Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Part of the Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts and Eastern Front of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
1971 Instrument of Surrender.jpg
First Row: Lt-Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, the Cdr. of Pakistani Eastern Comnd., signing the documented instrument in Dacca in the presence of Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora (GOC-in-C of Indian Eastern Comnd.). Surojit Sen of All India Radio is seen holding a microphone on the right.
Second Row (left to right): Vice Adm. N. Krishnan (FOC Eastern Naval Comnd.), Air Mshl. H.C. Dewan, (AOC Eastern Air Comnd., Lt Gen. Sagat Singh (Cdr. IV Corps), Maj Gen. JFR Jacob (COS Eastern Comnd.) and Flt Lt Krishnamurthy (peering over Jacob‘s shoulder).
Date3–16 December 1971 (13 days)
ResultDecisive Indian victory.[1][2][3]
Eastern front:
Surrender of East Pakistan military command.
Western front:
Unilateral Ceasefire.[4]

Eastern Front:

Western Front:

  • Indian forces captured around 5,795 square miles (15,010 km2) land in the West but returned it in the 1972 Simla Agreement as a gesture of goodwill.[5][6][7]


Bangladesh Provisional Government of Bangladesh


East Pakistan
Commanders and leaders
India V. V. Giri
(President of India)
India Indira Gandhi
(Prime Minister of India)
India Swaran Singh
(External Minister of India)
India Jagjivan Ram
(Defence Minister of India)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Gen Sam Manekshaw
(Chief of Army Staff)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen J.S. Arora
(GOC-in-C, Eastern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen G.G. Bewoor
(GOC-in-C, Southern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen K. P. Candeth
(GOC-in-C, Western Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Manohar Lal
(GOC-in-C, Northern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Premindra Bhagat
(GOC-in-C, Central Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Sagat Singh
(GOC-in-C, IV Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen T. N. Raina
(GOC-in-C, II Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Sartaj Singh
(GOC-in-C, XV Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Karan Singh
(GOC-in-C, I Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen Depinder Singh
(GOC-in-C, XII Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg MajGen Farj R. Jacob
(COS, Eastern Command)
Flag of Indian Army.svg MajGen Om Malhotra
(COS, IV Corps)
Flag of Indian Army.svg MajGen Inderjit Singh Gill
(Dir, Military Operations)
Naval Ensign of India.svg Adm S. M. Nanda
(Chief of Naval Staff)
Naval Ensign of India.svg VAdm S. N. Kohli
(Cdr. Western Naval Command)
Air Force Ensign of India.svg ACM Pratap C. Lal
(Chief of Air Staff)
RAW India.jpg Rameshwar Kao
(Director of RAW)
Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmad
(PM Provisional Government)
Bangladesh Col. M.A.G. Osmani
(Commander, Mukti Bahini)
Pakistan Yahya Khan
(President of Pakistan)
Pakistan Nurul Amin
(Prime Minister of Pakistan)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Gen. A.H. Khan
(Chief of Staff, Army GHQ)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen A.A.K. Niazi Surrendered
(Commander, Eastern Command)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Gul Hassan Khan
(Chief of General Staff)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Abdul Ali Malik
(Commander, I Corps)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Tikka Khan
(Commander, II Corps)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Lt.Gen Sher Khan
(Commander, IV Corps)
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg MGen Iftikhar Janjua
(GOC, 23rd Infantry Division)
MGen Khadim Hussain
(GOC, 14th Infantry Division)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg VAdm Muzaffar Hassan
(Cdr-in-Chief, Navy)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg RAdm Rashid Ahmed
(COS, Navy NHQ)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg RAdm Moh'd Shariff  Surrendered
(Cdr, Eastern Naval Command)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg RAdm M.A.K. Lodhi
(Cdr, Western Naval Command)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg RAdm Leslie Norman
(Commander, Pakistan Marines)
Air Force Ensign of Pakistan.svg AM Abdul Rahim Khan
(Cdr-in-Chief, Air Force)
Air Force Ensign of Pakistan.svg AVM P.D. Callaghan
(Chief Ins, Pakistan Air Force)
Air Force Ensign of Pakistan.svg Air Cdre Inamul Haq Surrendered
(Cdr Eastern Air Command)
Air Force Ensign of Pakistan.svg Gp.Capt. Z.A. Khan Surrendered
(COS, Air AHQ Dhaka)
Abdul Motaleb Malik  Surrendered
(Governor of East Pakistan)
Indian Armed Forces: 500,000
Mukti Bahini: 175,000
Total: 675,000
Pakistan Armed Forces: 365,000
Casualties and losses

2,500[8]–3,843 killed or wounded.[9]

Pakistani claims

Indian claims

Neutral claims

9,000 killed[17]
25,000 wounded[18]
97,368 captured
2 Destroyers[19]
1 Minesweeper[19]
1 Submarine[20]
3 Patrol vessels
7 Gunboats

  • Pakistani main port Karachi facilities damaged/fuel tanks destroyed[19][21]
  • Pakistani airfields damaged and cratered[22]

