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Simmering Clash of the Titans Obtaining situation in Ukraine Part – 2 by Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Simmering Clash of the Titans

Obtaining situation in Ukraine

Part – 2

Asif Haroon Raja

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

Obtaining Situation in Ukraine

Biden has announced a $ I billion military aid package and decided to send long range anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine. NATO has increased its forces on the eastern flank of Russia in the Baltic States, but has no plans to send troops into Ukraine. Physical clashes and battle of minds are raging and both sides are slapping sanctions. Much against the expectations of Putin of a short and swift outcome, the war is dragging on and President Zelensky is not giving up. Moscow-Kiev parleys are going on, but Zelensky has not agreed to the Russian demand of making Ukraine a neutral country. He is egging on the US and NATO to send forces and is equating the situation to Pearl Harbor.     

Third World Wooed

The USA and Russia are trying to win over as many countries of the third world to their side to swing the diplomatic balance on their side.

Russia and China stand on a higher moral ground to win the support of the countries of Asia, Middle East and Africa since they were not harmed by the two. China in particular has been helping the debt ridden and low income countries by providing easy loans for social programs, developing infrastructure and improving their economies.

Russia helped Iran in its missile/ nuclear programs and in easing sanctions, and had a key role in saving the Assad regime in Syria.

Both Russia and China are against the fascist and racist policies of the US and Israel, apartheid, the capitalist system and the monopoly of petrodollars.

On the other hand, prejudice, malice and discrimination against the non-whites have been the guiding principles of the western world. The only exception is India, or their close allies like Japan and South Korea. Putin has called the west an empire of lies.

Today the West has no reason and justification to cry foul and dub Russia as a war monger and an aggressor since Russia didn’t for once step into the backyard of USA, nor meddled into the internal affairs of other countries, or brought about regime changes through proxy wars and clandestine operations, or imposed sanctions on any country.

USA’s Policy of Sanctions

“Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.” – St. Francis of Assisi

To compel Russia to pull out its troops, the US and EU took no time to impose a series of tough sanctions on Russia, and have closed airspaces for the Russian air movement. Anything Russian has been boycotted. The US has told Europe not to buy oil and gas from Russia. Russia’s $ 300 billion have been frozen. Purpose is to isolate Russia, crash its economy and bleed it to death through sanctions. Fifth columnists in Russia have been activated by the CIA to create trouble. Consequently, Russia has become the most sanctioned country after Iran.

Bugles of Pax-Americana sounded by George Bush after 9/11 have now been blown by Joe Biden. He has made it clear to the allies to submit to the US dictates or get perished. Neutrality is not an exercisable option.         

Moscow-China’s Foreplaning

Russia is not wilting since in collusion with its strategic partner China, it had foreplaned how to deal with the hardships of sanctions.

Russia has amassed some $600 billion, yuan and gold in reserves, stored huge stacks of grain and other commodity items, and reduced its trade in dollars by 50%. Russia has replaced visa and master cards with Chinese cards.

China and Russia are trying to build an alternative monetary system in order to overcome the dilemma of sanctions imposed on Russian banks.

China’s central bank operationalized its digital yuan CBCD in 2015 to break the monopoly of petrodollars in trade of oil and gas through US controlled SWIFT. China’s System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) is equivalent to the SWIFT financial transfer system developed in 2014. SPFS is likely to be integrated with China based Cross Border InterBank Payment System (CIPS).

 

 

 

The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and China have agreed to design the mechanism for an independent international monetary system. China’s forex reserves are $3222.4.

Gas supply to Germany from Gazprom has been cut off by Russia.

In case Russia and China succeed in importing and exporting oil and gas in ruble, yuan and gold, it will cause a deadly blow to the power of the dollar.

Sanctions are painful but have never been productive. They proved ineffective against Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Venezuela and wouldn’t bend Putin.

USA’s Relations with Arabs & Iran

Some cracks have appeared in the US relations with Saudi Arabia and UAE. The two princes didn’t answer the phone calls made by Biden and have declined the US desire to increase production of oil so as to lower oil prices in the international market that have touched $ 140 a barrel. They are going by the policy of OPEC in which Russia is a key member. Saudis and UAE, the two largest oil producing countries are considering trading oil in yuan. Boris Johnson air dashed to Riyadh on 16 March on a one-day visit to convince MBS to enhance the oil production but couldn’t get a commitment. UAE, which has put the F-35 jets deal on hold has been put in the grey list by the FATF.

Iran has made the renewal of the nuclear deal with the US subject to clearance from Moscow. Iran doesn’t want its oil and gas trade with Russia to get affected by the 2015 deal to which Russia is one of the signatory. Russia is among the largest oil producing countries and is the largest producer of gas.  

Contrasting Foreign Policies

Although Russia’s past is as sinful as of the west, with Stalin presiding over the massacre of 20 million people in the 1930s, however, after the USSR’s dismemberment in 1991, Russia has not embarked upon any external military adventure, nor has meddled into internal affairs of other countries, or ridiculed Islam. By and large it has pursued a peaceful foreign policy.

