Major-General Rahim who sustained minor injuries while fleeing from Chandpur, was convalescing at General Farman's residence after initial medical treatment. He lay in a secluded part of the house. Farman was with him. It was 12 December, the nineth day of all-out war. Their minds naturally turned to the most crucial subject of the day: Is Dacca defensible? They had a frank exchange of opinion. Rahim was convinced that cease-fire alone was the answer.
During the discussion, Lieutenant-General Niazi and Major- General Jamshed entered the room to see the 'wounded General'. Rahim repeated the suggestion to Niazi, who showed no reaction. Till then the expectation of foreign help had not finally been extinguished. Avoiding the subject, Farman slipped into the adjoining room.
After spending some time with Rahim, General Niazi walked into Farman's room and said, 'Then send the signal to Rawalpindi.' It appeared that he had accepted General Rahim's advice, as he had always done in peace-time. General Niazi wanted Government House to send the cease-fire proposal to the President. Farman politely said that the requisite signal should go from Headquarters, Eastern Command but General Niazi insisted, 'No, it makes little difference whether the signal goes from here or from I have, in fact, some important work elsewhere, you send it from here.' Before Farman could say 'no' again, Chief Secretary Muzaffar Husain entered the room and, overhearing the conversation, said to Niazi, 'You are right. The signal can be sent from here.' That resolved the conflict.
General Niazi disappeared to attend to his 'urgent work' while Muzaffar Husain drafted the historic note. It was seen by Farman and submitted to the Governor who approved the idea and sent it to the President the same evening (12 December). The note urged Yahya Khan 'to do everything possible to save the innocent lives.'
Next day the Governor and his principal aides waited for orders from Rawalpindi, but the President seemed too busy to take a decision.
The following day (14 December), for which a high level meeting was fixed, three Indian MIGs attacked Government House at 11.15 a.m. and ripped the massive roof of the main hall.
The Governor, his cabinet and West Pakistani civil servants moved, on 14 December, to the Hotel Intercontinental, which had been converted into a 'Neutral Zone' by the International Red Cross.
14 December was the last day of the East Pakistan Government. The debris of the Government and Government House were scattered. The enemy had only to neutralize General Niazi and his disorganized forces to complete the Caesarian birth of Bangla Desh.
By now General Niazi, too, had lost all hope of foreign help. He slumped back into his earlier mood of despondency and hardly came out of his fortified cabin. He rode the chariot of time without controlling its speed or direction.
He therefore conveyed the factual position to the President (who was also Commander-in-Chief) and keenly waited for instructions.
The President of Pakistan and Chief Martial Law Admistrator found time from his multifarious engagements and ordered the Governor and General Niazi on the following day 'to take all necessary measures to stop the fighting and preserve lives.' His unclassified signal to General Niazi said Governor's flash message to me refers. You have fought a battle against overwhelming odds. The nation is proud of you and the world full of admiration. I have done all that is humanly possible to find an acceptable solution to the problem. You have now reached a stage where further resistance is no longer humanly possible nor will it serve any useful purpose. It will only lead to further loss of lives and destruction. You should now take all necessary measures to stop the fighting and preserve the lives of armed forces personnel, all those from West Pakistan and all loyal elements.
This important telegram originated from Rawalpindi at 1330 hours on 14 December and arrived in Dacca at 1530 hours (East Pakistan Standard Time).
General Niazi, the same evening, decided to initiate the necessary steps to obtain a cease-fire. As an intermediary, he first thought of Soviet and Chinese diplomats but finally chose Mr. Spivack, the US Consul-General in Dacca.
General Niazi asked Major-General Farman Ali to accompany him to Mr. Spivack because he, as Adviser to the Governor, had been dealing with foreign diplomats. When they reached Mr. Spivack's office Farman waited in the ante-room while Niazi went in. Farman could overhear General Niazi's loud unsubtle overtures to win Spivack's sympathies. When he thought that the 'friendship' had been established, he asked the American Consul to negotiate cease-fire terms with the Indians for him. Mr. Spivack, spuming all sentimentality, said in a matter of fact fashion, 'I cannot negotiate a cease fire on your behalf. I can only send a message if you like.'
