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1971 Bangladesh War: Details Less Known

October 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The India-Pakistan war of 1971 that has not been understood or explained. Properly, completely or even contextually.

An Indian Army machine gunner fires at Pakistani positions in a village across an open field, 1,500 yards inside the East Pakistan border at Dongarpara on Dec. 7, 1971. Both sides have taken trenchlines position, in an attempt to prevent each other’s moves. This picture was taken about 200-miles North East of Calcutta. |  Source: AP; Courtesy - RIR

An Indian Army machine gunner fires at Pakistani positions in a village across an open field, 1,500 yards inside the East Pakistan border at Dongarpara on Dec. 7, 1971. Both sides have taken trenchlines position, in an attempt to prevent each other’s moves. This picture was taken about 200-miles North East of Calcutta. | Source: AP; Courtesy – RIR

Along the lines of the Quicktake post in June-2011, here is a post that builds on 1971 War – particularly adding parts rarely told.

The 1971 war is considered to be modern India’s finest hour, in military terms. The clinical professionalism of the Indian army, navy and air force; a charismatic brass led by the legendary Sam Maneckshaw; and ceaseless international lobbying by the political leadership worked brilliantly to set up a famous victory. After two weeks of vicious land, air and sea battles, nearly 100,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered before India’s rampaging army, the largest such capitulation since General Paulus’ surrender at Stalingrad in 1943.

However, it could all have come unstuck without help from veto-wielding Moscow, with which New Delhi had the foresight to sign a security treaty in 1970.

As Nixon’s conversations with the wily Kissinger show, the forces arrayed against India were formidable. The Pakistani military was being bolstered by aircraft from Jordan, Iran, Turkey and France. Moral and military support was amply provided by the US, China and the UK.

Though not mentioned in the conversations here, the UAE sent in half a squadron of fighter aircraft and the Indonesians dispatched at least one naval vessel to fight alongside the Pakistani Navy. However, Russia’s entry thwarted a scenario that could have led to multiple pincer movements against India.

via 1971 War: How Russia sank Nixon’s gunboat diplomacy | Russia & India Report.

Bangladesh: A Step Behind Pakistan or a Step Behind India

July 9, 2012 1 comment

Finding out Bangladesh‘s true colors is difficult as often the colors clash. Is there a non-representative, vocal fundamentalist minority that has unequal share of voice? Or is there a psuedo-minority that poses to show Bangladesh in more liberal colors?

Is the current leadership strong enough to give 'direction' to Bangladesh?  |  Cartoon in September 14, 2008 By Arifur Rahman for ebangladesh.com  |  Click for image

Is the current leadership strong enough to give ‘direction’ to Bangladesh? | Cartoon in September 14, 2008 By Arifur Rahman for ebangladesh.com | Click for image

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, like so many others in thrall to the All India Muslim League in the 1940s, was initiated into politics on the premise of a separate, independent state for India’s Muslims. Under the influence of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, then prime minister of Bengal and a leading advocate for Pakistan, Mujib was inexorably drawn to the communal politics pursued by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and defended to the hilt by Suhrawardy. The latter, one might recall, despite being the fount of political authority in Bengal, had no qualms about declaring a government holiday on August 16, 1946, as part of his plan to observe the so-called Direct Action Day that Jinnah had called to press the demand for Pakistan. Tragedy swiftly followed, with tens of thousands of Muslims and Hindus dying in riots that no one had foreseen.

Is the real Bangladesh?  |  December 16, 2008 By Arifur Rahman for e-bangladesh.org  |  Click for image.

Is the real Bangladesh? | December 16, 2008 By Arifur Rahman for e-bangladesh.org | Click for image.

In these incomplete memoirs, Mujib recalls the frenzy with which people hacked one another to death simply because of a difference in religious beliefs. Having survived and saved lives in Calcutta, Mujib moved to Patna, where a reprise of Calcutta had occurred. Despite all these troubles breaking out almost without warning, Mujib’s belief in the political leadership of Suhrawardy never wavered. As these recollections reveal, to the very end — until Suhrawardy’s death in late 1963 — Mujib remained a devoted, almost stubborn Suhrawardy loyalist. (via Mujib, in his own words – Indian Express).

Cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam on Bangladesh elites' fear of the poor for himalmag.com in March 1993  |  Click for image.

Cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam on Bangladesh elites’ fear of the poor for himalmag.com in March 1993 | Click for image.

East Bengal was Pakistan

What is usually forgotten is that initial support for Pakistan came from what is now Bangladesh – and Suhrawardy was a bigger leader than Jinnah during the British Raj. Has Bangladesh outgrown its sectarian roots? Has the Bangladeshi-tree grown branches that will offer shade to all its people – and not just the extremist elements?

Color schemes

Finding true colors is difficult in case of Pakistan, as Pakistan keeps sending out monochromatic signals. Bangladesh produces more color – often in a color palette that has clashing colors. A Taslima Nasreen – and her opponents also, for instance.

The descent of Pakistan into a self-consuming fratricidal frenzy is a popular topic within Pakistan, in the neighborhood and international media. Sheikh Mujibur’s memoirs may add little value to that analysis.

Cartoon titled 'How long will it continue?'  |   December 19, 2008 By Arifur Rahman |  Click for image.

Cartoon titled ‘How long will it continue?’ | December 19, 2008 By Arifur Rahman | Click for image.

Mirror, mirror

More interesting is how Bangladesh sees itself today?

  1. An Islamic country with a hostile ‘Hindu’ neighbor?
  2. A poor country which needs to stabilize its economy and provide growth opportunities to its people?
  3. A dead-end country, ruled by a corrupt elite, from which all Bangladeshis must escape?
  4. A country with abundant opportunities with cheap labour, strong agriculture and endowed with natural resources.

Without Comment: Bangladesh Acts on Assam Terror Groups(Archives)

Welcome change in Bangladesh towards anti-India activity from Bangladeshi soil.

Before Jinnah, it was East Bengal which promoted the idea of Pakistan. Till about 1970, Bangladesh was a bigger economy that current Pakistan  |  Cam Cardow cartoon; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Before Jinnah, it was East Bengal which promoted the idea of Pakistan. Till about 1970, Bangladesh was a bigger economy that current Pakistan | Cam Cardow cartoon; source & courtesy – caglecartoons.com | Click for image.

Trans-border terror in South Asia received a severe setback on November 4, 2009, when two top leaders of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) fell into the hands of Indian security forces. The official version of the story is that ULFA’s self-styled ‘foreign secretary’ Sashadhar Choudhury and ‘finance secretary’ Chitraban Hazarika were trying to sneak back into India from Bangladesh, when they were captured by Border Security Force (BSF) troopers near Gokulnagar in Tripura. The duo was then handed over to a visiting Assam Police team on November 6, who brought them over to Guwahati and produced before a magistrate. The next day, the magistrate sent them on a 10-day Police remand. Though there is reason to believe that the duo were actually picked up by Bangladesh authorities and informally handed over to the Indian side, there are complex reasons why both New Delhi and Dhaka prefer that people believe the official version. In any event, the fact remains that the pair has been captured and is now in Indian custody, after years on the run.

India and Bangladesh do not have an extradition treaty yet, and have consequently shied away from giving details of how a dozen armed security men in civvies captured the ULFA duo from a house in Dhaka’s up-market Uttara locality on November 1, 2009, before they landed up in the hands of Indian authorities. Nevertheless, a confirmation that the rebel leaders were picked up by Bangladeshi security officials came from none other than the exiled ULFA ‘chairman’ Arabinda Rajkhowa, who issued a press statement on November 7 saying ‘unidentified armed men from Bangladesh’ had abducted the duo around midnight, November 1. The ULFA ‘chairman’ and remaining leaders may actually have panicked and issued the statement disclosing the capture to prevent the possible ‘disappearance’ of the two men, Choudhury and Hazarika. The rebel group has not forgotten how some of its important leaders went missing after the Bhutanese military assault against the ULFA in 2003.