Likewise, China also adopted a defensive policy of peace and friendship after 1978, although it is accused of persecuting the Uighur Muslims. Xingjian is being developed at a fast rate so as to curb extremism and separatist movements.   

Russia and China increased their spheres of influence in the developing world through peaceful means. Putin adopted friendly policies towards the Muslims in Russia and made Chechnya a close ally.

Conversely, the US used its military might, financial power and diplomatic clout to enlarge its presence all around the globe. War on terror was used as a ploy to rob the resources of the Muslim world and to neo colonize it.

Tools of US Blackmails Against Nations

Sanctions, embargoes, human rights, World Bank, IMF, FATF and proxy wars are other tools of coercion. The UN, ICJ and other world institutions are the US handmaidens.

Islam was ridiculed and demonized by the Western media under a calculated agenda. Caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH were repeatedly published to injure the feelings of the Muslims and to undermine Islam.

The US has the biggest stockpile of nuclear missiles and well knowing that Russia has the second largest nuclear arsenal with 4497 nukes, the US has constantly been provoking Russia by militarily encircling it and breaching it’s perimeter of security.

The US administration under the hegemony of Military Industrial Complex is anti-peace and pro-war and has established over 800 military bases all over the globe. Since WW 11, the US indulged in 19 wars causing deaths to over 21 million people. It has striven to control the sea lanes in all the oceans, and Eurasia. Domination of global supply chains by the emerging superpower China is one of the major reasons for the US antagonism against China.

The US is a Bully

The US has never directly locked horns with a big power and always chose a weak country to fight and yet never won. The two glaring examples are its humiliating defeats in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

The US has behaved like a bully. It has warned China to stay out of the conflict and not to provide a lifeline to Russia. The US has also made it clear to its allies to cut off relations with Russia.

For the first time the US is provoking the two titans, Russia in Ukraine, and China in South & East China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

Biden declared that the US will defend every inch of NATO territory with full might of a united and galvanized NATO, but will not fight war against Russia since he cannot risk a 3rd WW.

The US-Russia showdown has commenced and the US-China showdown is in the making. Both Pakistan and India will get sucked into the fight of the big elephants.    

NATO’s Prestige Smeared

Although the Ukraine crisis has given a new lease of life to the west and has helped in uniting the divided EU and NATO, and both the US and EU are taking punitive steps to pressurize Russia to step back, they have yet to prove whether they can stand up to the challenge and turn the tide.

Russia has exposed the impotence of NATO which has already tarnished its reputation in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Paranoia in India

India has got hedged between the USA, Russia and China and is finding itself caught between the devil and deep sea. On one side is Russia with which it has had a strategic relationship since the late 1940s. 60-65% of India’s defence equipment is Russian origin and Russia never blackmailed India.

On the other side is the glowering USA to which it had got married in 1990 out of expediency and has been drawing huge economic and military benefits and has been helping it to become a global power. China is closely aligned with Russia and nuclear Pakistan is breathing over its neck in the Himalayas.

Today the US is demanding that India should pay back by severing ties with Russia and also become an effective member of QUAD to counter China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. For India, joining China-specific QUAD is getting highly risky. 

Coming weeks will see whether India bends down to the dictates of the US, or makes another volte face, quits QUAD and reverts to nonalignment and extends a hand of friendship to China and Pakistan.

Reinvigoration of Cold War

The Cold War has reemerged with a big bang and the two belligerent camps are forming up. President Erdogan is eagerly awaiting the revival of the caliphate in 2023 that was terminated in 1924 by the European powers. War mongers and spoilers are pitched against peacemakers. The Ukraine crisis, if not defused, could lead to the worst global economic crisis which will have a catastrophic impact upon the unprivileged classes.  

With so many flash points, and the climate crisis due to global warming morphing into an existential threat to humanity, the world has become a powder keg and needs a matchstick in the wrong hands to ignite. Standoff in Ukraine has revived fears of a nuclear clash and possibly a third world war.

Ground Realities

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

The realities that cannot be ignored are that dwarfed Russia has bounced back on the global central stage, China is the emerging superpower and the US is a declining power, and its global hegemony is unsustainable.

Unipolarism has been replaced by multipolarism.

The Zionists and extremist Jews wishing to rule the world, after pitching Christianity against Islam have now pitched USA against Russia, and will soon pitch USA against China. Depopulation of the world is also the Zionist game.  

Democracy has waned and Far Right and Far Left have become stronger.

Arms industries of the big powers are contracting huge defence deals with the needy weaker countries, which is adding to the suffering of the deprived classes.

Wars, conflicts, civil strife, intrigues, deceit and lies have become a norm.

Piety, tolerance and forbearance have been replaced by immorality, intolerance and egotism. The world as a whole has become turbulent and insecure.   

May Allah guide the megalomaniac powers to follow the path of righteousness, tolerance and co-existence!  

