The India-Pakistan War Of 1971: A Modern War CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA History ABSTRACT Author: KYLE, R.G., Major, Royal Canadian Artillery Title: Indian-Pakistan War of 1971: A Modern War Publisher: Marine Corps Command and Staff College Date: 14 March 1964 This paper examines the origins, conduct and results of the war between India and Pakistan of 1971 from which the nation of Bangla Desh emerged. The study compares the development of religion, culture and economy in East and West Pakistan which led to the frustration of Bengali nationalism within the "Islamic Nation" founded in 1947. The role of the military government from 1958 to 1971 is also examined to show how its activities further alienated the people of East Pakistan and contributed to both the rebellion there and the weakening of its own military capability. The second part of the study examines the development of guerrilla war in East Pakistan between March and December 1971. The Political and Military organization of the insurgents is analysed along with the counter-insurgency actions of the government forces. The effects of the war on India and the policies that nation developed to deal with it are also analyzed. The roles played by the United States, China, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations in the conflict are studied. The study goes on the analyze the military operations of India and Pakistan during the fourteen days of conventional war between them. Finally, conclusions are drawn concerning the conditions which precipitated the conflict and the reasons for the success of the Bengali and Indian forces. No primary sources of information were available for this study. Therefore, the author relied heavily on articles in military journals as well as several books on the subject. WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR The India-Pakistan War of 1971 A Modern War Major Rodney G. Kyle, Royal Canadian Artillery 2 April 1984 Marine Corps Command and Staff College Marine Corps Development and Education Command Quantico, Virginia 22134 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 Chapter I. Origins of the Conflict 2 II. Rebellion and Repression 18 III. The 14-Day War: 3-16 December 1971 38 IV. Conclusion 55 Appendices I. Map of West Pakistan-India Frontier 1971 57 II. Map of East Pakistan 1971 58 Bibliography 59 INTRODUCTION This study is concerned with a guerrilla war fought by two peoples who had joined together enthusiastically to form the new nation of Pakistan just twenty-five years before. It is also concerned with the short, violent conventional war fought by India and Pakistan which resulted in the birth of the new nation of Bangla Desh. The conflict was influenced by both the legacies of ancient India and the contemporary interests of world politics. The study may interest the reader concerned with the techniques of modern guerrilla and conventional war, but the study should also lead the reader to conclude that we cannot understand modern conflict without understanding the historical environment in which it occurs. Unfortunately no primary sources of information were available for this study. Information was gathered from military journals and several books on the subject. I would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Bittner, USMCR, staff historian of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College for his help in finding source material and his many helpful suggestions to improve a very rough first draft. A special thanks also must go to Mrs. Pam Lohman who had to transform this work to typescript. Any errors, however, are entirely the responsibility of the author. CHAPTER I ORIGINS OF THE CONFLICT When Pakistan was formed in 1947, it was a result of Islamic nationalism of the Moslems of India. Islam had been introduced to the Indian sub-continent following the Afghan- Turkish conquest in the 13th century. A large part of the native population in the area of East Bengal was peacefully coverted from Hindu to Islam in the following two centuries. In the 16th century the Moslem sultanate of Bengal was absorbed into the north Indian Mughal empire. The Moslem rulers of the empire were non-Bengali. Their culture was based on Arabic and Persian influences, and the Urdu language. Socially, Bengal was divided into a Bengali Moslem peasantry and a Persianized Urdu speaking ruling class. 1/ In 1764 the English East India Company succeeded the Mughals as the government of Bengal. The British rule encouraged the rise of the Hindu commercial class in Bengal while the former Urdu-speaking Moslem rulers and landowners were displaced from their positions of power. In this climate Bengali culture during the 19th century developed in a new direction led by the Hindu elite and influenced by the emerging middle-class of Bengali-speaking Moslems. The Bengali-speaking Moslems became increasingly conscious of their ethnic identity and nationalism throughout the 19th century. For their part, the British were gradually loosening restrictions on local institutions and government: Hindu dominated schools and the secular university of Calcutta played their part in developing Bengali identity among the Bengali-speaking Moslems. To counter the continuing loss of position and status, in 1906 the Urdu- speaking Moslems established the first modern political movement among the Moslems of India called the All-India Moslem League. 2/ The concept of a separate state of Pakistan did not develop until the 1930's when India grew closer to self- government. By 1937 there were two political parties in Bengal which formed a coalition provincial government. The first was a radical peasants and tenants party backed by Bengali-speaking Moslems, while the other was the more conservative Moslem League representing the Urdu-speaking Moslems. This government proposed the "Pakistan Resolution" calling for the regions of Northwest and Eastern zones of India where there was a Moslem majority to be grouped into independent states that would be autonomous and sovereign. A federation of 12 to 14 states with strong local governments was envisioned. Bengal became a war zone during World War II. As well, in 1943 a famine took more than two million lives. The destruction and sacrifices of these catastrophes increased the nationalism and solidarity of the Moslem population in Eastern India. Support for the "Pakistan Resolution" and the Moslem League swelled. On August 14, 1947, the nation of Pakistan was created from the regions of India having a Moslem majority. Two states, Bengal in the East and Punjab in the West, were divided into Hindu and Moslem regions. Only the Moslem sections were included into Pakistan. Pakistan itself had two wings separated by 1,000 miles of Indian land. The partition of Bengal led to the restoration of power to the traditional Urdu-speaking Moslems who had led the Moslem League. However, this elite could only be sustained by the active support of the Urdu-speakers who controlled West Pakistan. While the Moslem League had sustained Moslem nationalism in Bengal during the previous decade, it could not provide a focus and support for the nationalism which continued to be a potent force among Bengali Moslems. 3/ In East Pakistan, the Bengali-speaking Moslem middle- class was an important social force. This class comprised small land owners, professionals and traders. They had a deep loyalty to Bengali culture, and respect for parliamentary tradition and the rule of law. In West Pakistan, land holdings were larger and concentrated in the hands of fewer people. Power was essentially vested in a plutocratic and feudal system. West Pakistan had a population of 42.9 million in an area six times larger than East Pakistan: East Pakistan had a population of 50.8 million (1961 census). The two parts of Pakistan were separated by about 1,000 miles and, because of hostilities with India, it was impossible to maintain land or air communications across the intervening Indian territory. Air and sea communications routes were 3,000 miles around the southern tip of India. The two wings of Pakistan had a religious belief in Islam in common, but the significant geographic and social differences increasingly divided the two wings. 4/ When Pakistan was formed in 1947, it was to be an Islamic nation. However, the political institutions of the new nation and the way they would function were left undefined. The East and West wings could not agree on a constitution defining the political institutions before the deadline date for independence. The constitution was left to be sorted out by the new nation itself, but the different political traditions and aspirations of the East and West wings were to be the source of serious, continuing friction. The British had ruled India (including the territories making up Pakistan) with a strong central government under the Viceroy. However, the province of Bengal had developed a provincial democratic parliamentary system much more advanced than that of the northwestern provinces. For a viable constitution these two traditions had to be reconciled within the concept of the Islamic nation. As well, the British since 1905, had designed the provincial representative institutions on the basis of separate electorates for members of the main religious groups -- Moslem and Hindu. West Pakistan had the majority of Moslems (42.9 million) in the new nation since about one fifth of the population (10 million of 50.8 million) of East Pakistan was Hindu. If Pakistan was to continue the tradition of separate electorates, then West Pakistan would dominate. But if a single electorate was constituted, then East Pakistan would dominate while owing its control to its Hindu minority. Thus, from the beginning, the Islamic nation concept involved friction between the nationalism and power of different cultural and social communities within the state. 