In his final public address as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Pakistan’s outgoing General Qamar Javed Bajwa criticised the country’s anti-military narrative and ‘corrected some facts’ about the 1971 Bangladesh war.

Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, was a “political failure” rather than a “military failure,” according to Gen Bajwa, who also noted that the army’s performance and actions in Bangladesh during the 1971 civil war are topics that most people avoid discussing.

He claimed that the number of soldiers fighting was 34,000 – the others were in different government departments – and that these 34,000 were vastly outnumbered by an Indian army of 2,50,000 soldiers and a Mukti Bahini of 200,000 members.

“Despite the odds, our army fought bravely and made exemplary sacrifices, which were recognised by the Indian army chief, Field Marshal Manekshaw,” said General Bajwa. “I salute these martyrs on this occasion and will continue to do so.” “They are our heroes, and we should be proud of them,” he added.

General Bajwa will leave his post at the end of November. He was appointed Pakistan’s army chief in 2016 for a three-year term that was later extended for another three years.