The East Pakistan tragedy — 1971 | By Dr Muhammad Khan

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The East Pakistan tragedy — 1971

DISINTEGRATION of Pakistan in 1971 was a great tragedy. Apart from bad governance and egocentrism of the leadership, there were many internal and external factors which contributed towards the tragedy of separation of East Pakistan on December 16, 1971.

The Deputy High Commissioner of Australia in India was informed by Mukti Bahini (MB) in early 1971 that this organization has a strong force and solid Indian backing for operating against the Pakistani forces deployed in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

The sole aim of approaching the Australian Deputy High Commission by the political wing of MB was to gain support of the international community for an independent Bangladesh.

Regarding the fighting manpower of the MB, the Deputy High Commission was told that, “Mukti Bahini has 28,000 EBRS, EPRS, police, locally-recruited militia (Ansars) and veterans; 40,000 men in camps being trained for conventional war; and 35,000 men who have completed guerrilla training and are already active; latter supposedly scattered among 69 base camps and 100 sub-bases throughout province (East Pakistan).

MB intends to establish 90 base camps eventually.” Indeed, all this recruitment of the militant MB was done by India.

Whereas the Indian Army’s Training and Recruitment centers trained the lower cadres (junior level soldiers), the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, trained the officer cadre to lead the militant activities of the MB in East Pakistan.

While India was organizing the activities of MB, the Indian regular Army troops, and the BSF physically entered the Pakistani territory (East Pakistan) along with MB and fought against Pakistani forces, deployed on the Pak-India border in the eastern sector.

Many of the Indian regular soldiers were killed and even captured by Pak Army and even brought before the media.

Once MB and Indian regulars were fighting against the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan, the Indian official media was constantly portraying East Pakistan as Bangladesh.

According to the Time Correspondent, Dan Coggin, who wrote in his October 9, 1971 article, “Pakistan Internal Situation” he had a meeting with the men of MB in Gopalganj Sub-Division, who confirmed that they are governing the area with the name of Bangladesh Government.

As per international media and US sources, India has not only provided shelter to anti-state elements on its soil, but also has persistently allowed so-called members of “Bangladesh Government” to use her radio and other mass media to stir up rebellion against legitimate Government of Pakistan.

Pakistan even protested this with the Indian Government on May 26, 1971. Who killed whom in the former East Pakistan is yet another angle of the disintegration of Pakistan in 1971.

Even some of the Indian and Bangladeshi writers have revealed the truth about the mass massacre in former East Pakistan.

In his article entitled, ‘When the India Sponsored Mukti Bahini Slaughtered 1 Million Biharis’ Mr Muhammad Abul Kalam, a Bangladeshi patriot writes that “Actually Mukti Bahini and Bengal Regiment personnel raped the Bihari and west Pakistani women and killed about 800,000/ to 1000,000/ innocent Biharis and West Pakistanis in East Pakistan in 1971. ”

Regretfully, after the disintegration of Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh, this mass massacre was shown to international media as the “Bengali dead bodies and graves”.

This massacre of Biharis and West Pakistanis buried in mass graves is still being misquoted by Bangladesh to defame Pakistan and Pak Army in contravention to the reality.

Biharis are the people who settled in the former East Pakistan, after they migrated from India as a result of Indo-Pak partition in 1947 and have yet not been accepted by Bangladesh as its citizens.

Apart from the West Pakistani population, living in East Pakistan, thousands of Biharis were killed brutally by the armed squads of the MB and posed as the local populace, killed by Pak Army.

Not only Biharis and West Pakistanis but, the armed squads of MB and Indian forces killed thousands of local people and put the blame on the Pakistan Army.

This all was done to create an element of hate against the Pakistani forces and the State. This well orchestrated and articulated Indian strategy worked well and MB and Indian spying network was able to create unrest among the local populace, some of whom become part of these anti-state forces.

In fact, the armed squads have killed Biharis in all parts of former East Pakistan wherever they live like; Dinajpur, Corkai, Phoolbari, Santahar.

Natore, Paksy, Issardi, Mymensingh, Jessore and Chittagong. On April 30, 1971, Pakistani High Commission revealed that 3000 Indian regulars crossed over to East Pakistan, many of whom were killed while fighting.

Besides, the Indian BSF established hundreds of training camps to train the Bengalis in guerrilla and sabotage tactics.

In collaboration with India, the current Bangladeshi Government has been defaming Pakistan and the Pakistani military through well-orchestrated propaganda.

It’s all aimed to mislead the world on misquoted figures of 1971 war. There is a need for a real picture of what happened in East Pakistan during 1971 Indo-Pak War and the circumstances which led to this war.

As mentioned above, the killing squads in former East Pakistan were mainly Mukti Bahini and Indian forces.

Biharis and West Pakistani populace were the main target with only occasional killing of local Bengla populace.

Therefore, blaming the Pakistani military for killing the local populace of East Pakistan is factually incorrect.

Indeed, disintegration of Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh was an international conspiracy, implemented by India.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.