Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report
Reasons for Supplementary Report
This commission of Inquiry was appointed by the President of Pakistan in December, 1971 to inquire into and find out "the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern command, surrendered and the members of the Armed Forces of Pakistan under his command laid down their arms and a cease-fire was ordered along the borders of West Pakistan and India and along the cease-fire line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir." After having examined 213 witnesses the Commission submitted its report in July 1972.
2. Before we submitted that report of necessity we did not have the evidence of most of the persons taken as prisoners of war, including the major personalities, who played a part in the final events culminating in the surrender in East Pakistan with the exception only of Major General Rahim. Although we did our best to reconstruct the East Pakistan story with the help of such material, as was then available, inevitably our conclusions had to be of a tentative character. We also felt that since we had found reasons adversely to comment upon the performance of some of the major figures involved it would have been unfair to pass any final judgment upon them without giving them an opportunity of explaining their own view point. For this reason we said that "our observations and conclusions regarding the surrender in East Pakistan and other allied matters should be regarded as provisional and subject to modification in the light of the evidence of the Commander, Eastern Command, and his senior officers as and when such evidence becomes available." (Page 242 of the Main Report).
3. Accordingly, after the prisoners of war and the civil personnel who had also been interned with the military personnel in India returned to Pakistan, the Federal government issued a notification directing "that the Commission shall start inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and complete the inquiry and submit its report to the President of Pakistan, with its findings as to the matters aforesaid, within a period of two months commencing from the date the commission starts functioning." A copy of this notification is annexed as Annexure A to this Chapter. Lt. Gen.(Retd.) Altaf Qadir, who had also previously acted as Military Adviser to the Commission, was re-appointed as such as also was Mr. M.A Latif as Secretary to the Commission. At the request of the commission the government also appointed Col. M.A Hassan as Legal Advisor.
4. The commission issued a Press Release on the 1st June, 1974 offering an opportunity to the prisoners of War and others repatriated from East Pakistan to furnish such information as might be within their knowledge and relevant to the purposes of the Commission. A copy of this Press Release is in Annexure B to this Chapter.
5. Commission held an informal meeting at Lahore on the 3rd June, 1974 to consider various preliminary matters and then decided to resume proceedings at Abbottabad from the 16th July, 1974. In the meantime a number of questionnaires were issued to various persons, including those who were at the helm of affairs in East Pakistan, at the relevant time and others whom we considered likely to have relevant knowledge. Statements were also sent from members of armed forces, civil services and the police services involved and we then proceeded after scrutiny of these statements to summon the witnesses.
We recorded evidence of as many as 72 persons and these included particularly Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, Commander Eastern Command, Major Generals Farman Ali, Jamshed ad the generals who held during the relevant time commands of divisions, Rear Admiral Sharif, who was the senior most Naval Officer, Air Commodore Inam the senior most Air Officer, and civilian personnel, including the then Chief Secretary Mr. Muzaffar Hussain and the Inspector General of Police Mr. Mahmood Ali Chaudhry. Besides, Maj. Gen. Rahim was reexamined. The only exception which was unavoidable was that Dr. Malik who till very nearly the end was the Governor of East Pakistan, but in his case also we had firsthand evidence of every important event and we, therefore, now feel ourselves competent to submit our final conclusions.
6. After the examination of evidence the Commission, finding itself unable to submit its report for a number of reasons by the 15th of September 1974, asked for time which was extended till the 15th of November 1974 and again till the 30th November 1974. At the conclusion of the recording of evidence on the 5th September 1974 we had to disperse principally because two of us were required to attend the special session of the Supreme Court at Karachi from the 9th to the 21st September, 1974 and the President had also to proceeded to Geneva to attend an International Conference. We, therefore, reassembled on the 23rd of October, 1974 at Abbottabad to prepare this Supplement to our main report.
Scheme of the Supplementary Report
7. In general although we have examined a considerable volume of fresh evidence we have found no reason whatever to modify the conclusions that we reached and stated in the Main Report; if anything by reasons of more detailed information we are confirmed in those conclusions. We, therefore, propose to avoid a repetition of what we stated in the Main Report except to some slight degree necessary for restating briefly some of the conclusions with which we are principally concerned in this supplement.
There are also some matters upon which our information was then scanty if not negligible and, these we, therefore, propose to deal with in some detail. We do, however, propose to write this, supplement, following the same pattern as far as is practicable, as we did in the main report. In Part II of that report we dealt with the political background and to this we now intend to add only matters which occurred in 1971, or to be more specific on and after the 25th March, 1971. We have nothing to add to Part III of the Main Report dealing with International Relations. As to Part IV we propose to say nothing in regard to the military aspect in so far as it concerned West Pakistan except to a limited extent as to its repercussions in East Pakistan and as to some controversy that has been raised before us as to the wisdom of opening the Western Front at all.
Of necessity in this part, however, we shall deal in greater detail with the matters dealt with in Chapters II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX of the Main Report in so far as they concern East Pakistan. We then propose to deal with the subject of discipline of the armed forces in East Pakistan which would include the questions of alleged military atrocities in East Pakistan. We shall of necessity, mainly in this part, have to deal with the individual conduct of several persons though aspects of this will emerge from earlier Chapters. We shall then need to discuss some evidence which has come before us suggesting that there were, during the period of captivity in India, concerted efforts on the part of some high officers to present a consistent, if it necessarily accurate, account of what took place. We propose finally to wind up this supplement by making the recommendations
Government of Pakistan
No. 107/19/74-Min -Whereas the Commission of Inquiry appointed under the late Ministry of Presidential Affairs Notification No. 632 (1)/71, dated the 26th December, 1971, had, in its report of 8th July, 1972, submitted, inter alia, that the Commission's findings with regard to the courses of events in East Pakistan were only tentative and recommended that "as and when the Commander Eastern Command and other senior officers now prisoners of war in India are available, a further Inquiry should be held into the circumstances which led to the surrender in East Pakistan";
And whereas all the prisoners of war and civil internees have now returned to Pakistan;
And whereas the Federal Government is of the opinion that it is necessary in the light of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry to finalise the said inquiry as to the circumstances which led to the surrender in East Pakistan, after examining any of the said prisoners of war and civil internees whose examination is considered necessary by the Commission;
Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (I) of Section 3 o the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956 (VI of 1956) the federal government is pleased to direct that the commission shall start inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and complete the inquiry and submit its report to the President of Pakistan, with its findings as to the matter aforesaid, within a period of two months commencing from the date the Commission starts functioning.
The War Inquiry Commission which has been asked by the government of Pakistan to resume its deliberations and submit a final report was appointed by the then President of Pakistan, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, on the 26th December, 1971 to enquire into the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern Command surrendered and the members of the armed forces of Pakistan under his command laid down their arms and a cease-fire was ordered along the borders of West Pakistan and India and along the cease-fire line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Commission is headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Hamoodur Rahman. The other two members of the Commission are Mr. Justice S. Anwarul Haq, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan and Mr. Justice Tufaif Ali Abdur Rahman, Chief Justice of Sid and Baluchistan High Court. Lt. Gen (Rtd) Altaf Qadir and Mr. M.A Latif, Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan are Military Adviser and Secretary of the Commission, respectively.
The Commission which had started its proceedings in camera in Rawalpindi on the 1st February, 1972 recorded evidence of 213 witnesses. It had submitted its report to the then President of Pakistan on the 12th July, 1972. In the Report the Commission had observed that its findings with regard to the causes of surrender in East Pakistan were only tentative. It, therefore, recommended that as and when the Commander, Eastern Command and other senior officers who were in India at that time were available, a further inquiry should be held into the circumstances which led to the surrender in East Pakistan. Now that all the prisoners of war and civil internees have returned to Pakistan, the Government has asked the Commission to complete this part of its inquiry.
A temporary office of the Commission has been set up for the present in the Supreme Court building at Lahore and the Commission has decided that before commencing its proceeding a place to be announced later on the members of the public civil services and the armed forces who were either prisoners of war in India or were otherwise repatriated from East Pakistan should be given an opportunity to furnish to the commission such relevant information as may be within their knowledge relating to the causes of surrender in East Pakistan. This information should be submitted in writing, preferably 5 copies, as briefly as possible by the 30th June, 1974 at the latest to the Secretary of the Inquiry Commission care of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Lahore. The informant should also state whether he will be willing to appear before the Commission.
All such information and particulars of the persons given the information will be strictly confidential. It may be mentioned that according to a public announcement of the Government of Pakistan published in newspapers on the 11th January, 1972 all proceedings before the Commission would be in camera and the statements made before and addressed to it would be absolutely privileged and would not render a person making any such statement liable to any civil or criminal proceedings except when such statement is false. The Commission is empowered to call before it any citizen of Pakistan to seek information. The Commission can if necessary even issue warrants to secure the attendance of any person unless he is otherwise exempted by law from personal appearance before a Court. The serving personnel of defence services who are willing to give evidence before the Commission should have no apprehension of victimization for assisting the Commission in its task.
The Moral Aspect
In Chapter I of Part V of the Main Report, we have dealt at some length with the moral aspect of the causes of our defeat in the 1971 War. This became necessary in view of the vehement assertions made before the Commission by a large number of respectable witnesses drawn from various sections of society, including highly placed and responsible Service Officers, to the effect that due to corruption arising out of the performance of Martial Law duties, lust for wine and women and greed for lands and houses, a large number of senior Army Officers, particularly those occupying the highest positions, had not only lost the will to fight but also the professional competence necessary for taking the vital and critical decisions demanded of them for the successful prosecution of the war. It was asserted by these witnesses that men given to a disreputable way of life could hardly be expected to lead the Pakistan Army to victory.
2. After analysing the evidence brought before the Commission, we came to the conclusion that the process of moral degeneration among the senior ranks of the Armed Forces was set in motion by their involvement in Martial Law duties in 1958, that these tendencies reappeared and were, in fact, intensified when Martial Law was imposed in the country once again in March 1969 by General Yahya Khan, and that there was indeed substance in the allegations that a considerable number of senior Army Officers had not only indulged in large scale acquisition of lands and houses and other commercial activities, but had also adopted highly immoral and licentious ways of life which seriously affected their professional capabilities and their qualities of leadership.
3. We then offered specific comments on the conduct of certain high officers including the Commander, Eastern Command, Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi. However, we observed, in Paragraph 35 of that Chapter, that "as we have not had the opportunity of putting these allegations to Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi any finding in this behalf must await his return from India where he is at present held as a prisoner of war". We have now examined not only Lt. Gen. Niazi but certain other witnesses as well in relation to his personal conduct, and the general allegations made against the Pakistan Army during its operations in the former East Pakistan, and are accordingly in a position to formulate our final conclusions in the matter.
Effect of Martial Law Duties
4. In the situation that developed after the military action of the 25th of March 1971, the civil administration in East Pakistan practically came to a standstill, and the burden of running the Province fell heavily upon the Army Officers. Their involvement in civil administration continued unabated even after the induction of a sizable number of senior civil servants from West Pakistan, including the Chief Secretary, the Inspector General of Police and at least two Division Commissioners.
5. According to the Inspector General of Police, Mr. M.A.K Chaudhry (Witness No. 219), "after the disturbances of March-April 1971, there was a Military Governor with a Major General as his adviser at the head of the civil administration. There was a parallel Martial Law administration at all levels. All wings of administration, relating to law and order were under the control of Martial Law Authorities. A West Pakistan Deputy Inspector General of Police in the field was not permitted by the local Martial Law Authorities to come to the Provincial Headquarters" for a conference with the Inspector General of Police. In the view of Syed Alamdar Raza (Witness No. 226), Commissioner of Dacca Division, "efforts were made to make civilian officers responsible or at least routine matters within the general supervision and control of the Army Officers, but no substantial results could be achieved. Those Bengali Officers who had been restored lacked confidence and were not sure if their loyalties were not suspected. Action was taken against them, even their arrests were ordered without any body knowing about it, including their superiors or the Government of East Pakistan."
6. The Army's involvement in civil administration did not come to an end even with the installation of a civilian governor (viz. Dr. A.M Malik), and the ministers appointed by him. The observations made in this behalf by Maj Gen. Rao Farman Ali (Witness No. 284), who held the appointment of Maj General (Civil Affairs) in the governor's Secretariat are worth quoting:
"A fully civil government could not be formed in East Pakistan as had been announced by the ex-President. Dr. Malik an old man and politician, had a weak personality. He could not annoy, the Martial Law Administrator (Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi) also because of the unsettled conditions obtaining in the Wing. Gen Niazi, on the other hand, cherished and liked power, but did not have the breadth of vision or ability to understand political implications. He did not display much respect for the civilian Governor,..... The Army virtually continued to control civil administration".
7. The impression created on the mind of the West Pakistani civilian officials, then serving in East Pakistan, has been stated thus by Mr. Mohammad Ashraf, (Witness No. 275), former Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dacca: "The installation of a civilian governor in September 1971 was merely to hoodwink public opinion at home and abroad. Poor Dr. Malik and his ministers were figureheads only. Real decisions in all important matters still lay with the Army. I remember the first picture of the new Cabinet. Maj. Gen Farman Ali was prominently visible sitting on the right side of the Governor, although he was not a member of the Cabinet."
8. This impression is fortified by the fact that at a later stage even the selection of candidates for the by-elections ordered by General Yahya Khan was made by Maj Gen Farman Ali. Lt. Gen Niazi and some of his subordinate Martial Law Administrators have no doubt claimed that they allowed full liberty of action to the civilian officials at various levels, but even they have conceded that in the peculiar situation prevailing in East Pakistan after the military action the Army necessarily continued to be deeply concerned with the maintenance of law and order, the restoration of communications and the revival of economic activity in the Province.