5/ For the next seven years, the National Assembly in Karachi wrestled with the drafting of a constitution. However, by 1952 Bengali nationalism was reasserting itself in a number of political parties, the most important being the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman. In provincial elections in 1954 the conservative Moslem League was swept from power in East Pakistan by a coalition of Bengali nationalist parties. When the new government leader, Fazlul Haq, of East Pakistan made a speech supporting the reunification of the old province of Bengal, the national government in Karachi dismissed the provincial cabinet and imposed Governor's rule. Any large increase of non-Moslem population in East Pakistan (such as that of West Bengal) would have further unbalanced the power between East and West Pakistan as well as brought a real threat of war with India. With the endless constitutional debate and steady deterioration of the cohesion of Pakistan, the President of Pakistan dismissed the National Assembly. Under threat of imposition of military rule a cabinet with members drawn from various sections of political opinion was appointed and tasked to frame a constitution. By 1956 a constitution had been drafted which included the concept of parity and equal status between the two communities of East and West Pakistan. This concept had the support of most leaders in East Pakistan. While the arrangement did not go as far as the original resolution of 1937 which called for "autonomous and sovereign" states, it did maintain a political balance between East and West. However, West Pakistan comprised fourteen states of the old India of which the Punjab was the largest it would dominate the affairs of West Pakistan: the politicians in the West could not agree to accept this arrangement. Although the constitution was proclaimed law, elections were never held. In 1958 the President, Islamabad Mirza, abrogated the constitution, and he was soon deposed by the Army Chief of Staff, General Ayub Khan, who proclaimed martial law. The army had moved to fill the power vacuum created by the lack of workable political institutions. 6/ The military government of General Ayub concentrated power toward a central executive government. A new constitution was proclaimed in 1962 replacing sovereignty of the people with the sovereignty of Allah. Effective electoral power was given to an equal number of nobilities from both wings of the nation, but the national and provincial legislatures were given only minor powers. Most powers were concentrated in the presidential executive located in Karachi. General Ayub had created an autocratic government in the tradition of the Urdu-speaking Moslems. The Bengali movement for autonomy of East Pakistan was left virtually without influence or power. In the period 1960-1970, the Bengali's felt dominated economically as well as politically by West Pakistan. East Bengal lacked natural resources, was remote from main trade routes, and was limited by a large expanding population which was difficult to feed. The main exports were jute and tea. Traditionally, these crops were exported to West Bengal in exchange of manufactured goods. After partition in 1947, the economic dependence on West Bengal was shifted to West Pakistan. Here the central managers controlled the foreign exchange earned by the exports as well as foreign aid and foreign investment. In West Pakistan, the per capita income was 61% higher than in East Pakistan. The Bengalis resented the faster growth and higher incomes of the West. They tended to blame the much higher proportion of West Pakistanis in the civil and armed services and many of the professions for diverting wealth to the West which was generated in the East. As resentment was growing, India and Pakistan went to war over Kashmir in 1965. This conflict ended in stalemate but it demonstrated the vulnerability of East Pakistan. The complete cessation of economic activity with India hurt East Pakistan and reinforced the Bengalis sense of economic domination from West Pakistan. 7/ The resentment toward West Pakistan fed growing support for the Awami League. By 1967 the League had adopted a six- point manifesto aimed at economic and political autonomy for East Pakistan. According to the manifesto the central government should only retain control of foreign affairs and defense while the provincial government should control economic, taxation, trade and foreign aid policies. The economic expansion in West Pakistan was also producing social strains there. Radical socialists competed with the traditional land-owning elites on which the government and army were based. By 1968, strong support for Ali Bhutto's radical Peoples Party emerged in the West wing. The party's support was based on social justice for the "common man" and hostility toward India. It was also opposed to any action which would reduce the political and economic status of West Pakistan. In the rising tide of opposition to his policies, General Ayub called a conference of political leaders to resolve the most pressing conflicts. However, no settlement was reached. General Ayub resigned on 26 March 1969 to be replaced by General Yahya Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the army. The constitution was again suspended. Pakistan had reverted back to the position it was at in 1958. General Yahya quickly promulgated a set of decisions aimed at reducing political tensions in both wings of the country. The first addressed the major grievance of East Pakistan: national elections would be held by December 1970 based on a common electorate in both wings to give East Pakistan a majority of seats. The second regrouped the 14 political regions of West Pakistan into four provinces more equal in political power to the Punjab. Later General Yahya expanded on these decisions with an outline for the transfer of power from military government to constitutional institutions. a. A new constitution had to be prepared by the national assembly within 120 days after being called into session. b. The constitution had to conform to certain principles which included: a provision that the territorial integrity and national solidarity of Pakistan should be respected; and a federation should be established in which provinces would have maximum autonomy but, the federal government would have adequate powers to carry out its responsibilities for external and internal affairs and to preserve the independence and territorial integrity of the country. c. To ensure that the constitution conformed to the principles, it had to be approved by the President. With these decisions, General Yahya probably intended to achieve some popular support for the military regime after the long period of confusion of General Ayub's rule. The guidelines for the constitution also gave protection to the central power of armed forces. With the cooperation of the Bengali members, the army could thwart Mr. Bhutto's radical Peoples Party in West Pakistan. 8/ These guidelines were generally acceptable to the civilian political leaders in both the East and West. As the election approached, the two most active parties were Sheikh Mijib's Awami League and Ali Bhutto's People's Party. The results of the election, however, sent shock waves through the nation. Of the 313 total seats in the assembly, the Awami League took 167, a solid majority, all from the East. Mr. Bhutto's party took 85 seats, all in the west. 9/ The Islamic parties of the old elite were decisively defeated in both wings, and with this defeat went any hopes the old elite and the army had of influencing the actions of the assembly. With a parliamentary majority the Awami League did not need the army or the old traditional parties to win support for a draft constitution reflecting the Bengali concept of autonomy within Pakistani federation. Admittedly, President Yahya would have final approval of the constitution, but the results of the election clearly reflected an overwhelming demand for reform. The President could draw little comfort from the opposition of Ali Bhutto in the Assembly. The Peoples Party was equally anxious to draft a constitution which limited the traditional powers of the army and the Moslem elites. Again power was split between the two geographic regions of the nation. 10/ The strong position of the Awami League persuaded many supporters that there need be no retreat from the manifesto adopted four years earlier demanding virtual economic sovereignty for East Pakistan. This degree of autonomy was unacceptable to the military government as well as Ali Bhutto's party. There was stalemate again. The military government of General Yahya was highly centralized but not particularly sensitive to the political currents of the civil population. Senior officers held key positions in both the civil and military administrative systems. These systems were largely parallel and often competitive for power. At the top, Yahya held the offices of Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Chief Martial Law Administrator, President and Supreme Commander, Minister of Defense and Minister of foreign Affairs. Yahya theoritically had enormous scope for initiative, but the elite of the army had considerable power which Yahya had to take into account along with the political factions of the country. Within the army, opinion generally belonged in one of three positions: the center, including Yahya, hoped to transfer power to a civil government headed by Sheikh Mujib (Awami League) while retaining a special position for the armed forces; the right, including many senior officers, hoped to retain the power of the armed forces and opposed any move toward more autonomy of the provinces and the social policies of Mr. Bhutto's People's Party; finally, the left, including many junior officers, combined a strong nationalist feeling with social opinion leaning toward Mr. Bhutto's party. The left and the right grew toward a consensus opposed to any concession to the Awami League which would weaken the power of the central government. 