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Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

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Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Part of the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani Wars
1971 Instrument of Surrender.jpg
Lieutenant-General A. A. K. Niazi, the commander of Pakistan Eastern Command, signing the instrument of surrender in Dhaka on 16 Dec 1971, in the presence of India's Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora. Standing immediately behind from Left to Right: Indian Navy Vice Admiral Krishnan, Indian Air Force Air Marshal Dewan, Indian Army Lt Gen Sagat Singh, Maj Gen JFR Jacob (with Flt Lt Krishnamurthy peering over his shoulder). Veteran newscaster, Surojit Sen of All India Radio, is seen holding a microphone on the right.
Date 3–16 December 1971 (13 days)
Location Eastern Front:

Western Front:

Result Decisive Indian victory.[1][2][3]
Eastern front:
Surrender of East Pakistan military command.
Western front:
Unilateral Ceasefire.[4]
Territorial
changes
  • Independence of East Pakistan as Bangladesh
  • Indian forces captured around 5,795 square miles (15,010 km2) land in the West but returned it in the Simla Agreement as a gesture of goodwill.[5][6][7]
Belligerents

 India


Bangladesh Provisional Bangladesh

 Pakistan


East Pakistan
Commanders and leaders
India V. V. Giri
(President of India)
India Indira Gandhi
(Prime Minister of India)
India Swaran Singh
(External Minister of India)
India Jagjivan Ram
(Defence Minister of India)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Gen Sam Manekshaw
(Chief of Army Staff)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen J.S. Arora
(GOC-in-C, Eastern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen G.G. Bewoor
(GOC-in-C, Southern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen K. P. Candeth
(GOC-in-C, Western Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Manohar Lal
(GOC-in-C, Northern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Premindra Bhagat
(GOC-in-C, Central Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Sagat Singh
(GOC-in-C, IV Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen T. N. Raina
(GOC-in-C, II Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Sartaj Singh
(GOC-in-C, XV Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Karan Singh
(GOC-in-C, I Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Depinder Singh
(GOC-in-C, XII Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg MajGen Farj R. Jacob
(COS, Eastern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg MajGen Om Malhotra
(COS, IV Corps)
Naval Ensign of India.svg Adm S. M. Nanda
(Chief of Naval Staff)
Ensign of the Indian Air Force.svg ACM Pratap C. Lal
(Chief of Air Staff)
RAW India.jpg Rameshwar Kao
(Director of RAW)
Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmad
(PM Provisional Government)
Bangladesh Col. M.A.G. Osmani
(Commander, Mukti Bahini)
Bangladesh Maj Kazi Shafiullah
(Commander, BD Forces)
Bangladesh Maj Ziaur Rahman
(Commander, Z Force)
Bangladesh Maj Khaled Mosharraf
(Commander, Crack Platoon)
Pakistan Yahya Khan
(President of Pakistan)
Pakistan Nurul Amin
(Prime Minister of Pakistan)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Gen. A.H. Khan
(Chief of Staff, Army GHQ)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen A.A.K. Niazi Surrendered
(Commander, Eastern Command)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Gul Hassan Khan
(Chief of General Staff)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Abdul Ali Malik
(Commander, I Corps)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Tikka Khan
(Commander, II Corps)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Sher Khan
(Commander, IV Corps)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg MGen Iftikhar Janjua
(GOC, 23rd Infantry Division)
MGen Khadim Hussain
(GOC, 14th Infantry Division)
MGen Rao Farman  Surrendered
(Mil.Adv., EPR EPP, EPCG)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg VAdm Muzaffar Hassan
(Cdr-in-Chief, Navy)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg VAdm S.M. Ahsan
(COS, Navy NHQ)
RAdm Moh'd Shariff  Surrendered
(Cdr, Eastern Naval Command)
RAdm Hasan Ahmed
(Commander Karachi Coast)
RAdm Leslie Norman
(Commander, Pakistan Marines)
Pakistani Air Force Ensign.svg AM Abdul Rahim Khan
(Cdr-in-Chief, Air Force)
Pakistani Air Force Ensign.svg AVM Zulfiqar Ali Khan
(COS, Air AHQ Dhaka)
Pakistani Air Force Ensign.svg AVM P.D. Callaghan  Surrendered
(Cdr, Eastern Air Command)
Abdul Motaleb Malik  Surrendered
(Governor of East Pakistan)
Strength
Mukti Bahini: 175,000
Indian Armed Forces: 500,000
Total: 675,000
Pakistan Armed Forces: 365,000
Casualties and losses

2,500[8]–3,843 killed.[9]

Pakistani claims

Indian claims

Neutral claims

9,000 killed[17]
25,000 wounded[18]
97,368 captured
2 Destroyers[19]
1 Minesweeper[19]
1 Submarine[20]
3 Patrol vessels
7 Gunboats

  • Pakistani main port Karachi facilities damaged/fuel tanks destroyed[19][21]
  • Pakistani airfields damaged and cratered[22]

Pakistani claims

Indian claims

Neutral claims

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occur during the events in the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the Fall of Dhaka on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations that led to the commencement of hostilities with Pakistan and Indian entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces.[24][25] Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.[26][27]

During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western front and ended the war after the Eastern Command of Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender,[28] on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, the East Pakistan had earlier called for its succession from the unity of Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately between ~90,000[29] to ~93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoners by the Indian Army which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan.[29][30][31] The remaining 10,324 to 15,000 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars).[29][32][33][34] It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh.[35][36][37][38][39][40] As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country at the time to seek refuge in neighbouring India.[41]

Background

The Indo-Pakistani conflict was sparked by the armed liberation struggle that was taking place in East Pakistan between the dominant Bengalis and the multi-ethnic Pakistanis who were residing in East that hailed from four provinces of Pakistan over the issue of right of governance and the constitution.:24[42][19] The political tensions between the East Bengal and Pakistan had rooted since the times of the creation of Pakistan as a result of the partition of India by the United Kingdom in 1947, starting from the popular language movement in 1950, mass riots in East in 1964, and eventually massive protests in 1969 that eventually led to resignation of President Ayub Khan to resign who invited army chief General Yahya Khan to take over the central government.:xxx[43] Geographical distance between the East with the rest of the Pakistan was vast as the East was over ~1,000 miles (1,600 km) away, which greatly hampered any attempt of the national integration between the Bengali culture and the cultures in Pakistan.:13–14[44]:xxi[45]

To overcome the Bengali domination and prevent them from their right to form the central government in Islamabad, the controversial One Unit program was promulgated that established the East and West Pakistan but such efforts met with great local opposition from the Western Pakistanis. which made it difficult to effectively govern both wings.:xxx[43] In 1969, President Yahya Khan announced to hold the first general elections and disestablished the status of West Pakistan in 1970 in order to be restored to its original heterogeneous status of four provinces as defined at the time of establishment of Pakistan in 1947.[46] In addition, there were also religious and racial tensions between Bengalis and multi-ethnic Pakistanis as Bengalis looked a lot different from their dominant Western Pakistanis.:24–25[42]

