May 24 1971

Pakistan: Polishing a tarnished image

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"We have been maligned," declared the Pakistani armed forces intelligence chief, Major-General Mohammad Ak- bar Khan. The General’s complaint, delivered to half a dozen foreign journalists in Karachi, concerned the widespread reports of army brutality in the effort to crush the seven week old Bengali rebellion in East Pakistan. Incensed by what it describes as "concocted items put out by foreign press and radio," the government staged a series of briefings and a fast four-day helicopter tour of the East to get the "correct" story across.


The West Pakistan government has good reason to fret about its image. Since the crackdown on the breakaway state of Bangla Desh began late in March, at least 2,00,000 have died—almost all of them Bengalis. In addition, more than 1,500,000 Bengalis have fled to India, and those who have stayed behind are threatened with an approaching famine that the government does not seem anxious to combat. Most outside observers have laid the responsibility for the East Pakistan tragedy to the hobnail-tough martial law imposed by Lieut.-General Tikka (meaning "red hot") Khan. The West Pakistani dominated government insists that the army has saved the country, not destroyed it. Bengali rebels acting "in high conspiracy with India, were tearing through East Pakistan with tactics reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers", and the army was forced to step in to prevent a blood-bath.

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