Qamar Javed Bajwa said that the sacrifices of those who fought in the war were not recognised in Pakistan

Outgoing Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday said that the country’s surrender during the 1971 war with India was not a military but a political failure, the Dawn reported.

“I want to correct the record,” Bajwa said during an annual event of the Pakistan Army. “The number of fighting soldiers was not 92,000, it was rather only 34,000, the rest were from various government departments.”

The 1971 India-Pakistan War, also known as the Bangladesh Liberation War, was sparked by the rebellion in the erstwhile East Pakistan against the government in Islamabad. Since March of that year, Bengali nationalists had been fighting a brutal crackdown by Pakistani forces on the civil and political rights of the Bengali population.

Then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had provided support to the Bangladesh cause for months but the Indian military formally engaged in a full-scale war with Pakistan on December 3, 1971.

On December 16, 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with his troops, surrendered to the allied forces consisting of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini in Dhaka. The day is observed in Bangladesh as ‘Bijoy Dibosh’ and marks the country’s formal independence from Pakistan.

On Wednesday, Bajwa claimed that “34,000 troops” fought valiantly against the 2,50,000 Indian army soldiers, and 2,00,000 trained Mukti Bahini fighters.

“They fought valiantly despite all odds and offered unprecedented sacrifices,” Bajwa said. “Their sacrifices were not recognised in Pakistan, which was a great injustice.”

During Wednesday’s event, Bajwa admitted that the Pakistan Army, for seven decades, had “unconstitutionally interfered” in the country’s politics, according to the Dawn.

Bajwa was appointed to the post in 2016 for a period of three years. In November 2019, his term was extended for another three years.