Opinion

The ghost of 1971: India didn’t break Pak, Yahiya and Bhutto did.

In a twisted version of History, young Pakistanis are always taught that India started the war of 1971 and partitioned their beloved country. This version completely overlooks the reality of failure to uphold law, uncalled for Punjabi superiority and Pakistan army’s colonisation of its own territory.

Bangladesh yearn for freedom started with partition of Bengal, which itself became one of the earliest rallying point for Indian freedom struggle from British. However, with creation of Pakistan and constant failure of successive administrations in Islamabad to institute a rule of law created a new form of occupation in Dhakka.

At the time of war, the West Pakistan had a population 58 Million while that of East Pakistan 65 Million still the western hemisphere of the country had a lion’s share of its budgetary allocation. Pakistan’s military and civil services were dominated by the Punjabis. Only one regiment in the Pakistani Army was Bengali. The Military coups and its successive leaderships in form of General Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan ignored governance of East Pakistan with impunity.

The 1970-1 general elections of the then united Pakistan, the public displeasure in Bengali speaking lands came to fore with the local party – Awami League won almost all seats in Bengal. This also gave them a majority in National Assembly. While Bengal had never disapproved of leadership from Panjabis, General Yahiya Khan choose to deny Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. The pending National Assembly session was indefinitely postponed to preserve the West Pakistanis in control of Islamabad.

The blatant disregard for rule of law, lead to unrest in the Bengal. Pakistan’s leadership offered to create a new position of Prime Minister of East Bengal. As late as 2nd March 1971 Mujibur Rahman refused to declare demand for Independence.

The Bengali discontent was met with a heavy handed Military oppression by Pakistani forces called Operation Search Light. Depending whose number acceptable to you, between 300,000 and three million East Pakistanis, were slaughtered by their own army.  The honourable men from Pakistani forces also carried out between 200,000 to 400,000 rapes. Killing and rape was deemed as a weapon of compliance by the men in Khaki. General Tikka Khan was named “butcher of Bengal”.

It was in response to genocide that the five battalions of the East Bengal Regiment mutinied and started the Bangladesh’s war of Independence.  These were the same troop that had defended Lahore in 1965 against Indian army, however, with the blood and cries all around the discipline of these forces was broken and at a later date allegiance with Indian forces stablished.

Direct Indian Intervention of India started only on 3rd Dec 1971, however that directly led to annihilation and surrender of over 97,000 Pakistani forces.

Indians were merely a tool or at best an opportunist to have helped create a new fledging nation. It were the policies of Pakistan Leadership – specifically General Yahiya Khan, Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan, Lt. Gen Niazi, and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who hold the direct responsibility for alienation their own people. Blaming India for the losses to Pakistan is akin to neo Nazis denying holocaust.

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