Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Birth of Bangladesh

Lt Gen Niazi, Commander of the Pakistani Forces in East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) signing the surrender document for Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora. Watching the ceremony are Vice Admiral N Krishnan (FOC-in-C Eastern Naval Command), Maj Gen K V Krishna Rao (GOC, 8 Div - Behind the Vice Admiral), Air Marshal H C Dewan (AOC-in-C, Eastern Command) , Lt Gen Sagat Singh (GOC, IV Corps), Maj Gen J F R Jacob (Chief of Staff, Eastern Army Command) and Maj Gen Gandharv Nagra (GOC, 101 Communication Zone)

Conflict in Asia:
India v Pakistan

India and Pakistan:
Poised for War

Section: The World, Page 28, TIME, Dec. 6, 1971

The first warning that a serious clash occurred came in an announcement over Radio Pakistan. India, it said, "has launched an all-out offensive against East Pakistan without a formal declaration of war." That charge proved to be false; it was not a full-fledged war -- yet. On the other hand, it was certainly not a trifling skirmish, as Indian spokesman at first euphemistically described it.
For months, border battles had broken out almost daily between troops of the two nations. The conflict that finally erupted last week along the 1,300 mile frontier was plainly big enough to raise the specter of a major conflagration on the subcontinent. The presence of Indian troops on Pakistan's soil escalated the dispute between the two nations to the point where full-scale war that could erupt at any moment -- a war that could also cause an uncomfortable confrontation of the major powers.

Rigid restrictions on news coverage by both governments made the exact shape of the conflict murky, but it was clear that battles had occurred roughly half a dozen sites along the borders. At week's end, a combination of Indian regulars and Bengali Mukti Bahni (the East Pakistani liberation forces, which oppose West Pakistan's rule over the East) had captured portions of five areas, totaling perhaps 60 sq. mi. of real estate. All along the border, artillery exchanges and firefights kept the situation tense and dangerous through the week. Scene of the biggest battle was a slender salient of Indian that points sharply into East Pakistan some 20 miles west of the Pakistani city of Jassore, an important railhead that leads to key ports on the Bay of Bengal. Early last week, according to a Pakistani general, one battalion of Indian regulars operating along side a battalion of Mukti Bahni crossed the Indian border point of Boyra. From there, camouflaged with netting and supported by tank and heavy artillery, they thrust northeastward along a U-shaped front into East Pakistan.

After the Indians and guerrillas had moved about six miles inland and seized the village of Chaugacha, Pakistani resistance halted the advance. In the counterattacks that followed, the first tank battle of the war broke out. In ten hours of fighting, Pakistani forces said they destroyed eight Indian tanks and damaged ten others; they admitted losing seven tanks. Next day, Pakistani forces called up an air strike, sending four Sabre jets on Indian positions. Indian Gnats, light weight jet fighters, intercepted the planes within Indian territory, and shot down three of them. Two of the Pakistani pilots who bailed out were captured by Indian forces.

Captured Material

TIME Correspondent William Stewart paid a visit to Boyra last week. "Refugee camps are scattered along the road, but there are no soldiers in sight," he cabled. "In fact, not until we reach the small city is there any sign of fighting. We sit down in a semicircle in front of the briefer -- Lieut. Colonel C.L. Proudfoot. In blazing Bengal sun there are three Pakistani tanks (U.S.- made Chaffees) and an old assortment of captured material; American machine guns and Chinese ammunition. Proudfoot explains that Pakistani tanks have been probing the border near Boyra since Nov. 17. On the night of Nov. 20-21, he said, a number of tanks were heard approaching Boyra. The tanks reached and began firing on Indian positions. A squadron of 14 Indian tanks (Soviet-made PT 76s) crossed into East Pakistan to outflank the Pakistani squadron. The battle raged four or five miles into East Pakistan. When the smoked cleared, three Pakistani tanks had been trapped in India, and another eight were reported destroyed. The Indians claimed a loss of only one tank."

The Indian and Pakistani accounts differed in a number of details. Initially, Pakistani spokesmen in Islamabad told of 100,000 and then of 200,000 Indian troops pouring across the border at half a dozen points. Those figures were considerably exaggerated. Major General M.H. Ansari, Pakistan commander in Jessore sector, told newsmen that Indian guerrilla forces had lost 200 to 300 dead and twice as many wounded, but that they had managed to recover all the bodies; that would be quite a feat under any circumstances. Ansari showed journalists a letter stamped "14th Punjab Regiment" and an Indian soldier's diary picked up in the course of fighting.

There was no disagreement over the essentials of the battle and its dangerous significance. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi went before Parliament in New Delhi and acknowledged that Indian troops had entered East Pakistan "to repulse a Pakistani attack" near the border. She also corroborated the report that India has shot down three Pakistani Sabre jets. Mrs. Gandhi added that she would not emulate Pakistani President Aga Mohammed Yahya Khan by declaring a national emergency -- a move that was more symbolic that substantive for West Pakistanis since their country had been under martial law since March 1969. But later that day Indian defense officials announced a significant change in policy: henceforth Indian troops would be allowed to enter the East "in self-defense."

Diplomatic Flurries

The elements of this supercharged situation have become all too familiar to the rest of the world:

  1. a swiftly growing independence movement in the much exploited eastern wing of Pakistan;
  2. the ruthless crackdown by Yahya's tough West Pakistani troops last March and a resulting exodus that sent nearly 10 million Bengali refugees flooding into india;
  3. a flourishing guerrilla movement that now numbers as many as 100,000 adherents, fervently committed to the creation of a free Bangla Desh (Bengal Nation) in East Pakistan, and all but openly aided by New Delhi.

Last Week's intensified fighting sent alarms through the world's capitals, and there was flurry of activity in Washington. Moscow and United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan as the big powers sought some way to defuse the confrontation. On Thanks-giving Day, Richard Nixon phoned Britain's Prime Minister Edward Heath. The President discussed the Indian-Pakistani situation with the British leader, as well as their discussion to meet in Bermuda in December. U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Jacob Beam visited the Soviet Foreign Ministry twice during the week to urge the Russians, who had become India's chief sponsors, to help stop the fighting.

Washington clearly did not wish to associate the role of mediator as Moscow did at Tashkent in 1966 to settle the Indian-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir. For one thing, the U.S. felt that it did not have sufficient leverage with India. Beyond that, the White House calculated that if it became deeply involved, there would be serious repercussions from Congress, especially in view of the nation's profound distrust of foreign entanglements in the wake of Vietnam.

Moreover, Washington has no blueprint for specific points of settlement. It believes that any solution must be worked out by the Pakistanis and the rebels, and that if mediation is necessary, it should come from a neutral entity like U.N. Nor does the Administration have any intentions of getting millitarly embroiled, even though Pakistan has bilateral and multilateral (SEATO and CENTO) alliances with the U.S. The defense treaties, officials emphasized, are directed only against Communist aggression.

For their part, the Russians sent a stern note to President Yahya urging him to seek a political solution that would end the bitter civil war in East Pakistan and halt the influx of refugees into India. The Soviets have also used their influence with New Delhi to call for restraints on India. Under the terms of a 20-year "friendship treaty" signed in August, Moscow and New Delhi are obliged to consult when either is threatened with attack. Since the Russians are known to want no part of a conflict that could bring China in on Pakistan's side, they have thus suggested that India move with care.

