Saturday, March 13, 2010

Interview of Major General Rao Farman Ali AKA "The Butcher of Bengal"

Abridged and edited version of the Interview of Rao Farman Ali taken by Prof. Muntassir Mamoon and Mahiuddin Ahmed, published in the book titled The vanquished generals and the liberation war of Bangladesh

MAHIUDDIN AHMED: We would like to ask you, General Rao Farman Ali, how you initially got involved you in the operation in East Pakistan?

RAO FARMAN ALI: I was posted to East Pakistan in1967 as Commander... 14th Battalion ... after the Martial Law was declared ...General Yahia took over. Just before that I had completed 2 years and I was sent back to West Pakistan, but as Martial Law had been declared I had some experience of the East Pakistan situation, they wanted me back and I was posted back within 10 days of stay in West Pakistan. When I reached there General Muzaffaruddin was the GOC, he was acting as Governor and I was posted there as Deputy Marshal Law Administrator for several years. It's a very difficult thing to explain to an outsider that within Martial Law there were branches which were practically operating independently and doing their own job under one man, the Martial Law Administrator.

Q. You were in charge of the civil affairs?
A. Civil affairs, right. Every file, which started... from secretariat, it came to the Governor's house. I was there, the file went through me to the Governor. Normally it was a complete file; there was nothing I could do. At times, I may have asked a few questions, as a normal officer of that level, to raise queries to the General who was acting as a Governor. His task was commanding... and therefore a lot of responsibilities depended on me.

Q. Was your job concerning national security, the security of the people?
A. No, I was not dealing with the national security in the sense of power game. I was dealing with national security in the sense that the nation [had to] stay together and it would be the nation's security. That means I looked after the political aspect of every action that was being taken in East Pakistan.... for example, in those days, the students had actually taken over politics before the Martial Law. During Field Marshal's days, as I explained, all political parties had been banned. They were not operating, so samebody had to take over as a natural consequence of the situation, and the students took over the political side. Now I had to deal with the students side.

Q. What was your agenda, basically, while dealing with the students?
A. The agenda was to win over as may people as possible in the student community and the labour community also. I spent a lot of time in putting the administration right. Why do people agitate? Because things are not going right form the administration's side and there is frustration and that frustration leads to agitation. Before Martial Law, those had to be put right and I met the people, I met students, I met labor leaders.

Q. Who do you think were responsible for those problems at that time?
A. Well, it is a very complicated problem. If you take labour, population is a problem; you could not give jobs [to] everybody. Unless... developing your country economically, the labour will agitate. As far the students are concerned, as I said, they came into politics, and they virtually had the control over Dhaka University. They did whatever they wanted; I suppose you were also there. So a police was not allowed to go into hostels, not only hostel but also into the University.

Q. So, It was an important posting, I mean, it was because you were close to Yahya Khan?
A. No, actually ... he did not know much about me because I never drink I [have] never touched drink. No I was not in that group. Secondly I was too junior. My promotion took place very rapidly and I became a General before six other persons become Generals later on.

Q. So, you were basically in the Martial Law culture. I mean, if you are talking about democracy and rule of law, you are talking about the majority ruling, in that case the population which had the majority would find the highest number of seats, so...
A. Yes, this is what I have in the end come to know or at least realis that East Pakistanis were in majority. I suppose when I was here, one did not even think of these things. But when I started dealing with the situation then my whole perception changed. Before that I was just an administrator— things come to you, you give a decision. But later as things went on as you saw what was happening. For example I delivered a speech when a branch of National Bank of Pakistan was being opened in Dhaka Cantonment and in that I thought that, East Pakistanis were being influenced by the "Hindus". I did not know that there was a Hindu leader sitting there.

Q. In your book, you also...
A. That, I did not even realize that there the society is quite mixed up.

Q. In your book you also mentioned that it is generally believed that Tajuddin Ahmed's... family was...
A. No, well, Tajuddin was anti-Pakistani. Mujib was not anti-Pakistani, Khandker Mustaque was not anti-Pakistani.

Q. You mean Tajuddin was pro-Bangladeshi or pro-Bangali?
A. No, there is a difference, you could be pro-Bengali, and everybody should have been pro-Bengali, all Bengali should be Pro-Bengali, the difference was that he wanted to break off Pakistan, the others did not want to break off Pakistan.

Q. Right, so...
A. So, my feelings against Tajuddin were stronger than [those against] the others, the others were on the right side.