Concluded

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, and 6th book under publication, takes part in TV talk shows and delivers talks on current issues. asifharoonraja@gmail.com  

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Undiminished Scars of 1971 Tragedy Part -2   Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistanis-
Never Forgive or Forget
Pakistanis-Willl Get Even For 1971

Undiminished Scars of 1971 Tragedy

Part -2

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Elections Results and Effects

 

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything”. Joseph Stalin

 

In the elections held on Dec 7, 1970, AL swept the polls in EP with a tally of 167 out of 169 national assembly seats and the PPP securing 87 of 126 seats in WP (simple majority in Punjab and Sindh).  

 

As per Bengali writer Maswani, ‘Only about 7% of Muslim votes in EP had catapulted secessionist AL into majority. Its apparent success didn’t truly represent the will of the people of EP. The AL had won with only 43% of total votes, out of which about 12% were bogus votes cast mostly by infiltrators and 24.35% by the Hindus. (AMK Maswani, Subversion in EP, P 2).

 

There is no doubt of heavy rigging before and during the polls by the AL since the entire civil machinery was in its hands, the people terrorized and the military looked the other way.  

 

After creating political ruckus to force Ayub to resign, Bhutto chose to side with the military junta rather than with the AL after the 1970 elections. Mujib-Bhutto confrontation sparked over the issue of framing of constitution, former wanting to formulate it entirely on his six points inside the Assembly and the latter wanting to do it jointly outside the Assembly. Both adopted a piggish stance which created a logjam. Had Gen Yahya retained the 1962 Constitution or reincarnated the 1956 Constitution, the constitutional crisis wouldn’t have arisen.

 

 

From Feb 1971 onwards, Bhutto became highly aggressive. Wanting to share power he threatened to break the legs of politicians going to Dacca. Mujib paid his bellicosity in the same coin which heated up the political temperature. Bhashani added fuel to the fire. Upset by Mujib’s intransigence over six-points, Yahya began to lean more heavily upon Bhutto.   

 

Bengali nationalism was intensified by Mujib during the year-long election campaign based on his six-points, resulting in AL’s landslide victory. Militancy peaked when on 01 March President Gen Yahya postponed the session of the Constituent National Assembly at Dacca scheduled on 03 March 1971 indefinitely on the advice of Bhutto and hawks in his cabinet who dubbed Mujib as a security risk.  It set ablaze the festering volcano.

 

Slaughter of Non-Bengalis/Biharis

 

From 02 March a systematic genocide of Biharis, non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis, rapes of women and destruction of their properties was unleashed by the AL activists and Mukti Bahini (MB). West Pakistani officers serving in East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) and their families were killed, and banks were looted. Pakistan flags were burnt, BD flags hoisted and taxes were not paid. Military cantonments were besieged and water supply and fresh supplies blocked; soldiers confined to barracks since 4 March were abused and ridiculed. A parallel government had been put into force in EP and it was only Mujib’s directives that were obeyed. Bedlam could have been kept under control had reinforcements sent from WP not stopped, and troops not sent back to barracks on 4 March.  

 

Unproductive Parleys

 

March 25 was given as the new date for the National Assembly meeting but it didn’t mitigate the anger of Mujib who became haughtier. In order to defuse the explosive situation, Gen Yahya and his team flew to Dacca on March 15 and till 24 March held negotiations with the Mujib led team. On 21-22 March, WP politicians joined to avert the crisis. Bhutto played on both sides of the wicket by poisoning the ears of Mujib and Yahya. Talks broke down when Mujib ruled out federation and insisted upon confederation provided EP was given 56% share of federal assets. According to Professor G.W Choudhury (p.168), ‘Some foreign economists financed by the Ford Foundation were the loudest in making extreme demands and were responsible for the failure of the Dacca dialogue’.

 

Operation Searchlight

 

When the ten-day negotiations between the two teams at Dacca failed to yield results due to obduracy of Mujib, and there was no letup in the killing spree, and Gen Yahya was scorned for keeping the army in cotton wool, the President directed Lt Gen Tikka Khan, who had replaced Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Khan on 7 March, to launch Operation Searchlight on the night of March 25. Mujib and Dr. Kamal were arrested while all other AL leaders managed to flee to India where they set up BD govt in exile. Had they been rounded up, things could be different.

 

By dawn of 26 March, Dacca was in full control of the army after killing 66 extremists and injuring 31. Bhutto hailed the action saying “Thank God, Pakistan has at last been saved”. His exclamation was the manifestation of inner sentiments of the majority in WP. Yahya was eulogized for his action. (Hasan Zaheer, Separation of East Pakistan, Oxford, p 327). Only three EBR could be disarmed and the rest defected with arms. AL was outlawed and Mujib was declared a traitor and tried on charges of treason.

 

The military action which was falsely termed as a genocide by Indian media resulted in exodus of 7-10 million Bengalis to India 85% of whom were Hindus who should have migrated in 1947. (Kuldip Nayyar, Distant Neighbors, Delhi, p 155). It also sparked province wide rebellion which morphed into 9 months of civil war. The MB, six EB Regts, 16000 Bengalis in EPR and 45000 Policemen were aided by 50,000 Indian soldiers dressed in civvies. There were 116000 Bengalis in units, HQs, EBR, EPR, Police etc. and all had rebelled.

