After East Pakistan, another global conspiracy in the offing in Balochistan
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
As a consequence of Pakistan movement waged by the All India Muslim Leaguers under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah getting abundantly ripened and the Muslims of India fully determined to create an independent homeland for themselves, the Congress leaders in collusion with British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten were equally determined to shatter their dreams. Notwithstanding their conspiracies and unending obstacles together with inducements to prevent vivisection of India, Pakistan came into being on 14 August 1947. Although partition plan worked out by the British was prepared in consultation with both sides and their agreement was obtained before announcing it on 3 June 1947, Congress leaders never reconciled with the plan of vivisecting India. Instead of helping Pakistan to stand on its own feet since it had to build up the nation from the scratch, Indian leaders kept scheming to garrote Pakistan to death in its infancy.
India’s wiliest act was usurpation of princely state of Kashmir, which being heavily Muslim populated and contagious to Pakistan should automatically have become part of Pakistan. It forcibly usurped it in October 1947 and imposed a war on Pakistan which was deeply enmeshed in its settling down process. Considering the evil and hostile designs of India-British combine, not only creation of Pakistan was a 20th century miracle, its survival was also a miracle.
When all its schemes failed to force Pakistan to get reabsorbed into Indian Union, Indian agencies were tasked to keep Pakistan in perpetually destabilized state so that its growth and integration process could be impeded. To this end, East Pakistan was selected as the first target for subversion and eventual amalgamation so as to defeat Two-Nation Theory and undo Pakistan. The reason for selecting the eastern province was that it was placed 1000 miles away from the western wing with hostile Indian Territory in between and no land corridor to link the two provinces. East Pakistan was surrounded by India from three sides and the sea from fourth side, which was dominated by Indian Navy. Culturally, it was more affiliated with Hindu dominated West Bengal than with West Pakistan. Eating habits, dress, language, customs and culture of Bengalis were different from the people of Punjab, NWFP, Balochistan, Sindh and other regions of West Pakistan.
At the time of partition, East Bengal was among the poorest provinces of united India since it had been thoroughly plundered by the British and Hindus since 1757. The duo claiming to be natural allies had reduced the Muslim landed gentry and the nobles of Bengal to serfs. It was because of their inhuman treatment that the Muslim Bengalis were in the forefront in Pakistan movement. Division of Bengal and detachment of Calcutta further depleted East Bengal’s economic strength. Its extreme poverty and slow rate of development was exploited by Indian psychological operators and influential Hindus residing in East Pakistan who controlled 80% national wealth of East Bengal.
The blame was put on West Pakistan political leaders and officials. Since 90% of teachers and professors in schools, colleges and universities were Hindus, and textbooks were printed in Bengali language in Calcutta by Hindu academicians, it became that much easier to brainwash the Bengali youth and poison their minds that West Pakistanis were solely responsible for their miseries. It was drilled into their impressionable minds that West Pakistan despite being less populated than East Pakistan was ruling and prospering at its cost.
They were kept in the dark about the inglorious role of the Hindus and the British during the British rule, or that between 1947-1958, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Muhammad Ali Bogra, HS Suhrawardy were Bengali PMs, President Iskandar Mirza was from Bengal and all the chief ministers and governors of East Bengal (except Lt Gen Azam Khan who was very popular among Bengalis) were Bengalis. They did very little for the development of East Pakistan. Field Marshal Ayub Khan was the only leader in united Pakistan who went out of the way to address the east-west inequities by allocating huge budgets for development works. But for the 1965 Indo-Pak war and curtailment of the US economic aid which seriously impaired the third five-year development program (1965-70), he could have corrected the imbalance.
His ten-year rule is even now referred to as the golden period of Pakistan since it saw all-round progress in Pakistan, seen as a model country among the developing world. However, all his good work was drowned under the din of negative propaganda by Sheikh Mujib who was involved in Agartala conspiracy to break away from Pakistan. Indian media helped him in becoming a hero of Bengalis. He came out with his notorious six-point program, authored by Indian experts which amounted to secession. From 1968 onwards, he kept spreading hatred against West Pakistanis and inflaming Bengali nationalism.
Politicians in West Pakistan instead of countering his vile propaganda and combating his separatist tendencies through political means further spoiled the situation by ganging up with Mujib. In this, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto played the lead role in fanning passions in West Pakistan against the military ruler who had been his mentor and had made him his foreign minister. Spurred by his ambition to capture power, Bhutto opted to resign and establish his own political party in 1967. As a result of nationwide movement spearheaded by students, when the beleaguered military dictator agreed to accept all the demands of the opposition including elections, Bhutto and Mujib failed the All Round Conference. Former wanted his immediate resignation and Mujib wanted implementation of his six-points. Ayub resigned as a heart broken man and handed over power to his C-in-C Gen Yahya Khan in March 1971.