Q. Then my question would be that were not the Bengalis who proposed, who formed Muslim league, were not the Bengalis who proposed the 1947...
A. Actually I wanted to start with that and in my book also I have said that 95% Muslims of East Pakistan voted for Pakistan. It was the East Pakistanis who created Pakistan. So the creation of Pakistan was not imposed by West Pakistan on East Pakistan, it was the interest of East Pakistan to preserve Pakistan.

Q. That's it
A. Is not it?

Q. Except when the...
A. Except when they thought that perhaps the West Pakistanis were not fair to them, that they were not giving [them] their rights. In that, I am with them that they were right in asking for their right, but in their effort to break off Pakistan, I think they were not right because Pakistan was a necessity felt throughout Pakistan movement by East Pakistanis more than by West Pakistanis. The Pakistanis who were living in West Pakistan did not create Pakistan.

Q. Do you think the feeling for Pakistan was being exploited over the just feeling of the Bengalis? Because the ruling elite which was... in the army, they became the contractors of Pakistan. They decided how to run Pakistan, so in that power structure there was no room for the Bengalis. So I mean, was it unjustified?
A. No, absolutely right, they were right. Even then I said that they had the right, if they are in majority they should be given the power, this was my stand and continue to be my stand. May I explain that the difference between two is this, it was right for any people of any area ask for their own rights, but it was not right to break off what they had created themselves.

Q. True.
A. I can say that Pakistan was not broken by East Pakistanis, it was broken by West Pakistanis but the fact is it was broken by the mistakes which both sides made. East Pakistan made some mistakes, West Pakistanis made mistakes. The Central Government of Pakistan was responsible for doing things which were not right for the maintenance of Pakistan and for keeping Pakistan together. Now I hope the distinction which I have drawn is clear.

Q. What's your opinion about the Six Points?
A. Yes, [Mujib] said that he will modify the Six Points and he will [make it] flexible. These are not Quranic laws, the Six Points is not from heaven and also we knew that within the Awami League there were people who had differences on Six Points and on the perception of Six Points. If Mujib had [fewer] number of votes, he would have had [a] more reasonable chance of getting things done in the manner he wanted, having such a heavy mandate that only two votes were against him he became a prisoner in the hands of demanders [of the Six Point]. He had to then support the Six Points. It became a case of do and die, which should not have been when you are discussing politics. Now, at the same time I hope you will keep in mind what I said against Bhutto. My dealing with the situations would be sort of neutral. I tried to hold a meeting and say you get together. Who are they? They were also East Pakistanis; they were not from West Pakistan.

Q. You mean the rightists, Mr. Nurul Amin? Golam Azam?
A. They were all East Pakistanis. We would have found a solution. [If] Mujib did not have all the ... seats we would have been able to put pressure on him.

Q. So, now that Bangabandhu Seikh Mujibru Rahman won, I mean the Awami League won the majority, don't you think it was the duty of the Government to hand over power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman?
A. No doubt.

Q. Then what happened?
A. No, as far I was concerned, I will explain that I wanted him to be Prime Minister, and even after [the] war when Mujib was ... in the jail and somebody, some other person tried to become the Prime Minister, I told that to General Yahya. I think immediately after the election, the situation should have developed by reconciliation of the different points. Instead of reconciliation confrontation took place. Now there was a tremendous amount of doubt in the minds of each other. Sheikh Mujib did not trust Bhutto, Bhutto did not trust Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib, himself told me, I think I have written in my book that, that night when I went to see him, after Bhutto's rejection happened..., I asked him, what happened between [the] two of you?

Q. Were you aware of the so-called Larkana plan? When did you think this was developing?
A. I was not aware of it. General Umar told me [a] little bit about it, because in my book I have written only what I knew directly.

Q. Right, what did General Umar tell you later on?
A. He told me that after the President came back from Dhaka where he had declared that Mujib would be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, they went to Larkana and in Larkana, Bhutto said that you had made Mujib the Prime Minister, he said I have not, people had made him the Prime Minister, and he said that after some little bit of talk he told him that Mujib's patriotism should be tested, the test should be postponement of the National Assembly session. If he reacts, he is not a patriot and if he accepts it then he is [a] patriot and in my book I think I have said that if the reverse side had been tested what would have happened, now these things I have said that time in meeting with the President and-

Q. What was his reaction?
A. See, when you are dealing with the....

Q. Intelligence?
A. Or politics, there are many pressures and the pressure of the Generals was so great on him that he literally told me, I [am] going [to] West Pakistan. But the main reason was Bhutto wanted to be the Prime Minister and here was only one country. They had to had to have two countries to have two Prime Ministers. He has suggested two Prime Ministerships to an American journalist and then he denied it.

