Banner Advertiser

Saturday, June 30, 2012

[mukto-mona] FW: THE CONSPIRACY OF 1971 BY Brig: F B Ali]

Subject: FW: THE CONSPIRACY OF 1971 BY Brig: F B Ali]
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2011 14:58:43 -0400

        One should note down the names of the Pakistani Officers who opposed the destructive military strategies of 1971, and see if we can contact those who are still alive and able to communicate.  They can contribute to fill up the gaps in information we need to chalk out the Prosecution's presentation of the "Conspiracy" aspect of the 1971 war.
             Farida Majid

Subject: THE CONSPIRACY OF 1971 BY Brig: F B Ali]
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2011 01:17:56 +1000

Conduct Unbecoming
By Brigadier F.B. Ali (Retd.)
Published in the monthly 'Newsline' Karachi of Dec: 10

Brigadier F.B. Ali (Retd.), who fought in the '71 war, gives his account
of the events that resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan and left
behind a legacy of shame. The Supplementary Report of the 1971 War Inquiry
Commission (headed by Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman) has recently been
published in the magazine India Today. There is little doubt that this is
a genuine document. It is unfortunate that, even though 30 years have
passed, the Commission's report has not been made public in Pakistan, and
we are forced to depend on foreign sources to learn of its contents in
dribs and drabs.

Why this report has been buried so deep in secrecy is a simple question to
answer: it is a scathing critique of the conduct of many leading
politicians and senior military officers, and recommends that many of them
be tried for their actions and failures which led to the shameful defeat and
dismemberment of the country. Since neither Z.A. Bhutto, who set up the
Commission, nor any succeeding government was prepared to execute these
recommendations, they were unwilling to make them public and then face the
inevitable questions and public anger. In Bhutto's case, his complicity in the
break-up of the country (which must have been clear in the Main Report of the
Commission) was added reason to keep the report secret.

The devastating account in this Supplementary Report of the despicable
actions of a large number of senior officers in East Pakistan in 1971
could create the false impression that these strictures apply to all
officers in that theatre, even though the Commission has itself cautioned
against this. Even among the senior officers there were outstanding

Major General Shaukat Riza, one of the finest officers to serve in the
Pakistan army, vehemently disagreed with both the military strategy adopted
as well as the policy of excessive use of force against the civilian population.
He was promptly removed from East Pakistan, as was Major General Khadim
Hussain Raja later, for similar reasons. Many officers, such as Lt. Colonel
(later Brigadier) Mansoorul Haq Malik, refused to participate in the violence
against civilians and other unethical military conduct, even though there were
very strong feelings of revenge among the troops because of atrocities
committed by the Mukti Bahini.

Another erroneous impression that has persisted, and which the Commission
report may reinforce, is that the Yahya regime was established and propped
up by the Pakistan army. That is not the truth. The Yahya regime was
brought into power by a small group of generals and top civil servants. It
stayed in power because of the strong tradition of discipline and
obedience in the army. It further consolidated its position by promoting
its own henchmen to senior positions while removing those who would
not go along. Moreover, it ensured the loyalty of its henchmen by giving
them full licence to indulge in corruption and moneymaking.

The rest of the officer corps watched with increasing disgust as the
regime wallowed deeper and deeper in this filth while leading the country
to disaster. It is either not well-known, or often forgotten, that it was
the Pakistan army that removed the Yahya regime, as I shall relate further
on. Major General M. Rahim Khan has reacted violently to the publication
of the Hamoodur Rahman Report. He doth protest too much. Surely the
Commission did not invent the details of what they term his "shameful
cowardice and undue regard for his personal safety"; these were based on
the evidence of persons who witnessed these events first hand. In fact,
General Rahim should be thankful the Commission did not investigate the
murky episode in which he had himself flown out of Dhaka to Burma just before
the surrender.

I find it amusing that General Rahim shifts all the blame on Z.A. Bhutto,
while attempting to distance himself from him. General Rahim was part of
the inner circle of the martial law regime. After the People's Party won
the 1970 election in West Pakistan, General Rahim began to establish
relations with Bhutto. I was there, I saw it. In fact, he engineered a
reconciliation between the regime and Bhutto, and became the link between
the two as they conspired to wreck the newly elected National Assembly, in
which the Awami League had a majority.

General Rahim was also one of the main contributors to the plan to use
military force to crush the popular uprising in East Pakistan that would
inevitably follow the scuttling of the political process. It was because
of his special equation with Bhutto that the latter appointed General
Rahim as Chief of the General Staff upon his return from Burma, and
later on elevated him to the rank of Secretary-General, Ministry of Defence.

