History of Top Leadership Blunders in Pakistan Part 1

What are the key sources of the current crises faced by Pakistan? Can any of these be traced to blunders committed years ago by Pakistani leaders?

Pakistan's Gen AK Niazi Signing Surrender in East Pakistan

Was it a blunder for Pakistan's founders to align with the United States early on? What was the alternative for a nascent cash-strapped state that faced imminent economic collapse? Who other than the United States had the deep pockets to help Pakistan in 1947 when the Soviet Union, Europe and Japan lay in ruins at the end of WW II? Would the construction of big dams and irrigation system in Pakistan have happened without the US help? Would the Green Revolution have come about if the US did not help?
US Aid in 66 Years

Was the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949 among the blunders of Pakistan's early leaders? Did it distract from framing an inclusive and unifying constitution of the nation-state? Did it promote religious discrimination and extremism in the country? Was the 2nd amendment to the 1973 Constitution declaring Ahmedis non-Muslims a logical consequence of it?

Did the failures of Pakistan's political class open the doors for military coups starting with the 1958 coup led by General Mohammad Ayub Khan? How did the military coups led by General Yahya Khan, General Zia ul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf impact Pakistan? Could these coups have been avoided?

What led to the loss of Pakistan's eastern wing and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971? Was it a political failure or a military failure? Was it orchestrated by India with the help of Shaikh Mujib ur Rehman starting with Agartala Conspiracy in 1960s? Was it a blunder for Gen Zia to join the United States and Saudi Arabia in support of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet Union in 1980s? Did it promote militarization of religious fanatics in Pakistan? Was it a mistake for Benazir Bhutto to give birth to the Taliban?

Did Musharraf blunder by siding with the United States after Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks in America? What was the alternative? Would the porous Afghan-Pakistan border allow Pakistan to be a silent observer?

Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

US Aid to Pakistan

1971 Debacle in East Pakistan

Is it 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History?

Mission RAW by RK Yadav: India in East Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto Gave Birth to Taliban

What if Musharraf Had Said No to US After 911?

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said…
Islam and the State: A Counter Narrative
by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi


The situation which has been created today for Islam and Muslims in the whole world by certain extremist organizations is an evil consequence of the ideology taught in our religious seminaries, and also propagated day and night by Islamic movements and religious political parties. The true understanding of Islam, in contrast to this, has been presented by this writer in his treatise Mizan.[1] This understanding actually constitutes a counter narrative. It has been repeatedly pointed out by this writer that when in a Muslim society anarchy is created on the basis of religion, the remedy to this situation is not advocacy of secularism. On the contrary, the solution lies in presenting a counter narrative to the existing narrative on religion. Its details can be looked up in the aforementioned treatise. However, the part of it which relates to Islam and the state is summarized below.

1. The message of Islam is primarily addressed to an individual. It wants to rule the hearts and minds of people. The directives it has given to the society are also addressed to individuals who are fulfilling their responsibilities as the rulers of Muslims. Hence, it is baseless to think that a state also has a religion and there is a need to Islamize it through an Objectives Resolution and that it must be constitutionally bound to not make any law repugnant to the Qur'an and Sunnah. People who presented this view and were successful in having it implemented actually laid the foundations of a permanent division in the nation states of these times: it gave the message to the non-Muslims that they are in fact second rate citizens who at best occupy the status of a protected minority and that if they want to demand anything from the real owners of the state must do this in this capacity of theirs.

2. It can be the dream of every person that countries in which Muslims are in majority should unite under a single rule and we can also strive to achieve this goal but this is not a directive of the Islamic shari'ah which today Muslims are guilty of disregarding. Certainly not! Neither is khilafah a religious term nor its establishment at the global level a directive of Islam. After the first century hijrah, when celebrated jurists of the Muslims were among them, two separate Muslim kingdoms, the Abbasid kingdom in Baghdad and the Umayyad kingdom in Spain had been established and remained so for many centuries. However, none of these jurists regarded this state of affairs to be against the Islamic shari'ah. The reason is that there is not a single directive found on this issue in the Qur'an and the Hadith. On the contrary, what everyone, including this writer, does say is that if at any place a state is established, rebelling against it is a heinous crime. Such is the horrific nature of this crime that the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that a person who does so dies the death of jahiliyyah.[2]
Riaz Haq said…
2 yrs before 1971 #India-Pakistan war, #RAW chief told Indira Gandhi to be ready for Pakistan’s partition. India’s interventionist strategy was already been in place before events in #EastPakistan exploded. #Bangladesh


In an April 1969 intelligence cable, he (RN Kao) had foreseen an impending crisis across the border:

The authorities would have to resort to large-scale use of the Army and other paramilitary forces in East Pakistan to curb a movement, which has already gained considerable strength. The use of force is likely, in turn, to lead to a situation where the people of East Pakistan, supported by elements of the East Bengal Rifles (who are known to be sympathetic towards the secessionist movement as evidenced from the recent East Pakistan Conspiracy Case), may rise in revolt against the Central Authority and even declare their independence … although this possibility may not be immediate at present, it would be desirable that the Government of India should think about the policy it should adopt in such an eventuality and keep its options open.

