General Niazi: A Hero or A Villain? Part-1

Bangladesh War of Independence

With so many controversies going around about the fall of Dhaka, our son of soil General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi is portrayed as the man who surrendered willfully to the enemy. While going through the following excerpts from different credible sources, any sensible reader can assess that the brave general was framed and left with no options but to surrender:

Excerpt from Wikipedia:
“Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi (1915 – February 2, 2004) was a Pakistani military commander who was notable for surrendering to Indian forces in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.

Born to a Pathan family in the Punjab, Niazi enlisted in the British Indian Army as a junior officer, and fought well during World War II. During this conflict, the young Niazi would win a Military Cross and be given the nickname “Tiger” by his superior officer due to his prowess in battle against Japanese forces. His Military Cross was earned for actions along the border with Burma, in which he showed great leadership, judgment, quick-thinking, and calm under pressure.

He would join the newly-formed Pakistani Army after Independence in 1947 and quickly rose through the ranks, earning various awards including the Hilal-e-Jurat twice. By 1971 he had reached the rank of Lieutenant-General. He was sent in that year to East Pakistan in April following a Pakistani military crack down on Bengali intellectuals. The army leader in East Pakistan at that time Tikka Khan was thought to be behind the implementation of the crack down, and Niazi had condemned the action. Despite this, the situation in the East was difficult, as Bengali forces in the Pakistani Army had gone into mutiny, large segments of the population were hostile, and an independence movement was gaining steam among the Bengalis. Despite this, Niazi was able to reaffirm Pakistani control over wide parts of East Pakistani territory, opening the window for a political solution to the turmoil – this would not come to fruition.

The crack-down against the Bengalis had gone too far, and the result saw Pakistani forces involved in a guerrilla war with Bengali Mukti Bahini who were aided by India. This would lead to later Indian involvement in the conflict, and a full-scale invasion of the Eastern wing of Pakistan by India, resulting in isolation for Niazi’s forces, and with the absence of external aid, eventual surrender.

On December 16, 1971, General Niazi surrendered all Pakistani forces in East Pakistan to Indian General Jagjit Singh Aurora. Niazi along with a sizable number of Pakistani soldiers were taken prisoner, and many would not be freed until two years later, with Niazi symbolically being the last prisoner of war to cross back to Pakistan. Such actions symbolized his reputation as a “soldier’s general” but did not shield him from the scorn he faced upon his return to Pakistan, where he was viewed as a scapegoat.

Niazi was stripped of his military rank, and the pension usually accorded to retired soldiers. In order to clear his name, Niazi sought a court martial, but it was never granted. The former general would try to take up politics in order to clear himself, but he was jailed in order to quell such actions. In 1998 he released The Betrayal of East Pakistan where he blamed Yahya Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for the separation of East Pakistan. ”

Excerpt from Times Online UK:

“Pakistani general who fought the overwhelming might of India in Bengal in 1971 and was never forgiven by his country for losing.”

March 11, 2004

A SINGLE day in the life of Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi of Pakistan overshadowed a distinguished career and cast a pall over the rest of his life. On December 16, 1971, Niazi, as commander of the Eastern Command, signed the surrender document that ended the 1971 war between India and Pakistan in East Pakistan (Bangladesh).

That moment made him a focus for India’s triumphalism, Bangladesh’s hatred for West Pakistan and Pakistan’s humiliation.

In the bitter break-up of Pakistan the public forgot that as a young officer in the British Indian Army, Niazi had won an on-the-spot Military Cross for exceptional bravery after action on June 11, 1944, in the Kekrima area of the Assam-Burma front.
That spring, the 14th Army under General Slim had halted the advance of the Japanese at the battle of Imphal and elsewhere in bitterly fought actions along the Burma front.

Describing Niazi’s gallantry in the citation for the MC, his commanding officers wrote at length of his judgment about the best course of action, which they accepted, his skill in taking the enemy completely by surprise, as well as his personal leadership of his men, coolness under fire, ability to change tactics, create diversions, extricate his wounded and withdraw his men. At the Bauthi-Daung tunnels, Niazi impressed his commanding officers so much that they wanted to award a DSO. He was, however, too junior. A “mention” had to suffice.

The nickname “Tiger” was given him by Brigadier D. F. W. Warren, commander of 161 Infantry Brigade, after a ferocious fight with the Japanese.

After independence Niazi became a highly decorated general in the Pakistan Army, twice receiving Pakistan’s highest military honour, the Hilal-e-Jurat. When he was sent to East Pakistan in April 1971, General Tikka Khan had already launched a brutal crackdown against Bengali rebels. Niazi condemned this but was saddled with the consequences: mutiny among Bengali regiments, a totally hostile population and Pakistan’s tarnished reputation.

Yet, in a couple of months under him the Eastern Command systematically regained the territory, creating the opportunity for a political settlement — though none was ever achieved.

Instead Niazi and his men found themselves fighting a protracted guerrilla war against Bengalis, aided by India and eventually involved in a full-scale war with India. The small, battle-weary Eastern Command, cut off from headquarters, with meagre resources, put up a valiant fight against India’s overwhelming might, but the outcome of such a contest was never in doubt. Pakistan’s failure to secure external assistance or UN intervention sealed its fate.

Niazi’s reputation as a “soldier’s general” lasted to the end. After spending two years as a prisoner of war in India, he was the last to cross the border after the repatriation of prisoners. He then found himself vilified in his own country for losing the war with India.