The general elections held in 1970 resulted with East-Pakistan's Awami League gained 167 seats out of 169 for East Pakistan Legislative Assembly and secured a near-absolute majority in the 313-seat National Assembly while the vote bank in Pakistan distributed between conservative Pakistan Muslim League and socialist Pakistan Peoples Party, and then-communist Awami National Party.:686–687[47] The Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stressed his political position to resolve the constitutional crises by presenting his Six Points and endorsed the Bengalis' right to govern.:xxx[43] The Awami League's election dominancy feared many Pakistanis that would allow the Bengalis to draft the constitution on towards the six-points and more liberal side.:xlv[48]

To resolve the crises, the Ahsan–Yaqub Mission was formed to provide insightful recommendations and its finding were met with favourable views from the Awami League, the Pakistan Peoples Party, and the Pakistan Muslim League as well as from the President Yahya Khan.:109–110[49]

Maps shows Pakistan and East Pakistan.Distance between East and Pakistan laid 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of Indian territory.

However, the mission was not supported by the elements in the National Security Council and was subsequently vetoed.:110[49] After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, endorsing the veto and subsequently refusing to yield the premiership of Pakistan to Mujibur Rahman Khan, the Awami League had called for general strikes in the country.:110[49] President Yahya Khan postponed the inauguration of the National Assembly that prompted as a shattering disillusionment to the Awami League and their supporters throughout East Pakistan.[50] In reaction, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for the general strikes that eventually shutdown the government and the dissidents in East began targeting the ethnic Bihari community which had supported Pakistan.[51] In early March 1971, approximately ~300 Biharis were slaughtered in rioting by Bengali mobs in Chittagong alone.[52] The Government of Pakistan used the "Bihari massacre'" to justify its deployment of the military in East Pakistan on 25 March when it initiated its military crackdown.[53] President Yahya Khan then called the military, that was overwhelming led by the Pakistanis, to suppress dissent in East after accepting the resignation of Lieutenant-General Yaqub Ali Khan, the chief of staff of East-Pakistani military.[54][55]

Mass arrests of dissidents began and after several days of strikes and non-cooperation movement, the Pakistani military led by Tikka Khan cracked down on Dhaka on the night of 25 March 1971. The Awami League was declared outlawed by the government and many of its members and sympathizers took refuge in Eastern India. Mujib was arrested on the night of 25/26 March 1971 at about 1:30 am (as per Radio Pakistan's news on 29 March 1971) and taken to Pakistan. The next action carried out was Operation Searchlight followed by Operation Barisal, in an attempt to kill the intellectual elite of the east.[56]

On 26 March 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman of Pakistan Army declared the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[57][58][59]

In April, the exiled Awami League leaders formed a government-in-exile in Baidyanathtala of Meherpur. The East Pakistan Rifles, Bengali officers in Pakistan's army, navy, and marines, defected to the rebellion after taking refuge in different parts of India. The Bangladesh Force namely Mukti Bahini or Bangladesh Force consisting of Niyomito Bahini (Regular Force) and Gono Bahini (Guerilla Force) was formed under the retired colonel Mohammad Ataul Gani Osmani[60]

India's involvement in Bangladesh Liberation War

After the resignations of Admiral S.M. Ahsan and Lieutenant-General Yaqub Ali Khan, the media correspondents began airing reports of Pakistani military's widespread genocide against their Bengali citizens,[61] that was particularly aimed at the minority Bengali Hindu population[62][63][26] which led to approximately ~10 million people seeking refuge in the neighboring states of Eastern India.[62][61][64] The Indian government opened the East Pakistan–India border to allow the Bengali refugees to take safe shelter, with state governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Megjalaya and Tripura establising the refugee camps alongside the border alongside the border.:23–24[65] The resulting flood of impoverished East Pakistani refugees placed an intolerable strain on India's already overburdened economy.[63]

After the war, the Pakistan army's generals in East held each other responsible for the committed atrocities but most burden laid to Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan who earned the notoriety from his actions as his role as governor of the East; he was called the "Butcher of Bengal" because of the widespread atrocities committed under his responsibility.[24] Unlike his contemporary Yaqub who was a pacifist and knew well of the limits of force, Tikka was known as "soldier known for his eager use of force" to settle his differences.:100[66][67][68][69]

Confessing at the hearings of War Enquiry Commission, Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi reportedly comment on his actions and noted: "On the night between 25/26 March 1971, [General] Tikka struck. Peaceful night was turned into a time of wailing, crying and burning. [General] Tikka let loose everything at his disposal as if raiding an enemy, not dealing with his own misguided and misled people. The military action was a display of stark cruelty more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Chengiz Khan and Halaku Khan... [General] Tikka... resorted to the killing of civilians and a scorched earth policy. His orders to his troops were: "I want the land not the people...".":295[70] Major-General Rao Farman had written in his table diary: "Green land of East Pakistan will be painted red. It was painted red by Bengali blood."[71] However, Major-General Rao Farman had forcefully denied writing that comment and laid all responsibility to Tikka while confessing at the War Enquiry Commission in 1974.[72]

The Indian government repeatedly appealed to the international community, but failing to elicit any response despite the External Affairs minister Swaran Singh meeting with foreign ministers of other countries.[73] Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 27 March 1971 expressed full support of her government for the independence struggle of the people of East Pakistan and concluded that instead of taking in millions of refugees, it was economical to go to war against Pakistan.[64] On 28 April 1971, the Gandhi cabinet had ordered the Chief of the Army Staff General Sam Manekshaw to "Go into East Pakistan".[74][75][76][77] Defected East Pakistan military's officers and the elements of Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) immediately started using the Indian refugee camps for recruitment and training of Mukti Bahini guerrillas that were to be trained against Pakistan.[78] In 1971, there was a strong wave of Indian-supported Bengali terrorism in the East and systematic targeted killings of unarmed multi-ethic Pakistanis living in East.:164[79] Vehicular bombings on government secretariats became a normal narrative in east with high-profile assassinations of number of those Bengali politicians who were loyal to Pakistan became common in the East.:164[79] According to Jussi Hanhimäki, Finnish historian of terrorism, the Bengali terrorism in East is somewhat "a forgotten episode of annals of terrorism.":164[79] The Hamoodur Rahman Commission endorsed the claims of Bengali terrorism when it critically penned that the ill-treatment of families of multi-ethnic Pakistanis led to the Pakistani military soldiers reacted violently in order to restore the writ of the government.[80]

The news media's mood in Pakistan had also turned increasingly jingoistic and militaristic against East Pakistan and India when the Pakistani news media reported the complexity of the situation in the East, though the reactions from Pakistan's news media pundits were mixed.[81][82] By the end of September 1971, an organised propaganda campaign, possibly orchestrated by elements within the Government of Pakistan, resulted in stickers proclaiming Crush India becoming a standard feature on the rear windows of vehicles in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore and soon spread to the rest of West Pakistan.[83] By October, other stickers proclaimed Hang the Traitor in an apparent reference to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[84] By the first week of December, the conservative print media outlets in the country had published "Jihad" related materials to boost the recruitment in the military.[83]

India's official engagement with Pakistan

Objective

Illustration showing military units and troop movements during operations in the Eastern sector of the war.

