of Pakistan’ being a ‘citadel of Islam’ were crushed to a cold death. The unnecessary war of December 1971 with India, saw the dismemberment of the then, largest Islamic state and the event heralded in me, a new awakening — religion was not a binding force, anymore! The youthful and emotional ‘idealism’ of a unified, single Ummah caved into a dismal pit of anger and denial.

    Asghar Khan in his book, We Have Learnt Nothing From History aptly remarks, “The verdict of the electorate (1970 elections) was unexpected and baffled not only the political pundits but also the contesting parties…The Bengalis had been known for their massive support to a single political organisation, once they believed it deserved their confidence…Amongst the provinces that later formed a part of Pakistan their contribution to the battle of the ballot was most valuable and their sense of patriotism probably the most developed”. So how was it, that the most patriotic segment of the country decided to revolt and secede?

    Refusal to accept the results of the 1970 elections by the political parties of the western wing, who had the tacit support of the power-drunk generals, paved the way for the long-simmering hatred to surface with full might and venom. The military struck with all its might in March 1971, not realising that no army in history had ever won against its own people.

    On December 17, I remember watching the six o’ clock English news on PTV, whereupon the fall of Dhaka — the humiliating spectacle of a ceremony of surrender at the Dhaka Race Course Ground — was shown to an aghast, shocked and miserably demoralised nation. In recent history, no army general had ever been stripped of his badges, in full public view. And here General ‘Tiger’ Niazi (may Allah bless his soul) who, a day earlier, had said “Dhaka — over my dead body” was signing the instrument of surrender! I cried bitterly, avoiding eye contact with other family members. We were all devastated. East Pakistan had been lost, Jinnah’s dream and effort lay in shambles.

    Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, despite his histrionics and dramatic performance at the UN Security Council, seemed like a God-sent messiah to us, when he said: “We will make a new Pakistan”. He lifted our courage and morale for which he deserves full credit. He restored respect to the armed forces by declaring in every speech Pakistan lost a political battle, not a military war.

    Sarmila Bose is assistant editor at the widely-read, Anandabazar Patrika, and a niece of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Writing on the 1971 war, she said something that we, today, would do well to heed: “There is much for Pakistan to come to terms with what happened in 1971. But the answers don’t lie in the unthinking vilification of the fighting men who performed so well in the war against such heavy odds, in defence of national policy. Rather, in failing to honour them, the nation dishonours itself”.

    Oh! deathly cold December, thou shall always be in mourning.
    Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.
     
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  5. mikkix

    mikkix BANNED

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    The 1971 crises holder:
    Yahaya
    Bhutto
    Pak Army
    Beareaucrats
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    Mukti Bahini
    India
     
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  6. Xestan

    Xestan RESEARCH & DEV

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    Thumbs up to the writer, we'll Insh'ALLAH rise :pakistan:
     
  7. DESERT FIGHTER

    DESERT FIGHTER ELITE MEMBER

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    Tears in my eyes and pain and hatred in my
    my heart..........

    Oh! deathly cold December, thou shall always be in mourning.
     
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  8. F-16_Falcon

    F-16_Falcon FULL MEMBER

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    nothing to worry brother. we are better now with them.
     
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  9. Karachiite

    Karachiite BANNED

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    No place for traitors or Bharti agents in Pakistan, we are better off without them.
     
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  10. F-16_Falcon

    F-16_Falcon FULL MEMBER

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    if they were with us than must be working for bhartis. traitors. what happened is good for pakistan and wish of allah.
     
  11. Al-zakir

    Al-zakir SENIOR MEMBER

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    Go to Bharat Raksak and thank there. Get the hell out...:tdown:
     
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  12. PureAryan

    PureAryan BANNED

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    There is no doubt bengalis had a huge role in creating pakistan but even if they had not sided with us pakistan was bound be made, Pakistan has for most part of past 9000 years stayed united only with different names, Melluha, Sapta Sindhwa, Arywarta, Sindhu, India(not present day India) are some of pakistan's ancient names but bharat had never been united. Is there anyone who can tell me the ancient names of bharat. Pakistan is the cradle of civilization and it was and always will remain united and it has always looked at west(Middle East) and North(Central Asia) for trade and other relation.
    Never east and never will be.
     
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  13. shekhar

    shekhar FULL MEMBER

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  14. shekhar

    shekhar FULL MEMBER

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    i wonder still pak gov doensnt mention the mistake they did i mean bangaladesh's population was 54% but their share was just 7 to 8% in gov posts still they feel tat it was india who divided pak
    india actually took advantage of opportunity which was made during last 25 years
    india came to picture in only last 2 years thats it
     
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  15. TaimiKhan

    TaimiKhan SENIOR MODERATOR

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    Keep the thread clean, take clue of what to discuss and how to discuss from the posts / articles posted by T-Faz, if you can't follow that, then don't bother to post, any more trolls would be dealt as trolls should be.
     
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