China is believed to be no more anxious for a confrontation with its socialist sister. Despite their pledge of support for the Pakistani regime in the event of an attack, the Chinese have told Pakistan's generals that a political solution would be preferred. Though they made a stinging attack against India in the U.N. two weeks ago, accusing it of "subversion and aggression" in East Pakistan. Peking and New Delhi were quitely negotiating behind the scenes to re-establish high level diplomatic exchanges.

Today, Not Tomorrow

The solution, in the view of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, is to bring the U.N. into the picture. "This is the time, now, today, not tomorrow, for the Security Council to act," he said. But the fact is that, even though all the big powers are anxious to avert a conflict on the subcontinent, none are rushing to place the issue before the U.N. Security Council for fear that they might prove to be unable to agree. Lying in his hospital bed in New York City, U.N. Secretary-General U. Thant confided to one of his aides last week: "If I am suffering from a bleeding ulcer, it is at least in part due to frustrating efforts over the past eight months to do something about the terrible situation in East Pakistan." Even Pakistan's U.N. delegate, Aga Shahi, who was ready to bring the matter before Security Council early in the week, quickly changed his mind. Consultations with the Chinese delegation and soundings of Soviet intentions persuaded him that the two Communist powers might not agree on a cease-fire resolution. The Japanese, however, are working on a resolution that they will introduce if the fighting continues.

The protagonists in this conflict are two extraordinarily strong-willed, even stubborn leaders. At 54, Yahya is a tough-talking professional soldier who rarely shows any inclination for compromise and exhibits his impatience at the drop of an epithet. "Stop reminding me every day," he once snarled at Pakistani journalists when they asked about his repeated promises of a return to democracy for his country. "The people did not bring me to power. I came myself." The stocky former army chief of staff, a Pathan who came to power in 1969 when widespread strikes and disorders forced President Ayub Khan to step down, showed his quick temper last week during an impromptu speech at a late night dinner in Islamabad. Lashing out at Indira Gandhi, he said at one point: "If that woman thinks she will cow me, I refuse to take it. If she wants a war, I will fight it."

Child of the Nation

The remark was not only ungallant, it was imprudent. For when it comes to tough-mindedness, Mrs Gandhi is at least a match for Yahya Khan. As the only daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, she was carefully groomed for leadership and grew up an adored and beloved "child of the nation." From her father she inherited a sense of grace under pressure, but where he was the idealist, she is much more the pragmatist. As one political commentator observed: "Her father was a dreamer who did not act decisively. The people loved Nehru, but they are impressed by Indira's ability to make decisions and make them firmly and fast. " In elections last March. Indians gave Indira, who like Yahya Khan is 54 years old, an overwhelming two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Hostility to Hatred

Rome and Carthage in ancient times, Israel and the Arab countries in today's world -- such are the parallels to the national enmity between India and Pakistan that come naturally to mind. Behind their hostility lies a legacy of Hindu-Moslem religious enemyity that is as old as Islam see Next: Hindu and Moslem: The Gospel of Hate. There are many who believe that if India had held out a little longer for independence from Britain without partition, it would have had its way and today there would be one country on the subcontinent, not two. But as Nehru confessed much later. "The truth is that we were tired men, and we were getting on in years too. We expected that partition was bound to come back to us. None of us guessed how much the killings and the crisis in Kashmir would embitter relations."

But partition came, and what had been Hindu-Moslem hostility was soon converted into Indian-Pakistani hatred. The very next year, the two countries were at war with each other in the Vale of Kashmir. Even today, Kashmir lies a festering wound between India and Pakistan. Should all-out war come, there is no doubt that the conflict in East Pakistan would quickly be dwarfed by far bigger and bloodier battles in the west largely aimed at control of the fabled valley.

The issue stems from Britain's failure to make provision for India's 600 princely states when self-determination elections were held on the subcontinent in 1947. As it happened, Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu Maharajah, but its population was predominantly Moslem. When Pakistan invaded in the autumn of 1948, the Maharajah promptly placed the province under Indian rule. Once again, in 1965, it became the battlefield for the rival powers.

Though both Pakistan and India began as parliamentary democracies, they soon drifted along divergent political paths. Jawaharlal Nehru lived to guide India into a role of world's largest democracy (pop. 547 million), but Pakistan's founding leaders, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, died soon after independence and eventually the country fell under military control. Since the military was dominated by the Pathans, Punjabis and Baluchis of the West, it became established policy to short-change the poorer, more densely populated eastern wing, which before the refugee exodus began last March had a population of 78 million v. 58 million for the West.

"Mischievous and Wicked"

The differences have also shaped both countries' foreign policies. As Nehru created a policy of neutrality and sought to establish India as the leader of nonaligned bloc of Third World countries. Pakistan became a firm ally of the west. Then in U.S. in what former Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbriath calls the most "categorically mischievous and wicked" action it has ever taken, began to build up Pakistan as a military power. With India pursuing a policy of calculated coolness toward the U.S.. Washington turned to Pakistan as a potential ally against Communism: in return Pakistan provided special facilities, including a base that was used for U-2 overflights of the Soviet Union (Francis Gary took off from this airfield).

Pakistan, however viewed the connection as insurance against India, not Communism. After 1965, when the U.S. cut off military aid to both countries. India turned to the Soviet Union and Pakistan to China. With Russia's help, India has built itself into a military power far superior to Pakistan. Its forces(980,000) outnumber Pakistan's(392,000) by more than 2 to 1: its air and naval capacity is also rated superior. If India were to fight Pakistan alone, there is little doubt which would win.

Sharing neither borders nor cultures, Pakistan's divided parts, separated by a thousand miles of Indian territory, make it a political anomaly, at odds not only with India but with itself as well. As Jinnah put it shortly after independence, there was little to hold the country's two divergent wings together except "faith." It was not enough. Last December, when the nation went to the polls in first free elections in its history, East Pakistanis gave an overwhelming endorsement to the Awami League and its leader, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, 51 who had pledged to bring the exploited wing greater autonomy.

The prospect of the political balance of power moving from West Pakistan to the East was not acceptable to the generals. On March 25, Yahya outlawed the Awami League, arrested Mujib, who is now being tried for treason, and launched a ruthless repression that by one estimate has claimed a million lives and has sent nearly 10 million refugees flooding into India, most of them into the state West Bengal. Awami Leaders leaders who escaped to India promptly set up the Bangla Desh government in exile with headquarters in Calcutta, and some 130 Bengali diplomats subsequently defected from Pakistani missions around the world. The rebels immediately began raising and training a guerrilla force that, by some estimates, now numbers 100,000 men.

Today India's worst fear is that many of the refugees will refuse to go back to East Pakistan under any conditions. Nearly 8,000,000 of them are Hindus, who were singled out by the Moslem military for persecution. Pakistan, moreover, claims that only 2,000,000 Pakistani refugees are in India -- a figure that corresponds to the number of Moslems who have fled. This coincidence may suggest that even if there were a settlement, the Pakistanis would refuse to permit Hindus to return.

Swarm of Locusts

A confidential report recently to Mrs. Gandhi's cabinet concluded: "The most alarming prognosis is that not even 10% of the Hindu evacuees may choose to go back. If this becomes the reality, it might be disastrous for West Bengal's economy, and this economic disaster is bound to bring in its train serious sociopolitical problems of perhaps unmanageable dimensions."

The dire forecasts are confirmed by a World Bank report released in September. India's economic development, the report said, could be seriously stunted by the cost of the refugees. That cost, expected to reach $830 million by the end of the fiscal year in March, exceeds all of India's 1971-72 foreign aid for development.

