Pakistan: Bloody Origins of the Z.A. Bhutto Regime
Part Two: The Bangladesh War

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1058/pakistan.html

Publisher:  Workers Vanguard
Date Written:  12/12/2014
Year Published:  2014   First Published:  2013
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX17722

The Pakistani military expected to put a quick end to the nationalist aspirations of the Bengalis. Just before midnight on 25 March 1971, Pakistani troops led by General Tikka Khan launched "Operation Searchlight," an orgy of killing directed against the civilian population of Dhaka and other cities and towns. Working-class and Hindu neighbourhoods in Dhaka were attacked with tanks, mortars and machine guns. Using prepared lists, soldiers went door-to-door gunning down Awami League activists. U.S.-supplied tanks led a military assault on student residences at the University of Dhaka. The students and teachers who were killed were dumped into a mass grave in the football ground.

Abstract: 
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Excerpt:

The Pakistani military expected to put a quick end to the nationalist aspirations of the Bengalis. Just before midnight on 25 March 1971, Pakistani troops led by General Tikka Khan launched "Operation Searchlight," an orgy of killing directed against the civilian population of Dhaka and other cities and towns. Working-class and Hindu neighbourhoods in Dhaka were attacked with tanks, mortars and machine guns. Using prepared lists, soldiers went door-to-door gunning down Awami League activists. U.S.-supplied tanks led a military assault on student residences at the University of Dhaka. The students and teachers who were killed were dumped into a mass grave in the football ground. When informed of the butchery that had been unleashed in East Bengal, Bhutto exclaimed: "By the Grace of God Pakistan has at last been saved" (Z.A. Bhutto, The Great Tragedy [1971]).

Contrary to the generals' expectations, "Operation Searchlight" triggered a split in the security forces along national lines. Attempts to disarm Bengali police officers, soldiers of the Bengal Regiment and members of the paramilitary East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) sparked fierce resistance in a number of cantonments. Most Bengali cops and soldiers who survived those initial clashes went into armed opposition.

Two years earlier, the police and EPR forces had gunned down untold numbers of striking workers and student protesters during the upsurge of January-March 1969. The Bengali component of those security forces, under the leadership of the Awami League, became the core of the Mukti Bahini, the Bangladesh liberation army. Profiting from support by India in the form of arms, military training, funding and border sanctuaries, the Mukti Bahini was able to mount an effective guerrilla war in East Bengal.

According to estimates by the Bangladeshi nationalists, Pakistani forces slaughtered some three million Bengali civilians, drove about 10 million refugees into India and raped approximately 200,000 women. West Pakistani troops were incited to view those they were butchering as subhuman; the Bengalis were commonly compared to monkeys and chickens. Hindus in East Bengal were viewed as vermin to be exterminated. The Yahya Khan regime augmented the barbarity of its military forces by arming death squads organised by Jamaat-e-Islami.

In a stark refutation of the myth that the nationalism of the oppressed is inherently progressive, thousands of Urdu-speaking Pakistanis originating from Bihar were brutally slaughtered by Bengalis, often led by the Awami League forces. They cited as a pretext the fact that a number of Biharis fought on the side of government forces. By the end of the independence war, almost all of the Bihari population that had not fled had been coerced into refugee camps. Despite the pledge by Awami League leader Mujibur Rahman to guarantee their security, their property was seized. Today, the Biharis in Bangladesh -- many of them stateless -- continue to suffer severe discrimination in employment and access to education.

Throughout the savagery in East Bengal, U.S. imperialism and China continued to provide military aid to Pakistan.

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