by: Ch. Muhammad Natiq:
1971 war in East Pakistan, India attacked with over whelming superiority, the quantum of forces was totally outbalanced, Pakistani troops, 22000 combat , about 10000 civil forces and services. versus over half a million Indian regular army and almost half a million Mukti Bahani forces, with  complete Air and Naval superiority.

Media and in political circles are agitated as outgoing COAS said that the failure in Dhaka was political.  I, the undersigned , is the last of the few who  participated over 50 years ago in this saga of war. The gathering clouds were visible .  After partition,  the death of Quaid , got into the political tug of war denying East Pakistan founder leaders due share in governance.

Complete restructuring of civil services and Defense Forces was undertaken after the partition. Civil service officers and other services by 1970 had almost reached parity level. To organize the services  West Pakistani officers were deputed to East Pakistan. It created space for political exploitation.

Economically ,East Bengal had nothing at the time of partition by way of industry or reasonable communication intratissue . East Pakistan Development Corporation and other such like institutions set up industries and infrastructure.  Chittagong and Khulna Port was developed.  Industrialist were encouraged from West Pakistan. By 1970, distribution of finances and parity was achieved in all segments.  Bengali politicians however continued to exploit this factor.

In defense, by 1971 ten  East Bengal regiments were raised. East Pakistan rifles were restructured and  by 1970 had almost 23,000 troops, all Bengalis. Among officers’ special concessions were given to the Bengali youth to bring them at par with West Pakistan. The quantum of troops and officers in Pakistan Air Force and Navy were larger… Yet, perception is stronger than logic.

The local body system of selection of President left the Bengalis politicians  with no space forever in the new setup. 1965 war was the watershed .  East Pakistan felt  they were totally naked against any possible aggression by India.  Defense of East Pakistan doctrine lay in the west proved totally misplaced and negated in the changed strategic and geo political scenario.

Suppression in the political sphere created space for the subversive elements. Indian Intelligence and Later RAW in 1968 under Kao was tasked to penetrate in East Pakistan .The Agartala conspiracy was a reality, Mujib  arrested and released under political pressure was a blunder.

September 1970,  cyclone inflicted huge loss of property and the human lives on the shores of Noakhali and adjoining coasts. There were thousands of dead and property destroyed.  The role of Pakistan army was lauded internationally to alleviate the suffering of the people, Mujib used this tragedy  for the political ends .

The legal framework order issued by the Martial law Administration to conduct incoming elections was totally flouted . A year plus, Awami League poisoned the People of East Pakistan. . No west Pakistani politician ever visited. Awami League propaganda,  West Pakistan usurped  East Pakistan resource created a false impression . Indians  penetration and propaganda worsened the situation. 1970 elections were held under this atmosphere.

Election was rigged as Awami League had complete control on the entire apparatus. Martial Law administration was helpless spectator. As West Pakistan political parties especially the People’s Party did not put up a single candidate in the Eastern Wing  hundred percent seats went to Awami League. In West Pakistan Bhutto’s party won only 85 seats amongst the 162 seats. Yet Bhutto was adamant  he  be made part of the new government by Mujib.

Mujib having majority was rigid in his stance to form Government alone with smaller parties from West Pakistan. As early in January later, in  February the meetings of the President Yahya in Larkana and later Karachi with Bhutto ended in failure. Bhutto threatened MNA’s dire consequences if they travelled to Dacca to attend NA session. At one stage , as Mujib revealed , let there be two PM,s , said Bhutto. In this background  Mr.

Bhutto forced  president Yahya to postpone National Assembly  to be held on March 4th 1971. Meetings between March 7 to March 24 ended in deadlock. Bilateral meetings of Mujib and Bhutto also failed though consensus on five points had reached out of six. Rigidity, ego, and lust politics for power over powered wisdom. Hawks prevailed.

We, field commanders, conveyed the pulse of the people and troops to the higher command in Dacca. Commander Eastern Command Gen Sahibzada Yakub tried all efforts to persuade the President to seek political solution but in vain. The postponement of session was a grave blunder on the part of President under pressure .

General Yakub warned any military solution will be sure disintegration of the country, failing to convince Yahya, he resigned. Meanwhile the killing of non-Bengalis was in full swing , especially in major cities . Pakistan army  consisted in March ,1971 only one division out of which three regiments were of East Bengal and in other arms themselves virtually they were 40 to 50% Bengali troops.

The civil disobedience created a nerve wrecking  situation for Bengali and Non-Bengali  troops alike . The operation Search Light was a reaction and not earlier planned . Formations were briefed and tasked on the evening of 25 verbally as all communication exchanges were comprised. Earlier army was ready in Aid Civil of Power.  An Inevitable situation developed between  March 4 – March 24.

