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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 10:26 GMT
Pakistan declassifies 1971 war report
Journalists reading report
The report covers a dark period in Pakistan's history
By Zafar Abbas in Islamabad

The government in Pakistan has declassified the report of a judicial commission about the military and political causes of the country's defeat in the 1971 war.

The 1971 war with India and the military action in what was then East Bengal that preceded the actual conflict is regarded by many people as one of the darkest chapters of Pakistan's history.

Pakistan lost its eastern wing in the war, which became Bangladesh, and nearly 90,000 troops were taken prisoner by India.

Inquiry

Those in the country's western wing, which is what remains of Pakistan, were simply shocked.

Following demands for a thorough inquiry, a high-level judicial commission under Hamoodur Rahman was set up to look into the political and military causes of the defeat.

It took the inquiry commission a little over two years to prepare the report, but the civilian and military authorities immediately described it as a highly-sensitive document and its publication was disallowed.

Now that the report has been declassified after some of it was leaked to an Indian magazine, it is not difficult to understand why the authorities were opposed to its publication.

Highly critical

The report seems to spare no-one, including the man who ordered the inquiry - the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

It describes the former military ruler, General Yahya Khan, as a womaniser and a drunkard and calls for the court martial of several senior military commanders of that time.

But even though the present military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has taken a bold step by declassifying the commission's report, he has clearly indicated that he does not plan to take action on the basis of events that took place nearly 30 years ago.

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See also:

15 Dec 00 | South Asia
Dhaka expels Pakistani diplomat
12 Sep 00 | South Asia
Hasina surprised by Musharraf 'snub'
30 Aug 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh requests war report
31 Jul 00 | South Asia
Pakistan after the coup: Special report
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