ULFA’s elusive ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah was no longer in Bangladesh. Indian intelligence officials say Paresh Baruah, along with some 50 of his trusted fighters, is currently in China’s Yunnan province, close to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) headquarters in northern Myanmar. The ULFA has managed to open shop in Yunnan province because elements in China had been supplying arms to rebels in Northeast India.

Former Assam Police chief and now a security advisor to the State Government, observes, “Sashadhar Choudhury as the ULFA’s so-called foreign secretary was responsible for maintaining the group’s links with foreign sympathizers like the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence. Chitraban Hazarika was responsible for the group’s money bags. The ULFA cannot replace this loss easily.” The group’s chain of command has been totally disrupted. While its ‘c-in-c’ Paresh Baruah is on the run, ‘chairman’ Rajkhowa is said to be lying low in Bangladesh. ULFA ‘general secretary’ Anup Chetia is under detention in Bangladesh since 1997. Publicity and cultural ‘secretaries’, Mithinga Daimary and Pranati Deka, respectively, have long been in custody in Assam, along with ‘vice-chairman’ Pradip Gogoi. With ‘foreign secretary’ Choudhury and ‘finance secretary’ Hazarika trapped in the security net, that leaves the group with Paresh Baruah’s close aide and ‘deputy c-in-c’ Raju Baruah and a few other middle-level leaders.

Has Bangladesh acted before it is too late to control terrorism - like in Pakistan  |  Cartoon by Arifur Rahman. Sep 14, 2008 5; source & courtesy - ebangladesh.com  |  Click for image.

Has Bangladesh acted before it is too late to control terrorism – like in Pakistan | Cartoon by Arifur Rahman. Sep 14, 2008 5; source & courtesy – ebangladesh.com | Click for image.

But what explains Dhaka’s sudden change of heart? It is true there has been a change of guard in Bangladesh, with the return of the supposedly pro-India Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina in December 2008, but the mood among the Bangladeshis had remained anti-India during Hasina’s earlier tenures. Begum Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) had, in fact, told this writer in an interview a couple of years ago that her party regarded the ULFA as ‘freedom fighters’, much as the Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rehman were freedom fighters. It has, in large measure, been pressures of the ‘global war on terror’ and the general worry among affluent Bangladeshis that the country was being hijacked by fundamentalists and foreign terrorist elements operating from its soil, which led the Awami League regime to crack down on terror. (via Down But Not Out As Yet  | Wasbir Hussain).


Is India getting encircled?

June 2, 2012 4 comments

Using China-encircles-India theory, the Anglo-Saxon Bloc is actually encircling India. All over again. This time the action is in Bangladesh.

Manipulating media and opinion to create 'frenemies'. - practically at will. Islamic world, China, Russia in that order are bugbears of the West.  But, that can change - and quickly.  |  Cartoon titled Debt To China By Brian Fairrington; Cagle Cartoons - March 26th, 2009; 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Manipulating media and opinion to create ‘frenemies’. – practically at will. Islāmic world, China, Russia in that order are bugbear of the West. But, that can change – and quickly. | Cartoon titled Debt To China By Brian Fairrington; Cagle Cartoons – March 26th, 2009; 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy – politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Frenemies – for now

The Chinese have no tradition of imperialism or a history of conquest.

To believe that China is India’s biggest threat is to believe that the Chinese national and State character is changing.

Where is the evidence of this change? Minor border disputes with neighbours?

China’s expansion of naval power? What could be China’s realistic motivations for seeking more naval bases?

Ships from the Chinese Navy patrolling the seas on anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden area for over a year now could not go to the rescue of De Xin Hai a Chinese bulk carrier with a Chinese crew of 25 members transporting coal which was hijacked by a group of Somali pirates 400 miles North-East of Seychelles and taken to the waters off Somalia in October last.