9. The evidence of Officers repatriated from India leaves no doubt that this extensive and prolonged involvement of the Pakistan Army in Martial Law duties and civil administration had a disastrous effect on its professional and moral standards. According to Brig. M. Saleemullah, who was commanding 203 (A) Brigade in East Pakistan, "prolonged commitment on Martial Law duties and interment security roles had affected the professional standards of the Army." According to Rear Admiral M. Sharif (Witness No. 283) who was the Flag Officer Commanding the Pakistan Navy in East Pakistan, "the foundation of this defeat was laid way back in 1958 when the Armed Forces took over the country ..." While learning the art of politics in this newly assigned role to themselves, they gradually abandoned their primary function of the art of soldiering, they also started amassing wealth and usurping status for themselves. Similar views were expressed before us by Commodore I.H. Malik (Witness No. 272) who was the Chairman of the Chittagong Port Trust until the day of surrender, Brigadier S.S.A Qasim, former Commander Artillery, Eastern Command, Col. Mansoorul Haw Malik, former GS-I, 9 division, East Pakistan, and Col. Ijaz Ahmad (Witness No. 247) former Colonel Staff (GS) Eastern Command, to mention only a few.
10. The fresh evidence coming before the Commission has thus served only to reinforce the conclusions reached by us in the Main Report that the involvement of the Pakistan Army in Martial Law duties and civil administration had a highly corrupting influence, seriously detracting from the professional duties of the Army and affecting the quality of training which the Officers could impart to their units and formations, for the obvious reason that they did not have enough time available for this purpose, and many of them also lost the inclination to do so.
Living off the Land
11. A new aggravating factor made its appearance in East Pakistan in the wake of the military action of the 25th of March 1971, when units of the Pakistan Army undertook "sweep operations" throughout the Province to deal with the Awami League insurgents. The Army had to go out into the countryside without adequate logistic arrangements, and was compelled, at least in the early stages of its operations to take its requirements of foodgrains and other essential supplies from civilian sources. Unfortunately, however, the practice appears to have persisted even when it became possible to make proper logistic arrangements. There is evidence to the effect that civilian shops and stores were broken into by the troops without preparing any record of what was taken and from where. The need for commandeering vehicles, foodstuffs, medicines and other essential supplies can certainly be appreciated, but this should have been done under a proper method of accounting so that compensation could be paid on return of normal conditions. As no such procedure was adopted, it led to a general feeling among the troops, including their officers that they were entitled to take whatever they wanted from wherever they liked. This appears to us to be the genesis of the looting alleged to have been indulged in by the Army in East Pakistan.
12. In the early stages this method of procurement seems to have been encouraged by senior commanders, including Lt. Gen Niazi, whose remarks on the very first day of his taking over command from Lt. Gen Tikka Khan have already been quoted by us in an earlier chapter, viz: "what have I been hearing about shortage of rations? Are not there any cows and goats in this country? This is enemy territory. Get what you want. This is what we used to do in Burma." (vide Maj Gen Farman Ali's Evidence). Gen Niazi did not, of course, accept having made any such statement and asserted that "whatever we took we gave a chit so that civil government should pay for that." This assertion is not supported by other officers. On the contrary, some officers like Lt. Col. Bukhori, (Witness No. 244) have made a positive statement that even written orders were received by them emanating from the Eastern Command to live of the land during sweep operations.
13. However, at a later stage the Eastern Command and the divisional Commanders issued strict instructions in an effort to stop such practices, and some Commanders caused searches to be carried out of the barracks occupied by the troops for the recovery of looted material which included television sets, refrigerators, typewriters, watches, gold, air conditioners and other attractive items. We were informed that in several cases disciplinary action by way of Courts of Inquiries was initiated but the cases could not be finalised for one reasons or the other before the surrender on the 16th of December 1971.
Glaring Cases of Moral Lapses Amongst
Officers Posted in East Pakistan
(1) Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi
14. In the Main Report we have mentioned the allegations, and the evidence relating thereto as regards the personal conduct of Gen. Yahya Khan, Gen. Abdul Hamid Khan the late Maj Gen (Retd) Khuda Dad Khan, Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi, Maj Gen. Jehanzeb and Brig Hayatullah. We wish to supplement those observations as regards Lt. Gen Niazi.
15. From a perusal of Paragraphs 30 to 34 of Chapter 1 of Part V of the Main Report, it will be seen that the graveness of the allegations made against Lt. Gen. Niazi is that he was making money in the handling of Martial Law cases while posted as G.O.C Sialkot and later as G.O.C and Martial Law Administrator at Lahore; that he was on intimate terms with one Mrs. Saeeda Bukhari of Gulberg, Lahore, who was running a brothel under the name of Senorita Home, and was also acting as the General's tout for receiving bribes and getting things done; that he was also friendly with another woman called Shamini Firdaus of Sialkot who was said to be playing the same role as Mrs. Saeeda Bukhari of Lahore; that during his stay in East Pakistan he came to acquire a stinking reputation owing to his association with women of bad repute, and his nocturnal visits to places also frequented by several junior officers under his command; and that he indulged in the smuggling of Pan from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. These allegations were made before the Commission by Abdul Qayyum Arif (witness No. 6), Munawar Hussain, Advocate of Sialkot (Witness No. 13), Abdul Hafiz Kardar (Witness No. 25), Maj Sajjadul Haq (Witness No. 164), Squadron Leader C.A Wahid (Witness No. 57) and Lt. Col Haliz Ahmad (Witness NO. 147).
16. During the present phase of our inquiry damaging evidence has come on the record regarding the ill repute of General Niazi in sex matters, and his indulgence in the smuggling of Pan. A mention may be made in this behalf of the statements made before us by Lt. Col. Mansoorul Haq (Witness No. 260), ex GSO-I, 9 div. Lt Cdr. A.A. Khan (Witness No. 262), of Pakistan navy, Brig I.R Shariff (Witness No. 269) former Comd. Engrs. Eastern Command, Mr. Mohammad Ashraf (Witness No. 275) former Addl. D.C. Dacca, and Lt. Col. Aziz Ahmad Khan (Witness No. 276). The remarks made by this last witness are highly significant: "The troops used to say that when the Commander (Lt. Gen. Niazi) was himself a raper, how could they be stopped. Gen. Niazi enjoyed the same reputation at Sialkot and Lahore."
17. Maj Gen Qazi Abdul Majid Khan (Witness No. 254) and Maj Gen. Farman Ali (Witness No. 284) have also spoken of Gen Niazi's indulgence in the export of Pan. According to Maj Gen Abdul Majid, Brig Aslam Niazi, commanding 53 Bde, and Senior Superintendent of Police Diljan, who was residing with Gen. Niazi in the Flag Staff House at Dacca, were helping Gen Niazi in the export of Pan. Maj. Gen. Farman Ali has gone to the extent of stating that "Gen Niazi was annoyed with me because I had not helped him in Pan business. Brig Hamiduddin of PIA had complained to me that Corps Headquarter was interfering in transportation of Pan to West Pakistan by placing limitation on poundage. I told ADC to Gen. Niazi, who visited me in my office, that this was a commercial matter and should be left to the arrangements arrived at between PIA and Pan exporters." We understand that the insinuation is that a son of Gen. Niazi was engaged in the export of Pan from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. According to Major S.S. Haider (Witness NO. 259) and Brig Atta Mohammed (Witness No. 257) even Brig Baqir Siddiqui, Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, was a partner of Gen Niazi in the export of Pan.
18. The allegations mentioned in the preceding Paragraphs were put to Lt. Gen. Niazi during his appearance before us, and he naturally denied them. When asked about his weakness for the fair sex, he replied, "I say no. I have been doing Martial Law duties. I never stopped anybody coming to see me. I became very religious during the East Pakistan trouble. I was not so before. I thought more of death than these things."
19. As regards the allegation that he was indulging in the export of Pan, he stated that he had ordered an enquiry into the matter on the complaint of a man called Bhuiyan who was aggrieved by the monopoly position occupied by the Pan exporters. He alleged that in fact Brig Hamiduddin and PIA staff were themselves involved in the smuggling of Pan.
20. From the mass of evidence coming before the Commission from witnesses, both civil and military, there is little doubt that Gen. Niazi unfortunately came to acquire a bad reputation in sex matters, and this reputation has been consistent during his postings in Sialkot, Lahore and East Pakistan. The allegations regarding his indulgence in the export of Pan by using or abusing his position in the Eastern Command and as Zonal Martial Law Administrator also prima facie appear to be well-founded, although it was not our function to hold a detailed inquiry into the matter. It is for the Government to decide whether these matters should also form the subject of any inquiry or trial which may have to be ultimately held against this officer.
(2) Maj Gen Mohammad
Jamshed, former GOC 36 (A) Division, East Pakistan
22. An inquiry was
made from Maj Gen. Jamshed Khan in this behalf, and his reply is as under.
A secret fund was placed at my disposal by the Government of East Pakistan for the purpose of payment of rewards and purchase of information and in this case the expenditure was from the secret fund at my disposal. This fund was non-auditable. The money given to the needy families who were dispatched by helicopters on night 15th/16th December, 1971 was from the EPCAF Director General's Fund. I was the sole authority to sanction from this fund and considering the circumstances under which this expenditure was made I had no intention to recommend recovery from persons concerned.
From the above clarification it will be appreciated that there was no requirement to furnish details of the above expenditure to any accounts department."
23. We regret we
cannot regard the reply given by Maj. Gen. Jamshed as satisfactory. Even
though the funds disbursed by him may not be auditable in ordinary
circumstances, it would have been appropriate and advisable for him to
supply such information as was possible for him to do in the circumstances
once the question of the disposal of these funds had arisen on the basis of
information supplied to the Commission by officers who heard of these
transactions in East Pakistan and later in the prisoners of war camps. We
suggest, therefore, without necessarily implying any dereliction on the part
of the general, that the matter should be inquired into further so that the
suspicion surrounding the same is cleared in the General's own interest.
Brig. Jehanzeb Arbab, former Commander 57 Brigade.
24. The evidence of Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah (Witness No. 242 GOC 16 Div, Maj. Gen. M.H Ansari (Witness NO. 233) GOC, 9 Div, as well as of Brig. Baqir Siddiqui (Witness No. 218) Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, disclosed that these officers and their units were involved in large scale looting, including the theft of Rs. 1,35,00,000 from the National Bank Treasury at Siraj Ganj. This amount was intercepted by a JCO at the Paksi Bridge crossing when it was being carried in the lower part of the body of a truck. The driver of the truck produced a chit reading "released by Major Maddad." We were informed that a Court o Inquiry was conveyed under the Chairmanship of Maj. Gen. M.H Ansari who had recorded some evidence, but could not complete the inquiry owing to the outbreak of war.
25. The GHQ representative was not able to inform us as to what action had ultimately been taken by GIIQ in respect of these officers, except that Brig. Jehanzeb Arabab had been appointed to officiate as GOC of a Division. The Commission feels that this appointment, before the completion of the inquiry and exoneration of the officer from any blame, was highly inadvisable on the part of the GHQ. We recommend that action should now be taken without delay to finalise the proceedings of the inquiry commenced by Maj Gen Ansari in East Pakistan. There should be no difficulty in reconstructing the record, if necessary as the material witness appear to be now available in Pakistan.
26. Before we conclude this Chapter, we would like to state that we had no desire to embark on any inquiry into personal allegations of immorality an dishonestly against senior Army Commanders, but were persuaded to examine these matters owing to the universal belief that such infamous conduct had a direct hearing on the qualities of determination and leadership displayed by these officers in the 1971 war. We have regretfully found that this was indeed so. It is, therefore, imperative that deterrent action should be taken by the Government, wherever it is justified by the facts, in order to maintain the high moral standards and traditions for which the Muslim Army of Pakistan was justly proud before degeneration set in.
Alleged atrocities by the Pakistan Army
As is well-known, the conduct of the Pakistani army, while engaged in counter-insurgency measures is East Pakistan since March 1971, has come in for a lot of criticism from several quarters. We had occasion to deal with the subject in Paragraphs 5-8 of Chapter II of Part V of the main report. We have examined this question further in the light of fresh evidence recorded by us.
Misdeeds of the Awami League Militants:
2. It is necessary that this painful chapter of the events in East Pakistan be looked at in its proper perspective. Let it not be forgotten that the initiative in resorting to violence and cruelty was taken by the militants of the Awami League, during the month of March, 1971, following General Yahya Khan's announcement of the 1st of March regarding the postponement of the session of the National Assembly scheduled for the 3rd of March 1971. It will be recalled that from the 1st of March to the 3rd of March 1971, the Awami League had taken complete control of East Pakistan, paralysing the authority of the federal government. There is reliable evidence to show that during this period the miscreants indulged in large scale massacres and rape against pro-Pakistan elements, in the towns of Dacca, Narayanganj, Chittagong, Chandraghona, Rangamati, Khulna, Dinajpur, Ghafargaoa, Kushtia, Ishurdi, Noakhali, Sylhet, Maulvi Bazaar, Rangpur, Saidpur, Jessore, Barisal, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Pabna, Sirajgonj, Comilla, Brahman Baria, Bogra, Naugaon, Santahar, and several other smaller places.
3. Harrowing tales of these atrocities were narrated by the large number of West Pakistanis and Biharis who were able to escape from these places and reach the safety of West Pakistan. For days on end, all through the troubled month of March 1971, swarms of terrorised non-Bengalis lay at the Army-controlled Dacca airport awaiting their turn to be taken to the safety of West Pakistan. Families of West Pakistani officers and other ranks serving with East Bengal units were subjected to inhuman treatment, and a large number of West Pakistani officers were butchered by the erstwhile Bengali colleagues.
4. These atrocities were completely blacked out at the time by the Government of Pakistan for fear of retaliation by the Bengalis living in West Pakistan. The Federal Government did issue a White Paper in this behalf in August 1971, but unfortunately it did not create much impact for the reason that it was highly belated, and adequate publicity was not given to it in the national and international press.
5. However, recently, a renowned journalist of high-standing, Mr. Qutubuddin Aziz, has taken pains to marshal the evidence in a publication called "Blood and Tears." The book contains the harrowing tales of inhuman crimes committed on the helpless Biharis, West Pakistanis and patriotic Bengalis living in East Pakistan during that period. According to various estimates mentioned by Mr. Qutubuddin Aziz, between 100,000 and 500,000 persons were slaughtered during this period by the Awami League militants.