The setback came at a time when the country was just beginning to show some economic headway. With a $50 billion gross national product, India has begun producing all manner of sophisticated materials, from complex computers to nuclear reactors and jet aircraft. But the distance it has come is only measurable by the distance left to go. Some 200 million people still subsist on 15c a day; more than half of the 10 million government workers earn less than $25 a month. As a Calcutta industrialist put it: "The refugees have descend on our hopes like a swarm of locusts on a good crop."

Economic pressures are also building in West Pakistan. So far, the Islamabad regime has been able to muddle through fairly well. The real crunch will come in few months. Pakistan is spending almost 55% of its fiscal outlay on the defense, and the cost of military operations in the East alone runs to $60million a month. One observer estimates that the 3,000-mile route around India that Pakistani planes must take to supply forces in the East is the equivalent of a supply line from Karachi to Rome.

In the light of all this, some West Pakistanis are privately beginning to concede that it may finally be necessary to do what the generals spilled so much blood to avoid: give up East Pakistan. A high Pakistan government official admits that there is no more that "50-50 chance of Pakistan holding together."

There were also indications last week that Yahya is beginning to feel threatened by political opposition in the West. Charging that "some of its leaders are in collaboration with the enemy and are trying to foment revolt in West Pakistan," he suddenly outlawed the National Awami Party, a labor-oriented leftest group that emerged as the dominant provincial party in elections last December. The Pakistan President has promised to convene the National Assembly later this month. But with both the East's Awami League and the West's National Awami League disenfranchised, the Assembly is beginning to appear about as representative as President Ayub Khan's "basic democracy," a scheme by which the former President's rule was sustained through a handpicked electoral college of 120,000 educated Pakistanis.

Secret Proposal

Many Pakistanis fear that in the event of war, the odds will be overwhelmingly in India's favor: even Yahya has called war with India "military lunacy," Thus, Pakistan's blustery charges of invasion last week were widely read as last ditch attempt about international intervention. Should a U.N. peace-keeping mission be sent in, for example, pressures from Indian side of the border would be greatly alleviated, allowing the Pakistani troops to concentrate on subduing the Bengali rebels. For precisely the same reasons, India is seeking to avoid intervention -- on the theory that such relief would enable Yahya to avoid a political settlement and thus prolong the refugee burden.

The worst fear of diplomatic observers was that India and the Bengali guerrillas, confident that they would win easily, were attempting to provoke Yahya into a declaration of war. According to this theory, which is held by number of U.S. State Department officials, Mrs. Gandhi's Western jaunt was designed mostly to gain time while India's military buildup progressed. When Pakistan's chief ally, Peking, indicated that it really wanted no part of a war on the subcontinent, the Indian decided to move. With snow falling in the foothills of the Himalayas, making Chinese intervention even more unlikely, they sprang. Their aim was twofold: to draw West Pakistani troops to the border regions, making it easy for the guerillas to gain control of the interior; and to goad Islamabad into declaring war so as to enable India to attack in the west as well as the east, and thus settle the issue of Kashmir once and for all.

Another theory holds that India's militant moves may in fact be designed to force Yahya to reconsider an aborted peace proposal. TIME's Dan Coggin learned that the secret proposal was made by President Nixon to Mrs. Gandhi on her visit to Washington last month. The President reportedly told the Prime Minister that Yahya Khan appeared to be accepting the idea of negotiations with Mujib. If she would remain "moderate" for the time being, Washington promised, it would use its influence to persuade Yahya to sit down with imprisoned Bengali leader and work out a solution.

There were two chief possibilities under consideration by Yahya, both posing the prospect of a referendum for East Pakistanis to decide their status after a two- or three-year cooling-off time. One proposal suggested that Mujib be released and that he and his Awami League be at least partly reinstated during the waiting period. The other involved keeping Mujib under house arrest in West Pakistan and making no substantial political changes in the interim.

Danger of Escalation

Indira agreed to adopt a wait-and-see course. Only a week before, Yahya had made a mildly hopeful remark that "if the nation demands his [Mujib's] release, I will do it." Simultaneously, four appeals for Mujib's release, all of suspiciously obscure origin, appeared in the government-supervised press in West Pakistan. On her return to New Delhi, Mrs. Gandhi appealed for restraint and patience.

In the meantime, however, several hard-lining West Pakistani generals got the wind of the proposal and informed Yahya that they were opposed to any sort of negotiations with Mujib. They argued that Pakistan's unity depended upon maintaining the current policy -- in effect to outlast the guerillas. The generals, moreover, also tried to convince Yahya that Mujib should be executed after his treason trial is completed. Yahya has apparently not yet made up his mind about the Bengali leader, but observers have grown markedly more pessimistic about his fate. "Mujib may well never get back to Bengal alive," says one Western diplomat. In any case, India's new militancy posed grave risks of dangerous new escalations the could get out of hand.

Late last week, Yahya took time out to attend the dedication ceremonies of a new heavy-machinery factory outside Islamabad. The President was in an ebullient mood. The factory had been built with Chinese aid, and it seems good moment to underscore Peking's support.

Yahya thanked China "for renewing the assurance that should Pakistan be subjected to foreign aggression, the Chinese government and people will as always, resolutely support the Pakistan government and people." Then it was China's turn. Peking's own special emissary, Li Shui-ching of the First Ministry of Machine Building, spoke glowingly of Chinese-Pakistani friendship, but he carefully avoided any mention of the tension with India or of specific aid from Peking. Then, in a surprising and symbolic gesture, he released a boxful of doves.

The message was clear -- peace, not war -- but whether the subcontinent's bitter antagonists would heed it was very much in question.

Hindu and Moslem: The Gospel of Hate

As Britain prepared to strike its colors in New Delhi, Mohandas Gandhi, India's great apostle of nonviolence appealed to his followers to "go out among your districts as spread the message of the Hindu-Moslem unity." But when independence came in 1947, it was gospel of hate that swept the two new nations on the vast Indian subcontinent.

Overnight, families that lived as friendly neighbors for decades in British India became mindless enemies in Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan. Within nine months after partition, some 16 million refugees had fled crazed mobs in both countries. Perhaps 600,000 were slaughtered. "If they were children" wrote British Historian Leonard Mosley describing the carnage, "they were picked up by their feet and their heads smashed against the wall. If they were girls they were raped and their breasts chopped off. And if they were pregnant, they were disemboweled."

That was 24 years ago. Today, the religious animosities that have already wrapped the past and present of one-fifth of humanity seem to have become permanent. Not only do Hindu and Moslem troops of the two countries clash at borders, but Hindu and Moslems civilians also frequently tear at one another in cities and towns. In West Pakistan, communal troubles are rare only because very few Hindus hung on after partition. But in East Pakistan, Moslem oppression had caused a steady Hindu migration to India even before current troubles began. Now the light-skinned Pathan and Punjabi troops from the West rule by the gun, dark-skinned Bengali Moslem try to survive by informing on their equally dark-skinned Bengali Hindu neighbors. In India, meanwhile, the sight of a Hindu mob seeking vengeance for Moslem insult is all too familiar. Such incidents have grown fairly frequent since 1964, when the theft of what was purported to be a sacred hair of Mohammed from a mosque in Kashmir sparked three months of turmoil through out India and East Pakistan. Two years ago, 1000 Indians were dead and 30,000 homeless after a week of rioting that followed an incident in the modern industrial city of Ahmedabad. The provocation: a procession of Moslems had collided with a herd of sacred cows being led through the streets by a group of Indian sadhus(holy men).

