Go Back to Liberation War 1971 home
NEWS FROM BANGLADESH, January 26, 1999
The diabolical role Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan played during 1971
By - A.H. Jaffor Ullah
I wrote quite a few articles centering the diabolical role played by Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan in our struggle to boot out the occupation army from our soil. During the entire period (March 26, 1971 through December 16, 1971), I was in the US attending graduate school. Reading all sorts of news report those days, I was more than convinced that the genocide of Bengalis was not the work of one or two persons like Gen. Aga M. Yahya Khan and Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan. The entire West Pakistani military establishment of the time was backing the inebriate president Gen. Yahya Khan to purge and kill millions of Bengalis all over the occupied Bangladesh
Unfortunately, the government of Pakistan headed by Z.A. Bhutto in 1972 blocked the publication of an investigative report by Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman and his commission. Until now, only a handful of people in Pakistan has read that report. Most likely none of them are alive today. Supposedly, the military establishment and Bhutto himself were implicated in the dismemberment of united Pakistan. Knowing how much damage it could do to the demoralized nation, the government of Pakistan had decided to classify the entire document.
Because of the censor of this important document, we had to rely on news analysis, biographies, interviews, etc. to reconstruct what really did happen in December 1970. Because it was in the aftermath of the general election of December 7, 1970, some very important army personnel in the ranks of Major General and Lt. General met in a hastily arranged meeting in the cantonment in Rawalpindi. Several references had been made in the biographies written by some Pakistanis. In one of those references, it was clearly mentioned that the meeting was chaired by Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan. I do not have that book in my possession, but I read it some passage in a website in 1997 or 1998. In that meeting all the participants agreed that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (SMR) cannot be trusted and as such should be barred from taking the charge of Pakistan. Gen. Yahya Khan did not attend this important meeting. Gen. Yahya Khan was informed of the outcome of this meeting.
A Pakistani octogenarian journalist by the name Ardeshir Kawasjee (Sp.?) wrote a very important and informative article in Dawn several years ago. In that article he clearly mentioned that Z.A. Bhutto with the aid of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan dismantled the united Pakistan. I had the chance to attend a symposium in Washington D.C. in April 1998 to honor late Prof. Feroz Ahmed of Sindh. While attending the symposium, I talked to several Pakistani scholars about our struggle for independence in 1971. Most of them agreed that the upper echelon of Pakistani military (mostly Punjabis and Pathans) engineered the breakup of Pakistan with the political backing of Z.A. Bhutto. Under this scenario, how one can say that Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan was unblemished and did not participate in Bengali genocide?
It is true that Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan was not seen in the killing fields of the occupied Bangladesh. Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan and Lt. Gen. A. Niazi were the two who were seen in Dhaka during the nine-month period. But we should focus more on what devious role Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan played sitting in the comfort of his military buddies in Rawalpindi. And that includes Gen. Hamid who was the chief of Pakistani military at the time. Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan called that crucial meeting right after the election result in the second week of December 1970. He headed that meeting and he might have been the most influential army general present in that meeting. For everything that had transpired after that crucial meeting leading up to the crackdown of March 26, 1971, I squarely point finger at Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan. He gave that crucial intellectual support necessary to form the opinion by the Pakistani army top brass that a Bengali politician could not be trusted at the helm. They recommended a military solution to the political problem of the renegade province East Pakistan (from the perspective of West Pakistan).
Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan is an extremely shrewd person. In a five part Rediff Interviews (July 18-20, 1997) Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan talked about his life and philosophy, but never did he mention the diabolical role he played behind the scene. He must have been very perturbed right after the breakup of Pakistan during questioning session of Justice Hamoodur Rahman Commission, otherwise he would not be writing to Gen. Osmani asking for a testimonial. I am very surprised to hear that Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan wrote a letter to his old pal Gen. Osmani. (In his memoir, Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan printed a letter written by Gen. Osmani sometime in early 1972. This letter addressed to Gul Hassan was a reply from Gen. Osmani in which the Bangladesh army chief cleared Osmani from any wrongdoing during 1971). Because, those days there weren't any direct mail service between Pakistan and Bangladesh. I personally know this because I used to relay mails for Bengalis stranded in Pakistan and send those mails to Bangladesh. Another curious thing is -- why did Osmani write that letter? Pakistan did not recognize Bangladesh then. Gen. Osmani will be taking a big chance to draft that letter and send it to Islamabad. Think about it for a moment. Besides, Gen. Osmani was not in a position to know what role Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan played all through our struggle in 1971 sitting in a remote place in Rawalpindi cantonment.
Another point should be considered here. Right after the fall of Dhaka Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan and his friend Air Marshall A.R. Khan went personally to Yahya Khan. Jointly they plotted a coup in which Yahya Khan was deposed. They also asked Z.A. Bhutto to assume the office of President of Pakistan. Z.A. Bhutto immediately after taking the office gave Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan the grand prize by making him the chief of demoralized Pakistan army. There was a secret entente between Bhutto and Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan from the very beginning right after the declaration of election result in December 1970.
I would ask Mr. Nawaz Sharif, the present Prime Minister of Pakistan, to declassify the report of Justice Hamoodur Rahman Commission. There lays the truth. But I am afraid Pakistani army will not allow Mr. Nawaz Sharif to declassify the document and let the world see this very important document.
Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan lives part of the year in Austria and his family members living in Austria have access to Internet. The articles I wrote were posted in soc.culture.Pakistan too. Why is this venerable octogenarian mum so far?
In summary, the planning of Bengali Genocide was the work of Pakistani military generals and Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan was a very willing player right from the beginning. He never did protest the gratuitous killing of Bengalis. At least, I have not seen one article or protestation letter coming from him. He is not the person I could trust before or for that matter now. He knows very well that his hands are stained with the blood of Bengalis, although, he was not the General who pulled the trigger. The world knows very well that Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan was the trigger man. Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan, however, gave the intellectual support and leadership that made the Bengali Genocide a reality. Let us not be self-deceived saying that this individual is clean because he never entered occupied Bangladesh during 1971. Such a simplistic notion would give this person a clean bill of health and it will be a litany of lie.