Comment on Mr Clemons’ note on the Pakistan military after the Rawalpindi attack

From Facebook:

Mr Clemons has made interesting and astute observations on Pakistan’s military following the Rawalpindi attack of the last few days.

But some political history is important. Pakistan’s military between 1947 and 1971 had built up an illusion that it could, with help from Patton tanks and Sabre jets and Starfighters, defeat India (one Pakistani is equivalent to 9 Indians etc etc).

In Dec 1971, despite the machinations of Nixon and Kissinger with the Pakistani strongman Yahya Khan, a free Bangladesh came to be born from the old colonized East Pakistan. 90,000 Pakistani POWS languished in Indian camps for more than a year (after being protected by India from Bangladeshi revenge).

The debacle led to some candid soul-searching and the official Pakistani inquiry commission squarely blamed debauchery and corruption in the Army from Yahya Khan downwards for bad generalship. Bangladesh seceded from West Pakistan essentially because of internal political contradictions, e.g. the imposition of Urdu on Bengali-speakers etc. Certainly Indian military help proved vital at the end but India did not cause the secession. (I was personally helping at a refugee camp as a schoolboy volunteer, when Ted Kennedy flew in to visit etc… stories for another time).

The Pakistan military has maintained a self-delusion that India caused the break-up of the original Pakistan and that India harbours similar designs to this day. India neither does nor has the capacity or motivation to do so.

The second factor was that Zia, who succeeded Yahya as military strongman and US ally, brought in Islamisation of the officer-corps as a counterweight to the trends of debauchery and corruption. These might be two crucial subjects for discussion if US discussants decide to go on a reflective retreat with Pakistan’s top military brass.


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