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A. A. K. Niazi
A Single day in the life of Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi of Pakistan overshadowed a distinguished career and cast a pall over the rest of his life.On December 16, 1971, Niazi, as commander of the Eastern Command, signed the surrender document that ended the 1971 war between India and Pakistan in East Pakistan (Bangladesh).
In the bitter break-up of Pakistan the public forgot that as a young officer in the British Indian Army, Niazi had won an on-the-spot Military Cross (MC) for exceptional bravery after action on June 11, 1944, in the Kekrima area of the Assam-Burma front. Describing Niaziís gallantry in the citation for the MC, his commanding officers wrote at length of his judgment about the best course of action, which they accepted, his skill in taking the enemy completely by surprise, as well as his personal leadership of his men, coolness under fire, ability to change tactics, create diversions, extricate his wounded and withdraw his men. At the Bauthi-Daung tunnels, Niazi impressed his commanding officers so much that they wanted to award a DSO. He was, however, too junior. A "mention" had to suffice.
The nickname "Tiger" was given him by Brigadier D. F. W. Warren , commander of 161 Infantry Brigade, after a ferocious fight with the Japanese.
After independence Niazi became a highly decorated general in the Pakistan Army, twice receiving Pakistanís highest military honour, the Hilal-e-Jurat . When he was sent to East Pakistan in April 1971, General Tikka Khan had already launched a brutal crackdown against Bengalis. Niazi condemned this but was saddled with the consequences: mutiny among Bengali regiments, a totally hostile population and Pakistanís tarnished reputation. Yet, in a couple of months under him the Eastern Command systematically regained the territory, creating the opportunity for a political settlement - though none was ever achieved.
Instead,Niazi and his men found themselves fighting a protracted guerrilla war against Bengalis, aided by India and eventually involved in a full-scale war with India. The small, battle-weary Eastern Command, cut off from headquarters, with meagre resources, put up a valiant fight, but the outcome was never in doubt. Pakistanís failure to secure external assistance or United Nations intervention sealed its fate.
Niaziís reputation as a "soldierís general" lasted to the end. After spending two years as a prisoner of war in India, he was the last to cross the border after the repatriation of prisoners. He then found himself vilified in his own country for losing the war with India.
His requests for a court martial to clear his name were never granted. He was removed from the army and stripped of pensions, without trial. When he entered politics to try to be heard, he was jailed.
His wife predeceased him. He died on February 1, 2004, aged 89.He is survived by their five children.
- General Gul Hasan
- General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan
- General Mitha
- General Rao Farman Ali
- General Yahya Khan
- Instrument of Surrender
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