Q. Who? Mr. Bhutto?
A. Mr. Bhutto. Then he denied it. This was quite early but this was his feeling. Now, as I was saying, instead of reconciliation, confrontation started. Mujib made a statement, Bhutto made another statement and this went on one after the other. Mujib had no compulsion, being very aggressive because he had the majority. A normal politician that would not have done but he [Bhutto] did. Any those old Muslim [League] leaders, could have accepted Mujib, things would have been finished. But he wanted to keep his own party alive. Without giving your own party something for the struggle, the party is likely to breakup if he is not aggressive. And in that aggressiveness he went too far and when he made those statements that 'Hum Edher Tum Udher. "I will break up every body" all those things.

Q. So, the talks were desired to fail any way, is it how you interpret the situation?
A. As far as Yahya was concerned, he reached for the first talks on 16th March, I think, and we met and there were two persons I.... and Air Force Officer Masud and... hero of 65 war and except the two of us nobody spoke in that meeting. General Shah Ali said something, he was being stopped. I said Sir, this is not right to follow a policy that would encourage East Pakistan to go away from us. You know, one does not use [such] words, say break up.

Q. You want to suggest superstitions?
A. And he said that the Father of the Nation was quite willing to accept Mr. Suhrawardi's suggestion. From that we were quite clear that he was going to accept a compromise, and he and Bhutto ... Mujib... I think [came] to some sort of solution. I rang up Mujib on the 19th in the evening and said "Bhai kuch hua?" You see, we were on friendly terms. He said, yes, I will be the Prime Minister, there will be few ministers from Punjab, five from East. I said I was quite happy. Next morning Mr. Bhutto was there and he broke up every thing.

Q. That was on the 20th of March?
A. Yes, he said that you cannot lift Martial Law because there will be no law to keep the Federation together. There was no constitution, Next November same year, just before Indian attack I saw Yahya in Lahore and the People's Party stated that he should hand over power under a Martial Law order to the Pakistan People's Party. I said, see how they have changed, could not this be done a year ago? Now in my opinion in East Pakistan I had conversations with many people. They thought they could live independently as Singapore. In East Pakistan also they had the American Ambassador in India. He had suggested that if East Pakistanis threw away West Pakistan this will be more economically viable. So people stopped thinking rationally, there was too much of emotion involved and I have also said in my book that there was a time when somebody said that we will not allow this bastard to rule over us. I said if they are bastards, we are bastards to them. There were some people in West Pakistan who thought of East Pakistan as a colony.

Q. Yes, it was a liability!
A. Why do we say we have lost East Pakistan? See that... East Pakistan has lost West Pakistan, actually they were [the] majority.

Q. General, we are going to ask you about the 25th of March, 24th, and 26th. Now, when was it planned to go for Operation Searchlight and why was it planned?
A. Actually, on the 19th. As I said, after the meeting ... I was satisfied, but on the 20th we started feeling in our offices that there were certain things going wrong, and 25th, I think it is Bangladesh day or what ever it was.

Q. 23rd-Pakistan Day, Republic Day.
A. On 23rd, Pakistan Day the I think, Mujib came with a flag, Bangladesh flag, to meet the President, and there was a parade in front of his house. There he took the salute, [it can be said] declaring Bangladesh. Now, even then, at least in our head office we had not much information. At the President's house at their own negotiations, I think the President, Mr. Pirzada, Colonel Elias, Mr. Ahmad, Mr. Hamid, one or two others were keeping everything secret, so I and the GOC still stayed outside without a job at that time because we had come out of the Governor house... and General Khadem Hossain Raja was appointed as commander. We asked General Tikka to go and find out what was happening, because we were totally in the dark because something was not right. So, he went there and he came back and he said that there was something wrong, the negotiation was not going well so something should be done to re-establish the control of the Government. What had happened was that we had to go back. As soon as the date was changed, announcement was made, there was hesitation in Dhaka and there were killings, from what we heard of people in Nawabganj, Old Dhaka, and Army moved in, There was a big rally and in that it was announced by Mujib that Government will be run by the Awami League. Mr. Tajuddin became virtually the Prime minister, he issued direction to the bank, to everybody.The army was confined to the barracks, they could not go even out of the cantonments limits. There was nothing which we could buy from bazaar, no contractor would supply even the vegetables.