Yahya adopted a policy of appeasement of politicians particularly Mujib and dispensed with One-Unit scheme and one-man-one vote formula. He went a step ahead in redressing the grievances of Bengalis and further increased the annual budget for the eastern wing. Cadet College was opened in East Pakistan and ISSB standards lowered for Bengalis to enable them to get qualified for armed forces. Several East Bengal Regiments comprising 100% Bengalis were raised. He held free and fair general elections in end 1970 on the basis of adult franchise, which enabled Mujib led Awami League in eastern wing and Bhutto led PPP in western wing to emerge victorious. Election results sparked a deadly power struggle between Mujib and Bhutto, former demanding the whole cake and the latter wanting half of it. The fight between the two demagogues became so vicious that Yahya became a helpless onlooker. Not knowing how to break the political impasse, misled by wily Bhutto he foolishly postponed the inaugural session of Constituent Assembly scheduled in Dacca on 3 March 1971. By then, RAW ha fully consolidated its position in the province and was in a position to dictate to Mujib. Sheikh Mujib and his henchmen became India’s lackeys to implement Indian agenda.
Yahya’s fatal decision triggered the storm which resulted in mass killings of non-Bengalis and Biharis at the hands of extremist Bengalis. Both Mujib and Bhutto motivated by their greed for power were guided by India and USA respectively to keep the political situation on the boil and not to show any flexibility whatsoever. When all political avenues for a compromise solution were exhausted and Mujib remained inflexible, a military operation was launched on 25 March in an effort to stop the bloodshed and to save the federation from breaking apart. Though it proved to be the beginning of breakup of united Pakistan, Bhutto hailed it. Within two months the Indian aided insurgency was controlled and order restored, but India under hawkish Indra Gandhi had made up its mind not to let this chance of the century to slip by and continued adding fuel to fire by supporting the civil war. Killing of pro-government Bengalis and non-Bengalis continued unabatedly, while Pak Army was demonized and presented as butchers and rapists.
After exhausting under strength and ill-equipped three infantry divisions for nine-months through insurgency which was wholly planned and monitored by Indian Army and BSF, a massive offensive was launched by Indian forces on 21 November 1971 from three directions. Air and sea traffics had been blocked. Penetrations were made across the border at 23 points. After 3 December when war broke out on the western front, full air power was used to support ground operations. Despite enjoying all the strategic, operational, tactical, technical and diplomatic advantages, it took Indian forces over seven weeks to reach the outskirts of Dacca. It was a one-sided exercise since Indian Army knew each and every defensive locality down to every trench, minefield and the gaps between localities. Indian mechanized columns guided by Mukti Bahinis exploited the gaps and kept moving forward free of the element of fear of unknown.
Wherever the Indians got involved in pitched battles, they got irreversibly stuck. One such front was at Hilli in northwestern Bengal where my battalion 4FF was deployed and I was one of the company commanders with just five-year service. Indian 2nd Mountain Division with its integral tank regiment supported by an armed brigade, Division and Corps Artillery and air support kept banging its heads from 21 November onwards till 11 December but couldn’t gain even an inch. Whatever tactical gains made were promptly recovered by launching counter attacks. On occasions, offensives were launched to gain tactical edge over the adversary. Ultimately 4FF was ordered by the Brigade Commander Brig Tajamal Hussain, Hilal-e-Jurat, to withdraw to Bogra since the enemy forces had abandoned the Hilli-Ghoraghat-Bogra axis and had made a wide outflanking maneuver through Pirganj and was racing towards Bogra.
One of the company commanders of 4FF Major Muhammad Akram, who was martyred while fighting against extremely adverse odds at Raibagh on 5 December, was awarded Nishan-e-Haider for his outstanding performance. I took over the command of that Company and continued the fight despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned. I also had the privilege of evacuating dead body of Major Akram lying well ahead of the main defences and shifting it to Bogra for burial.
Hilli was the hottest sector in East Pakistan where the battle raged for 19 days with full ferocity without a pause. 4FF popularly known as ‘Tunpur Bawanja’, and referred to as ‘crack battalion of Pakistan Army by Indian authors, lost its crème of officers, JCOS and men but added a glorious chapter in its proud history and also in Pakistan’s history.