The 468 million Hindus and 181 million Moslems who share the teeming subcontinent are divided by social and cultural differences that go far deeper than the economic and religious prejudices, that divide, say, the catholics and the Protestants of Northern Ireland. The Hindus inhabits a world peopled by deities, in which material things and the individual are fundamentally unimportant. He lives a life carefully circumscribed by a whole host of social, cultural and religious taboos. All outsiders are suspect, but beef-eating Moslems are particularly "unclean". (Moslems, for their part, regard Hindus and other nonbelievers as infidels.) Almost all of the subcontinent's Moslems -- 89%, by one authoritative estimate -- are descendants of low-caste Hindus who converted to Islam, which emphasizes individuality and equality under a single deity. They did so primarily to escape the inexorably rigid social and religious restrictions imposed on them as "Untouchables" by the Hindu caste system.

The Hindu-Moslem struggles go back centuries. Some 1,500 years before Christ, tall, fair-skinned Aryans invades the subcontinent, subjugated the dark-skinned Dravidians who inhabited it and imposed on them the caste system. But during the millenniums after Christ, plunderers from Central Asia--Turks, Persians and Afghans -- brought with them the flaming sword of Mohammedanism. By the mid-17th century, when the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, the subcontinent was firmly under Moslem rule, and its Hindus were a subjugated majority.

By the 18th century, the Mogul Empire was in decline, and rebellious armies under Hindus and, later, Sikh leadership had begun to pull it apart. The British finished the job, and as they began to annex great swatches of the old Mogul Empire. England's soldiers and administrators unwittingly opened the way for a dramatic Hindu renaissance. The first British conquest was the vast state of Bengal, or what is now India's West Bengal state and East Pakistan. As shrewd and energetic traders, Bengal's Hindus had close ties with the British, and they naturally found positions in the new civil service. As British rule spread, so did the new Hindu elite. They became not only civil servants but also teachers, doctors, lawyers and engineers, landowners and financiers, writers, poets, philosophers and reformers.

The proud Moslems, warriors and horsemen rather than merchants and intellectuals, turned inward and all but abandoned the field to Hindus. As Historian Arnold Toynbee described it, "A British arbiter had decreed that the separate Islamic nation, Pakistan. Among the five provinces that opted to join the new nation was East Bengal, whose Moslem majority had no desire to live under Hindu-controlled government in New Delhi. Despite the ravaging that East Bengal has taken at the hands of the West Pakistanis troops, the attitude persists. Says an Indian official: "If an Indian army marched into East Pakistan and drove the West Pakistanis out, it would for ten days be the Indian army of liberation and on the eleventh day become the Hindu army of occupation."

But why have the divided Hindu and Moslem states not been able to maintain a separate peace? Gandhi always thought that a common thread of Indianness would somehow hold the two together. But the explosion of Hindu-Moslem hatred after partition was enough to poison a whole generation of Indians and Pakistanis. In the meantime, a new generation has grown up on both sides -- one that does not even remember the days not so long ago when all thought of themselves as Indians.

A letter from the publisher TIME, December 6, 1971

We first heard the news of the fighting between India and Pakistan when both capitals began issuing a series of sharply conflicting claims. Radio Pakistan announced that India "has launched an all-out offensive against East Pakistan." while India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said it was "Pakistani propaganda" and "wholly untrue."

To sort out all the contradictory reports, TIME immediately assigned six correspondents to the story. Bill Stewart and Jim Shepherd covered the Indian side from their base in New Delhi. Two former New Delhi correspondents, Dan Coggin and Lou Kraar, flew into Pakistan from their regular posts in Beirut and Singapore. Bill Mader and Friedel Ungeheuer provided back-up coverage from the State Department and the United Nations. In the combat zone, however, most local officials did their best to confine foreign correspondents to the rear areas and to harass them with red tape. The results were sometimes frustrating.

"I came to Pakistan prepared to see the kind of tank battles I had witnessed during the war over Kashmir in 1965," Correspondent Kraar cabled from Rawalpindi, "but I found this town completely quiet. It made me feel like that correspondent in Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, who cabled his home office, ADEN UNWARWISE, while a competitor reported, ADEN WARWISE. The main event that evening was a dinner that President Yahya Khan was giving for the Chinese Communist First Minister of Machine Building, Li Shui-Ching, who was here to dedicate a factory. President Yahya talked informally with reporters and expressed some unusually tough warning to India. But the only evidence of war that night was the blackout which was quite unnecessary."

From the correspondents' files, and from background research assembled by Reporter-Researcher Susan Altcheck, Contributing Editor Marguerite Johnson wrote the cover story. A veteran of TIME's Art section, Margyerite shifted to World last winter after taking a five-month long excursion around the globe by freighter, Jetliner and Trans Siberian Railroad. Upon her return, she was assigned to what seemed at the time a relatively tranquil part of the world: India. This is her second cover story since then on the tragic subcontinent. "The conflict," she says, "is so suffused with ancient religious, cultural and racial hatreds that it is difficult for any Western journalist to comprehend it fully. There are times when the Indians and Pakistanis do not seem to understand it either."

India and Pakistan:
Over the Edge

Section: The World, Page 28, TIME, Dec. 13, 1971

Darkness had just fallen in New Delhi when the air-raid sirens began wailing. In the big conference room at the Indian government's press information bureau, newsmen had gathered for a routine 6 o'clock briefing on the military situation in the East Pakistan. "Suddenly the lights went out," cabled TIME correspondent James Shepherd, "and everyone presumed it was yet another test, though none had been announced. When the briefing team arrived, newsman complained that they couldn't see to write anything."

"Gentlemen," said the briefing officer, "I have to tell you that this is not a practice blackout. It is the real thing. We have just had a flash that the Pakistan air force has attacked our airfields at Amritsar, Pathankot and Srinagar. This is a blatant attack against India."

Embroiled Again

Who attacked whom was still open to question at week's end, and probably will be for sometime. Nor was it clear whether any formal declaration of war had been issued. But the fact was that for the fourth time since the two nations became independent from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India were once again embroiled in a major conflict. On previous occasions, the fighting was confined mostly to disputed region of Kashmir on India's western border with Pakistan. This time, however, there was even heavier fighting in Pakistan's eastern wing, separated from West Pakistan by 1,000 miles of Indian territory. The war even reached to the Bay of Bengal, where naval skirmishes occurred, and to the outskirts of major cities in both countries as planes bombed and strafed airfields. Having teetered on the edge of all-out war for many weeks, India and Pakistan had finally plunged over, and the rest of the world was powerless to do anything but watch in horror.

Great Peril

As usual, the two sides offered substantially differing accounts -- and both barred newsman from the battle fronts. According to Indian sources, the Pakistani attack came at 5:47 p.m., just as dusk was falling. The sites seemed selected for their symbolic values much as their strategic importance: Agra, site of Taj Mahal; Srinagar, the beautiful capital of Kashmir; Amritsar, holy city of the Sikhs, India's bearded warriors. Forty-five minutes after the attack, Pakistani troops shelled India's western frontier and were reported to have crossed the border at Punch in the state of Jammu.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had just finished addressing a mass rally in Calcutta when she received the news, immediately boarded her Tupolev twin-jet for the two-hour flight to New Delhi. At Delhi's airport, where her two sons and a small cluster of ministers were on hand to greet her, she quickly got into a car and was driven without lights to her office in Parliament House. Shortly after midnight the Prime Minister, speaking first in English and then Hindi, addressed the nation.

"I speak to you at a moment of great peril to our country and our people," she began, "some hours ago, soon after 5:30 p.m., on the third of December, Pakistan suddenly launched a full-scale war against us." She announced that the Pakistan air force had struck eight Indian airfields, and that ground forces were shelling Indian defense positions in several sectors along the western border. "I have no doubt that it is the united will of our people," she said, " that this wanton and unprovoked aggression of Pakistan should be decisively and finally repelled."