Q. Army was not flown from West Pakistan?
A. On the 26th.

Q. Before 26th, when the army was flown in, there were 90 lakh army-
A. No, that is a separate question. It gradually built up. 26th was the day when the first battalion arrived there, after the 25th-

Q. So, could you tell us elaborately the planning of "Operation Searchlight".
A. Now this had developed over a period of time as to what type of operation will be successful. Now, in Amritsar, for example, the Indian army attacked and they used tanks, mortars, whatever they could, except aircraft and they overcame the opposition. When an army was launched as an army, not as civil affairs, it succeeds or it tries to succeed. Over a period of time the curfews had lost their effectiveness.

Martial Law had lost it effectiveness, and nobody obeyed the Martial Law. The Government was finished in East Pakistan.... We did not consider the emotional side which I think was wrong, we did not realize the troops, feeling. What ... was happening was that they were beaten up in many places, officers were insulted, they could not go out, and emotions were charged. Here we are, troops of a Government, and we cannot even get meat. Our plan was quite simple, that we will impose curfew and that we will go and arrest the leaders.

Q. But you said earlier that on the 19th Mr. Bhutto told you that things were settled.
A. No, Mr. Mujib, not Bhutto.

Q. Bhutto agreed to settle?

A. No, he had not agreed, Yahya Khan agreed, Bhutto had not agreed, Bhutto came and-

Q. On his suggestion?

A. Well, suppose so, because I met Bhutto when I came back to Pakistan. I had never met him before, when I was in East Pakistan he was too big to meet a Brigadier. So what I was saying was that they were emotionally charged. On the second day the citizens of Dhaka, I would say, were better prepared. They were prepared for it from the 7th till the 25th. They had the police into them, they had all the Rajakars, and Mujahids, Ansar, everything. They were all under the command of the Government at that time. It was not a declared Government, but had the authority and it was just to go in and occupy the television, radio, the stations. The houses of leaders had been marked. Such a search plan had been shown to troops and they were to be arrested so that no commotion happened. However at about 10 O'clock Yahya left. So after sunset, it was still [a] little bit dark when he in his small car came to the airport and took off on the 25th. But you know, he did not know that Mr. Khandker, Air Vice Marshal, came later on . He was at the airport and informed Mujib. At that time, the
Awami League was holding a meeting in Mujib's house and we thought we will go and arrest them, it will be easy and simple.When these talks were going on I gave a paper to Siddiq Salek, the PRO, who was going to President house. He was the Liaison Officer. In the paper I suggested that two prompt startegies be adopted, You have to have force, but you must have a political solution, attest to that and [the] political solution [that] I suggested [was] that as soon as we arrested these people, the President should go there and declare that the eight points of the Pakistan People's Party will be accepted instead of Six Points. You know, virtually they were the same, except that one was too aggressive, the other was too mild but achieving [the] same provisional autonomy for East Pakistan. So when the discussions were taking place in the Martial Law Head Quarter as to what to do with Mujib I suggested that he should not be killed because the SAG was going to raid the house. I said that he should be taken in custody and that [will] separat him from the extremist— not from the people, but those who wanted independence. This suggestion's first part that Mujib not be killed was accepted, but the second part that he should announce a political solution simultaneously was not accepted. I do not think the President gave any thought to it because he was flying to West Pakistan the same night. This was now personal and the GOC and I were isolated and harassed. We visited our wives. We also went to General Hamid and General Khadem's place. Well, they said that we were afraid of taking military action. Both of us were against military action, Khadem and I. So, they told our wives, we do not want to take military action and I said that Sir I am not worried about my life, I am worried about Pakistan because it would not stay after this. Somebody can ask why did you take part in this? Now as an army officer we cannot resign. Shahebjada Yakub resigned and he was declared "Yellow" and for a very long time he was in the clouds, even now there are people who think that he was a coward. Which he was not, he had his conviction. But what we considered was that I am giving an order to attack a position in actual war and I know that I will be killed. [Knowing] that troops will be killed, I ... still attack, because I have been ordered.

Q. There is a code in the army- you can defy if it is a mad order?
A. No, not in that sense.

Q. I mean, I have seen the war crime trials, they said you can choose not to execute a 'mad order'.
A. This came out of the war crimes, this is the opinion of the learned judges that one should... did any General of German army...

Q. Not the German army, such a plea was accepted by a tribunal.
A. May be, but it is not normal that the Generals would resign if they are told to do certain things. It is not done in the Pakistan army. In any case I was not the GOC.

Q. I think General Niazi has written that Tikka Khan ordered that the Pakistan army be more merciless than the massacre at Bukhara... by Chengis Khan and Halaku Khan and he said I want the land not the people and he said that General Rao Farman Ali matchlessly followed that order and in your diary you wrote that the green land of East Pakistan will be painted red.

A. There are two different things. General Niazi, I am sorry to say, is a liar. Let us discuss the green of East Pakistan be painted red first.

