Indo-Pakistani War of 1971Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 Part of the Indo-Pakistani Wars
Lt. Gen A. A. K. Niazisigns the instrument of surrenderon December 16, surrendering his forces to Lt. Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora. Date December 3-December 16, 1971Location Current day Bangladeshand Indian-Pakistani western border Result Pakistani forces in the Eastsurrender unconditionally to Mitro Bahini;
Victory of the Indian Armed Forcesin the Western Theatre. Territorial
changes Bangladesh becomes an independent state.
Pakistan Commanders Sam Manekshaw
K. P. Candeth
Gul Hassan Khan
Abdul Hamid Khan
A. A. K. Niazi # Strength 500,000+ troops
100,000 Mukti BahiniRebels 400,000+ troops Casualties and losses 3,843 killed
9,851 wounded Unknown killed,
90,368 POW captured Indo-Pakistani wars
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a major conflict between India and Pakistan. The war is closely associated with Bangladesh Liberation War (sometimes also referred to as Pakistani Civil War). There is an argument about exact dates of the war. However, hostilities commenced officially between India and Pakistan on the evening of December 3, 1971. The armed conflict on India's western front during the period between 3 December 1971 and 16 December 1971 is called the Indo-Pakistani War by both the Bangladeshi and Indian armies. The war ended in a defeat for the Pakistani military after being faced on two fronts.
- 1 Background
- 2 India's involvement in Bangladesh Liberation War
- 3 India's official engagement with Pakistan
- 4 American and Soviet involvement
- 5 Effects
- 6 Important dates
- 7 Military awards
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 Dramatization
- 11 External links
- Main article: Bangladesh Liberation War
The Indo-Pakistani conflict was sparked by the Bangladesh Liberation war, a conflict between the traditionally dominant West Pakistanis and the majority East Pakistanis. This gave India a strong advantage over Pakistan. The war ignited after the 1970 Pakistani election, in which the East Pakistani Awami League won 167 of 169 seats in East Pakistan, thus securing a simple majority in the 313-seat lower house of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament of Pakistan). Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman presented Six Points and claimed the right to form the government. After the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, refused to give premiership of Pakistan to Mujibur, President Yahya Khan called in the military, which was made up largely of West Pakistanis.
Mass arrests of dissidents began, and attempts were made to disarm East Pakistani soldiers and police. After several days of strikes and non-cooperation movements, Pakistani military cracked down on Dhaka on the night of March 25, 1971. The Awami League was banished, and many members fled into exile in India. Mujib was arrested and taken to West Pakistan.
On 27 March 1971, Ziaur Rahman, a rebellious major in the Pakistani army, declared the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Mujibur. In April, exiled Awami League leaders formed a government-in-exile in Boiddonathtola of Meherpur. The East Pakistan Rifles, an elite paramilitary force, defected to the rebellion. A guerrilla troop of civilians, the Mukti Bahini, was formed to help the Bangladesh Army.
India's involvement in Bangladesh Liberation WarIllustration showing military units and troop movements during the war.
On 27 March 1971, the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, expressed full support of her government to the Bangladeshi struggle for independence. The Bangladesh-India border was opened to allow the Bangladeshi Refugees safe shelter in India. The governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura established refugee camps along the border. Exiled Bangladeshi army officers and voluntary workers from India immediately started using these camps for the recruitment and training of Mukti Bahini guerrillas.
As the violence in East Pakistan escalated, an estimated 10 million refugees fled to India, causing financial hardship and instability in the country. The United States, a long and close ally of Pakistan, promised to ship arms and supplies to West Pakistan.
Indira Gandhi launched a diplomatic offensive in the early autumn of 1971 touring Europe, and was successful in getting both the United Kingdom and France to break with the United States, and block any pro-Pakistan directives in the United Nations security council. Gandhi's greatest coup was on 9 August when she signed a twenty-year treaty of friendship and co-operation with the Soviet Union, greatly shocking the United States, and decreasing the possibility that the People's Republic of China would become involved in the conflict. China, an ally of Pakistan, had been providing moral support, but little military aid, and did not advance troops to its border with India.
Operation of the Mukti Bahini caused severe casualties to the Pakistani Army, which was in control of all district headquarters. As the flow of refugees swelled to a tide, the economic costs for India began to escalate. India began providing support including weapons and training for the Mukti Bahini.
India's official engagement with Pakistan
By November, war seemed inevitable; a massive buildup of Indian forces on the border with East Pakistan had begun. The Indian military waited for winter, when the drier ground would make for easier operations and Himalayan passes would be closed by snow, preventing any Chinese intervention. On 23 November, Yahya Khan declared a state of emergency in all of Pakistan and told his people to prepare for war.