No Restraints

According to the very different Pakistan version, regular Indian army troops on the western frontier had moved earlier in the afternoon toward seven posts manned by Pakistani rangers. On being challenged , the Indians opened up with small arms, and the Pakistani rangers began firing back. Normally, border forces of both countries follow a gentlemanly procedure for handling firing across the frontier; they meet and talk it over. "In this case ," reported a Pakistani officer, "when our rangers approached their opposite numbers, they were surprised to find regular troops and they were fired upon." The Indians mounted attacks with artillery support two hours later, he claimed, and Indian jet planes provided support. Pakistan planes then fanned out to strike at India's airfields, one of them 300 miles deep inside India.

Radio Pakistan made no mention of the Indian border attack until India announced that Pakistan's planes had struck, but it wasted no time in acknowledging its bombing missions. "we are at liberty now to cross the border as deep as we can," a Pakistani army officer said. A Foreign Ministry representative added that Pakistani troops were "released from any restraints."


Earlier in the week, newsmen including TIME's Louis Kraar, reported Pakistani movements at Sialkot, about eight miles from Indian border. Kraar saw commandeered civilian truck carrying fuel tins, portable bridges and other supplies. A train loaded with military vehicles chugged by, and wheat fields bristled with camouflaged gun emplacements. Families were moved out of the army cantonment at Sialkot, and civilian hospitals were advised to have blood plasma ready beside empty beds.

In New Delhi, Indian spokesmen vigorously denied the story that Indian troops had launched an attack in the west to justify the air strike. "No sensible general staff attacks first on the ground," said Defense Secretary, K.B. Lall. Some six hours after the Pakistani air raids, India hit back in force, bombing eight West Pakistani airfields including one at Karachi. Some time after midnight, Pakistani and Indian planes entangled in dogfights over Dacca in East Pakistan. When asked to account for the six-hour delay in India's response. Lall joked that there had been some difficulty in getting the air force to move. It did appear that India was taken by surprise: nearly every senior cabinet official was out of the capital at the time, including Mrs. Gandhi, who was in Calcutta. During the night, Pakistani planes repeatedly attacked twelve air fields. On the ground, Pakistan launched attacks along the western border

Reckless Perfidy

The next morning, Prime Minister Gandhi went before the Indian Parliament, "This morning the government of Pakistan has declared a war upon us, a war we did not seek and did our utmost to prevent," she said. "The unavoidable has happened . West Pakistan has struck with reckless perfidy." In a broadcast at noon the same day, Pakistani President Aga Mohammed Yahya Khan accused India of starting a full-scale war and declared that it was time "to give a crushing reply to the enemy." He made no mention of a formal declaration of war, but a proclamation in the government gazette in Islamabad declared: "A state of war exists between Pakistan on one hand and India on the other." Mrs. Gandhi did not issue a formal declaration of war, but Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul told newsmen: "India reserves the right to take any action to preserve her security and integrity."

The conflict had its genesis last March when the Pakistani President and his tough military regime,

  1. moved to crush the East Pakistani movement for greater autonomy,
  2. outlawed the Awami League, which had just won a majority in the nation's first free election,
  3. arrested its leader, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, and
  4. launched a repressive campaign that turned into a civil war with East Pakistan's Bengalis fighting to set up an independent Bangla Desh (Bengal Nation).

Nearly 1,000,000 people were killed and 10 million refugees streamed into India. "We have borne the heaviest of burdens," Mrs. Gandhi said last week, "and withstood the greatest of pressure in a tremendous effort to urge the world to help in bringing about a peaceful solution and preventing the annihilation of an entire people whose only crime was to vote democratically. But the world ignored the basic causes and concerned itself only with certain repercussions. Today the war in Bangla Desh has become a war on India."

The Bloody Birth of Bangladesh

Out of War,
a Nation Is Born

Section: The World, Page 28, TIME, Dec. 20, 1971

"Jai Bangla! Jai Bangla!" From the banks of the great Ganges and the broad Brahmaputra, from the emerald rice fields and mustard-colored hills of the countryside, from the countless squares of countless villages came the cry, "Victory to Bengal! Victory to Bengal!" They danced on the roofs of buses and marched down city streets singing their anthem Golden Bengal. They brought the green, red and gold banner of Bengal out of secret hiding places to flutter freely from buildings, while huge pictures of their imprisoned leader, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, sprang up overnight on trucks, houses, and signposts. As Indian troops advanced first to Jessore, then to Camilla, then to the outskirts of the capital of Dacca, small children clambered over their trucks and Bengalis everywhere cheered and greeted the soldiers as liberators.

Thus last week, amid a war that still raged on, the new nation of Bangladesh was born. So far only India and Bhutan have formally recognized it, but it ranks eighth among the world's 148 nations in terms of population (78 million), behind China, India, the Soviet Union, the U.S., Indonesia, Japan and Brazil. Its birth, moreover, may be followed by grave complications. In West Pakistan, a political upheaval is a foregone conclusion in the wake of defeat and dismemberment. In India, the creation of a Bengali state next door to its own impoverished West Bengal state could very well strengthen the centrifugal forces that have tugged at the country since independence in 1947.

The breakaway of Pakistan's eastern wing became a virtual certainty when the Islamabad government launched air strikes against at least eight Indian airfields two weeks ago. Responding in force, the Indian air force managed to wipe out the Pakistani air force in the East within two days, giving India control of the skies. In the Bay of Bengal and the Ganges delta region as well, the Indian navy was in unchallenged command. Its blockade of Chittagong and Chalna harbors cut off all reinforcements, supplies and chances of evacuation for the Pakistani forces, who found themselves far outnumbered (80,000 v. India's 200,000) and trapped in an enclave more than 1,000 miles from their home bases in the West.

There were even heavier and bloodier battles, including tank clashes on the Punjabi plain and in the deserts to the south, along the 1,400-mile border between India and the western wing of Pakistan, where the two armies have deployed about 250,000 men. Civilians were fleeing from the border areas, and residents of Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad were in a virtual state of siege and panic over day and night harassment raids by buzzing Indian planes.

The U.N. did its best to stop the war, but its best was not nearly good enough. After three days of procedural wrangles and futile resolutions, the Security Council gave up: stymied by the Soviet nyets, the council passed the buck to the even wordier and less effectual General Assembly. There, a resolution calling for a cease-fire and withdrawal of Indian and Pakistan forces behind their own borders swiftly passed by an overwhelming vote of 104 to 11.

The Pakistanis, with their armies in retreat, said they would honor the cease-fire provided India did. The Indians, with victory in view, said they "were considering" the cease-fire, which meant they would stall until they had achieved their objective of dismembering Pakistan. There was nothing the assembly could do to enforce its will. There was considerable irony in India's reluctance to obey the U.N. resolution in view of New Delhi's irritating penchant in the past for lecturing other nations on their moral duty to do the bidding of the world organization. Similarly the Soviet Union, which is encouraging India in its defiance, has never hesitated to lecture Israel on its obligation to heed U.N. resolutions calling for withdrawal from Arab territories.

