Taking Dhaka did not figure in Manekshaw’s plans: General Jacob
The Hindu, May 2007
In CNBC’s ‘India Tonight’ programme broadcast on April 30, Karan Thapar presented an interview with Lieutenant-General J.F.R. Jacob, who was Chief of Staff of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command during the Bangladesh campaign of 1971, and who was after his retirement Governor of Goa and Governor of Punjab, in the context of the Government’s decision to give Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw back pay for the period since his retirement from service over 36 years ago. There is a particular focus here on his role, as well as General Jacob’s role, in the Bangladesh campaign. This is an edited but substantially intact version of the transcript provided by CNBC:
Karan Thapar: Recently the Government gave Field Marshal Manekshaw a cheque for Rs. 1.6 crore in lieu of the salary he should have received as Field Marshal but didn’t get over the last 36 years. You have worked very closely with him. In 1971 when he was made Field Marshal, was he treated fairly or shabbily?
General Jacob: I think the Government was less than generous. He went out on a pension of Rs. 1,300 — that was Rs. 100 more than [that of] the Chief [of the Army Staff]. And no perks whatsoever, no car, nothing.
Karan: You met him a few days after his retirement. You called on him at the MES Inspection Bungalow. How did you find him?
Gen. Jacob: I found him sitting there dejected and looking very lonely. I asked him what the problem was, and he told me he had just returned after meeting Mrs. Gandhi and that he had asked to be made Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, which she declined. Instead she offered him the high commissionership in one of the Commonwealth countries, and he was very upset.
Karan: He was upset at being refused the Deputy Chairmanship. Did he explain why he wanted the Deputy Chairmanship?
Gen. Jacob: No, he didn’t explain it. But I pre-assume that he thought he would be able to do it. It’s an important job.
Karan: And it was the job he had set his heart on.
Gen. Jacob: Yes.
Karan: In fact, when Manekshaw visited Calcutta after retirement — by then you were the Army Commander in Calcutta — he didn’t even have a car and you put one at his disposal. But Jagjivan Ram, Defence Minister, ticked you off for that.
Gen. Jacob: Yes, he did. He said, why [are] you giving him a car he is not authorised [to use] as a Field Marshal? So I told him, look I am not giving him a car because he is Field Marshal; this is a courtesy I extend to all ex-Army Commanders of the Eastern Command.
Karan: But the Defence Minister of the day didn’t like the idea?
Gen. Jacob: No.
For Complete Text of the Interview, Click Here
Season for scandal
Paper and printed ink, that we commonly call the book, is one of the great visible mediators between spirit and time, and, reflecting zeitgeist, lasts as long as ore and stone -- J G Hamann
By Anjum Niaz
The News, June 1, 2007
Sure it does! All the sleaze once inked never washes off, no matter how hard the detergent. Scandals of presidents and prime ministers -- dead or alive -- are an open book today in Pakistan. Two scripts testify to wanton tales in wide circulation. The third is not a book but writ in stone. The writing on the wall shafts skipper Imran Khan for his days of infamy.
Behind every successful man lies a woman. I don't mean a mother or a wife. I mean a mistress /girlfriend/ lover -- or call it whatever. The 18th century German philosopher Johann Georg Hamann said that truth is a matter of subjective belief and that the written word reflects the zeitgeist or the spirit of the time, its intellectual and cultural climate. If that be so, then today's sexiest topic in Pakistan is sexiness itself. It's the season for scandal, the chief justice affair notwithstanding.
The gaunt and well-worn face of Imran Khan flames at Sita White stories that the MQM minions parade on the streets of Karachi. Last month it was Kalashnikovs, this month it's a white woman (dead and gone). When Khan was irresistible, which woman didn't swoon after him? At a poolside dinner in Ifti Ahmed's (the great cricket commentator) home in Kuala Lumpur, late 80s, one saw the local beauties line up. Imran was arrogant, all right. An insufferable egomaniac. Today, the aging Casanova pays a price for taking on Altaf Hussain. Will Imran turn puppy and scamper off or will this fight carry a prize?
But the biggest surprise is Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. A chuppa Rustum -- one didn't think he had it in him. I mean his DNA reveals no such sexual prowess as the surly Condi Rice snitches about Aziz to her colleagues and this Newsweek editor guy who has written a book on the US secretary of state. I think our president has more joie de vive than our staid prime minister. In any case Condi's imagination works overtime as it did when she called President Bush "my husband"! She blushed and mumbled "my mistake."