This epic battle has been mentioned by all writers including Indian writers who have written books on 1971 war and have without exception paid rich tributes to 4FF. This battalion was full of fight even on 16 December and thought of surrender had never occurred in anyone’s mind. Like many, it was misled into believing that Eastern Command had ordered ceasefire and war was over. Alas! All the sacrifices of 4FF and so many other valiant units who fought till the end, as well as the lone PAF squadron, small contingent of Navy and Razaqars who remained loyal to the concept of united Pakistan till the very last went in vain. Mukti Bahini instigated by Indian military undertook wide scale slaughter of Biharis and pro-government Bengalis after each town was captured by Indian troops, while the latter took to plundering and raping.
When Pakistan was in the process of being fragmented into two, no country came to its rescue. While China was contained by Soviet Union by deploying its forces along Oxus River, the US 7th Fleet moved at a leisure speed with no intention of reaching the coastline of East Pakistan or exerting military pressure on India. The Muslim world became silent spectators. There is no denying the fact that a global conspiracy had been hatched to sever the eastern limb of Pakistan so as to make it independent or completely acquiescent to India. India who had masterminded the gory plan was aided by Soviet Union, Israel, Britain, USA, Afghanistan, Poland and Yugoslavia. All these countries provided arms to the rebels. Even the UN joined the bandwagon of aggressors to facilitate surrender of Pak military in East Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh.
No amount of resistance by security forces could have saved the breakup since the endgame was foreordained. The dismemberment could be delayed by few weeks but couldn’t be prevented since the dice had been heavily loaded in favor of India. Therefore, to blame Gen Yahya or Lt Gen Niazi for the debacle will not be altogether true. Yahya came on the centre stage in the final phase of the drama when East Pakistan had been alienated as a result of faulty policies of our rulers since 1948 and excessive interference of India. Even in the final stage, but for deleterious role of politicians, the two wings might have remained united under the scheme of confederation.
After breaking Pakistan into two in December 1971, RAW started meddling into internal affairs of truncated Pakistan. In concert with KGB and KHAD, it started subverting the people in Balochistan and the trio actively supported Baloch insurgency which started in 1973 and ended in 1978. India got aligned with Soviet Union and Afghan regime in 1980 and the intelligence agencies of the three countries together with Al-Zulfiqar carried out intensive acts of sabotage and subversion against Pakistan till the defeat of USSR in 1989. RAW also got involved first in rural Sindh and later in urban Sindh in late 1980s with focus on port city of Karachi.
RAW has once again got deeply involved in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi. This time it is helped by USA, Britain, Israel, Germany and Afghanistan. Its nine years sustained efforts have resulted in transforming Baloch insurgency into a separatist movement. The rebellious Baloch Sardars and nationalist leaders initially voiced political and economic grievances and demanded provincial autonomy and greater share in mineral resources of the province. Once most of their demands were met and mega projects launched to address the inequities, they started demanding independence of Balochistan. Those demanding separation are not more than 3%, while the rest of Baloch people are highly patriotic. Thousands are joining the armed forces.
In FATA, TTP has been created which is aligned with Afghan Taliban and has an agenda of imposing Shariah in FATA. Since some militant groups in North and South Waziristan are pro-Pakistan and there are several pro-government tribal lashkars in existence, and also that none seek independence from Pakistan, hence the US and western world keep pricking Pakistan to kill more and more Pashtuns.
The stance of USA in Balochistan is quite the opposite. Here even slightest retaliatory action by the Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps is drummed up as violation of human rights. It is falsely claimed that the Army has undertaken a military operation and that intelligence agencies are involved in kidnappings of Baloch dissidents. On the pattern of Bengali rebellious groups trained in India in 1971, Baloch rebellious groups like BLA, BRA and BLF trained and equipped in Afghanistan are involved in sabotage activities.
The Baloch youth in schools and colleges particularly in Baloch dominated regions are being systematically brainwashed and their impressionable minds are being filled with hatred against central government in general and Punjab, Army and ISI in particular. They are told that despite their province being the largest and rich in resources, it is most under developed. Textbooks in Balochi are printed in Afghanistan under India’s arrangements. Pro-government Baloch, settlers and Hazaras are being steadily killed by target killers, while security convoys, check posts, railway lines, gas pipelines, electric grid stations, passenger trains and buses are attacked. Pattern is the same as was practiced in erstwhile East Pakistan. Recently, the US Congressmen held a special meeting in Washington and expressed their grave concern over the situation in Balochistan. After East Pakistan, another global conspiracy in Balochistan is in the offing. Are our leaders aware of it and are mentally and physically prepared to thwart the conspiracy, or they are too busy in plundering and saving their seat of power?