Hopeless Task

In any case, a cease-fire is not now likely to alter the military situation in the East. As Indian infantrymen advanced to within 25 miles of Dacca late last week and as reports circulated that 5,000 Indian paratroopers were landing on the edges of the beleaguered eastern capital, thousands fled for fear that the Pakistani army might decide to take a pitched stand. Daily, and often hourly, Indian planes strafed airports in Dacca, Karachi and Islamabad. Some 300 children were said to have died in a Dacca orphanage when a piston-engine plane dropped three 750-lb bombs on the Rahmat-e-Alam Islamic Mission near the airport while 400 children slept inside. [Pakistan claimed the plane was India's. Some Bengalis and foreign observers believed it was Pakistani, but other observers pointed out that the only forces known to be flying piston-engined aircraft were the Mukti Bahini, the Bengali liberation forces.] Earlier in the week, two large bombs fell on workers' shanties near a jute mill in nearby Narayanganj, killing 275 people.

Forty workers died and more than 100 others were injured when they were caught by air strikes as they attempted to repair huge bomb craters in the Dacca airport runway. India declared a temporary moratorium on air strikes late last week so that the runway could be repaired and 400 U.N. relief personnel and other foreigners could be flown out. It was repaired, but the Pakistanis changed their mind and refused to allow the U.N.'s evacuation aircraft to land at Dacca, leaving U.N. personnel trapped as potential hostages. The International Red Cross declared Dacca's Intercontinental Hotel and nearby Holy Family Hospital "neutral zones" to receive wounded and provided a haven for foreigners.

For its part, the Pakistani army was said to have killed some Bengalis who they believed informed or aided the Indian forces. But the reprisals apparently were not on a wide scale. Both civilian and military casualties were considered relatively light in East Bengal, largely because the Indian army skirted big cities and populated areas in an effort to avoid standoff battles with the retreating Pakistani troops.

The first major city to fall was Jessore. TIME's William Stewart, who rode into the key railroad junction with the Indian troops, cabled: "Jessore, India's first strategic prize, fell as easily as a mango ripened by a long Bengal summer. It shown no damage from fighting. In face, the Pakistani 9th Division headquarters had quite Jessore days before the Indian advance, and only four battalions were left to face the onslaught.

"Nevertheless, two Pakistani battalions slipped away, while the other two were badly cut up. The Indian army was everywhere wildly cheered by the Bengalis, who shouted: "Jai Bangla!" and "Indira Gandhi Zindabad! (Long live Indira Gandhi!)" In Jhingergacha, a half-deserted city of about 5,000 near by, people gather to tell of their ordeal. "The Pakistanis shot us when we didn't understand," said one old man. "But they spoke Urdu and we speak Bengali."

Death Awaits

By no means all of East Bengal was freed of Pakistani rule last week. Pakistani troops were said to be retreating to two rivers ports, Narayanganj and Barisal, where it was speculated they might make a stand or alternatively seek some route of escape. They were also putting up a small defense in battalion-plus strength in three garrison towns where Indian forces reportedly had encircled them. The Indians have yet to capture the major cities of Chittagong and Dinajpur. Neither army permitted newsmen unreserved access to the contested areas, but on several occasions the Indian military did allow reporters to accompany its forces. The three prolonged Indian pincer movement, however, moved much more rapidly than was earlier believed possible. Its success was largely attributed to decisive air and naval support.

Demoralized and in disarray, the Pakistani troops were urged to obey the "soldier-to-soldier" radio call to surrender, repeatedly broadcast by Indian army Chief of Staff General Sam Manekshaw, "Should you not heed my advice to surrender to my army and endevour to escape," he warned , "I assure you certain death awaits you." He also assured the Pakistanis that if they surrendered they would be treated as prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention. To insure that the Mukti Bahini would also adhere to the Geneva code, India officially put the liberation forces under its military command.

Pakistani prisoners were reported surrendering in fair numbers. But many others seems to be fleeing into the countryside, perhaps in hopes of finding escape routes disguised as civilians. "In some garrison towns stout resistance is being offered, " said an Indian spokesman, " and although the troops themselves wish to surrender, they are being instructed by generals: `Gain time, Something big may happen. Hold on.' " He added sarcastically that only big thing that could happen was that the commanders of the military regime in East Pakistan might pull a vanishing act.

All week long, meanwhile, the Pakistani regime kept up a running drum-fire about Pakistan's Jihad, or holy war, with India. An army colonel insisted there were no Pakistani losses whatsoever on the battlefield. His reasoning: "In pursuit of Jihad, nobody dies, He lives forever." Pakistani radio and television blared forth patriotic songs such as All of Pakistan Is Wide Awake and The Martyr's Blood Will Not Go Wasted. The propaganda was accompanied by a totally unrealistic picture of the war. At one point, government spokesmen claimed that Pakistan had knocked out 123 Indian aircraft to a loss of seven of their own, a most unlikely kill ratio of nearly 18-to-1. Islamabad insisted that Pakistani forces were still holding on to the city of Jessore even though newsmen rode into the city only hours after its liberation

Late last week, however, President Aga Mohammed Yahya Khan's government appeared to be getting ready to prepare its people for the truth: the east is lost. An official spokesmen admitted for the first time that the Pakistani air forces was no longer operating in the East, Pakistani forces were "handicapped in the face of a superior army war machine," he said, and were out numbered six to one by the Indians in terms of men and material -- a superiority that seems slightly exaggerated.

Sikhs and Gurkhas

As the fate of Bangladesh, and of Pakistan itself, was being decided in the East, Indian and Pakistani forces were making painful stabs at one another along the 1,400-mile border that reaches from the icy heights of Kashmir through the flat plains of Punjab down to the desert of western India. There the battle was waged by the bearded Sikhs wearing khaki turbans, tough, flat-faced Gurkhas, who carry a curved knife known as a kukri in their belts, and many other ethnic strains. Mostly, the action was confined to border thrusts by both sides to straighten out salients that are difficult to defend.

The battle have pitted planes, tanks, artillery against each other, and in fact both material losses and casualties appear to have run far higher than in the east. Most of the sites were the very places where the two armies slugged it out in their last war in 1965. Yet there were no all-out offensives. The Indian army's tactic was to maintain a defensive posture, launching no attacks except where they assisted its defenses.

Old Boy Attitude

The bloodiest action was at Chhamb, a flat plateau about six miles from the cease-fire line that since 1949 has divided the disputed Kashmir region almost equally between Pakistan and India. The Pakistani were putting up "a most determined attack," according to an Indian Spokesman, who admitted that Indian casualties had been heavy. But he added that Pakistani casualties were heavier. The Pakistanis' aim was to strike for the Indian city of Jammu and the 200-mile-long Jammu-Srinagar highway, which links India with the Vale of Kashmir. The Indians were forced to retreat from the west bank of the Munnawar Tawi River, where they had tried desperately to hold on.

Except for Chhamb and other isolated battles, both sides seemed to be going about the war with an "old boy" attitude: "If you don't really hit my important bases, I won't bomb yours." Behind all this, of course, is the fact that many Indian and Pakistani officers, including the two countries' commanding generals, went to school with one another at Sandhurst or DehraDun. India's commanding general in the east, Lieut. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, was a classmate of Pakistani President Yahya, "We went to school together to learn how best to kill each other," said an Indian officer.

"To an outsider," TIME's Marsh Clark cabled after a tour of the western front, "the Indian army seemed precise, old-fashioned and sane. `The closer you get to the front, the more tea and cookies you get,' one American correspondent complained. But things get done. Convoys move up rapidly, artillery officers direct their fire with dispatch. Morale is extremely high, and Indian officers always refer to the Pakistanis, though rather condescendingly, as `those chaps.' "

Abandoned Britches

On a visit to Sehjra, a key town in a Pakistani salient that pokes into Indian territory east of Lahore where Indian troops are advancing, Clark found turbaned men working in the fields while jets flew overhead and artillery sounded in the distance. "There are free tea stalls along the road," he reported, "and teen-agers throw bags of nuts, plus oranges and bananas into the Jeeps carrying troops to the front, and shout encouragement. When our Jeep stops, kids surround it and yell at us, demanding that we write a story saying their village is still free and not captured, as claimed by Pakistani radio.