 

Role of Outsiders & US Treachery, Duplicity, & Back-Stabbing

{

Task Force 74 – The US Lies

The second Task Force 74 was assembled from the U.S. Navy′s Seventh Fleet that was deployed to the Bay of Bengal by the Nixon administration in December 1971, but NEVER  SENT TO DEFEND EAST PAKISTAN.

 

The western media had turned against the military regime after the ouster of journalists from Dacca by Lt Gen Tikka due to their biased reporting {by Jewish Reporter of  Jewish Owned New York Times-Sydney Schanberg, New Delhi Correspondent of New York Times.} In the Whitehouse tapes released in the mid-nineties, President Nixon referred to the involvement of U.S diplomats in Pakistan who ignored his instructions and supported the separatists. CIA and the US Congress sided with Mujib in spite of Gen Yahya taking the risk of arranging a meeting of Henry Kissinger with Chinese PM at Beijing in Jul 1971 which led to US-China rapprochement. The USSR concluded a defence agreement with India in August 1971 to forestall any intervention by China.

 

Airlifting of Additional Forces

 

The magnitude of the insurrection was beyond the capacity of lone 14 Division. 9 and 16 Divisions, two wings each of CAF and Rangers and 5000 policemen were airlifted to Dacca via Colombo in a record time of less than two weeks since the East-West air corridor had been blocked by India after the engineered hijacking of Indian airline on Jan 31 the blame of which was put on Pakistan.

 

In order to tackle the insurgency and to be prepared for a war with India, local Razakars numbering 60, 000 were raised to provide rear area security. The EPCAF numbering 13000 with a heavy intake of Biharis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis were formed into units and wings. Out of the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams were created which mostly comprised Biharis and patriotic Bengalis. The two outfits became the eyes and ears of the army. The Razakars and the EPCAF supported the army fighting the insurgents and in the clearance of border towns and border posts captured by the MB.

 

Bhutto encouraged Yahya to withhold invoking UN action when India started to intervene militarily in April 1971(Memories and Reflections of a Pakistani Diplomat, p. 359). Foreign Secretary Sultan M. Khan wrote in his book (Memoirs and Reflections of a Pakistani Diplomat, London Centre for Pakistan Studies), ‘After the use of military power in East Pakistan on March 25th. 1971, the situation escalated out of Yahya Khan’s grasp and he could no longer control it. From then on he was merely reacting to the developing situation and had lost all initiative’.

Situation Normalized

 

By end April 1971, the whole area was cleared and the slaughter spree of the MB that was at its height till March 31 began to decline rapidly. By May/June complete normalcy was restored, the civil administration became functional. A general amnesty was announced, reception centres established for those who had fled to India including the politicians and a call for by-elections was given. However, India blocked their return, and in concert with Russia continued to train, equip and launch MBs to keep the pot of EP boiling. RAW and BSF had set up 59 training camps.

 

In the clearing operations from March to Nov 1971, 237 officers, 136 JCOs and 3559 other ranks were killed and wounded in action. (Indian Army after Independence, Major K.C Praval, Delhi, 1990, p 321).  

 

Gathering of War Clouds

 

The MB supported by BSF and Indian Army launched border attacks in Sept/Oct with a view to draw Pak forces towards the border. Eastern Command hastened to push forward army units, broke them in sub-units and deployed them in penny-packets all along the border. Even the command reserves (53 Bde) were pushed forward denuding Dacca of regular troops. It resulted in loss of cohesion and made the units vulnerable to envelopment and piecemeal destruction.

 

Creation of ad hoc divisions/brigades two weeks before the start of the war was a big sham, since they were raised by milking the resources of infantry divisions/units and further weakening their combat strength deployed on extended frontages with no depth and no reserves. The formations were critically short of war munitions and manpower and didn’t have a single medium artillery regt. Limitation of range of guns and tanks was another drawback.   

 

EPCAF and the Razakars plugged the yawning gaps between defensive localities and took part in the war with India. They fought valiantly till the end and large numbers embraced martyrdom or were injured in action.

 

The War (Nov 21 – Dec 16, 1971)

 

When it was found that the MBs were unable to defeat the Pak forces or to capture a chunk of territory near the border where a BD flag could be hoisted, the Indian military barged into EP on 21 Nov which was Eid day, and attacked 23 salients across the border. Lodgment areas were secured in Jessore, Dinajpur and Sylhet sectors. The MB resorted to large-scale massacre of pro-Pakistan elements in the captured areas. That was the time to modify the defensive plan and bring a change in the exaggerated forward posture but it was not done. Lt Gen Niazi issued orders, ‘Fortress will be abandoned after incurring 75% casualties’.

