After the surrender of Bangladesh, President of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto set up a War Inquiry Commission on 26th December, 1971. The Commission was headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Hamoodur Rahman, and included two other senior judges.  The task set out to this commission was to inquire about the circumstances under which the Commander of the Eastern command surrendered to the Indian Army, leading to Armed Forces of Pakistan laying down their arms.

After having examined 213 witnesses, the Commission submitted its report in July 1972. This report was well researched and thorough.  It included interviews from 213 people including

– Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi  – Commander Eastern Command

– Major General Farman Ali, Jamshed and the generals holding commands of divisions

– Rear Admiral Sharif, senior most Naval Officer

– Air Commodore Inam, senior most Air Officer

– Mr. Muzaffar Hussain, Chief Secretary

– Mr. Mahmood Ali Chaudhry, Inspector General of Police

The report, first submitted to Bhutto on 12th July, was reopened in 194 after some of the crucial actors of the war were released.   reopened in 1974. However, it was not made public by Bhutto or the Army rulers who took over governance after his hanging. The detailed report of 1972 remained declassified, and so did the supplementary report from 1974 until 2000, when it was published in an Indian magazine. Following this the report was allowed to be published in Pakistan newspapers. In the year 2000, Bangladesh formally demanded that the report be shared but Pakistan authorities maintained that it was classified and so the contents have not been officially shared at any forum by the government of Pakistan.


The Report submitted that the defeat suffered by the armed forces was not a result of military factors alone, but had been brought about as the cumulative result of political, international, moral and military factors. The political developments that took place between 1947 and 1971, including the effects of the two Martial Law periods, hastened the process of political and emotional isolation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan. The report identified vehement assertions made before the Commission by a large number of witnesses, including highly placed and responsible Service Officers.  It stated that due to corruption arising out of the performance of Martial Law duties, 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 not only lost the will to fight but also the professional competence necessary for taking the vital and critical decisions demanded of them for the successful prosecution of the war. The report went on to analyse the reasons behind the moral degeneration of senior members of the armed forces and deduced that the process was set in motion by their involvement in Martial Law duties in 1958, that these tendencies reappeared and intensified when Martial Law was imposed in the country once again in March 1969 by General Yahya Khan, and that there was indeed substance in the allegations that a considerable number of senior Army Officers had not only indulged in large scale acquisition of lands and houses and other commercial activities, but had also adopted highly immoral and licentious ways of life which seriously affected their professional capabilities and their qualities of leadership. This background tried to give context to the corrupt practices which were carried out by these and other officers before and during the war in East Pakistan. It says that the Army remained involved in the running of administrative affairs even after a civilian governor Dr. A.M Malik was appointed.  But General Niazi was a much stronger personality with not much respect for the civilian Governor or his authority. Therefore, the Army virtually continued to control civil administration. The report thus maintains that the involvement of the Pakistan Army in Martial Law duties and civil administration had a highly corrupting influence, seriously detracting from the professional duties of the Army and affecting the quality of training which the Officers could impart to their units and formations, for the obvious reason that they did not have enough time available for this purpose, and many of them also lost the inclination to do so.

Another evidence of corruption highlighted by the report is the dependence of the Army on the land and its resources which belonged to the locals of the area. The repot mentions that initially, the Army had to make do without adequate logistic arrangements, and was compelled to take its requirements of food grains and other essential supplies from civilian sources. This became a habit later on and the practice was made into a norm, resulting in the officers looting shops and godowns and freely using the property of the locals. This behavior was approved by the senior army officials, as General Tikka Khan was reported to say that “what have I been hearing about shortage of rations? Are not there any cows and goats in this country? This is enemy territory. Get what you want. This is what we used to do in Burma.”

The report goes on to share glaring cases of moral lapses among the army men, which included allegations made against Lt. Gen. Niazi. It was alleged by witnesses that not only had he made money in the handling of Martial Law cases while posted as G.O.C Sialkot and later as G.O.C and Martial Law Administrator at Lahore but he had a reputation of having relationships with several women of questionable repute, some of them openly ran brothels. The witnesses maintained that his behavior encouraged several junior officers under his command who also followed the same practices. Niazi and his son was also found to be involved in illegal trade of Beatle leaves (Paan) from West to East Pakistan.

Further evidence disclosed that some officers and their units were involved in large scale looting, including theft of Rs. 1,35,00,000 from the National Bank Treasury at Siraj Ganj. This amount was intercepted by a JCO at the Paksi Bridge crossing when it was being carried in the lower part of the body of a truck.