6. As far as we can judge, Mr Qutubuddin Aziz has made use of authentic personal accounts furnished by the repatriates whose families, have actually suffered at the hands of the Awami League militants. He has also extensively referred to the contemporary accounts of foreign correspondents then stationed in East Pakistan. The plight of the non-Bengali elements still living in Bangladesh and the insistence of that Government on their large-scale repatriation to Pakistan, are factors which appear to confirm the correctness of the allegations made against the Awami League in this behalf.
Provocation of the Army
7. We mention these facts not in justification of the atrocities or other crimes alleged to have been committed by the Pakistani Army during its operations in East Pakistan, but only to put the record straight and to enable the allegations to be judged in their correct perspective. The crimes committed by the Awami League miscreants were bound to arouse anger and bitterness in the minds of the troops, especially when they were not confined to barracks during these weeks immediately preceding the military action, but were also subjected to the severest of humiliations. They had seen their comrades insulted, deprived of food and ration, and even killed without rhyme or reason. Tales of wholesale slaughter of families of West Pakistani officers and personnel of several units had also reached the soldiers who were after all only human, and reacted violently in the process of restoring the authority of the Central Government
The Nature of Allegations
8. According to the allegations generally made, the excesses committed by the Pakistani Army fall into the following categories:-
a) Excessive use of
force and fire power in Dacca during the night of the 25th and 26th of March
1971 when the military operation was launched.
Substance of Evidence
9. In view of the seriousness of the allegations, their persistence and their international impact as well as their fundamental importance from the point of view of moral and mental discipline of the Pakistan Army, we made it a point of questioning the repatriated officers at some length in this behalf. We feel that a brief reference to some typical statements made before us by responsible military and civil officers will be instructive, and helpful in reaching the necessary conclusions.
10) Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, apparently in an endeavor to put the blame on his predecessor, then Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan, stated that "military action was based on use of force primarily, and at many places indiscriminate use of force was resorted to which alienated the public against the Army. Damage done during those early days of the military action could never be repaired, and earned for the military leaders names such as "Changez Khan" and "Butcher of East Pakistan." While the military action was on, the then Martial Law Administration alienated the world press by unceremoniously hounding out foreign correspondents from East Pakistan, thus losing out in the propaganda war to the Indians completely. "He went on to add: "on the assumption of command I was very much concerned with the discipline of troops, and on 15th of April, 1971, that is within four days of my command, I addressed a letter to all formations located in the area and insisted that loot, rape, arson, killing of people at random must stop and a high standard of discipline should be maintained. I had come to know that looted material had been sent to West Pakistan which included cars, refrigerators and air conditioners etc." When asked about the alleged killing of East Pakistani officers and men during the process of disarming, the General replied that he had heard something of the kind but all these things had happened in the initial stages of the military action before his time. He denied the allegation that he ever ordered his subordinates to exterminate the Hindu minority. He denied that any intellectuals were killed during December, 1971. He admitted that there were a few cases of rape, but asserted that the guilty persons were duly punished. He also stated that "these things do happen when troops are spread over. My orders were that there would not be less than a company. When a company is there, there is an officer with them to control them but if there is a small picket like section, then it is very difficult to control. In Dacca jail we had about 80 persons punished for excesses."
11. Another significant statement was made in this regard by Maj. Gen. Rao Barman Ali, Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan namely: "Harrowing tales of rape, loot, arson, harassment, and of insulting and degrading behaviour were narrated in general terms.... I wrote out an instruction to act as a guide for decent behaviour and recommended action required to be taken to win over the hearts of the people. This instruction under General Tikka Khan's signature was sent to Eastern Command. I found that General Tikka's position was also deliberately undermined and his instructions ignored...excesses were explained away by false and concocted stories and figures."
12. About the use of excessive force on the night between the 25th and 26th March 1971, we have a statement from Brigadier Shah Abdul Qasim (witness No. 267) to the effect that "no pitched battle was fought on the 25th of March in Dacca. Excessive force was used on that night. Army personnel acted under the influence of revenge and anger during the military operation." It has also been alleged that mortars were used to blast two Residence Halls, thus causing excessive casualties. In defence, it has been stated that these Halls were at the relevant time not occupied by the students but by Awami League insurgents, and were also being used as dumps for arms and ammunition stored by the Awami League for its armed rebellion.
13. Still another significant statement came from Brigadier Mian Taskeenuddin (Witness No. 282): "Many junior and other officers took the law into their own hands to deal with the so-called miscreants. There have been cases of interrogation of miscreants which were far more severe in character than normal and in some cases blatantly in front of the public. The discipline of the Pakistani army as was generally understood had broken down. In a command area (Dhoom Ghat) between September and October miscreants were killed by firing squads. On coming to know about it I stopped the same forthwith."
14. Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah, GOC 16 Division, conceded that "there were rumors that Bengalis were disposed of without trial." Similarly, Brigadier Abdul Qadir Khan (Witness No. 243) Commander 93 (A)? admitted that "a number of instance of picking up Bengalis did take place." Lt. Col. S. S. H. Bokhari, CO of 29 Cavalry, appearing as Witness no 244, stated that "In Rangpur two officers and 30 men were disposed of without trial. It may have happened in other stations as well." An admission was also made by Lt. Col. S. M. Naeem (Witness No 258) CO of 39 Baluch that "innocent people were killed by us during sweep operations and it created estrangement amongst the public."
15. Lt Col. Mansoorul Haq, GSO-I, Division, appearing as Witness No 260, has made detailed and specific allegations as follows:
"A Bengali, who was alleged to be a Mukti Bahini or Awami Leaguer, was being sent to Bangladesh-a code name for death without trial, without detailed investigations and without any written order by any authorised authority."
Indiscriminate killing and looting could only serve the cause of the enemies of Pakistan. In the harshness, we lost the support of the silent majority of the people of East Pakistan.... The Comilla Cantt. massacre (on 27th/28th of March, 1971) under the orders of CO 53 Field Regiment, Lt. Gen. Yakub Malik, in which 17 Bengali Officers and 915 men were just slain by a flick of one Officer's fingers should suffice as an example.
There was a general feeling of hatred against Bengalis amongst the soldiers and officers including Generals. There were verbal instructions to eliminate Hindus.
In Salda Nadi area about 500 persons were killed.
When the army moved
to clear the rural areas and small towns, it moved in a ruthless manner,
destroying, burning and killing. The rebels while retreating carried out
reprisals against non-Bengalis.
16. Several civilian officers have also deposed in a similar vein, and it would suffice to quote here the words of Mr. Mohammad Ashraf, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dacca, to whose evidence we have also referred earlier in another context. He stated that "after the military action the Bengalis were made aliens in their own homeland. The life, property, and honour of even the most highly placed among them were not safe. People were picked up from their homes on suspicion and dispatched to Bangladesh, a term used to describe summary executions. .... The victims included Army and Police Officers, businessmen, civilian officers etc....There was no Rule of Law in East Pakistan. A man had no remedy if he was on the wanted list of the Army.... Army Officers who were doing intelligence were raw hands, ignorant of the local language and callous of Bengali sensibilities."
17. About the attitude of senior officers in this behalf, Brigadier Iqbalur Rehman Shariff (Witness no. 269), has alleged that during his visit to formations in East Pakistan General Gul Hassan used to ask the soldiers "how many Bengalis have you shot."
18. The statements appearing in the evidence of Lt. Col. Aziz Ahmed Khan (Witness no 276) who was Commanding Officer 8 Baluch and then CO 86 Mujahid Battalion are also directly relevant. "Brigadier Arbbab also told me to destroy all houses in Joydepur. To a great extent I executed this order. General Niazi visited my unit at Thakurgaon and Bogra. He asked us how many Hindus we had killed. In May, there was an order in writing to kill Hindus. This order was from Brigadier Abdullah Malik of 23 Brigade."
19. While the extracts of evidence given above reflect the general position in regard to the allegations we are considering, it appears to be necessary to deal specifically with certain matters brought to the notice of the Prime Minister of Pakistan by the Bangladesh authorities, or which have otherwise been particularly mentioned by certain witnesses appearing before the Commission during the present session.
Painting the Green of East Pakistan Red
20. During his meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan at Dacca on Friday, the 28th of June 1974, the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sk. Mujibur Rahman, complained inter-alia that Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali had written in his own hand on Government stationery that "The green of East Pakistan will have to be painted red." Sk. Mujibur Rahman promised to supply a photostat copy of this document to the Government of Pakistan." The same has since been received and is added to Annexure "A" to this chapter. The insinuation is that this writing amounted to a written declaration of the intentions of the Pakistan Army and the martial law administration in East Pakistan to indulge in large-scale bloodshed in order to suppress the movement for Bangladesh. This writing is being put forward as a proof of the killings alleged to have been carried out in East Pakistan during the military operations.
21. We asked Maj. Gen. Farman Ali to explain the significance of this writing and the circumstances under which it came to me made by him. He has stated that the words "the green of East Pakistan will have to be painted red" were uttered by one of the NPA leaders in Paltan Maidan, Dacca in a public speech during June 1970. The Martial Law headquarters thought that these words had been uttered by Mr Mohammad Toha of the NAP, and the General was asked to call for the explanation of Mr Toha and warn him not to say things prejudicial to public peace. To remind himself he wrote these words down on the back of his table diary, when they were repeated to him on telephone by Lt. Gen. Yakub, the then Zonal Martial Law administrator in East Pakistan. Toha later denied having uttered these words and mentioned the names of Qazi Zafar and Rashid Menon in this connection. As these gentlemen had gone underground, General Farman Ali could not take any further action against them. The General has further explained that as Mr Toha and his associates had communist leanings, these words were intended to convey their conviction and objective that East Pakistan would be turned into a communist state, and not that there would be bloodshed. Finally, Maj. Gen. Farman Ali has stated that he did not give any importance to this note and it must have fallen into the hands of his Bengali Personal Assistant, when the diary for the year 1970 was replaced at the close of that year.
22. From the photostat copy sent to the Government of Pakistan by the Government of Bangladesh, it becomes clear that the paper on which these words are written was apparently in the nature of a writing pad on which notes are jotted down as an aid to memory. The paper bears the heading:-
"Governor's Secretariat, East Pakistan"
Then there are miscellaneous entries, which do not have any connection with each other, for instance,
"Siraj - Iqbal Hall, D.U."
Below these words a line in ink is drawn and then appear the words "Case against Mr. Toha and others." These words are followed by the telephone number of the Chief Justice and then by some other entries relating to some accommodation and the name of one Mr. Karamat. Then appear the words in question, enclosed by a circle in black ink. There is a further entry of an Officer's name below these words, which apparently has no connection with this matter.
23. A perusal of this document leave no doubt in our mind that it was indeed in the nature of a writing pad or table diary on which the General made miscellaneous notes during course of his work. The words "Case against Mr Toha and others," appearing in the same page, do support Maj. Gen. Farman Ali's contention that it was in this connection that he noted these words to remind himself, while confronting Mr Toha as directed by the Martial Law Administrator. We consider that it is highly fanciful to regard this note as being in the nature of a solemn declaration of Maj. Gen. Farman Ali's intention to shed blood on the soil of East Pakistan. The explanation given by the General appears to us to be correct.
Alleged Killing of Intellectuals during December 1971
24. This again is a matter, which was specifically raised by Sk. Mujibur Rehman during his meeting with the Prime Minister at Dacca. According to Maj. Gen. Farman Ali it was on the 9th and 10th of December 1971 that he was rung up in the evening by Maj. Gen. Jamshed, who was the Deputy Martial Law Administrator for Dacca Division and asked to come to his headquarters in Peelkhana. On reaching the headquarters he saw a large number of vehicles parked there. Maj. Gen. Jamshed was getting into a car and he asked Maj. Gen. Farman Ali to come along. They both drove to Headquarters of Eastern Command to meet Lt. Gen. Niazi and on the way Maj. Gen. Jamshed informed Maj. Gen. Farman that they were thinking of arresting certain people. Gen. Farman Ali advised against it. On reaching Lt. General Niazi's headquarters he repeated his advice, on which Lt. Gen. Niazi kept quiet and so did Maj. Gen. Jamshed. Maj. Gen. Farman Ali has stated that he cannot say anything as to what happened after he came away from the headquarters but he thinks that no further action was taken.
25. When questioned on this point, Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi stated that the local Commanders had, on the 9th of December 1971, brought a list to him which included the names of miscreants, heads of Mukti Bahini etc., but not any intellectuals but he had stopped them from collecting and arresting these people. He denied the allegation that any intellectuals were in fact arrested and killed on the 9th December 1971 or thereafter.
26. Maj. Gen. Jamshed has, however, a slightly different version to offer. He says that it was on the 9th and 10th of December 1971 that General Niazi expressed his apprehension of a general uprising in the Dacca city and ordered him to examine the possibility of arresting certain persons according to lists which were already with the various agencies, namely the Martial Law Authorities and the Intelligence Branch. A conference was held on the 9th and 10th of December 1971 in which these lists were produced by the agencies concerned and the total number of persons to be arrested came to about two or three thousand. According to him, arrangements for accommodation, security guards, missing and the safety of the arrested persons from bombing/strafing by the Indian Air Force presented insurmountable problems and therefore, he reported back to Lt. Gen. Niazi that the proposal be dropped. He states that thereafter no further action was taken in this matter.
27. From the statements made by the three Generals who appear to be directly concerned in the matter, it seems that although there was some talks of arresting persons known to be leaders of the Awami League or Mukti Bahini so as to prevent chances o a general uprising in Dacca during the closing phases of the war with India, yet no practical action was taken in view of the circumstances then prevailing, namely the precarious position of the Pakistan Army and the impending surrender. We consider, therefore, that unless the Bangladesh authorities can produce some convincing evidence, it is not possible to record a finding that any intellectuals or professionals were indeed arrested and killed by the Pakistan Army during December 1971.
