East Pakistan debacle of 1971 ‘military failure’: Pak foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks, being seen as a veiled jibe at the former chief of the army, came at a rally organised to mark the 55th Foundation Day of his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

New Delhi,UPDATED: Dec 1, 2022 17:29 IST

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said 90,000 troops were taken prisoner in the war due to ‘military failure’ (File)

By India Today Web Desk: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called the 1971 East Pakistan debacle a “colossal military failure”, days after Pakistan’s former Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa termed it a “political failure”. Bilawal’s remarks, being seen as a veiled jibe at the former chief of the army, came at a rally organised to mark the 55th Foundation Day of his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

To mark the occasion, the PPP chief revisited the history of his party, recounting the achievements of its founder – his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

“When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over the government, the people were broken and had lost all hope,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper, reported news agency PTI.

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“But he rebuilt the nation, restored the confidence of the people, and finally brought our 90,000 troops – who had been made prisoners of war due to ‘military failure’ – back home. Those 90,000 soldiers were reunited with their families. And that all was made possible because of the politics of hope, of unity and of inclusion,” he asserted.

Days before his retirement on November 29, Gen Bajwa called the East Pakistan loss a “political failure”, and said that the sacrifices of the troops were never properly acknowledged by the country.

He rejected that 92,000 Pakistani soldiers had surrendered in the war and claimed there were just 34,000 jawans, while the others were all part of different government departments.

“I want to correct the record. First of all, the fall of East Pakistan was not a military, but a political failure. The number of fighting soldiers was not 92,000, it was rather only 34,000. The rest were from various government departments,” Gen Bajwa had said.

In 1971, Pakistan suffered a humiliating defeat to India in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

(With input from PTI)

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