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The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which 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. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.

Border skirmishes

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakis

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which 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. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.[32][33]

During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western fronts; the war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender[34][35] on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, East Pakistan had earlier called for its secession from the unity of Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately 90,000[36] to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army, which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of the Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan.[36][37][38] The remaining 10,324 to 12,500 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars).[36][39][40][41]

It is estimated that members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias killed between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians in Bangladesh.[42][43][44][45][46] As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.[47]

During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias called the Razakars raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[48][49][50]

The Indo-Pakistani conflict was sparked by the Bangladesh Liberation War, a conflict between the traditionally dominant West Pakistanis and the majority East Pakistanis.[27] The political tensions between East Bengal and West Pakistan had its origin in the creation of Pakistan as a result of the partition of India by the United Kingdom in 1947; the popular language movement in 1950; mass riots in East Bengal in 1964; and the mass protests in 1969. These led to the resignation of President Ayub Khan, who invited army chief General Yahya Khan to take over the central government.[51]:xxx The geographical distance between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan was vast; East Pakistan lay over 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) away, which greatly hampered any attempt to integrate the Bengali and the Pakistani cultures.[52]:13–14[53]

To overcome the Bengali domination and prevent formation of the central government in Islamabad, the controversial One Unit programme established the two wings of East and West Pakistan. West Pakistanis' opposition to these efforts made it difficult to effectively govern both wings.[51]:xxx In 1969, President Yahya Khan announced the first general elections and disestablished the status of West Pakistan as a single province in 1970, in order to restore it to its original heterogeneous status comprising four provinces, as defined at the time of establishment of Pakistan in 1947.[54] In addition, there were religious and racial tensions between Bengalis and the multi-ethnic West Pakistanis, as Bengalis looked different from the dominant West Pakistanis.[55]

The general elections, held in 1970, resulted in East Pakistan's Awami League gaining 167 out of 169 seats for the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly, and a near-absolute majority in the 313-seat National Assembly, while the vote in West Pakistan was mostly won by the socialist Pakistan Peoples Party.[56]:686–687 The Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stressed his political position by presenting his Six Points and endorsing the Bengalis' right to govern.[51]:xxx The League's election success caused many West Pakistanis to fear that it would allow the Bengalis to draft the constitution based on the six-points and liberalism.[57]:xlv

To resolve the crisis, the Admiral Ahsan Mission was formed to provide recommendations. Its findings were met with favourable reviews from the political leaders of West Pakistan, with the exception of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.[58]:109–110

Indian Air Force MiG-21s during the war.

After the sneak attack, the PAF adopted a defensive stance in response to the Indian retaliation. As the war progressed, the IAF continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones, but the number of sorties flown by the PAF decreased day–by–day.After the sneak attack, the PAF adopted a defensive stance in response to the Indian retaliation. As the war progressed, the IAF continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones, but the number of sorties flown by the PAF decreased day–by–day.[114][115] The IAF flew 4,000 sorties while the PAF offered little in retaliation, partly because of the paucity of non-Bengali technical personnel.[27]

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.[116] The PAF avoided making contacts with the Indian Navy after the latter 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.[23][117]

In the East, No. 14 Squadron Tail Choppers under Squadron Leader 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.[116] The PAF avoided making contacts with the Indian Navy after the latter 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.[23][117]

In the East, No. 14 Squadron Tail Choppers under Squadron Leader PQ Mehdi, who was taken as POW, was destroyed, putting the Dhaka air defence out of commission and resulting in Indian air superiority in the East.[27]

At the end of the war, PAF pilots made successful escapes from East Pakistan to neighbouring Burma; many PAF personnel had already left the East for Burma on their own before Dacca was overrun by the Indian military in December 1971.[118]

As the Indian Army tightened its grip in the East Pakistan, the Indian Air Force continued with its 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 Canberras and An-12s, while Pakistan responded with similar night attacks with its B-57s and C-130s.[119]:107–108