11/ General Yahya appears to have been unable to reconcile the widely differing views both within the armed services and the various political factions. Although Sheikhs Mujib's party had decisively won the election and therefore felt it had the right to form the national government, it could do nothing until the President called the assembly into session. This Yahya refused to do until the Sheikh softened his stand on autonomy as stated in the Awami Leaguer's manifesto. The League, sensing power, refused to give any concession. Talks between President Yahya, Bhutto and the Sheikh continued through January 1971, but no agreement was reached. Finally, on February 13, 1971 Yahya summoned the Assembly to meet on March 3, 1971. Bhutto immediately announced his party, with 85 seats, would boycott the session unless all parties reached a consensus on an outline constitution before the Assembly met. On March 1, 1971, President Yahya agreed with Mr. Bhutto and announced that the Assembly session was postponed indefinitely. 12/ The postponement of the Assembly session was followed by widescale rioting and demonstrations throughout East Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib called a series of general strikes to demonstrate that East Pakistan would be ungovernable unless the Assembly was called into session. 13/ It is unlikely that the civil disorder came as a surprise to the government for it had been reinforcing the military garrisons in East Pakistan since mid-February. However, throughout March, Yahya and Mujib engaged in a complicated series of negotiations in which some concessions were made. But on March 25, 1971, Yahya suddenly broke off talks and left for Islamabad. At the same time the army, which had been brought up to strength of 40,000 in the East, moved against the Bengali police, Bengali-manned army units and other paramilitary forces. Sheikh Mujib was arrested along with many other Awami League leaders. Newspaper offices were seized and university halls attacked and occupied. It seemed that Yahya had used the last session of negotiations as pretext to allow time for the army to be brought up to sufficient strength to overwhelm Bengali opposition. 14/ The drive for political and economic autonomy of the Bengali people entered a new phase. The efforts to win power through the election process and parliamentary system were a complete failure. The central military government was incapable of reconciling the aspirations of the Bengalis with social reform pressures of the West Pakistanis and the traditional elitism of the Urdu-speaking Moslems. Military repression of the Bengali nationalist movement followed. The Bengali Moslems had a common religion with the Urdu- speaking Moslems of the West, but social and political traditions, as well as language and economic base, were quite different. When Pakistan was formed as an Islamic nation in 1947, there was no consensus on the form its political institutions should take. The Moslem states in the West were governed by traditional elitists who considered strong federal government essential to preserve Islamic ideals. The Bengali Moslems' aspirations for more democratic institutions responsive to regional politics would not be accommodated by those in the West. At the same time, demands for social reform in the West by lower-classes went unheeded. After more than ten years of political stalemate, the armed forces, in particular the army, seized power to break the political deadlock. The officers of the army were largely drawn from the traditional Moslem elite of the West. Their administration was highly centralized and emphasized the economic development as well as the social welfare of the West and the Urdu-speaking traditional Moslems. This administration only added to the frustration of the Bengalis who increasingly saw East Pakistan as an economic and cultural colony of the West. Indeed, the poorer classes of people of the West also became increasingly disaffected as they received little benefit from the economic and social policies of the army administration. By 1971, after 12 years of military rule, Pakistan was even further from political unity than it was in 1958. The years of military rule also had a deleterious effect on military capability. Government administration detracted from the professional education of the officers as well as the combat training of the army as a whole. Political factions appeared in the army which probably detracted from the cooperation and trust essential to an effective military force. When open conflict erupted in March 1971, the armed forces were forced to disarm and remove Bengali officers and men. These actions must have had a serious negative effect on the efficiency of the services' war fighting capability. In summary, the common religion of Islam could not overcome the deep divisions of geography, culture and political goals. Pakistan moved toward insurrection and war. ENDNOTES (Chapter I) 1/ Robert Jackson, South Asian Crisis: India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh. (New York: Praeger, 1975) p. 9. 2/ Ibid., p. 10. 3/ Ibid., p. 14. 4/ Ibid., p. 15. 5/ Ibid., p. 16. 6/ Ibid., p. 18. 7/ John G. Stoessinger, Why Nations Go to War, 3rd ed., (New York, St. Martin's Press, 1982), p. 8/ Jackson, pp. 22-23. 9/ Ibid., p. 24. 10/ Robert LaPorte Jr. "Pakistan 1971: The Disinte- gration of a nation," Asian Survey. 12, No. 2 (Feb 1972), p. 100. 11/ Jackson, pp. 25-27. 12/ LaPorte, p. 100; Jackson, pp. 27-28. 13/ Jackson, p. 28. 14/ Ibid., p. 33. CHAPTER II REBELLION AND REPRESSION When Pakistan's army struck on the night of March 25, 1971, all Awami League leaders were arrested, killed or fled into exile to India. Sheikh Mujib was arrested and flown to West Pakistan to await trial on unspecified charges. President Yahya stated in a radio broadcast the next day that the Sheikh's "action of starting his non-cooperation movement is an act of treason." 1/ Disorder and confusion reigned in Dacca and other parts of East Pakistan. Many civilians were killed as the army struck violently to clear barricades in the cities. The Dacca University was shelled and occupied; this resulted in many casualties. Police and Bengali soldiers in Dacca were disarmed and detained. 2/ The army became an army of West Pakistanis and was viewed by Bengalis as an occupying force. Outside Dacca the army attacked Bengali officers and men of the armed forces. The army then moved against other paramilitary organizations such as the police, border security forces and the militia. In some cases, the attacks lasted several days but almost everywhere there were heavy Bengali casualties and destruction. The Bengali military and police units were scattered throughout the country and many members began to withdraw toward the borders sabotaging bridges and rail links where possible. The actions were brutal and had elements of a cultural war: the army attacked Bengalis, while Bengalis murdered members of the Urdu-speaking minorities. By the end of April 1971, the army had secured the major towns in East Pakistan and organized resistance ceased. However, the nucleus of an armed and trained guerrilla force had escaped into India and to remote areas on the border. At the border Indian units welcomed the fleeing Bengalis but India played no part in the resistance at that time. 4/ As April drew to a close, the attack by West Pakistan on the Eastern wing had successfully stopped the immediate possibility of armed revolt. However, the population was subdued but remained passively hostile. The army reacted to this hostility with increasing brutality and destruction of civilian property continued. Civilian refugees began to pour into India. As news of the uprising and repression in East Pakistan spread in India, there was considerable public pressure on the Indian Government to intervene. On March 29, 1971, the Indian parliament passed a resolution pledging sympathy and support for the people of East Bengal in their struggle for the transfer of power to their legally-elected representatives. The parliament expressed confidence that "... the historic upsurge of 75 million people of East Bengal will triumph." 5/ This resolution represented a change in Indian policy toward Pakistan. Previously, India had respected the unity of Pakistan in order to protect her own unity, which had been also threatened by regional factions and demands for autonomy. Indian support to the rebels in the following weeks consisted of assisting voluntary efforts to help the East Pakistan cause and of encouraging escaped Bengalis to form a provisional government. India, however, withheld formal recognition of this government-in-exile. These cautious actions were probably the result of military advice that India would not be prepared for military action till after the monsoon season ended in September. 6/ In response to India's statement of support for the Bengalis, Pakistan protested that India was interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs. The apparent object of this diplomatic effort was to gain international support to oppose any Indian intervention. But on April 2, 1971, Russia publicly appealed to Yahya to quickly put an end to the repression in East Pakistan. Islamabad replied that the situation was under control and normal routine was being established. Also on that date, the United States expressed concern for the human suffering and the need for multi- national assistance. President Nixon was probably concerned that the balance of power in Asia would be upset and he was anxious not to jeopardize the effort to develop closer relations with China. 