1971 Bangladesh Liberation War: How Pakistan's Fate Changed Forever

The 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and six events that changes the map of Pakistan

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On 16 December 1971, Pakistani troops surrendered before Indian armed forces and Bangladesh’s forces, in just 13 days...

The 1971 Indo-Pakistan war changed the map of South Asia and the resulted in the secession of East Pakistan. Putting an to 24 years of Pakistan rule, marked by oppression, rape, genocide — a new nation was born — Bangladesh.

But this didn’t happen overnight. Here are 6 events that changed the map of Pakistan.


1947 Partiton

On 15 August 1947, independence came at a price – Partition.

While the 2,000 km separated West from East, political power laid with West Pakistan. So, East Pakistan felt neglected, exploited. Vast cultural and racial differences and Urdu imposed on a Bengali East Pakistan, added to the trouble.


The 1970 General Elections

In December 1970, the Awami League, based in East Pakistan, won Pakistan's national elections, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

But West Pakistan's Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, refused to hand over power and didn't let Rahman become Pakistan’s prime minister.

This rekindled Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan. As the call for Liberation of Bangladesh grew louder, West Pakistan chose violent suppression.


Operation Searchlight

On 25 March 1971, West Pakistan, led by President Yahya Khan, launched Operation Searchlight. The people of East Pakistan witnessed a genocide. 
Shaikh Mujibur and other Awami League leaders were arrested.

Over the next 9 months, reportedly lakhs of Bengalis were killed, many Bengali women were allegedly raped, and lakhs of Bengali refugees were forced to flee to India.


Formation of the Mukti Bahini

Born in response to atrocities by Pakistani forces, and a precursor to the future Bangladesh Army, Mukti Bahini, comprising former East Pakistan servicemen and civil volunteers, emerged as an ‘East Bengali’ nationalist militia.

Mukti Bahini was a crucial ally to the Indian Army in the 13-day war.


India's Intervention

Initially, India under PM India Gandhi lent economic, military, and diplomatic support to Mukti Bahini. 

On 3 December 1971, Pakistan launched pre-emptive strikes on 11 Indian Air Force bases. As a result, India formally joined the Bangladesh Liberation War.

For the first time, Indian Army, Indian Navy & Indian Air Force fought together. The Indian Navy attacked Karachi port, and blocked reinforcements to East Pakistan. The Indian Army occupied 15,000 Sq km of West Pakistan territory and blitzed its way to Dhaka in East Pakistan within days. The Indian Air Force fully controlled the skies over East Pakistan.


Biggest Surrender

On 16 December 1971, Indian forces and Mukti Bahini won the war. Pakistan surrendered with at least 93,000 Pakistani soldiers, led by Lt Gen AAK Niazi. They laid down arms before India’s Lt Gen J S Aurora in Dhaka – in the largest surrender since World War II. East Pakistan was now Bangladesh...

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Topics:  Bangladesh   Partition of Bengal   1971 War 

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