Can Pakistan let go

Posted in America, India, Indo Pak Relations, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on March 27, 2012

Pakistan is unable to deal with the loss of Bangladesh; it cannot let go of India – and Kashmir. Sometimes, to keep what you have, you have to let go.

December 16, 1971: Pakistan's Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, right, signs instrument of surrender with Indian Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora. With nearly 100,000 lakh POWs, it is ther biggest surrender in 20th century.  |  Source, courtesy & more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1844754,00.html#ixzz1qGDC4WLj  |  Click for image.

December 16, 1971: Pakistan's Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, right, signs instrument of surrender with Indian Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora. With nearly 100,000 lakh POWs, it is ther biggest surrender in 20th century. | Source, courtesy & more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1844754,00.html#ixzz1qGDC4WLj | Click for image.

Get up … and get on

To most Indians, the modern India is what India ever was. The loss of Pakistan to Partition evokes little emotion today among most Indians.

But for Pakistan, the loss of Bangla-Desh is still a painful wound – and evokes strong emotions. Based on second-hand reports, it seems that this pain in Pakistan is more about the defeat at the hands of India. More than any repentance for the horrors visited on Bangla-Deshis or the loss of Bangla-Desh.

Forty years on, Pakistan has still not been able to objectively look at the Bagladesh experience. In contrast, the Indian response to the 1962 experience with China is dealt with threadbare every few years.

In modern India this victory in Bangla Desh is forgotten victory. Even way back then in 1972, immediately after the victory, the full magnitude of the victory never quite sank into minds of most Indians.

Mired that they were in economic problems of their own.

Slough of despond

Forty years after the loss of Bangla-Desh, the Pakistani narrative does not recognize that Pakistan has few friends. Read this edited account by a Pakistani military official, stationed in Bangla-Desh during that key period.

If I am asked who to blame for the debacle I would say that we were all – from the common man in the street to the highest person in the office, equally responsible for it. The common man for committing the sin of keeping himself ignorant of the under currents simmering there ever since that fateful 19th day of March 1948 when Quaid raising his admonishing finger to the Bengali students at the Dacca University convocation had warned them that Urdu will be the only official state language of Pakistan, and not trying to assess the anguish caused to the Bengalis and take measures to bring any rapprochement.

Unfortunately we all treated East Pakistan as a colony and never granted them their justly deserved status of being the major human organ of Pakistan’s body – 54 percent of the population. As power barons of the Federal government mostly hailed from West Pakistan they never shared the power willingly or happily with their Bengali brethren.

Imagine, the Bengalis though in majority going jubilant in 1956 when Suhrawardy got them ‘parity’ (equal treatment) with the West Pakistanis! Ever heard of a majority people thanking obligingly the minority people for treating them equal?! We did it again in 1971. The minority pronouncing the majority unpatriotic, traitor and secessionist! Minority forcing the majority to leave the country whose foundations they had laid in 1906! Not only, that the Bengalis were treated as unequals, but it is also a fact that they were the major revenue earner for Pakistan, mainly through the export of their Golden Fibre to Manchester and Dundee jute mills in the UK. They bore the major financial burden of Pakistan and happily too for more than 15 years and until 1962 the cash flow was from East Pakistan to West Pakistan.

Thereafter, after an equilibrium of about two years the process revers ed but not that heavily. Bengalis had, therefore, every reason to be chary of and chagrin with the sala Punzabis. (every West Pakistani was a Punjabi to them).

Though the Bengalis proved themselves to be equally, if not more, patriotic than the West Pakistanis during the 65 war with India, yet the state of mutual confidence between the two left more to be desired. By 1971 the relations deteriorated further and irreversibly. The last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was Bhutto’s rejection of 1970 election results which had given Shaikh Mujib ur Rehman’s Awami League a clear cut majority to form the government at the centre.

