IndiaPoliticsSouth Asia

How Pakistan surrendered in 1971

This is an interesting article on how it all happened – arguably the best moment for Indian Defence and the worst for Indian politics.. when we gave back 90,000 PoWs and most of Kashmir without extracting anything from Pakistan!!

Though no war goes completely according to plan, this one went off reasonably well, and on December 13, we were outside Dhaka.

The advance from the north went off well, and though the move of the two brigades was delayed the paradrop took place as planned. By December 13, we had about 3,000 troops outside Dhaka.

Meanwhile the American fleet was moving into the Straits of Malacca. Some in Delhi were panicking. The radio signals we were intercepting from Islamabad to the Pakistani forces in the east said “Fight on, you are getting help from yellow (China) from the north, and white (America) from the south.”

Niazi believed this.

General JFR JacobOn December 13, there was an American resolution at the United Nations, which was vetoed by the Soviet Union. The Soviets said no more vetos. (Then Chief of the Army Staff S H F J) Manekshaw reacted and sent us an order to capture “all the towns in Bangladesh except Dacca.” Listing every single one that we had bypassed.

We were outside Dhaka, still no mention was made to capture Dhaka!

Not only that, he copied the order down to the three corps. So we rang the corps to tell them to ignore these orders.

(Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh) Aurora (then General Officer Commanding Eastern Command) came agitated into my room, showing me the signal and saying this was was all my fault because he wanted to capture the towns, and I did not support this view. Further, I had opposed operations to capture Sylhet, Rangpur and Dinajpur and other towns in East Pakistan.

So I got hold of Niazi on the wireless that night and explained that our forces outside Dhaka were very strong, a Mukti Bahini uprising was imminent, ethnic minorities would be protected and that they ( the Pakistan army) would be treated with dignity if they surrendered.

On December 14, I got an intercept that there was a meeting at the Government House in Dhaka. There were two government houses in Dhaka, so we took an educated guess, and fortunately it was the correct one. The Indian Air Force bombed it within two hours. The governor of East Pakistan resigned.

About 4 pm that afternoon, Niazi and Major General Farman Ali went to see Spivack, the American consul general, with the following proposals:

* Ceasefire under the United Nations
* Withdrawal under UN
* Handover of the government to the UN, and
* No war crimes trials and other stipulations

I got to know about it through one of the embassies. So I informed Manekshaw, who spoke to the American ambassador in India, who didn’t know anything about it. That same day, the American embassy in Islamabad sent it to New York, and it was given on December 15 to (then Pakistan foreign minister) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He refused to accept it. The Americans then gave it to us.

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Also read:  Pakistan's Power Situation: From Surplus to Deficit

Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh – the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and “drishtikone”.

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