O General, My General
If you are looking for a perfect example of a 'man of integrity' at present day's context, the correct answer will be General Mohammad Ataul Ghani Osmani. Anyone – friend or foe, relative or stranger, known or unknown, senior or junior – who came in contact with him for any reason, will unquestionably agree that there cannot be a better example than him. All those who knew him well will obviously accept that he was a man of principles, self respect, pride and dignity. Nothing could ever make him compromise on principles.
Bangabir Osmani is the name of an era, the name of a history, the name of a generation, and the name of a chapter by itself in our national history. It is one of those very few names of the twentieth century, which were pronounced most frequently with maximum honour and pride. Osmani is a noble name which will always remain enthroned in the hearts of all Bangladeshis and continue to serves as glorious moral beacon for patriotism, courage and dedicated public service. He is the symbol of struggle for our homeland, a symbol of valour, a symbol of success, and above all, the symbol of justice, hope and aspiration.
General Osmani was an outstanding and bold military leader. He tasted the success of winning a war, where he was the Commander-in-Chief of the victorious Mukti Bahini. This is of course a rare opportunity for any General in his lifetime. He was one of the few national leaders who at the same time nurtured and inculcated a number of high principles, human virtues, moral values, and a very high degree of military professionalism. This is why we, the people, should study this great personality, who will continue forever to inspire and guid generations of heroes and leaders of our nation.
General Osmani was a unique individual, who served as a military officer [in British India] for seven years. Thereafter, he served as a distinguished Pakistani army officer for 20 years. He played a key role to build formidable armed forces of a new nation, Pakistan. Whatever happened next will remain a dream for others in the world. An ex-Indian or an ex-Pakistani became the man of the match of the Liberation War in 1971, which gave birth to a beautiful, lush green and thriving "Bangladesh." General Osmani is one of the most famous Bangladeshis and will remain so, as long as the history of Bangladesh lasts.
The first Commander-in-Chief of Bangladesh, General M.A.G Osmani [he was a General of the Mukti Bahini from April 1971 to April 7, 1972) was highly blessed by the Almighty, because in the beginning, he commanded a combating and winning armed forces, and thereafter transformed the three services, i.e. army, navy and air force into a highly professional one. Whereas, General K M Cariappa, the Indian C-in-C or General Ayub Khan, the Pakistani C-in-C, concentrated their initial efforts on only restricting their armies and defending their territorial integrity. Interestingly, General Osmani also had the unique opportunity to command a people's army, the 'Mukti Bahini' like Vo Nguyen Giap of Vietnam. (. . .) [Many] great generals fought the wars with full logistical backup, having all the complements required to win a war. But General Osmani led a way against heavy odds. Fighting a trained, numerically superior army with nothing in hand is really a formidable task – General Osmani did that successfully!
The resounding words of General Osmani still resonate in the air of independent Bangladesh:
People of Bangladesh at war! Ours is a national war, in which the entire nation, irrespective of political beliefs, caste or creed stand united as one man. Its ideals are high, resolution hard as steel. We will free Bangladesh from the occupation of the inhuman, Godless enemy totally devoid of all ethics, whatever be the cost. . .
So, wherever you are in Bangladesh – in the rivulets, lakes, fields and remote recesses of the rural interior, on the riverine highways, land routes, rural markets, industrial centres, towns and cities – strike the enemy with whatever you can find. Strike him hard, destroy him, and obliterate all semblance of his existence. Forward, my countrymen, to protect the lives and honour of our men and women, to secure the future of our citizens. Whatever be their religion, caste or creed, and to defend the independence of Bangladesh."
In true sense, this great General, with relatively short physical stature, towered over everyone around him. He eminently carried the courage of conviction and was a model of selfless service. Throughout his life, regardless of his personal circumstance, he never hesitated to heed his country's call. He was a man who truly did everything for a reason, for a purpose, not for himself, but for the amity and glory of his beloved motherland, Bangladesh.
Excerpts have been taken from the introduction of the book O General, My General, edited by Lt. Col Dewan Mohammad Tasawwar Raja of the Bangladesh Army.