By the end of April 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had asked the Indian army chief General Sam Manekshaw if he was ready to go to war with Pakistan.[85][86] According to Manekshaw's own personal account, he refused, citing the onset of monsoon season in East Pakistan and also the fact that the army tanks were in the process of being refitted.[87] He claimed that he offered to resign, which Indira Gandhi declined.[87] He then said he could guarantee victory if she would allow him to prepare for the conflict on his terms, and set a date for it and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted his conditions.[88][89] In reality, Indira Gandhi was well aware of the difficulties of a hasty military action but she needed to get the military's views to satisfy her hawkish colleagues and the public opinion, which were critical of India's restraint.[77]

By November 1971, the war seemed inevitable and the Soviet Union had reportedly warned Pakistan against the war which they termed as "suicidal course for Pakistan's unity.":part-3[90] Throughout November 1971, there were thousands of people led by conservative Pakistani politicians who marched in Lahore and across Pakistan, calling for Pakistan to Crush India.[91][92] India responded by starting a massive buildup of Indian army on the western borders and the Indian army waited until December, when the drier ground would make for easier operations and Himalayan passes would be closed by snow, preventing any Chinese intervention.:174–175[93] On 23 November, President Yahya Khan declared a state of emergency in all of Pakistan and told his people to prepare for war.[94]

On the evening of 3 December, at about 5:40 pm,[95] the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched surprise pre-emptive strikes on eleven airfields in north-western India, including Agra, which was 300 miles (480 km) from the border.:82–83[96] At the time of this attack the Taj Mahal was camouflaged with a forest of twigs and leaves and draped with burlap because its marble glowed like a white beacon in the moonlight.[97]

This preemptive strike known as Operation Chengiz Khan was inspired by the success of Israeli Operation Focus in the Arab–Israeli Six Day War but, 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.:82[96][98]

In an address to the nation on radio that same evening, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held that the air strikes were a declaration of war against India[99][100] and the Indian Air Force responded with initial air strikes that very night.[4] These air strikes were expanded to massive retaliatory air strikes the next morning.[4]

This marked the official start of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the immediate mobilisation of troops and launched a full-scale invasion of Pakistan.:333[101] This involved Indian forces in a massive coordinated air, sea, and land assaults on Pakistan from all fronts.:333[101] The main Indian objective on the Eastern front was to capture Dacca and on the western front was to prevent Pakistan from entering Indian soil.[95] There was no Indian intention of conducting any major offensive into Pakistan to dismember it into different states.[95]

Naval hostilities

Pakistan's PNS Ghazi sank off the fairway buoy of Visakhapatnam near the eastern coast of India, making it the first submarine casualty in the waters around the Indian subcontinent.

Unlike the 1965 war, the Pakistan Navy was ill-prepared for the naval conflict with India and the Navy NHQ staffers and commanders knew very well that the Navy was ill-prepared for the war and Pakistan was about to have a sharp lesson from India in the consequences of disconnecting strategy from reality.:65[102] The Pakistan Navy was in no condition of fighting an offensive war in deep sea against the Indian Navy and the Pakistan Navy was in no condition to mount serious defence against Indian Navy's seaborne encroachment.:75–76[103]

In the western theatre of the war, the Indian Navy's Western Naval Command under the Vice Admiral S.N. Kohli, successfully launched a surprise attack on Karachi port on the night of 4/5 December 1971 under codename: Trident.[19] The naval attack involving the Soviet-built Osa missile boats sank the Pakistan Navy's destroyer PNS Khyber and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz while PNS Shah Jahan was also badly damaged.[19] In retaliation, the Pakistan Navy submarines, Hangor, Mangro, and Shushuk, began their operations to seek out the major Indian warships.:86–95[103][104] Pakistani naval sources reported that ~720 Pakistani sailors were killed or wounded, and Pakistan lost reserve fuel and many commercial ships, thus crippling the Pakistan Navy's further involvement in the conflict.:85–87[103] On 9 December 1971, Hangor reportedly sank INS Khukri, inflicting 194 Indian casualties, and this attack was the first submarine kill since World War II.:229[105][106]

The sinking of INS Khurki was followed by another attack on Karachi port on the night of 8/9 December 1971 under codename: Python.[19] A squadron of Indian Navy's Osa missile boats approached the Karachi port and launched series of Soviet-acquired Styx missiles that resulted in further destruction of reserve fuel tanks and the sinking of three Pakistani merchant ships as well as foreign ships docked in Karachi.[107] The Pakistan Air Force did not attack the Indian Navy ships and confusion remains the next day when the civilian pilots of Pakistan International, acting as reconnaissance war pilots, misidentified PNS Zulfiqar and the air force attacked its own warship, inflicting major damages to warship and killing several officers on-board.[108]

In the eastern theatre of the war, the Indian Eastern Naval Command, under Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan, completely isolated East Pakistan by a naval blockade in the Bay of Bengal, trapping the Eastern Pakistan Navy and eight foreign merchant ships in their ports.:82–83[103] From 4 December onwards, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed, and its Sea Hawk fighter-bombers attacked many coastal towns in East Pakistan including Chittagong and Cox's Bazaar.[109] Pakistan countered the threat by sending the submarine PNS Ghazi, which sank en route under mysterious circumstances off Visakhapatnam's coast.[110][111] Due to high number of defections, the Navy relied on deploying the Pakistan Marines led by Rear Admiral Leslie Mungavin where they had conducted riverine operations against the Indian Army but they too had suffered major losses that was taken in complete surprise, mainly due to their lack of understanding of expeditionary warfare and the wet terrain of East Pakistan.[112]

Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikrant launches an Alize aircraft

The damage inflicted on the Pakistan Navy stood at 7 gunboats, 1 minesweeper, 1 submarine, 2 destroyers, 3 patrol crafts belonging to the coast guard, 18 cargo, supply and communication vessels, and large scale damage inflicted on the naval base and docks in the coastal town of Karachi. Three merchant navy ships – Anwar Baksh, Pasni and Madhumathi –[113] and ten smaller vessels were captured.[114] Around ~1900 personnel were lost, while 1413 servicemen were captured by Indian forces in Dhaka.[115] According to one Pakistan scholar, Tariq Ali, Pakistan lost entire its Marines and half its Navy in the war.[116]