Killings During Disarming of East Pakistan Units
28. In the evidence specific allegations were made before the Commission that Lt. Col. Yakub Malik, CO of 53 Field Regiment was responsible for the killing of 17 Officers and 915 other ranks at Comilla Cantt., while disarming 4 EBR, 40 Field Ambulance and Bengali SSG personnel. An explanation was accordingly called from this officer, in which he has denied the allegation, and has asserted that resistance was put up by the particular units aforementioned as a result of which casualties were sustained on both sides. He asserts, however, that in April 1971 when the situation stabilised a large number of disarmed Bengali personnel detained in the barracks were reported to Headquarters 9 Div., thus implying that no such killing took place during the disarming process towards the end of March 1971.
29. Similar allegations have also been made before the Commission regarding the disarming of East Pakistani personnel of 29 Cavalry at Rangpur, although the number of persons said to have been killed is mentioned as being only two officers and 30 other ranks. An explanation was called from the Commanding Officer, Brigadier, Saghir Hussain and he has denied the allegation stating that all the personnel, barring a few who had either deserted or did not return from leave, were safely evacuated to West Pakistan under arrangements of Eastern Command, and they were later repatriated to Bangladesh along with other East Pakistani personnel.
30. The evidence before the Commission in respect of these allegations is obviously not conclusive. It is possible that there may have been other instances of casualties inflicted during the disarming of East Pakistani personnel. The Commission feels that the Army authorities must conduct a thorough inquiry into these matters so as to elicit the truth and fix responsibility.
Magnitude of Atrocities
31. In the circumstances that prevailed in East Pakistan from the 1st of March to the 16th of December 1971, it was hardly possible to obtain an accurate estimate of the toll of death and destruction caused by the Awami League militants and later by the Pakistan Army. It must also be remembered that even after the military action of the 25th of march 1971, Indian infiltrators and members of the Mukti Bahini sponsored by the Awami League continued to indulge in killings, rape and arson during their raids on peaceful villages in East Pakistan, not only in order to cause panic and disruption and carry out their plans of subversion, but also to punish those East Pakistanis who were not willing to go along with them. In any estimate of the extent of atrocities alleged to have been committed on the East Pakistani people, the death and destruction caused by the Awami League militants throughout this period and the atrocities committed by them on their own brothers and sisters must, therefore, be always be kept in view.
32. According to the Bangladesh authorities, the Pakistan Army was responsible for killing three million Bengalis and raping 200,000 East Pakistani women. It does not need any elaborate argument to see that these figures are obviously highly exaggerated. So much damage could not have been caused by the entire strength of the Pakistan Army then stationed in East Pakistan even if it had nothing else to do. In fact, however, the army was constantly engaged in fighting the Mukti Bahini, the Indian infiltrators, and later the Indian army. It has also the task of running the civil administration, maintaining communications and feeding 70 million people of East Pakistan. It is, therefore, clear that the figures mentioned by the Dacca authorities are altogether fantastic and fanciful.
33. Different figures were mentioned by different persons in authority but the latest statement supplied to us by the GHQ shows approximately 26,000 persons killed during the action by the Pakistan Army. This figure is based on situation reports submitted from time to time by the Eastern Command to the General Headquarters. It is possible that even these figures may contain an element of exaggeration as the lower formations may have magnified their own achievements in quelling the rebellion. However, in the absence of any other reliable date, the Commission is of the view that the latest figure supplied by the GHQ should be accepted. An important consideration which has influenced us in accepting this figure as reasonably correct is the fact that the reports were sent from East Pakistan to GHQ at a time when the Army Officers in East Pakistan could have had no notion whatsoever of any accountability in this behalf.
34. The falsity of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's repeated allegation that Pakistani troops had raped 200,000 Bengali girls in 1971 was borne out when the abortion team he had commissioned from Britain in early 1972 found that its workload involved the termination of only a hundred or more pregnancies.
Question of Responsibility
35. For almost three years now, the world has repeatedly heard a list of 195 names said to have been prepared by the Dacca authorities in connection with the commission of these atrocities and crimes. As the Commission has not been supplied with a copy of this list, it is not possible for us to comment upon the justification or otherwise of the inclusion of any particular names therein. It is, however, clear that the final and overall responsibility must rest on General Yahya Khan, Lt. Gen. Pirazada, Maj Gen. Umar, Lt. Gen. Mitha. It has been brought out in evidence that Maj. Gen. Mitha was particularly active in East Pakistan in the days preceding the military action of the 25th of March 1971, and even the other Generals just mentioned were present in Dacca along with Yahya Khan, and secretly departed there on the evening of that fateful day after fixing the deadline for the military action. Maj. Gen. Mitha is said to have remained behind. There is also evidence that Lt. Gen Tikka Khan, Major Gen. Farman Ali and Maj. Gen Khadim Hussain were associated with the planning of the military action. There is, however, nothing to show that they contemplated the use of excessive force or the Commission of atrocities and excesses on the people of East Pakistan.
36. The immediate responsibility for executing the plan of this action fell on Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan who succeeded Lt. Gen. Mohammad Yakub on the 7th of March 1971 as Zonal Administrator, Martial Law, as well as Commander Eastern Command. This last responsibility was passed on by him to Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi on the 7th of April 1971. From that day until the day of surrender the troops in East Pakistan remained under the operational control of Lt. Gen. Niazi who also assumed powers of the Martial Law administrator on the appointment of a civilian Governor in August 1971. It is a question for determination as to what share of responsibility must rest on these commanders for the excesses allegedly committed by the troops under their Command. It is in evidence that Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan was always willing to redress grievances and take disciplinary action whenever complaints of excesses were brought to his notice. It has also to be said that both these Generals had issued repeated warnings to troops to refrain from acts of violence and immorality. At the same time there is some evidence to suggest that the words and personal actions of Lt. Gen. Niazi were calculated to encourage the killings and rape.
37. The direct responsibility of the alleged excesses and atrocities must, of course, rest on those officers and men who physically perpetuated them or knowingly and deliberately allowed them to be so perpetuated. These officers and men not only showed lack of discipline in disobeying the directives of the Eastern Command and Zonal Martial Law Administrator, but also indulged in criminal acts punishable under the Army Act as well as the ordinary law of the land.
Conclusions and Recommendations
38. From what we have said in the preceding Paragraphs it is clear that there is substance in the allegations that during and after the military action excesses were indeed committed on the people of East Pakistan, but the versions and estimates put forward by the Dacca authorities are highly coloured and exaggerated. Some of the incidents alleged by those authorities did not take place at all, and on others fanciful interpretations have been deliberately placed for the purpose of maligning the Pakistan army and gaining world sympathy. We have also found that the strong provocation was offered to the army owing to the misdeeds of the Awami League. It has also been stated that use of force was undoubtedly inherent in the military action required to restore the authority of the Federal Government. Nevertheless, in spite of all these factors we are of the view that the officers charged with the task of restoring law and order were under an obligation to act with restraint and to employ only the minimum force necessary for the purpose. No amount of provocation by the militants of the Awami League or other miscreants could justify retaliation by a disciplined army against its own people. The Pakistan Army was called upon to operate in Pakistan territory, and could not, therefore, be permitted to behave as if it was dealing with external aggression or operating on enemy soil. Irrespective, therefore, of the magnitude of the atrocities, we are of the considered opinion that it's necessary for the Government of Pakistan to take effective action to punish those who were responsible for the commission of these alleged excesses and atrocities.
Inquiries and Trials
39. On the basis of the evidence coming before the Commission, we have been able to indicate only in general terms the direct and indirect responsibility of certain senior commanders and others, but the question of fixing individual responsibility and awarding punishment appropriate thereto need to be determined according to the prescribed procedures available under the Pakistan Army Act and other applicable laws of the land. We would, accordingly, reiterate the recommendation made by us in Paragraph 7 of Chapter III of Para V of the main report that the Government of Pakistan should set up a high-powered Court or Commission of Inquiry to investigate these allegations, and to hold trials of those who indulged in these atrocities, brought a bad name to the Pakistan Army and alienated the sympathies of the local population by their acts of wanton cruelty and immorality against our own people. The composition of the Court of Inquiry, if not its proceedings, should be publicly announced so as to satisfy national conscience and international opinion.
40. The Commission feels that sufficient evidence is now available in Pakistan for a fruitful inquiry to be undertaken in this regard. As the Government of Bangladesh has been recognised by Pakistan, it may be feasible to request the Dacca authorities to forward to this Court of Inquiry whatever evidence may be available with them.
Professional Responsibilities of Certain Senior Army Commanders
In Chapters 1, 2 and 5 of Part 5 of the main report we have dealt with the moral and disciplinary aspects of the events and causes leading to the defeat of the Pakistan Army in the 1971 war, and have also touched upon the individual responsibility of certain senior officers. In the preceding two chapters of the Supplementary Report, we have offered further observations on these aspects and have commented upon the conduct of certain Army Officers posted in East Pakistan. There, however, still remains the question of determining whether any disciplinary action is called for against certain senior army commanders for their failings in the discharge of their professional duties in the conduct ad prosecution of the war in East Pakistan.
Nature of Disciplinary Action
2. In view of the glaring weaknesses and negligence displayed by some of the senior officers operating in East Pakistan, we have anxiously considered the nature of the disciplinary action required in the case. We find that there are several provisions in the Pakistan Army Act 1952 having a direct bearing on this matter. In the first place, there is section 24 which is in the following terms:- "24. Offences in relation to enemy and punishable with death. Any person to this Act who commits any of the following offenses, that is to say,-
(a) Shamefully abandons or delivers up any garrison, fortress, airfield, place, post or guard committed to his charge or which it is his duty to defend, or uses any means to compel or induce any commanding officer or any other person to do any of the said acts; or
(b) in the presence
of any enemy, shamefully casts away his arms, ammunition, tools or
equipment, or misbehaves in such manner as to show cowardice; or
3. Section 25 is
also relevant, and reads as under:-
(a) without order
from his superior officer leaves the ranks in order to secure prisoner,
animals or materials, or on the pretence of taking wounded men to the rear;
4. Finally, there is section 55 which is of a general nature, and provides;- "55. Violation of good order and discipline-Any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct, disorder and of military discipline shall , on conviction by court martial, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned."
5. We are fully cognizant of the fact that defeat in war, even entailing surrender, is not necessarily punishable as a military offence unless it has been occasioned by wilful neglect of the Commander concerned in the performance of his duties in respect of the appreciation of the situation regarding the enemy's intention, strength, own resources, terrain, etc; or in the planning and conduct of the operations; or a wilful failure to take action as required under the circumstances. A callous disregard of the recognised techniques and principles of warfare would clearly amount to culpable negligence, and could not be excused as an honest error of judgement. A deliberate failure to adopt the proper course of action to meet a certain contingency cannot be covered by taking shelter behind the plea that his superiors did not advise him properly in time. It further appears to us that every Commander must be presumed to possess the calibre and quality, appurtenant to his rank, and he must per force bear full responsibility for all the acts of omission and commission, leading to his defeat in war, which are clearly attributable to culpable negligence on his part to take the right action at the right time, as distinguished from (illegible) or circumstances beyond his control. He would also be liable to be punished if he shows a lack of will to fight and surrenders to the enemy at a juncture when he still had the resources and the capability to put up resistance. Such an act would appear to fall clearly under clause (a) of section 24 of the Pakistan Army Act.
Need and Justification for Trial and Punishment
6. Having heard the views of a large number of witnesses drawn from all sections of society, professions and services, the Commission feels that there is consensus on the imperative need to book these senior army commanders who have brought disgrace and defeat to Pakistan by their professional incompetence, culpable negligence and wilful neglect in the performance of their duties, and physical and moral cowardice in abandoning the fight when they had the capability and resources to resist the enemy. We are also of the view that proper and firm disciplinary action , and not merely retirement from service, is necessary to ensure against any future recurrence of the kind of shameful conduct displayed during the 1971 war. We believe that such action would not only satisfy the nations demand for punishment where it is deserved, but would also serve to emphasise the concept of professional accountability which appears to have been forgotten by senior army officers since their involvement in politics, civil administration and Martial Law duties.
Cases Requiring Action by Way of Court Martial
7. In Part III of the present report, we have discussed and analysed at some length the concept of defence of East Pakistan adopted by Lt. Gen Niazi, and the manner in which he and his Divisional and Brigade Commanders formulated their plans to implement that concept within the resources available to them in East Pakistan. We have then narrated the important events involving the surrender of well-defended strong points and fortresses without a fight , desertion of his area of responsibility by a Divisional Commander, disintegration of brigades and battalions in frantic and foolish efforts to withdraw from certain posts , and abandoning of the wounded and the sick is a callous disregard of all human and military values. We have also seen how the Eastern Command had failed to plan for an all out war with India and particularly to provide for the defence of Dacca which had been described as the political and military lynch-pin of East Pakistan. We have also described the painful events leading to the ultimate surrender of such a large body of men and materials to the Indian Army at juncture when, by all accounts, the Pakistan Army was still able to put up resistance for anything up to two weeks or more. In this context we have also taken note of the inexplicable orders issued by the Eastern Command to stop the destruction of war before material before the surrender , and the abject and shameful attitude adopted by the Commander, Eastern Command, at various stages of the surrender ceremonies in the presence of the Indian Generals. Finally, we have observed that during his period of captivity at Jabbalpur (India) Lt General Niazi made efforts to persuade, by threats and inducements, his subordinate Commanders to present a coordinated story so as to mitigate his responsibility for the debate.
8. Judged in the light of this analysis of the events leading to the surrender of our surrender of our Army in East Pakistan, and the relevant provisions of the Pakistan Army Act and the considerations thereto, as outlined in the preceding Paragraphs, we are of the considered opinion that the following senior officers ought to be tried by court martial on the charges listed against them , and we recommend accordingly.
