‘The separation of East Pakistan was due to a series of misconceptions and mishandled events.’
In this exclusive interview with SouthAsia Executive Editor, Faizan Usmani, Colonel (R) Z.I. Farrukh talks about the events and factors that led to the separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan.
Please shed some light on your military career as well as your experience while serving in East Pakistan.
As a young captain, I was posted to East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) on secondment. I reported to HQ EPR on September 30, 1970 and was appointed General Staff Officer – 3 Intelligence (GSO-3 (I)) in the same HQ. The EPR, consisting of about 15,000 men of all ranks, were deployed along the borders and in the main cities, for assisting the civil government in maintenance of law and order. Except for some officers, technicians and settler JCOS, its over 95% strength comprised Bengalis.
My main task was to receive information, record, mark it on the map and disseminate it, as directed by the superior officers. My job provided me with a wide canvas extended over all of East Pakistan, with an opportunity to learn the entire situation progressively, from the beginning to the end. I remained on the job throughout my posting, i.e. October 01, 1970 to December 16, 1971. This period covers all upheavals, including tidal wave of November 1970, General Elections in December 1970, the political activities of confronting parties, the launching of Operation Searchlight on March 25, 1971, the ensuing civil war from April to November 1971, followed by the war with India in December 1971. I also participated in many operations while commanding the soldiers.