Indo-Pak War of 1971: Bangladesh Liberation War

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war of 1971

Many names are attributed to the War of 1971, it is often called the Third Indo-Pak War, or Bangladesh Liberation War. What it is called in different regions and contexts depends on whether one is focussing on the tensions between the two nations after the partition of India and Pakistan or the demand for being autonomous raised by the people of East Pakistan. The era is also often referred to as the South Asian Crisis which led to the formation of Bangladesh

Reasons Behind the War of 1971

There was not one reason that West Pakistan was losing its grip on East Pakistan. There were major events contributing to the protest in East Pakistan. For one, Pakistan had soon lost all its influential leaders after independence and was in a state of turmoil in its own administration. They were unsuccessful in addressing the problems of Bengalis in East Pakistan. Here are some other main reasons that led to the war in 1971. 

  1. Jinnah had initially declared Urdu as the official language of both East and West Pakistan. This was not acceptable to the people of  East Pakistan most of whom spoke Bengali. 
  2. The Bengalis didn’t have a particular say in their own governance which was led by West Pakistan. The budget allocation to them was and they were underrepresented in the Military and Administration. 
  3. The demographic differences in terms of ethnicities were major. With Punjabis, Sindhis and Pashtun in the majority in the west and Bengalis in the east. Due to more Hindus in the population, they were also considered less loyal to the government. 
  4. Mujibir Rahman started the 6-point movement to demand complete autonomy of the region. The demands are: 
  • Federal state
  • Administrative control except for defence and foreign affairs
  • Separate currency as well as fiscal policy
  • Taxation powers, trade, and forex reserves
  • Separate military and navy
  1. The launch of Operation Searchlight on the 25th of March 1971 to curb the Bengali Independence Movement. 
Source: NewsBharati

Also Read: Timeline of India-Pakistan War

Outcomes of the War

Many students and intellectuals at Dhaka University were fired upon and their leader Mujibir Rehman was arrested. Many Bangladeshis fled towards the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura. 

Indian forces armed and trained the Bangladeshi Armed Resistance Mukhti Bahini. The US was supporting Pakistan as India had signed a peace treaty with Russia. Besides this, on December 3 Operation Chengiz Khan was launched by the Pakistan Air Force ordering an airstrike on the Western Sector of India. 

Source: Times Now

Also Read: First India-Pakistan War of 1947-1948: Causes and Aftermath

This was followed by the battles of Longewala, Ghazipur, Basantar and Dera Baba Nanak. On the 06th of December India recognised Bangladesh as a separate nation. However, there were still many other battles fought after this between the two countries within the next 10 days. 

It was finally on the 16th of December 1971 that Pakistan Eastern Command Commander Lt Gen AAK Niazi signed a treaty to surrender. 93,000 Pakistani troops laid down arms in Bangladesh. Mujibir Rehman was released from prison and became the first Prime Minister of an independent Bangladesh. 

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This blog was all about the Indo-Pak War of 1971. If you want to read more articles like this, you can get Short notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

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