On the evening of Sunday, 3 December, the Pakistani air force launched sorties on eight airfields in north-western India. This attack was inspired by the Arab-Israeli Six Day War and the success of the Israeli preemptive strike. At, 5:30 PM that day, General Yahya Khan ordered the Pakistan Air Force to bomb Indian Forward Airbases. Pakistan started flying sorties towards India within fifteen minutes of the order. Pakistan launched attacks against eight Indian airfields on the Western front including Agra which was 300 miles (480 km) from the border. These attacks could only achieve partial success. Unlike the Israeli attack on Arab airbases in 1967 which involved a large number of Israeli planes, Pakistan flew no more than 50 planes to India. Indian runways were non-functional for several hours after the attack. But these attacks gave India a good reason to launch an attack against Pakistan. India started flying sorties to Pakistan by midnight. On the Eastern front, the Indian Army joined forces with the Mukti Bahini to form the Mitro Bahini ("Allied Forces"); the next day the Indian forces responded with a massive coordinated air, sea, and land assault on the West Pakistani Army in East Pakistan.
Yahya Khan counter-attacked India in the West in an attempt to capture territory which might have been used to bargain for territory they expected to lose in the east. The land battle in the West was crucial for any hope of preserving a united Pakistan. The Pakistan Army faced a crushing defeat at Battle of Longewala, where a 2000-3000 strong assault force of the 51st Infantry Brigade of the Pakistani Army- backed by the 22nd Armoured Regiment was kept on hold by the Indian 'A' company of 120 odd soldiers of the 23rd Bn,Punjab Regiment.The Indian Army quickly responded to the Pakistan Army's movements in the west and made some initial gains, including capturing around 5,500 square miles (14,000 km²) of Pakistan territory (land gained by India in Pakistani Kashmir and the Pakistani Punjab sector were later ceded in the Simla Agreement of 1972, as a gesture of goodwill).An Indian newspaper cover (1971)
At sea, the Indian Navy proved its superiority by the success of Operation Trident, the name given to the attack on Karachi's port. It also resulted in the destruction of 2 Pakistani destroyers and a minesweeper, and was followed by the similar Operation Python. The waters in the east were also secured by the Indian Navy. The Indian Air Force conducted 4,000 sorties in the west while its counterpart, the PAF put up little retaliation, partly because of the paucity of non-Bengali technical personnel. This lack of retaliation has also been attributed to the deliberate decision of the PAF High Command to cut its losses as it had already incurred huge losses in the conflict.  In the east, the small air contingent of Pakistan Air Force No. 14 Sqn was destroyed resulting in Indian air superiority in the east. The entire campaign was a true blitzkrieg, exploiting weakness in the enemy's positions and bypassing opposition, resulting in a swift victory. Faced with insurmountable losses, the Pakistani military capitulated in just under a fortnight. On December 16, the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan surrendered. The next day India announced a unilateral ceasefire, to which Pakistan agreed.
American and Soviet involvement
The United States supported Pakistan both politically and materially. Nixon, backed by Henry Kissinger, feared Soviet expansion into South and Southeast Asia. Pakistan was a close ally of the People's Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement and where he intended to visit in February 1972. Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of West Pakistan would mean total Soviet domination of the region, and that it would seriously undermine the global position of the United States and the regional position of America's new tacit ally, China. In order to demonstrate to China the bona fides of the United States as an ally, and in direct violation of the US Congress-imposed sanctions on Pakistan, Nixon sent military supplies to Pakistan and routed them through Jordan and Iran , while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan.
The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the 'genocidal' activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram. But when Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, Nixon sent the USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal, a move deemed by the Indians as a nuclear threat. Enterprise arrived on station on December 11, 1971. On 6 December and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of ships, armed with nuclear missiles, from Vladivostok; they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 in the Indian Ocean from 18 December until 7 January 1972. American policy towards the end of the war was dictated primarily by a need to restrict the escalation of war on the western sector to prevent the 'dismemberment' of West Pakistan .
Years after the war, many American writers were of the opinion that the White House policies during the war were badly flawed and ill-served the interests of the United States.
The Soviet Union had sympathized with the Bangladeshis, and supported the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini during the war, recognizing that the independence of Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals - the United States and China. It gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, the USSR would take counter-measures. This had been enshrined in the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty signed in August 1971. The Soviets also sent a nuclear submarine to ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise in the Indian Ocean.
The war led to the immediate surrender of Pakistani forces to the allied forces of India and Bangladesh, jointly known as the Mitro Bahini. Bangladesh became an independent nation, and the third most populous Muslim country. Loss of East Pakistan demoralized the Pakistani military and Yahya Khan resigned, to be replaced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Mujibur Rahman was released from West Pakistani prison and returned to Dhaka on January 10, 1972.
