‘Politicians frittered away gains of 1971 Indo-Pak war’

On December 16, 1971, the Pakistan Eastern Command, led by Lt Gen A A K Niazi, surrendered with over 90,000 soldiers in Bangladesh to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding in Chief of the Indian and Bangladesh forces in the Eastern theatre. This surrender included all Pakistani land, air, naval, paramilitary and civil armed forces, which came under orders of Lt Gen Aurora.

This was the finest and a decisive Indian military victory, which haunts Pakistan till date. And after signing of the Shimla Agreement in 1972 and commitments that disputes shall be resolved by peaceful means, the soldiers, including war criminals, were released and control over strategic gains, made in the western sector, relinquished.

Pakistan lost that war but India continued to suffer in the form of attacks on Indian Parliament, Kargil, Mumbai besides cross-border infiltrations in J&K.

Have we frittered away gains made from the 1971 Indo-Pak war?

Maj Gen Kuldeep Singh Bajwa, a leading defence columnist, analyst and historian, who was commissioned in the Army in 1946, has tried answering some uncomfortable questions and done an analytical study about the 1971 war and lessons learnt. His book, India-Pakistan War 1971—Military Triumph and Political Failure, was Saturday released at IIC Delhi by former Army Chief Gen V P Malik.

Speaking on the occasion, Bajwa lauded the role of all the services in the 1971 victory. "Without the IAF or the Navy, the success wasn't possible, there was a complete synergy between the three services but sadly we went back to square one."

According to him, "the political executive failed to assess the long-term significance of the conflict on the geo- strategic dynamics of the Indian subcontinent. Such a lacuna exists till date in our strategic thinking at the highest level".

Bajwa praised Field Marshal S H F J Manekshaw for withstanding pressure to go in quickly, brought upon him by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. "The operations were started in December as Manekshaw took a leaf from the 1962 war, that Chinese could not maintain their positions during winters and passes would be closed."

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