Times (London)

August 01 1971


The ‘plot’ against Yahya Khan

Murray Sayle

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Proudly wearing their jaunty green berets, they would, until a few months ago, show visitors to their camp at Cherat near Peshawar how they could climb ropes and correspond in secret inks. Now Cherat is empty; they are all in East Bengal. The fact that the US Special Forces, having been a costly flop in Vietnam, and having been closely associated with many of the nastiest and most counter-productive episodes of torture and assassination in all that ghastly war, were finally all withdrawn last year, has apparently not got through to the military chiefs here. The Pakistan Special Forces’ presence in East Bengal is a sure guarantee of more atrocities and ever- mounting resistance.

For, despite General Yahya Khan’s claim that the military situation in East Bengal is “under control”, the Pakistan army is in fact making feverish preparations to meet the guerrilla challenge which is growing every day. Two more divisions are being hastily raised in West Pakistan and the staff officers’ course at Quetta has been cut from two years to one to double the output of junior officers. But, in relation to the size of their problem, these reinforcements are chicken feed. All the requirements of text-book guerrilla warfare are present in Bengal; a 1,500 mile border with India, almost all river, swamp, jungle or rice paddy; sanctuaries on the other side defended by the Indian Army eager for a fight; and a civil population friendly to the guerrillas and physically easy to distinguish from the army of occupation. No Giap, Grivas or Guevara ever had it so good.


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