Pakistani claims

Indian claims

Neutral claims

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which led to the commencement of hostilities with Pakistan and Indian entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.[24][25]

During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western fronts; the war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender[26][27] on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, East Pakistan had earlier called for its secession from the unity of Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately 90,000[28] to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army, which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of the Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan.[28][29][30] The remaining 10,324 to 12,500 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars).[28][31][32][33] It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh.[34][35][36][37][38] As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.[39]

During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias called the Razakars raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[40][41][42][43]


The Indo-Pakistani conflict was sparked by the armed liberation struggle in East Pakistan between the dominant Bengalis and the multi-ethnic West Pakistanis over the right to govern and the constitution.[44]:24[19] The political tensions between East Bengal and West Pakistan had its origin in the creation of Pakistan as a result of the partition of India by the United Kingdom in 1947; the popular language movement in 1950; mass riots in East Bengal in 1964; and the mass protests in 1969. These led to the resignation of President Ayub Khan, who invited army chief General Yahya Khan to take over the central government.[45]:xxx The geographical distance between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan was vast; East Pakistan lay over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away, which greatly hampered any attempt to integrate the Bengali and the Pakistani cultures.[46]:13–14[47][self-published source]:xxi

To overcome the Bengali domination and prevent formation of the central government in Islamabad, the controversial One Unit program established the two wings of East and West Pakistan. West Pakistanis' opposition to these efforts made it difficult to effectively govern both wings.[45]:xxx In 1969, President Yahya Khan announced the first general elections and disestablished the status of West Pakistan as a single province in 1970, in order to restore it to its original heterogeneous status comprising four provinces, as defined at the time of establishment of Pakistan in 1947.[48] In addition, there were also religious and racial tensions between Bengalis and the multi-ethnic West Pakistanis, as Bengalis looked different from the dominant West Pakistanis.[44]:24–25

The general elections, held in 1970, resulted in East Pakistan's Awami League gaining 167 out of 169 seats for the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly, and a near-absolute majority in the 313-seat National Assembly, while the vote in West Pakistan was mostly won by the socialist Pakistan Peoples Party.[49]:686–687 The Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stressed his political position by presenting his Six Points and endorsing the Bengalis' right to govern.[45]:xxx The League's election success caused many West Pakistanis to fear that it would allow the Bengalis to draft the constitution based on the six-points and liberalism.[50]:xlv

To resolve the crisis, the Ahsan–Yaqub Mission was formed to provide recommendations, and its findings were met with favourable reviews from the Awami League, the Pakistan Peoples Party, and the Pakistan Muslim League as well as from President Yahya Khan.[51]:109–110

Map shows Pakistan and East Pakistan. Distance between the two was 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of Indian territory.

However, the mission was not supported by the elements in the National Security Council and was subsequently vetoed.[51]:110 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, endorsed the veto and subsequently refused to yield the premiership of Pakistan to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Awami League called for general strikes in the country.[51]:110 President Yahya Khan postponed the inauguration of the National Assembly, causing a shattering disillusionment to the Awami League and their supporters throughout East Pakistan.[52] In reaction, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for general strikes that eventually shutdown the government, and dissidents in the East began targeting the ethnic Bihari community, which had supported West Pakistan.[53]

In early March 1971, approximately 300 Biharis were slaughtered in riots by Bengali mobs in Chittagong alone.[54] The Government of Pakistan used the "Bihari massacre" to justify its deployment of the military in East Pakistan on 25 March, when it initiated its military crackdown.[55] President Yahya Khan called on the military - which was overwhelmingly led by West Pakistanis - to suppress dissent in the East, after accepting the resignation of Lieutenant-General Yaqub Ali Khan, the chief of staff of the East-Pakistani military.[56][57]

Mass arrests of dissidents began and, after several days of strikes and non-cooperation, the Pakistani military, led by Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, cracked down on Dhaka on the night of 25 March 1971. The government outlawed the Awami League, which forced many of its members and sympathisers into refuge in Eastern India. Mujib was arrested on the night of 25/26 March 1971 at about 1:30 am (as per Radio Pakistan's news on 29 March 1971) and taken to West Pakistan. Operation Searchlight, followed by Operation Barisal, attempted to kill the intellectual elite of the east.[58]

On 26 March 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman of Pakistan Army declared the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[59][60][61]

In April, the exiled Awami League leaders formed a government-in-exile in Baidyanathtala of Meherpur. The East Pakistan Rifles and Bengali officers in Pakistan's army, navy, and marines, defected to the rebellion after taking refuge in different parts of India. The Bangladesh Force, namely the Mukti Bahini, consisting of Niyomito Bahini (Regular Force) and Oniyomito Bahini (Guerilla Force), was formed under the retired colonel Mohammad Ataul Gani Osmani.[62]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Perang India-Pakistan 1971
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Hindiston — Pokiston urushi
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Treći indijsko-pakistanski rat