Air operations

After the sneak attack, the PAF adopted a defensive stance in response to the Indian retaliation and as the war progressed, the Indian Air Force continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones but the number of sorties flown by the PAF decreased day–by–day.[117][118] The Indian Air Force flew 4,000 sorties while the PAF offered little in retaliation, partly because of the paucity of non-Bengali technical personnel.[19]

This lack of retaliation has also been attributed to the deliberate decision of the PAF's Air AHQ to cut its losses as it had already incurred huge losses in the conflict in the liberation war in the East.[119] The PAF avoided making contacts with the Indian Navy after the Indian Navy raided the port of Karachi twice but the PAF did retaliate by bombing Okha harbour, destroying the fuel tanks used by the boats that had attacked.[14][120]

In the East, No. 14 Squadron Tail Choppers under Squadron Leader PQ Mehdi, who was taken as POW, was destroyed, putting the Dhaka air defense out of commission and resulting in Indian air superiority in the East.[19]

At the end of the war, PAF pilots made successful daring escapes from East Pakistan to neighboring Burma and many PAF personnel had already left the East for Burma on their own luck before Dhaka was overrun by the Indian military in December 1971.[121]

Indian attacks on Pakistan

As Indian Army tightened its grip in the East Pakistan, the Indian Air Force continued with its pressing attacks against Pakistan as the campaign developed into a series of daylight anti-airfield, anti-radar, and close-support attacks by fighter jets, with night attacks against airfields and strategic targets by B-57s and C-130 by Pakistan and Canberras and An-12s of India.:107–108[122]

The PAF deployed the F-6s mainly on defensive combat air patrol missions over their own bases, but without the preferential air superiority, the PAF was unable to conduct effective offensive operations and its attacks were largely ineffective.:107–108[122] The Indian Air Force's raids destroyed one USAF and one UN in Dacca while the Canada's RCAF DHC-4 Caribou was also destroyed in Islamabad, alongside with the USAF's Beech U-8 owned by the US military's liaison chief Brigadier-General Chuck Yeager.:107[122][123] Sporadic raids by the Indian air force continued against PAF forward air bases in Pakistan until the end of the war and interdiction and close-support operations were maintained.:107[122]

The PAF played a more limited part in the operations and were reinforced by F-104s from Jordan, Mirages from an unidentified Middle Eastern ally (remains unknown) and by F-86s from Saudi Arabia.:107[122] Their arrival helped camouflage the extent of PAF losses and the Libyan F-5s were reportedly deployed to Sargodha AFB, perhaps as a potential training unit to prepare Pakistani pilots for an influx of more F-5s from Saudi Arabia.:112[122] The IAF was able to conduct a wide range of missions – troop support; air combat; deep penetration strikes; para-dropping behind enemy lines; feints to draw enemy fighters away from the actual target; bombing and reconnaissance.:107[122] The PAF, which was solely focused on air combat, was blown out of the subcontinent’s skies within the first week of the war. :107[122] Those PAF aircraft that survived took refuge at Iranian air bases or in concrete bunkers, refusing to offer a fight.[124]

Hostilities officially ended at 14:30 GMT on 17 December, after the fall of Dacca on 15 December and India claimed large gains of territory in Pakistan (although pre-war boundaries were recognised after the war), and the independence of Pakistan's East Wing as Bangladesh was confirmed.:107[122] India flew 1,978 sorties in the East and about 4,000 in Pakistan, while the PAF flew about 30 and 2,840 at both front.:107[122] More than 80 percent of IAF sorties were close-support and interdiction and about 45 IAF aircraft were lost.[8]

Pakistan lost 75 aircraft,[8] not including any F-6s, Mirage IIIs, or the six Jordanian F-104s which failed to return to their donors.[8] The imbalance in air losses was explained by the IAF's considerably higher sortie rate and its emphasis on ground-attack missions.[8] On the ground, Pakistan suffered the most with 8,000 killed and 25,000 wounded while India only lost 3,000 dead and 12,000 wounded.[18] The loss of armoured vehicles was similarly imbalanced and this finally represented a major defeat for Pakistan.[18]

Ground operations

Indian T-55 tanks on their way to Dhaka.

Before the start of the war, the Indian Army was extremely well organized on both front and had enjoyed the significant numerical superiority over Pakistan Army.:596[125] The Indian Army extraordinary war performance at both front brought up the prestige, confidence, and dignity that it had lost during the war with China in 1962.[126]

When the conflict started, the war immediately took a decisive turn in favor of India and their Bengali rebels militarily and diplomatically.:596[125] On both front, Pakistan launched several ground offensives but Indian Army held their grounds and initiated well-coordinated ground operations on both fronts.:596[125] Major ground attacks were concentrated on the western border by the Pakistan Army together with the Pakistan Marines in south border but the Indian Army was successful in penetrating into the Pakistani soil and eventually made some quick and initial gains, including capturing around 5,795 square miles (15,010 km2)[5][6] of Pakistan territory as the land gained by India in Azad Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh sectors was later ceded in the Simla Agreement of 1972, as a gesture of goodwill.[7] Casualties inflicted to Pakistan Army's I Corps and II Corps were very high and many soldiers were perished due to lack of operational planning and lack of coordination within the army's formations against Indian Army's Southern and Western Commands.:82–93[127] By the time the war came to end, Pakistan army soldiers and marines were highly demoralized both emotionally and psychologically on the western front and had left with no will to put up a defensive fight against the approaching Indian Army soldiers. :1–2[128]:26–27[129]

The War Enquiry Commission later exposed the fact that for the Pakistan Army, the arms and training of soldiers and officers were needed at every level, and every level of command.[130]

On 23 November 1971, the Indian Army conventionally penetrated to the eastern fronts and cross the East Pakistan's borders to join their Bengali nationalist allies.:156[131] As contrary to 1965 war which had emphasised set-piece battles and slow advances, this time the strategy adopted was a swift, three-pronged assault of nine infantry divisions with attached armoured units and close air support that rapidly converged on Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan.:156[131] Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-C of the India's Eastern Command, led the Indian full thrust into East Pakistan and as the Indian Eastern Command attacked the Pakistan Eastern Command, the Indian Air Force rapidly destroyed the small air contingent in East Pakistan and put the Dhaka airfield out of commission.:156[131] In the meantime, the Indian Navy effectively blockaded East Pakistan.:156[131]

The Indian campaign employed "blitzkrieg" techniques, exploiting weakness in the enemy's positions and bypassing opposition, and resulted in a swift victory.:802[132] Faced with insurmountable losses, the Pakistani military capitulated in less than a fortnight and psychological panic spread in the Eastern Command's military leadership.:802[132] Indian advances in East created psychological panics that demoralized the Pakistani soldiers and their Bengali soldiers who were left with great worries at the hands of Mukti Bahini.:104[133] Subsequently, the Indian Army encircled Dacca and ultimately issued an ultimatum to surrender in "30-minutes" time window on 16 December 1971.[134] Upon hearing the ultimatum, the Pakistan Eastern Command led by its commander Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi stationed in East Pakistan surrendered without putting a fight or offering any resistance.[131] On 16 December 1971, Pakistan ultimately called for unilateral ceasefire and surrendered its combined military to Indian Army– hence ending the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.[131]

