Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, was a political failure and not a military one, said General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistan outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) said on Wednesday.
“The army’s performance and actions in Bangladesh during the 1971 civil war are topics that most people avoided,” he added.
The number of soldiers fighting was not 92,000 but 34,000 - the others were in different government departments, he claimed, adding that these 34,000 were heavily outnumbered by an Indian army of 2,50,000 soldiers and a 2,00,000-member Mukti Bahini, reports Dawn.
“Against these heavy odds, our army fought bravely and gave exemplary sacrifices which were acknowledged by the Indian army chief, Field Marshal Manekshaw,” General Bajwa said.
Pakistan has not yet owned up to these sacrifices, he said, calling it a “great injustice”.
“Taking advantage of this occasion, I salute these martyrs and will continue to do so. They are our heroes and the nation should be proud of them,” he added.
General Bajwa will be retiring from his post by the end of November. He was appointed as Pakistan’s army chief in 2016 for a three-year tenure, which was extended by another three years.
He dedicated a major portion of his speech to political matters, saying that he often wondered that the Indian army carried out the most human rights violations in the world but “their people seldom make them the target of criticism”.
“In contrast to that, our army which day and night remains busy in serving the nation, is often made the subject of criticism,” he said. “A major reason for this is the army’s interference in politics for the last 70 years which is unconstitutional.
“This is why in February last year the army, after great deliberation, decided that it would never interfere in any political matter. I assure you we are strictly adamant on this and will remain so.”