Their demand for ransom was initially resisted by the Chinese. How can China, which views itself as a power on par with the US, pay ransom? The US Navy’s Sea Air Land Commandoes (SEAL) had rescued the master of the US ship “Maersk Alabama” in an operation on April 4,2009. There were similar instances of intervention by the naval special forces of Holland and France.

Independent experts outside China were not hopeful of the Chinese Navy’s ability to intervene. They were certain that the Chinese Navy would ultimately have to cave in to the demands of the Somali pirates. The Jamestown Foundation, a prestigious American think-tank based in Washington DC, had predicted that China was unlikely to use its special forces in a rescue operation because it had too few ships in the area and its ships had no combat experience, especially in dealing with pirates.

Chinese authorities managed to get back their ship and crew from the pirates on December 28,2009, after air-dropping sacks containing US $ four million on board the ship from a helicopter. The pirates collected the money and left the hijacked ship, which is now reported to be on its way back home.

The Chinese Government has so far not told its people that it paid a ransom in order to get the ship and its crew back. The “China Daily” News merely told its readers that the ship had been “successfully rescued”.

Their embarrassing experience with this incident has brought home to the Chinese the limitations from which their Navy suffers.

One of the lessons mentioned by their experts is that the Chinese Navy could not hope to be the equal of its US counterparts unless it had overseas bases in areas of concern.

China already has two options before it—- Gwadar on the Balochistan coast in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka. It has already constructed for Pakistan a commercial port at Gwadar, which is now being managed by a Singapore company.

Pakistan would be only too happy to respond positively to any Chinese request for naval base facilities at Gwadar. The only inhibiting factor for China would be the bad security situation in the area due to the ongoing Baloch freedom struggle. From the point of view of security, Hambantota could be ideal for the Chinese, but would the Sri Lankan Government agree to any such proposal if it comes from Beijing? (via Sri Lanka Guardian: China’s interest in naval base: Gwadar or Hambantota or elsewhere?).

Non aggressive activities like education is also termed in military terms. |  Cartoon By Brian Fairrington, source & courtesy - Cagle Cartoons - 9/24/2009 12:00:00 AM  |  Click for image.

Non aggressive activities like education is also termed in military terms. | Cartoon By Brian Fairrington, source & courtesy – Cagle Cartoons – 9/24/2009 12:00:00 AM | Click for image.

History tells us

Instead, look at Western imperialism.

After 500 years of Western imperialism, entire populations and continents have been wasted. Native Americans, Australian aborigines, Africa. This list is just for starters.

US has a significant presence in Pakistan, Afghanistan – and now wanting it in Bangladesh, too.

America’s threat to send its seventh fleet to stop liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 is a known fact. Now, 41 years later – it is America again – which wants to park its seventh fleet in the country – for its strategic interests. Worried by increasing presence of Chinese naval bases in the South China Sea – America now eyes a counter strategy – as it wants an overall presence in Asia – right from Japan to its Diego Garicia base in the Indian Ocean.

This by parking its seventh fleet in a base in Chittagong giving it both an eye on taking on China and a strategic post in Asia as it pulls out of Afghanisthan. The US State Department denying on the record that Hillary Clinton’s visits had anything to do with military co-operation.

This move by America could put India on the back foot if the American fleet moves to Bangladesh, all of India’s security installations will come under the American scanner. Bangladesh is not willing to comment on record even offering explanation to deny the developments. This Clinton visit a more strategic one than just a friendly one- the Indian establishment caught unawares–as this base could cast a shadow on India’s own strategic interests. (via Excl: America eyes Bangladesh- TIMESNOW.tv – Latest Breaking News, Big News Stories, News Videos).

Fox guarding the chicken-coop

China’s diplomatic activity has been under much scrutiny by the West.

