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1971 Indo-Pak War: Story of Pakistan's Surrender and Liberation of Bangladesh

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The Bangladesh Liberation War was going on for months as the Bengali nationalists and Mukti Bahini guerrillas in East Pakistan fought to break away from the dominance of West Pakistan.

The Indo-Pak War of 1971 was a result of the political conflict between East and West Pakistan. Bangladesh Liberation War started as the people of East Pakistan called for self-determination. The war lasted 13 days as Pakistan surrendered on December 16 following the fall of Dhaka.

How the war started?

The Bangladesh Liberation War was going on for months as the Bengali nationalists and Mukti Bahini guerrillas in East Pakistan fought to break away from the dominance of West Pakistan. India entered the war only after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) conducted aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations. The war spread out across the eastern and western fronts. All the three divisions of Indian Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force – engaged in clashes with their Pakistani counterparts.

What happened?

The Indian Air Force flew around 4000 sorties across the western front and almost two thousand sorties in the east. PAF, which made around 2800 sorties, proved no match for IAF. Indian fighter aircrafts raided several forward air bases of Pakistan.

On the navy front, India's Western Naval Command conducted a surprise attack on Karachi port on the night of December 4-5. It followed more hostilities but it was India that got the upper hand here as well.

On the ground, the Indian Army continued to thwart Pakistani troops along the western front. India even captured vast areas of Pakistani territory.

The army joined forces with Mukti Bahini and secured vast lands in the countryside and swiftly moved towards Dacca where Pakistan Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi was stationed.

Pakistan’s surrender and liberation of Bangladesh

On December 16, the Indian Army surrounded Dhaka and issued an ultimatum to Pakistan Lieutenant-General to surrender, who did so without offering any resistance. The Instrument of Surrender of Pakistan Eastern Command was signed between the GOC-in-C of Indian Eastern Command Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora and Niazi at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka.

At the end of the war, around 93,000 Pakistani soldiers were captured by the allied forces. Pakistan had suffered the most number of casualties with approximately 8000 dead and 25,000 wounded. Around 3000 Indian soldiers died and 12,000 others were wounded in the war.

The war resulted in the independence of East Pakistan which was then recognized as Bangladesh. It was the fourth most populous Muslim country in the world at the time.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Prime minister-designate who was arrested after the 1970 elections, was released by Pakistan. He returned to Dhaka and became the first President of Bangladesh.