Q. I think, you have explained that in your book also.
A. You can ask Jafar, Kazi Jafar, whether he delivered a speech in Tongi or not. He delivered [the] speech meaning that we would convert [the] East Pakistan Islamic concept into Communism. General Yaqub rang me up and I wrote it down.

Q. What is your opinion about Niazi's book?

A. He has tried to defend his own position by accusing others, I would not like to say more than that. Because this is total lie. You know, he has not written the book. You ask him now to write one page then I will accept that he has written the book. The people are not together and they have written this book in whatever manner they wanted. General Tikka never said these things. I think that he is a very fine person. He is a poor chap, he has been blamed for the butchery of Baluchistan, butchery of East Pakistan. If you meet him you will see that he is a very fine person.

Q. You ask us to meet him?

A. He is not well, he is terribly sick, very old.

Q. What did Niazi say?

A. Well, Niazi said clearly that on the first day when he took over he had his chair turned round. He sat on that and he said what I am hearing about Russia, we are in enemy territory. In Burma we used to get rations from the land. We could get cattle instead, though they were limited. So he was one, who said [we were in] enemy territory. We never thought that was an enemy territory, this was Pakistan. He also said terrible things, that we should change the race. He was a clever person. He may show you the orders. Somebody wrote it for him and he signed it. But this execution was terrible.

Q. Can you elaborate on the formation of the civil armed forces saying that you formed the Razakars?

A. I think it had been formed by the Martial Law Head Quarter.

Q. Whose brainchild was the Force?

A. Must have been the Core Commandant's.

Q. Who was at that time?

A. Niazi.

Q. His book is also dedicated to them.

A. He created them and he used them, which I suppose anybody else also would have done.

Q. As far as danger was concern it was a war situation. In the book he said that the leaders of Al-Badar and Al-Shams were brought back along with the prisoners of war (POW).

A. I do not know.

Q. You have no knowledge?

A. You see what happened was [that] there was a break in my authority. On the 13th I think, the Governor resigned. I was in the Governor House. The Indians attacked, and the Governor resigned, Malik. After that, I have no job. I am nobody.

Q. This is on the 13th (December 1971). So on 13th and 14th the intellectuals were...

A. Yes may be, intellectuals, there you are. They are all blaming me for being...

Q. Western media and the independent international media hold you responsible, why?

A. As a person I do not know why, because I was the only one...

Q. They have shown a lot of evidence. Nobody has refuted that so far.

A. I have not seen international media...

Q. Killing of intellectuals actually started in October, because in Dhaka near Notre Dame [College] a doctor was killed. I mean it started earlier and 14th December saw culmination of the killing. That's one thing. Second is you were in charge of civil administration. General Niazi was looking after the front.

A. No, he was Martial Law Administrator.

Q. You were in charge of civil administration and the political leaders say Golam Azam, Moulana Mannan, they had connections with you. They used to meet you, take advice, and may have executed those things. So it's logical that nothing could happen without your knowledge. Do you agree with it?

A. Why?

Q. Because you are the...

A. By nothing means killing?

Q. It includes everything in administration.

A. No, see what happened [was] that after the military action things changed. The Martial Law acted as last force. The Governor House did not have any stand of its own because Governor House only controlled the civil secretariat, all the police and all the Razakars. All the army, civil armed forces were under the Martial law Administrator. And the core commander not even under me.

Q. So General Niazi was responsible for that?

A. General Niazi was responsible for law and order.

Q. Legacy speaks that...
A. Absolutely. I tell you, on the 9th December, I was called by General Jansher who was in Pilkhana, Civil Armed Forces, and EPR. He said that we have to go and see General Niazi. Generally I had never had a meeting with General Niazi. So I said all right we will go, situation is bad. I went to Pilkhana. It was dark slightly. I saw certain vehicles standing there and I ask him why these vehicles are standing here? He said we are going to see General Niazi for certain purpose and these cars are here for that purpose. On the way he told me that certain number of the people are to be arrested. So I said why? He said you ask Niazi. We went to his office and there Niazi said, what is you is opinion? I said Sir, this is not the time to arrest anybody, and you have to account for whoever is with you.

Q. Which date was this?

A. This was the 9th of December, just before surrender. 9th or 10th. And they should not be arrested. The question does not arise. He said alright, they would not be arrested. I came back. And on the morning of 16th or 17th, I was called by the Indian General O.R Tagore and he said that these people were killed by your orders. I said how could I execute my orders! Whom did I give my orders? Can I go alone and kill those people? I had no troops.