The Bengali troops were clandestinely briefed, rose in to rebellion on the night of 25 march. Reportedly Col Usmani in connivance with Bengali PAF personal planned to seize Dacca Airport. They even planned  President Yahaya to make hostage. Pakistan Intelligence got wind of it and Pretendent was taken unescorted in Commander Log Area’s car to Airport(Lt Gen Kamal Matin). Air Commodore Khandkar , a Bengali PAF Officer, when saw President leaving, he immediately informed Mujib the Cat is out of bag.

Across the border India was watching the developments minutely. Their efforts were bearing fruit. Today Indian authors( Ambassador Chandrashekar ) and Indian Media is now propagating , India never planned an invasion. That Indra Ghandi was very conscious of international obligation.  It was the launching of Operation Search Light which made her to take action.

It endangered the security of West Bengal which had just suppressed Naxalites. Whereas , in Feb,70 in Lok Sabha(The Parliament ) Indra Ghandi  made a statement, India cannot remain unconcerned. As matter of fact right from Feb onwards Indian military officers of brigadier level were in contact with Bengali Officers. Killing of  CO 10 EB  by Major Zia and arrest CO 4 EB at Brahman Baria were premediated actions . but executed on night of 25 March.

Mrs. Ghandi wanted immediate attack on East Pakistan (now being  denied), whereas General Manakshah wanted time for preparations. May to July will be monsoon season , he suggested November when Bangladesh soil will be dry and Himalayan Passes will be snow clad to deter Chinese from intervention.

He planned to contain western front and go all out on Eastern Front.  Meanwhile Bangladesh Government in exile under Tajuddin  located in Calcutta was fully supported to build up Mukti Bhani . Six training centers were set up in India each under a Brigadier to train Bangladeshi youth( Lt Gen Kamalmattin-Tragedy of Error) . Command structure was set up under Col Usmani(later elevated General of Bangladesh)

Mr. Henry Kissinger secretly visited China from Islamabad was a major geo strategic shift. It was then she made a worldwide tour of capitals to garner diplomatic support, but was not that successful. She then turned to Soviet Union . Soviet Union will help when India signs a security Pact . Which she was stalling not to taint her nonaligned status. During this period Henry Kissinger met Indian Ambassador Jha in a safe house in Washington and told him US concern on the development.

It made her mind, she decided to sign the agreement with Soviet Union. It was decided not to make it public till after elections , it was finally in October. It forced US not to move sixth fleet in to Bay of Bengal, it just touched Sari Lanka The  ground was ready for the invasion. Eastern command was beefed up with almost four corps and additional Para Brigade, complete Naval blockade and full might of Indian Airforce for the initial assault. Although officially war was declared on 3 Dec, 1971.

The invasion had started by middle of October when Indian   Commander 2 Corps  attacked salient in Jessore and Raj Shahi sectors to prepare bridgehead. Around battalion on Pakistan side  blunted  their all attempts.

With reinforcements commencing April 1971, East Pakistan had three partial divisions. They were further split in to two more ad hoc divisions without major chunk of artillery and support services. They were spread in all 1100 kilometers , in fortresses. A flawed strategy ,having not enough resources to cut the tail of bypassing enemy formations. Eastern command failed to plan and adjust it formations from the borders  to trade space in the conduct in Operational sphere ignoring GHQ directive.

Thus,  the safety of center of gravity, DACCA was directly exposed. Yet Pakistan army with nine months of fighting , without any relief offered unprecedented resistance . Men and officers fought valiantly to stop the invasion from all four sides of East Pakistan. Platoon and company level forces stopped Indian formations advance for days.

The battles of Hilly under Lt Col Abbasi, Bhariab Bazar under Brig Sadullah and at Meghna under Shaheed Col Sultan will go down in the history .The average casualties in battalions and regiments were 150-200 killed (shaheeds) and 300/400 injured ( war diaries- A battle Thousand Miles Apart- Maj Gen Athar) . A very high figure in warfare.

With this overwhelming superiority , complete air support and naval landing , only Paradropped Brigade  and some elements from Chandpur axis could reach the outskirts of Dacca by Dec 16. But Dacca had no worthwhile troops to defend it. It was after ceasefire Indian troops could enter Dacca.

On the western front no major offensive was under taken by both sides. It killed the doctrine defense of East lay in the West.

As for myth of killing by Pakistani troops , Indian propaganda has been effectively exposed. No killing of millions happened barring usual casualties which occur in war.(Recent Iraq , Syria and Ukraine depict the battle casualties). In  final , analysis 1971 was an avoidable war. It was a combination failure in  geo strategic ,diplomatic, political and military Judgment .

The author is Brigadier Rtd, a decorated veteran of 1965 and 1971 wars. A senior defense and Industry analyst.