Vijay Diwas, 45 Years of Indo-Pak War

Vijay Diwas, 45 Years of Indo-Pak War

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

On the 45th anniversary of the Indo-Pak war that lead to the liberation of Bangladesh, one must take a moment to remember the sacrifices that our armed forces made.

Pakistan's Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi signing the instrument of surrender in Dhaka on 16 Dec 1971, in the presence of India's Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora.

Pakistan’s Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi signing the instrument of surrender in Dhaka on 16 Dec 1971, in the presence of India’s Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora.

December 16th, 2016 marks the victorious day forty-five years ago when the Eastern Command of the Pakistani Armed Forces signed the Instrument of Surrender in Dhaka, following which East Pakistan officially seceded from Bangladesh in March 1972.The aftermath of this war gave Bangladesh complete independence, as well as the release of Mujibur Rahman from a West Pakistani prison, who became Bangladesh’s first President and later its Prime minister.

The 1971 war was though one of the shortest wars in history, lasting only thirteen days, it also amassed hundreds of thousands of prisoners-of-war, consisting of uniformed personnel of Pakistan Armed Forces, civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators. Dacca 1971Apart from the unrest due to the merciless killing of Bengali doctors, teachers and intellectuals, a further eight to ten million people fled the country at the time to seek refuge in neighboring India. In March 1971, the then Prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi decided that to stop the barrage of refugees, it was economical to declare war on Pakistan. Thus, India started a massive buildup of Indian forces on the borders. On December 3rd, the Pakistani Air Force launched a preemptive strike on eleven airfields in north-western India, including Agra, which was 480 km from the border. At the time of this attack the Taj Mahal was camouflaged with a forest of twigs and leaves and draped with burlap because its marble glowed like a white beacon in the moonlight. What followed was a gory and martyr filled war, at the end of which, India clearly established its military dominance of the subcontinent and led Bangladesh to a new sunrise.

The TribuneIn announcing the Pakistani surrender, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared in the Indian Parliament,”We hail the people of Bangladesh in their hour of triumph. All nations who value the human spirit will recognize it as a significant milestone in man’s quest for liberty.” Though some have argued that India was not able to bring about the political relationship with Bangladesh that it had hoped for, others were optimistic about the future negotiations, and in 1972 the Simla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan, the treaty ensured that Pakistan recognized the independence of Bangladesh in exchange for the return of the Pakistani POWs.

The 1971 Indo-Pak war resulted in a lot of sacrifices made by our country’s brave soldiers, and to remember those who had lost their lives fighting for their countries, India awarded the Param Vir Chakra to several posthumously, while Bangladesh awarded the Bir Sreshtho award to seven such brave souls. The anniversary of this war serves to remind us of the struggles that our country has gone through and to commemorate the martyrs, with the hope that their sacrifice was not in vain.

-Shubhangi
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