Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi popularly known as A. A. K. Niazi who was given Eastern Command, during 1971 was the man whose duty was to direct and lead the operation, which finally resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan.
Many stories and discussions were surfaced after fall of Dhaka, but dispelling the impression and to clear his name A.A.A K niazi in his book ‘The Betrayal of East Pakistan’ narrates that
“The destiny I could not evade was not of my choosing or making. Ordered to lay down arms by the President to save West Pakistan, my mind swung between the two options-risk West Pakistan being further overrun, or jeopardize my reputation, my career, my future, and the high tradition of the Pakistan Army by submitting to the orders. I had accepted a task beset with hazards and difficulties, when East Pakistan was in disarray and disorder.”
He further asserts that two senior generals had refused to accept the responsibility on various pretexts; one had resigned when raging torrents of insurgency became obvious, and another had bungled the situation, he claims. Putting all prejudices aside, two years ago, when I began to study the tragedy in East Pakistan with an open mind and began to formulate my own conclusions, one of the many ideological groups that opened up was that General Niazi was a coward. They were not and their soldiers also fought this war with astonishing passion till the end. However, we did not do them justice. It took me two years to muster up the courage to write.
Our problem is that we don’t like serious conversation after two sentences, we start gasping and if it is against our mood and prejudice, we blow it up in satire and worlds.
The same thing happened with the East Pakistan tragedy. No serious analysis was done. Everyone did their own thing. In this exercise, General Niazi became an easy and inherited victim. His character has been declining for decades. Even acquaintances have never told the truth about who will defend a defeated general Lets look at this matter in the light of facts and decide for ourselves.
First of all, let’s look at the situation on the front. East Pakistan was completely besieged by India. The best option for getting arms, food, medicine and more troops to East Pakistan could be by sea. It had been cordoned off. Our ship PNS Zulfiqar was wrecked in Karachi by a mistake of its own pilots. PNS Ghazi was also destroyed India was attacking East Pakistan with full naval force but our navy was unable to help its troops. International observers wrote that half of the navy was destroyed. Our navy was not available to break the Indian navy’s control over the coastal cities of East Pakistan.
The issue of air power was that according to Bowman Martin’s book “Cold War Jet Combat”, India carried out 1978 air strikes in East Pakistan. While the number of air operations by Pakistan in East Pakistan was only 30. These Indian attacks were aimed at providing cover from ground forces to the Mukti Bahini, and in the face of all this, our troops did not have an air corps available. Seventy-five Pakistani warplanes had been destroyed. In the first phase, Dhaka Airfield had been cut off.
Take a look at the map. East Pakistan was far away from India. Our army did not have air cover. They were blocked and had no land route from Pakistan. Sea routes were also blocked and our navy could not reach there. Troops could no longer supply arms. Rations and medicines could not be reached. We could have disturbed India by opening a front with West Pakistan from here but this goal could not be achieved.
It was very easy for General Gull Hassan to write a book and call General Niazi a company commander level officer. This plan of war was not of General Niazi. His mastermind was Gull Hassan. The question should have been asked to Gull Hassan that when the Pakistani army was besieged in East Pakistan, what your plan B. was would you attack from West Pakistan and play brick by brick with India. Unlike General Niazi, you were not a company commander. You were a great planner. Then what is the reason that you could not take revenge of East Pakistan from West Pakistan? If you were not a coward, you would have attacked India from Lahore, Kasur from Sialkot and Kashmir from Kashmir and avenged East Pakistan.
The young men and soldiers who accompanied General Niazi were also the sons of a mother. He was not a kid, so General Niazi would have sacrificed him so that years later, by writing books like Rustam and Siddique Salik on Face book, the ego of those who became Tarzan would be satisfied. We forgot all these soldiers like sin. They were trapped so we couldn’t help them. We could not give them weapons. We could not deliver food to them. They were injured and we could not give them medicine. Wrong decisions were made from here and we chose those who stood in this murder to blame. What kind of justice is this?
If Siddique Salik had been so rude, he would not have accepted the decision of surrender like many other officers and men. Set an example like Colonel Salman. He would have become like Major Shujaat, would have become Hawaldar Mobin, and would have shown bravery like Subedar Liaqat. It would have been better to become Tarzan by writing books later.
In this world of helplessness, these officers and men narrated such stories of bravery that if there was any other nation, dozens of films would have been made on them. We do not even know the condition of the grave of Major Akram Shaheed Nishan Haider who sacrificed his life in East Pakistan. We even forgot Al-Badr. We targeted General Niazi to cover up our collective mistakes. And so a ritual took place. But I declare rebellion with this ritual. To me, General Niazi was not a coward. We are the ones who are still unable to speak the truth.
By sending General Niazi and his soldiers to be killed, we could not give them arms, deliver rations to them, help them by air, break their naval siege, or put pressure on India from West Pakistan. We could not find a political solution to the problem, we could not find a diplomatic solution to it and even to mock, we chose those who kept burning blood lamps in the murder. Their mothers are praying for their return here. What did General Niazi do wrong to ensure his return in these circumstances?
That is the problem. After two sentences we gasp and gasp. Then we look for a scapegoat to cover the matter. We also made General Niazi a scapegoat. Is there anyone like us?
He further asserts that two senior generals had refused to accept the responsibility on various pretexts; one had resigned when raging torrents of insurgency became obvious, and another had bungled the situation, he claims.Lt. General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi is the victim of the historical excesses. He has been wrongly presented and portrayed. To hide the ignominy, these people made General Niazi a scapegoat.
In the words of William Shakespeare, he is more sinned than dinning. The onus is shifted with calculated designs. The causes of the fall and debacle of Dacca need volumes to discern the ground realties. To take military action in East Pakistan was not the decision of General Niazi. The sole responsibility lies on the shoulders of General Yahiya and his colleagues and coterie like General Gull Hassan who later wrote a book and instead of admitting his own faults and follies laid all the burden of defeat on the shoulders of General Niazi.
The same did Brigadier Siddique Salik in his book written on the debacle of East Pakistan. He cannot be blamed for the dismemberment of Pakistan. General Niazi was quite conscious to save the young soldiers who had neither good, not medicines nor weapons. No succor could reach them from land, aerial or sea routes.
East Pakistan was cordoned off by Indian Army and Mukti Bahni was in league with Indian army and was attacking Pakistan army and Pakistani civil servants. It was all chaos and bloodbath. Eventually, he revived orders from GHQ to surrender. What could he do under the pressing and prevailing situation? This sad saga needs the judicious and fair review of the Fall of Dhaka. Natural justice demand fair play. History is like a mirror. It shows you your face, whether it is pretty or ugly. Dusty mirror cannot show you the real visage. Let us brush off the dust from the mirror and see the actual face of everyone who is responsible for this great tragedy known as The Fall of Dhaka.