Atrocities by Pakistan Army:

Through the testimonies collected by the commission, a detail of atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army was revealed in the report. Some of the areas highlighting this can be seen as under:

a) Excessive use of force and fire power in Dhaka during the night of the 25th and 26th of March 1971 when the military operation was launched.

b) Senseless and wanton arson and killings in the countryside during the course of the “sweeping operations” following the military action

c) Killing of intellectuals and professionals like doctors, engineers, etc., and burying them in mass graves not only during early phases of the military action but also during the critical days of the war in December 1971

d) Killing of Bengali Officers and men of the units of the East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles and the East Pakistan Police Force in the process of disarming them, or on pretense of quelling their rebellion

e)Killing of East Pakistani civilian officers, businessmen and industrialists, or their mysterious disappearance from their homes by or at the instance of Army Officers performing Martial Law duties

f) Raping of a large number of East Pakistani women by the officers and men of the Pakistan army as a deliberate act of revenge, retaliation and torture

g) Deliberate killing of members of the Hindu minority underwere verbal instructions to eliminate Hindus

These atrocities were completely blacked out at the time by the Government of Pakistan for fear of retaliation by the Bengalis living in West Pakistan. The Federal Government did issue a White Paper in this behalf in August 1971, but unfortunately it did not create much impact for the reason that it was highly delayed, and adequate publicity was not given to it in the national and international press.

A publication by Mr. Qutubuddin Aziz narrated harrowing tales of inhuman crimes committed on the helpless Biharis, West Pakistanis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis living in East Pakistan during that period. He estimates that 100,000 and 500,000 persons were slaughtered during this period by the Awami League militants. The life, property, and honour of even the most highly placed among the East Pakistanis were not safe. People were picked up from their homes on suspicion and “dispatched to Bangladesh”, a term used to describe summary executions. About the attitude of senior officers in this behalf, Brigadier Iqbalur Rehman Shariff (Witness no. 269), has alleged that during his visit to formations in East Pakistan General Gul Hassan used to ask the soldiers “how many Bengalis have you shot?”

Another grave misconduct mentioned in the report is the killing 2000 to 3000 intellectuals. The orders for their arrest was given by General Niazi, and when questioned, he submitted that he was handed a list of people by the agencies, who were supposed leaders of Mukti Bahini.

The report mentions that according to Bangladeshi authorities more than 300,000 people were killed and 200,000 women were raped by the Pakistan Army. The Pakistani figures suggest a total of 26,000 people as killed.

The report goes on to put the final and overall responsibility of the defeat as well as the atrocities committed on the civilians on General Yahya Khan, Lt. Gen. Pirazada, Maj Gen. Umar, Lt. Gen. Mitha. The report puts immediate responsibility for executing the plan of action in East Pakistan on Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan who succeeded Lt. Gen. Mohammad Yakub on the 7th of March 1971 as Zonal Administrator, Martial Law, as well as Commander Eastern Command. This last responsibility was passed on by him to Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi on the 7th of April 1971. From that day until the day of surrender, the troops in East Pakistan remained under the operational control of Lt. Gen. Niazi.


The report puts the responsibility of the alleged excesses and atrocities on those officers and men who physically perpetuated them or knowingly and deliberately allowed them to be so perpetuated. It says that these officers and men not only showed lack of discipline in disobeying the directives of the Eastern Command and Zonal Martial Law Administrator, but also indulged in criminal acts punishable under the Army Act as well as the ordinary law of the land.

The report then goes on to give a detail of disciplinary actions suggested to be taken against various junior and senior army officers according to the testimonies and accounts of those interviewed. The nature of Disciplinary Action takes into account several provisions in the Pakistan Army Act 1952 having a direct bearing on these matters.  There is mention of section 24 which is in the following terms: – “24. Offences in relation to enemy and punishable with death as well as section 25 which covers offences in relation to the enemy and not punishable with death”. Finally, the report talks about this section: “55. Violation of good order and discipline – Any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct, disorder and of military discipline shall, on conviction by court martial, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.”

Further, the report outlines cases which required Action by Way of Court Martial, and stresses on its findings on the surrender of well-defended strong points and fortresses without a fight, desertion of  area of responsibility by a Divisional Commander, disintegration of brigades and battalions in frantic and foolish efforts to withdraw from certain posts, and abandoning of the wounded and sick. The report recommends such court martial for General A K Niazi on following grounds

(i) That he willfully failed to appreciate the imminence of all-out war with India, in spite of all indications to the contrary

(ii) That he displayed utter lack of professional competence, initiative and foresight, expected of an Army Commander of his ran, seniority and experience, in not realising that the parts of his mission concerning anti- insurgency operations and ensuring that “no chunk of territory” was to be allowed to be taken over by the rebels for establishing Bangladesh

(iii) That he displayed culpable negligence in adopting the concept of fortresses and strong points without fully understanding its technical implications

(iv) That he was guilty of criminal negligence in not including in his operational instruction No. 4 of 1971, issued on the 15th of July, 1971, any clear directive for a planned withdrawal of forces

v) That he in fact showed wilful neglect and culpable negligence of the worst order in failing to make any positive plan for the defence of Dacca

(vi) That he displayed lack of generalship and mature judgement in requiring his subordinate commanders

(vii) That he displayed culpable negligence and wilful disregard of established principles of warfare


A detailed set of suggestions is presented in the report, pointing out Acts under which each of those responsible for the surrender of East Pakistan should be tried and punished.

However, the report remained classified until 2000, and the Pakistani authorities have not taken any steps to accept its defeat, the atrocities which are proven to have been committed by the Pakistan Army over its own citizens in East Pakistan.

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