Q. Who were these people?

A. All the intellectuals …..

Q. After the liberation, I mean, in Bangladesh, in the Governor House there were some written documents in which the names of intellectuals killed were written by you.

A. Not by me. There were lots of people who used to come and see me. And they would give me a list, I never …..

Q. For what reasons?

A. No these were anti-Pakistanis. Though I accepted those things I would take no action on those. And the same lists would be given to the Core Commanders. Some people used to attain here and there.

Q. You lost your war against the independent media.

A. Please tell me, is it possible for one individual on the night of 16th December …

Q. No, no this was done on the night of 13th and 14th December.

A. No. I will tell you about which General Niazi has also said. I think he was the BBC Representative, may be. No, no, what happened was that on the 7th December BBC announced that General Niazi has run away and General Farman has taken over. But this was not possible because I was junior. I was rung up by Corps Headquarters saying that you go [ check ] on this fellow that he should not publish or get such stories published. So I rang him up. He had perhaps a recorder. And the people do not know that I am of the Army but two separate things I used to do. I had no regard as such for executing the orders of the Army. I was not under them. I only said in my effort to help you 'ke bhai, dekhiye army may take some severe action against you. So don't send such stories'. So that has been used against me by the international media. He has not only done this but he had also warned him. I was afraid now of what had happened. There was ex-Secretary in the government, with the Governor, Hussain. He came to me. What he said was that people were being arrested, can you save me? I said, who is arresting. He said that people were being arrested and I have no knowledge. See, the Army had its own jail. We in the Governor house had no knowledge that they had a jail. But it was for crimes which Army said are being committed by them. Otherwise, as far as intellectuals are concerned how would I be there going round and meeting intellectuals.

Q. General Niazi claims also …. And you know that your book came before and General Niazi's book came afterwards. Now he squarely puts his blame on you. And you will have to write another book to .. I mean, explain.

A. But I think that also, what happened was that while I was in India, the Indian Army was quite willing to try me through something against me. They had arrested 50 people, taken them from the EPR (East Pakistan Rifles). Among them was General, that is, Brigadier Bashir and gave them an offer that whoever gives evidence against General Farman would be sent first to their home in West Pakistan. And it is to their credit that one man came up and said, General Farman had not done anything wrong. Now I claim that I did nothing wrong. I did try to first preserve Pakistan without killing anybody. If some, even one man, can be claimed to have been killed by me, you can hang me. And I made this offer in Jabbalpore to the MIRCP: please take me to Dhaka and let me meet Mujib for 5 minutes and after that if he does not embrace me then you can do whatever you like.

Q. What is this MIRCP?
A. That was International Red Cross.

Q. I see.
A. In Jabbalpore, the Deputy DDMI - the Indian Army, Leslie, he came and interviewed [me]. He said, General Farman, you are accused of having killed two hundred people in the last………….

Q. You say so in details in your book about various interrogations. Niazi was also interrogated?
A. He is sitting there. Go and ask him : Did I oppose the arrest of those people or not? If I opposed the arrest would I be killing them? In any case, what did I have? Troops? I had no troops. There was police to be used.

Q. No. It is alleged to have been done by the Al-Badar and Al-Shams.

A. No. No. I had no control.

Q. You had no control over the Razakars?

A. It was done by the Martial Law Headquarters.

Q. The development was done by the Martial Law Headquarters?

A. The development, if at all, was by General Niazi. I had good relations with, I think, most of the Awami League people. But as they had gone to Calcutta, my time was mostly spent on keeping in touch with a large number of people who were still in East Pakistan and I think they were 42 or 43 people. And I was also trying to contact MNAs ….

Q. There was the new batch of MNA's because you held an election.

A. Well, that came very late. I think we can discuss it after it has been cleared. Yes, you can take my word.

Q. No. That's alright.

A. No. No. Because you see that there have been suggestions.

Q. But again I mean, during the 9 months did you know that Pakistan Army was killing many people, raping many women, killing children. It was happening with knowledge [of the] Pakistan Army. From March to December 16.

A. Yes. And I tried to take action. I told General Hamid, the Chief of Army Staff. I gave him names of individuals who have been killed by the Army after they were taken into custody. The names were I think, Saidur Rahman... [Saidul Hasan]

Q. I am not saying that the Army did not take into custody one or two people or killed one or two people. I mean the numbers were much higher... it was genocide.

A. This is wrong. I don't accept it was genocide. How do you define genocide n the military term? Genocide is when you start killing people without any reason.

