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Friday, 27 January 2023
Uncivil War: Mobs, Mutinies and Madness

Uncivil War: Mobs, Mutinies and Madness

 By Mahzaib Khan


Fall of Dhakka, constitutes a harsh but significant event in Pakistan’s history. It was the culmination of extensive process extending over the period of two decades. Factors such as geographical contiguity between the two wings, injudiciously drawn borders by Sir Cyril and rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism presented an overall challenging situation to country’s administration. No doubt, mistakes were made at political and administrative front but Pakistan’s silence following Bangladesh’s independence provided a room to false narrative and fabricated data to extend its roots deep to a point that the fine line between fact and lies became distorted. Hence there exists extensive misinformation, myths and propaganda surrounding the events of 1971.

Pakistan Army, despite being outnumbered both in terms of troops and armaments fought valiantly till the end. The blatant propaganda against military was aimed not only to minimise and overshadow the sacrifices made by the armed forces, but also to cover the massacres, vandalism and atrocities committed out Mukhti Bahini which was fully backed by Delhi. Indian Prime Minister, Navendra Modi during his visit to Bangladesh in June 2015 openly admitted to India’s involvement in the Separation of East Pakistan while announcing that “Establishment of Bangladesh was a desire of every Indian and that’s why India’s forces fought along with Mukhti Bahini thus creating a new country”. Mukhti Bahini guerillas remain the primary perpetrators of the abominable cruelty and atrocities. They were financially and logistically supported by India. Training and armaments were provided to them to carry out subversive operations by targeting the overall infrastructure including fuel depots, power plants, railways, industries, bridges, warehouses etc.

According to Archer Blood, an American diplomat who served as a last American Consul General to Dhaka, “Indian soil was made available for the training camps, hospitals and supply depots for the Mukhti Bahini” and it had a “safe haven to which it could retire for rest, food, medical supplies and weapons….”. In Dehra Dun, Major-General Oban “selected the best personnel from the Mukti Bahini” and gave them political and military training. One Mukti Bahini Sector Commander, Quazi Nooruzzaman, writes: “Having received the training, political commandos found it embarrassing to identify themselves as products of the Indian authorities. So, they gave themselves the name of Bangladesh Liberation Force.”

There exists first-hand account of horrifying tales of theft, arson, rape, massacre of colonies, villages, warehouses being burnt to ground with inmates tied inside. The violence was particularly targeted against the non-Bengalis. American political scientist, Rudoph Rummel estimates that nearly 150,000 Biharis were slaughtered by the perpetrators of Mukhti Bahini. Amidst the rising socio-political instability following 1971 general election, President Ayub Khan ordered the postponement of National Assembly session. Dr. Junaid Ahmad in his book, “Creation of Bangladesh: myths Exploded” highlights that indignant Awami league workers took on the streets and started recording their violent protests. There was looting, killing, harassment and molestation of non-Bengalis at the hands of Awami league militants. On March 1971, Pakistan Army conducted a military operation termed as “Operation Searchlight” with an aim to protect the lives and property of East Pakistanis and to establish the overall writ of the state in East Wing. There were massive killings, brutality, chaos and lawlessness in the region which made Operation Search light necessity of the time. Contrary to the false propaganda and claims, operation was conducted solely to control the lawlessness and civil unrest which had grown violent in nature over the period.

The setback of 1971, according to the Hamood-ur-Rehman commission report was caused by a combination of political circumstances that occurred between 1947 and 1971 rather than just military ones. It is unfortunate that one sided biased narrative is opted to analyse the socio-political situation and role of Army in 1971. Critique of Pakistan leave no opportunity to bombard Pakistan with absurd accusation of “brutality” being conducted against the East Pakistan without any substantial and tangible evidence.

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