The PAF deployed its F-6s mainly on defensive combat air patrol missions over their own bases, leaving the PAF unable to conduct effective offensive operations.[119]:107 The IAF's raids damaged one USAF and one UN aircraft in Dacca, while a RCAF DHC-4 Caribou was destroyed in Islamabad, along with the USAF's Beech U-8 owned by the US military's liaison chief F-6s mainly on defensive combat air patrol missions over their own bases, leaving the PAF unable to conduct effective offensive operations.[119]:107 The IAF's raids damaged one USAF and one UN aircraft in Dacca, while a RCAF DHC-4 Caribou was destroyed in Islamabad, along with the USAF's Beech U-8 owned by the US military's liaison chief Brigadier-General Chuck Yeager.[119]:107[120] Sporadic raids by the IAF continued against PAF forward air bases in Pakistan until the end of the war, and interdiction and close-support operations were maintained.[119]:107–108

One of the most successful air raids by India into West Pakistan happened on 8 December 1971, when Indian Hunter aircraft from the Pathankot-based 20 Squadron, attacked the Pakistani base in Murid and destroyed 5 F-86 aircraft on the ground. This was confirmed by Pakistan's military historian, Air Commodore M Kaiser Tufail, in his book In The Ring and on Its Feet: Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.[121]

The PAF played a more limited role in the operations. They were reinforced by Mirages from an unidentified Middle Eastern ally (whose identity remains unknown).[119]:107 According to author Martin Bowman, "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."[119]:112 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.[119]:107 The PAF, which was solely focused on air combat, was blown out of the subcontinent's skies within the first week of the war.[119]:107 Those PAF aircraft that survived took refuge at Iranian air bases or in concrete bunkers, refusing to offer a fight.[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 the respective fronts.[119]:107 More than 80 percent of IAF sorties were close-support and interdiction and about 45 IAF aircraft were lost.[12]

Pakistan lost 75 aircraft,[12] not including any F-6s, Mirage IIIs, or the six Jordanian F-104s which failed to return to their donors.[12] The imbalance in air losses was explained by the IAF's considerably higher sortie rate and its emphasis on ground-attack missions.[12]

Before the start of the war, the Indian Army was well organised on both fronts and enjoyed significant numerical superiority over the Pakistan Army.[123]:596 The Indian Army's extraordinary war performance at both fronts brought up the prestige, confidence, and dignity that it had lost during the war with China in 1962.[124]

When the conflict started, the war immediately took a decisive turn in favour of India and their Bengali rebel allies militarily and diplomatically.[123]:596 On both fronts, Pakistan launched several ground offensives, but the Indian Army held its ground and initiated well-coordinated ground operations on both fronts.[123]:596 Major ground attacks were concentrated on the western border by the Pakistan Army, fighting together with the Pakistan Marines in the southern border, but the Indian Army was successful in penetrating into Pakistani soil. It eventually made some quick and initial gains, including the capture of around 15,010 km2 (5,795 sq mi)[5][6] of Pakistani territory; this land gained by India in Azad Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh sectors was later ceded in the Simla Agreement of 1972, as a gesture of goodwillBengali rebel allies militarily and diplomatically.[123]:596 On both fronts, Pakistan launched several ground offensives, but the Indian Army held its ground and initiated well-coordinated ground operations on both fronts.[123]:596 Major ground attacks were concentrated on the western border by the Pakistan Army, fighting together with the Pakistan Marines in the southern border, but the Indian Army was successful in penetrating into Pakistani soil. It eventually made some quick and initial gains, including the capture of around 15,010 km2 (5,795 sq mi)[5][6] of Pakistani territory; this 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, II Corps, and Pakistan Marines' Punjab detachment were very high, and many soldiers and marines perished due to lack of operational planning and lack of coordination within the marine-army formations against Indian Army's Southern and Western Commands.[125]:82–93 By the time the war came to end, the army soldiers and marines were highly demoralised– both emotionally and psychologically– on the western front and had no will to put up a defensive fight against the approaching Indian Army soldiers.[126]:1–2

The War Enquiry Commission later exposed the fact that for the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Marines, the arms and training of marines, soldiers and officers were needed at every level, and every level of command.[127]

On 23 November 1971, the Indian Army conventionally penetrated to the eastern fronts and crossed East Pakistan's borders to join their Bengali nationalist allies.[128]:156 Contrary to the 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 Dacca, the capital of East Pakistan.[128]:156 Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian Army's Eastern Command, led the full Indian thrust into East Pakistan. 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 Dacca airfield out of commission.[128]:156 In the meantime, the Indian Navy effectively blockaded East Pakistan.[128]:156

