The attacks were led by General Tikka Khan, who was the architect of Operation Searchlight and was given the name the "butcher of Bengal" by the Bengalis for his actions.Khan said—when reminded on 27 March 1971 that he was in charge of a majority province—"I will reduce this majority to a minority".D'Costa argues that this shows that in the highest echelons of the armed forces the Bengalis were perceived as being disloyal Muslims and unpatriotic Pakistanis.
In the next decade and half, Bengalis became gradually disenchanted with the balance of power in Pakistan, which was under military rule during much of this time; eventually some began to call for secession. There had been opposition to military rule in West Pakistan as well.
By the late 1960s, a perception had emerged that the people of East Pakistan were second-class citizens. Eventually the military relented, and in December 1970 the first ever elections were held.
Adam Jones, a political scientist, has said that one of the reasons for the mass rapes was to undermine Bengali society through the "dishonoring" of Bengali women and that some women were raped until they died or were killed following repeated attacks.
The writer Mulk Raj Anand said of the Pakistani army actions, "The rapes were so systematic and pervasive that they had to be conscious Army policy, "planned by the West Pakistanis in a deliberate effort to create a new race" or to dilute Bengali nationalism".
To the surprise of many, East Pakistan's Awami League, headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a clear majority.
The West Pakistani establishment was displeased with the results.
During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Bihari and Bengali Razaker militias from Jamaat e Islami raped between two and four hundred thousand Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.
The activists and leaders of Islamic parties were also involved in the rapes and abduction of women.
In 2009, almost 40 years after the events of 1971, a report published by the War Crimes Fact Finding Committee of Bangladesh accused 1,597 people of war crimes, including rape.