His requests for a court martial to clear his name were never granted. He was removed from the army and stripped of pensions, without trial. When he entered politics to try to be heard, he was jailed.

Niazi was born in a Pathan family in Punjab. He lived his last years quietly in Lahore. His memoir, The Betrayal of East Pakistan, was published in 1998.

His wife predeceased him. He is survived by their five children.”

More on this in Part-2 of this post.

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11 Responses to General Niazi: A Hero or A Villain? Part-1

  1. shoaib khan afridi says:

    It is totally unjustified to blame one human being(dear general niazi) for Bangladesh. Pakistan army was surrounded by india,bangali rebel army and supply to bangladesh was blocked as it is 7000 kilometers far and pakistani planes were not blocked to pass india and reach bangladesh. All bangali were in civil disobedience. So it is shameful and unjustified to blame one human being for all this.All pakistanis and bangali to blame.Soldiers are also human beings.NO FOOD AND NO WATER AND NO BULLET REACHING THERE.eVEN BIG COUNTRIES LIKE GERMANY IN WORLD WAR,us IN VIETNAM AND IN AFGHANISTAN,RUSSIA IN AFGHANISTAN AND INDIA IN azad kashmir FAILED. SO i pray that Allah rest his soul in peace AMEEN,he is not responsible for bangladesh

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  2. shoaib khan afridi says:

    It is totally unjustified to blame one human being(dear general niazi) for Bangladesh. Pakistan army was surrounded by india,bangali rebel army and supply to bangladesh was blocked as it is 7000 kilometers far and pakistani planes were COMPLETELY blocked to pass india and reach bangladesh. All bangali were in civil disobedience. So it is shameful and unjustified to blame one human being for all this.All pakistanis and bangali to blame.Soldiers are also human beings.NO FOOD AND NO WATER AND NO BULLET REACHING THERE.EVEN BIG COUNTRIES LIKE GERMANY IN WORLD WAR,US IN VIETNAM AND IN AFGHANISTAN,RUSSIA IN AFGHANISTAN AND INDIA IN azad kashmir FAILED. SO i pray that Allah rest his soul in peace AMEEN,he is not responsible for bangladesh

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  3. imran says:

    Shaer ki Aik din ki zindagi geeder ki 100 sala zindagi sa bahtar ha
    Agar General niazi larte hue mara jata to qayyamat tak qom usko shaheed or hero smajhte or duain dati lanat ha aise decipiline per k tiger ko jackal bana dia. larte hue mare jana izzat or dushman ki qaid ma waqt guzarna zillat ha
    wah tiger niazi angraiz k lia to bare karname sar anjam dia or qom ki dafa geeder ban gae
    agar tum bhartio ka hathon mare jate to ye zillat tumhara muqadar na banti
    Allah taala ham sab ko izzat ki zindagi or mot da
    Amin

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    • Shahzad Niazi says:

      98000 Foji thy us waqt Akela Niazi Nahi thaa.Wo khud tu shaheed ho jata lekin pher tum jese Log khete agar surrander kr deta tu 98000 Army bach jati.batean krna Asaan hai Lekin kisi maa k lal ko apni ankhun k samnay marte dekhna boht mushkil hai jb wo tumhari waja se mar raha ho

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    • kamran says:

      Sorry you are wrong, the two *&^%$#@! bhutto and dog yahya khan were responsible for all this.

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    • Ajwad Niazi says:

      Oya hav u any prof to say this and talk with respect don’t send lanats

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  4. Haibat Khan says:

    @ imran:

    Dear! Probably you don’t have read the history about this great General properly and are commenting here blindly. After the creation of Pakistan, General Niazi joined Pak Army and served in all major battles winning twice the Hilal-e-Jurat (more prestigious than Sitar-e-Jurat) in both wars of !948 and 1965. It was in 65 war, that he was called the “Lion of Chawinda”. That answers your poisnous feeling that he served the British only and not Pakistan. What happened in 1971 is yet another feather in the cap of this brave soul; the details are well known to everyone. Bhutto was the major culprit and being a field commander Gen. A.A.K. Niazi led his troops bravely for eight months against overwhelming odds. Even Indians praise his bravery and leadership during 1971. Here is the link for ignorant like you: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_24-11-2003_pg3_5. I am sure if he led those 45,000 soldiers to death on that day, people like you would have called him a fool for doing so without any objective. People like you are never happy with others’ deeds in any condition, whatsoever.

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  5. zaim says:

    I feel sad reading the rhetorical statements about Mr. Niazi. He was never given a chance to defend himself. Also, I do not see any material proof provided by his detractors (during Hamood ur Rehman investigations)to assure whether he indulged in licentous immoral behaviour or the alledged smuggling of PAN from east pakistan. Since we have not botherd to take his side of story, I feel he should be given the benefit of doubt. However, I feel he should have died fighting in east pakistan rather than surrendering. He fought well for the British but failed when he was needed to fight for Pakistan.

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  6. Arslan khan niazi says:

    The gr8 warrior of pakistan army gen niazi separation of east pakistan the main role of zulfqer ali bhtto and chief of army staff gen tikka khan both are jackels

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  7. Ajwad Niazi says:

    He was my grandfather.He surrenderd because all the pakistanis were against him and he don’t have the government support so that is why he said why should i lose my soilders when my country is not with me that is why he surrenderd by the way he was not issakhal he was from sarwarkhal.Now stop posting all that bulshit against him.

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