Surrender of Pakistan Eastern Command in East Pakistan

Officially, the Instrument of Surrender of Pakistan Eastern Command stationed in East Pakistan was signed between the Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-C of Indian Eastern Command and Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi, the Commander of the Pakistan Eastern Command, at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka at 16:31Hrs IST on 16 December 1971.:156–157[135] As the surrender was accepted by Lieutenant-General Aurora without a word, the surrounding crowds on the race course started shouting anti-Pakistan slogans and there were reports of abuses aimed at the surrendering commanders of Pakistani military.:157[135][136]

Following the surrender, the Indian Army took approximately ~90,000 Pakistani servicemen and their Bengali supporters as POWs, making it largest surrender since the World War II.:157[135] Initial counts were recorded as ~79,676 war prisoners who were the uniformed personnel, of which 55,692 were belonged to Pakistan Army, 16,354 Paramilitary, 5,296 Police, 1,000 Navy and 800 PAF.[137]

The remaining prisoners were civilians who were either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars). The Hamoodur Rahman Commission and the POW Investigation Commission reports instituted by Pakistan lists the Pakistani POWs as follows: Apart from soldiers, it was estimated that 15,000 Bengali civilians were also made prisoners of war.[138]

Inter-Service Branch Number of captured Pakistani POWs Officer Commanding
 Pakistan Army 54,154 Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy/Pakistan Marines 1,381 Rear-Admiral Mohammad Shariff
 Pakistan Air Force 833 Air Vice Marshal Patrick Desmond Callaghan
Paramilitary/East Pakistan Rifles/Police 22,000 Major-General Rao Farman Ali
Civil government personnel 12,000 Governor Abdul Motaleb Malik
Total: 90,368 ~

Foreign reaction and involvement

United States and Soviet Union

The Soviet Union sympathised with the East Pakistanis, and supported the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini incursion against Pakistan during the war, in a broader view of recognizing that the succession of East-Pakistan as Independent Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals— the United States and China. The Soviet Union gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, it would take counter-measures. This assurance was enshrined in the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in August 1971.[139]

However, the Indo-Soviet treaty did not mean a total commitment to every Indian position even though the Soviet Union had accepted the Indian position during the conflict, according to author Robert Jackson.:72–73[140] The Soviet Union continued their sympathetic gesture to Pakistan until mid-October when they stressed Pakistan to come up with a political settlement and affirming their continuation of industrial aid to Pakistan.:73[140] By November 1971, the Soviet ambassador to Pakistan Alexei Rodionov directed a secretive message (Rodionov message) that ultimately warned Pakistan that "it will embarking a suicidal course if it escalates tensions in the subcontinent.:part-3[90]

The United States stood with Pakistan by supporting morally, politically, economically, and materially when U.S. President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger refused to use rhetoric in a hopeless attempt to intervene in a large civil war. The U.S. establishment perceived to the impression that they needed Pakistan to help stop Soviet influence into the South Asia in an informal alliance with India.:281[141] During the Cold War, Pakistan was a close formal ally of the United States and was also had close relations with the People's Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement and where he intended to visit in February 1972.[142] Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of 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.:281–282[141] Nixon encouraged Jordan and Iran to send military supplies to Pakistan while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan, but all supplies were very limited.:61[143][144] The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the "genocidal" activities of the Pakistani military in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram and this prompted widespread criticism and condemnation both by the United States Congress and in the international press.[61][145][146]

Then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, George Bush, Sr, introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of armed forces by India and Pakistan. :73[140] However, it was vetoed by the Soviet Union and the following days witnessed a great pressure on the Soviets from the Nixon-Kissinger duo to get India to withdraw, but to no avail.[147]

It has been documented that President Nixon requested Iran and Jordan to send their F-86, F-104 and F-5 fighter jets in aid of Pakistan.[148]

When Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, Nixon deployed Task Force 74 led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. Enterprise and its escort ships arrived on station on 11 December 1971.:xxxx[149] According to a Russian documentary, the United Kingdom deployed a carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to the Bay,[139][150][better source needed] on her final deployment. Eagle was paid off by January 1972 at Portsmouth and was stripped of reusable equipment (radars and missile systems primarily).

On 6 and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers and a submarine armed with nuclear missiles from Vladivostok;[139] they trailed US Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18 December 1971 until 7 January 1972. The Soviets also had a nuclear submarine to help ward off the threat posed by the USS Enterprise task force in the Indian Ocean.[151][152]

As the war progressed, it became apparent to the United States that India was going to invade and disintegrate Pakistan in matter of weeks, therefore President Nixon spoke with the USSR Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev on a hotline on 10 December where Nixon reportedly urged to Brezhnev to retrain India as he quoted: " in the strongest possible terms to restrain India with which … you [Breznev] have great influence and for whose actions you must share responsibility."[153]

After the war, the United States accepted the new power of balance and realized India as a major dominant player in the South Asia and immediately engage in strengthening bilateral relations between two countries in the successive years.:69[154] Soviet Union, while being sympathetic to Pakistan's loss, decided to engage with Pakistan after sending an invitation through Rodionov to Bhutto who paid a state visit to Soviet Union in 1972 to strengthened the bilateral relations that continued on over the successive years.:16[155]

China and Iran

During the course of the war, China harshly criticized India for its involvement in the East Pakistan crises and accused India of having the imperialistic design in South Asia.:19[156] Before the war started, Chinese leaders and officials had been long philosophically advising the Pakistan government to make peaceful political settlements with the East Pakistani leaders, as China feared that India was secretly supporting, infiltrating, and arming the Bengali rebels against the East Pakistani government.:61[157]:285[158] China was also critical of Government of East Pakistan led by its Governor Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan 's ruthless measure to deal with the Bengali opposition and did not endorse's Pakistani position on that.:285[158] When the war started, China reproached India for India's direct involvement and infiltration in East Pakistan.:285[158] China disagreed with President Yahya Khan's sought of military option and criticized to East Pakistani Awami League's politicians ties with India that would harmed the nation's unity.:285[158]

When the war started, China reacted with great alarm when the prospects of Indian invasion of Pakistan became imminent and integrating the Azad Kashmir into their side of Kashmir.[99] U.S. President Nixon encouraged China to mobilise its armed forces along its border with India to discourage it but the Chinese did not respond to this encouragement since the Indian Army's Northern Command was well prepared to guard the Line of Actual Control, and was already engaging and making advances against the Pakistan Army's X Corps in the Line of Control.:xxxiii[159]

