1971: A Tale of East Pakistan

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by Ray, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    A retired Indian army officer gave me a book, "The Betrayal of East Pakistan" by Lt. Gen. A A K Niazi, to read. A retired Indian general mentioned that I must not forget that I was going to read a book written by a defeated general. This book is an account of Bangladesh war by the commander of the Pakistani army in the then East Pakistan. He claims that he was not defeated by the Indian army but was ordered to surrender by his President to save West Pakistan. He had given orders to defend Dacca to the last man and could have kept Indian army at bay for several months. He found Gen. Arora's war planning very conservative and unimaginative. He was betrayed by Pakistani politicians, particularly Bhutto, and his own General Head Quarters (GHQ). He was given the command of East Pakistan despite several generals senior to him.

    This book, for obvious reasons, is banned in Pakistan. I don't understand why it is not available in India. My friend got it through his friend from USA.

    The following are the extracts from the book:

    "...Immediately after 1970 elections Mr. Bhutto had asked M. M. Ahmad, Adviser Economic Affairs Division, and Mr. Qamar-ul-Islam, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, to prepare a paper for him to prove that West Pakistan could flourish without East Pakistan. In February 1971 Major-General Omer was telling the politicians not to go to Dhaka to attend the National Assembly session because, he said, Dhaka had become the hub of intrigue, and it would be better to quit East Pakistan. Mr. Bhutto was admonishing the elected members of the Assembly that those who went to Dhaka for the session would be punished severely. He said conclusively that the East and West Wings should leave each other alone in his famous utterance 'Idhar hum, udher tum' (me here, you there). Basically Bhutto was not prepared to accept the role of opposition leader of a united Pakistan: his endeavours were therefore directed at compromising Mujib's right to form the government, which would be only possible if East Pakistan gained independence.

    The final plan for the dismemberment of Pakistan was hatched between General Yaha and Bhutto at Larkana, Bhutto's home town. The plan, which came to be known as the M. M. Ahmed plan, aimed at abandoning East Pakistan without a successor government, which meant: by losing the war. So all the efforts of Yaha's junta and Bhutto's coterie were directed towards losing the war. They neither desired a political settlement, nor did they want a cease-fire. Instead of working on the plan, 'Battle of East Pakistan will be fought in West Pakistan', which was evolved at the very inception of Pakistan to keep Pakistan united, they were working on the plan, 'Lose East Pakistan without a successor government'."


    "On the night between 25/26th March 1971, General Tikka struck. Peaceful night was turned into a time of wailing, crying, and burning. General Tikka let loose everything at his disposal as if raiding an enemy, not dealing with his own misguided and misled people. The military action was a display of stark cruelty, more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Changez Khan and Halaku Khan, or at Jallianwala Bagh by the British General Dyer.

    General Tikka, instead of carrying out the tasks given to him, i.e., to disarm Bengali units and persons and to take into custody the Bengali leaders, resorted to the killings of civilians and a scorched-earth policy. His orders to his troops were: 'I want the land and not the people.' These orders were carried out in letter and spirit by Major-General Farman and Brigadier (later Lt.-Gen.) Jahanzeb Arbab in Dhaka. Major-General Rao Farman had written in his table diary, 'Green land of East Pakistan will be painted red.' It was painted red by Bengali blood. This dairy was found by the Bengalis when they occupied Government House on 14 December 1971. Mujib showed the dairy to Bhutto during his visit to Bangladesh. Bhutto inquired from me about this diary during my meeting with him. I told him I had heard about it when I was in India but I had no knowledge of it as I had nothing to do with the civil affairs of East Pakistan."


    "On the night between 25/26 March 1971, Yahya sneaked out of Dhaka before the start of military action. He told Tikka before leaving Dhaka, 'Sort them out.' Bhutto had remained behind to see what Tikka did. Bhutto saw Dhaka burning and heard the cries of the people, the crackle of burning material, the roar of tanks, the boom of guns and rockets, and the rattle of machine guns. In the morning, it is alleged, Bhutto patted Tikka, Farman, and Arbab on the back, congratulated them for doing exactly what was needed, and assured them that their future was secured. Bhutto kept his promise. Tikka secured the coveted post of COAS. Farman was made Chairman, Fauji Foundation, and Brigadier Arbab, despite the corruption charge proved against him, was promoted as Major-General and later Lieutenant-General. On reaching Karachi on 26 March, he [Bhutto] told the people, 'Thank God, Pakistan has been saved.' "


    "...It was decided to remove Tikka from the command of East Pakistan Garrison. I was commanding 10 Division located at Lahore. On 2 April 1971, I was summoned to GHQ by the COAS, General Abdul Hamid Khan.