Major General Rao Farman Ali Khan has confirmed that the report published
in India is genuine. In this report, the Commission has completely
exonerated General Farman, and has even bestowed words of praise upon him.
In the interests of historical integrity, this picture needs to be
balanced. General Farman was not in the inner circle of the Yahya clique,
but he was a key member of the regime's Election Cell, which used
extortion, intimidation, and bribery to ensure a victory for the
Jamaat-i-Islami and other religious parties in the 1970 election. Huge
sums of money were illegally raised and channelled to these parties.

When this attempt failed and the Awami League won in East Pakistan,
General Farman initially supported the efforts of Lt. General Yaqub Ali
Khan to arrange a peaceful political settlement. But when this policy was
rejected by Yahya Khan and General Yaqub was sacked,
Farman saw which way the wind was blowing and trimmed his sails
accordingly. As he said to me at the time: "I was a dove, but when the
doves lost out I became a hawk and showed them that I was the most
hawkish of them all." He also became one of the principal architects of
the plan to use force in East Pakistan.

In his evidence before the Commission, General Farman sought to deflect
any blame that might attach to General Tikka Khan for his role in East
Pakistan. The Commission's report is itself remarkably silent on his role
(Tikka was the army chief when this report was written). It is well-known
that Tikka Khan was fully involved in the use of military force in East

Generals Rahim and Farman were contemporaries of mine; I knew them both.
They were intelligent and capable officers. In their private lives they would be
considered good and decent men. That is why they must be held to
higher standards, and judged more harshly for their failures (propelled
mainly by ravenous ambition) than Generals like A.A.K. Niazi.

The Commission's Supplementary Report deals mainly with the events in East
Pakistan. The war in West Pakistan was covered in the Commission's Main
Report, which is still suppressed. I participated in these operations, and
appeared twice before the Commission. I have no doubt that in its Main
Report the Commission paints an equally black picture of the conduct of
the war in West Pakistan, and is as scathing in its condemnation of the
regime and senior military commanders who lost large areas of the country
and then cravenly accepted an ignominious ceasefire.

The details of the faulty strategy that were partly the cause of this
debacle are no longer of general interest. But we must not forget the
essence of what transpired; we must not let vested interests whitewash
the dark truth or bury it.
Nations that forget history are condemned to repeat it. My experience of
the 1971 war is one window into the past as it really happened.

I commanded an artillery formation in the Sialkot-Narowal-Gujranwala
sector, which was defended by 1 Corps under Lt. General Irshad Ahmad Khan.
Since I was simultaneously filling several other command positions, I was
able to observe all that went on in this sector. The war was initiated by
Pakistan on December 3, 1971 with a few very limited attacks. GHQ had
given strict orders that nothing was to be done beyond this; all the
requests of local commanders to be allowed to exploit the success of the
initial attacks were firmly rejected. It appears that the Yahya regime
started the war in the West just to put pressure on the international
community to intervene and impose a ceasefire in East Pakistan.

This did not happen, and after a few days the Indians recovered from
their initial disarray and began to push into our territory. There was
total paralysis in the command on our side:
GHQ gave no orders, while the field commanders were content to sit and
wait for directions from above that never came.

Meanwhile, every day the enemy was advancing, every day we were giving up
territory, every day we were steadily losing the war. I had about 14 or 15
regiments of artillery available to me, and I made the necessary plans and
preparations to mass them against the enemy advance. From December 8
onwards, I tried every method I could, official and unofficial, formal and
informal, to persuade my superiors and GHQ to use this great potential of
firepower available to them, but in vain.

One day, in my capacity as Commander Artillery of Army Reserve North, I
attended a meeting called by General Irshad, Commander 1 Corps, at his HQ
in Gujranwala. After the dismal opening briefing about more areas lost the
night before, I asked General Irshad why he wasn't doing anything about
this continuing loss of territory. He replied:
"You are worried about this territory; according to the GHQ plan I can
give up all the area north of the MRL canal." (This was many times the
area we had already lost!) I was so fed up that I said rather roughly: "If
you are not going to use your reserve armoured brigade why don't you give
it to us so that we can try to recover the lost territory?" For a few
moments he was too shocked to reply; then he burst out: "Don't forget that
after the war you will come back under my command and I will write your
ACR (Annual Confidential Report)."