Kao’s implied advice to exploit a crisis should it arise seems to fit comfortably with Indira Gandhi’s security seeker role. In contrast, the higher levels of the MEA were taking a more conservative view. Senior officials argued that Pakistan’s unity was in India’s interest, and hoped that the Awami League would emerge as the dominant political voice of a unified Pakistan, which in turn would change Pakistan’s external behaviour towards India. A classic exposition of this view was reflected in India’s then high commissioner to Islamabad, Krishna Acharya, who cabled Delhi on 2 December 1970 shortly after elections had been held in Pakistan. Given the relentless hostility of a West Pakistani-dominated government, Acharya argued that majority control of the National Assembly by the Bengalis seemed ‘to be our only hope for achieving our policy objectives towards Pakistan and overcoming this stonewall resistance of West Pakistan’. And, ‘in order that this hope may become a reality, however, it is essential that Pakistan (with its East Pakistan majority) should remain one, so that we may pursue our policy objectives through the leaders of East Pakistan’.

Not only did the Indian envoy espouse the virtues of Pakistani unity, albeit reformed under the influence of moderate Bengalis, he underscored the grave dangers and geopolitical risks of an independent Bangladesh, which might demand unity with India’s adjacent province of West Bengal, and that such a united Bengal was likely to come under the influence of pro-China Naxalites. Acharya warned that India’s ‘strategic and defence problems will be multiplied manifold’ by a breakup of Pakistan. Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul also felt ‘that India should do nothing to encourage the separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan but he added that it did not lie in India’s hands to stop it’. Sections of the mainstream media too favoured non-interference. For example, Girilal Jain, a leading journalist, suggested that ‘two propositions—a declaration of interest in Pakistan’s unity and an attempt to persuade the two superpowers not to interfere in its affairs’—could serve as policy guidelines as they did for Nehru.

Riaz Haq said…
India’s espionage agency RAW lifts the veil on its founder Rameshwar Nath Kao with this biography
An excerpt from ‘RN Kao: Gentleman Spymaster’, by Nitin A Gokhale.


There are many reasons cited in public domain why R&AW was created. However, in absence of any official document in public domain on the subject, we will never know the exact reasoning given by RNK in a detailed note to Mrs Gandhi in late 1967 or early 1968.
That background note is still classified. K Sankaran Nair, RNK’s closest friend and colleague, has, however, written a longish passage in his book as to why and how R&AW came into being. Nair’s contention in his book is based on his personal knowledge and memory. He wrote, “As often happens with bureaucracy, the right hand does not know what the left hand does. Sometimes it cuts its nose to spite the rivals’ face, in the course of turf wars.”

Nair was referring to what he calls a minor conflict that had erupted in 1965 between the army and the Bureau over intelligence turf immediately after the war with Pakistan. Apparently, Army Chief General JN Choudhry sent a strong paper to the minister of defence, YB Chavan. His main point was that the Army could not land a decisive blow on Pakistan because precise intelligence was not available since collection of intelligence was entrusted to “flat-footed Çlouseaus of the IB”.

The paper argued that military intelligence should be the preserve of military men who should be posted abroad in Indian missions abroad to collect information, replacing the IB representatives. Defence Minister Chavan agreed with these views but the cabinet did not pursue the matter at that time.


Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had given him a free hand except for two conditions. Firstly, the new organisation should be a multidisciplinary one and should not draw its higher personnel exclusively from the IPS. Secondly, the top two posts would be filled at the discretion of the prime minister from within the organisation or from outside.
Nair, who many old timers of R&AW describe as RNK’s alter ego, wrote, “Within a few months, Ramji produced his magnum opus, defining the proposed structure of India’s CIA. The designation of the personnel was to be in secretariat terms. The Chief was to be a Secretary and the junior ranks were to run down the line to the rank of Under Secretary.” Nair claimed that the then Cabinet Secretary, DS Joshi, suggested that the organisation be called R&AW in order to camouflage it and be attached as a wing of the Cabinet Secretariat.
Riaz Haq said…
Nadeem F. ParachaUpdated January 26, 2020Facebook Count


“...historian and author Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash argues in his essay for the June 5, 2016 issue of Political Economy, that latter-day ‘leftists’ who censure the resolution are largely unfamiliar with the idea of Islam held by the founders of Pakistan.

