Solving the Puzzle

By Nikhat Sattar | February 2021


Brigadier A.R. Siddiqi (Retd.) is no stranger to those who like to keep up with historic events related to the Pakistan Army. He has written several articles and books, the most recent of which is a valuable addition to documents on acts of omission and commission by the key personalities responsible for the breakup of Pakistan. In this book, Siddiqi puts into place pieces of the jigsaw puzzle: the actions of Gen. Yahya Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mujibur Rehman during the years leading up to the 1971 war.

As a former Director General of the Pakistan Armed Forces’ ISPR (Inter–Services Public Relations), and being associated with Gen. Yahya Khan over many years, the author gives an objective account of both the 1965 and 1971 wars and, unlike most writers, does not hesitate to mince his words. He places the responsibility of the army’s decision not to take over the strategic location of Akhnur in the 1965 war, a move that would have won the war for Pakistan, squarely upon Gen. Yahya’s shoulders. Yahya had decided not to proceed, simply because “he was not tasked for it.” During his two year rule as President, Gen. Yahya made a number of strategic and tactical errors that cost the country dearly.

The Armed Forces have run Pakistan for almost half its life and controlled it from behind the scenes for the remaining period. The sentiment voiced by Gen.Yahya to Brig. Siddiqi in 1961: “The armed forces are all we have in one piece. .... We are very fortunate to be in uniform” may seem to be still valid by many. As the book walks the reader through stages in Yahya’s career and the author’s life, it provides interesting insights into the working of the army.

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