‘India won a glorious victory against Pakistan in the 1971 war. It was the first decisive victory in a major war in centuries. And it was won singlehandedly, in the face of opposition and threats from a majority of the UN member-states, including a superpower. Every Indian patriot felt proud of this glittering chapter in the nation’s history.’
– Dr S N Prasad in his introduction to the Indian government’s ‘restricted’ Official History of the 1971 War.
She did this to support democracy in East Pakistan, which was being denied its right to governance by Pakistani rulers.
Stickers proclaiming Crush India became a standard feature on the rear windows of vehicles.
“Trying to catch the Indian Air Force napping, Yahya Khan, launched a Pakistani version of Israel’s 1967 air blitz in hopes that one rapid attack would cripple India’s far superior air power. But India was alert, Pakistani pilots were inept, and Yahya’s strategy of scattering his thin air force over a dozen air fields was a bust!” – 34, Newsweek, 20 December 1971.
“We must be prepared for a long period of hardship and sacrifice.” – Indian PM Indira Gandhi.
Karachi port was attacked by India on the night of 4-5 December in which Pakistani destroyer PNS Khyber and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz were destroyed and PNS Shah Jahan was badly damaged.
“We in Pakistan cannot forget the logistical and political support Sri Lanka extended to us in 1971 when it opened its refuelling facilities for us.” – Seema Ilahi Baloch said in her speech to a Lanka-Pakistan business council in Colombo in 2011.
On December 9, Nixon (then President of US) decided to send the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal to threaten India. The plan was to surround India from all four sides and force them to retreat and leave East Pakistan.
The USSR gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, it would take counter-measures.
However, due to lack of dominant positions on the Sino-Indian border, China demanded an immediate ceasefire.
This submarine sank en route under mysterious circumstances off Vishakhapatnam’s coast.
18 officers and 176 sailors lost their lives.
(Book: ‘Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State’ By Tariq Ali)
Historic document: “Confidential. December, 10, 1971. Moscow. For the DM Marshal Andrey Grechko:
According to the information from our ambassador in Delhi, in the very first day of the conflict the Indian destroyer ‘Rajput’ had sunk a Pakistani submarine with deep bombing. On December, 4 and 9, the speed boats of India had destroyed and damaged 10 Pakistani battle ships and vessels by Soviet anti-ship P-15 missiles. In addition, 12 Pakistani oil storage were burned in flame.”
He surrendered to Indian Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Joint Commander of the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces.
It was the largest number of POWs since the Second World War.
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.
In his book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier’s Narrative Pakistani 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.”
India returned the POWs to Pakistan along with certain captured areas. In return, Pakistan recognized Bangladesh as an Independent country.
Though a war must always be avoided, India knows how to defend herself while protecting and maintaining democracy in South Asia.