The creation of Pakistan was to have devastating long-term consequences for world security. But the first people to suffer would be the Bengali-speaking majority in that state. In this the very western democracies who had fought Nazism and conducted the Nuremberg Trials would not just be complicit in the ensuing genocide but actively support it. It was a campaign of mass extermination against a largely Muslim population which Pakistan would carry out in the name of Islam. But the diplomatic and military support for annihilating thousands of innocent men, women and children, and displacing millions more, would come from that beacon of democracy and leader of the ‘Free World’: the United States of America.
Uncle Sam’s Project Jihad
Jinnah was hostile to the Labour government of Attlee, and tried hard to sell his new state as a dependable ally against Soviet expansionism. At independence in 1947 Mihir Bose writes that the British had more faith in Pakistan being a vibrant pro-western democracy by virtue of its Islamic nature. It would also serve as a buffer against Soviet communism. Nobody expressed this view more forcefully than Lt Gen Sir Francis Tucker, who as GOC Eastern Command was in charge of large parts of the country and was an old India hand. His memoirs, While Memory Serves, published in 1950, explained:
There was much… to be said for the introduction of a new Muslim power supported by the science of Britain. If such a power could be produced… then it has some chance of halting the infiltration of Russia towards the Persian Gulf… Hindu India was entering its most difficult phase of its whole existence. Its religion, which is to a great extent superstition and formalism, is breaking down. If the precedents of history mean anything… then we may well expect, in the material world of today that a material philosophy such as Communism will fill the void left by the Hindu religion. It seemed to some of us very necessary to place Islam between Russian Communism and Hindustan.
Tucker complimented the work with a diatribe against Hinduism entitled The Iron Curtain. Pakistan did not disappoint its western backers. In 1955 the Baghdad Pact was signed linking Britain into an axis with Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Modelled after NATO, this was CENTO (Central Treaty Organisation). The United Kingdom had access to facilities in Pakistan and Iraq at various times while the treaty was in effect. Pakistan backed Britain, France and Israel in the 1956 Suez War against Nasser’s Egypt. In 1965 and 1971, Pakistan tried unsuccessfully to get assistance in its wars with India through CENTO, but this was rejected under the idea that CENTO was aimed at containing the USSR, not India.
The Iranian revolution spelled the end of the organisation in 1979, but in reality, it essentially had been finished since 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus. Pakistan also joined SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) formed in 1954 by the Manila Pact which brought another axis in which Pakistan joined Australia, France, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States, to contain communist aggression.
SEATO was of strategic importance due to the war in Vietnam. SEATO was disbanded in 1977, although Pakistan had withdrawn five years earlier after the secession of Bangladesh.
In The Duel Tariq Ali writes on page 52 that the army in independent Pakistan retained the old colonial traditions. It was headed by General Sir Frank Messervey and then Sir Douglas Gracey. Five hundred other British officers remained in Pakistan to serve with that new nation’s armed forces. On page 31 on this state’s native elite:
Now they had a country. They were in the main, bandwagon careerists from landed Muslim families who had eagerly collaborated with the British Empire and only lately joined the Muslim League. Their brain cells had become rusty from lack of use. In the old days the “great” imperial bureaucracy had done most of the thinking for them. Their task was to convey orders or transmit ideas received from above to their subordinates. Confronted with actual independence, their lack of substance became apparent. In years to come most of them would dispense with reason altogether, resort to force, and back ambition-soaked generals desperate for power, while bemoaning the fickleness of democracy, which had in reality, never been given a chance.
America took over from Britain as the main patron of the Islamic state. It wanted pliant leaders rather than democrats, and was not to be disappointed, because by now Pakistan was very far from being the vibrant democratic state the British imperialists had so confidently predicted it would become. Since 1958 it had been under the rule of Field Marshal Ayub Khan who had seized power in a military coup. Not that it mattered too much to the western neo-colonialists. Pakistan was seen as a dependable ally against India and world communism, even though it was openly in axis with Mao’s China. Ayub agreed to an American military base in Badaber near to Peshawar. In East Pakistan HS Suhrawardy founded the Awami League which not only supported the western powers in the Suez War, but also used brutal force against the Left for opposing the party’s pro-American foreign policy. In 1965, Karl von Vorys, professor of politics at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that the chances for national disintegration were remote. Indeed Suhrawardy had helped weld West Pakistan into one province. It was racism and intransigence on the part of this politically dominant part of the nation which would later push the Awami League into opposition and eventually demands for a separate state of Bangladesh.