The exact cost of the violence on the people of East Pakistan is not known. R.J. Rummel cites estimates ranging from one to three million people killed. Other estimates place the death toll lower at 300,000. On the brink of defeat around December 14, the Pakistani Army and its local collaborators systematically killed a large number of Bengali doctors, teachers and intellectuals , part of a pogrom against the Hindu minorities who constituted the majority of urban educated intellectuals. Young men, who were seen as possible rebels, were also targeted, especially students.A Pakistan stamp depicting the 90,000 PoWs in Indian camps. This stamp was issued with the political aim of raising the POW issue at a global level in securing their release.
The cost of the war for Pakistan in monetary and human resources was high. In the book Can Pakistan Survive? Pakistan based author Tariq Ali writes, "Pakistan lost half its navy, a quarter of its airforce and a third of its army." India took approximately 90,000 prisoners of war that included Pakistani soldiers as well as some of their East Pakistani allies. 79,676 of these prisoners were uniformed personnel, of which 55,692 were Army, 16,354 Paramilitary, 5,296 Police, 1000 Navy and 800 PAF. . The remaining prisoners were civilians - either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars). The Hameedur Rahman Committee Report instituted by Pakistan puts the breakup of Pakistani POWs as follows :Branch Number of captured POWs Army 54,154 Navy 1,381 Air Force 833 Paramilitary including police 22,000 Civilian personnel 12,000 Total: 90,368
It was one of the largest surrenders since World War II. India originally wished to try some 200 of them for war crimes for the brutality in East Pakistan, but eventually acceded to releasing them as a gesture of reconciliation. The Simla Agreement created the following year, also saw most of Pakistani territory (more than 15,000 km²) being given back to Pakistan to create "lasting peace" between the two nations and to affirm that India had no territorial ambitions.
- March 7, 1971: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declares that, "The current struggle is a struggle for independence", in a public meeting attended by almost a million people in Dhaka.
- March 25, 1971: Pakistani forces start Operation Searchlight, a systematic plan to eliminate any resistance. Thousands of people are killed in student dormitories and police barracks in Dhaka.
- March 26, 1971: Major Ziaur Rahman declares independence from Kalurghat Radio Station, Chittagong. The message is relayed to the world by Indian radio stations.
- April 17, 1971: Exiled leaders of Awami League form a provisional government.
- December 3, 1971: War between India and Pakistan officially begins when West Pakistan launches a series of preemptive airstrikes on Indian airfields.
- December 6, 1971: East Pakistan is recognized as Bangla-Desh by India.
- December 14, 1971: Systematic elimination of Bengali intellectuals is started by Pakistani Army and local collaborators.
- December 16, 1971: Lieutenant-General A. A. K. Niazi, supreme commander of Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, surrenders to the Allied Forces (Mitro Bahini) represented by Lieutenant General Aurora of Indian Army at the surrender. Bangladesh gains victory
- January 12, 1972: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman comes to power
For bravery, a number of soldiers and officers on both sides were awarded the highest military award of respective countries. Following is a list of the recipients of the Indian award Param Vir Chakra, Bangladesh award Bir Sreshtho and the Pakistani award Nishan-E-Haider:
Recipients of the Param Vir Chakra:
- Lance Naik Albert Ekka (Posthumously)
- Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon (Posthumously)
- Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal (Posthumously)
- Major Hoshiar Singh
Recipients of the Bir Sreshtho
- Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir (Posthumously)
- Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf (Posthumously)
- Sepoy Hamidur Rahman (Posthumously)
- Sepoy Mostafa Kamal (Posthumously)
- ERA Mohammad Ruhul Amin (Posthumously)
- Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman (Posthumously)
- Lance Naik Nur Mohammad Sheikh (Posthumously)
Recipients of the Nishan-E-Haider:
- Major Muhammad Akram (Posthumously)
- Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas (Posthumously)
- Major Shabbir Sharif (Posthumously)
- Sowar Muhammad Hussain (Posthumously)
- Lance Naik Muhammad Mahfuz (Posthumously)
- ^ a b Official Government of India Statement giving numbers of KIA - Parliament of India Website
- ^ Quantification of Losses Suffered
- ^ Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age By Peter Paret, 1986, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198200978 pp802
- ^ Shalom, Stephen R., The Men Behind Yahya in the Indo-Pak War of 1971
- ^ U.S. State Department, 
- ^ The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissenger and American Foreign Policy by Jussi M. Hanhimeaki Page 156, Published by Oxford University Press US
- ^ Cold war games
- ^ Rummel, Rudolph J., "Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900", ISBN 3-8258-4010-7, Chapter 8, table 8.1
- ^ "125 Slain in Dacca Area, Believed Elite of Bengal", New York Times, December 19, 1971, p. 1. Retrieved on 2008-01-04. "At least 125 persons, believed to be physicians, professors, writers and teachers were found murdered today in a field outside Dacca. All the victims' hands were tied behind their backs and they had been bayoneted, garroted or shot. They were among an estimated 300 Bengali intellectuals who had been seized by West Pakistani soldiers and locally recruited supporters."
