Hamoodur Rahman Commission

The Hamoodur Rahman commission was constituted by Pakistan Government to investigate the Bangladesh atrocities during the Bangladesh Liberation War and the military and political causes of the country's defeat in the 1971 war. It was asked to investigate "the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern command, surrendered and the members of the Armed Forces of Pakistan under his command laid down their arms and a cease-fire was ordered along the borders of West Pakistan and India and along the cease-fire line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir." [1] The report was very critical of the role of Pakistan's military and politicians and its publication was disallowed at the time.[2]

Formation

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto created the commission after succeeding Yahya Khan as the president. The commission was formed in December 1971 with Hamoodur Rahman the then Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan as its head.[1] Justice Sheikh Anwarul Haq of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Justice Tufail Ali Abdul Rehman, chief justice of Sind and Baluchistan were the other two members of this commission & Lt-General (retired) Altaf Qadir was its military adviser.[3]

[edit] First report

It submitted its first report in July 1972. The commission considered this initial report tentative as it had not been able to interview many key people who were at that time prisoners of war in India.[1] The commission stated "our observations and conclusions regarding the surrender in East Pakistan and other allied matters should be regarded as provisional and subject to modification in the light of the evidence of the Commander, Eastern Command, and his senior officers as and when such evidence becomes available." Initially the commission interviewed 213 people and made 12 copies of report. One of the copies was given to Bhutto and the rest were destroyed.[4]

Supplementary report

The inquiry was reopened in 1974 offering an opportunity to the prisoners of war who had been freed by India by then and others repatriated from East Pakistan to furnish such information as might be within their knowledge and relevant to the purposes of the Commission. Commission held an informal meeting at Lahore on the 3rd of June, 1974 to consider various preliminary matters and then decided to resume proceedings at Abbottabad from the 16th July, 1974. After the investigation resumed in 1974 the commission talked with 73 more bureaucrats and high ranked military personnel. The commission examined nearly 300 witnesses in total, hundreds of classified documents and army signals between East and West Pakistan. The final report, also called supplementary report, was submitted on October 23, 1974, showed how political, administrative, military and moral failings were responsible for the surrender of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan.[3] It remained classified and it contents were guessed from the revealing of different military officers.[4] The report was organized into Five Chapters and an annexure.
  1. Chapter One - The Moral Aspect
  2. Chapter Two - Alleged atrocities by the Pakistan Army
  3. Chapter Three - Professional Responsibilities of Certain Senior Army Commanders
  4. Chapter Four - Conclusions
  5. Chapter Five - Recommendations

Findings

The commission challenged the claims by Bangladesh authorities that 3 million Bengalis had been killed by Pakistan army and 200,000 women were raped. The commission, put the casualty figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties.[5] The international media and reference books in English have also published figures which vary greatly from 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole.[6] A further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek safety in India.[7]
Volume I of the main report dealt with political background, international relations, and military aspects of the events of 1971. Volume I of the supplementary report discussed political events of 1971, military aspect, surrender in East Pakistan and the moral aspect.
A large number of West Pakistanis and Biharis who were able to escape from East Pakistan told the Commission awful tales of the atrocities at the hands of the Awami League militants. It was revealed that many families of West Pakistani Officers and other ranks serving with East Bengal Units were subjected to inhuman treatment. Their erstwhile Bengali colleagues had butchered a large number of West Pakistani Officers.
The Report's findings accuse the Pakistani Army of carrying out senseless and wanton arson, killings in the countryside, killing of intellectuals and professionals and burying them in mass graves, killing of Bengali Officers and soldiers on the pretence of quelling their rebellion, killing East Pakistani civilian officers, businessmen and industrialists, raping a large number of East Pakistani women as a deliberate act of revenge, retaliation and torture, and deliberate killing of members of the Hindu minority.[4] The report accused the generals of what it called a premature surrender and said the military's continued involvement in running the government after 1958 was one reason for the corruption and ineffectiveness of senior officers. 'Even responsible service officers,' the report said, 'have asserted before us that because of corruption resulting from such involvement, the lust for wine and women and greed for lands and houses, a large number of senior army officers, particularly those occupying the highest positions, had lost not only their will to fight but also their professional competence.' [8] The report said Pakistan's military ruler at the time, General Yahya Khan, who stepped down after Pakistan's defeat in December 1971, 'permitted and even instigated' the surrender, and it recommended that he be publicly tried along with other senior military colleagues.[8]
The report accused General Yahya Khan, of being a womanizer and an alcoholic.[2] According to the report "Firm and proper action would not only satisfy the nation's demand for punishment where it is deserved, but would also ensure against any future recurrence of the kind of shameful conduct displayed during the 1971 war".[9]

Recommendations

The commission recommended that General Yahya Khan, General Abdul Hamid Khan, Lt. Gen. S.G.M.M. Pirzada, Lt. Gen. Gul Hasan, Maj. Gen. Umar and Maj. Gen. Mitha should be publicly tried for being party to a criminal conspiracy to illegally usurp power from Mohammad Ayub Khan in power if necessary by the use of force. Five other Generals and three Brigadiers were recommended to be tried for wilful neglect of duty. These were Generals Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, Mohammad Jamshed, M Rahim Khan, Irshad Ahmad Khan, B.M. Mustafa and Brigadiers G.M. Baquir Siddiqui, Mohammad Hayat & Mohammad Aslam Niazi. According to the commission General Mustafa's offensive plan aimed at the capture of the Indian position of Ramgarh in the Rajasthan area (Western Front) was militarily unsound and haphazardly planned, and its execution resulted in severe loss of vehicles and equipment in the desert.

Aftermath

No action was ever taken based on this report, the report was classified and its publication disallowed at the time. General Yahya Khan died in 1980, but some of his key colleagues were living in retirement on pensions as of 2000.[8] Parts of the report were leaked and published in Indian magazine India Today in August 2000.[3][9] The following day Pakistani Newspaper Dawn also published the supplementary report.[10] General Pervez Musharraf said in October 2000 that the incidents in 1971 were a political as well as a military debacle, and that calls for generals to be tried were not fair.[8] Subsequently Bangladesh requested a copy of the report.[9] The report was then declassified in Pakistan by President Musharraf in December 2000

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