BY ANISH KOKA
On 25 March 1971, the Pakistani military launched Operation Searchlight, a military campaign to brutally suppress the Bengali nationalist movement.
The origins of the genocide lie in the parting gift that British rulers gave to the Indian subcontinent at the time of independence in 1947. British-controlled India was split into majority-religious India. Hindus and Pakistanis are predominantly Muslim. But because there are two dense non-contiguous Muslim-majority regions in British-controlled India, Muslim-majority Pakistan is divided into East and West Pakistan.
East and West Pakistan are linked by religion, but little else. East Pakistan is culturally Bengali, and has more in common with the Hindus of Bengali than with the Muslims of West Pakistan. While Bengalis are proud of their culture and language, West Pakistanis look down on Bengalis because they think they are too influenced by Hindu culture. While Bengali Muslims may have identified themselves as members of the Pakistan Islam project, in the 1970s many in East Pakistan gave preference to their Bengali ethnicity over religious identity. their desire for a society more in line with Western secularist and democratic principles. A growing opposition in East Pakistan strongly opposes the model of Islam being imposed on the West Pakistani state.
But West Pakistan controlled the military and formed much of the ruling elite after its partition in 1947. In a move designed to send a message to Bengali-speaking East Pakistanis, the father of Pakistan. , Muhammad Jinna even made Urdu the national language of all of Pakistan, and regarded the dissidents as enemies of the State.
The predominantly Bengali East Pakistanis outnumber the West Pakistanis and resent the control from Islamabad. It was no surprise then that in the first general election, the Awami coalition, which campaigned for more local control, under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won the majority of votes and demands. Government control shifted to East Pakistan.
The president of Pakistan at the time – General Yahya Khan and leader of the dominant PPP party in West Pakistan – protested. They have no intention of transferring power to Sheikh Rahman. Negotiations between the two sides broke down and a neutralizer attack called by Rahman effectively shut down East Pakistan’s economy.
Soon after, West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight. Purpose ? To quell the nascent Bengali nationalist movement by killing or imprisoning its leader, and even more importantly, destroying any possibility of a future nationalist movement. The Pakistan Armed Forces and pro-Pakistani Muslim militias from Jamaat-e-Islami began an ethnic cleansing campaign that claimed the lives of 300,000 to 3 million people. The army also launched a systematic campaign of rape of Bengali women, raping between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women.
One of the groups that witnessed the atrocities was the US consulate in Dacca, East Pakistan. Daily telegrams were sent to US President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser/Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about atrocities committed with US weapons supplied to Pakistan.
The systematic rape of Bangladeshi women has no precedent in modern times. Australian doctor, Geoffrey Davis, was brought to Dacca by the International Family Planning Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations.
Implementation of late abortions and facilitation of large-scale international adoptions of children born to Bangladeshi women during the war. In an interview, Davis was asked why Pakistanis have to make women pregnant. “
“…so there will be a whole generation of children in East Pakistan born with Western blood. That’s what they said.”
Arthur Blood is stationed in Dacca by the American diplomat and becomes more and more terrified. His daily telegram to DC became more urgent – but Nixon and Kissinger continued to ignore it.
Blood was particularly moved by the death of a Bengali Hindu professor he had befriended on the first night of his campaign in Pakistan.
Early in the persecution, Dev was dragged from his home, dragged into a field in front of a Hindu dormitory at the university, and shot dead. There was no other reason for him to be killed other than being a Hindu professor
Neighboring India was quickly flooded with millions of East Pakistanis fleeing the Pakistani genocide, and quickly decided to prepare for a military operation. This will take time and in the interim, India has been actively supporting Bengali guerrillas in East Pakistan calling themselves the Mukti Bahini (Fighters for Freedom).
Before India’s impending attack, Pakistan launched a pre-emptive strike to neutralize the Indian air force. This failed miserably, and thus began the official war between India and Pakistan. The Indian strategy was primarily a defensive war on India’s western border with Pakistan, and an all-out Blitzkrieg offensive on the East Pakistan front to liberate the Bengal.
The plan was planned by Major General Jacob-Farj-Rafael Jacob, chief of staff of the eastern command of the Indian army, who also happened to be a Sephardic Jew born in Calcutta.
Nixon and Kissinger, silent partners in the genocide to date, now began to act with a multi-pronged strategy to contain India.
- POTENTIAL future George W Bush was sent to the United Nations to call for an immediate ceasefire (no single vote came from the India-friendly Soviet bloc) on the grounds that India was violating its sovereignty of a neighboring country.
- Motivate Iran and Jordan to supply US weapons to Pakistan with the understanding that the US will replace equipment in the next budget cycle
- Pushing China to concentrate its troops on China’s border with India
- Bringing an American aircraft carrier into the Bay of Bengal
It is illegal to supply arms to Pakistan without going through Congress because the Democratic-controlled congress leaked the Blood telegrams and cut off all further military aid to Pakistan. For Nixon/Kissinger, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing that’s illegal or whether involving China risks spreading the conflict.
China had a deep hatred for India, but did not want to anger the Soviet Union, so it refused. The Soviets also moved their own aircraft carriers into the Bay of Bengal.
The Indian army annihilated the much larger Pakistani army quickly, before any US plot could bear fruit, and on December 16, more than 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered. This is the largest surrender since World War 2.
Contrary to the atrocities committed by the Pakistani military, India treats all POWs in accordance with the Geneva convention. It released more than 93,000 Pakistanis in 5 months. Pakistanis were humiliated and Bangladesh was born.
Anish Koka is a cardiologist. Follow him on twitter @anish_koka. Link to this story on twitter This.
Pakistan continues to dispute the events that have occurred despite ample evidence to the contrary. American Engagement is the subject of a great book by Gary Bass.