Kissinger’s Support for Pakistan’s Genocide and Rape in Bangladesh
In 1969 Ayub handed over power to Commander-in-Chief Yahya Khan. In 1971 his brutal suppression of Bengali dissent in East Pakistan led to eventual war with India, as millions of refugees streamed into that country with the Yahya’s military using torture, slaughter and especially rape in order to terrorise the masses, with Hindus especially targeted. The United States supported Pakistan both politically and materially.
Nixon encouraged China, Iran and Jordan to supply arms to Pakistan to thwart India, while also averting his gaze from the genocide against Bengalis – and the specific military jihad against Hindus – in East Pakistan. In Operation Searchlight, the Pakistan military and collaborators in the Islamic fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami, Nizam-e-Islam, Razakars, al-Sham and al-Badr militias were involved in the systematic extermination of Bengali intellectuals: doctors, teachers, poets and scholars.
The attacks were led by General Tikka Khan, architect of Operation Searchlight which made his reputation as the “butcher of Bengal”. Khan said—when reminded on 27 March 1971 that he was in charge of a majority Bengali province—”I will reduce this majority to a minority”. In Jessore, while speaking with a group of journalists Khan was reported to have said, “Pehleinko Mussalman karo” (First, make them Muslim). Indian journalist Amita Malik, reporting from Bangladesh following the Pakistan armed forces surrender, wrote that one West Pakistani soldier said:
We are going. But we are leaving our Seed behind.
West Pakistani soldiers were told that the Bengali Muslims were only recent converts to Islam. Only forcible insemination through the seed of largely Punjabi and Pathan soldiers would improve the inferior stock to create ‘proper’ Muslims. These atrocities were the first instances of war rape to attract international media attention. Bangladeshi sources cite a figure of 200,000 women raped, often in front of family members, giving birth to thousands of war babies. The Pakistan Army also kept numerous Bengali women as sex-slaves inside the Dhaka Cantonment and established rape camps for their soldiers. Daniel Goldhagen, formerly of Harvard and author of the famous Hitler’s Willing Executioners, explained this on page 454 of Worse Than War, his 2009 book examining genocide and eliminationism:
The vast scale and systematic character of the Pakistanis’ raping led Mulk Raj Anand, an Indian novelist, to conclude it must have been a policy “planned by the West Pakistanis in a deliberate effort to create a new race,” or at least an enormous number of outcasts, to weaken Bangladeshi society. The Pakistanis understood well their sexual violence’s political efficacy.
Archer Blood was the American Consul General in Dhaka. He was so appalled by his government’s complicity in the jihad and genocide that he sent a strongly worded telegram of protest exposing the atrocities. The Blood telegram (April 6, 1971) was seen as one of the most strongly worded Dissent Channel messages ever written by Foreign Service Officers to the State Department. It was signed by 29 Americans:
Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy,(…) But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected.
Such open dissent is extremely rare. For his humanitarian efforts, Blood was recalled by Nixon and Kissinger as it went against their support for Pakistan in its quest for racial extermination of Bengalis and Islamic holy war against the Hindus. Ten million refugees, mostly Hindus, streamed into India. By the time Bangladesh was liberated, three million of its people were dead.
Blood died in 2004. His death made headlines in Bangladesh, but was lucky to even make it to the back pages of the obituary sections in American newspapers. Bangladesh sent a delegation to the funeral in Fort Collins and Mrs. Blood received numerous communiqués from Bangladeshis on the occasion of Mr. Blood’s death.
The following year his son Peter accepted a posthumous Outstanding Services Award posthumously by The Bangladeshi-American Foundation, Inc. (BAFI). This was followed on December 13, 2005, by the dedication of the American Center Library, U.S. Embassy Dhaka, in the name of Archer K. Blood. In a devastating article in the New York Times in September 2013, Gary J Bass, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton and author of “The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide”, lambastes the American support for Islamic terrorism used against the Bengalis, Muslim and Hindu:
Nixon and Kissinger barely tried to exert leverage over Pakistan’s military government. In the pivotal days before the crackdown began on March 25, they consciously decided not to warn the Pakistani generals against opening fire on their population. They did not press for respecting the election results, nor did they prod the military to cut a power-sharing deal with the Bengali leadership. They did not offer warnings or impose conditions that might have dissuaded the Pakistani junta from atrocities. Nor did they threaten the loss of American military or economic support after the slaughter began.