7/ The U.S. needed a stable Asia and support of China to implement the planned withdrawal from Vietnam. Although slow in coming, on April 13 China expressed support for President Yahya's efforts. Chou En-lai stated that should India attack Pakistan, China would fully support the Pakistani people and government to safeguard "State Sovereignty" and national independence. The phrasing was important as it did not state full support for the unity and integrity of the nation as Pakistan wanted. From April onwards, China provided economic and military assistance appropriate to their statement of support; that is, sufficient to guarantee only that in a war with India the Western wing would survive, but not necessarily the Eastern wing. Both India and the Soviet Union had long standing disputes with China. China's interests would be served by continuing to have Pakistan interposed between the U.S.S.R. and India. Should West Pakistan cease to exist, then China would be surrounded by unfriendly neighbors. On the other hand, continuing rivalry between Pakistan and India over East Pakistan would divert India's attention away from her border with China. Thus survival of West Pakistan was important to China, while the dispute in East Pakistan would add to the rivalry between India and West Pakistan to ensure that India's attention would be diverted from her Northern border with China. At the United Nations, Secretary General U. Thant asked Pakistan to allow United Nations relief agencies to act in East Pakistan while recognizing that the situation was an internal matter of Pakistan. President Yahya firmly refused any outside intervention. 9/ He probably believed that his policy of counter-insurgency was sufficient to reestablish control. By May 1971, organized resistance in East Pakistan had been crushed. Pakistan diplomacy appeared successful as most countries viewed the affair as an internal problem. However, the flow of refugees into India had turned to a flood. India claimed that the refugees (mostly Bengali Moslems) were arriving at a rate of 60,000 per day and now totaled 1.5 million. These people moved mostly into West Bengal and were costly to India in food and clothing; furthermore, they were causing a severe economic dislocation in a province already impoverished. In this situation, India could do little more than provide indirect support to the Bengali government-in-exile and provide sanctuary, training and arms for the guerrilla forces. Diplomatically, India stressed that whether or not the problem was an internal one for Pakistan, the refugees were becoming an internal problem for India: Pakistan must be responsible for developing conditions for the safe return of the refugees. 10/ India's diplomatic efforts began to get results. Britain and the United States declared no new aid would be extended to Pakistan until the government in Islamabad cooperated with international relief agencies; however, United States aid already approved would continue. Pakistan's economy was weak. There was a shortage of foreign exchange and exports from East Pakistan had slowed significantly. 11/ Pakistan needed aid and needed the return of the economic base of East Pakistan. Thus in mid-May Pakistan informed the United Nations of its willingness to accept relief aid if the activity was coordinated by Pakistani officials. Within a week Yahya appealed to the refugees to return and announced he would soon reveal a plan for the orderly transfer of power to the representatives of the people. Refugee reception centres were set up and a general amnesty announced on June 10, 1971. The shift in Pakistani policy eased tensions in East Pakistan. Many influential members of the Awami League signed a declaration accepting the concept of national unity and supporting the reintroduction of separate electorates for Hindus and Moslems. To gain support of the right-wing factions of the army, Yahya proposed that a new constitution be drafted by a committee of experts rather than the National Assembly. Although India now reported more than six million refugees, the flow slowed considerably and she was being pressured to accept international assistance for the repatriation of refugees. 12/ By June, India had become distrustful of United Nations' actions to repatriate refugees. When Pakistan shifted ground to accommodate United Nations' actions, India rejected the proposal for posting United Nations observers on her border. 13/ India was probably concerned that East Pakistan would return to the pre-crisis situation with little or no gain toward self-determination of East Bengal. Public opinion in India's turbulent eastern provinces also favored severing Pakistan's link with East Bengal as an opportunity to weaken a dangerous enemy. India, therefore, insisted that Pakistan must come to a political solution of the crisis founded on self-determination for East Bengal before social and economic aid should be extended. On the other hand, the United Nations' approach was to put social and economic recovery in place before a political solution should be attempted. The United States clearly supported the U.N. approach which would return the South Asian balance of power to the pre-crisis condition. During May and June, leaders of the Awami League who had fled to India continued to develop the Bangla Desh movement (as they now called East Pakistan) politically and militarily. The government-in-exile was nominally headed by Sheikh Mujib, but because he was under arrest in West Pakistan, the real head was Tajuddin Ahmid, the prime minister. 14/ The stated goal of the movement was the independence of East Pakistan; its unannounced objective was to gain political power for the Awami League. 15/ To this end, the government-in-exile tried to exclude Bengalis representing left-wing and communist movements. The government-in-exile remained composed principally of Awami League members but its military arm, the Mukti Fanj, eventually incorporated armed groups organized by other political factions. 16/ The government-in-exile pursued three broad strategic programs to achieve its goal. These were: (a) organizing the support of the population of East Pakistan; (b) gaining favorable international support; and, (c) disrupting the economic strength of Pakistan through attacks on the lines of communication in East Pakistan. To translate the disaffection of the Bengalis into supportive action for the Bangla Desh movement, an underground was organized to publicize its goals. Insurgent propaganda emphasized the atrocities of the Pakistani army and described the army as an occupation force restoring the colonial rule of West Pakistan. This program succeeded to get support in the form of volunteers as well as information, supplies and concealment in the rural areas. In the urban areas, the Bengalis were encouraged to boycott schools, offices and factories to further disrupt the economy. The insurgents also used terror tactics to intimidate civil servants and factory managers to keep their facilities closed. Furthermore, Bengali leaders who openly supported Pakistan unity or collaborated with the army were assassinated selectively to discourage others. 17/ To influence the international community, the main effort emphasized recognition for the Bangla Desh government- in-exile. Many Bengalis who were with Pakistani foreign missions defected and set about publicizing the legitimacy of the Bangla Desh movement. Although not initially successful in obtaining formal recognition, these diplomats developed popular sympathy for the Bangla Desh movement. The Mukti Fanj was used primarily in an offensive role to attack the lines of communication and to disrupt the military and economic strength of East Pakistan. The monsoon season of June to September favored guerrilla tactics. Two-thirds of the country was water soaked limiting mobility to roads, railways and river craft. The roads and railways ran close to the border, crossing many bridges vulnerable to attack. The India-East Pakistan border itself was 1,400 miles long with no natural obstacles. The interior of East Pakistan could be reached easily by guerrillas from the border area by river and delta channels. 18/ The Mukti Fanj mounted small, deep raids from their sanctuaries in India and remote border enclaves. Detachments of the Pakistani army were attacked causing casualties which were duly reported by the foreign press. These reports conflicted with Pakistani claims that the area was under control and thus tended to undermine international support for Pakistan. However, the attack on communications was much more successful and had immediate effects. Railways were largely inoperable beyond 30 to 50 miles from Dacca. Roads were cut isolating the principal towns and ports. The Pakistani army was left isolated in the urban areas while the major export crops of jute and tea could not be moved from the rural areas to markets. 19/ As July closed, the military situation in East Pakistan was worsening. The monsoon was restricting army mobility while the Mukti Fanj (renamed the Mukti Bahini) mounted an increasing number of small raids aimed at sabotage and terror. The army was forced to conduct viscious counter-insurgent tactics which increased the hostility of the disaffected population. After a lull in June, refugees in large numbers again poured into India. President Yahya continued to press for the United Nations to force India to withdraw her support to the Bangla Desh rebels and to decrease border tension to induce more refugees to return home. He also stated that if India tried to seize a base in East Pakistan for rebel operations there would be general war. This was followed by reports of Pakistani military build-up along the West Pakistan border with India. 