The Indian campaign's "blitzkrieg" techniques exploited weaknesses in the Pakistani positions and bypassed opposition; this resulted in a swift victory.[129]:802 Faced with insurmountable losses, the Pakistani military capitulated in less than a fortnight and psychological panic spread in the Eastern Command's military leadership.[129]:802 Subsequently, the Indian Army encircled Dacca and issued an ultimatum to surrender in "30-minutes" time window on 16 December 1971.[130] Upon hearing the ultimatum, the East-Pakistan government collapsed when the Lt-Gen. A.A.K. Niazi (Cdr. of Eastern Command) and his deputy, V-Adm. M.S. Khan, surrendered without offering any resistance.[128] On 16 December 1971, Pakistan ultimately called for unilateral ceasefire and surrendered its entire four-tier military to the Indian Army– hence ending the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.[128]

On the ground, Pakistan suffered the most, with 8,000 killed and 25,000 wounded, while India only had 3,000 dead and 12,000 wounded.[15] The loss of armoured vehicles was similarly imbalanced and this finally represented a major defeat for Pakistan.[15]

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 Dacca at 16:31Hrs IST on 16 December 1971.[citation needed] As the surrender was accepted silently by Lieutenant-General Aurora, 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.[131]

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). The war confirmed the independence of Bangladesh.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). The war confirmed the independence of Bangladesh.[119]:107

Following the surrender, the Indian Army took approximately 90,000 Pakistani servicemen and their Bengali supporters as POWs, making it the largest surrender since World War II.[citation needed] Initial counts recorded that approximately 79,676 war prisoners were uniformed personnel, and the overwhelming majority of the war prisoners were officers – most of them from the Army and Navy, while relatively small numbers were from the Air Force and Marines; others in larger number were serving in the paramilitary.[132]

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 given in the table below. Apart from soldiers, it was estimated that 15,000 Bengali civilians were also made prisoners of war.[133]

The Soviet Union sympathised with the East Pakistanis, and supported the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini's incursion against Pakistan during the war, in a broader view of recognising 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.[134]

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.[135]:72–73 The Soviet Union continued its sympathetic gesture to Pakistan until mid-October 1971, when it stressed Pakistan to come up with a political settlement and affirmed its continuation of industrial aid to Pakistan.[135]:73 By November 1971, the Soviet ambassador to Pakistan Alexei Rodionov directed a secretive message (Rodionov message) that ultimately warned Pakistan that "it will be embarking on a suicidal course if it escalates tensions in the subcontinent.[88]:part-3

The United States stood with Pakistan by supporting it 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 in South Asia in an informal alliance with India.[136]:281 During the Cold War, Pakistan was a close formal ally of the United States and 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.[137] 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 tactical ally, China.[136]:281–282 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.[138]:61 The Nixon administration also ignored reports it re

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.[135]:72–73 The Soviet Union continued its sympathetic gesture to Pakistan until mid-October 1971, when it stressed Pakistan to come up with a political settlement and affirmed its continuation of industrial aid to Pakistan.[135]:73 By November 1971, the Soviet ambassador to Pakistan Alexei Rodionov directed a secretive message (Rodionov message) that ultimately warned Pakistan that "it will be embarking on a suicidal course if it escalates tensions in the subcontinent.[88]:part-3

The United States stood with Pakistan by supporting it 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 in South Asia in an informal alliance with India.[136]:281 During the Cold War, Pakistan was a close formal ally of the United States and 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.[137] 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 tactical ally, China.[136]:281–282 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.[138]:61 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.[69][139][140]

Then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, George H.W. Bush, introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of armed forces by India and Pakistan.[135]:73[141] However, it was vetoed by the Soviet Union, and the following days witnessed the use of great pressure on the Soviets from the Nixon-Kissinger duo to get India to withdraw, but to no avail.[142]

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.[143]:xxxx According to a Russian documentary, the United Kingdom also deployed a carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to the Bay,[134][144][better source needed] on her final deployment.