He writes that this idea was radically different from the one held by ‘Islamists’ from the 1970s onward. He gave the example of how Mian Iftikharuddin, a staunch secularist and socialist, defended the Objectives Resolution when it came under attack in the assembly by non-Muslim members.

Like Jinnah, Iftikharuddin described Islam as a ‘progressive and democratic faith’ which, when applied politically, would benefit Pakistan’s ‘Muslim and Hindu have-nots.’
PM Liaquat Ali Khan insisted that the resolution was opposed to theocratic rule and was greatly mindful of minority rights, Islamic scholar Abul Ala Maududi was not amused.

The Objectives Resolution was a preamble of Pakistan’s first constitution passed in 1956 and then again of the 1973 constitution. But Burki points out that the 1956 constitution was not even half as ‘Islamic’ as the 1973 one. This is because, as some commentators have noted, the meaning of Islam in the political context began to dramatically mutate from the mid-1970s, becoming more populist and then stringent (compared to what it was in the 1950s and 1960s).”
Riaz Haq said…
The fall of Dhaka: PM Hasina revives blame game against Pakistan
Sajjad Shaukat


Asoka Raina in his book, ‘Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service’, discloses, “Indian intelligence agencies were involved in erstwhile East Pakistan…its operatives were in touch with Sheikh Mujib as the possible ‘Father’ of a new nation-Bangladesh, who went to Agartala in 1965. The famous Agartala case was unearthed in 1967. In fact, the main purpose of raising RAW in 1968 was to organise covert operations in Bangladesh. Indian army officers and RAW officials used Bengali refugees to set up Mukti Bahini. Using this outfit as a cover, Indian military sneaked deep into East Pakistan…the story of Mukti Bahini and RAW’s role in its creation and training is now well-known…RAW had established the network of a separatist movement through ‘cells’ within East Pakistan and military training camps in Indian territory adjoining East Pakistan…carrying out acts of sabotage against communication lines so that Indian forces simply marched in at the ‘right’ time…conducting unconventional guerrilla acts against the Pakistani defense forces.”

It is mentionable that before the 1971 war, Mujibur Rahman had announced a separate national flag for East Pakistan in his six points which also included that currency of East Pakistan should be different along with a separate military.

His six points created prejudice among Bengali people especially against West Pakistan. The famous slogan, during his addresses and rallies was, “Punjabi dogs go back.” It was due to Mujib’s instigation that besides Punjabis, Bengalis had also tortured and killed Biharis, Pashtoons and Balochis, while their women were raped.

Now, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid and her ruling party Awami League have continuously been pursuing Indian directions by conducting anti-Pakistan campaign.

Since Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajid came into power; New Delhi has been employing various tactics to entrap Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its strategic interests. In this respect, after passing of 42 years to the events of 1971, which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan, Abdul Qadir, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was hanged because of his loyalty to Pakistan. Executions of Mujadid and Chaudry of JI were also part of the same scheme.

The tragedy of dismemberment of East Pakistan was aimed at creating a compliant country through Indian trained and financed terrorists (Mukti Bahini) who had killed thousands of Pakistanis in cold blooded activities.

In this regard, while addressing a ceremony during his Bangladesh tour, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly stated on June 7, 2015 that Indian forces helped Mukti Bahini to turn East Pakistan into Bangladesh. He elaborated that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had played an active role in separating Bangladesh from Pakistan, and he had also come to Delhi in 1971 to participate in the Satyagraha Movement, launched by Jana Sangh as a volunteer to garner support for the Mukti Bahini members.

Like PM Modi, in the past, former Indian premier Indra Gandhi also admitted India’s role in the separation of East Pakistan.

At present, Prime Minister Modi is trying to implement the same job in Pakistan’s Balochistan province where RAW is supplying arms to the separatist elements and is encouraging the anti-Pakistan Baloch leaders to continue opposing the federation of Pakistan.

Nevertheless, Indian leadership by manipulating the concerns of Bangladesh army over the raising of “Jatiyo Rakhi Bahini” (National vanguards) in 1972, once again created volatility in Bangladesh by patronizing the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. The supplementary purpose of the incident was to make 1974 tripartite agreement dormant, as by the agreement Sheikh Mujib, had wished cordial relations among Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Riaz Haq said…
Henry Kissinger on the #US involvement in the events of 1971: "In November (1971), the Pakistani president (Yahya Khan) agreed with Nixon to grant independence (to East Pakistan) the following March (1972)". #India #Pakistan #Bangladesh https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/11/kissinger-order-and-chaos/506876/

Goldberg: Was the opening to China worth the sacrifices, the deaths, experienced in the India-Pakistan Bangladesh crisis?