China did not welcome the break-up of Pakistan's unity by the East Pakistani politicians and effectively vetoed the membership of Bangladesh when it applied to the United Nations in 1972.[160] Over the veto of two UN resolutions concerning the Bangladesh, China reasoned with these decisions in regards to the repatriation of Pakistani POWs and civilians had not yet been implemented.[161] Furthermore, China was also among the last countries to recognize the independence of Bangladesh, refusing to do so until 31 August 1975.:226–227[162][160][163] To this date China's relations with Bangladesh are determined by the Pakistan factor.:69[164]

During the course of the conflict, Iran also stood with Pakistan politically and diplomatically due to Shah of Iran's personal relationship with President Yahya Khan who was of the Persian descent.:78–79[165] However, Iran became concerned with the imminent break-up of Pakistan in which, they feared, that the state would fall into small pieces; therefore, Iran began cementing ties with India based on mutual security assistance.:79[165] At the beginning of the conflict, Iran helped sheltering PAF's fighter jets and provided with free fuel for the PAF to take part in the conflict in an attempt to keep Pakistan's regional integrity united.:80[165] When Pakistan called for unilateral ceasefire and the surrender was announced, Shah of Iran hastily responded by preparing the Iranian military to come up with the contingency plans to forcefully invade Pakistan and annex its Balochistan province into its side of Baluchistan, by any means necessary, before anybody else does it.:79[165]

Aftermath

India

The war stripped Pakistan of more than half of its population and with nearly one-third of its army in captivity, clearly established India's military and political dominance of the subcontinent.[26] India successfully led a diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan and skillfully manipulate Pakistan's supporting countries to limit the extent of support to Pakistan.:596[125] In addition, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's state visit to United Kingdom and France further helped break with the United States that blocked any pro-Pakistan based UN resolution in the United Nations.:596[125] There was also a meeting between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Nixon in November 1971 which she rejected the U.S. advice against intervening in the conflict.:596[125]

The victory also defined India's much broader role in the foreign politics as many countries in the world had come to realize, including the United States, that the balance of power now had shifted to India as a major player in the region.:80[165]:57[166] Regional countries such as Afghanistan and Iran as well as Arab-speaking states such as Iraq, and Gulf states who were traditional allies of Pakistan, prompted to seek closer ties with India rather than Pakistan in successive years.:57[166] The United States itself accepted a new power of balance and when India conducted a surprise nuclear test in 1974, the United States had notified India that the U.S. had no "interest in actions designed to achieve new power of balance.":69[154]

In spite of the magnitude of the victory, India was surprisingly restrained in its reaction.[26] Mostly, Indian leaders seemed pleased by the relative ease with which they had accomplished their goals—the establishment of Bangladesh and the prospect of an early return to their homeland of the 10 million Bengali refugees who were the cause of the war.[26] In announcing the Pakistani surrender, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared in the Indian Parliament:

Dacca is now the free capital of a free country. We hail the people of Bangladesh in their hour of triumph. All nations who value the human spirit will recognize it as a significant milestone in man's quest for liberty.[26]

Colonel John Gill of National Defense University remarks that, while India achieved a military victory, it was not able to reap the political fruits it might have hoped for in Bangladesh. After a brief 'honeymoon' phase between India and Bangladesh, their relations began to sour. India's relations with Bangladesh have remained frequently problematic and tense.[167][168] Whilst India enjoys excellent relations with Bangladesh during Awami League tenures, relations deteriorate when the BNP is in power in Bangladesh. A 2014 PEW opinion poll in Bangladesh found that India was perceived as the greatest threat to Bangladesh. This was the top choice (27%). However 70% of Bangladeshis held a positive view of India compared to 50% with positive view of Pakistan.[169]

Pakistan

For Pakistan it was a complete and humiliating defeat,[26] a psychological setback that came from a defeat at the hands of intense rival India.[33] Pakistan lost half its population and a significant portion of its economy and suffered setbacks to its geo-political role in South Asia.[26][33] In the post-war era, Pakistan struggled to absorbed the lessons learned from the military interventions in the democratic system and the impact of the military failure in Pakistani military was grave and long-lasting.[170][171]

From the geopolitical point of view, the war ended in the breaking-up the unity of Pakistan from being the largest Muslim country in the world to its politico-economic and military collapse that resulted from a direct foreign intervention in 1971.:50[172]:47[173]:1[174][175][176] The Pakistani policy-making institutions further feared that the histrocity of Two-nation theory was disproved that the Muslim nationalism had proved insufficient to keep Bengalis part of Pakistan.[33] The Pakistani government had to engaged in investigation commission when the Pakistani military suffered from a further humiliation by having their ~90,000 prisoners of war that were to be released by India only after the negotiation and signing of the agreement that was signed in Simla on 2 July 1972. In addition to repatriation of prisoners of war and transferring population, the agreement established an ongoing structure for the negotiated resolution of future conflicts between India and Pakistan. In signing the agreement, Pakistan also, by implication, had to recognised the former East Pakistan as the now independent and sovereign state of Bangladesh.

The Pakistani people were not mentally prepared to accept the magnitude to this kind of defeat as the state electronic media had been projecting imaginary victories despite the privately-owned electronic news media coverage in the East Pakistan that reported the complexity of the situation.[33] When the ceasefire that came from surrendering of East Pakistan was finally announced, the people could not come to terms with the magnitude of defeat, spontaneous demonstrations, and massive protests erupted on the streets of major metropolitan cities in Pakistan. In 1970, the presidential ordnance had already restored the original status of four provinces that had removed the "West" and simply adding "Pakistan" to the effect of the defeat as international acceptance of the secession of the eastern half of the country and its creation as the independent state of Bangladesh developed and was given more credence.[33] According to Pakistani historians, the trauma was extremely severe and the cost of the war for Pakistan in monetary and human resources was very high.:xxx[177][178] Demoralized and finding unable to control the situation, the Yahya administration fell to its feet when President Yahya Khan turned over his presidency to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was sworn-in on 20 December 1971 as President with the control of the military.[179]

The loss of East Pakistan shattered the prestige of the Pakistani military.[33] Pakistan lost entire its marines, half its navy, a quarter of its air force, and a third of its army.[180] The war also exposed the shortcomings of Pakistan's declared strategic doctrine that the "defence of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan".[181] Hussain Haqqani, in his book Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military notes,

Moreover, the army had failed to fulfill its promises of fighting to the last man. The eastern command had laid down arms after losing only 1,300 men in battle. In West Pakistan 1,200 military deaths had accompanied lackluster military performance.[182]

In his book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier’s Narrative Pakistan Army's Major General Hakeem Arshad Qureshi a veteran of this conflict noted,