This general spent less time commanding his corps than he did on improving
the security of his HQ and living quarters. The War Inquiry Commission
recommended that Lt. Gen. Irshad Ahmad Khan should be court-martialled for
surrendering nearly 500 villages to the enemy without a fight.

The territory we lost in West Pakistan was given up without a fight
because the army was not allowed to fight by its commanders. In the few
places where we did fight, the younger officers and soldiers displayed
extraordinary valour and self-sacrifice. But the bulk of the army was kept
out of battle. Halfway through the war it became a commonplace saying
among officers: if you want to fight this war, forget about the generals
and do it yourself.

On December 17, after Yahya Khan announced the acceptance of the
ceasefire, I was quite certain, as were most other people, that he and his
government would accept responsibility for the debacle and announce that
they were quitting. That evening I handed in my resignation from the army,
in acknowledgment of my responsibility (shared by all other senior
officers) for having silently acquiesced in the takeover and maintenance
of power by these corrupt, self-seeking generals who had brought the country
to this sorry state.

Next day, on December18, I was stunned to learn that Yahya Khan had no
intention of leaving; instead, he announced that he was going to
promulgate a new constitution. Meanwhile, angry public demonstrations
demanding that the regime should quit had erupted all over the country.
There was a real danger that Yahya Khan might use troops to quell the
public outcry, which would have imposed an unbearable strain on the
discipline of the army, itself angry and upset over what had happened.

I became convinced that the regime had to be clearly told that it no
longer had the support of the army and must go. I tried to persuade my
division commander, Major General M.I. Karim, to send such a message to
the government through GHQ, but, although he appeared to share my views,
he hesitated to take such a step. Finally, on December 19, I could wait no
longer, and took over effective command of the division from General Karim.
He tacitly accepted this, and gave me valuable support throughout the
succeeding events.

In this action, I also had the support of some other senior officers who
felt as I did. Our position was that the regime should quit and hand over
power to the elected representatives of the people, and that all those
incompetent and corrupt commanders who had led us into defeat should be
sacked. In practical terms, this meant handing over power to Z.A. Bhutto
and his People's Party, who had won the 1970 election in West Pakistan.
Even though I was by no means a fan of Mr. Bhutto's, I believed that their
elected status gave them the right to govern, and obtain the allegiance of
the armed forces.

Colonels Aleem Afridi and Javed Iqbal went to Rawalpindi with a message
from us for Yahya Khan: he should announce by 8 p.m. that evening his
readiness to hand over power to the elected representatives
 of the people. In addition, all those generals who had led the army into
this disaster should also quit. In case such an announcement was not made
by 8 p.m. then we could not guarantee control of the situation, and any
resulting consequences. The two officers met with General Gul Hassan,
Chief of the General Staff, and asked him to convey this message to Yahya
Khan. Gul Hassan went to General Hamid, the Chief of Staff, who said he
would arrange for a meeting with the President at 7 p.m. General Hamid
then went into a flurry of activity. He called several army commanders to
see if they could help to restore the situation, but they all expressed
inability to do anything. Major General A.O. Mitha, another stalwart of
the regime, tried to get some SSG (commando) troops for action against
our divisional HQ, but was unable to obtain any.

The failure of these efforts, and the obvious absence of any support in
the army, left the Yahya clique with no option. Shortly before 8 p.m., the
broadcast was made that Yahya Khan had decided to hand over power
to the elected representatives of the people.

After this announcement General Gul Hassan and his friend, Air Marshal
Rahim Khan, the air force chief, in consultation with G.M. Khar, a PPP
leader, arranged for Z.A. Bhutto's return from Rome, where he was sitting
out the crisis, apparently because he was not sure about his personal
safety if he came back. When Bhutto arrived on the 20th, Gul Hassan and
Rahim told him that the military was behind them, and it was they who had
removed the Yahya regime. That night Mr. Bhutto made a broadcast to the
nation, in which he announced the retirement of all the generals in Yahya
Khan's inner clique, saying that he was doing this "in accord with the
sentiments of the armed forces and the younger officers." He also made Lt.
General Gul Hassan the army chief, and confirmed Rahim Khan as the air
force chief, though they did not last long when they proved insufficiently pliable.

Bhutto made no attempt to purge the armed forces of the rotten layer at
the top, even though he must have known how discredited these officers
were in their own services, especially with the War Inquiry Commission
hearing evidence of their misdeeds, which were becoming generally known.
It suited him to have weak commanders who depended on him for their
positions and lacked the respect and support of those under them. But he
readily acquiesced in Gul Hassan's removal of a few remaining upright and
competent generals, namely, Major Generals Shaukat Riza, Ihsanul Haq Malik
and Khadim Hussain Raja.