    I reached GHQ the next day and went directly to General Hamid's office. He told me that the President was dissatisfied with Tikka's conduct of military operations. He further told me that although I was junior to several generals, yet in view of my past war record and performance during periods of crisis, the President decided to post me as Commander Eastern Command.'

    '...I reached Dhaka on 4 April 1971, one day after my meeting with the COAS. When Tikka heard about the change, he was stupefied. To be changed, or removed from command during active operations, is matter of deep chagrin for the commander being relieved. Tikka used all methods to put off handing over command. His attempts to retain command included requesting that I be made his subordinate. This was firmly turned down by the COAS, who told him, 'You were given a chance but you bungled it.' With great reluctance, he handed over command on 10 April, one week after my arrival in Dhaka."


    "During my discussions with General Hamid, I had stressed that no war should be sttarted in the west because we could deal with India in the limited war which Indian was expected to launch because she would not like to be declared an agressor by the world [I see contradiction in Niazi's stand. How the strategy of 'Battle-of-East-Pakistan-would-be-fought-in-West-Pakistan" could be implemented without war on the western front.]. They would be worried about the potential threat from China in case of war [During Bhutto's visit to China in November 1971, Chinese Foreign Office had issued a warning that they would support Pakistan in their just struggle.]. The events up to 3 December proved our contention when we did not lose any significant territory. Pakistan attacked India on 3 december 1971 without even informing us. The Indian Air Force became active and crippled our mobility and air support. The Indian Navy imposed a sea blocked, thus isolating us from the centre (West Pakistan), and the Russians openly joined the war on the Indian side.

    I had also submitted to General Hamid that I was already more or less cut off from the west. In the event of a sea and air blockade, I would be completely isolated or abandoned. He told me that I would not be either isolated or abandoned. The Centre would maintain me and keep in touch via the 'hump route' (over China and Tibet) [To think and believe in the 'hump route' is nothing but a sign of wishful thinking and extreme immaturity of Pakistani generals. First, it is impractical and too time consuming. Secondly, it would have been prohibitively expensive. How they would transported the supplies from Tibet to East Pakistan without going over Indian air-space. Pakistani transport planes would have been easy meat for the India air force.Are Pakistani generals incredibly stupid?]. When the Indians did impose the blockade, I spoke to General Hamid about using the 'hump route'. He said, 'Sorry, Niazi, we cannot use that route, you are on your own, carry on with whatever you have - good luck.' I was abandoned in midstream."


    "General Arora's overall superiority of at least ten to one in everything created the most conducive circumstances ever available to any commanding General in the history of warfare. He had air supremacy, giving him the options of aerial envelopment, air bridging, air transport, and unobstructed air supply, thanks to our lack of aircraft, anti-aircraft resources, long-range artillery and tanks; he had command of the seas, free run of the rivers, capability of landing and maintaining troops by naval vessels along seashores and river banks on our flanks and rear unopposed; and he had a carrying capability of about brigade-strength groups in their APCs and on tanks in all the sectors. Indian tanks had night vision devices and were amphibious, whereas the shell of our light tanks was not effective against Indian tanks. They also had enough long-range artillary to keep my short-range guns under constant fire, thus reducing fire support to the infantry considerably. Last but not least, they had Russian experts to train and organize guerrillas. Russians to handle their sophisticated weapons on the battlefield, and hundreds of thousands of Bengalis (Mukti Bahini and the Bengali dissidents) to help the Indian Army. Still General Arora could not succeed militarily. We were manoeuvered into a political defeat by Bhutto. General Arora was retired immediately after the war and not given any other job."



    "Guerrilla warfare and Indian sneak attack raids into our territory had been going on since March 1971 and both sides were suffering material losses and human casualties. Artillery was being used all along on both sides, and tanks and aircraft had been taking part since early November 1971. ...On the night of 20/21 November 1971, the Indian Army attacked East Pakistan from all directions. The Indian attacks were supported by tanks, artillery, and other arms, but were repulsed in most cases. The Indian Army, in order to prove that their war was a 'lightning campaign', had been downplaying their offensive action as a limited war and border clashes.