On 6 and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers from Vladivostok;[134] 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.[145][146]

As the war progressed, it became apparent to the United States that India was going to invade and disintegrate Pakistan in a matter of weeks, therefore President Nixon spoke with the USSR General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev on a hotline on 10 December, where Nixon reportedly urged Brezhnev to restrain India as he quoted: "in the strongest possible terms to restrain India with which … you [Brezhnev] have great influence and for whose actions you must share responsibility."[147]

After the war, the United States accepted the new balance of power and recognised India as a dominant player in South Asia; the US immediately engaged in strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries in the successive years.[148] The Soviet Union, while being sympathetic to Pakistan's loss, decided to engage with Pakistan after sending an invitation through Rodionov to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who paid a state visit to the Soviet Union in 1972 to strengthen bilateral relations that continued over the years.[149]:16

A 2019 study argues "that Nixon and Kissinger routinely demonstrated psychological biases that led them to overestimate the likelihood of West Pakistani victory" in the war, and that they overestimated "the importance of the crisis to broader U.S. policy. The evidence fails to support Nixon and Kissinger’s own framing of the 1971 crisis as a contest between cool-headed realpolitik and idealistic humanitarianism, and instead shows that Kissinger and Nixon’s policy decisions harmed their stated goals because of repeated decision-making errors."[150]

During the course of the war, China harshly criticised India for its involvement in the East Pakistan crises, and accused India of having imperialistic designs in South Asia.[151]:19 Before the war started, Chinese leaders and officials had long been 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.[152][153] China was also critical of the Government of East Pakistan, led by its Governor Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, which used ruthless measures to deal with the Bengali opposition, and did not endorse the Pakistani position on that issue.[153]

When the war started, China reproached India for its direct involvement and infiltration in East Pakistan.[153] It disagreed with Pakistani President Yahya Khan's consideration of military options, and criticised East Pakistan Awami League politicians' ties with India.[153] China reacted with great alarm when the prospects of Indian invasion of Pakistan and integration of Pakistan-administered Kashmir into their side of Kashmir, became imminent.[96] US President Nixon encouraged China to mobilise its armed forces along its border with India to discourage the Indian assault, 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.[citation needed]

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.[154] China objected to admitting Bangladesh on the grounds that two UN resolutions concerning Bangladesh, requiring the repatriation of Pakistani POWs and civilians, had not yet been implemented.[155] Furthermore, China was also among the last countries to recognise the independence of Bangladesh, refusing to do so until 31 August 1975.[156][154][157] To this date, its relations with Bangladesh are determined by the Pakistan factor.[158]

During the course of the conflict, Iran also stood with Pakistan politically and diplomatically.[159]:78–79 It was concerned with the imminent break-up of Pakistan which, it feared, would have caused the state to fractionalise into small pieces, ultimately resulting in Iran's encirclement by rivals. After the war, however, Iran began cementing ties with India based on mutual security co-operation.[159]:79[verification needed] At the beginning of the conflict, Iran had helped Pakistan by sheltering PAF's fighter jets and providing it with free fuel to take part in the conflict, in an attempt to keep Pakistan's regional integrity united.[159]:80[verification needed] When Pakistan called for unilateral ceasefire and the surrender was announced, the Shah of Iran hastily responded by preparing the Iranian military to come up with contingency plans to forcefully invade Pakistan and annex its Balochistan province into its side of Balochistan, by any means necessary, before anybody else did it.[159]:79[verification needed]

Sri Lanka saw the partition of Pakistan as an example for themselves and feared India might use its enhanced power against them in the future.[160]:7 Despite the left wing government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike following a neutral non-aligned foreign policy Sri Lanka decided to help Pakistan in the war.[161][162] As Pakistani aircraft could not fly over Indian territory, they would have to take a longer route around India and so they stopped at Bandaranaike Airport in Sri Lanka where they were refuelled before flying to East Pakistan.[163]

As many Arab countries were allied with both the United States and Pakistan, it was easy for Kissinger to encourage them to participate. He sent letters to both, the King of Jordan and the King of Saudi Arabia. President Nixon gave permission for Jordan to send ten F-104s and promised to provide replacements.[citation needed] F-86s from Saudi Arabia helped camouflage the extent of PAF losses, and some 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.[119]:112 Libyan leader Gaddafi also personally directed a strongly worded letter to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accusing her of aggression against Pakistan, which endeared him to all Pakistanis.[164] In addition to these three countries, an unidentified Middle Eastern ally also supplied Pakistan with Mirage IIIs. However, other countries such as Syria and Tunisia were against interfering describing it as an internal matter of Pakistan.[165]