 

On the diplomatic front, it was the right time to move the case to the UN against unprovoked aggression of India as was suggested by Agha Shahi, but no move was made.  

 

On Dec 2, India threw in 3 more divisions supported by armor to expand its penetrations at 7 different fronts. At that stage it dawned upon GHQ that India’s plans were much bigger than assumed, but it was too late to affect a change in defensive posture. Most crossing points on the rivers were destroyed or seized by the MB.

 

The Indian forces aided by the MB launched their offensive through gaps under complete air superiority on multiple axes with speed, grounding defending forces in respective compartments, while the MB stepped up their disruptive activities in the rear to block rearward moves of Pak troops. It made the task of forward troops to converge into the Dacca Bowl almost impossible. The ground situation changed with such rapidity that it left the Eastern Command dislocated and paralyzed. Its strategic balance lay in tatters and the defensive operational cycle got jammed.

 

After the PAF launched an air offensive on the western front on Dec 3, India declared war on both fronts with main effort in EP and secondary effort in the WP. India also forwarded a complaint to the UN Secretary General alleging that Pakistan had attacked India.

 

In EP, the Indian military enjoying 15:1 superiority, launched their offensive with main effort against Sylhet-Comilla by 4 Corps, secondary effort against Jessore sector by 2 Corps, another secondary effort against Bogra by 33 Corps and an auxiliary effort against Mymensingh-Tangail sector by 101 Communication Zone.

 

It had 7 armor regts with T-55 and T-72 tanks, a Para Bde, 46 artillery regts including Mediums, 24 Mortar Btys, 4 AA regts, 32 BSF units, 4 BD Bdes, 287000 MBs, helicopter support, 11 sqns of MiG-21, SU-23, Gnat, Canberra generating 120 sorties a day. Its naval assets consisted of one aircraft carrier, 3 landing ships and 8 destroyers. The IAF flew 80 air sorties in support of ground forces from 3-15 Dec and generated a total of 1978 sorties. The Indian Navy affected a sea blockade on 4 Dec.

 

Pakistan’s Eastern Command had one Corps HQ, 3 infantry divisions, 2 adhoc divisions, one armor regiment with M-24 tanks, 6 Field regts, 5 Mortar Batteries, 13000 EPCAF men, 60,000 Razaqars. The PAF had only one squadron and the Navy had 4 converted gunboats and 8 Chinese Coasters/landing crafts.     

 

Major towns were converted into fortresses. While the static fronts outmaneuvered by Indian tanks and supported by armor collapsed at most places, at Hilli, 4 FF under Lt Col Akhlaq Abbasi, SJ put up a gallant fight and didn’t allow 20 Mountain Div with an additional Inf Bde supported by Armored Bde to breakout towards Bogra for 19 days. The unit was ordered to withdraw on 11 Dec when the opposing enemy outflanked the whole brigade. Another gallant fight was put up at Kamalpur and Jamalpur by 31 Baluch under Lt Col Sultan, SJ & Bar. 107 Bde under Brig Hayat Khan, SJ, put up a stubborn resistance at Khulna till 16 Dec. There were several other valiant actions at sub-unit levels. Most of the fortresses were intact on 16 Dec.  

 

The lone PAF squadron put up an extremely brave show by flying 292 air sorties in support of the ground forces from 29 March till 6 Dec. Pak Navy’s Ghazi sent from Karachi to carry out strategic mining of Visakhapatnam and to interdict Indian Navy ships sank close to its target with 93 all ranks on board on the night of 3 Dec as a result of underwater explosion.    

 

On 12 Dec, Lt Gen Gul Hassan informed Lt Gen Niazi that US and Chinese help was on the way. On 14 Dec, the GHQ gave an assurance to Niazi that the UNSC was in session and was most likely to order a ceasefire and he should hold on. Niazi cracked up when the heat came upon Dacca on 15 Dec. His oft repeated motto “last man last round” was probably meant for the forward troops only. Dacca, which was viewed by the opposing side as the toughest nut to crack and identified by Niazi as the centre of gravity, was left defenseless and had no regular troops. It fell like a ripe apple without being penetrated and without a fight.

 

Heavily outnumbered, outgunned, cut off from the world, subjected to psychological war and demonized by Indo-Russian-Western propaganda, the beleaguered Pak forces fought and defended the motherland gallantly. Overwhelmed by the sheer weight and size of the enemy and adverse obtaining conditions, Gen Niazi gave orders on the morning of Dec 16 to stop fighting and ceasefire. The ceasefire transformed into surrender.

 

To be concluded

 

The writer is Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, international columnist, author of five books, sixth book under publication, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com  

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Undiminished Scars of 1971 Tragedy Part-1   Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Undiminished Scars of 1971 Tragedy

Part-1

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

“Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it”. George Santayana

 

 

The 1971 War fought between the two arch-rivals India and Pakistan fifty years ago is an account of painful memories for Pakistanis particularly those who were in former East Pakistan (EP). Severance of the eastern limb of Pakistan was a great national tragedy the anguish of which is still felt by the veterans and the patriotic Bengalis and Biharis and the civilians who had witnessed and undergone the whole trauma. With so many facts hidden under the massive Indo-Western propaganda having now surfaced, it can be surmised that Pakistan was made the victim of a methodically planned conspiracy.