(1) Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, Commander, Eastern Command
(i) That he
willfully failed to appreciate the imminence of all-out war with India, in
spite of all indications to the contrary, namely the declarations of the
Indian Prime Minister and other important Government leaders, the signing of
the Indo-Soviet treaty in August, 1971, the amassing of eight divisions of
the Indian Army, eleven squadrons of the Indian Air Force, and a large task
force of the Indian Navy in and around East Pakistan , and the clear warning
given to him by the GHQ on the basis of reliable intelligence regarding
Indian plans of invasion of East Pakistan, with the n consequence that he
continued to deploy his troops in a forward posture although that deployment
had become entirely unsuited for defence against open Indian aggression;
2. Maj Gen
Mohammad Jamshed, ex-JOC 36 (ad hoc) Division, Dacca
(3) Maj Gen M.
Rahim Khan, ex-GOC 3? (ad hoc) Division
4. Brig. G.M. Baqir Siddiqui, former COS, Eastern Command, Dacca
(i) That as Chief of
Staff, Eastern Command, he was guilty of wilful neglect in failing to advise
the Commander , Eastern Commander, on sound professional lines in regard to
the matters mentioned in charges (i) to (ix) framed against Lt. Gen Niazi;
5. Brig Mohammad
Hayat, former Comd. 107 bde. (9 Div)
6. Brig. Mohammad
Asla Niazi, former Cod., 53 Bde (39Ad hoc Div.)
8. Cases Requiring Departmental Action
(1) Brig. S.A. Ansari, ex-Comd, 23 Bde, (Div)--
This officer assumed command of 23 Bde on the 14th of November 1971 and was responsible for the civil districts of Rangpur and Dinajpur, except the small area of Hilli which was under the control of 205 Bde. Right from the beginning he seems to have been losing ground, starting with the loss of Bhurungamari which was attacked by the Indians on the 14th or 15th of November 1971. His troops then lost the important position of Pachagarh mainly owing to Brig. Ansari's inability to readjust his position. He then abandoned Thakurgaon between 28th and 30th of November 1971 without offering any resistance to the enemy. As a result of these reverses he was relieved of his command on the 3rd of December 1971. His Divisional Commander, Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah formed a poor opinion of his performance in battle and we have no hesitation in endorsing the same fro evidence coming before us. We are of the view that he did not display qualities of courage, leadership and determination. The Commission feels that this Officer is not fit for further retention in service.
(2) Brig. Manzoor Ahmad, ex-Comd 57 Bde (9 Div)--
This Officer did not conduct the battle with sufficient grip and caused the loss of fortress of Jhenidah without a fight , owing to his inability to clear an enemy block at Kot Chandpur. Then, contrary to the Divisional concept and without orders he withdrew his Brigade out of the Divisional area and had to be placed under 16 Division. He became detached from his main Headquarters and remained so till the end. He could therefore make no contribution to the war and his performance created the impression that he was shaky in battle. He does not appear to be fit for further retention in service.
(3) Brig. Abdul Qadir Khan, ex-Comd, 93 Bde. (36 Div)--
The work and the conduct of Brig. Abdul Qadir Khan has come to the notice of the Commission in two capacities, namely as the President of the Inter-Services Screening Committee at Dacca and later as Commander of 93 (Ad hoc) Brigade under 36 Division. In the former capacity, he was responsible for the screening of military and civilian personnel as well as non-officials who had either defected during the Awami League movement or had otherwise come to adverse notice. Allegations were made that some persons in his custody were eliminated without trial, or even without any ostensible cause. However, the allegations were not substantiated so as to fix personal responsibility on him. As Commander 93 (Ad hoc) Brigade, he was captured by the Indians while withdrawing to Dacca fro Mymensingh under the orders of Eastern Command. He sees to have reached his ceiling and the Commission formed the impression that his further retention in service would not be in the public interest. We were inferred by the GHQ representative that the Officer had since been retired.
Performance of Other Senior Officers
9. Besides Lt Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, Maj Gen. Mohammad Jamshed, and Maj Gen M Rahim Khan, with whose cases we have already dealt in the preceding paragraphs, there were four other General Officers serving in the East Pakistan at the time of the surrender, namely, Maj. Gen. M.H. Ansari, GOC 9 Div., Maj. Gen. Qazi Abdul Majid, GOC 14 Div., Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah, GOC 16 Div., and Maj. Gen. Rao Farman Ali, Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan. Similarly, besides the Brigadiers, whom we have noticed in the preceding paragraphs, there were 19 other Brigadiers serving in various capacities as Brigade Commanders or Commanders of technical arms. Finally, there was a Rear Admiral of the Navy supported by three Commanders and one Air Commodore commanding the PAF in East Pakistan.
10. While we shall deal with the case of Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali separately, as he was not commanding any troops at the relevant time, we cannot help remarking that all the senior officers stationed in East Pakistan immediately before and during the war of 1971 must be held collectively responsible for the failings and weaknesses which led to the defeat of the Pakistan Army. However, while assessing their individual responsibility, the Commission was obliged to take note of the limitations imposed on them by the concepts and attitudes adopted by the Eastern Command, the admitted shortages and deficiencies in men and materials, faced by them as compared to the vast resources of the enemy and the general demoralisation which stemmed fro the culpable acts of commission and omission on the part of the Army High Command at Rawalpindi and the Commander Eastern Command, at Dacca. Finally, there was also the unfortunate over-riding factor of a long and inherited tradition of unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the superior commander, which prevented most of these officers from questioning the soundness of the critical decisions and actions taken by the High Command, including the final act of surrender. Apart from a few individuals, the large body of officers and men operating in East Pakistan accepted the final decision without any thought of disobedience, even though the majority of them were undoubtedly willing to fight to the last and lay down their lives for the glory of Pakistan.
11. Keeping in view these factors and circumstances we have examined the individual performance and conduct of these senior officers, as will be apparent from the relevant portions of the Main Report and this Supplement where we have narrated at some length the military events as they developed from day-to-day and we have come to the conclusion that adverse comment reflecting on theory (of) suitability for continued retention in military service would not be justified. We have also not thought it desirable to single out officers for special praise either, although it goes without saying that in several cases the officers did act with dedication and valour beyond the ordinary call of duty.
Performance and Conduct of Junior Officers
12. In the very nature of things, the Commission was not in a position to examine at any length the conduct and performance of officers below the Brigade level although some cases necessarily came to our notice where the performance of these officers had a direct bearing on the fate of important battles which were fought on various fronts, or where their conduct transgressed the norms of moral discipline. Such cases have found mention in the relevant portions of our report, but by and large cases of these junior officers must be left to be dealt with by the respective Service Headquarters who have ordained detailed briefing reports from all of them and are also in possession of their performance by their immediate superiors.
The Role of Maj. Gen. Farman Ali
13. Before we conclude this Chapter, brief remarks about the role of Maj. Gen. Farman Ali would not be out of place, for the reason that he has been conspicuously mentioned in several contexts by the international press as well as by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
14. This officer remained in East Pakistan continuously from the 28th of February 1967 to the 16th of December 1971. He was Commander, Artillery 14 Div., in the rank of Brigadier from the 28th of February, 1967 to the 25th of March 1969. On the promulgation of Martial Law by General Yahya Khan on the 25th of March 1969 he was appointed as Brigadier (Civil Affairs) in the office of the Zonal Administrator of Martial Law. He was later promoted as Major General in the same post. From the 4th of July 1971 to the 3rd of September 1971 he functioned under the designation of Maj. Gen. (Political Affairs), and from the latter date to the 14th of December 1971 he worked as Adviser to the Governor of East Pakistan, ceasing to hold this appointment on the resignation of Dr. A.M.Malik.
15. It was inherent in the appointments held by him since the promulgation of General Yahya Khan's Martial Law on the 25th of March 1969 that Maj. Gen. Farman Ali should come into contact with civil officials and political leaders, besides being associated with Army Officers and Martial Law Administrators of various levels and grades. He frankly admitted before the Commission that he was associated with the planning of the military action of the 25th of March 1971, and also with the subsequent political steps taken by the military regime to noramlise the situation, including the proposed by-elections necessitated by the disqualification of a large number of Awami league members of the National and Provincial Assemblies. Nevertheless, as a result of our detailed study of the written statement, submitted by the General and the lengthy cross-examination to which we subjected him during his appearance before us, as well as the evidences from other witnesses from East Pakistan, we have formed the view that Maj. Gen. Farman Ali merely functioned as an intelligent, well-intentioned and sincere staff officer in the various appointments held by him, and at no stage could he be regarded as being a member of the inner military junta surrounding and supporting General Yahya Khan. We have also found that at no stage did he advise, or himself indulge in, actions opposed to public morality, sound political sense or humanitarian considerations. In this context, we have already commented at some length, in a previous Chapter of this Report, on the allegation made by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at General Farman Ali was wanting to "paint the green of East Pakistan red," and have found that the entire incident has been deliberately distorted.
16. During the critical days of the war this officer had no direct responsibility for military operations, but he was, nevertheless, closely associated with the Governor of East Pakistan as well as the Commander Eastern Command. It was for this reason that he got involved in what has been called "the Farman Ali incident." As we have seen in the chapter dealing with the details of the surrender in East Pakistan, the message authenticated by Maj. Gen. Farman Ali for being dispatched to the United Nations on the 9th of December 1971 had been approved by the Governor of East Pakistan, who had obtained prior authority and clearance from the President of Pakistan, namely, General Yahya Khan, for the purpose of formulating proposals for a settlement and cessation of hostilities in East Pakistan. In these circumstances, the responsibility for its authorship and dispatch could not, therefore, be placed on this officer. In fact, he had, at the time, demanded trial by court martial to clear his position. In view of the facts, as they have now emerged before the Commission, there is no need for any such enquiry or trial.
17. Maj. Gen. Farman Ali was present at Headquarters Eastern Command, during the last phases of the events when Indian Officers came to meet Lt. Gen. Niazi for negotiating the details of the surrender. From the detailed accounts which have come before us of the behaviour and attitude of both these officers, we have no hesitation in recording the opinion that at all relevant times Maj. Gen. Farman Ali advised Lt. Gen. Niazi on correct lines, and if his advice had been accepted, some of the disgraceful episodes might have been avoided.
18. We have also examined the reason why the Indian Commander-in-Chief, General Masnekshaw, addressed certain leaflets to General Farman Ali by describing him as Commander of the Pakistan Army. It appears that on the 8th or 9th December 1971, Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi had not been seen outside his command bunker, and there was a broadcast by the BBC that he had left East Pakistan and that General Farman Ali had taken over the command of the Pakistan Army. It was for this reason that the Indian Commander addressed General Farman Ali calling upon him to surrender. We are satisfied that at no time did Major General Farman Ali indulge in any communication with the Indian Generals. The situation was in any case rectified when Lt. Gen. Niazi made a public appearance at Hotel Intercontinental, Dacca, before foreign correspondents.
19. An allegation was made before the Commission by Lt. Gen. Niazi that Maj. Gen. Farman Ali had sent out of East Pakistan a large sum of money, approximately Rs 60,000, through his nephew who was a Helicopter Pilot in the Army and left Dacca in the early hours of the 16th of December, 1971. We reported Major General Farman Ali to seek his explanation regarding this allegation and some other matters. He has explained that a sum of Rs 60,000/- had been given by the President of Pakistan to the Governor of East Pakistan for expenditure at his discretion. After the Governor of East Pakistan resigned on or about the 14th December 1971, Maj. Gen. Farman Ali, as Advisor to the Governor, became responsible for this amount. He paid Rs 4000 to Islamia Press, Dacca, and this payment was within the knowledge of the Military Secretary to the Governor, who has also been repatriated to Pakistan. Out of the remaining amount of Rs 56,000/-, Maj. Gen. Farman Ali paid Rs 5000/- to Maj. Gen. Rahim Khan at the time of his evacuation from Dacca on the morning of the 16th of December 1971 to meet the expenses en route which may be required not only by Maj. Gen. Rahim Khan but also by the other persons who were being evacuated with him. It was stated by Maj. Gen. Farman Ali that Maj Gen Rahim Khan had rendered the necessary account of the sum of Rs. 5000/- given to him.
20. After deducting payments made to the Islamia Press, Dacca, and to Maj Gen Rahim Khan an amount of Rs. 51,000/- was left with Maj. Gen. Farman Ali which he physically handed over to his nephew Major Ali Jawaher at the time of his departure from Dacca on the 16th of December 1971. Since his arrival in Pakistan, Maj. Gen. Farman Ali has deposited Rs 46,000/- in the Government Treasury and handed over the treasury receipt to Brig. Qazi, Director Pay and Accounts, GHQ. He has claimed the remaining amount of Rs 5000/- on account of house rent allowance sanctioned by the Government of East Pakistan for the residence of his wife and family in West Pakistan. He has stated the sanctioned allowance was Rs 1400/ PM and the period involved was twelve months, so that he could claim Rs 15000/- but he has claimed only Rs 5000/-.
21. We are satisfied with the explanation rendered by Maj. Gen. Farman Ali, as the facts stated by him are easily verifiable and we do not think that he would have made incorrect statements in this behalf before the Commission.
22. For the foregoing reasons we are of the view that the performance and conduct of Maj. Gen. Farman Ali during the entire period of his service in East Pakistan does not call for any adverse comment.
1.This Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the President of Pakistan in Dec 1971. After examining 213 witnesses, we submitted the Main Report in July, 1972. However, at that time we did not have before us the evidence of the major personalities, except Major General M. Rahim Khan who had played a part in the final events culminating in the surrender in East Pakistan. Accordingly, we stated that "our observations and conclusions regarding the surrender in East Pakistan and other allied matters should be regarded as provisional and subject to modification in the light of the evidence of the Commander, Eastern Command, and other senior officers as and when such evidence becomes available."
2. After the repatriation of prisoners of war from India, the Commission was reactivated in May, 1974. At the resumed session, we have examined as many as 72 persons, including Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi, Commander, Eastern Command, all the Major Generals and Brigadiers who had served in East Pakistan, Rear Admiral Sharif, Flag Officer Commanding the Pakistan Navy, Air Commodore Inam, the senior most Air Force Officer, and several civilian officers like the chief Secretary, the Inspector General of Police, two Divisional; Commissioners etc, Maj. Gen. M. Rahim Khan was re-examined at his own request.