Aftermath

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.[32] India successfully led a diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan and skilfully manipulate Pakistan's supporting countries to limit the extent of support to Pakistan.[123]:596 In addition, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's state visit to United Kingdom and France further helped break ice with the United States, and blocked any pro-Pakistan resolution in the United Nations.[123]:596 There was also a meeting between Prime Minister Gandhi and President Nixon in November 1971,[clarification needed] where she rejected the US advice against intervening in the conflict.[123]:596

The victory also defined India's much broader role in foreign politics, as many countries in the world had come to realise

The victory also defined India's much broader role in foreign politics, as many countries in the world had come to realise – including the United States – that the balance of power had shifted to India as a major player in the region.[159]:80[166]:57 In the wake of changing geopolitical realities, India sought to establish closer relations with regional countries such as Iran, which was a traditional ally of Pakistan.[166]:57 The United States itself accepted a new balance of power, and when India conducted a surprise nuclear test in 1974, the US notified India that it had no "interest in actions designed to achieve new balance of power."[148]

In spite of the magnitude of the victory, India was surprisingly restrained in its reaction.[32] 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.[32] 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 recognise it as a significant milestone in man's quest for liberty.[32]

Colonel John Gill of National Defense University, US, remarks that, while India achieved a military victory, it was not able to reap the political fruits it might have hoped for in Bangladesh.

Colonel John Gill of National Defense University, US, 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 relationship began to sour.[167][168] The perceived Indian overstay revived Bangladeshi anxieties of Hindu control.[169] Many were concerned that Mujib was permitting Indian interference in the country's internal matters[170] and many in the Bangladeshi army resented his attachment with India.[171] Whilst India enjoys excellent relations with Bangladesh during the Awami League tenures, relations deteriorated when the Bangladesh Nationalist Party assumed power. A 2014 Pew Research Center opinion poll found that 27% of Bangladeshis were wary of India. However, 70% of Bangladeshis held a positive view of India: while 50% of Bangladeshis held a positive view of Pakistan.[172]

For Pakistan, the war was a complete and humiliating defeat,[32] a psychological setback that came from a defeat at the hands of rival India.[40] Pakistan lost half its population and a significant portion of its economy, and suffered setbacks to its geopolitical role in South Asia.[32][40] In the post-war era, Pakistan struggled to absorb the lessons learned from the military interventions in the democratic system and the impact of the Pakistani military's failure was grave and long-lasting.[173][174]

From the geopo

From the geopolitical point of view, the war ended in the breaking-up of 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.[175]:50[176]:1[177][178] The Pakistani policy-making institutions further feared that the historicity of the Two-nation theory had been disproved by the war, that Muslim nationalism had proved insufficient to keep Bengalis a part of Pakistan.[40]

The Pakistani people were not mentally prepared to accept the magnitude of this kind of defeat, as the state electronic media had been projecting imaginary victories; however, the privately-owned electronic news media coverage in East Pakistan had reported the complexity of the situation.[40] When the ceasefire that came from the surrender 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. According to Pakistani historians, the trauma was extremely severe, and the cost of the war for Pakistan in monetary terms and in human resources was very high.[179]:xxx[180] Demoralized and finding unable to control the situation, the Yahya administration fell when President Yahya Khan turned over his presidency to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was sworn in on 20 December 1971 as President with the control of the military.[181]

The loss of East Pakistan shattered the prestige of the Pakistani military.[40] Pakistan lost half its navy, a quarter of its air force, and a third of its army.[113] The war also exposed the shortcomings of Pakistan's declared strategic doctrine that the "defence of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan".[182] 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.[183]

In his book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier's Narrative, Pakistan Army's Major General Hakeem

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:

[184]

Scholar Willem van Schendel stated that the Pakistani military resisted fiercely and suffered many ca

Scholar Willem van Schendel stated that the Pakistani military resisted fiercely and suffered many casualties.[185]

Independent

Independent defence sources stated that the Indian superiority was less than 2 to 1.[186]

After the war, the Pakistan Army's generals in the East held each other responsible for the atrocities committed, but most of the burden was laid on Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, who earned notoriety from his actions as governor of the East; he was called the "Butcher of Bengal" because of the widespread atrocities committed within the areas of his responsibility.[187] Unlike his contemporary Yaqub who was a pacifist and knew well of the limits of force, Tikka was a "soldier known for his eager use of force" to settle his differences.[188]:100[189][190][191]


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