We must accept the fact that, as a people, we had also contributed to the bifurcation of our own country. It was not a Niazi, or a Yahya, even a Mujib, or a Bhutto, or their key assistants, who alone were the cause of our break-up, but a corrupted system and a flawed social order that our own apathy had allowed to remain in place for years. At the most critical moment in our history we failed to check the limitless ambitions of individuals with dubious antecedents and to thwart their selfish and irresponsible behaviour. It was our collective 'conduct' that had provided the enemy an opportunity to dismember us.[183]

The Indian Army Chief in 1971 Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw had the highest respect for the fighting capability of the Pakistan Army but he did not accept the theory that they did not fight the Bangladesh war with enough vigor and zeal.[184] In a BBC interview, he said:

The Pakistan army in East Pakistan fought very gallantly. But they had no chance. They were a thousand miles away from their base. I had eight or nine months to make my preparations. I had got a superiority of almost 15 to 1....[185][186]

However, independent defence sources stated that the Indian superiority was less than 2 to 1.[187] The United States Air Force's Brigadier-General Chuck Yeager, the World War II veteran and U.S. flying ace who witnessed the war in 1971, is of the view that Pakistan did not lose the war, as India did not annex it.[188]

Major reforms were carried out by the successive governments in Pakistan after the war in the light of many insightful recommendations made in the Hamoodur Rahman Commission's Report.:254[189] To address the economic disparity, the NFC system was established to equally distribute the taxation revenue among the four provinces, the large-scale nationalization of industries and nationwide census were carried in 1972.[190] The Constitution was promulgated in 1973 that reflected the equal balance and a compromise between the Islamism and the Humanism and provided a guaranteed equal human rights to all.[191] The military was heavily reconstructed and heavily reorganized by President Bhutto by appointing chiefs of staff in each inter-services as contrary to C-in-Cs, and making the instructions on the human rights compulsory in the military syllabus in each branches of inter-services. :62–100[192] Major investments were directed towards modernizing the navy.:100[103] The military's chain of command was centralized in JS HQ led by appointed Chairman joint chiefs committee to coordinate the combined and well-integrated military efforts to safe guard's the nation's defence and unity.:62–63[192] In addition, Pakistan sought to have a diversified foreign policy when Pakistan geostrategists were left with shocked that both China and United States showed limited support during the course of the war, and the U.S.' inability to supplies of weapons that they needed the most.:xxxiii[193]

In January 20, 1972, Pakistan under Bhutto launched the clandestine development of nuclear weapons in a view of "never to allow another foreign invasion of Pakistan.":133–135[194] This crash program reached parity in 1977 when the first weapon design was successfully achieved.[195]

Bangladesh

As a result of the war, the East Pakistan disintegrated and its status succeeded as an independent country, Bangla Desh, as the world's fourth most populous Muslim state on 16 December 1971.:xxxv[159] Pakistan itself secured the release of Mujibur Rahman from the Headquarter Prison and allowing him to return to Dacca on 19 January 1972 as Mujib was inaugurated as the first President of Bangladesh later becoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in 1974.:xxxv[159]

On the brink of defeat around 14 December 1971, the media reports indicated that the Pakistan Army soldiers, and their controlled local East Pakistan Police, Razakars, and the Shanti Committee carried out a systematic killings of professionals such as physicians, teachers, and intellectuals,[196][197] as a part of a pogrom against the Bengali Hindu minorities who constituted the majority of urban educated intellectuals.[198][199]

Young men, especially students, who were seen as possible rebels and the recruiters were also targeted by the stationed military but the extent of casualties in East Pakistan is not known and the issue is itself controversial and contradictory among the authors who wrote books on the pogrom as the Pakistani government itself denied the charges their involvement in 2015.[200][201]:511–512[202] R.J. Rummel cites estimates ranging from one to three million people killed.[203] Other estimates place the death toll lower, at 300,000. Bangladesh government figures state that Pakistani forces aided by collaborators killed three million people, raped 200,000 women and displaced millions of others.[204][205]

According to the authors Kenton Worcester, Sally Bermanzohn, and Mark Ungar, Bengali themselves killed ~150,000 non-Bengalis living in the East:111[206] There were also reports of Bengali insurgents indiscriminately killing non-Bengalis throughout the East, however neither sides provided with substantial proves their claims when both Bangladeshi and Pakistani figures debated over this issue.:108[207]:133[208]

In 2010, the Awami League's government decided to set up a tribunal to prosecute the people involved in alleged war crimes and those who collaborated with Pakistan.[209] According to the Government, the defendants would be charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, murder, rape and arson.[210]

According to John H Gill, since there was widespread polarisation between pro-Pakistan Bengalis and pro-liberation Bengalis during the war, those internal battles are still playing out in the domestic politics of modern-day Bangladesh.[211] To this day, the issue of committed atrocities and pogrom serves to be an influential factor in the foreign relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh.[212]

Impact

Pakistan: War Enquiry Commission and War prisoners

In the aftermath of the war, the Pakistan government constituted the War Enquiry Commission to be headed by the Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman, of Bengali origin,[213] and composed of the senior justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[213] The War Enquiry Commission was mandated with carrying out the thorough investigations into the intelligence, strategic, political, and the military failures that causes the defeat in the war.:44[214]

The War Commission also looks into the Pakistan's political and military involvement in the history of East Pakistan that encompasses from 1947–71.:44[214] The First War Report was submitted on July 1972 but it was very critically opined and penned on political misconducts of politicians and the military interference of military in the national politics.:22–197[215] Written in moral and philosophical perspective, the First Report was very lengthy but provided accounts that was unpalatable to be released to the public. Initially, there were 12 copies that were all destroyed except for the one that was kept and marked as "Top Secret" to prevent the backlash effects on the demoralized military.:127[216] In 1976, the Supplementary Report was also submitted that was also the comprehensive report compiled together with the First Report; this report was also marked as classified.[217]

In 2000, the excerpts of the Supplementary Report was leaked to Pakistan's Dawn political correspondent, which the Dawn published it together with the India Today.[218][219] The First Report is still marked as classified while the Supplementary Report's excerpts were suppressed by the news correspondents.:288–289[220] The War Report's supplementary section was published by the Pakistan's government but did not officially handed over the report to Bangladesh despite its requests.[221])

The War Report exposed many military failures from the strategic to the tactical–intelligence levels while it confirmed the looting, rapes and the unnecessary killings by the Pakistan military and their local agents.[222] It lay the blame squarely on Pakistan army generals, accusing them of debauchery, smuggling, war crimes and neglect of duty.[223] The War Commission had recommended public trial of Pakistan Army generals on the charges that they had been responsible for the situation in the first place and that they had succumbed without a fight,[224] but no actions were ever taken against those responsible besides the dismissal of chiefs of army, air force, navy, and decommissioning of the marines.[218][224]