Then, in August 1972, Bhutto retired me and five other officers who had
been the principals in the removal of the Yahya regime. He publicly
accused us of having engaged in a conspiracy to prevent the elected
representatives of the people from coming into power in December 1971!

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had a glorious opportunity when he became President.
The people of Pakistan were shaken to the roots of their national psyche.
They looked longingly for a leader to guide them back to the right path;
they were prepared to make a new beginning as a cohesive people ready to
work together again to achieve the vision that had created their homeland
25 years ago. All they needed was a leader who felt the same pain and
yearned for the same goal.

But at this great crossroads in history, the man of the hour was found
pitifully wanting. His lack of vision, meanness of spirit, and pettiness
of mind, all led him to see this historic moment as just an opportunity to
grab personal power. Even the use of this power was affected by his
limitations: witness, as one of his first acts as President, the arrest
and public humiliation of persons against whom he harboured personal grudges.
When it became clear that Bhutto was not going to remove the incompetent and
corrupt officers still remaining in the senior ranks of the military, a wave of anger
spread among the younger officers of the army and the air force. Many of them
began to talk about changing the government if this was the only way of purging
the armed forces. This talk became serious among the brightest and
bravest of them, who felt most deeply the shame inflicted upon the armed
forces and the country in 1971, and for whom the profession of arms was
an honourable calling in the service of the nation.

The moving spirit in the army was Major Farouk Adam Khan, while in the air
force it was Squadron Leader Ghous. They got in touch with Colonel Aleem
Afridi, who contacted me. The gnawing sense of responsibility that I felt
for the existing situation would not let me stand aside; I decided to
explore whether I could undo what I had done, even though I knew the risks
and difficulties that the undertaking involved.
Matters had not gone beyond the serious discussion stage when a traitor in
our midst, Lt. Colonel Tariq Rafi, betrayed us to the generals. Early in
1973, a large number of army and air force officers were arrested in a
particularly brutal fashion, confined under very harsh conditions, and
tried by courts martial at Attock and Badaber. Bhutto saw this as an
excellent opportunity to teach a lasting lesson to anyone else in the
armed forces who might think of acting against him.

In spite of a superb defence led by Mr. Manzur Qadir, the outcome was a
foregone conclusion: all the accused were convicted and many of them were
given long prison entences, including life imprisonment for Aleem Afridi
and me. Manzur Qadir was ill but continued to defend us, even though we
could barely pay enough to cover his expenses (his normal fees were totally
beyond our means), and lived for long periods in primitive conditions in the
Attock rest house, as did his colleagues, Ijaz Hussain Batalvi, Aitzaz Ahsan
and Wasim Sajjad.
The emotions that drove these young officers to contemplate such a drastic
step, involving grave risks, and then stoically suffer such harsh
consequences, were poignantly expressed by Major Saeed Akhtar Malik in his
address to the Attock court martial trying him for his life. He said:
"When the war became imminent, I took leave from the PMA and joined my
unit, with thanks to the CO who requisitioned my services. The next day
the war started. But instead of glory, I found only disillusionment. The
truth was that we were a defeated army even before a shot was fired. This
was a very bitter truth. With each corpse that I saw, my revulsion
increased for the men who had signed the death warrants of so many very fine men.
Yes, fine men, but poor soldiers, who were never given the chance to fight back, because
they were not trained to fight back. When they should have been training
for war, they were performing the role of labourers, farmers or herdsmen,
anything but the role of soldiers. This was not 'shahadat.' This was
cold-blooded murder. Who was responsible for this? I was responsible! But
more than me someone else was responsible. People who get paid more than
me were responsible. What were some of these men, these callous, inhuman
degenerates, doing when their only job was to prepare this army for war?
Were these men not grabbing lands and building houses? Did it not appear
in foreign magazines that some of them were pimping for their bloated
grandmaster? Yes, generals, wearing that uniform (he pointed at the
court's president) pimping and whore-mongering!" High on the roll of
honour of those great patriots who suffered and sacrificed for this country must be
inscribed the names of Majors Saeed Akhtar Malik, Farouk Adam Khan, Asaf
Shafi, Ishtiaq Asif, Farooq Nawaz Janjua, Nadir Parvez, Munir Rafiq,
Iftikhar Adam, Sajjad Akbar, Tariq Parvez, Ayyaz Ahmed Sipra, and
Nasrullah Khan; Captains Sarwar Mahmood Azhar and Naveed Rasul Mirza; Lt.
Colonels Muzaffar Hamdani, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Afzal Mirza; Colonel Aleem
Afridi; Brigadiers Wajid Ali Shah and Ateeq Ahmed; Squadron Leader Ghous,
Wing Commander Hashmi and Group Captain Sikandar Masood.

