Hello Pakistan, Do you Remember the 1971 War?
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 03 Dec 2020

Next year, Bangladesh will celebrate its 50th years of independence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Dhaka to participate in the celebration of historic 50th Independence Day of Bangladesh on March 26, 2021. Here is how Bangladesh was born, how Pakistan got a devastating defeat from India in East Pakistan, and how General Niazi of West-Pakistan signed the agreement of surrender with 93000 Pakistani soldiers before Lt. Gen. JS Arora, Army commander, Eastern command of Indian Army.

West-Pakistan launched attacks against India on the 3rd of December 1971, the Indian military forces joined Bangladeshi guerrilla forces to fight against the West-Pakistani military. The latter did not receive any support during this crucial period of the war although they were expecting military aid from the United States and China. West-Pakistani military camps were attacked and they lost control over their previously captured territories. Consequently, they had to accept defeat and capitulate to the joint forces. Finally, in the afternoon of the 16th of December 1971, General Niazi of West-Pakistan signed the agreement of surrender. Bangladesh was finally an Independent State. The 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh against Pakistan continues shaping the mindset of Bangladeshi people until present day. This bloodstained historical event has constructed Bangladeshi sense of nationalism and has forged their contemporary Constitution. The Bangladesh we see today is essentially the fruit of the liberation war of 1971. However, Pakistan has perhaps forgotten this War, it seems, as it continues to directly support cross border terrorism in India. 

ONKARESHWAR PANDEY with JAIBANS SINGH

On December 3, 1971 India’s then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi addressed the nation through All India Radio:

“I speak to you at a moment of grave peril to our country and our people. Some hours ago, soon after 5:30 P.M. on Dec. 3, Pakistan launched full‐scale war against us. The Pakistan Air Force suddenly struck at our airfields in Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Avantipur, Utterlai, Jodhpur, Ambala and Agra. Their ground forces are shelling our defense positions in Sulemankhi, Khemkaran, Poonch and other sectors.

Today, the war in Bangla Desh has become a war on India, and this imposes upon me, my Government and the people of India an awesome responsibility. We have no other option but to put our country on a war footing. Our brave officers and jawans are at their posts, mobilized for the defense of the country. Emergency has been declared for the whole of India. Every necessary step is being taken, and we are prepared for any eventualities.

I have no doubt that it is the united will of our people that this wanton and unprovoked aggression of Pakistan should be decisively and finally repelled. In this resolve, the Government is assured of the full and unflinching support of all political parties and every Indian citizen.

We must be prepared for a long period of hardship and sacrifice. We are a peace loving people, but we know that peace cannot last if we do not guard our freedom, our democracy and our way of life. So today we fight, not merely for territorial integrity, but for the basic ideals which have given strength to this country, and in this alone we can progress to a better future. Aggression must be met and the people of India will meet it with fortitude and determination, with discipline and the utmost unity.”

On the evening of 3 December, 1971, at about 5.40 PM, fighter aircraft of the Pakistan Air force (PAF) carried out a coordinated, pre-emptive air strike on Indian Air Force bases in Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Avantipur, Utterlai, Jodhpur, Ambala and Agra. The air strikes were supported by heavy Artillery shelling all along the border and a massive attack in the strategically important Chhamb sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

It became quite apparent that the Pakistani military leadership (General Yahya Khan and General Tikka Khan) and its vitriolic political leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had lost the battle of nerves and Pakistan had opted to initiate open hostilities. Quite obviously, the military objective was to garner a decisive tactical and strategic victory through the element of surprise.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was at that time in Calcutta, rushed back to Delhi and addressed the nation on All India Radio (AIR), "I speak to you at a moment of grave peril to our country and our people. Some hours ago, soon after 5:30 P.M. on Dec. 3, Pakistan launched full‐scale war against us," she said in her address. "I have no doubt that it is the united will of our people that this wanton and unprovoked aggression of Pakistan should be decisively and finally repelled. In this resolve, the Government is assured of the full and unflinching support of all political parties and every Indian citizen," she added.

Thus started, formally, what is today known as the Indo-Pakistan War, 1971. It was to be, in the annals of military history of the sub-continent and the world, the shortest war to give such a decisive victory, to the extent of carving out a new Nation – Bangladesh.

