A number of opinion columns appeared in Pakistani Urdu dailies in the backdrop of 40th anniversary of the creation of Bangladesh. Many columnists has termed 16th December 1971 incident as ‘Fall of Dhaka’. The dominant opinion is that the ‘Fall of Dhaka’ took place because of ineptness of the then military rulers. They are trying to drive the message home that the country has not learnt from its past mistakes and the military continues to exercise control over the country.
Jang, Opinion Column (Excerpts) 12 December, 2011
Unfortunately, in our country’s history, there is no victory against our name. We always faced defeat and disgrace. The incident of 16th December in which the Dhaka Platoon laid down its arms is the worst defeat in our history. I can never forget the event where General Ameer Abdullah Khan Nyazi surrendered before General Arora and signed the surrender agreement.
When in March 1971, Yahya Khan ordered General Tikka Khan an army operation in Eastern Pakistan I also believed that the East Pakistanis were creating trouble with the help of Indian terrorists. But when the newspaper and TV revealed facts, my mind started questioning the operation. I had great love for the military when I saw them closely in Karachi during early years of Ayub Khan’s rule but when I saw the unarmed Bengalis getting massacred and the photographs where the dogs were devouring the dead bodies of children, it saddened me very deeply. I got to know from some reliable sources that Pakistani forces had killed more than hundred Bengali intellectuals and buried them in a mass grave outside Dhaka, I couldn’t believe it but when I came back to Pakistan and interacted with retired soldiers and lower level officers, I felt ashamed when I got further details about the then army operations.
It seems we haven’t learnt anything from history and again we are killing our own people. This time, we are delegating it to the Americans. The reality is that Pakistan never faced such a bad condition and the country is led by the robbers and our basic machinery is dysfunctional.
Jang, Opinion Column (Excerpts) 15 December, 2011
In his previous column, Dr. A Q Khan has written that we should not forget 16th December 1971 when our forces surrendered before the Indian Army in Dhaka. He believes that had we learnt a lesson from 16th December, Pervez Musharraf would not have taken the decision to please US by launching military operations against Pakistani citizen inside Pakistan. I wish that instead of concealing the Report of Hamoodur Rehman Committee, authorized to probe the defeat in Dhaka should have been made part of our syllabus. Our generation could have learnt its lessons from past mistakes.
In its report, the Hamoodur Rehman Commission had given clear instructions to carry out a complete overhaul of our military operation system. It has instructed to install a new radar system to intercept low flying planes over the sea. It also instructed to counter Indian planning of cordoning off Karachi port by Indian frigates and warships. These were the recommendations which needed a national debate but the report disappeared because the recommendation termed military’s involvement as a “fatal poison”. The commission noted that the reason for deterioration of moral character of the Pakistani commanders started after the 1958 martial law. While carrying out the duties during 1958 martial law, they imbibed the habit of corruption and indulged in activities such as drinking and promiscuity. The greed to get plots ended the fighting sprit of the military officers. The powers enjoyed by the force diluted the role of military.
Jang, Opinion Column (Excerpts) 15 December, 2011
As a nation, our memory is short. If we are not reminded, nobody would know that today is the day when Pakistan was split into two. This was not an ordinary day. On this day, India defeated us. Our General Tiger Niazi had surrendered before Indian General Jagjit Singh Arora. Our forces bowed their heads before Indian soldiers and thousands of Pakistani officers were stuffed in Indian jails. We didn’t learn any lesson from that defeat. Today we are in the same situation which caused fall of Dhaka. The only good thing we did was to promulgate the 1973 Constitution. The essence of the constitution was that Pakistan’s system would be governed according to democratic principles. The issues would be resolved through consultations and political process but not by use of force. All the institutions would work within the constitutional limitations. If someone breaks the constitution and seizes power through force he would be guilty of treason. All these principles were laid down but in reality, the military could not be stopped from seizing power.
After the 1973 Constitution, two military dictators ruled Pakistan for over 2 decades but none of the civilian rulers showed enough courage to try them for breach of the 1973 Constitution. Now, the present Prime Minister is also saying that the military is conspiring to overthrow the government. Bhutto wrote his own obituary and Zardari and Gilani are also writing their own fate. For them, Musharraf’s prosecution was not “doable” and perhaps for Bhutto, it was the same. Unlike now, in the past, Pakistan had leaders who could do things.
Jang, Opinion Column (Excerpts) 16 December, 2011
It was Pakistan’s fault that it could not resolve the issue of language after its creation. At that time, we were an inexperienced country and the enemy capitalised on it and as a result of an international conspiracy, Bangladesh came into existence. The crisis of East Pakistan was a plan of US, Israel and Russia. Now it is getting confirmed that India entered into this plan a little later and the cherry dropped in its bowl.
Seventh Fleet of the US was merely a plan of psychological war. The Seventh Fleet was indeed flung into action but was anchored near Sri Lanka and Singapore and then it was turned towards Malacca Straits. The then captain of the Seventh Fleet, Admiral Zom Walt says that he understood the strategy behind the use of the Seventh Fleet only after the separation of East Pakistan. Only Henry Kissinger, who was in charge of this mission, had prior knowledge about this strategy.
Jang, Opinion Column (Excerpts) 17 December, 2011
I am the eyewitness of the creation of Bangladesh and have been studying this issue since my student days. According to my study, there are many aspects and catalysts that led to this incident. First bitter truth is that both East & West Pakistan could not become a nation in a religious, political or democratic sense. The second bitter truth is that India capitalized on this crisis and used its military power to carve out a separate country.
This is a sad chapter of our country that our inept military ruler created a crisis in East Pakistan because of his stupidity. The military leadership failed to stabilize the situation and also failed in resolving this issue politically and finally became complicit in splitting the country. India could not have succeeded in achieving its goals had there been a political leadership in Pakistan which could have resolved the issue politically instead of militarily. But here, hedonistic Generals ruling our country were devoid of any political sense and their political ineptness helped India in creating Bangladesh while our Generals could only watch.
Translated and complied by Shamshad A. Khan and Amit Julka, Research Assistant and Research Intern respectively at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.