20/ Pakistani diplomacy at the United Nations, supported by the U.S. was having an effect. U Thant recommended raising substantial relief aid for East Pakistan. The resources would be allocated for the refurbishment of transportation systems as well as food and clothing. India remained opposed to this plan as well as the U.N. proposal for representatives on the border to facilitate passage of refugees back to East Pakistan. It is now clear that India was determined to see East Pakistan independence and would not agree to any measures which increased West Pakistan's strength there. By continuing to support the Bangla Desh movement, India was becoming increasingly isolated at the U.N. Her policy also implied eventual direct military intervention since she could not support the enormous number of refugees and ignore public support for intervention indefinitely. 21/ Up to the end of July, the Soviet Union had tried to maintain a balanced approach to India and Pakistan in an effort to increase her influence on the sub-continent. However, when the United States and China moved toward closer mutual relations and both supported the Pakistani position, Moscow concluded Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with New Delhi on August 9. The Treaty had little effect on India militarily, but it gave support for her position at the United Nations Security Council. The Soviet Union opposed every proposal for any kind of intervention which might allow Pakistan to get a political settlement unacceptable to India, i.e., denial self- determination for the people of East Pakistan. 22/ During August, President Yahya continued to try to win some support within the population of East Pakistan as well as satisfy the "hard-liners" in West Pakistan. On August 9, Yahya announced that Awami League members who would support Pakistani unity would be allowed to take their seats in the National Assembly, while the remainder of the unfilled seats would be filled by by-elections to be held at end-November. About half the Awami League delegates elected in December 1970 signed a document agreeing to this move. Yahya also announced that Sheikh Mujib would be tried by military court on charges of "waging war against Pakistan." These two proposals were a key compromise of the political factions of Pakistan. 23/ In September more positive aspects of Yahya's plan emerged. General Tikka Khan, who was the prime proponent for military repression, was replaced as Governor of East Pakistan by a civilian, and press censorship was officially lifted. On September 5, a general amnesty was granted to all civilians and members of the armed forces alleged to have committed crimes since March 1. A number of detainees, mostly politicians aligned with the Awami League were released. 24/ These moves were countered by the government- in-exile which remained committed to complete independence. the Mukti Bahini intensified its propaganda aimed at the Bengali population. As well, assassinations of candidates standing for election were increased. For her part, India would not provide assistance for refugees wanting to return to East Pakistan. These actions were largely successful in discouraging any popular Bengali support for the authorities in Dacca and Islamabad. Candidates failed to stand for 18 out of 78 seats of the Assembly available and no significant number of refugees returned from India. 25/ India also increased its support to the Mukti Bahini military operations by providing artillery fire across the border for the guerrillas and stopping the Pakistani army from pursuing them into Indian territory. With their lines of withdrawal more secure the guerrillas undertook deeper raids into East Pakistan to destroy bridges, roads and army posts. The increased military activity put further pressure on the army to repress the actions and divereted effort from rebuilding the economy and reestablishing civil order. On October 12, Pakistan proposed to India mutual troop withdrawals and posting of United Nations observers in the border areas. Although India refused, Pakistan went ahead and withdrew its army to stronger positions 10-12 miles behind the border. 26/ This action was indicative of the success of the guerrillas in their attacks against the isolated Pakistani outposts. At the same time Pakistani diplomacy emphasized the requirement for United Nations action to restrain India from supporting the rebels of East Pakistan. Pakistan continued to argue that India was interfering in her internal affairs. New Delhi's position was that the problem was not an "India- Pakistan" problem, but strictly a Pakistani one for Islamabad to correct. Therefore, United Nations' action was inappropriate Pakistan had only to create conditions in East Pakistan of peace and security for the refugees to return home. 27/ While New Dehli's argument had a legalistic logic, it must have been clear that Pakistan could not create conditions of peace while fighting guerrillas armed and trained in India. India obviously had little desire to see East Pakistan survive as a province of her rival in Islamabad. While the Soviet Union consistently supported Indian positions at the United Nations, in October Moscow pressured New Delhi to soften her policy on Bangla Desh independence. As a result, the Indian Foreign Minister announced that India was committed only to a political solution acceptable to the already elected representative of East Pakistan. With many of these representatives in exile, their leader, Sheikh Mujib, under arrest in West Pakistan it would have been unreasonable that these representatives would demand anything less than political automony for East Pakistan. In any case, President Yahya refused to negotiate with them. India returned to her previous position of demanding self- determination for Bangla Desh. New Delhi had won a propaganda victory and persuaded the Soviet Union to continue to support her, all without any material or political cost. While Pakistan probably could have restored order eventually in East Pakistan, President Yahya realized he had little hope of prevailing without outside help if India invaded there. He, therefore, tried to persuade China to increase her commitment to the security of all Pakistan: this the Chinese refused to do. Peking remained committed to support Pakistan only to the extent required to ensure the survival of West Pakistan as a nation. Despite public pronouncements from Islamabad that China would supply all the weapons Pakistan would need in a future conflict with India, the Indians never appeared to be in any doubt as to the true nature of China's commitment. When war came in December, several Indian divisions were withdrawn from the Sino-Indian border and moved into East Pakistan. 28/ As November drew to a close, Pakistan could no longer tolerate Indian military actions in the border area. Shelling and tank fire from the Indian army continued to inflict casualties on Pakistani posts and provide support guerrilla operations. Islamabad viewed the conflict as India's responsibility and this was endorsed by the United States who, on November 30, suspended licenses for arms exports to India. 29/ On December 3, 1971, Pakistan struck India with air and ground attacks across the border from West Pakistan. The period from March to September was marked by the rapid deterioration of the political situation in East Pakistan. When confronted by demands of the elected representatives of the Awani League for economic and political automony, the central military government in Islamabad reacted with a ruthless and brutal repression which ultimately failed. Islamabad appears to have seriously underestimated the strength and the organization of the Bengali nationalist movement embodied in the Awami League. Faced with the arrest of over half its leadership, the remaining Awami League leaders went into exile in India with even firmer resolve to win independence. From there they were able to quickly transform the party organization into a credible government-in-exile with a military arm to prosecute guerrilla warfare. The actions of the Islamabad government worked to the advantage of the Bengali resistance by providing the elements of a successful revolution. By arresting and detaining Bengali leaders Islamabad indicated to the world at large and the Bengalis, in particular, that no political compromise was possible. The ruthless and brutal purge of Bengalis from the armed forces succeeded in sending a trained and dedicated cadre of soldiers into exile in India where they were available to the Bangla Desh government-in-exile as a cadre for the guerrilla force. At the same time, Pakistani military operations caused such destruction and intimidation of civilians that millions also fled to India where they were available and willing to support the Bangla Desh movement. Little attempt was made by the Pakistan government to encourage these refugees to return home. It is possible that the Islamabad government consciously followed a policy of forcing large numbers of civilians out of East Pakistan in order to reduce the population to below that of West Pakistan. This would ensure that in future governments West Pakistan would hold a majority of seats in the National Assembly and could protect its privileged position in the nation. In any case, these destitute refugees provided a large pool of manpower opposing the West Pakistani government. India saw the conflict as an opportunity to weaken her major rival in South Asia. Pakistan had humiliated India in the war over Kashmir in 1965. India at that time had had to divide her forces between East and West while maintaining considerable forces on her northern border with China. New Delhi was determined to not be defeated again by Pakistan. Breaking East Pakistan from the remainder