Times (London)

August 01 1971


The ‘plot’ against Yahya Khan

Murray Sayle

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The “civilians” joking with the soldiers guarding the airport as they wait for their sidearms to be returned are out of the same seamier Vietnam mould; heavily built bruiser types with gold rings, big moustaches and the thick- soled squeaking chappli sandals worn on the North-West Frontier. They collect their weapons, check that they are loaded, and slip them into holsters which bulge under their loose-hanging tropical shirts. Outside the air terminal they are picked up by men in smaller unconvincing civilian turnouts, sub-machine guns slung over their shoulders, and driven away in looted cars whose number-plates are covered with black paint.

There is a good reason why this sounds like a bad parody of Vietnam. These men belong to the Pakistan Special Forces, established by men who trained with the US Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the days when Pakistan was America’s “free-world” ally against Communist and Gary powers was flying over the Soviet Union from Peshawar. The Pakistan Special Forces are a rechciuffee of the American original, John Wayne in curry sauce, with 50 ten-man teams trained in sabotage, demolition, interrogation, assassination and other useful kinds of dirty work. Parachuted into the Indian-held part of Kashmir or slipping over the border, they triggered off the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, but totally failed to arouse the hoped-for Kashmir Insurrection.


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