"As we come up on the border, the Indian commander receives us. He recounts how his Gurkha soldiers kicked of the operations at 9 o'clock at night and hit the well-entrenched Pakistanis at midnight. `I think we took them by surprise,' he says, and an inspection of the hooch of the Pakistani area commanding officers confirms it. On his bed is a suitcase, its confusion indicating it was hastily packed. There are several shirts, some socks. And his trousers. Nice trousers of gray flannel made, according to the label, by Mr. Abass, a tailor in Rawalpindi. The colonel, it is clear, has departed town and left his britches behind."

South of Sehjra, Indian armored units have been plowing through sand across the West Pakistan border, taking hundreds of square miles of desert and announcing the advance of their troops to places that apparently consist of two palm trees and a shallow pool of brackish water. Among the enemy equipment reported captured: several camels. The reason behind this rather ridiculous adventure is the fear that Pakistan will try to seize large tracts of Indian territory to hold as ransom for the return of East Bengal. That now seems an impossibility with Bangladesh an independent nation, but India wants to have land in the west to bargain with.

The western part of India is on full wartime alert. All cities are completely blacked out at night, fulfilling, as it were, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's warning that it would be a "long, dark December." Air raid sirens wail almost continuously. During one 15-hour period in the Punjab, there were eleven air-raid alerts. One all-clear was sounded by the jittery control room before the warning blast was given. The nervousness, through, was justified: two towns in the area had been bombed with a large loss of life as Pakistani air force planes zipped repeatedly across the border. Included in their attack was the city of Amritsar, whose Golden Temple is the holiest of holies to all Sikhs. At Agra, which was bombed the the Pakistanis' first blitz, 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.

The fact that India is not launching any major offensives in the western sector suggests that New Delhi wants to keep the war as uncomplicated as possible. Though the two nations have tangled twice before in what is officially called the state of Jammu and Kashmir, neither country has gained any territory since the original cease-fire line was drawn in 1949. There are several reasons why New Delhi is not likely to try to press now for control of the disputed area.

The first is a doubt that the people of Azad Kashmir, as the Pakistani portion is called, would welcome control by India; in that case, India could be confronted with an embarrassing uprising. The second reason is that in 1963, shortly after India's brief but bloody war with China, Pakistan worked out a provisional border agreement with Peking ceding some 1,300 sq. miles of Kashmir to China. Peking has since linked up the old "silk route" highway from Sinkiang province to the city of Gilgit in Pakistani Kashmir with an all-weather macadam motor highway running down to the northern region of Ladakh near the cease-fire line. Should Indian troops get anywhere near China's highway or try to grasp its portion of Kashmir, New Delhi could expect to have a hassle with Peking on its hands.

Constant Harassment

Pakistan, on the other hand, has much to gain if it can wrest the disputed province, particularly and fabled Vale, from Indian control. Strategically, the region is extremely important, bodering on both China and Afghanistan as well as India and Pakistan. Moreover, Kashmir's population is predominantly Moslem.

Still, the war was beginning to take its toll on the people of West Pakistan. The almost constant air raids over Islamabad, Karachi and other cities have brought deep apprehension, even panic." TIME's Loius Kraar cabled from Rawalpindi. "It is not massive bombing, just constant harassment -- though there have been several hundred civilian casualties. Thus when the planes roar overhead, life completely halts in the capital and people scurry into trenches or stand in doorways with woo[ ]ls over their heads, ostrich-like. Because of the Kashmir mountains, the radar in the area does not pick up Indian planes until they are about 15 miles away.

"Pakistanis have taken to caking mud all over their autos in the belief that it camouflages them from Indian planes. In nightly blackouts, the road traffic moves along with absolutely no lights, and fear has prevailed so completely over common sense that there has probably been more bloodshed in traffic accidents than in the air raids. The government has begun urging motorists only to shield their lights, but peasants throw stones at any car that keeps them on. In this uneasy atmosphere, Pakistani antiaircraft gunners opened up on their own high-flying sabre jets one evening last week. At one point, the military stationed an antiaircraft machine gun atop the Rawalpindi intercontinental Hotel, but guests convinced them it was dangerous."

Soviet Aircraft

In New Delhi, the mood was not so much jingoism as jubilation that India's main goal -- the establishment of a government in East Bengal that would ensure the return of the refugees -- was accomplished so quickly. There was little surprise when Prime Minister Gandhi announced to both houses of Parliament early this week that India would become the first government to recognize Bangladesh. Still, members thumped their desks, cheered loudly and jumped in the aisles to express their delight. "The valiant struggles of the people of Bangladesh in the face of tremendous odds has opened a new chapter of heroism in the history of freedom movements," Mrs. Gandhi said. "The whole world is now aware that [Bangladesh] reflects the will of an overwhelming majority of the people, which not many governments can claim to represents."

There was little joy in New Delhi, however, over the Nixon Administration's hasty declaration blaming India for the war in the subcontinent, or over U.N. Ambassador George Bush's remark that India was guilty of "aggression" (see: The US: A policy in shambles). Indian officials were shocked by the General Assembly's unusually swift and one-sided vote calling for a cease-fire and withdrawal of troops.

Call for Armaments

Meanwhile, there was still the danger that other nations could get involved. Pakistan was reported putting pressure on Turkey, itself inflicted with internal problems, to provide ships, tanks, bazookas, and small arms and ammunition. Since Turkey obtains heavy arms from the U.S., it would be necessary to have American approval to give them to Pakistan. There was also a report that the Soviet Union was using Cairo's military airbase Almaza as a refueling stop in flying reinforcements to India. Some 30 giant Autonov-12 transports, each capable of carrying two dismantled MIGs or two SAM batteries, reportedly touched down last week. The airlift was said to have displeased the Egyptians, who are disturbed over India's role in the war. For its part, Washington stressed that its SEATO and CENTO treaties with Pakistan in no way bind it to come to its aid.

If the Bangladesh government was not yet ensconced in the capital of Dacca by week's end, it did appear that its foundations had been firmly laid. As Mrs. Gandhi said in her speech to Parliament, the leaders of the People's Republic of Bangladesh -- as the new nation will be officially known -- "have proclaimed their basic principles of state policy to be democracy, socialism, secularism and establishment of an egalitarian society in which there would be no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or creed. In regard to foreign relations, the Bangladesh government have expressed their determination to follow a policy of non-alignment, peaceful coexistence and opposition to colonialism, racialism and imperialism."

Bangladesh was born of a dream twice deferred. Twenty-four years ago, Bengalis voted to join the new nation of Pakistan, which had been carved out of British India as a Moslem homeland. Before long, religious unity disintegrated into racial and regional bigotry as the autocratic Moslems of West Pakistan systematically exploited their Bengali brethren in the East. One year ago last week, the Bengalis thronged the polls in Pakistan's first free nationwide election, only to see their overwhelming mandate to Mujib brutally reversed by West Pakistani soldiers. That crackdown terrible toll: perhaps 1,000,000 dead, 10 million refugees, untold thousands homeless, hungry, and sick.

The memories are still fresh of those who died of cholera on the muddy paths to India, or suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Pakistani military. And there are children, blind and brain-damaged, who will carry the scars of malnutrition for the rest of their lives. As a Bangladesh official put it at the opening of the new nation's first diplomatic mission in New Delhi last week: "It is a dream come true, but you must also remember that we went through a nightmare."

