Manekshaw was ‘true friend of Bangladesh’, Dhaka daily

June 29th, 2008 - 1:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 29 (IANS) Former Indian Army chief Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was “a true friend of Bangladesh” without whom “things could have been different for us”, a Dhaka daily newspaper said, paying tribute to the man who scripted the country’s liberation from Pakistan in 1971. “We pay tribute to Sam Manekshaw. A gentleman soldier, one given to wit that matched his seriousness, he was committed to our cause. Had he not been around in 1971, things could well have been different for us. He was our true friend and ally and will always be our pride, just as he is India’s, and a source of inspiration for all of us in Bangladesh,” the Daily Star said in an editorial Sunday.

“All Indians will remember for long the singular contributions he made toward upholding the prestige of their country through shaping a military victory against Pakistan in 1971,” it said.

“For the people of Bangladesh, Manekshaw remains, and will remain, a shining symbol of friendship in a time of their greatest need,” the English language daily said.

Manekshaw was India’s army chief in 1971. The joint India-Bangladesh forces led by Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, then head of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command, and Bangladesh’s Col. M.A.G. Osmany carried out the military campaign Dec 3-16 that culminated in the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops and the creation of Bangladesh.

“As the chief of the Indian Army, he was one individual who acknowledged early on in 1971 the odds the people of Bangladesh were up against in their war of liberation against a genocidal Pakistan army.”

“It was through his unparalleled commitment to the cause of justice for Bengalis that he was able to strategise the course of a war which would culminate in the liberation of Bangladesh,” the newspaper said of Manekshaw.

“Yet it is also remembered by the people of this country that Manekshaw brought no jingoism to bear on the battle plans he shaped in 1971,” the editorial said, recalling that Manekshaw had been “honest” in telling the then Indian leadership that it should not make haste in launching military operations in the then East Pakistan.

In December 1971, “Pakistan gave him a convenient reason to hit back when its air force struck Indian cities on the western front in early December. Less than a fortnight later, half of Pakistan was gone and Bangladesh emerged, bloodied but unbowed, as a free nation,” the newspaper observed.

Manekshaw, the iconic architect of India’s 1971 military victory over Pakistan, died early Friday at a military hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. He was 94.

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