Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Indo – Pak War 1971 – Some Not So Public Facts

Rajindar Sachar

 The recently declassified documents of 1971 war between India and Pakistan have without any doubt established the fact of absolute tilt of USA President Nixon and Kissinger against India.
 This hostile aggressive stand taken by Nixon was sought to be justified by the false premise that Indira Gandhi was right from the beginning determined to attack East Bengal. This however was a lie and Nixon above all the people knew that on the other hand she tried her best to avoid confrontation with Pakistan. As a matter of fact Indira Gandhi tried her best to persuade Nixon to intervene at an early stage to help her do so.
 In July 1971 Kissinger had a stop over in India on his secret visit to China. At that time mass fleeing form East Pakistan and terror by Pakistan army were creating havoc in West Bengal and rest of the country. Mrs. Gandhi, was obviously under a big strain. She therefore invited Kissinger for a private breakfast to be able to discuss the matter urgently.
 However on the evening before, Mrs. Indira Gandhi telephoned General Mannckshow, our Army Chief and told him that she would like him to come and meet her at breakfast next morning. She did not disclose as to who her other guests were. She further told General that when he comes for break fast, he should come in Army uniform. Naturally, General felt surprised and asked whether he had heard rightly that she wanted him to come in the uniform at the break fast because it was naturally a very strange suggestion. Mrs. Gandhi was straight forward and told him “yes, she wanted him to come for break fast but in uniform. So, General Mannckshow went for break fast in full uniform and soon they were joined by Kissinger.
 At that meeting Mrs. Indira Gandhi was persistent in asking Kissinger to plead with Nixon that he should try to restrain Pakistan for what was being done in East Pakistan because the conditions there were becoming intolerable and it was almost becoming impossible for India to remain silent. Kissinger however, went on prevaricating and would not really give a straight answer. Rather he tried to underplay the situation. Mrs. Gandhi, however, still insisted, but to no avail. Kissinger would not gave any assurance that Nixon would do something about it.
 Obviously rattled, Mrs. Gandhi said if that was the position she may have to do something herself which she was reluctant to do. At this Kissinger again expressed his inability on his and Nixon’s behalf to do anything and asked her rather ironically as to what she intended to do. At that time she stood up and pointing towards General (who was in full military uniform) told Kissinger that if USA Government, USA President cannot control the situation then I am going to ask him (meaning the General) to do the same.
 There was stunning silence for a minute and the sharp message was conveyed to Kissinger in a very stark manner. As a matter of fact, General was himself surprised and suddenly understood the purpose as to why he had been asked to come in uniform rather than in civilian clothes at apparently, a harmless function of break fast. Obviously, Nixon and Kissinger had their egos deflated and were not going to forgive Mrs. Gandhi for such an attitude.
 Mrs. Gandhi had no other course but to create world opinion in favor of India. She requested J.P. the socialist and legendary hero of freedom struggle to go on world tour to explain Indias case, which the patriot that he was he willingly undertook. But still the matters were getting worse, but India could not directly intervene. Refugees were continuing to pour in from East Bengal. Sidharat Shankar Ray was in charge of borders. On one of the usual visits by Mrs. Gandhi to border where a public meeting was being held to reassure the public that the matter was being looked after properly. On this visit to West Bengal she told Ray that after public meeting she would go back to Delhi, and Ray should stay for some days in Calcutta and come later.
 At the public meeting while Mrs. Gandhi was addressing, one of her aides handed her a small paper – she read it and put it in her pocket and continued as usual with her speech. After the meeting ended when going to the airport she told Ray that he should come along with her to Delhi. Ray was a little surprised at this sudden change of his programme. But her followers did not ask questions of Indira Gandhi – there was implicit compliance. After about 15 minutes of flight onward to Delhi Mrs. Gandhi leaned back in her seat, a bit relaxed, took out paper given to her at public meeting and told Ray who was sitting next to her, here is the information “Pakistan has attacked”. At first blush it would seem strange that Mrs. Gandhi should seem relaxed on knowing about Pak attack. But there was obvious logic – India was reeling under refugees influx and yet it dared not attack East Bengal, because then the world opinion would call it the aggressor. An excuse was necessary and Pakistan had now conveniently provided it. Of course, let us be objective war on East Bengal front was all weighed in favor of India – As General Arora told me, though to start with some hard knock were taken it was smooth march – the whole population of East Bengal was against Pakistan.
 The movements of Pak army were leaked in detail by Mukti Bahni and their volunteers to Indian army whose task was made smooth (though no doubt India lost quite a few thousand of armed forces). To make matters still easier Indian air force had no opposition and bombard General Niazis official Bangalow. As one of the Air Chiefs told me “you can’t imagine the panic, the utter helpness at being bombard from above by enemy planes, knowing fully well that you can’t even send one plane to stop them. It was inevitable that Niazi surrendered without much time.
 We, both Pakistan and India have to put and fortunately have already put those sad memories behind us and are determined to march together on a common course of mutual confidence and benefit and faith in each other to build a bright future for both our countries. The past should not control the future of our two countries.