of the nation would greatly simplify her defense problem. India, therefore, adopted the policy of supporting the Bangla Desh movement while preparing her own armed forces for war with Pakistan should intervention be necessary. The independence of East Pakistan was pursued consistently and with skill throughout the period. Indian public opinion largely supported New Delhi's policy. The burden of millions of refugees in India's most populous and impoverished region was costly and caused social unrest. Furthermore, most Indians saw Pakistan as a threat which would lead to war eventually in any case. When India's goal appeared in danger of being thwarted by United Nations' intervention, New Delhi quickly found the necessary Security Council veto by concluding a treaty with the Soviet Union. This treaty did not place any military obligation on either party, but only pledged cooperation. For the Soviet Union the treaty demonstrated to the world its increasing influence in South Asia while for India the treaty gave her what she needed most -- an ally with veto power in the Security Council. The Awami League which formed the leadership of the Bangla Desh movement was thus provided all the essential elements to prosecute its guerrilla war for the independence of East Pakistan. The league had safe havens in India from which to organize politically and militarily. The arrest and detention of the popular leader, Sheikh Mujib, provided tangible and symbolic evidence of the persecution of the Bengalis by the West Pakistani. The widespread destruction of personal property and the economic deterioration in East Pakistan gave the Bangla Desh movement an enormous pool of manpower willing to resist the Pakistani authorities. The Bengali soldiers who had escaped formed a trained and dedicated nucleus for a guerrilla force. Finally, the support of India in form of arms and training allowed the guerrillas to move to the offensive quickly and effectively. By December, it became apparent to Islamabad that it was not regaining control of East Pakistan. The guerrillas were striking deeply into East Pakistan in greater strength. India was deploying raids across her border with East Pakistan to support the guerrillas. Pakistan, therefore, mounted an attack on December 3 aimed at destroying as much Indian combat power as possible before she herself was attacked by India. ENDNOTES (Chapter II) 1/ "Presidents Broadcast," Pakistan Affairs, Special Issue, (Washington), No. 18, March 31, 1971. 2/ Robert Laporte Jr. "Pakistan 1971: The Disin- tegration of a Nation," Asian Survey, 12, No. 2 (February 1972), p. 102. 3/ Robert Jackson, South Asian Crisis: India, Pakis- tan and Bangla Desh, (New York, Praeger, 1975), pp. 34-35. 4/ Ibid., p. 35. 5/ Bangla Desh Documents, (New Dehli: Government of India, 1971), p. 672. 6/ Jackson, p. 38. 7/ Ibid., p. 42. 8/ Ibid., p. 173. 9/ Ibid., p. 43. 10/ David H. Bayley, "India: War and Political Asset- tion," Asian Survey, Vol. 12, No. 2., February 1972, p. 91. 11/ Jackson, p. 48. 12/ Ibid., pp. 52-54. 13/ Ibid., p. 61. 14/ M. Rashiduzzaman, "Leadership, Organization, Stra- tegies and Tactics of the Bangla Desh Movement," Asian Survey, Vol. 12, No. 3, March 1972, p. 187. 15/ Ibid, p. 193. 16/ Jackson, p. 57. 17/ Rashiduzzaman, p. 195. 18/ Jackson, p. 59. 19/ Rashiduzzaman, p. 196. See also Chopra, p. 59 and Jackson, pp. 60-61. 20/ Jackson, p. 68. 21/ Ibid., p. 69. 22/ Ibid., p. 73. 23/ Ibid., p. 80. 24/ Ibid., p. 81. 25/ Rashiduzzaman, p. 198. 26/ Jackson, p. 92. 27/ Ibid., p. 82 26/ Ibid., p. 96. 29/ Stroessinger, Why Nations Go to War, 3d ed., St. Martin's Press. New York, 1982, p. 134. CHAPTER III THE 14-DAY WAR: 3-16 DECEMBER 1971 When general war opened on December 3, India and Pakistan had unequal military capacities. India had developed an arms industry with aid from the Soviet Union and the West which was capable of producing major weapons such as tanks and aircraft. India also had received and continued to have access to military equipment from Moscow. On the other hand, Pakistan's industry was much less developed. She had been unable to get arms when cut-off by the West and Russia in the summer of 1971. China had provided military supplies, but these could not redress the imbalance. 1/ The relative strengths of the armed forces of the two countries are shown in Table 1. It must be noted that India maintained considerable army forces guarding the Himalayan border with China which reduced the forces available for combat with Pakistan. 2/ Early in the counter-insurgency phase of the conflict, Pakistan had purged Bangali units from the armed forces. Many Bengalis who belonged to predominantly West Pakistan units had defected: those who remained were not trusted and the combat effectiveness of Pakistani units suffered as a result. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was particularly affected because many of the ground crew had been Bengali. Click here to view image The officer corps of all three Pakistani services had been politicized, especially at the general officer level, by years of military government. The need for political balance in the government often overrode the requirements for ability in many senior military appointments. This resulted in poor leadership and incompetence as well as lack of cohesion and trust. By 1971, the chiefs-of-staff system had been modified so as to be almost unrecognizable. Yahya Khan retained control of army operations in addition to his duties as President and supreme Commander of all the services. The structure was overly centralized and dominated by the army. Not surprisingly, communications and cooperation were poor between General Headquarters co- located with the army at Rawalpindi, and the PAF and navy located at Peshawar and Karachi respectively. 3/ The Indian system emphasized the distinction between government and the armed services. Each service had equal status and was controlled by a civilian minister of the cabinet responsible to parliament. The service chiefs were members of a chief-of-staff committee. A joint planning staff provided coordination. This system was well-suited to respond to civilian management. 4/ Pakistan's strategy tried to involve the United Nations to prevent India from intervening militarily. But when it became apparent that this strategy could not prevent war, Pakistan attacked from the West. Yahya probably considered East Pakistan indefensible in the long run, but he hoped to gain sufficient Indian territory in the West which could be traded for East Pakistan territory in the negotiations following the cease-fire. The land battle in the West was thus crucial for Pakistan. Indian strategy was to act quickly in the East to decisively defeat Pakistani forces there while defending Indian territory in the West. This strategy reduced the danger of China intervening as it clearly did not threaten the existence of West Pakistan. 5/ A quick decision in the East would ensure an independent nation in East Bengal before international action could be mobilized to separate the Indian and Pakistani armies there and preclude the decision India sought. When the PAF struck at 1747 on December 3, Pakistan attempted to disable the superior Indian Air Force (IAF) by a preemptive strike. Airfields at Amritsar, Srinagar, Avantipur, Pathankot and Faridkot were attacked; however, the strike failed to achieve any significant success. The IAF had dispersed their aircraft to hardened shelters on a large number of airfields where only a direct hit could damage them. The late afternoon forced the attack to be brief as it could not be sustained in darkness. Not only were too few airfields struck for too short a time, but only 30 percent of the available aircraft were used. The aircraft may have had a low serviceability or the PAF may have attempted to save aircraft since they could not be easily replaced. In any case, from this raid onwards, the IAF dominated the air-war. 6/ On December 4, the IAF flew over 500 sorties on tactical and strategic targets in Pakistan. In 14 days of war, the Western Air Command of IAF alone flew over 4,000 sorties. 7/ The IAF claimed 94 aircraft, while the PAF claimed 81. This air campaign demonstrated again the value of mass and boldness: the IAF influenced the war significantly with relatively small losses while the PAF flew far fewer sorties with greater losses and less effect. 8/ The border between West Pakistan and India followed no natural topographical feature, but it had been inherited on the basis of the old pre-1947 borders. There Pakistan deployed ten infantry divisions, two armoured divisions, various brigades and almost all its combat aircraft. The general deployments are shown in Appendix I. The order of battle of the Indians has not been disclosed, but it was probably comparable. 9/ On December 3, the Pakistani 26 Infantry Brigade attacked east from Kahuta toward Punch in northern Kashmir. They had made virtually no progress against Indian ground defenses and heavy air attacks when the offensive was terminated two days later. On December 9, a second attack toward Punch was again thwarted by IAF bombing. The Indians then made a series of small attacks which secured several Pakistani posts north and west of Punch. Further north in the area of Kargil, the Indians secured all the Pakistani outposts which overlooked the Zoji La Pass. These actions were conducted at night at elevations above 16,000 feet at sub-zero temperatures. 