There’s been much talk in the media of an apparent offer by the Seychelles of a base for Chinese ships deployed to the Gulf of Aden and the West Indian Ocean, to help combat piracy. China’s Foreign Ministry was quick to state that Beijing isn’t contemplating a military base in for the Seychelles, adding that it wouldn’t “violate” its traditional policy of “not stationing troops abroad.” China began pursuing its so-called “String of Pearls” strategy in the Indian Ocean in 2001 via the commercial route, constructing the Gwadar port. Subsequently, China won contracts to construct ports at Hambantota on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Kyaukpyu on the east coast of Burma in the Arabian Sea.

But what’s China’s interest in establishing a base in the Seychelles?

For a start, it satisfies China’s hunger for a firm foothold in the Indian Ocean. The Seychelles provides the PLA Navy an ideal platform from which to counter any threat to its sea lines of communication from Africa by the U.S. Navy operating out of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean region. In addition, to assist with the resupply, rest and refit of PLAN ships undertaking anti-piracy duties in the region, China requires a large logistics depot, which can be supplied by air and merchant/naval ships.

Perhaps most significantly, the Seychelles is equidistant from sea lines of control carrying oil from the Middle East and Africa to China, enabling the PLAN to effectively support its merchant vessels in times of crisis. (via China Base a Threat to India Navy? | The Diplomat).

Note how China is portrayed - with a devil's tail. While the US has been blaming China for global imbalances; the Euro-zone is quiet. Euro-zone needs China to sustain and stabilize the Euro.  |  Cartoon titled Currency Battles By Pavel Constantin, Romania - 11/19/2010 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Note how China is portrayed – with a devil’s tail. While the US has been blaming China for global imbalances; the Euro-zone is quiet. Euro-zone needs China to sustain and stabilize the Euro. | Cartoon titled Currency Battles By Pavel Constantin, Romania – 11/19/2010 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy – politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Eternal vigilance, they say

After Sri Lanka refused naval base facilities to the US. A human rights violations censure motion was moved by the US.

Globally, military bases are at

the heart of a global American empire that employs some 1,000 bases outside the United States. Their purpose: To ensure that no matter who governs in Asia, Africa or around the world, the US military would be in a position to “run the planet” from its chain of strategic island bases. (via Chagos: The heart of an American empire? – Opinion – Al Jazeera English).

More than two centuries ago, an American politician noted, ‘eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’.

It is time we believed him.

India & Bangladesh – A Worried West

May 27, 2012 1 comment

Even as it keeps West at a distance, Bangladesh has got the West worried.

Cartoon by Muhammad Zahoor (Peshawar, Pakistan); 2008 via Cartoon Competition Winners Announced!

Muhammad Zahoor (Peshawar, Pakistan)
via Cartoon Competition Winners Announced!.

the squabbling has turned into a crisis (see article) which threatens to make life still worse for the 170m poor Muslims who suffer under one of the world’s worst governments. Since Bangladesh’s political leaders show no interest in their fate, outsiders need to do so.

The outside world is trying to do its bit. The World Bank has scrapped a deal to pay for a big bridge because of its suspicions of corruption. EU ambassadors have denounced the treatment of Mr Yunus and the harassment of activists. Hillary Clinton flew to Dhaka this month to stand by Mr Yunus.

But the government seems unmoved. In a snub to Mrs Clinton, it announced a review into ownership of Grameen, a move to take over (and probably destroy) the bank. The only country to have much influence in Dhaka is India. Until recently the regional superpower tolerated Sheikh Hasina’s excesses, in part because Bangladesh has cracked down on Islamists. India now seems to be hedging its bets between the two parties. But if it still wants to have a functioning democracy next door, it needs to speak out far louder in favour of it. (via Bangladesh’s toxic politics: Hello, Delhi | The Economist).

First …

The Economist is wrong on one count – to start with.

Bangladesh is not exactly the hottest or happening economy in the world – or even the region.

Never was. Can’t get worse for Bangladesh.

In the past, Bangladesh’s political leadership has not displayed the calibre to win anything – except opprobrium. So, the new direction chosen by Bangladeshi leaders can only take Bangladesh up. Is there is a downside.