- ^ Murshid, Tazeen M. (2). "State, nation, identity: The quest for legitimacy in Bangladesh". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 20 (2): 1-34. Routledge. doi:10.1080/00856409708723294. ISSN 14790270.
- ^ a b Khan, Muazzam Hussain (2003), "Killing of Intellectuals", Banglapedia, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
- ^ Shaiduzzaman (December 14, 2005), "Martyred intellectuals: martyred history", The Daily New Age, Bangladesh
- ^ Huge bag of prisoners in our hands The Liberation Times
- General Niazi (1998). Betrayal of East Pakistan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195777271.
- "The Rediff Interview/Lt Gen A A Khan Niazi", Rediff, February 2, 2004.
- An Army Its Role and Rule ( A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil 1947-1999). Muhammad Ayub ISBN 0-8059-9594-3
- D K Palit The Lightning Campaign: The Indo-Pakistan War 1971 Compton Press Ltd (1972), ISBN 0-900193-10-7
- J R Saigal Pakistan Splits: The Birth of Bangladesh Manas Publications (2004), ISBN 81-7049-124-X
- J Hanhimaki The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy Oxford University Press (2004)
- Border, a 1997 Bollywood war film directed by J.P.Dutta. This movie is an adaptation from real life events that happened at the Battle of Longewala fought in Rajasthan (Western Theatre) during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Border at the Internet Movie Database
- Hindustan Ki Kasam, a 1973 Bollywood war film directed by Chetan Anand. The aircraft in the film are all authentic aircraft used in the 1971 war against Pakistan. These include MiG-21s, Gnats, Hunters and Su-7s. Some of these aircraft were also flown by war veterans such as Samar Bikram Shah (2 kills) and Manbir Singh. Hindustan Ki Kasam at the Internet Movie Database
- 1971 - Prisoners of War, a 2007 Bollywood war film directed by Sagar Brothers. Set against the backdrop of a prisoners camp in Pakistan, follows six Indian prisoners awaiting release after their capture in the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
- Video of General Niazi Surrendering
- A complete coverage of the war from the Indian perspective
- Actual conversation from the then US President Nixon and Henry Kissinger during the 1971 War - US Department of State's Official archive.
- Indian Army: Major Operations
- Pakistan: Partition and Military Succession USA Archives
- Pakistan intensifies air raid on India BBC
- A day by day account of the war as seen in a virtual newspaper.
- The Tilt: The U.S. and the South Asian Crisis of 1971.
- Maps depicting the conflict areas in the subcontinent during the war
- December 16, 1971: any lessons learned? By Ayaz Amir - Pakistan's Dawn (newspaper)
- India-Pakistan 1971 War as covered by TIME
- Indian Air Force Combat Kills in the 1971 war (unofficial), Centre for Indian Military History
- Op Cactus Lilly : 19 Infantry Division in 1971, a personal recall by Lt Col Balwant Singh Sahore
- All for a bottle of Scotch, a personal recall of Major (later Major General) C K Karumbaya, SM, the battle for Magura
Partition of India · History of Pakistan · Indo-Pakistani Wars · War of 1947 · War of 1965 · Operation Searchlight · Bangladesh Liberation War · Mukti Bahini · Research and Analysis Wing · Operation Jackpot · Indo-Soviet Treaty · Razakars · Mitro Bahini · Surrender of East Pakistan · Simla AgreementConflict
Battle of Dhalai · Battle of Atgram · Battle of Garibpur · Boyra incidence · Operation Chengiz Khan · Battle of Longewala · Battle of Hilli · Meghna Heli Bridge · Tangail Airdrop · Battle of Basantar · PNS Ghazi · Operation Trident · Air Operations · INS Khukri · US Taskforce 74 · moreLeaders India
Indira Gandhi · Sam Manekshaw · P.C. Lal · K.P. Candeth · J.S. Aurora · Gopal Gurunath Bewoor · JFR Jacob · Sagat Singh · M.L. Thapan · T.N. Raina · Sartaj Singh · N.C. Rawlley · K.K. Singh · Kuldip Singh Chandpuri · Kulwant Singh PannuPakistan Param Vir Chakra Nishan-E-Haider Bir Sreshtho
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conflicts Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947 · 1965 · 1971 · Operation Polo · Operation Vijay · Sino-Indian War · Chola incident · Siachen conflict · 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish · Operation Cactus · Kargil War Categories: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 | History of Bangladesh | SurrendersHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2007
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