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Time for some facts on India's 1971 invasion of Pakistan.
First of all, there was no 'Indo-Pakistan war of 1971'.
That's a misleading description.
India INVADED Pakistan in 1971. Use the right words because there is a big difference.
Pakistani history books, official and private, need to be corrected.
There was a full-fledged, one-sided invasion across an international boundary. And it was an unprovoked invasion, preplanned. A foreign country exploited a chaotic election in Pakistan to launch a snap attack without warnings.
Remember: there was no Lashkar-e-Tayyeba in 1971, nor was there an armed freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir. There was no excuse of ‘terrorism’. India invaded Pakistan to hurt and kill as much Pakistanis as possible simply because India saw a good opportunity and seized it.
To this day, India deliberately uses the term ‘India-Pakistan war of 1971’ to avoid admitting what it actually was: an unprovoked invasion of another country. Unfortunately, Pakistanis at all levels continue to use the Indian description for that invasion.
The Indian role in 1971 war is the dirtiest Indian secret. It’s been effectively hidden from the world. The Indians never discuss how they invaded Pakistan in that year. And Pakistanis discuss everything except the foreign invasion across international borders. The reason this invasion remains unknown is because of our inability in Pakistan to show the world what really happened.
This did not start out as a Pakistan-India war. It was a Pakistani election gone bad and political parties resorted to violence to make a point. Elections go bad everywhere and sometimes they get violent. It happened in Pakistan in 1971. India saw an opportunity in internal Pakistani chaos and invaded Pakistan across the international border without any provocation from the Pakistani side.
India exploited the fact that the Pakistani military was not on alert and that we did not have enough soldiers at that time in East Pakistan. Why weren’t there enough Pakistani soldiers to defend the territory against a foreign invasion? East Pakistan was geographically disconnected from the rest of the country. But more importantly Islamabad never thought that India would launch such a brazen attack on Pakistan without any reason, especially when Pakistan was a member in several US-led defense pacts. Pakistani planners miscalculated in believing they could rely on an ally such as the United States for help. [Indian government documents released this month show that Washington not only ditched Pakistan but also secretly told New Delhi it would support India in case China entered the war to help Pakistan.]
India’s blatant war of aggression was not a chance happening. It was meticulously planned. Two years before the ‘war’, India started secretly recruiting local peasants in areas of East Pakistan adjoining India. In two years, these recruits became foot soldiers for a terrorist militia known as Mukti Bahini that sprung into action as soon as the Indian army began the invasion. Indian soldiers and their terror militia went on a rampage, murdering Pakistanis on linguistic basis [Urdu, Bengali] to feed chaos and pitch Pakistanis against one another. This provided a cover for wanton killings by Indian soldiers because all killings ended up being blamed on Pakistan.
Wrong Pakistani political and military decisions helped the Indian invaders. Here is an excellent brief written by Mr. Mushtaq Sethi that helps in understanding the Indian proxy militia:
“Mukti Bahini were not just another insurgent force: on the contrary, their original core consisted of defectors from the former East Bengal Regiments of the Pakistani Army, who reached the Indian soil and also those Hindus who had fled East Pakistan and crossed over to India and had returned after having received complete training in the art of guerrilla warfare. They were soon reinforced by a considerable number of volunteers, mainly students, then during April and May, Pakistan had purged Bengalis from the armed forces. Many others defected, while those who remained were not trusted. Result was that the combat effectiveness of Pakistani units suffered considerably. Once in India, together with other volunteers from East Pakistan, they were trained and organized into six new East Bengal Regiments in June 1971. By November 1971, the Mukti Bahini was reinforced by the addition of three artillery batteries as well as a small flying service (operating two Aérospatiale SA.316B Alouette III helicopters, one DeHavilland Canada DHC-3 Otter and a single Douglas DC-3 Dakota transport). They were counting up to 85,000 and their order of battle during the war in December was as follows:
K Force/Brigade, consisting of 10th and 11th East Bengal Regiment and No.3 Field Battery- S Force/Brigade, consisting of 2nd and 4th East Bengal Regiment, and No.1 Field Battery- Z Force/Brigade, consisting of 1st, 3rd, and 8th East Bengal Regiment, and No.2 field Battery.”
The Indian terror militia was dismantled as soon as the war ended with the surrender of the outnumbered Pakistani units. India crowned its invasion with orchestrating a secession, declaring the occupied Pakistani lands an independent country.
If Pakistan does not and cannot trust India, it is because of India’s treacherous unprovoked invasion in 1971. India set many examples later that prove it won’t miss an opportunity to hurt Pakistan when possible. The Indian ruling elite, especially the minority Hindi-speaking bigots in northern India, have wanted to destroy Pakistan since our independence in 1947. They have some strange notion that Pakistani territories somehow belong to them according to their religious history. Some of them cannot forget ten centuries of our rule in the region and have a deep fear and loathing of anything Pakistani. If there is a war in Afghanistan, India would be the first to exploit it to send saboteurs into Pakistan from the Afghan soil. If the European Union decides to allow importing Pakistani textiles, Indian diplomats would spring into action to object. Indian writers, analysts and commentators in the US and anywhere else in the world are the first to launch anti-Pakistan diatribes whenever there is a chance to do it.
It’s a deep seated hate for Pakistan in the north Indian Hindi-speaking belt. And this hatred was at the heart of India’s decision to invade Pakistan in 1971.
Yes, we committed mistakes in our internal politics in 1971 that helped the Indian enemy in its designs. But we have learned those lessons. What is important now is that every Pakistani man and woman understand that our homeland faced a treacherous invasion and a blatant aggression across international borders in that year. Whatever our own mistakes domestically, that cannot justify a blatant war of aggression by a foreign country exploiting our internal situation.
Know the history. And know your enemy.