3. As it appeared to us that the defeat suffered by the Armed Forces of Pakistan was not merely the result of military factors alone, but had been brought about as the cumulative result of political, international, moral and military factors, we examined all these aspects in our Main Report at some length. We have followed the same pattern of study in the present Supplementary Report. Although we are now naturally in possession of far more detailed information as to the events in East Pakistan, yet the main conclusions reached by us on the earlier occasion have remained unaffected by the fresh evidence now available. In the paragraphs that follow, we intend briefly to summarise our conclusions on these major aspects of the causes of surrender in East Pakistan, making reference, wherever necessary, to the conclusions already embodied in the Main Report.
4. In the Main Report, we have traced the genesis of the Pakistan movement, the events preceding the establishment of Pakistan, and the political developments which took place between 1947 and 1971, including a detailed study of the effects of the two Martial Law periods in hastening the process of political and emotional isolation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan.
5. We have also, in the Main Report, examined at length the role played by the two major political parties, namely, the Awami League in East Pakistan and the Pakistan Peoples party in West Pakistan, in bringing about the situation resulting in the postponement of the session of the National Assembly scheduled to be held at Dacca on the 3rd of March, 1971. We have then examined the events occurring between the 1st and the 25th of March, 1971, when the Awami League had seized power from the Government of General Yahya Khan, necessitating resort to the military action of the 25th of March, 1971. We have also touched upon the negotiations which Gen. Yahya Khan was pretending to hold during this period with Sk. Mujibur Rahman on the one hand and political leaders from West Pakistan on the other. Although he never formally declared these negotiations to have failed, yet he secretly left Dacca on the evening of the 25th of March, 1971, leaving instructions behind for military action to be initiated when his plane reached the Karachi area.
6. We have found, as a result of a detailed analysis of the events surrounding the imposition of the second Martial Law by General Yahya Khan on the 25th of March, 1969, that he did not take over the country in order merely to restore normal conditions and reintroduce the democratic process. He did so with a view to obtaining personal power and those who assisted him did so with full knowledge of his intentions. The fresh evidence recorded by us has only served to strengthen this conclusion as to the intentions of Gen. Yahya Khan.
7. All the Senior Army Commanders who were concerned with the administration of Martial Law in East Pakistan as well as the senior civil servants who were inducted into the civil administration in East Pakistan, have expressed the view that military action could not have been a substitute for a political settlement, which was feasible once law and order has been restored within a matter of few weeks after the military action. Most of these witnesses have stated that the most favourable time for a political settlement was between the months of May and September, 1971, during which a reasonable amount of normalcy had been restored and the authority of the Government had been re-established at least in most of the urban areas, if not throughout the countryside. However, no effort was made during these months to start a political dialogue with the elected representatives of the people of East Pakistan; instead fraudulent and useless measures were adopted.
8. The use of excessive force during the military action and the conduct of some of the officers and men of the Pakistan Army during the sweep operations had only served to alienate the sympathies of the people of East Pakistan. The practice of the troops living off the land, in the absence of a proper organisation of their own logistic arrangements during their operations in the countryside, encouraged the troops to indulge in looting. The arbitrary methods adopted by the Martial Law administration in dealing with respectable East Pakistanis, and then sudden disappearances by a process euphemistically called "being sent to Bangladesh" made matters worse. The attitude of the Army authorities towards the Hindu minority also resulted in large-scale exodus to India. The avowed intention of India to dismember Pakistan was only too well known, but even then the need for an early political settlement was not realised by General Yahya Khan. The general amnesty declared by him in August, 1971, proved ineffective, as it was declared too late, and left much to be desired in its implementation. It did not result in the return of any appreciable number of the elected representatives of the people, who were in any case valuable hostages in the hands of the Indian authorities who did not allow them to cross back into Pakistan.
9. Precious moments were thus wasted, during which the Indians mounted their training programme for the Mukti Bahini and started guerrilla raids into Pakistan territory. General Yahya Khan then embarked upon his scheme of by-elections in place of the disqualified Awami League representatives, but these by-elections were an exercise in futility, for the reason that they were supervised and controlled by the by the Martial Law administration, and even the selection of the candidates was being made by a Major General of the Pakistan Army. In these circumstances, these newly elected representatives did not have any authority to speak on behalf of the people.
10. Similarly, the appointment of Dr. Malik as the civilian Governor of East Pakistan, and the installation of his ministers, did not produce any impact. These gentlemen did not command the confidence of the people, although Dr. Malik was personally respected as a veteran statesman. These attempts at civilization of the Government of East Pakistan were, therefore, an utter failure in winning back the confidence of the people. Power continued to vest in the hands of the Zonal Martial Law Administrator, namely, Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi. In any case, in view of the circumstances prevailing, namely, the overriding importance of maintaining law and order and keeping the lines of communication open, the role of the army continued to be predominant.
11. Apart, therefore, from the immorality and political expediency of the kind of military action taken by General Yahya Khan on the 25th of March, 1971, it was his culpable failure to arrive at a political settlement with the Awami League during the crucial months preceding the war that completely alienated the sympathies of the population of East Pakistanis, confirming their suspicion that the Generals were not prepared to part with political power in favour of the elected representatives of the people. The refusal of Gen. Yahya Khan to negotiate with the Awami League becomes all the more significant when we remember that two of its top leaders, Sk. Mujibur Rahman and Dr Kamal Hussain were in his custody in West Pakistan, and that almost all the friendly countries had advised him to arrive at a political settlement in view of the looming Indian threat of military action.
12. The two direct and devastating consequences of this political situation brought about by the military regime itself, since holding the elections of 1970, were the prolonged involvement of the Pakistan Army in counter-insurgency measures throughout the Province, and its forced deployment in penny-pockets all along the borders of East Pakistan to prevent infiltration of Mukti Bahini and Indian agents. In the presence of these two factors, the Pakistan Army was obviously fighting a losing battle from the very start.
13. After exhaustively reviewing the state of our international relations as they existed immediately preceding the war, we had expressed the opinion, in the Main Report, that in the background of our relations with India ever since 1947, it should not have been too difficult to appreciate that India would do every thing to precipitate a crisis in East Pakistan.
14. We also took note of the various efforts made by India to internationalise the refugee problem which had arisen as a result of the exodus of people from East Pakistan to India in the wake of the military action. The Indian propaganda was so successful that all efforts made by the military regime in Pakistan to defuse the situation in East Pakistan left the world unimpressed. The situation was further complicated by the mutual assistance treaty signed between India and USSR in Aug, 1971. All the Governments friendly to Pakistan, especially Iran, China and the USA, had made it clear to Gen Yahya that they would not be in a position to render any physical assistance to Pakistan in the event of an armed conflict with India. However, the significance of this international situation was unfortunately completely lost on Gen Yahya Khan and his associates. They blundered ahead, oblivious of the fatal consequences of their international isolation.
15. In the Main
Report we also dealt with the activities at the United Nations during the
critical days of the war, and came to the conclusion that there was no
rational explanation why Gen Yahya Khan did not take the dispute to the
Security Council immediately after the Indian invasion of East Pakistan on
the 21st of November, 1971, nor was it possible to explain his refusal to
accept the first Russian Resolution, if indeed the situation in East
Pakistan had become militarily so critical that surrender was inevitable.
In this context we also referred to the message which was handed over by
Major General Farman Ali to Mr. Paul Mure Henry, Representative of the UN at
Dacca for onward transmission to the Secretary General of the UN, offering
certain proposals for a political settlement in East Pakistan. Finally, we
expressed the opinion that if Gen Yahya Khan as Commander-in-Chief of the
Army had shown greater determination and courage and directed the Eastern
Command to hold on somewhat longer than the 16th of December, 1971, it was
quite possible that a satisfactory solution ordering a cease-fire might have
been obtained from the Security Council.
The Military Aspect
17. While discussing the military aspect of the war in the Main Report we came to the conclusion that the major role in the 1971 disaster had been that of the ground forces, that the strategic concept embodied in war Directive No.4 of 1967, required a drastic revision in the light of the political and military situation developing as a result of the military action in East Pakistan in March 1971, but the Army High Command did not carry out any study in depth of the effect of these new factors, nor did it pay any attention to the growing disparity between the war preparedness and the capability of the armed forces of Pakistan and India as a result of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Aug 1971. We dealt at length with the concepts of defence as well as the plans formulated by the General Headquarters both for East and West Pakistan, and pointed out the defects and deficiencies in those plans, apart from the inadequacy of resources available on both fronts as compared to those of the enemy. However, we observed that our study of the military aspect of the war in East Pakistan, both limited and total, was inconclusive on account of the non-availability of the evidence of the Commander, Eastern Command, and other senior officers then serving in East Pakistan.
18. Having now had the advantage of examining these commanders at considerable length we feel we are in a position to formulate our final conclusions as to the causes of surrender in East Pakistan.
19. There has been
some controversy as to the exact status of Lt Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, namely,
whether he was a Theatre Commander or merely a Corps Commander, although he
has been officially described as Commander, Eastern Command. While a Corps
Commander is merely a Commander of a number of divisions placed under his
command, a Theatre Commander is not merely in command of all the forces in
the area, including the Naval and the Air Forces. In case of East Pakistan
the Flag Officer Commanding of the Navy and the Air Force Commanding of the
Pakistan Air Force were directly under their own respective
Commanders-in-chief, although they were instructed to liaise and coordinate
with the Commander, Eastern Command. Technically speaking, therefore, Lt.
Gen. Niazi was not a Theatre Commander and was never designated as such.
Nevertheless, situated as he was, we consider that at least from the 3rd of
Dec 1971 onwards, on which date war broke out on the Western Front as well,
Lt Gen Niazi became, for all intents and purposes, an independent Corps
Commander, possessing of necessity and by force of circumstances all the
powers of a Theatre Commander, and even the General Headquarters expected
him to act as such, for there was no possibility thereafter of replacing him
by another Commander of equivalent rank. General Niazi's conduct of war , as
also his final decision to surrender, have, therefore, to be judged in this
21. The Operational instructions issued by the Eastern Command as No.3 of 1971 on the 15th of July 1971, contemplated a forward defensive posture with strong points and fortresses which were to be made logistically self-sufficient to fight a battle lasting for at least 30 days, even if by-passed. They were also expected to act as firm bases or jumping-off points for actions against the enemy from the flanks or from behind. Dacca was to be defended at all costs by being made into a fortress, as it was the lynch-pin, both politically and militarily.
22. The plan envisaged as many as 25 fortresses and 9 strong points, consisting mainly of built up areas such as district or sub-divisional headquarters towns, large villages and cantonments. The paucity of troops did not permit them to be manned but it was expected that the troops deployed along the border and in counter insurgency operations would gradually fall back and take up defensive positions within the fortresses and strong points. His concept further contemplated that the fortresses would be defended to the last man and last round.
23. the fortress
concept postulates 3 essential conditions for its success namely :
(b). that the fortress must be so located as to be able to mutually support each other and
(c). that the population in the areas in which such fortresses are located is not hostile. Gen. Niazi was fully aware that none of these conditions were fulfilled in East Pakistan as he did not have enough troops to man 34 fortress and strong points with his then 29 battalions; his fortress and strong points were so located that they were not in a position to mutually support each other, and he also knew that the local population was hostile and movement of his troops would be made impossible by the Mukti Bahini. We are at a loss to understand how he expected the concept to succeed in these circumstances.
24. The evidence clearly discloses that none of the fortresses were manned nor did they have protective defences capable of withstanding enemy attacks supported by armour. Troops were expected to man these fortresses after falling back from their forward: even such artillery or heavy weapons as the troops possessed were to the fortresses. The withdrawal of the troops to the fortresses was as was to be expected in these circumstances, by no means an orderly withdrawal , but in most cases it was a disorderly retreat, leaving even the heavy equipment behind. There were no reserves with any local Commanders, except for 16 Division, and the command reserve of only a brigade strength and also been committed in the Eastern sector, through which the main enemy thrust came. This soundness of the fortress concept thus stood throughly exposed by the end which it produced.
25. In our view, the concept was utterly inappropriate for achieving the mission assigned to the Commander, Eastern Command, of defending East Pakistan and maintaining his presence in East Pakistan in the changed situation created by the war launched by the enemy. The wisest course of action for Gen. Niazi would have been to concentrate his troops in a smaller area, protected by the major natural obstacles around the military and political lynch pin - Dacca.
26. At any rate, there should have been a contingency plan for a planned withdrawal into thew Dacca triangle to cater for fighting a all-out war with an enemy vastly superior in resources and capabilities both on the ground and in the air. The failure on part of the Eastern Command to so plan amounts to gross negligence for, in fact , what was done was merely to give battle in weakness and be forced to retreat in disorder. The fortress strategy might have been suitable for carrying out the counter insurgency operations, but after the 21st of Nov 1971, it became redundant. The net result of this strategy was to give the opposite advantage to the enemy, who at his leisure routed and dispersed our troops while himself concentratingly advanced in order towards Dacca.
27. The tragedy with Gen Niazi has been his obsession that he will not be called upon to fight any major battles with the Indians in East Pakistan, in spite of enormous Indian buildup around East Pakistan, the detailed briefing given by GHQ to his Chief of Staff about the Indian plans and the advice given to him by the chief of the General Staff and the Vice-chief of the General Staff, during their last visit to the Eastern Theatre, for the deployment of his troops. Gen. Niazi's only reaction to these warnings about the new threat was to hastily raise two ad hoc Divisions namely 36 Div in Sept 1971 and 39 Div on the 19th of Nov 1971 by committing his command reserves.
28. Lt Gen Niazi tried to justify the deployment of his reserves by saying that he had been promised 8 more battalions, and if these had been sent, he would have had enough troops to create a command reserve as also to meet then deficiencies of the new ad hoc formations. The evidence unfortunately does not disclose that any firm commitment was made by GHQ. We also find that even if the extra battalions had been sent the position would not have materially improved as there was no clear plan for their deployment. Gen. Niazi was thereforenot justified in denuding himself of his reserves before the actual arrival of the additional troops.