 

Besides India and the rebels of EP, the USSR, USA, UK, Israel and Afghanistan had supported the Bengali rebels instigated by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his cohorts. The whole world, including Pakistan’s close friends, quietly and helplessly watched the agonizing dismemberment process from 25 March to 16 Dec 1971.      

 

Background History

 

After the unjust Boundary Award by Radcliffe at the behest of Mountbatten in which half of Punjab and Bengal including Calcutta were awarded to India, India was partitioned and Pakistan came into being on 14 August 1947. The British allowed India to annex all the 565 Princely States including two-thirds Kashmir which was annexed in Oct 1947. The Muslim League (ML) under the sagacious and resolute leadership of Quaid-e-Azam MA Jinnah translated the feelings of the Indian Muslims into a political reality. Although a moth-eaten and truncated Pakistan, it was the largest Muslim nation in the world.

 

The Muslims of Bihar adjacent to East Bengal didn’t want to be part of Hindu dominated West Bengal and opted to move to Muslim majority East Bengal. Compared with Muslim Bengalis, they were fair coloured, educated, skilled and talented due to which they managed to monopolize the public sectors, banking and railways. It caused resentment to the original inhabitants. There was a better understanding between Hindu and Muslim Bengalis. The phenomenon was similar to Karachi where the Muhajirs were initially welcomed by the Sindhis but gradually they harboured ill feelings against them on account of taking control over all the public offices and business etc. the Sindhis happily co-existed with Hindus.  

 

India didn’t reconcile with Pakistan’s Existence

 

Bharat detested the two-nation theory and didn’t reconcile to the birth of Pakistan, which also became an eyesore for the former USSR and Israel since it was created based on Islam. To disprove this theory, and to undo Pakistan step by step, India made plans soon after the partition to subvert the minds of Bengalis EP and sever the eastern wing from the concept of Pakistan.

 

EP was chosen as the initial objective due to its vulnerability of being 1000 miles away from West Pakistan (WP), surrounded by Indian Territory from three sides, the heavy cultural influence of West Bengal, and differences in dress, diet, habits and culture of Bengalis from WP. 13 million Hindu Bengalis in EP had been directed by Nehru to stay put so that their insidious influence could be best utilized to subvert the minds of Muslim Bengalis against non-Bengalis and Biharis.   

 

In a matter of 23 years, the Muslim Bengalis that were at the forefront of the Pakistan movement were led astray and were filled with so much hatred against West Pakistan that they opted to gain independence. They accepted India as their mentor and saviour from whose shackles of freedom was achieved after so much agony and labour.

 

Subversion of East Pakistan

 

The audiences selected by the Indian psychological operators in EP to subvert their minds were the youth, politicians, Awami League (AL), education curriculum, religious moorings, art & culture, stage dramas & theatres, print media, TV & radio, writers, journalists & intellectuals, non-Bengali heavy civil administration. Secularism was promoted and religion downplayed. The language issue was fomented, history of Bengal was distorted to paint Muslim rule in India in poor light. Hindu festivals were celebrated, school textbooks were printed in Bengali in Calcutta Press. 90% of school teachers and professors were Hindu Bengalis who sowed the seeds of hatred among the students. Dacca University became the stronghold of AL where its militant wing was first created. ML was discredited.

 

 

 

 

So powerful was the influence of Indian psychological operators that the coercive rule of the Hindu Mahajans and landlords who had reduced East Bengal Muslims into serfs in the latter half of the 18th century after the battle of Plassey in 1757 was forgotten and ‘hate everything non-Bengali’ phobia was accepted. It is an irony of fate that the very people who were in the vanguard of the Pakistan Movement took up arms to destroy the country they had helped to create.

  

Simmering in East Pakistan

 

In EP, the Biharis governed by a superiority complex lived in separate colonies and got closer with WP bureaucrats (mostly Urdu speaking) due to which the desired integration between the two communities did not develop. Likewise, the ML governments and the ten years of Ayub Khan’s military rule didn’t pay any intention towards socially integrating the two wings on ideological grounds.

 

The gulf between the Bengalis and Biharis and between the two wings were widened by the AL under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Maulana Bhashani, well-heeled Hindu Bengalis and India’s intelligence agencies. These elements together with Hindu teachers and professors injected hatred into the minds of the Bengalis against non-Bengalis and portrayed India as a well-wisher under a calculated program plotted by India.

 

Bengali nationalism was stirred up based on socio-economic grievances and domination of Punjab. Maximum provincial autonomy for EP was underlined as a panacea. Nationalism heightened during the 1952 language riots followed by the defeat of the ML at the hands of the Jugto Front led by Fazlul Haq in the 1954 provincial elections. Thereafter, ML never regained balance and became dependent upon the bureaucracy and the military to stay in power.  