10/ To the south, the area of Chhamb was an important communication link to all parts of Kashmir. The II (Pak) corps attacked on December 3 with four infantry and one armored brigade with eight artillery regiments in support. After four days, they had succeeded in driving two Indian infantry battalions out of their prepared defense to positions across on the east bank of the Munnawar Tawi River. Two days later the Pakistanis took the town of Chhamb and established a bridgehead on the east side of the river. On December 10 the Indians counter-attacked, sending the Pakistanis back across the river. In the next two days, units of II (Pak) Corps recrossed the river two more times only to be forced to withdraw. By December 12, when the sector stabilized, the Indians estimated they had lost 17 tanks and 440 men killed while the Pakistanis had lost 36 tanks and 1350 men killed. 11/ In the Punjab, the Sialkot-Shakargarh salient juts into India. The Indians launched an attack there to relieve pressure on the Chhamb area. They attacked the salient on two axes: one from the north to cut the road between Shakargarh and Zafarwal, the other from the east with Shakargarh as the objective. Good Pakistani defensive positions and extensive mining made progress slow, but by the time of the cease-fire on December 16, the Indians had secured about 1000 square kilometers of the salient. 12/ South of the Shakargarh salient in the area of Dera Baba Nanak and Fazilka, the Indians expected a major Pakistani offensive. Both sides fought local engagements in effort to gain favorable position. However, no major offensive was attempted. Although the 1 (Pak) Armoured Division was available to strike, lack of air cover probably kept it from entering the battle. 13/ Actions in the Sind-Rajasthan sector were aimed a drawing strategic reserves of both sides down from the other northern sectors. A Pakistani force of one infantry brigade, supported by a reinforced armoured regiment, crossed the border near Ramgarh on December 4. Without air cover, the Pakistanis were caught in the open and lost an estimated 34 tanks and 100 other vehicles in one day before withdrawing. 14/ On December 5, while Pakistani armour was being destroyed north in the desert, the Indians captured Gadra and moved southwest on to Nagar Parkar and the Rann of Kutch. This advance had possibilities of cutting the main north-south lines of communication through Hyderabad to Karachi. Indian progress was slow, but by the time of the cease-fire 11 days later they had advanced to Naya Chor and had captured 4,700 square kilometers of Pakistani land. 15/ Its quite probable that the Indian advance in the Rann of Kutch was deliberately slow in order not to threaten seriously West Pakistan and thus arouse Chinese military intervention. At the time of cease-fire the Pakistanis had not achieved any of their objectives. They had no large tracts of Indian territory to use as bargaining chips for East Pakistan. India had been able to deploy similar military strength to a battle which, for them, was defensive. Indian air superiority allowed them flexibility while negating any Pakistani local ground concentration. The 14-day war was the first full-scale Indian naval war. India's fleet was much superior to that of Pakistan and was well prepared when war came on December 3. The Indian navy was able to defend the coast while blockading East Pakistan and attacking shore targets in support of ground operations. 16/ Pakistan's surface fleet had neither air cover nor weapons to defend against India's missile boats. Therefore, it stayed in Karachi harbour while submarines were given the task of destroying India's aircraft carrier and cruiser. They were unsuccessful: on December 4, Dafne-class Pakistani submarine was sunk by a carrier escort in the Bay of Bengal while a second submarine was sunk off Visakhapatna harbour. The only Indian loss was the frigate Kukri sunk by a sumbarine in the Arabian Sea on December 9. 17/ India's main naval support effort was in the Bay of Bengal where a carrier task force blockaded the sea approaches to East Pakistan. Six merchant ships and "numerous" small craft were captured. Carrier based aircraft struck assembly points of small boats in the Ganges delta area, preventing the escape or reinforcement of Pakistani army elements. The establishment of air superiority early in the war allowed the ships freedom to maneuver to attack shore targets at Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Chalna, Kulna and other economic and military targets. 18/ These actions had a significant effect on the collapse of East Pakistan. But the decisive theater of the war was East Pakistan shown on the map at Appendix 2. The area is divided by three major river systems into four parts with Dacca, the capital, at the center. The Jamuna River runs north to south cutting the country in half. West of the Jamuna the Padma (Ganges) River flows west to east to join the Jamuna west of Dacca. South of the Padma lies the South-Western Sector with the major towns of Kushtia, Jessore, Khulna and Chalna. To the north of the Padma the North-Western Sector contains the towns of Rangpur, Dinajpur, Bogra and Rajshahi. The Surma-Meghna River flows southwest from Sylhet joining the Jamuna south east of Dacca and dividing the remainder of the country into the Northern Sector and Eastern Sector. India deployed six infantry divisions and various supporting troops on all sides of East Pakistan. Supporting the Indian force were eight battalions of Mukti-Bahini and many irregular Bengali soldiers. 19/ To force a quick decision, India had to strike deep toward Dacca. Since the trafficability of most of the region is poor, the combat forces were lightly equipped but they were well trained and were reinforced with engineers to assist in river crossings. The Indian forces were deployed as follows: II Corps comprising of two infantry divisions was tasked to advance eastward through the South-Western Sector in the general direction of Dacca; XXXIII Corps with one infantry division and two brigades was tasked to attack to the Bogra area in the Northwestern Sector and then on to Dacca; 101 Communications Zone with one brigade was to strike south through the Northern Sector toward Dacca; and, IV Corps in the Eastern Sector had three divisions with missions to advance westward to Dacca. 20/ Opposing the Indians, Pakistan deployed five divisions with two armoured regiments and supporting artillery. The forces were deployed forward in strong points based on towns near the border with light forces screening to the border. In the Southwestern Sector the Indian II Corps advanced on three axes. Nine (I) Division struck southeast bypassing Jessore to the south then moved on the Kulna, Chalna and Barisal. A second element of 9 (I) Division passed north of Jessore on December 5 and, moving cross-country, took Jheneida two days later. A third column composed of 4 (I) Division moved eastward on the right bank of the Padma and took Kushtia with its important railway bridge after heavy fighting on December 11. The Pakistani forces based in Jessore withdrew piecemeal without a fight when they found themselves cut-off by the advancing Indian columns. By December 15, the resistance in this sector had collapsed. 21/ The Indians had demonstrated that they could move rapidly across the marshy ground and numerous streams. Good training and assistance of Mukti-Bahini guides allowed them to outflank the major strong points which then crumbled. In the Northwestern Sector, XXXIII (I) Corps advanced southeast on three axes, bypassing strongly defended areas at Hilli, Dinajpur and Rangpur. Bogra was capatured on December 13, cutting-off the defenders further to the north. In this sector the Indians again proved they could move quickly around static defenses to cut the routes of withdrawal and reinforcement. Even though the Pakistani army continued to fight from their strong points they could not stop or eject the Indians. 22/ The Northern Sector provided the best approach to Dacca for there are no major river obstacles. However, the Indians used only two brigades in this sector. This force took Jamalpur early, but was held up at Mymensingh until December 11 before moving south to Tangail, 46 miles from Dacca. The Indians dropped a parachute battalion into Tangail on December 11 to cut the withdrawal route of Pakistani forces to the north. On December 12, resistance at Tangail crumbled and by December 16 Indian units were in the outskirts of Dacca. 23/ In the Eastern Sector three Indian divisions faced two Pakistani divisions. The 8 (I) Division advanced southwest from Karimgan, reaching Maulvi Bazar on December 6. The Pakisani garrison at Mualvi Bazar withdrew to Sylhet where the elements continued to fight for some days. Meanwhile, the main force of 8 (I) Division continued to Ashuganj on the Megna River. The 57 (I) Division struck west from Akhaura reaching Ashuganj on December 9. The 23 (I) Division bypassed Comilla with one column moving south toward Chittagong while the main body proceeded west to reach the Megna River. Four days later the Indians were within 12 kilometers of Dacca. 