29. We are also not impressed by the excuse put forward by the Commander, Eastern Command for not modifying his plans, namely that the mission originally assigned to him hold every inch of territory in East Pakistan and to prevent the establishment of Bangladesh by the capture of any sizeable chunk of territory, was never changed by the High Command. As an independent Corps Commander, thousands of miles away from the GHQ, it should have been apparent to him that at least from the 21 Nov 1971 onwards the more important part of his mission was to defend East Pakistan and to keep the Corps in being, by giving up territory if necessary.
30. We also find that it is not correct to say that the mission given to the Eastern Command was never changed, because the GHQ had given him through more than one message a clear indication that territory had become less important, and that the Command should fight for time keeping in view only territories of strategic importance.
31. The detailed narrative of events as given by us in the Supplementary Report, clearly shows that the planning was hopelessly defective and there was no plan at all for the defence of Dacca, nor for any concerted effort to stem the enemy onslaught with a Division or a Brigade battle at any stage. It was only when the general found himself gradually being encircled by the enemy which had successfully managed to bypass his fortresses and reached Faridpur , Khulna, Daudkandi and Chandpur (the shortest route to Dacca) that he began to make frantic efforts to get the troops back for the defence of Dacca. It was unfortunate then too late, the ferries necessary for crossing the troops over the big Jamuna river from the area of 16 division had disappeared and the Mukti Bahini had invested the area behind, making vehicular movement impossible. Orderly withdrawal of troops in time for concentrated defence was also made impossible by the unfortunate orders issued by Lt. Gen. Niazi that no withdrawal was to take place unless cleared two up and without suffering 75% casualties.
32. In the absence of contingency plans for the withdrawal of troops into the Dacca triangle area behind the big rivers , to prevent the enemy breakthrough and to deal if need be with the known capability of the enemy to heli-drop troops behind our lines after it had acquired mastery of the air by either eliminating or neutralising our Air Force of only one squadron, it was not at all a matter of surprise that the defences should have collapsed immediately in thin lines in the forward positions were pierced by the enemy. On the fourth day of the all-out-war major fortresses were abandoned without a fight, namely, Jessore and Jhenidah the West and the Brahmanbaria in the East. On the next day the Comilla fortress was isolated by encirclement from all sides, and on the 9th of Dec 1971, even a divisional commander abandoned his area of responsibility with his headquarters, leaving his formation behind. On the same day 2 more fortresses Kushtia and Laksham were abandoned. At the latter fortress even the sick and the wounded were left behind. By 10 Dec 1971, even Hilli, where a determined battle had been fought for 16 days had to be abandoned. The Brigade returning from Mymensingh got entangled with heli dropped Indian troops, and the Brigade Commander and some of his troops were taken prisoner.
33. The painful story of the last few days immediately preceding the surrender on 16 dec 1971 has been narrated in Part 1V of the Supplementary Report. We have come to the conclusion that there was no order to surrender, but in view of the desperate picture painted by the Commander, Eastern Command, the higher authorities only gave him permission to surrender if he in his judgement thought it was necessary. Gen Niazi, could have disobeyed such an order if he thought he had the capability of defending Dacca. On his own estimate, he had 26,400 men at Dacca in uniform and he could have held out for at least another 2 weeks, because the enemy would have taken a week to build up its forces in the Dacca area and another week to reduce the fortress of Dacca. If Gen. Niazi had done so and lost his life in the process, he would have made history and would have been remembered by the coming generations as a great hero and a martyr, but the events show that he had already lost the will to fight after the 7th December 1971, when his major fortresses at Jessore and Brahmanbaria had fallen. The question of creating history, therefore, was never in his mind.
34. Even more painful than the military failures of lt. Gen Niazi is the story of the abject manner in which he agreed to sign the surrender document laying down arms to the so-called joint-command of India and Mukti Bahini, to be present at the Airport to receive the victorious Indian General Aurora, to present a guard of honour to the Indian General, and then to participate in the public surrender ceremony at the Race Course, to the everlasting shame of Pakistan and its Armed forces. Even if he had been obliged to surrender, by force of circumstances, it was not necessary for him to behave in this shameful manner at every step of the process of surrender. The detailed accounts which have been given before the commission by those who had the misfortune of witnessing these events, leave no doubt that Lt. Gen. Niazi had suffered a complete moral collapse during the closing phases of the war.
35. While undoubtedly the responsibility for these failures lies with the Commander, Eastern Command, GHQ cannot escape its responsibility, as the plan had been approved by it. It was also the responsibility of GHQ to correct the mistakes of the Eastern Command, as communications were open to the last. It was incumbent upon GHQ to guide, direct and influence the conduct of the war in the Eastern Theatre, if the Commander himself in that Theatre was incapable of doing so. But the GHQ failed in this important duty. The Commander-in-Chief remained indifferent.
36. While we have not specially condemned the performance of senior Officers other than Lt. Gen. A.A..K. Niazi, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jamshed, Maj. Gen. M. Rahim Khan and some of the Brigadiers, we cannot help remarking that all the Senior Officers stationed in East Pakistan immediately before and during the war of 1997 must be held collectively responsible for the failings and weaknesses which led to the defeat of the Pakistan Army. The only thing which goes in their favour is that while assessing their individual responsibility the Commission was obliged to take note of the limitations imposed upon them by the concepts and attitudes adopted by the Eastern Command, the admitted shortages and deficiencies in men and materials faced by them as compared to the vast resources of the enemy, and the general demoralization which stemmed from the culpable acts of commission and omission on the part of the Army High Command at Rawalpindi and the Commander, Eastern Command at Dacca. Finally, there was also the unfortunate overriding factor of a long and inherited tradition of unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the superior Commander which prevented most of these Officers from questioning the soundness of the critical decisions and actions taken by the High Command, including the final act of surrender.
37. Before we conclude this part of the discussion, we would like to place on record that, apart from a few individuals, the large body of officers and men operating in East Pakistan accepted the final decision without any thought of disobedience only owing to their ingrained sense of discipline, and the majority of them would have been undoubtedly willing to fight to the last and lay down their lives for the glory of Pakistan. The gallantry and determination with which some of the battles were fought in East Pakistan has been acknowledged even by the enemy.
Professional Responsibility of Certain Senior Army Commanders
40. From the conclusions outlined by us in the preceding paragraphs, particularly as regards the military aspect of the debacle it was have become clear that in our view several senior Army Commanders have been guilty of serious dereliction of duty in formulating and executing the defence plans, and since are even guilty of shamefully abandoning the fortresses which it was their duty to defend. We have also found that the Commander, Eastern Command, and his chief of Staff, Brig. Baqir Siddiqui displayed willful neglect in the matter of the execution of denial plans, with the result that large quantities of valuable war materials, equipment, installations, arms and ammunition were delivered intact to the Indians at the time of surrender. All these acts of omission and commission call for deterrent action by way of court materials wherever permissible under the law. Detailed recommendations in respect of all these matters are contained in the next Chapter.
41. It has come to the notice of the Commission that during his period of captivity, and even after repatriation to Pakistan, Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi assisted by his Chief of Staff, Brig. Baqir Siddiqui, has been making efforts to influence his Divisional and Brigade Commanders, by threats and inducements, so as to persuade them to present a coordinated story of the events in East Pakistan with a view to mitigating his own responsibility for the debacle. This is a serious matter and calls for notice.
42. The surrender in East Pakistan has indeed been a tragic blow to the nation. By the act of surrender Pakistan stood dismembered, and the image of the Pakistan Army as an efficient and excellent fighting force stood shattered. We can only hope that the nation has learnt the necessary lessons from these tragic events and that effective and early action will be taken in the light of the conclusions reached in the report.
In the concluding portion of our Main Report, submitted in 1972, we had made a number of recommendations based on our study of the various aspects of the causes of the debacle of 1971. Some of these recommendations need to be modified, or amplified, in the light of the fresh evidence which we have now recorded; while the need for the others has only been further emphasised. We believe that the object of setting up this Commission would be fully realised only of appropriate and early action is taken by the Government on these recommendation.
2. Even though it involves a repetition of what we have already said in the Main Report, we consider that it would be appropriate if all our recommendations are now finally set out at one place, for facility of reference and action. Detailed reasons and justification for these recommendations will be found in the relevant Chapters of the Main Report as well as this Supplementary Report. We are aware that some of these recommendations have already been implemented, but this would not appear to be a reason for not including them in this final summing up.
3. There is consensus on the imperative need of bringing to book those senior Army Commanders who have brought disgrace and defeat to Pakistan by their subversion of the Constitution, usurpation of political power by criminal conspiracy, their professional incompetence, culpable negligence and wilful neglect in the performance of their duties and physical and moral cowardice in abandoning the fight when they had the capability and resources to resist the enemy. Firm and proper action would not only satisfy the nation's demand for punishment where it is deserved, but would also ensure against any future recurrence of the kind of shameful conduct displayed during the 1971 war. We accordingly recommend that the following trials be undertaken without delay. : -
(i) That General Yahya Khan, General Abdul Hamid Khan, Lt. Gen. S.G.M.M. Pirzada, Lt. Gen. Gul Hasan, Maj. Gen. Umar and Maj. Gen. Mitha should be publicly tried for being party to a criminal conspiracy to illegally usurp power from F.M. Mohammad Ayub Khan in power if necessary by the use of force. In furtherance of their common purpose they did actually try to influence political parties by threats, inducements and even bribes to support their designs both for bringing about a particular kind of result during the elections of 1970, and later persuading some of the political parties and the elected members of the National Assembly to refuse to attend the session of the National Assembly scheduled to be held at Dacca on the 3rd of March, 1971. They, furthermore, in agreement with each other brought about a situation in East Pakistan which led to a civil disobedience movement, armed revolt by the Awami League and subsequently tot he surrender of our troops in East Pakistan and the dismemberment of Pakistan:
(ii) That the Officers mentioned in No. (i) above should also be tried for criminal neglect of duty in the conduct of war both in East Pakistan and West Pakistan. The details of this neglect would be found in the Chapters dealing with the military aspect of the war
(iii) That Lt. Gen.
Irshad Ahmad Khan, former Commander 1 Corps, be tried for criminal and
wilful neglect of duty in conducting the operations of his Corps in such a
manner that nearly 500 villages of the Shakargarh tehsil of Sialkot district
in West Pakistan were surrendered to the enemy without a fight and as a
consequence the Army offensive in the south was seriously jeopardised;
II. Inquiry and Trials for Alleged Atrocities
4. That as recommended in Paragraph 7 of Chapter III of Part V of the Main Report and in Paragraph 39 of Chapter II of Part V of this Supplementary Report, a high-powered Court or Commission of Inquiry be set up to investigate into persistent allegations of atrocities said to have been committed by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during its operations from March to December, 1971, and to hold trials of those who indulged in these atrocities, brought a bad name to the Pakistan Army and alienated the sympathies of the local population by their acts of wanton cruelty and immorality against our own people. The composition of the Court of Inquiry, if not its proceedings, should be publicly announced so as to satisfy national conscience and international opinion. The Commission feels that sufficient evidence is now available in Pakistan for a fruitful inquiry to be undertaken in this regard. As the Government of Bangladesh has since been recognised by Pakistan, it may also be feasible to request the Dacca authorities to forward to this Court of Inquiry whatever evidence may be available with them.
III. Other Inquiries
5 . (i) That
allegations of personal immorality, drunkenness and indulgence in corrupt
practices against General Yahya Khan, General Abdul Hamid Khan and Maj. Gen
Khuda Dad Khan be properly investigated as there is prima facie evidence to
show that their moral degeneration resulted in indecision, cowardice and
professional incompetence. In the light of the result of this inquiry
suitable charges may be added against these Officers, during the trials we
have already recommended earlier. The details of the allegations and the
evidence relating thereto will be found in Chapter I of Part V of the Main
IV. Cases Requiring Departmental Action
6. While examining the course of events and the conduct of war in East Pakistan, we formed a poor opinion about the performance and capabilities of Brig. S.A .Ansari, ex-Commander 23 Brigade, Brig. Manzoor Ahmad, ex-Commander 57 Brigade, 9 Division, and Brig. Abdul Qadir Khan, ex-Commander 94 brigade, 36 (ad hoc) Division. We consider that their further retention in service is not in the public interest and they may accordingly be retired.
V. Performance and Conduct of Junior Officers
7. In the very nature of things the Commission was not in a position to examine at any length the conduct and performance of officers below the brigade level, although some case necessarily came to our notice where the performance of these Officers had a direct bearing on the fate of important battles or where their conduct transgressed the norms of discipline. Such cases have been mentioned by us at their proper place, but by and large cases of junior officers must be dealt with by the respective service headquarters who have obtained detailed debriefing reports from all of them and are also in possession of the assessment of their performance by their immediate superiors.
VI. Measures for Moral Reform in the Armed Forces
8. While dealing at
some length with the moral aspect of the 1971 debacle, in Chapter I of Part
V of the Main Report as well as in the corresponding Chapter of the present
Supplementary Report, we have expressed the opinion that there is indeed
substance in the widespread allegation, rather belief, that due to
corruption arising out of the performance of Martial Law duties, lust for
wine and women, and greed for lands and houses a large number of senior Army
Officers, particularly those occupying the highest positions, had not only
lost the will to fight but also the professional competence necessary for
taking the vital and critical decisions demanded ofthem for the successful
prosecution of the war. Accordingly, we recommend that: -
9. These matters
were discussed by us in Chapter III of Part V of the Main Report, and for
the reasons given therein we make the following recommendations: -
VIII. Improvement and Modernization of the Pakistan Navy
10. From the
detailed discussion of the role of the Navy, as contained in Section (D) of
Chapter VIII of Part IV of the Main Report, and supplemented by further
details of its operations in East Pakistan is set out in this Supplementary
Report, it seems to us that the following steps are urgently called for to
improve our naval capability: -
IX. Improvement in the Role of P.A.F.
11. In Section (C)
of Chapter VIII of Part IV of the Main Report as well as in a separate
Chapter of the present supplement (viz Chapter X of Part III), we have
discussed at length the role and performance of the P.A.F. in the 1971 war.
