The Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission Report | A Review

Dec 2012
By M.A.

Pages 1 2 | Full Report

1. “Allegations”. Against the “excesses committed by the Pakistani Army”.

The report lays out 7 major allegations against the Army–that can be grouped into 2 major categories.

One, the Army is accused of “Excessive use of force and fire power in Dacca during the night of the 25th and 26th of March 1971”; “Senseless and wanton arson and killings in the countryside” during “sweeping operations”; “Killing of intellectuals and professionals like doctors (and) engineers”–many of whom were buried in “mass graves”–as well as “civilian officers, businessmen and industrialists” and, of course, the “Hindu minority”.

And, two, the Army’s “officers and men” are accused of “Raping (…) a large number of East Pakistani women (…) as a deliberate act of revenge, retaliation and torture”.

Later on, the commission reports that Mujibur Rehman had proof of the Pakistan Army’s plan for “Painting the Green of East Pakistan Red”–though some say it might have been a communist slogan (!).

2. The Numbers Game & Conclusions on the “Magnitude of Atrocities”.

Our obsession with numbers continue to obfuscate the reality of those on the receiving end of violence–whether we are talking about drones and army actions in FATA, or the kill-and-dump policy in Balochistan. The sides try to play the numbers up, or down, in an endless attempt to discredit the other.

That was no less the case in the 1970s. The commission interviewed 213 people–including General Yahya, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Chief of Air Force, Chief of Navy, senior commanders and other political leaders. When it submitted its supplementary report, it interviewed another 73 bureaucrats and military officers.

There is no indication that any of the victims, or any Bengalis were interviewed.

We still do not know how many died, or how many were raped. And the report admits that higher or lower numbers does not “justify” the atrocities that were committed. But we still found the defence interesting. Read on:

“According to the Bangladesh authorities, the Pakistan Army was responsible for killing three million Bengalis and raping 200,000 East Pakistani women. It does not need any elaborate argument to see that these figures are obviously highly exaggerated. So much damage could not have been caused by the entire strength of the Pakistan Army then stationed in East Pakistan even if it had nothing else to do. In fact, however, the army was constantly engaged in fighting the Mukti Bahini, the Indian infiltrators, and later the Indian army. It also has the task of running the civil administration, maintaining communications and feeding 70 million people of East Pakistan. It is, there, clear that the figures mentioned by the Dacca authorities are altogether fantastic and fanciful”.

3. How Yahya Khan Stoked the Fire–and the Trials that never happened.

A range of recommendations, never implemented, call for trials against those found guilty, including “General Yahya Khan”–for “illegally usurp(ing) power from (…) Ayub Khan by the use of force” and incluencing “political parties by threats, inducements and even bribes to support their designs both for bringing about a particular kind of result during the elections of 1970, and later persuading some of the political parties and the elected members of the National Assembly to refuse to attend the session of the National Assembly scheduled to be held at Dacca on the 3rd of March, 1971. They, furthermore, in agreement with each othe rbrought about a situation in East Pakistan which led to civil disobedience movement, armed revolt by the Awami League and subsequently to the surrender of our troops in East Pakistan and the dismemberment of Pakistan.”

The report goes on to calling for a public trial for a range officers–including General Yahya–for bringing “disgrace and defeat to Pakistan by their subversion of the Constitution, usurpation of political power by criminal conspiracy, their professional incompetence, culpable negligence and willful neglect in the performance of their duties and physical and moral cowardice in abandoning the fight when they had the capability and resources to resist the enemy.” Those trials have still not happened.

4. “The Moral Aspects”. On the Pakistan Army’s wine, women, lust… and corruption.

In its introductory section, the commission reports on “the moral aspect of the causes of our defeat in the 1971 War”. You can read about the “corruption” of “highly placed and responsible Service Officers”. And learn about their “lust for wine and women and greed for lands and houses” and their “highly immoral and licentious ways of life”.

The highest placed officer and Commander of the Eastern Forces, Lieutenant A. A. K. Niazi, is accused of “making money in the handling of Martial Law cases” while posted in Sialkot and Lahore; of being on “intimate terms with one Mrs. Saeeda Bukhari of Gulberg, Lahore who was running a brothel under the name of Senorita Home, and (…) also acting as the General’s tout for receiving brines and getting things done; that he was also friendly with another woman called Shamini Firdaus of Sialkot who was said to be playing the same role as Mrs Saeeda Bukhari of Lahore; that during his stay in East Pakistan he came to acquire a stinking reputation owing to his association with women of bad repute, and his nocturnal visits to places also frequented by several junior officers under his command; and that he indulged in the smuggling of Pan from East Pakistan to West Pakistan.”

5. “Misdeeds of the Awami League Militants”.

And finally, read about the commissions accusations against the Mukti Bahini, under the “Misdeeds of the Awami League Militants”.

According to the report, “a large number of West Pakistani officers were butchered by the erstwhile Bengali colleagues”, and between “100,000 and 500,000 persons were slaughtered during this period” by the Mukti Bahini (though the commission seems much more critical of its sources when investigating Pakistani atrocities, than it seems to be when investigating Bengali atrocities–where it relies among other on a “renowned journalist of high-standing” instead of detailed investigations into the death toll).

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