    The Indian strategy is clearly described and analysed in publications by the Indian military officers who served in command positions in 1971, who make it clear that the 'war of liberation' started from their units on about 21 November. One of them [Maj. Gen. Lachman Singh] says: 'India had fixed 22 November as D-Day for the attack. They advanced it by one day to 21 November because of Eid, hoping the troops would be celebrating Eid, and thus unwary.'

    ...The so-called blitzkrieg and 'planned envelopment' failed miserably due to lack of good generalship - they did not have generals like ours. Their 'blitzkrieg' petered out on the borders as soon as they contacted our screen positions. Their multiple columns were checked and kept away from Dhaka and each other.

    India resorted to lies about the duration of the conflict in East Pakistan and the start of open war. The total period of conflict was about nine months - eight months of insurgency and border clashes and twenty-six days of open war, not two weeks."


    "Yaha and Bhutto viewed Mujib's victory in those elections with distaste, because it meant that Yaha had to vacate the Presidency and Bhutto had to sit on the opposition benches which was contrary to his aspiration. So these two got together and hatched a plan at Larkana, Bhutto's home town, which came to be known as the 'Larkana Conspiracy'. The plan was to postpone the National Assembly session indefinitely, and to block the transfer of power to the Awami League by diplomacy, threats, intrigues, and the use of military force. Connected to this conspiracy was the 'M. M. Ahmad plan', which aimed at leaving East Pakistan without a successor government."


    "Under the so-called Simla pact, the cease-fire line in Kashmir was changed to a line of control. The post occupied by the Indians in Azad Kashmir during the 1971 war were not vacated. This sealed the fate of Kashmir and the Kashmiris' quest for self-determination. This agreement was not reached between the delegation of the two countries, but between two individuals. All discussions between the delegations prior to the meeting in camera of the two Prime Ministers was an eyewash. On return from Simla, Bhutto's coterie had the cheek to say that Bhutto charmed Mrs Gandhi during their meeting in seclusion, but from the result achieved it appears that it was Mrs Gandhi who charmed Bhutto. Bhutto came back from Simla without getting the release of his POWs and without getting vacated the 5,500 square miles of territory captured by the Indians or the posts occupied by Indians in Azad Kashmir during the war of 1971."


    "Bhutto did not want his POWs to come back. If he had wanted them they would have come back much earlier. Bhutto had four trump cards. One was Sheikh Mujib - the POWs could have been exchanged for him, but he was let go unconditionally. Another was the two lakh Bengalis in West Pakistan, including Generals, doctors, engineers, women, and children, who could have been exchanged but were let go unconditionally. A third trump was the Indian POWs, and the fourth was the Ferozpur Headworks - by closing the headworks the whole of Ferozpur and its suburbs could be inundated and vast areas of irrigated land rendered barren. Our POWs and vast areas occupied by the Indians could have been exchanged for these headworks, but Bhutto returned them unconditionally.

    At Simla Bhutto had arranged with Mrs Gandhi for the Pakistani POWs do be kept in India for a long time. The Chinese, however, threatened to veto the admission of Bangladesh to the UN if we were not retuned, so the Indians send us home. We were not brought back by Bhutto, we were sent back thanks to a kind gesture on the part of the Chinese."



    "Bhutto even inflated the strength of the fighting troops from 45,000 to 96,000 and at Simla raised it to 100,000. Never before in history has such misrepresentation been made by a country's own President. This gross concoction was not even corrected by Gul Hassan or Tikka, who each in his own sphere were great contributors to the catastrophic setback. The strength of the Pakistani Army was 34,000 troops; Rangers, scouts, militia and civil police came to 11,000, thus the grand total came to 45,000. If we include naval and air force detachments and all those in uniform and entitled to free ration, e.g., HQ, MLA depots, training institutes, workshops, factories, nurses and lady doctors, non-combatants like barbers, cooks, shoemakers, and sweepers, even then the total comes to about 55,000 and not 96,000 or 100,000. The remaining were civilian officials, civilian staff, and women and children. Whereas the Indian tried to reduce their twelve division strength to eight, Bhutto increased our 45,000 troops to an imaginary 96,000. If the objective was to redicule Eastern Command and its troops, it was not achieved. It was the whole nation that was being rediculed, and Indian propaganda strengthened, by our so-called 'leader' claiming that they defeated a big army of 96,000."