 

One-Unit Scheme

 

The merger of provinces and six States of WP into a single province in 1954 was motivated by the fear of Bengal’s domination over Punjab. The One-Unit scheme put aside the question of autonomy. Under the parity formula, the country got a constitution in 1956 after labour of nine years. However, it was never put into practice due to President Iskandar Mirza’s disdain for democracy and the parliamentary system. As such, the One-Unit rather than integrating the two wings caused greater polarization and mistrust. Palace intrigues of Ghulam Muhammad followed by Iskandar Mirza and failure of political institutions to build a stable political system led to military intervention in politics in 1958.  

 

Ayub Khan’s Military Rule

 

After the abrogation of 1956, dissolution of assemblies and imposition of martial law by President Mirza on Oct 7, 1958, power was wrested by Gen Ayub Khan on Oct 28. Apart from initiating a host of reforms and introducing the Basic Democrats system, he framed a new constitution envisaging a presidential form of government in 1962.

 

Death of Suhrawardy in 1963, the last bridge between the two wings, gave the reins of AL to Sheikh Mujib who started playing on the theme of inter-wing disparity. No effort was made to put the record straight that in 1947, Bengal was the poorest province of India and EP most underdeveloped part of Bengal.

 

In 1962, Sheikh Mujib had written a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru requesting assistance for an armed insurrection in East Pakistan (The American Papers – Secret and Confidential India. Pakistan. Bangladesh Documents 1965-1973, The University Press, pp. 243-244). He followed this up by taking a delegation to Agartala in 1963. The details of his involvement with India can be seen in Asoka Raina’s book, Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service, p. 48.

 

After Effects of 1965 War

 

The 1965 War in which Pakistan gained an edge over India, bred insecurity in the minds of people of EP. Willful propaganda was launched that if the security of EP rested on Chinese deterrence, why should its people contribute towards the defence budget. It was propagated that WP was prospering on account of foreign currency earned from the export of jute produced in EP, and the latter had become a colony of WP. The Bengali leaders ignored the massive reforms and uplift programs initiated by Ayub Khan in the EP.  

 

Sheikh Mujib ranted grievances and espoused his six points to emancipate the deprivations of Bengalis. It became the rallying cry of Bengali nationalism, but in reality, it was a doctrine of secession. ZA Bhutto after creating PPP in 1967 falsely accused his mentor Ayub Khan of selling Kashmir by signing the Tashkent Declaration which he had drafted and raised the slogan of Roti, Kapra, Makan to alleviate the poverty of the masses in WP. The two demagogues never clashed with each other since their objective was to oust Ayub Khan. They launched politics of violence in the two provinces duly bolstered by India, which gave rise to provincialism and secessionist tendencies. Ayub’s reforms to narrow down east-west inequities were drowned in the sea of negative propaganda.

 

Agartala Conspiracy

 

In 1968, Sheikh Mujib was arrested on charges of conspiracy along with 34 other civil and military bureaucrats and put on trial. His trial made him a hero in the eyes of the Bengalis instead of a traitor. This was a time of political unrest in the country that was being exploited by politicians including Maulana Bhashani, Bhutto and Air Marshal Asghar Khan to dislodge Ayub Khan. They mounted a campaign for Mujib’s release without giving it much thought that he was conspiring with India to break up Pakistan. Students’ agitation in WP had become volatile. Under intense pressure, Ayub withdrew the case against Mujib and released him.

 

Crucial Round Table Conference

 

Bhutto stayed away from critical negotiations between Ayub Khan and the opposition leaders in Feb 1969 during which Ayub had accepted all their demands except for six points and repeal of One-Unit. Bhutto was responsible for the failure of the Round Table Conference (RTC) on March 10-12 by boycotting it. He maintained secret links with Gen Yahya Khan and other conspiring senior army officers wanting to depose Ayub Khan and hand over power to Yahya Khan.

 

Transfer of Power to Gen Yahya Khan

 

Fast deteriorating internal disorder forced Ayub Khan to resign and give the reins of power to Gen Yahya Khan on 25 March 1969. He abrogated the 1962 Constitution, declared martial law and ran the country on a Legal Framework Order. The changeover and the newcomer’s inclination to appease the Bengalis at all cost provided a golden opportunity to India to put its plan of subversion of EP and its detachment from Pakistan into action. 

 

Policy of Appeasement

 

Being politically naïve, Yahya Khan first step was to announce his intentions to hold general elections on 5 Oct 1970 based on the adult franchise to pacify the politicians. Turning a blind eye to the records of Bhutto and Mujib he opted to befriend them. He pandered to each legal and illegal demand of Mujib since he wanted to keep him happy. He undid One-Unit Scheme and divided WP into four provinces while keeping EP intact. Doing away with the parity formula left him with no munition to bargain with Mujib over the issue of autonomy. He replaced separate electorates with joint electorates to enable AL in EP and the PPP in Sindh to garner Hindu votes. 10 East Bengal Regiments (EBR) with 100% Bengalis were raised. Political prisoners were released and cases against criminals were withdrawn.  

