To: Commander Jamalpur Garrison, 10 December 1971

In late November 1971, the Indian Army decisively invaded East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in support of the Bengali resistance army, the Mukti Bahini (‘freedom fighters’).

At Jamalpur, near Dhaka, the Indian brigadier, Hardit Singh Kler, surrounded a Pakistani unit led by Lt. Colonel Ahmed Sultan. On 10 December the two officers exchanged letters. The first, written by the Indian brigadier, was taken across the front line by an elderly man who delivered it by hand.

To,

The Commander Jamalpur Garrison

I am directed to inform you that your garrison has been cut off from all sides and you have no escape route available to you. One brigade with full compliment of artillery has already been built up and another will be striking by morning. In addition you have been given a foretaste of a small element of our air force with a lot more to come. The situation as far as you are concerned is hopeless. Your higher commanders have already ditched you.

I expect your reply before 6.30 p.m. today failing which I will be constrained to deliver the final blow for which purpose 40 sorties of MIGs have been allotted to me.

In this morning’s action the prisoners captured by us have given your strength and dispositions, and are well looked after.

The treatment I expect to be given to the civil messenger should be according to a gentlemanly code of honour and no harm should come to him.

An immediate reply is solicited.

Brigadier HS Kler. Comd.

The reply was sent a few hours later:

Dear Brig,

Hope this finds you in high spirits. Your letter asking us to surrender had been received. I want to tell you that the fighting you have seen so far is very little, in fact the fighting has not even started. So let us stop negotiating and start the fight.

40 sorties, I may point out, are inadequate. Ask for many more.

Your point about treating your messenger well was superfluous. It shows how you under-estimate my boys. I hope he liked his tea.

Give my love to the Muktis. Let me see you with a sten in your hand next time instead of the pen you seem to have such mastery over,

Now get on and fight.

Yours sincerely

Commander Jamalpur Fortress.

(Lt. Colonel Ahmed Sultan)

The next morning the fight did indeed begin when Lt. Colonel Sultan tried to break out of his garrison. Over 230 of his men were killed. They died in vain. When the Indian brigadier had written ‘your higher commanders have already ditched you’, he was absolutely right. The military and political leadership in Dhaka already knew that the war was lost….

Pakistan’s hopeless military situation on the ground was matched on the diplomatic front. The Indians’ diplomatic position would have been far worse if [Gen.] Yahya [Khan] had acted with greater speed and determination to isolate Delhi for what was, after all, a blatantly illegal invasion of a foreign country. Amazingly, Yahya failed to raise the Indian invasion of Pakistan formally at the UN Security Council. He probably feared that any ceasefire resolution would include a provision that he had to negotiate with the Awami League–something he was determined to avoid. But whatever the rationale, it was a significant blunder.

The Security Council did nevertheless discuss the situation in East Pakistan but successive resolutions were vetoed by either Russia or China. The Russians, backing India, wanted any resolution to include commitments for a transfer of power to the Awami League; the Chinese, backing Pakistan, did not. In his capacity of foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went to New York but was unable to affect the course of events. With Pakistan’s unity on the verge of destruction and frustrated by the Russians’ Security Council vetoes, Bhutto decided to make the best of a bad job and strengthen his own political position back at home. On 15 December he told the Security Council that he would never address them again. As he ripped up some Security Council papers, he asked: ‘Why should I waste my time here? I will go back to my country and fight.’ It was the speech of a leader in waiting.

SOURCE: Pakistan: Eye of the Storm, 2nd ed., by Owen Bennett Jones (Yale Nota Bene, 2002), pp. 178-181

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17 Comments

Filed under India, Pakistan, war

17 responses to “To: Commander Jamalpur Garrison, 10 December 1971

  1. Asad

    we lost that war due to army leadership of that time, but reason for war were provided during Ayub’s period.
    lets not talk About army as a institution but some persons detoriated its image

  2. Bahadur Fauj

    Salute to Commander Jamalpur Garrison.Even though we lost the war our Army is very brave and have jazba e shahadat which indian army lacks.

  3. Musa Khan

    surely wen one is out numbered by a several times greater enemy wat can he do? the indians claim a glorious victory in east pakistan bt they dnt see the troop balance 13 divisions against an undermanned pakistani corp of 3 divisions. moreover we resisted the indians and mukti bahini collectively for 9 months let it b in the form of counter-insurgency,border clashes or general war. all credit goes to the pakistan army and not to the propaganda -backed, heavily-suffering indians and their clandestine mukti bahinis.

  4. I, Capt Retd Ali Muhammad Bangash was the engineer officer of 31 Baloch ( Jamalpur Garrison ).The name of our Commanding Officer was Lt Col Raja Sultan Ahmed,SJ. He died as Brigadier Retd,SJ Bar.Before his death he had written and published ” The Stolen Victory “.I am Lt Ali of that book.
    Main Bazar Hangu, KPK, Pakistan.

    • mr ali bangash, the jamalpur defenders, though many died, is a glorious chapter in the annals of pakistan army, no matter what the indians say but the brave soldiers destiny is to rise and fight for ones soil, no matter whether death meets him or not, i salute you as a member of jamalpur defences, my father was a brigade commander of 107 brigade and he told me about how the jamalpur garrison fought, we are proud of our warriors

  5. From: Capt Retd Ali Muhammad Bangash, ex engineer officer,31 Baloch,Jamalpur Garrison.
    I have reproduced both letters of Brig Kleir and Col Sultan in my book ” Jhinai Bridge Ka Mareka”.

  6. I have photographs of my late Commanding Officer Raja Sultan Ahmed, SJ Bar.How to publish them on this page.Guide me on my e mail address which is “alimuhammadbangash@yahoo.com”.Thanks

  7. After receipt of orders from our higher command we broke through the besieging enemy on night 10/11 December 1971 and suffered enormous casualties.

  8. Anybody interested in detail of Jamalpur Garrison should read the following:-
    The Stolen Victory by Brigadier Raja Sultan Ahmed of Gujar Khan
    Rise to Revenge by Major Farooque Bangash
    Sarfarosh Ayubi ( 31 Baloch ) by Lt Col Retd Dr. Jan e Alam
    Matti Ka Qarz by Ali Muhammad Bangash
    Jhinai Bridge Ka Mareka by Ali Muhammad Bangash
    http://www.battle of Jamalpur.com
    http://www.batle of kamalpur .com

    • JEHANZEB

      SIR-I WAS OF LIDDLE HART FOLLOWER “THAT HISTORY IS WEARY” . BUT WE HAVE LIVING LEGENDS TO EMANATE OUR GLORY OR BRAVE TRUTHS. MAY ALLAH BLESS YOU.(AMIN).

  9. Join me on my face book,” Ali Muhammad Bangash Ali”.

  10. Major (R) Ali Muhammad Shah

    Dear Ali Muhammad Bangash,
    On your insistance I am writing my book namely ‘Defence of Kamalpur’ covering details of my operation on night 31 July-01 August and Capt Ahsan Siddique defence on 2-4 December. I will send draft to you to give your views on my book.
    Regards,
    Major Ali

  11. Now that Major Retd Ali Muhammad Shah and Col Retd Ahsan Siddique Malik have under-taken to write our version, it will balance every thing out.

  12. Dr Fiaz Mughal( Gold medalist)

    I personally appreciate the action of comd Jalalpur Brig Sultan, sj and bar on his dedication and bravery may Allah rest his soul in heaven

  13. Mansoor Azam

    All respects to you who fought and are writing it down for us. The facts should come to us through your pen who knew.
    If i can get the ISBN numbers of above written publications
    regards

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