Q. That means no fighting is happening in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
A. That is genocide.

Q. So ethnic cleansing is as bad as 'Nustle badla dena'.
A. Wuo to khair hoga. But I don't think he executed that. I don't know. But I think he did not. He was just using his tongue loosely. But I don't think there was whenever it was possible. Martial Law was the culmination of break down of the civil administration. And so Martial Law comes in. When Martial Law had failed that means us - myself and the Governor - we had failed. Then, the Army had taken over.
And it was the Army rule which was in existence for 9 months in East Pakistan, not the Governor's rule.

Q. I mean you call it genocide what was happening in Bosnia-Herzegovina, then why should not your action in East Pakistan be termed as genocide.
A. No. I claim not. So many people were killed.

Q. Then all the international press was wrong?
A. The international press as only …..

Q. And only you and those who were in Dhaka.
A. No. No. Nei. Nei, that is not true. We, those who were in Dhaka, said it was not genocide. Genocide is done with an intention that you want to kill people. And as far as we are concerned, you see, we were separate from the Army.

Q. But what I am asking - did you know these things were happening in the then East Pakistan?
A. Not at that scale as you see. Because ....

Q. Forget about it.
A. This is my opinion....

Q. Is the international press which had reported these things?
A. Yes, international press was annoyed because Yahya threw them out which was wrong and the international press were then …

Q. Actually they were not thrown out but they came back and they reported in details with photographs. With photographs and everything. I mean, you - you have the knowledge of hindsight. Even if, you know, one is prepared to accept your point of view that you were not in any way responsible for killing of even 1 percent and you said that very clearly, then somebody has, don't you see? I mean, is it not clear now?
A. The reason, no. One must ...accept this that under what circumstances whoever exceed the limit of the rules of the Army, he is responsible, but circumstances should also be seen.

Q. The reason, you see, if General Niazi was fighting a war and if it was really a war situation, I mean then one can understand that these things happen in war. But the point, I mean, you clearly said that. He said, he claimed to be in the enemy territory. Obviously, you know he was fighting a war. I mean, even if these were accepted, you see, the killings of such a large scale, I mean, I can't believe as an active General at that time you were not aware of ….
A. No. I don't accept the figure of 2 millions.

Q. No. No. We are not debating….
A. 40 to 50 thousands.

Q. Do you not consider the 40-50 thousand is also a large number?
A. No. This is….

Q. Army killed innocent people.
A. Yes. It was a very large number. It is a very large number. I agree it was a large number. At the same time see what happened between the 7th and the 25th March, what a large number of people who can be identified were killed. We had in East Pakistan Rifles NCO's who were of West Pakistani origin, they were all killed. The JCO's in the East Bengal Regiment were killed, troops were surrounded in Patna…. What is the …. Pabna, Pabna… they were all massacred.

Q. This one particular reference which General Niazi makes of 2000 officers were killed. I mean, what is your opinion on that?
A. Not army officers.

Q. Army officers and their families. But it was not reported in the press - Pakistani Press and in the international press?
A. 2000….

Q. Yes. Two or three thousands …like these! Between the 7th and 25th March all the West Pakistani Army Officers were killed and their wives were killed and raped.
A. I tell you, I know the army officers who were killed. Two army officers were killed in Dhaka area— the Commandant of the Cadet College and the Central Commandant Janjua. He was killed and his wife was taken away. The one woman - one of the wives of the officers was pregnant and the child was taken out of her body. But these were certain things. In Bogra there was a small ammunition depot and there was a Major in charge who was killed and they played football with his head while his wife was made to stand up there. Between the 7th and the 25th a large number of Biharis were killed. In Syedpur, I am talking about Keya naam hai— but a large number of Biharis were killed. 800 dead bodies were found. …..Woman and children were killed and their men were thrown in the river. But a West Pakistani and Assistant Commissioner, son-in-law of Intelligence Bureau Chief had been dragged in Tangail and two officers were killed in Jessore area.

Q. I mean, in a way it was revenge killing?
A. No. No. It was between 5th to 23rd when they had taken over. There was nothing
before that.

Q. But why it was not reported in the Pakistan newspapers and in the East Pakistani newspapers because at that time we read newspapers avidly and newspapers from both West and East Pakistan.

A. But Mr Bhasani made a statement against the killing in Chittagong. Whether it was fact or not that all the railway officials in Chittagong were killed?

Q. After 25th March?

A. No. Before 25th March.

Q. No. I mean they were killed before that ….. Well, whatever had happened, do you have any remorse on the situation.
A. Yes, I had remorse then, I even have it here. One day I saw three people. The wife of the Deputy Commissioner, Comilla, a delegation from the Bihari women and a delegation from the West Pakistani officers and I was crying because East Pakistanis or West Pakistanis were the same.

