||Lt. Gen. A.A.K Niazi
||Oxford University Press
This is the Urdu translation of 'Betrayal of East Pakistan'
“Time will test the words of Tiger Niazi, for now this book fills a huge gap in the recorded history of a crucial event” Dr. Malik Aftab Maqbool Joiya- The Nation, 22nd Feb, 1998
Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi of the Eastern Command was the man whose fate it was to direct the operation which resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan. Many books have been written about that unforgettable year in Pakistan’s history, 1971, and the terrible events that it spawned. But finally one of the main actors of the drama has volunteered his own account of the events leading to the disaster.
Excerpts from Himal, Nov 1998
The book is about the soldier, the impossible task given to him, his failed mission, his grand strategy, the ignominy of defeat and surrender, and his subsequent ‘jehad’ in Pakistan to tell the truth about how and why the war was lost in 1971.
According to Niazi it was Bhutto, in complicity with some generals, who was responsible for the breakup of Pakistan. Describing Bhutto's gameplan, Niazi writes that first he got 'rid' of East Pakistan so that he could become prime minister of a truncated Pakistan, all the while blaming the. army for the breakup. Next he got Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan, the then chief of General Staff, to organize a coup in cahoots with Air Chief Rahim Khan in order to get rid of the President and the Supreme Commander, Gen Yahya Khan. Later, Bhutto double-crossed Gul Hassan as well.
Niazi’s book reveals all the intrigue and duplicity that was then routine in both the wings of Pakistan. It was against this background that Niazi, a veteran of insurgencies in Punjab and Sindh, was elevated, superceding 12 other officers to replace Lt. Gen Tikka Khan’s suave successor in East Pakistan, Lt. Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Khan.
||17 pic & 14 maps
Niazi's mission appeared simple: "Your task is not to allow the Indians to establish a government of Bangladesh on the soil of East Pakistan. However, Niazi's task was altered mid-stream- he was also required to tie down the maximum number of Indian forces in the east for as long as possible. A difficult task was made impossible as Niazi's strategic theory rested on the thesis that the decision for the war in the east lay on the outcome of the war in the west. He may have been right. But his 45,000-strong force proved no match for "the 12 divisions and 39 BSF battalions". By the time the war started on 3 December, Niazi was already doomed to defeat. Talk of help from the north (Chinese) and south (Americans) proved illusory.
Niazi is today bitter man. Any soldier would be, had he suffered the collective shame of defeat, surrender and the humiliation of being a POW, and if he had to return home two years and eight months later, to be 'welcomed' with a placard marked "No 1" -meaning Traitor No 1- thrown around his neck, dismissed from service without pension, and jailed.
Full marks should go to Niazi's courage and stamina for continuing to fight for 'vindication' 37 years after it all ended in a defeat for his side. Niazi has also demanded a new enquiry to reject the Hamood ur Rehman Commission report. More significantly, ‘The Betrayal of East Pakistan’ seems to have set the cat among the pigeons, because now Tikka Khan, Gul Hassan and Yaqub Khan have all joined in the battle of recrimination.
Thanks to Niazi, it looks like the 1971 war has not yet ended.
Click here for the English version
Saneha Mashriqi Pakistan: Tasweer Ka Dosra Rukh