To the reader whose eyes have just skipped over the last paragraph I would
say: Pause a moment. These are brave men who fought for you and your
children and your country, not only against the foreign enemy but also
against the dark night of tyranny that was descending over this land. Even
though they did not succeed, at least they tried, when so many others just
sat and  watched, or wrung their hands, or joined the victors. The least you can
do is pay them the tribute of reading their names. Equal honour is due to
our families, especially those whose husbands and fathers spent long
years in prison. Effectively reduced to widows and orphans, in a hostile
environment created by a powerful government that branded their men as
traitors, they refused to be cowed down or give up. They waged constant
battle in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion, all the
while sustaining us with steadfast support. Without it many of us could
not have survived.

I was instrumental in bringing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto into power in December
1971. This had an immediate effect upon the career of one Brigadier
Zia-ul- Haq, who had recently returned from Jordan (where he had been a
military adviser) under something of a cloud for his involvement in the
crushing of the PLO by King Hussein. Bhutto made Zia's friend and patron,
 Gul Hassan, the army chief, who promptly promoted Zia to the rank of
Major General. As a junior general, Zia was picked to be president of the
Attock court martial. Bhutto took a strong personal interest in the
progress of the Attock trial and required Zia to provide him with regular
briefings; these private sessions gave Zia the opportunity to convince
Bhutto of his personal loyalty. Bhutto wanted very much to have a few of
the Attock accused sentenced to death. Zia assured him that he could
manage to do this in my case and Aleem Afridi's. So sure were they of
this that the gallows in Campbellpur Jail was prepared, and we were both
moved next to the jail so that as soon as the court passed the sentence
it could be immediately carried out. However, to accomplish this, Zia
needed the votes of some of the younger officers on the court, but they
did not agree.

Having failed to get me hanged, Bhutto continued to pursue me with a
vengeance. When he learnt that 'life imprisonment' meant, in practice,
14 years behind bars,he had the rules changed so that such court-martial
sentences really meant imprisonment for life. As required by prison regulations, all the
Attock case prisoners were moved to jails near their homes except me.
When my wife questioned this, she was told that all decisions in my case
were made by Bhutto. She then tried through Nusrat Bhutto and others
close to him, but to no avail. So I spent about 4 1/2 years in solitary
confinement far away from home. Finally, after Zia-ul-Haq dethroned
Bhutto, I was moved to Kot Lakhpat Jail. Shortly thereafter, Bhutto
arrived there as my neighbour, housed barely a 100 yards away. We were
both in solitary confinement, but he was in a death row cell while I was
in an A-class suite.

After the Attock trial, Zia assiduously built upon the foundation he had
laid there to convince Bhutto of his fealty. When the time came, Bhutto
picked him to be the next army chief, even though he was the junior-most of the five
contenders. Not one of these other generals, any one of whom Bhutto could
have picked instead of Zia, possessed the ruthlessness required to have
him hanged later on. But it was Zia whom he picked. But for his early
promotion in 1972 and the resulting opportunity provided by the Attock
court martial to establish a personal equation with Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq
would never have become army chief. If he had not been so chosen, Zia
would not have become President of Pakistan. Perhaps then he would not
have been riding in that plane over the Bahawalpur desert.

I sit in a faraway land, and it is but rarely that I view the events of
the past unfold as if on a dim stage. Sometimes the side curtains move,
and it seems to me that in the shadows there, I catch a glimpse of the
grinning face of History's Black Jester.

Following the 1971 war, Brigadier Furrukh B. Ali was retired by Bhutto in
1972 and spent five years in prison after the Attock conspiracy trial. He
moved to Canada in 1979 and worked in the civil service there. Married
with two children, F.B. Ali now leads a retired life in Toronto.



Mukto Mona plans for a Grand Darwin Day Celebration: 
Call For Articles:




"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
               -Beatrice Hall [pseudonym: S.G. Tallentyre], 190

Your email settings: Individual Email|Traditional
Change settings via the Web (Yahoo! ID required)
Change settings via email: Switch delivery to Daily Digest | Switch to Fully Featured
Visit Your Group | Yahoo! Groups Terms of Use | Unsubscribe