24/ After artillery had fired on Dacca on December 15, the Pakistanis requested a cease-fire and, on December 16, General Niazi, commander of Pakistan's forces in Dacca, signed an unconditional surrender. The war ended and Bangla Desh was a reality. At the beginning of December, Islamabad had realized that the Indians were massing to attack into East Pakistan. Although Pakistan had approximately 40,000 troops deployed there, the preceeding months of guerrilla war had taken its toll. The Pakistani army's morale there had been weakened by terrorist activity and the consistent hostility of the civilian population. The terrain itself reduced mobility and forced the army to deploy in strong points near the larger towns where they would control the major road and railway networks. These strong points were not mutually supporting and there were insufficient forces to fill the gaps between them. At best the Pakistani forces could delay the likely Indian attack to gain sufficient time for an international intervention to pressure India to stop. If, as was entirely possible, no international intervention materialized, then Pakistan would need to take Indian territory elsewhere which could then be traded for the return of East Pakistan during cease-fire negotiations. To do this Yahya had to mount a swift, violent offensive into India from West Pakistan. In the 14-day conventional war Pakistan's strategy completely failed for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Pakistani forces needed air superiority and they failed to achieve it. The PAF tried a surprise pre- emptive attack on the Indian Air Force (IAF), but through poor intelligence and planning failed to strike Indian airfields in sufficient numbers or depth. IAF operations were never seriously challenged. In the following days of the war, the PAF could not or would not provide sufficient sorties to gain even local air superiority to support the ground forces even though aircraft were available. It is probable that the PAF command thought it necessary to avoid loss of aircraft so they would be available to counter an Indian offensive into West Pakistan should it arise. It appears that the Pakistani high command were not aware of Yahya's objectives of gaining Indian territory as a defense for the integrity of Pakistan as a whole. Secondly, the Pakistani army attacked along a very broad front of the western Indian border. But nowhere did they mass sufficient forces to ensure a rapid breakthrough. Generally, the points of attack were in terrain unsuited for wide maneuver and hence mobility and speed could not be developed to gain significant amount of Indian land. Although battles were fiercely contested at battalion and brigade level, the attacks were only loosely coordinated at the corps and army level, and hence, lacked unity. Thirdly, the effect of the Indian naval blockage was to completely isolate West from East Pakistan. Combined with Indian domination of the air, there was no possibility of reinforcing or withdrawing army forces in East Pakistan. This could only have further reduced morale and the will of the soldiers there to resist. As well the Indian navy was able to carry the war directly to Karachi while the Pakistani navy could not venture out without risking irreplaceable losses. The Pakistani navy was simply not equipped to take on the missiles and aircraft of the Indian fleet in order to protect its own or commercial ships. Thus, West as well as East Pakistan was isolated from its major sea supply routes. The state of the navy was indicative of the neglect for reality of the military government in Islamabad. Lastly, the Army in East Pakistan underestimated the ability of the Indians to move forces through the sodden terrain of Bengal. The Pakistanis had deployed in strength in the towns while leaving the rural areas relatively unprotected. The Indian army, supported by Bengalis with local knowledge, quickly outflanked these strong points. With no strategic reserve available, the Pakistanis could not block the Indian's advance. When the strong points were surrounded, there was simply no place for the defenders to go and they surrendered in thousands. 25/ The speed of the Indian advance helped relieve Indian's logistic effort of improving roads, bridges and railways necessary to move large quantities of supplies for slower, more deliberate operations. Their forces were lightly equipped to move quickly through to Dacca. In summary, the conventional phase of the war was one of limited objectives by both sides. However, the Pakistanis could not properly coordinate their strategy or their forces to realize success. On the other hand, the Indians produced a simple but flexible plan which they executed with determination and skill. East Pakistan fell much more quickly than Islamabad had anticipated and there was no time for international intervention. In the West the Indians defended successfully while making minor gains in the South. Their actions were entirely consistant with their objective of ejecting Pakistan from Bengal without inviting intervention from other nations, particularly China. ENDNOTES (Chapter III) 1/ Jackson, p. 107. 2/ Accounts vary. At least eight mountain divisions remained guarding India's northern border. See Jackson, p. 107; Chopra, pp. 53-54; and Ravi Kaul, "The Indo-Pakistan War and the Changing Balance of Power in the Indian Ocean," United States Naval Institute Proceedings, No. 14, May 73, pp. 186-187. 3/ Jackson, p. 108. 4/ Ibid., p. 108. 5/ Ravi Rikhye, "Why India Won: The 14 Day War," Armed Forces Journal, 109, April 1972, p. 39. 6/ Sir Robert Thompson, ed., War in Peace, (New York: Harmony Books), 1982, p. 225. 7/ Jackson, p. 122. 8/ Thompson, p. 225. 9/ Ibid., 226. 10/ Jackson, pp. 116-119. 11/ Rikhye, p. 40. 12/ Ibid., p. 40. 13/ Jackson, p. 120. 14/ Thompson, p. 227. See also Jackson, p. 120. 15/ Jackson, p. 121. 16/ Kaul, p. 188. 17/ Ibid., p. 191. 18/ Ibid., pp. 188-189. 19/ Jackson, p. 133. 20/ Ibid., p. 133. 21/ Chopra, p. 56. 22/ Ibid., p. 56. 23/ Ibid., p. 58. 24/ Jackson, p. 142. 25/ Chopra, p. 58. CHAPTER IV CONCLUSIONS The course of events which shaped the conflict between India and Pakistan in 1971 had their origins in history made many years before. The concept of a single Islamic nation on the Indian sub-continent had brought the peoples of East and West Pakistan together in the aftermath of British colonial rule. But the concept was not powerful enough to hold the nation in the face of differing race, language, culture and geography. When the autocratic rulers in the western wing denied the democratic aspirations of the Bengalis while continuing a policy of apparent economic domination, resentment was inevitable. The established rulers had fashioned a severely centralized government which was incapable of harmonizing the political and social forces emerging in the western as well as the eastern wing of the nation. Consequently military repression of the Bengalis was implemented without a serious attempt to rectify the causes of the grievances. The millions of refugees who poured into India caused serious economic and social problems in one of her most unstable slates, West Bengal. The Indian government, with considerable support from the public, seized this opportunity to decisively weaken her most dangerous rival. By skillfully managing her diplomatic affairs, while encouraging the Bangla Desh movement, India won time to prepare for military intervention while preventing wider international intervention damaging to her aim. And clearly her aim was to reduce the power of Pakistan by promoting the autonomy of East Bengal. China considered Pakistan, in particular West Pakistan, vital to restricting Soviet influence on the sub-continent. Should both India and Pakistan be drawn into the Soviet sphere, China's borders would be threatened on all sides. With India and Pakistan rivals, the threat to China from India would be much reduced. For similar reasons, the Soviet Union was initially trying to steer an even course in the India-Pakistan dispute. However, when rebuffed by Yahya in July 1971, Moscow quickly saw the chance to increase her influence with India. When conventional war finally came in December, Pakistan found herself unable to defend the east or successfully gain in the west. Pakistan's complete failure in the air was most damaging. Her armies and navy lacked information available from reconnaissance. Both the army and navy could not maneuver without incurring damaging losses from the Indian Air Force. In the end, India prevailed because she was able to maintain the initiative both politically and militarily, guided by a simple but realistic and flexible strategy. Click here to view image BIBLIOGRAPHY Bayley, David H. "Inida War and Political Assertion." Asian Survey VII, No. 2 (February 1972): pp. 87-96. A political and social analysis of India during the crisis of 1971. Chopra, Maharay K. "Military Operations in Bangla Desh." Military Review, LTT, No. 5 (May 1972) pp. 51-60. A good description of the military operations from an Indian viewpoint. Includes map. Jackson, Robert. South Asian Crisis: India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1975. A thorough discussion of the history of Bengal nationalism and the international politics of the 1971 crisis. Kaul, Ravi. "The Indo-Pakistan War and the Changing Balance of Power in the Indian Ocean." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (May 1973): pp. 173-195. A detailed description of naval operations of the war from the Indian point of view. LaPorte, Robert Jr. "Pakistan in 1971: The Disinte- gration of a Nation." Asian Survey XII, No. 2, (February 1972). pp. 97-108. A political analysis of Pakistan during the 1971 crisis. Rashiduzzaman, M. "Leadership, Organization, Strate- gies and Tactics of the Bangla Desh Movement." Asian Survey XII, No. 3 (March 1972): pp. 185-200. Rukhye, Ravi. "Why India Won: The 14-Day War." Armed Forces Journal, 109 (April 1972) pp. 38-41. An analysis of the success of India in war 3-16 December 1971. Gives force ratios and deployments of India and Pakistan. Thompson, Sir Robert. ed. War in Peace: Conventional and Guerrilla Warfare Since 1945. New York: Harmony Books, 1982. Provides short summary of the background and conduct of the war. Includes maps. Stoessinger, John G. Why Nations Go to War. 3d ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982. Chapter 5 provides analysis of the political cur- rents and leaders involved in the 1971 crisis. In- cludes bibliography.

Discuss this article in our forum.

Share This Page:
Bookmark to: Digg Bookmark to: Bookmark to: Facebook Bookmark to: Reddit Bookmark to: Yahoo Bookmark to: Spurl Bookmark to: Google Bookmark to: Slashdot Bookmark to: Newsvine Bookmark to: Folkd Bookmark to: StumbleUpon Bookmark to: Propeller Bookmark to: Furl Bookmark to: Blinklist