Gen. Tikka Khan, 87; ‘Butcher of Bengal’ Led Pakistani Army

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Gen. Tikka Khan, 87, the former chief of the Pakistani army who was once called the “Butcher of Bengal” for his ruthless crackdown on separatists in what became Bangladesh, died Thursday in Islamabad after a lengthy illness.

Khan was military commander in East Pakistan in 1971, when military ruler Gen. Yahya Khan ordered a crackdown against ethnic Bengali separatists led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Khan’s tactics won him the nickname “Butcher of Bengal” among Bengalis before he was removed from his command a few months later.


India came to the defense of the Bengali separatists, and war broke out Dec. 3, 1971. Pakistan surrendered in the east 12 days later, and Rahman became the first prime minister of an independent Bangladesh, as East Pakistan was renamed.

After Pakistan’s defeat, Khan was appointed army chief and defense minister by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In the late 1980s, Khan served as secretary general of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.