Nixon and Kissinger were not just motivated by dispassionate realpolitik, weighing Pakistan’s help with the secret opening to China or India’s pro-Soviet leanings. The White House tapes capture their emotional rage, going far beyond Nixon’s habitual vulgarity. In the Oval Office, Nixon told Kissinger that the Indians needed “a mass famine.” Kissinger sneered at people who “bleed” for “the dying Bengalis.”
They were unmoved by the suffering of Bengalis, despite detailed reporting about the killing from Archer K. Blood, the brave United States consul general in East Pakistan. Nor did Nixon and Kissinger waver when Kenneth B. Keating, a former Republican senator from New York then serving as the American ambassador to India, personally confronted them in the Oval Office about “a matter of genocide” that targeted the Hindu minority among the Bengalis.
The USA-Pakistan Axis of Evil
Nixon considered Yahya as a friend comparing him to Abraham Lincoln; a sick irony considering that the American Civil War president freed darker-skinned Americans from slavery, while Yahya was intent on enslaving the largely Muslim and Bengali-speaking darker-skinned majority of East Pakistan under the boot of the somehow more Islamic and ‘true’ Muslim lighter-skinned Punjabi and Pathan elite.
Kissinger saw him useful, especially in pursuing détente with Chairman Mao. As Eisenhower’s vice president, the former had visited Pakistan in 1953 and returned convinced that Pakistan could aid America’s efforts to contain communist expansionism. “Pakistan is a country I would like to do everything for,” Nixon said on his return home.
Less than six months later, America entered into a military pact that over the next decade delivered to Pakistan $2 billion worth of American military equipment. By the time Nixon became president, in 1969, Pakistan’s dependency on American aid and military supplies was deep and appetitive. Six months before Yahya Khan ordered his military onto the streets in East Pakistan, he had visited Nixon to secure promises of more arms and supplies. “We will try to be as helpful as we can,” Nixon assured the dictator. On 9 November 2013, Sunil Khilani wrote the aptly titled In 1971 a Genocide took Place in the New Republic (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115435/gary-basss-blood-telegram-reviewed-sunil-khilnani ). Khilnani is Avantha Professor and director of the India Institute at King’s College London and the author of The Idea of India:
For Nixon and Kissinger, it became above all a reputational matter: they had to show the Chinese that they would support their Pakistani ally through any crisis. Kissinger, on his return from China, told Nixon: “The cloak and dagger exercise in Pakistan arranging the trip was fascinating. Yahya hasn’t had such fun since the last Hindu massacre!”
They therefore felt justified in expanding military support to Pakistan: illicitly supplying jet aircraft, sending the Seventh Fleet led by the USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal to intimidate the Indians, and passing secret messages urging the Chinese to mass troops on their Indian border. It was a view of India’s intentions that comported with Nixon’s and Kissinger’s picture of India’s leaders as cunning and ambitious adventurers who, relying on Soviet support, were bent on an all-out military campaign to dismember Pakistan, to expel the American presence from South Asia, and to sabotage U.S. interests across the world. “We can’t let these goddamn, sanctimonious Indians get away with this. They’ve pissed on us on Vietnam for five years, Henry,” Nixon told his adviser.
In late April 1971, at the very height of the mass murder, Kissinger sent a message to General Yahya Khan, thanking him for his “delicacy and tact.” Dexter Filkins, a staff writer for The New Yorker and formerly a correspondent in South Asia for The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times has reviewed Bass’s book on the Blood Telegram. On 27 September 2013 he wrote Collateral Damage in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/books/review/the-blood-telegram-by-gary-j-bass.html?pagewanted=2
The voices of Kissinger and Nixon are the book’s most shocking aspects. Bass has unearthed a series of conversations, most of them from the White House’s secret tapes, that reveal Nixon and Kissinger as breathtakingly vulgar and hateful, especially in their attitudes toward the Indians, whom they regarded as repulsive, shifty and, anyway, pro-Soviet — and especially in their opinion of Indira Gandhi. “The old bitch,” Nixon called her. “I don’t know why the hell anybody would reproduce in that damn country but they do,” he said.
In fact Nixon and Kissinger loathed India bordering on the fanatic. According to the conversation from 26 May 1972 from the US National Archives (http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76ve07/d135 )between Nixon and Kissinger, the latter candidly expressed his view that the Indians were “such bastards”, “devious”, “the most aggressive goddamn people around”, and should “pipe down”. Nixon agreed and said that what India really needed right now was a “mass famine”. Yet it was only with Indian intervention that the religious genocide, and ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh stopped.