The War Commission however rejected the charge that 200,000 Bengali girls were raped by the Pakistan Army but it remarked: “It is clear that the figures mentioned by the Dacca authorities are altogether fantastic and fanciful"and cited the evidence of a British abortion team that it carried out the termination of "only a hundred or more pregnancies".[225][213][226] The Commission also claimed that "approximately 26,000 persons [were] killed during the action by the Pakistan military"[225][227] Bina D'Costa states that the War Commission was aware of the military's brutality in East Pakistan but "chose to downplay the scale of the atrocities committed."[225]

The second commission was known as Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 Prisoners of War Investigation conducted solely by the Pakistani government that was to be determined the numbers of Pakistani military personnel's surrenders including the civilians.[228] The official number of the surrendered military personnel was soon released by the Government of Pakistan after the war was over.[228]

India: Indo-Pakistani Summits

On 2 July 1972, the Indo-Pakistani summit was held in Simla, Himachal Pradesh, India were the Simla Agreement was reached and signed between the President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a governments of each state playing a depository role.[229] The treaty provided insurance to Bangladesh that Pakistan recognized Bangladesh's sovereignty in exchange for the return of the Pakistani POWs as India was treating the war prisoners in accordance to Geneva Conventions promulgated in 1925.[97] In mere five months, India systematically released more than ~90,000 war prisoners with Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi being the last war prisoner to be handed over to Pakistan.[97]

The treaty also gave back more than 13,000 km² of land that Indian Army had seized in Pakistan during the war, though India retained a few strategic areas( including Turtuk), which was more than 800 km².[230][231] The Indian hardliners, however, felt that the treaty had been too lenient to President Bhutto, who had pleaded for leniency, arguing that the fragile stability in Pakistan would crumble if the accord was perceived as being overly harsh by Pakistanis and that he would be accused of losing Kashmir in addition to the loss of East Pakistan.[33] As a result of which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was criticized by a section in India for believing Bhutto's "sweet talk and false vows" while the other section claimed it successful, for not letting it to fall into "Versailles Syndrome” trap.[232]

In 1973, India and Pakistan reached another compromised when both countries signed trilateral agreement with Bangladesh that actually brought the war prisoners, non-Bengali and Pakistan-loyaled Bengali bureaucrats and civilian servants to Pakistan.[233] The Delhi Agreement witnessed the mass population transfer since the partition of India in 1947.[234]

Bangladesh:International Crimes Tribunal

In 2009, the issue of establishing the International Crimes Tribunal began to take public support and formally established the tribunal in 2010 to investigate and prosecute suspects for the genocide committed in 1971 by the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators, Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams during the Bangladesh Liberation War.:169[235]

Long-term consequences

  • Steve Coll, in his book Ghost Wars, argues that the Pakistan military's experience with India, including Pervez Musharraf's experience in 1971, influenced the Pakistani government to support jihadist groups in Afghanistan even after the Soviets left, because the jihadists were a tool to use against India, including bogging down the Indian Army in Kashmir.[236][237]
  • After the war, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto authorised the highly secretive and clandestine atomic bomb program, as part of its new deterrence policy, to defend itself and never to allow another armed invasion from India.[citation needed] Many Pakistani scientists, abroad working at the IAEA and European and American nuclear programs immediately returned to what remained of Pakistan and participated in making Pakistan a nuclear power.[citation needed]
  • Writing about the war in Foreign Affairs magazine Zulfikar Ali Bhutto stated 'There is no parallel in contemporary history to the cataclysm which engulfed Pakistan in 1971. A tragic civil war, which rent asunder the people of the two parts of Pakistan, was seized by India as an opportunity for armed intervention. The country was dismembered, its economy shattered and the nation's self-confidence totally undermined.'[238] This statement of Bhutto has given rise to the myth of betrayal prevalent in modern Pakistan. This view was contradicted by the post-War Hamoodur Rahman Commission, ordered by Bhutto himself, which in its 1974 report indicted generals of the Pakistan Army for creating conditions which led to the eventual loss of East Pakistan and for inept handling of military operations in the East.[218]

Timeline

  • 7 March 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.
  • 25 March 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.
  • 26 March 1971: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signed an official declaration of independence and sent it through a radio message on the night of 25 March (the morning of 26 March). Later Major Ziaur Rahman and other Awami League leaders announced the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujib from Kalurghat Radio Station, Chittagong. The message is relayed to the world by Indian radio stations.
  • 27 March 1971: Bangladesh Force namely Mukti Bahini {consisting Niyomito Bahini (Regular Force) and Gono Bahini (Guerilla Force)} was formed under the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) General Mohammad Ataul Ghani Osmany.
  • 17 April 1971: Exiled leaders of Awami League form a provisional government.
  • 3 December 1971: War between India and Pakistan officially begins when West Pakistan launches a series of preemptive air strikes on Indian airfields.
  • 6 December 1971: East Pakistan is recognised as Bangladesh by India.
  • 14 December 1971: Systematic elimination of Bengali intellectuals is started by Pakistani Army and local collaborators.[198]
  • 16 December 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 Jagjit Singh Arora of Indian Army at the surrender. India and Bangladesh gain victory.
  • 12 January 1972: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman comes to power.

Military awards

Battle honours

After the war, 41 battle honours and 4 theatre honours were awarded to units of the Indian Army, the notable amongst which are:[239]

Gallantry awards

For bravery, a number of soldiers and officers on both sides were awarded the highest gallantry award of their respective countries. Following is a list of the recipients of the Indian award Param Vir Chakra, Bangladeshi award Bir Sreshtho and the Pakistani award Nishan-E-Haider:

India

Recipients of the Param Vir Chakra:[240][241]

Bangladesh

Recipients of the Bir Sreshtho:[citation needed]

Pakistan

Recipients of the Nishan-E-Haider:[242][243]

Civilian awards

On 25 July 2011, Bangladesh Swadhinata Sammanona, the Bangladesh Freedom Honour, was posthumously conferred on former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi.[244]

On 28 March 2012, President of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman and the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conferred Bangladesh Liberation War Honour and Friends of Liberation War Honour to 75 individuals, six organisations, Mitra Bahini and the people of India at a special ceremony at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. This included eight heads of states viz. former Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav, the third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, former Soviet presidents Leonid IIyich Brezhnev and Nikolai Viktorovich Podgorny, ex-Soviet prime minister Alexei Nikolaevich Kosygin, former Yugoslav president Marshal Josip Broz Tito, ex-UK prime minister Sir Edward Richard George Heath and former Nepalese prime minister Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala. The organisations include the BBC, Akashbani (All India Radio), International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Oxfam and Kolkata University Shahayak Samiti.

The list of foreign friends of Bangladesh has since been extended to 568 people. It includes 257 Indians, 88 Americans, 41 Pakistanis, 39 Britons, nine Russians, 18 Nepalese, 16 French and 18 Japanese.[245][246]

Dramatization

Films (Indian)
Miniseries/Dramas (Pakistani)

See also

General:

References

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Further reading

External links