General Farman was called in to draft the message to the Indi Chief of Staff (Army), General Sam Manekshaw. He dictated a full-page note calling for an immediate cease-fire, provided the following were guaranteed: the safety of Pakistan Armed Forces and of paramilitary forces; the protection of the loyal civilian population against reprisals by Mukti Bahini; and the safety and medical care of the sick and wounded.
As soon as the draft was finalized, Mr. Spivack said, 'It will be transmitted in twenty minutes.' General Niazi and Farman returned to Eastern Command leaving Captain Niazi, the aide camp to wait for the reply. He sat there till 10 p.m. but nothing happened. He was asked to check later, 'before going to bed' No reply was received during the night.
Manekshaw replied to the note on 15 December saying that the cease fire would be acceptable and the safety of the personnel mentioned in the note would be guaranteed provided the Pakistan Army 'surrenders to my advancing troops'. He also gave the radio frequency on which Calcutta, the seat of Indian Eastern Command, could be contacted for co-ordination of details.
Manekshaw's message was sent to Rawalpindi. The Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army replied by the evening of 15 December saying, inter alia, 'Suggest you accept the cease-fire on these terms as they meet your requirements... However, it will be a local arrangement between two commanders. If it conflicts with the solution being sought at the United Nations, it will be held null and void.'
The temporary cease-fire was agreed from 5 p.m. on 15 December till 9 a.m. the following day. It was later extended to 3 p.m., 16 December, to allow more time to finalize cease-fire arrangements. While General Hamid 'suggested' to Niazi that he accept the ceasefire terms, the latter took it as 'approval' and asked his Chief of staff Brigadier Baqar, to issue the necessary orders to the forma- full-page signal commended the 'heroic fight' by the troops and asked the local commanders to contact their Indian counterparts to arrange the cease-fire. It did not say 'surrender' except in the following sentence, 'Unfortunately, it also involves the laying down of arms.'
It was already midnight (15/16 December) when the signal was sent out. About the same time,
Back in Dacca, the fateful hour drew closer
Major-General Jacob brought the 'surrender deed' which General Niazi and his Chief of Staff preferred to call the 'draft cease-fire agreement.' Jacob handed over the papers to Baqar, who placed them before Major-General Farman. General Farman objected to the clause pertaining to the 'Joint Command of India and Bangla Desh'. Jacob said, 'But this is how it has come from Delhi.' Colonel Khera of Indian military intelligence, who was standing on the side added, 'Oh, that is an internal matter between India and Bangla Desh. You are surrendering to the Indian Army only.'
The document was passed on to Niazi who glanced through it without any comment and pushed it back, across the table, to Farman. Farman said, 'It is for the Commander to accept or reject it.' Niazi said nothing. This was taken to imply his acceptance.
In the early afternoon, General Niazi drove to Dacca airport to receive Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Commander of Indian Eastern Command.
Niazi gave him a military salute and shook hands. It was a touching sight. The victor and the vanquished stood in full view of the Bengalis, who made no secret of their extreme sentiments of love and hatred for Aurora and Niazi respectively.
Amidst shouts and slogans, they drove to Ramna Race Course (Suhrawardy Ground) where the stage was set for the surrender ceremony. The vast ground bubbled with emotional Bengali crowds. They were all keen to witness the public humiliation of a West Pakistani General. The occasion was also to formalize the birth of Bangla Desh.
The surrender deed was signed by Lieutenant-General Aurora and Lieutenant-General Niazi in full view of nearly one million Bengalis and scores of foreign media men. Then they both stood up. General Niazi took out his revolver and handed it over to Aurora to mark the capitulation of Dacca. With that, he handed over East Pakistan!