  Rajindar Sachar
The debate in Parliament on the proposed Lokpal legislation has unfortunately touched a low nadir; instead of discussing the legislation in a sober atmosphere and with conscious effort to arrive at as much consensus as possible, the parties instead indulged in mutual attacks.
Governments furtive slip in of various quotas including the minorities was a deliberate ploy with on eye on U.P. Elections, notwithstanding the doubt on legality of it expressed by former Supreme Court Judges and jurists. Could even any one imagine that the selection committee of Prime Minister, leader of opposition, irrespective of their party affiliation and non political Chief Justice of India that they would not include as members from the amongst Muslims, and women, when any number of them are available on their own merit. Why this non issue was loud mouthed unless  it  is a device to stall the
Lokpal legislation. Let us not forget that these Mulayam / Lallu groups were the ones who sabotaged women Reservation bill by wantonly insisting a sub quota in Women Reservation Bill thus embarrassing Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj who had earlier without any embarrassment embraced and congratulated each other at their victory in Lok Sabha, but had to beat a retreat in Rajya Sabha
The suggestion that if there are any allegations against the Prime Minister they would be decoratively pigeon holded and brought out after he had remitted office (which may be even 5 years later) does not make any sense, Are we living in a democracy or under a kingship who was supposed to be a representative of Divine. Recently a sitting Prime Minister of Italy who was forced to resign on corruption charge proved against him by a court magistrate.
Similarly Chirac, Prime minister of France has been sentenced to 7 years and the President of Israel being sent to jail on the grounds of moral impropriety. The most contentions matter of C.B.I. remains unresolved. His appointment should be by a joint committee consisting of Lokpal and the standing committee of Parliament. Give C.B.I. director a fixed tenure for say five or 10 years. He should have full administrative control over the staff of C.B.I. and earmarked funds from the consolidated fund. There would be no interference with his day to day from the Central Government or Lokpal. However Lokpal would be entitled to ask or and receive reports from him at regular intervals and also authorized to convey its decisions on such matters. He shall not be removed from service except in the manner and on like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court – the same manner of removal applies to the removal of Chief Election Commissioner.
I for one would not limit the choice necessarily to a police official and it could even be from outside the service. If it is decided to have a Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the same conditions and procedure will apply as applicable to Director of C.B.I. Surprisingly not withstanding bitter wrangling on other aspects all members of the Parliament are unanimously agreeing to keep themselves immune from the ambit of Lokpal or even Directors C.B.I. for their corrupt actions and bribery if it is done inside the Parliament. To me this is scandalous and unacceptable.          
In their defence Members of parliament invoke Article 105 of the Constitution, and the widely criticized  majority  judgment  of  (3 against 2) on in Narsimma Rao case (1999) (I believe the matter is referred to a larger bench).
The minority Judgment however warned that this interpretation could lead to charter for corruption so as to elevate Members of Parliament as “super-citizens, immune from criminal responsibility”. It would indeed be ironic if a claim for immunity from prosecution founded on the need to ensure the independence of Members of parliament in exercising their right to speak or cast their vote in Parliament, could be put forward by a Member who has bartered  away  his independence by agreeing to speak or vote in a particular manner in lieu of illegal gratification that has been paid or promised. By claiming the immunity such a Member would only be seeking a licence to indulge in such corrupt conduct. In other countries such a conduct of MPs is treated as criminal, since 1875 in Australia.  
To invoke Article 253 of the constitution for enacting Lok Ayukat is of doubtful legality and imperishable in our federal set up. Surely no state can resist the public sentiment built for Lok Ayukat.                
The matter of Lokpal is too important and needs to be discussed more seriously and not under pressure of forth coming elections in Punjab and especially of U.P. Also the panicky reaction of Central government to Anna Hazare threat of fast compounded by the opposition wanting to cash on it when they went to Anna Hazare sit in to cooze upto him. Their puerile excuse that they wanted to explain their point of view is unacceptable Political Parties hold their own meetings to explain their position to the public. We go to Jantar Mantar to show our solidarity with the victims of forced  displacement,  and  the  illegal  actions  of   the   government  on  the deprived poor.  The parties do not go to the sit in of a person they are now wanting to deride and ridicule. Of course I agree that Anna Hazare has full rights to muster support and arouse masses and exercise his democratic rights – and to put pressure on the government and even the parliament, to pass a particular law because the ultimate sovereign are the people. But there is a caveat that this discussion requires a calmer atmosphere. Could the parties unanimously agree to adjourn the discussions to be after the pressure of U.P. Elections is over with a pledge to pass the legislation as first item when it begins the next session. 
As a measure of his genuine concern for strong Lokpal Anna Hazare, on his part, one hopes would reciprocate by not going on fast. He can rest assured that peoples determination to have a strong Lokpal is not so weak, as to let government avoid its solemn pledge to pass the bill in the next session of the parliament – if the government further prevaricates it most know that consequences could be monumental and no government can remain in permanent confrontation with its real masters, the people of India.    
DATED: 28/12/2011
New Delhi.

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