ZAB’s one after the other statements like “we will break the legs of anyone going to Dacca to attend the NA session there”, “Udhar tum idhar hum” and “I would rather be a top dog of half of Pakistan than be an underdog of full Pakistan” left little doubt in the minds of Mujib and company who opted for the Civil Disobedience in the province. Their provincial autonomy stance kept becoming harder by the day and all negotiations between them and the West Pakistani leaders and the Federal government led by Gen.Yahya himself failed. The civil disobedience had transformed itself into an outright mutiny and to quell it the army struck on the night of 25th March 1971, starting an internecine guerrilla war between the military and Mukti Bahini lasting for 8 long months. On 21st November 1971 – Eid Day – the Indians launched a fully fledged armed attack on East Pakistan which lasted for 26 days of intense fighting by the Pakistan army under extremely adverse conditions

India had stopped the over flights since February 70 after the clever and clandestine planting of Ganga episode

the only squadron of the F-86s that we had could not operate as the runway of the only military airport Kurmi Tola had been rendered out of operation by the Indians bombing it incessantly.

In the second half of the year 1971 those in power – both civil and military – seemed to be suffering from a stupor and behaving like silent spectators waiting helplessly for the catastrophe to fall. I distinctly remember Major General A Rahim Khan – later Secretary General Defence, while addressing a batch of newly posted two dozen Lt Cols and Majors to East Pakistan saying on or around 11 July 1971 “Gentlemen, the entire administration of the province had collapsed. I have made it stand but only on its knees. Now it will be for you to make it stand and stand it erect.” Having said that the General went on to add, “I have given my word to the Chief (Gen. Yahya) to give me three months for the task, and if I cannot do it, he can — (I murmured under my lip, hang me!) he can – replace me”.

I was shocked that the general had equated the stakes simply to his being replaced!

On another occasion Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi – alias Tiger Niazi – the GOC Eastern Command as late as in October 71, before the start of a special briefing to the visiting high powered army team from the GHQ on the latest military situation in East Pakistan, advised his senior staff officers not to depress the visiting generals from the GHQ by giving them the dismal military picture of East Pakistan or ask them for more troops. He quipped, “gentlemen, if they send us more troops – more the merrier, but if they don’t – lesser the better”.

With the result that the operational military map on the board showed more of ‘Green’ pins all over the area than the ‘Red’ pins depicting the area under Mukti Bahini control. Whereas the map should have been clustered with the Red pins. The GHQ team returned satisfied about all being hunky-dory in East Pakistan. Similar ‘Sab Achha’ reports kept ema nating from various sectors and parts of East Pakistan to West Pakistan, till the water passed over the head.

Handling of the East Pakistan issue at the International level, too, was a fiasco on our part. Not that we did not mobilise any world opinion in our favour, we on the contrary rather alienated them mostly. On the other hand Indira undertook a whirlwind tour of 19 countries in October 1971 propagating the imaginary atrocities against the Bengalis and particularly the Hindus of East Pakistan and yet assuring each one of them that India had no intentions of aggression. Ironically, while she was convincing and canvassing the world powers, her army’s Eastern Command was giving the final touches to the Attack Plan in Fort William at the eastern bank of river Hoogli, Calcutta.

Whereas in our case despite Nixon’s more or less ordering Kissinger to ‘do some thing’ their 7th Fleet just passed by the Bay of Bengal without even radioing the customary courtesy good will message or tooting its horns thrice the Navy style. I am personally witn ess to the Chinese repeated enquiries as to what could they do for us, after we had established am emergency radio link with them? But all that we could get from the stupor struck President’s Secretariat at Rawalpindi was, “Just wait, please”.

Hopes from the sincere Chinese friends were so high that when the Indian para troopers chuted down over Narain Ganj every one waived them jubilantly taking them to be Chinese coming to our aid! (via Fall of Dacca – PakTribune).

At least people in Dhaka did mistake Indians for the Chinese. | Image by Bettmann / now Corbis Liberators Dhaka residents cheer a convoy of Indian troops. | | Source, courtesy & more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1844754,00.html#ixzz1qGFNwfWA | Click for image.

And Col.Jafri, these people in Dhaka were cheering the Indian troops. There was no confusion there.

If you close your eyes, reality does not quite vanish …

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