• Written By Chaitanyesh Rudracharya
  • Last Modified 15-07-2022

India-Pakistan War 1971: How India Tamed Its Enemy


India-Pakistan War 1971: The India-Pakistan War 1971 took place during the Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan. Starting December 3,1971, it went on till December 16, 1971. Pakistan carried out preemptive air strikes on as many as 11 Indian stations. These airstrikes were called Operation Chengiz Khan and India retaliated strongly in its act of defence. 

Akin to the earlier India-Pakistan War 1965, in this war as well, India was emphatically able to put Pakistan in its place, by securing a clinching victory! 

India-Pakistan War 1971: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Role

Before endeavouring to wage a war against Pakistan, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi summoned the then army chief Sam Manekshaw in order to elicit his views on the proposed war. He, in no uncertain terms, refused to wage a war purely on the grounds that, at that point in time, it was monsoon season in East Bengal and that the army tanks were under repair. 

However, it is interesting to note that Indira Gandhi too had no inclination for an offensive, but it should be further noted that she too was under tremendous pressure from the general public, who were of the view that India was practising unnecessary restraint. And as the pressure was building, the war was inevitable. Indira Gandhi had to take a call, keeping in mind the country’s interests. 

Also Read: The India-Pakistan War 1965 

The Pakistani Provocation

India was treading cautiously, but the last nail in the coffin was how Pakistan suddenly carried out air strikes on India. Indira Gandhi had to declare a full-fledged war and even addressed the nation in this regard. While Pakistan flew 50 aircraft into Indian territory, India responded robustly, bringing the enemy nation to its knees! 

India attacked Pakistan from all fronts – land, air and sea. The agenda was to capture Dacca on the eastern side and to disallow Pakistan, on the western front, to set its foot on Indian soil. 

An interesting trivia: During these air strikes by Pakistan in the India-Pakistan War 1971, the all-important monument – Taj Mahal – was camouflaged with forests to cover its resplendent marble surface. In case it was not done, the shiny surface would glow, giving away hints to the enemy camp. 

India, the Clear Winner! 

It proved foolhardy for Pakistan to provoke India as India disdainfully attacked it, making it pay dearly. As the war continued, India plundered  15,010 km2 of enemy land. However, India exhibited magnanimity as it gave back this land as a gesture of goodwill and as a part of the Shimla Agreement 1972. 

The power with which Indian soldiers fought the war left the Pakistani soldiers completely helpless and demoralised. 

As many as 93000 Pakistani fighters were taken as prisoners by the Indian army. Finally, the  Eastern Command of the Pakistani military even signed an instrument of surrender.  

India even granted refuge to ten million Bangladeshis as the Pakistani army unleashed massive terror on Bangladesh. As per reports, 3,000,000 civilians were attacked by the Pakistani military. 

Also Read: India-China war 1962

International Reactions

The Soviet Union respected Indian sentiments that any resolution to the crisis in East Pakistan should not compromise Indian interests. Its ambassador to Pakistan also warned the country that any escalation against India would lead to grave consequences. 

On the other hand, the US was more open with its support to Pakistan. The reason was just that it had assumed that the Soviets were in an alliance with India, and that the US had to use Pakistan’s influence to limit the Soviet’s influence in South Asia. 

We hope this article on India-Pakistan War 1971 helped you understand how India gained an upper hand. For more such informative articles, keep visiting Embibe

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