In the light of that discussion, we recommend as follows: -
X. Re-organization of Air Defence of Pakistan
12. The subject of
air defence has been discussed by us at some length in section (13) of
Chapter VIII of Part IV of the Main Report. In the light of that
discussion, we make the following recommendations: -
XI. Recommendations with Regard to Civil Defence Measures
13. This subject has
also examined by us in Chapter VIII of Part IV of the Main Report, and we
consider that the following measures are called for to improve the civil
defence aspects in Pakistan: -
XII. Higher Direction of War
14. The deficiencies in the organization for the higher direction of war were examined by us in Chapter XI of Part IV of the Main Report, and in the light of that discussion, we proposed the following measures: -
(a) The three
Service Headquarters should be located at one place along with the Ministry
(d) There should also be a Defence Ministers Committee and the Ministry of Defence should assume its rightful position as a policy-making body and incorporating policy, decisions into defence programmes after consultations with the three services. This should ensure the preparations of realistic plans for the national defence with in the agreed framework of (illegible) allocations. It should meet under the chairmanship of the Defence Minister and comprise the Defence Secretary, the three service chiefs, the financial adviser for defence, the Director General of Civil Defence, the Director General of munitions production, the Director General of Defence Procurement, the Director General of inter-services Intelligence Directorate, the Defence Scientific Adviser and any other Central Secretary or Service officer who may be required for a particular item on agenda. If the defence portfolio is held by the President or the Prime Minister then its meeting may be presided over by a Deputy Minister for or by the Minister in charge of Defence Production (illegible) Minister is available, the Defence Secretary should preside, irrespective of any considerations of protocol or (illegible)
(e) The Secretaries
Coordination Committee as at present constituted, should continue
XIII National Security Council
15. Having examined the working of the National Security Council in Chapter XI of Part IV of the Main Report we are of the opinion that there is no need for super-(illegible) such an organization on the Directorate of Intelligence Bureau and the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence. The Security Council should therefore be abolished.
XIV. The Farman Ali incident
16. In view of the fresh evidence examined by us regarding the role of Maj. Gen. Farman Ali, which we have discussed in the concluding portion of Chapter III of Part V of the Supplementary Report, recommendation No. 7 made in the Main Report has now become (illegible); as we have found that in delivering a message to Mr. Paul Mare Henry, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. Maj. Gen. Farman Ali, acted under the instructions of the Governor of East Pakistan, who in turn had been authorised by the then President of Pakistan to make certain proposals for settlement in East Pakistan at the critical juncture.
THE SEQUENCE OF THE SIGNALS
We now propose to examine how the situation developed from the beginning of the war, i.e. the 21st November, 1971 till the surrender and it will be necessary for this purpose to quote extensively from the signals exchanged during the period between the relevant authorities for only then will it be possible to paint the full picture.
2. The first relevant signal is dated 21st November, 1971 numbered G-1104 from the Commander to the Chief of General Staff.
"from COMD for CGS (?) one (.) as you must have noticed, INDIANS have aggressed and started attacking in strength along with rebels (.) fighting taken place in areas JESSORE, BHURANGAMARI, SYLHET, CHITTAGONG AND DACCA suburbs (.) JESSORE airfield shelled by INDIAN med guns (.) in view this pressure own razakars stated blowing up bridges and laying ambushes against own troops (.) two (.) highly grateful for having allotted additional infantry battalions (.) three (.) move programme for all elements very slow (.) time against us (.) therefore request move all battalions on emergency basis as done during war (.) new raising likely to take time therefore despatch battalions already raised (.) also since full DIV NOT being provided, provisions of two more infantry battalions raising total to ten battalions, squadron tanks, one BDE HQ extremely essential which be considered and despatched immediately (.) request confirm."
3. It will be seen that, right from the commencement, the note struck by the Commander is far from a happy one, although not quite as dismal as the later signals were. The picture given is of fighting having started in various areas and a demand is made for two more battalions, i.e. in addition to the 8 already promised him.
4. From the record of the signals we do not find any answer to this request; the next signal, that is on record is dated 22nd November and numbered G-1086 from the Chief of Staff to the Commander warning him that the enemy is aiming at capture of CHITTAGONG from land and sea and requiring him, therefore, "to reinforce defences CHITTAGONG area by pulling out troops from less important sectors as necessary."
It will be noticed that at this stage the Commander not only expresses his determination to fight but even boasts of hoping to teach a lasting lesson to Hindustan and looks upon the coming events as a "grand opportunity afforded".
6. As we have noticed elsewhere the Indian intention to attack openly and .declare an all out war was not merely a possibility but a distinct anticipation of which the Commander had?been forewarned much earlier, nevertheless, on the 5th, December, 1971 by message numbered G-0338 the Chief of Staff stated this clearly in the following terms:
"exclusive for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF (.) it is now evident from all sources including intelligence channels that INDIANS will shortly launch a full scale offensive against EAST PAKISTAN (.) mean total war (.) the time has therefore come when keeping in mind current situation you re-deploy your forces in accordance with your operational task (. such positioning would of course take into consideration areas of tactical, political and strategic importance we are all proud of our EASTERN COMMAND (.) well done." a clear command was thus given to the Commander to redeploy his forces in accordance with his operational tasks. The fact the message also talks of taking into consideration areas of tactical, political and strategic importance implies, we think, liberty to give up other territory if necessary. However, that has been made clearer later.
7. On the 5th December, 1971 again by message numbered G-0235 the Chief of Staff informed the Commander as follows:
"personal for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF (.) the enemy has stepped up pressure against you and is likely to increase it to maximum extent (.) he will attempt to capture EAST PAKISTAN as swiftly as possible and then shift maximum forces to face WEST PAKISTAN (.) this must NOT be allowed to happen (.) losing of some territory is insignificant but you must continue to concentrate on operational deployments in vital areas aiming at keeping the maximum enemy force involved in EAST PAKSITAN (.) every hope of CHINESE activities very soon (.) good luck and keep up your magnificent work against such heavy odds (.) may Allah bless you".
It will be noticed that now, at any rate, if not earlier, the question of territory had become of minor importance; far more material was now the defence of East Pakistan in the sense of continuing to occupy the bulk of it or, in the last resort, a vital part of it so as not to allow the occupation of East Pakistan by Indian forces to become a reality. It is characteristic of the methods of G.H.Q. at this juncture, however, that most unrealistically and even without any foundation, the hope of Chinese activities starting very soon is being held out. We cannot help observing that not only at this stage but elsewhere the GHQ held out vague or even fraudulent promises of foreign help. We are not detracting from General Niazi’s share of responsibility when we say that GHQ on its own part also led him up to entertain expectations which could not possibly be fulfilled.
8. In answer the Commander on the 6th December, 1971 by a signal numbered G-1233 said:
"for MO DTE (.) special sitrep 4 (.) general comments (.) one (.) since 3 dec on start all out hostilities, intensity and weight enemy offensive in all fronts this theatre highly increased (.) enemy strength comprising eight divisions supported by four tank regiments, full compliment of support service elements in addition to 39 battalions BORDER SECURITY FORCE and 60-70 thousand trained rebels now fully committed (.) besides all enemy offensive supported by air (.) INDIAN AIR FORCE causing maximum damage 9.) have started using rockets and napalm against own defensive positions (.) internally rebels highly active, emboldened and causing maximum damage in all possible ways including cutting off lines means of communication (.) this including destruction of roads/bridges/rail ferries/boats etc. 9.) local populations also against us (.) lack of communications making it difficult to reinforce or replenish or readjust positions (.) CHITTAGONG likely to be cut off and thus depriving that line of communication also (.) additional INDIAN NAVY now seriously threatening this sea port with effective blockade of all river approaches (.) DINAJPUR, RANGPUR, SYLHET, MAULVI BAZAR, BRAHMANBARIA, LAKSHAM, CHANDPUR and JSSORE under heavy pressure (.) situation likely becoming critical (.) two (.) own troops already involved in active operations since last nine months and now committed to very intense battle (.) obviously they had NO rest or relief (.) due pitched battles fought since last 17 days own casualties rate both in men and material fairly increased 9.) absence of own tank, artillery and air support has further aggravated situation (.)?defection of razakars/mujahids with arms also increased (.) none the less, in process defensive battle, own troops inflicted heavy casualties on enemy and caused maximum possible attrition on them(.) enemy thus paid heavy cost for each success in terms of ground (.) three (.) based on foregoing and current operations situation of formations this command now reaching pre-planned line of defensives (.) resorting to fortress/strong point basis (.) enemy will be involved through all methods including unorthodox action will fight it out last man last round (.) four (.) request expedite actions vide your G-0235 of 5 Dec 71".
9. This is a fairly detailed statement of the situation and clearly now depicts a more pessimistic picture. there are passages, however, in this which we find it difficult to regard as being accurate. The statement, for example, that there had been pitched battles for the last 17 days with increased casualty rates is not really supported by the evidence which does not justify the statement either that heavy casualties had been inflicted on the enemy and maximum attrition caused to them. The last words in the message are significant but, of course, entirely natural since they asked for expedition of the action promised, namely that of Chinese activity. 10. On the same day desperately by message numbered G-1234 the Commander signalled to the Chief of Staff to inquire when the likely help was to come. 11. The next signal is from the Governor of East Pakistan to the President and before we quote the same it is necessary to state the circumstances we have now learnt from the evidence and which led to the message. A meeting had apparently taken place and a quotation from the statement of Major General Rao Farman Ali is worth reproduction: "On the evening of 6 December, Governor Malik asked me about the situation as he was receiving disturbing reports from all over the province. I suggested that he should visit the Corps HQ and get a direct briefing from Gen Niazi. Gen. Niazi briefed him. I did not accompany the Governor. On 7 December, after I returned from the Corps HQ morning briefing the Governor asked me to arrange for transportation for the ministers to go to their districts to mobilize public opinion. He said that Gen. Niazi had told him that the situation was under control and that the Corps could provide Helicopters to the ministers. (There were only four/five helicopters). I told him that situation had perhaps changed a bit since yesterday and suggested if he could have another meeting with Gen. Niazi. Gen. Niazi came. He was in a terrible shape, haggard, obviously had no sleep. The chief Secretary Mr. Muzaffar Hussain was also present. The Governor had hardly said a few words when Gen. Niazi started crying loudly. I had to send the bearer out. The Governor got up from his chair, patted him and said a few consoling words . I also added a few words saying "your resources were limited. It is not your fault etc." We discussed the situation after he regained his poise. the governor suggested that an effort was required to be made to bring about a peaceful solution to the problem. After the conference I went out to see Gen. Niazi off. He said, in Urdu that the message may be sent for the Governor’s House. "I agreed as I thought it was important for the morale of the troops to keep up the image of the Commander."
It must be conceded that this is a message which depicts a very grim picture indeed but we are unable to say that it was inaccurate. The statement that Dacca city itself would be without food after 7 days is not irreconcilable with what has been said by General Niazi that he had stocks to last much longer: General Niazi was thinking of perhaps, provision for troops while the Governor was thinking of the over-all position of Dacca. It is true also that there is an appeal in this message which questions whether it is worth sacrificing so much when the end appears inevitable, but the appeal is not for permission to surrender but for permission to negotiate a political settlement, of course, involving a civilised and peaceful transfer. General Niazi claims that this message issued without his concurrence, but we are entirely unable to agree that this was so. The evidence is that the message itself was shown to him and in any case, we are wholly unable to believe that Dr. Malik would have stated in this message that General Niazi said that he was fighting against heavy odds without adequate artillery and air support and, so far as the message talks of the military situation, he is expressly saying that he is depending on what General Niazi told him.
15. Also on the same day the Chief of General Staff sent a message numbered G-0907 which reads thus:
"for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF (.) your G-1233 of 6 december refers (.) position as explained fully appreciated and the outstanding combat performance of all ranks is a matter of great pride (.) your tactical concept approved (.) hold positions tactically in strength without any territorial considerations including CHITTAGONG with a view to maintaining the entity of your force intact and inflicting maximum possible attrition in men and material on the enemy".
It is upon the words
"your tactical concept approved" that General Niazi bases his claim of the
approval of his tactical concept. This reference, however, is really to the
already quoted of the 6th December, 1971 and numbered G-1233 in which he
"reaching pre-planned lines of defence." It is not, therefore, a new
approval that has been given, but implies an acceptance of the timing of
withdrawing to these pre-planned lines.
16. The President also on that day sent a message to the Governor numbered
This is characteristic of the kind of messages which the President has sent giving full but vague assurances. He talks of all possible steps being in hand and of world powers seriously attempting to bring about a cease-fire. He mentions efforts going on in the United Nations and gives advice as to food rationing.
17. On the 8th December, 1971 there are two messages from the Chief of Staff to the Commander numbered G-0910 and G-0912 which it is unnecessary to quote, but in regard to which it suffices to say that once again General Naizi was being told that actual territory was becoming of less and less importance.
"for COMMANDER from CHIEF OF STAFF(.) your G-1286 of 3 Dec.(.) the UNITED NATION SECRURITY COUNCIL. is in session and is most likely to order a cease-ire(.) knowing his the INDIANS ARE DOING all they can to capture DACCA and form a BANGLA DESH GOVERNMENT before the cease-fire resolution is passed (.) as far as we can anticipate it is only a matter of hours(.) I need not therefore urge you to hold out till the United Nation Resolution is passed(.) I am saying this with full realization of the most critical situation that you and your command are facing so valiantly(.) ALLAH is with you."
"This signal being unclassified was probably intercepted by the Indians in clear. As a first reaction we thought that it might be an Indian plant. However, I wanted to confirm its authenticity?and also its implications:-