East Pakistan, the eastern wing of the country, died on December 16,1971 at the Paltan Maidan in Dacca (now spelled as Dhaka). On its debris emerged a new country Bangladesh as a result of big conspiracy and naked aggression by India in the garb of the Mukti Bahini force patronised by the neighbouring country through Shaikh Mujibur Rehman.

It was on this day, perhaps the darkest day in the history of Pakistan so far and also for future, that the then Commander Eastern Command Lt General A.A.K. Niazi surrendered before Indian Army General Arora at a ceremony, symbolically laying down his pistol. The very presence of the Indian General established the bitter fact that it was India and none else who had caused the separation of East Pakistan from the West Pakistan and breaking the country which had emerged on the world map only of August 14, 1947 out of nowhere and it was hardly 24 years old.

The factors responsible for this great tragedy are yet to be identified and the guilty ones have not been punished despite being so named in the comprehensive Report of the Commission of Inquiry headed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Hamoodur Rehman. The three member Commission of Inquiry was constituted by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had become the President as well as the first-ever Civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator at the Fall of Dacca and the then President/CMLA/Commander-in-Chief General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan had stepped down handing over the remainder of Pakistan.

For refreshing the memory of the readers, the other two members of the Commission of Inquiry were Justice S Anwar-ul Haq, a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Justice Tufail Ali, Chief Justice of the Sindh and Balochistan High Court.

Even after 47 years of the great tragedy, as a sequel to the shameful Fall of Dacca, those named in the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report, submitted in two parts, have not been named as such so far, what to talk about about those who had caused the dismemberment of Pakistan being tried and punished in any manner whatsoever.

The Commission’s Report itself has not been made public in full as it is rumoured contains the names of many sacred cows. The respect and reputation of a number of army generals and senior army officers is perhaps as much more superior, protected and safeguarded than the Motherland itself.

The duly censored part of the Hammodur Rehman Commission was made public many years back sans the names of those found guilty and as such did not offer a true and full picture of the worst episode ever viewed by the three senior most judges of the Superior Courts.

The Fall of Dacca had occurred when a military dictator was at the helm of national affairs. As a matter of sheer coincidence another military dictator was at the helm of affairs in year 2006. President/Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee/Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf advised the people of Pakistan to forget December 16. And most unfortunately, a turn around over the Kashmir issue was then also on record.

The then Commander of the Eastern Command was on record to have said that he had surrendered before the Indian Army General on the orders of the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Islamabad. He had thus written a new chapter of the greatest ever surrender by about 90 thousand Pakistanis most of which were the army officers and jawans.

The burning question that still irks the mind of this scribe and must also be disturbing millions others who were witness to the great tragedy from close or distant angles is whether those who were forced to surrender did it willingly? No doubt the Commander Eastern Command had surrendered before the Indian Army General on a green signal from the GHQ and the army officers and jawans were bound to follow the command. But the circumstance which prevailed then were certainly not ordinary. There was gap of communication and the local commanders could have continued fighting. Was fighting worse than the humiliation they were subjected to in the Prisoners of War (POWs) camps in India?

Cutting the saddest story rather short, this scribe would regretfully like to mention the names of the Army Generals and senior officers who were so named in the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report and ask still a very pertinent burning question as to when and what punishment was given to them? These included many generals and army men.

I am still mourning the great Fall of Dacca though I never had a chance to visit East Pakistan. I particularly get very sad on December 16 every year and avoid indulgence in any joyous and happy activities both at home and outside anywhere. Do you share my feelings, sentiments as well as serious concerns over how the guilty ones go scot free on another anniversary of the tragic demise of East Pakistan? Please join me in praying to Almighty Allah to save us from any more such tragedies, either at the hands of the military dictators or the civilian rulers and keep showering His blessings on us.

 

The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.

 zahidriffat@gmail.com