Talking about ‘political leaders (who) show no interest in their fate, outsiders need to do so’. In a certain part of the world, people have been complaining loudly.

Visibly.

Two …

Across Europe, riots, protests, elections, have only shown that the people of Europe have shown trust or confidence on their leadership.

Looking at Europe’s decline in the last 50 years or even the last 100 years, the lack of trust and confidence is logical. Across the pond, in USA, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) will soon see its first anniversary on September 11, 2012.

Now compare European leadership with India and China. From historic lows, 100 years ago, even 50 years ago, China and India have assumed positions of significant importance in the world. Going by performance between Western leadership, Indian and Chinese leadership wins hands down.

Time for outsiders from China and India to ‘ensure’ that Europe gets its’ act together.

Three …

That brings us to the third point. Why is The Economist so worried about India having a voice in Bangladesh?

Maybe Bangladesh leadership is more intelligent than Western leadership. Maybe Bangladesh has learned lessons from Pakistan! We have seen how Pakistan has descended into incendiary situation on a permanent basis. Bombs, explosions, guns, assassinations, civil war – all the benefits of Western attention.

Still blame Bangladesh for not wanting the Pakistan Experience?


Pakistan: The Hidden Chapter

Pakistan and Bangladesh, both have difficulty in dealing with the reality of the Bangladesh War of 1971.

US and Pakistan foreign policy were smashed to bits during the Bangladesh War of 1971.  |  Cartoon by RK Laxman; source & courtesy: stateofpakistan.blogspot.in  |  Click for image.

US and Pakistan foreign policy were smashed to bits during the Bangladesh War of 1971. | Cartoon by RK Laxman; source & courtesy: stateofpakistan.blogspot.in | Click for image.

Q: You once said people are taught to forget history. Did you have the subcontinent in mind?

Tariq Ali: I think people are not taught history. I am always shocked when I meet young Pakistanis – apart from the very educated ones – and they have no idea that Bangladesh was once part of Pakistan. It’s quite shocking to me, astonishing. (via South asia’s dynastic politics is grotesque – The Times of India).

March 1972: Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman signing an India-Bangladesh agreement  |  Image source & courtesy - thehindu.com  |  Click for image.

March 1972: Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman signing an India-Bangladesh agreement | Image source & courtesy - thehindu.com | Click for image.

Can’t forget

Pakistan has erased the Bangladesh chapter from its history books – as a 2ndlook reader from Pakistan wrote in a few days ago.

Just what credibility will State education have, when a Pakistani child comes to know that the State has hidden facts?

Big, elephant sized facts.

Can’t remember

Equally curiously, Bangladesh has completely erased the fact that India fought a war for Bangladesh– at considerable risk and cost to itself.

After thirty years, a determined government in Bangladesh is clear about its relationship with India. Will this last?  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar; image source & courtesy - bangladeshwatchdog.blogspot.in  |  Click for image.

After thirty years, a determined government in Bangladesh is clear about its relationship with India. Will this last? | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar; image source & courtesy - bangladeshwatchdog.blogspot.in | Click for image.

India had its own reasons to fight this war. But for Bangladesh to erase the Indian role in the birth of Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, there is no public commemoration or memorial for Indian army and soldiers who died for Bangladesh. .

Don’t understand this.


No Comments – Bangladesh Opposition Leader Charged With Crimes in 1971 Independence War – NYTimes.com

A court charged a prominent opposition politician, Moulana Delwar Hossain Sayedi, on Monday with war crimes in the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Prosecutors said the charges against Mr. Sayedi, a leader of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, included rape, murder, arson, looting and forcing Hindu citizens to convert to Islam. If found guilty, Mr. Sayedi, 71, could face death by hanging. His party opposed independence and fought with the Pakistani Army. Mr. Sayedi denied the allegations, saying, “I committed no crime.” (via Bangladesh – Opposition Leader Charged With Crimes in 1971 Independence War – NYTimes.com).

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