The media brouhaha began with Ayub Diaries. The field marshal has a field day trashing General Yahya Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) on the pages of his diary. Ayub's indiscretions never invited gossip, but those of us living in the outer stratosphere of the President's House in Pindi, saw one or two butterflies flit around Ayub with their husbands in tow. Remember Christine Keeler of the Profumo affair? General Joe (Yusuf), our envoy to UK, took the visiting president Ayub Khan to a pool party (are pools a turn on?) at Cliveden in July of 1961 where Keeler and John Profumo, a cabinet minister, ended up in a sex romp. When the story broke and the guest list spilled, our embassy in London fretted to fend the paparazzi off Ayub's back.
Ali Yahya, 61, and the only son of General Yahya Khan is red (literally) with rage at the abuse heaped on his father after the launch of Ayub Diaries. In his rapid style of ire, he tells me stories of Ayub and Bhutto that need heavy censoring. Some of the women associated with ZAB are still alive. Ali roundly blames ZAB for providing these women to his father when General Yahya ruled and ZAB would butter him. "My father was human; he couldn't resist being seduced by Mrs (so&so). The same women were then offered to me by him (ZAB)". Ali and his father's social diaries can cover volumes should any author be interested in the seamy side of politics and willing to spend hours in Ali's smoke-filled tiny study where walls shine with Yahya's war medals and sepia photos of splendour of the hour.
Brigadiers and generals would "drop their wives at the President's House saying they'd pick them up later." Ali remembers his father saying: "I will never promote these shameless husbands. If these men can't take care of their wives, how can they take care of the army?" But Yahya Khan too failed to "take care" of his country, so busy was he with women and wine.
Ali admits to defending something that is "indefensible." He acknowledges his father's carnal desires but what he's not willing to accept is that Yahya Khan was responsible for the break-up of Pakistan. "That 'honour' goes singularly to Bhutto (whom he despises)." The next hour is spent on how ZAB, who according to Ali, was drunk with power and whiskey, manoeuvred Yahya's ouster with the help of General Gul Hassan and Air Marshal Rahim -- "another drunk"; got Ali sacked from his job; wreaked vengeance by keeping Yahya a captive till his death, depriving him of his pension and lands.
"He's the same man who wormed his way to my wedding in October of 1971 and brought along a begum (I can't name the begum as she's still alive) to seduce my father."
Le Figaro, the leading French daily, wrote of 1971 debacle "Pakistan is a country which is ruled by pimps and prostitutes after dusk."
Muzaffar Abbas, president Farooq Leghari's media guru and an "adopted son" of Yahya Khan chips in: "I know things that even the son (Ali) doesn't know." He shows me citations for Hilal-e-Jurat awarded to both Ayub (1948-50) and Yahya (1965). Yahya scores over Ayub. Commanding Akhnoor, Jaurian and Chamb sector during 1965 war, Yahya is praised for his "persistent boldness, determination and devotion to duty." As C-in- C Yahya modernised and revved up the Pakistan Army, a fact none can deny.
Ali wants redemption for his father; hands me pages he's googled; I'm asked to read all the nice things that his father is credited with on the pages. "He became a brigadier at age 34!"
On a lonely dark road, the son's journey never ceases. Alone he must forever carry his father's cross, stopping to tell anyone caring to listen that Yahya Khan was not the demon that ZAB and Ayub Khan made him out to be.
A second-hand Mercedes is all Ali can buy. His modest home in Pindi's Westridge is a shrine where the spirit of Yahya predominates. Tabinda, his wife sits alone in a room watching TV. The garden is abloom outside; but inside I feel a strange empty sorrow; an unspoken kind of feeling that hangs heavy.
On my drive home, I think of the bottomless wealth, children of Ayub, ZAB, Zia and the top generals are luxuriating in. Ali Yahya missed the booty, but his angst is loud as a thunderbolt and can scorch with tawdry revelations (he told me all, but hey, it's a 1200 - word column). If ever he writes a book, you can read it all. Yahya Khan is fortunate to have fathered a son, who, as his sole spokesman, fiercely defends him 27 years later.
The writer is a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reporting. Email: email@example.com