Kissinger the American War Criminal vs Liberators of Bangladesh
As part of his realpolitik, Kissinger was willing to let America, self-styled leader of the Free World, make some unsavoury deals with mass murderers such as Yayha Khan and Mao, while sacrificing the lives of millions. America, supposed proponent of freedom and democracy, saw Asia’s almost sole democracy of India, as an impediment to its foreign policy. Withdrawing US forces from Vietnam he let the whole of French Indochina fall to communism; and in the case of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a regime intent literally on devouring its own people.
As Jews in the Third Reich, Kissinger’s own family had fled Nazi persecution in 1938. Yet he showed a callous disregard to others, not just Hindus. In 2001 the late Christopher Hitchens wrote The Trial of Henry Kissinger, which examined the former US national security adviser’s complicity in alleged war crimes in Indochina, Chile, East Timor, Cyprus and Bangladesh. Kissinger did not feel it was in American interests to pressurise the USSR on the persecution of Soviet Jews. According to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, he told her this on 1 March 1973:
The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.
Adam Nagourney of the New York Times also wrote on 10 December 2010 that Nixon agreed with him. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/us/politics/11nixon.html?_r=0
Now compare that attitude with Lt General Jacob-Farj-Rafael “JFR” Jacob. Born into an Iraqi Jewish family in Kolkotta in 1923, he joined the British Indian Army in 1941 at age 18, he enlisted in the Indian army:
My father was against my enlistment, but after I found out about the atrocities of the Nazis and their treatment of the Jews, I decided that I would be a military man.
During the 1971 war with Pakistan, Jacob gained an unconditional surrender from General Niazi in Dhaka. Niazi was given a stark choice: Surrender unconditionally and publicly, and receive the protection of the Indian Army for all minorities and retreating troops, or face an Indian military onslaught. Jacob gave Niazi 30 minutes to decide. The next day, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered. Jacob had but 3,000 Indian troops, 30 miles away, behind him. In March 2012 he received official recognition by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in liberating her homeland:
As a soldier I did my duty, as God gave me strength to do it. I got more than I deserved. I don’t ask for anything. I had a task to do which I did to the best of my ability.
Modest and in total contrast to Kissinger who was not apathetic but actually complicit in the 1971 genocide which General Jacob was instrumental in halting. We must also not forget those brave American voices that spoke out against the genocidal foreign policy of Kissinger. In a report submitted to the US Senate Judiciary Committee (November 1, 1971) Senator Edward Kennedy wrote:
Field reports to the US government, countless eye-witness journalistic ac-counts, reports of international agencies such as World Bank and additional information available to the subcommittee document the reign of terror which grips East Bengal (East Pakistan). Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community, who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked ‘H.’ All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad.
He visited the refugee camps in India in August 1971 and wrote a report on the plight of the 10 million Bengali refugees:
Nothing is more clear, or more easily documented, than the systematic campaign of terror — and its genocidal consequences — launched by the Pakistani army on the night of March 25th. All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad. America’s heavy support of Islamabad is nothing short of complicity in the human and political tragedy of East Bengal.
Kennedy’s exposure of the genocide led to Congress banning arms sales to Pakistan, against the wishes of Nixon and Kissinger. In February 1972 – Kennedy flew to Bangladesh and delivered a speech at Dhaka University, where the genocide had begun a year earlier by Pakistan. About 8,000 jubilant students crowded into the university courtyard and jammed lecture hall balconies and roofs, greeting him with chants of “Joi Kennedy”. In his speech, Kennedy drew parallels between the liberation of Bangladesh and the American Revolution. He said America had prospered despite predictions that it would collapse following independence, and so would Bangladesh. On the university campus stood a banyan tree where Bengali student leaders had planted the seeds for the independence movement, and which the Pakistani army had destroyed as a symbolic gesture. During his visit, Kennedy planted a new tree there:
Even though the United States government does not recognize you, the people of the world do recognize you
On 26 August 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid him homage for helping the people of Bangladesh when his own country’s president armed the army committing the genocide:
The people of Bangladesh will remember his contribution forever.
The genocide in Bangladesh did nothing to prevent American aid to further war crimes, as it joined with Britain and Iran in helping a democratically elected Zulfikar Ali Bhutto crush the Baluch in 1973. Two years earlier when he hosted an Islamic summit in Lahore he openly boasted of his determination to make Pakistan a nuclear power. Rather than alarm the west, this brazen military aggression would only attract more in aid and political support for the very state that acted as incubator and patron to al-Qaeda.
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