    "Major-General Padda, the station commander of the POWs camp in Jabalpur, was replaced by Major-General Shah Beg Singh. I had met Shah Beg in Dhaka when he was a Brigadier. He was very friendly, and expressed his bitterness against the Hindus. He openly claimed that the Sikhs had been given a raw and had been made to disperse so that they were not a majority even in East Punjab [I wonder why Indian Militilary Intelligence could discover Maj. Gen. Shah Beg Singh before the Blue Star operation. Was it a serious failure of intelligence?]. Initially I thought it was a ruse, but later I became convinced of the gennuiness of his feelings. He showed me a sketch of the area included in Khalistan, including the whole of East Punjab and extending a little into Jammu. He later died fighting in Amritsar along with Sant Bhinderwal during the storming of the Sikh shrine by the Indian troops."


    "Now the question is: Why did Mrs Gandhi fall in with Bhutto's plan and agree to keep us in India., if not permanently, at least for a long period? We were living in barracks while the Indian troops were living in tents and other temporary accommodation, and the Indians were feeding us and paying us - a nominal sum, but all the same, it amounted to quite lot. We were like white elephants, being fed and looked after but doing nothing in return. The reason was that the Indians had seen the performance of Eastern Garrison against overwhelming odds and under the worst possible circumstances, and it had been excellent by any standard. The Indians had failed to achieve any of their missions even under the most favourable circumstances ever available to any army in the history of warfare. Indra Gandhi did not want these troops to go to Pakistan as long as there was fighting spirit and tactical flair in them. She wanted them to rot in Indian custody until they became unfit to fight. I read in a newspaper, while in Indian custody, that Mrs Gandhi had stated that she could not allow the three crack Pakistani divisions to go back to Pakistan."


    In the epilogue, he writes:

    "...Instead of working on the plan 'Battle of East Pakistan will be fought in the West', they worked on the M. M. Ahmad plan to get rid of East Pakistan without leaving a successor government, thus eliminating the two other centres of power, i.e., the Awami League, by giving them independent Bangladesh, and the army, by humiliating it so much that it would not be able to raise its head again. This would leave Bhutto holding the reins of power in a truncated Pakistan."

    "...The troops in East Pakistan were ordered on 25 March 1971 to convert a political debacle into military victory. They achieved this objective within a short span of time, and by May 1971 they had evicted the Mukhti Bahini from the soil of East Pakistan and brought the situation under control to enable the government to launch a political campaign for reconciliation between the two wings of the country. There was no overall strategy to deal with the insurgency in East Pakistan. The high command failed to reap the fruits of our early military successes in East Pakistan."

    "...Major-General Farman's unauthorized signal to the UNO without the President's approval, his approaching representatives of the USA, USSR, France, and Great Britain and telling them to take over the administration of East Pakistan without my or the Governor's knowledge and permission, his contacts with the Russians and the Indian C-in-C without my knowledge or approval, Air Marshal Rahim's buzzing his aircraft over President's House after the cease-fire in East Pakistan - all these acts were part of the planned coup to install Bhutto in power."

    "...The entire blame for the political defeat was being passed on to Eastern Command. How this was brought about militarily is a fascinating study of deception and double-cross imposed on Eastern Command by Generals Yahya, Hamid, Gul Hassan, Tikka Khan and Farman, with both the Government and GHQ faithfully dancing to Bhutto's tune as he unfolded his diabolical plot for the dismemberment of the country."

    "...If I had not been forced to surrender, we could have held East Pakistan for a longer period, because the Indians were widely spread, we were still holding all main cities, seaports and airports, and they had only four weak brigades on initial contact with the outer defence of Dhaka. To build up their strength, they would have had to bring in fresh troops, which would have taken a long time. Furthermore, all my fortresses except Jessore and Mymensingh were stiil intact, were containing eleven of their twelve invading divisions, and were in a position to hold for a long time and inflict unacceptable casualties on the Indians. It would have required their entire strength to capture Dhaka, if at all."

    "Eastern Garrison was not defeated. I was tricked and forced to surrender to save West Pakistan."


    W.G.Ewald likes this.
  3. drkrn

    drkrn Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2010
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    the book is discontinued in flipkart too

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