 

Ignoring the warnings about the sinister intentions of Mujib, Yahya kept doling out political concessions to the Bengalis, thereby guaranteeing their victory in the elections. He, however, remained under the delusion that the outcome of elections will be a split mandate.

 

Yahya also lent receptive ears to the counsels of scheming Bhutto and mistook him to be his sincere political adviser. The then governor of EP Admiral Ahsan opined that it may have been because Mujib had promised to retain Yahya as the president and Bhutto had no objections. The two ambitious and wily politicians made him play into their hands.

 

Dr Kamal Hossain, constitutional advisor to Mujib recorded in his book, (Bangladesh: Quest for Freedom and Justice p. 89) Therefore it was decided that the position to be taken should not be an explicit declaration of independence. To exert pressure on Yahya, specific demands should be made and the movement sustained in support of these demands, with independence as its ultimate goal’. 

 

The writer is Brigadier, a war veteran, defence analyst, international columnist, author of five books, sixth book under publication, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

 

To be continued 

 

 

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The end of American hegemony By Francis Fukuyama

The end of American hegemony

Influence abroad depends on fixing problems at home

By Francis Fukuyama

November 19, 2021
The horrifying images of desperate Afghans trying to get out of Kabul after the Western-backed government collapsed in August seemed to signify a major juncture in world history, as America turned away from the world. Yet in truth, the end of the American era had come much earlier. The long-term sources of American weakness and decline are more domestic than international. The country will remain a great power for many years, but just how influential it will be depends on its ability to fix its internal problems, rather than its foreign policy.
The peak period of American hegemony lasted less than 20 years, from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the financial crisis of 2007-09. The country was dominant in many domains of power—military, economic, political and cultural. The height of American hubris was the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when it hoped to remake not just Iraq and Afghanistan (invaded two years before), but the whole Middle East. America overestimated the effectiveness of military power to bring about deep political change, even as it underestimated the impact of its free-market economic model on global finance. The decade ended with its troops bogged down in two counterinsurgency wars, and a financial crisis that accentuated the inequalities American-led globalisation had brought about.

Termites in the floorboards

The degree of unipolarity in this period has been rare in history, and the world has been reverting to a more normal state of multipolarity ever since, with China, Russia, India, Europe and other centres gaining power relative to America. Afghanistan’s ultimate effect on geopolitics is likely to be small: America survived an earlier, humiliating defeat when it withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, but regained its dominance within little more than a decade. The much bigger challenge to America’s global standing is domestic.

American society is deeply polarised, and has found it difficult to find consensus on virtually anything. This polarisation started over conventional policy issues like taxes and abortion, but has since metastasised into a bitter fight over cultural identity. Normally a big external threat such as a global pandemic should be the occasion for citizens to rally around a common response. But the covid-19 crisis served rather to deepen America’s divisions, with social distancing, mask-wearing and vaccinations being seen not as public-health measures but as political markers.These conflicts have spread to all aspects of life, from sport to the brands of consumer products that red and blue Americans buy.

America’s influence abroad depends on its ability to fix its internal problems

Polarisation has affected foreign policy directly. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans took a hawkish stance and scolded Democrats for the Russian “reset” and alleged naivety regarding Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump turned the tables by embracing Mr Putin, and today roughly half of Republicans believe that the Democrats constitute a bigger threat to the American way of life than Russia does.

There is more apparent consensus regarding China: both Republicans and Democrats agree it is a threat to democratic values. But this only carries America so far. A far greater test for American foreign policy than Afghanistan will be Taiwan, if it comes under direct Chinese attack. Will the United States be willing to sacrifice its sons and daughters on behalf of that island’s independence? Or indeed, would it risk military conflict with Russia should the latter invade Ukraine? These are serious questions with no easy answers, but a reasoned debate about American national interest will probably be conducted primarily through the lens of how it affects the partisan struggle.

The biggest policy debacle of President Joe Biden’s administration in its first year has been its failure to plan adequately for the rapid collapse of Afghanistan. Mr Biden has suggested that withdrawal was necessary in order to focus on meeting the bigger challenges from Russia and China. I hope he is serious about this. Mr Obama was never successful in making a “pivot” to Asia because America remained focused on counterinsurgency in the Middle East. In 2022, the administration needs to redeploy both resources and the attention of policymakers to deter geopolitical rivals and engage with allies.

The United States is not likely to regain its earlier hegemonic status, nor should it aspire to. What it can hope for is to sustain, with like-minded countries, a world order friendly to democratic values. Whether it can do this will depend on recovering a sense of national identity and purpose at home.

Francis Fukuyama: senior fellow at Stanford University 

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition of The World Ahead 2022 under the headline “The end of American hegemony”

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Pakistan’s Supreme Court is a Victims of Judicial Hesitation & Procrastination in Making Timely Judgements. Hear it s History of Failures in this Video.

 

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is a Toothless Tiger & a National Joke.

 

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