After Pakistan launched several attacks on Indian territory on the 3rd of December 1971, India joined Bangladesh in its military efforts against the Pakistani military. With the support of India as well as commands from the military officers of East-Pakistan, the West-Pakistani military was defeated. It eventually surrendered to the joint forces of Bangladesh and India leading to victory for Bangladesh on 16th of December 1971.

The main reason behind the war was the horrifying persecution of the people of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by the militarily more powerful West Pakistan. In the election held in Pakistan in 1970, the Sheikh Mujibur Rehman led Awami League shocked Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the military dictatorship of Pakistan by garnering 167 out of 169 seats in the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly and a near absolute majority in the 313 seat National Assembly.

Mujibur Rehman had the mandate to govern the country, but this was not acceptable to the Punjabi centric military dictatorship and their stooge, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Mujibur Rehman was arrested in West Pakistan and martial law imposed in East Pakistan. 

Then commenced genocide of the worst kind marked by brutal atrocities committed on civilians, especially Bengali Hindus including wanton killing, rape and torture. These hapless people fled to India in large numbers to escape the carnage. India opened her borders to save the refugees whose number soon swelled to almost ten million.

India sought international assistance to meet the huge refugee challenge and also to pressurise Pakistan into stopping the atrocity, but it did not come by. The Government was keen to open hostilities with Pakistan in the monsoon months itself but the proposal was shot down by the then Chief of Army Staff, General SHFJ (Sam) Manekshaw. He said that the rainy season was not suitable for campaigning in East Pakistan and also that the army needed some time to prepare for war.

General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw, went on to become a folklore for his firm and brilliant planning and conduct of the war. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions and strategic requirements and thus gave to India a resounding victory.

As soon as hostilities commenced Prime Minister Indira Gandhi recognised East Pakistan as an independent nation called Bangladesh and India got into a war on two fronts, east and west, with the Navy and Air Force also incorporated. The Indian Navy was quick to implement a blockade which disallowed supplies from West Pakistan to East Pakistan and the Indian Air Force soon established complete air superiority over the East Pakistan skies.

On the western front, the war witnessed many battles where the Indian soldiers exhibited courage and fortitude in the face of great odds and came out victorious, albeit after great sacrifice. Primary among the battles fought in this sector is the Battle of Chhamb, Battle of Laungewala, Battle of Shakargarh Bulge, Battle of Basantar, Battle of Fazilka among many others . The exploits of Major (later Brigadier) Kuldip Singh Chandpuri and his men of 23 Punjab in Laungewala have been depicted in an epic Indian movie “Border.”

The conduct of the war was a true example of the synergized efforts of the Government and the Armed Forces with complete support of the people of the country. It was the support of the Nation that served as an elixir for the soldiers to attain success.

Bangladesh today is a proud, independent nation well on the path to development. Its rapidly improving economy and enduring democracy are its biggest assets. Its relationship with India is very good and improving rapidly. This freedom was won with great sacrifice. The role of the Indian army is providing to the people of Bangladesh the fruits of democracy and freedom is remarkable.

Due to the ignominious defeat suffered by Pakistan the evil policy to “bleeding India with a thousand cuts” was later formulated by the Pakistani Dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, sometime in 1977. The basis of the policy lies in the conviction that Pakistan cannot beat India in a conventional war, so the best option is to resort to a Proxy War designed to weaken the fabric of Indian constitutional democracy from within.

 Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the Kashmir Valley, was chosen as the main battlefield for application of this policy. It has failed miserably.

Foreign sponsored terrorism that formed the fulcrum of the policy has been decimated by the Indian Army. The political environment has been stabilised with revocation of Article 370 and re-designation of the state as a Union territory.

It is hoped that Pakistan and its stooges will read the writing on the wall and understand that it cannot break the fabric of India by any means, fair or foul. No kind of war, be it conventional, proxy, asymmetric, kinetic, hybrid or anything else can fructify the evil, fundamentalist ambitions of some self serving powers based in Pakistan. 

Video courtesy - ThamesTv  Image - Pakistan Surrendered in 1971 - Source - Siasat.pk 


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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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