Q. The entire period, I mean, in this period of your action, the action of the army ….

A. This was very tragic. It should not have happened.

Q. Do you feel any personal remorse?
A. In not doing what I could do.

Q. Only doing what you should not have done.
A. No. I am doing but whatever I did was to the best of my ability and conscience and I think that I have no remorse about that. But I have a feeling I could have resigned. I did resign. You can ask General Yaqub but he said that you then will be court martialled.

Q. You have any message for the people of Bangladesh?
A. Well they are, I … you see, I am a Pakistani. If the creation of Pakistan was right, preservation of Pakistan was also right. If Pakistan had not come into being, Bangladesh would have never come into being.

Q. Niazi has written in his book that actually you are the man responsible for Niazi's down fall. I mean he did not want to surrender but you engineered everything.
A. With the …. Russians, that was not possible. This will be the first time in history, wherein I was a civilian who made a General surrender.

Q. Then why did you draft the surrender instrument?

A. I didn't.

Q. The message you sent to the United Nations.
A. Yes, this was drafted by Muzaffar Hussain, the Chief Secretary of East Pakistan at that time and the Governor …. It was drafted by them. Muzaffar and I both went to General Niazi and we said that the Central Government had sent a message saying you can do what you like in East Pakistan. Before that General Niazi's 2 signals, has he quoted those signals which he sent to West Pakistan? He says, I can fight on.

Q. I think they are reported in General Gul Hassan's book.
A. He can say that I can fight for say 2 days or a couple of days more. Now if [it] was shown that you can only fight for couple of days more then why blame me? I was trying to ensure that there is no surrender, that a cease-fire takes place, a cease fire is much better. The Indians had cease fire in Kashmir, they are still there. We could have a cease fire….

Q. No. I mean attempts were made to have a cease fire when Mr. Bhutto went to the United Nations.
A. No.He did not. He also tore up [The chances]. Otherwise a ceasefire could have taken place-we could have sat together and got a decision to form a government by the elected representatives of East Pakistan in Dhaka. Now what is wrong with that ... why not have a Government by the representatives of East Pakistan. Now, in my opinion if we had a cease fire there would have been no surrender, there would have been no humiliation and what had happened and East Pakistan and West Pakistan could have sat together. And after that there could have been a solution. Now I don't know, this is my feeling as soon as the Indian Army entered Dhaka, entered East Pakistan, the mood of the people of East Pakistan changed, you may recollect ...[it] influenced you as well, that we are changing one Army ... we are changing Pakistan Army with Indian Army.

Q. No. No. Not at all because we were happy that they helped us to fight the Pakistani Army because they were doing such terrible things. We were at that time in Dhaka because you see worst things were happening. So we had a different feeling. You were in power. So you had a feeling different from us. I know that will be different. But the point is, you know, recently in the Pakistani newspapers the debate is going on. Somebody is writing that Pakistan Government should apologize for what they did in Bangladesh. What's your reaction please.
A. Well, I think, it should be ….

Q. Which one, may I ask a question?
A. Both sides made mistakes.

Q. So your inference is : Both sides made mistakes?
A. Both sides made mistakes. There were three phases of developments in East Pakistan. Phase- 1, West Pakistan was totally wrong in considering East Pakistan as a colony; not giving the power, not giving them share in powers; Phase-II when the agitation started, it started in a manner which was more aggressive than that it should have been and then the Pakistan Army made mistakes of launching the army to reestablish……

Q. Who should start the process?

A. First of all we should decide on whether our perception of Muslims of Pakistan, that means, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India is the same as [it] used to be in the olden days.

Q. It can't be; I don't think it is possible. I mean, you can't have that perception now.
A. No. By that I mean do we all feel together, that though we made mistakes we are still under the same danger as it existed before Pakistan came into being, that if we have [a] feeling that we should be closer to each other. We can not be one: we cannot be one state. In any case, my own opinion was that Mr. Suhrawardy may have been right. But Bangladesh could not have survived because it did not have the administrative structures and …. If you feel that the Hindus [have the] mentality of considering us Malichch (Mlechcha), the lowest cast, and would treat us in the same manner as they did in the past then a feeling could have been developed in East and West Pakistan that it is in our mutual interest to get together. It is very difficult, very difficult for one side, it is a question of political language which is to be used. But state apology, I think the West Pakistanis may not be able to give, may not be able to give it if it was a question of by saying so. I can say, I am sorry, please forgive me.*

Rao Farman Ali in Wikipedia

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