Kissinger: Your question on Bangladesh demonstrates how this issue has been confused in our public debate. There was never the choice between suffering in Bangladesh and the opening to China. It is impossible to go into detail in one far-ranging interview. However, allow me to outline some principles:

The opening to China began in 1969.
The Bangladesh crisis began in March 1971.
By then, we had conducted a number of highly secret exchanges with China and were on the verge of a breakthrough.
These exchanges were conducted through Pakistan, which emerged as the interlocutor most acceptable to Beijing and Washington.
The Bangladesh crisis, in its essence, was an attempt of the Bengali part of Pakistan to achieve independence. Pakistan resisted with extreme violence and gross human-rights violations.
To condemn these violations publicly would have destroyed the Pakistani channel, which would be needed for months to complete the opening to China, which indeed was launched from Pakistan. The Nixon administration considered the opening to China as essential to a potential diplomatic recasting towards the Soviet Union and the pursuit of peace. The U.S. diplomats witnessing the Bangladesh tragedy were ignorant of the opening to China. Their descriptions were heartfelt and valid, but we could not respond publicly. But we made available vast quantities of food and undertook diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation.
After the opening to China via Pakistan, America engaged in increasingly urging Pakistan to grant autonomy to Bangladesh. In November, the Pakistani president agreed with Nixon to grant independence the following March.
The following December, India, after having made a treaty including military provisions with the Soviet Union, and in order to relieve the strain of refugees, invaded East Pakistan [which is today Bangladesh].
The U.S. had to navigate between Soviet pressures; Indian objectives; Chinese suspicions; and Pakistani nationalism. Adjustments had to be made—and would require a book to cover—but the results require no apology. By March 1972—within less than a year of the commencement of the crisis—Bangladesh was independent; the India-Pakistan War ended; and the opening to China completed at a summit in Beijing in February 1972. A summit in Moscow in May 1972 resulted in a major nuclear arms control agreement [SALT I]. Relations with India were restored by 1974 with the creation of a U.S.-Indian Joint Commission [the Indo-U.S. Joint Commission on Economic, Commercial, Scientific, Technological, Educational and Cultural Cooperation], which remains part of the basis of contemporary U.S.-India relations. Compared with Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the sacrifices made in 1971 have had a far more clear-cut end.
Riaz Haq said…

BBC's Owen Bennet Jones has detailed #Bhutto's role in getting #Pakistan in 1965 & 1971 wars to blame & weaken #PakistanArmy for his own political ambitions. ZAB was "so convinced of his own greatness and indispensability that he did not believe the generals would dare hang him"

"On 12 May 1965, Zulfikar wrote to Ayub about the ‘relative superiority of the military forces of Pakistan in terms of quality and equipment’ and warned that India’s capacity was increasing with every passing day.64 The military balance, in other words, was bound to tilt ever further in Delhi’s favour. Zulfikar also insisted that after its defeat by China in 1962 the Indian military was demoralised and in no position to open a general war against Pakistan – any military action would be restricted to Kashmir.65 It was now or never. In July 1965, Ayub decided to act. Bhutto had advocated it, but Ayub decided to do it. The infiltration of Kashmir outlined in Operation GIBRALTAR began, and, on 10 August, a body that no Kashmiri had previously heard of, the Revolutionary Council, called on the people people to rise up against their Indian occupiers. However, when the militants contacted supposedly sympathetic clerics, they found that most were reluctant to help.66 From Pakistan’s point of view, the initial results of Operation GIBRALTAR were disappointing. But they were about to get a lot worse: the Indian prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, launched an offensive crossing the 1947 ceasefire line in Kashmir, preventing further infiltration and cutting off the militants’ supply lines. Zulfikar urged Ayub to carry on fighting, arguing that failure to do so ‘would amount to a debacle which could threaten the existence of Pakistan’.67 His anti-Indian rhetoric reached new heights"

GIBRALTAR was followed inexorably by GRANDSLAM. Initially the Pakistani Army offensive went well, but the military leadership in Rawalpindi was relying on its extraordinarily complacent assumption that India would not extend the fighting beyond Kashmir. But that is exactly what India did, opening up a 50-mile-wide front near Lahore, launching an offensive in Sindh and making a drive for the Pakistani city of Sialkot. Ludicrously, Pakistan’s planners were taken by surprise. In a matter of hours all thoughts of offence were abandoned as the priority became saving Lahore.

Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (pp. 65-66). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (p. 78). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

It was at this stage that Zulfikar played a significant role in the unfolding events. At a duck shoot in Larkana, Zulfikar complained to Yahya that he had named Mujib as prime minister without first consulting him. Yahya not unreasonably replied that Mujib would be prime minister......

If Mujib stuck to the Six Points, the military would be left with only one democratically elected leader whom they could that their legs would be broken.108 Increasingly, it seemed that Zulfikar wanted to create a situation in which he was supreme in West Pakistan and Mujib was supreme in East Pakistan. He hardly helped dispel that perception by reportedly saying at one rally, ‘udhar tum, idhar hum’, literally, ‘you there, we here’. Many took that to mean he envisaged two countries, although Zulfikar and his supporters insist to this day that he was only making the less controversial point that Mujib had a majority in the east and he had one in the west. Others claim he never said it at all,109 although that has been contradicted by one eyewitness, who insisted that he did say it but that the remark was taken out of context.110 As attitudes hardened, Zulfikar could now see that his route to power once again was through the military. If Mujib stuck to the Six Points, the military would be left with only one democratically elected leader whom they could consider acceptable: Zulfikar himself. In other words, he could rely on the military to propel him to power. Unwilling to have a National Assembly with the PPP absent, Yahya decided to postpone the session. Many of his advisers thought it was a mistake and predicted a ferocious backlash in East Pakistan – which did indeed come to pass. On 2 March the US Consulate General in Dhaka reported on the popular reaction in East Pakistan: ‘It would be impossible to over-estimate sense of anger, shock and frustration which has gripped people of east wing. They cannot but interpret postponement as act of collusion between Yahya and Bhutto to deny fruit of electoral victory to Bengali majority.’111 Yahya, however, believed that a whiff of grapeshot would bring the East Pakistanis back into line,112 a view which showed how little he understood of the state of public opinion there.

Had he (ZAB) won an overall majority, Zulfikar would not have hesitated to form a government. But he considered Mujibur Rahman’s insistence that he be allowed to do just that ‘intolerably rigid’. As Yahya failed to find a way to reconcile the two politicians, military action became ever more likely. Zulfikar could not be sure what the military would do and feared that the army might try to put together an alliance of religious and right-wing parties and tempt some PPP National Assembly members to join them.

Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (pp. 78-79). Yal
Riaz Haq said…
Fifty Shades Of Khaki - Open The Magazine

Christine Fair on Hamood ur Rehman report on 1971 war in East Pakistan


Bhutto ordered an investigation into a war that his own behaviour had precipitated by refusing to acknowledge the results of the 1970 general election in which the Awami League had secured an outright majority (162) of the 300 seats contested. Given that this election was for a constitutive assembly, the Awami League had a mandate to prosecute many of its election promises, such as greater decentralisation of power and separate currencies in the two wings. Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) won a meagre 80 seats, which was not enough to even veto what the Awami League may have proposed. It was widely known that Bhutto had collaborated in denying Sheikh Mujibur Rahman his victory with General Yahya Khan, the military leader who had followed General Ayub Khan in contravention of Pakistan’s tattered constitution. Bhutto’s constituting this commission seems a bit like a dacoit ordering a compliant police inquiry into his own crimes to exonerate himself of wrongdoing.

Most people—especially those who never read the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report—believe that successive Pakistani civilian and military regimes alike had kept the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report classified because it exposed the extent of the Pakistan army’s atrocities in East Pakistan. Indeed, the report does concede that senior Pakistani officers looted banks and engaged in other property theft. It even recommends public trials and even court martial for some senior officials, which were never carried out. Those seeking a blow-by-blow account of the Pakistan army’s rapacious and genocidal brutality during the war will be disappointed and are better off perusing scholarly accounts of the war, such as those authored by Gary Bass and Srinath Raghavan.

In fact, the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report exculpates the army of the most serious offences and outright rejects Mujibur Rahman’s claim that troops raped 200,000 Bengali women. What is the dispositive evidence for rubbishing this claim? The report notes that “[T]he abortion team [Mujibur] had commissioned from Britain in early 1971 found that its workload involved the termination of only a hundred or more pregnancies” (page 513). It also cast aside the claims of the Bangladesh government that the army killed three million Bengalis as “altogether fantastic and fanciful” (page 513). Instead, the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report proffered the figure, supplied by the Pakistan army, to be approximately 26,000 deaths (page 513). In contrast, it alleged that “Awami League Militants” were far more barbarous and accused them of slaughtering between 100,000 and 500,000 of “helpless Biharis, West Pakistanis and patriotic Bengalis living in East Pakistan” during the war (page 508).

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