Economic Prospects

How stable is the new nation? Economically, Bangladesh has nowhere to go but up. As Pakistan's eastern wing, it contributed between 50% and 70% of that country's foreign exchange earnings but received only a small percentage in return. The danger to East Bengal's economy lies mainly in the fact that it is heavily based on jute and burlap, and synthetic substitutes are gradually replacing both. But if it can keep all of its own foreign exchange, as it now will, it should be able to develop other industries. It will also open up trade with India's West Bengal, and instead of competing with India, may frame joint marketing policies with New Delhi. India also intends to help with Bangladesh's food problems in the next year.

One of the main conditions of India's support is that Bangladesh organize the expeditious return of the refugees and restore their lands and belonging to them. The Bangladesh government is also intent on seeking war reparations from Pakistan if possible.

What of West Pakistan? The loss of East Paksitan will no doubt be a tremendous blow to its spirit and a destabilizing factor in politics. But the Islamabad regime, shorn of a region that was politically, logistically and militarily difficult to manage and stripped down to a population of 58 million, may prove a much more homogeneous unit. In that sense, the breakup could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Both nations, moreover, might be expected to get considerable foreign aid to help them back onto their feet.

Leadership Vacuum

Last week Yahya announced the appointment of a 77-year old Bengali named Nurul Amin as the Prime Minister-designate for a future civilian government, to which he has promised to turn over some of his military regime's power. Amin figured in last December's elections, which precipitated the whole tragedy. In those elections Mujib's Awami League won 167 of the 169 Assembly seats at stake; Amin, an independent who enjoyed prestige as an elder statesman, won one of the two others. But he is essentially a figure head, and former Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was appointed his deputy, which means that he will have the lion's share of the power. That may come sooner than expected. There were reports last week that Yahya's fall from power may be imminent. Bhutto is a contentious, pro-Chinese politician who was instrumental in persuading Yahya in effect to set aside the results of the election and to keep Mujib from becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Bangladesh's main difficulty is apt to come from a leadership vacuum should Yahya refuse to release Mujib, the spellbinding leader who has led the fight for Bengali civil liberties since partition. All of the Awami Leaguers who formed provisional government of Bangladesh in exile last April are old colleagues of Mujib's and have grown accustomed to handling responsibilities since he went to prison. But running a volatile war-weakened new nation is considerably more difficult than managing a political party. The trouble is that none of them have the tremendous charisma that attracted million-strong throngs to hear Mujib. The top leaders, all of whom won seats in the aborted National Assembly last December by over whelming margins, are:

  • Syed Nazrul Islam, 46, acting President in the absence of Mujib, a lawyer who frequently served as the Sheik's deputy in the past. He was active in the struggle against former President Ayub Khan, and when Mujib was thrown in jail, he led party through crises.
  • Tajuddin Ahmed, 46, Prime Minister, a lawyer who has been a chief organizer in the Awami League since its founding in 1949. He is an expert in economies and is considered one of the party's leading intellectuals.
  • Khandakar Moshtaque Ahmed, 53, Foreign Minister, a lawyer who was active in the Indian independence movement and helped found the Awami League.

The most immediate problem is to prevent a bloodbath in Bangladesh against non-Bengalis accused of collaborating with the Pakistani military. Toward this end, East Bengal government officials who chose to remain in Bangladesh through the fighting are being inducted into the new administration and taking over as soon as areas are liberated. Actually, India's recognition came earlier than planned. One reason was to circumvent a charge reportedly budding in the U.N that India had joined the battle to annex the province to India. Another was to enable Bangladesh government to assume charge as soon as large chunks of territory was liberated by the army. Since New Delhi does not want to be accused of having exchanged West Pakistani colonialism for India colonialism, it is expected to to lean over backward to let the Bangladesh government do things its way.

The Walk Back

Is there any chance that the Pakistanis may yet engineer a startling turn of the tide, rout the Indians from the East and destroy the new nation in its infancy? Virtually none. As Correspondent Clark cabled: "Touts who are betting on the outcome between India and Pakistan might ponder the fact that two of the TIME correspondents who were visiting Pakistan this week [Clark in the West, Stewart deep in the East] were with Indian forces."

And so at week's end the streams of refugees who walked so long and so far to get to India began making the long journey back home to pick up the thread of their lives. For some, there were happy reunions with relatives and friends, for other tears and the bitter sense of loss for those who will never return. But there were new homes to be built, and a new nation to be formed. The land was there too, lush and green.

"Man's history is waiting in patience for the triumph of the insulted man," Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel-prize winning Bengali Poet, once wrote. Triumph he had, but at a terrible price. With the subcontinent at war, and the newborn land still wracked by bone-shattering poverty, the joy in Bangladesh was necessarily tempered by sorrow.

The Bloody Birth of Bangladesh

The U.S. :
A Policy in Shambles

Section: The World, Page 28, TIME, Dec. 20, 1971

The Nixon Administration drew a fusillade of criticism last week for its policy on India and Pakistan. Two weeks ago, when war broke out between two traditional enemies, a State Department spokesman issued an unusually blunt statement, placing the burden of blame on India. Soon after that, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations George Bush branded the Indian action as "aggression" -- a word that Washington subsequently but lamely explained had not been "authorized"

Senator Edward Kennedy declared that the Administration had turned a deaf ear for eight months to "the brutal and systematic repression of East Bengal by the Pakistani army," and now was condemning "the response of India toward and increasingly desperate situation on its eastern borders." Senators Edmund Muskie and Hubert Humprey echoed Kennedy's charges.

The critics were by no means limited to ambitious politicians. In the New York Times, John P. Lewis, onetime U.S. A.I.D. director in India (1964-69) and now dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, wrote: " We have managed to align ourselves with the wrong side of about as big and simple a moral issue as the world has seen lately; and we have sided with minor military dictatorship against the world's second largest nation." In Britain, the conservative London Daily Telegraph accused Washington of "a blundering diplomatic preformence which can have few parallels."

Since March, when the Pakistani army staged a bloody crackdown in East Bengal, murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians and prompting 10 million Bengalis to flee across the Indian border, the U.S. has been ostentatiously mild in its public criticism of the atrocities and of Pakistan's military ruler, President Yahya Khan -- a man whom President Nixon likes. Washington wanted to retain whatever leverage it had with the Pakistanis. Moreover the Administration was grateful for Islamabad's help in arranging Presidential Adviser Henry Kissenger's first, secret trip to China last July. India was shaken by Washington's sudden gesture toward its traditional enemies, the Chinese, with whom it had fought a brief war in 1962. Behind the scenes, many State Department officials urged in vain that the Government take a harder line toward Yahya, for humanitarian as well as practical political reasons.

In the past five years, China has displaced the U.S. as Pakistan's chief sponsor. India, increasingly dependent on the Soviet Union for military aid, finally signed an important treaty of friendship with Moscow last summer. The U.S. was not solely responsible for driving the Indians into the Soviet camp; but its policy of not being beastly to Yahya convinced the Indians that they could not count on the U.S. for moral support. The result of the treaty: U.S. influence in India was virtually neutralized.

The Administration's current anger, however, stems from a more recent incident. During her trip to Washington last month, India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi led President Nixon to believe that her country had no intention of going to war. Later, when the Indian army made what appeared to be a well-planned attack on East Pakistan. Washington officials concluded that Mrs. Gandhi's trip had been a smokescreen for massive war preparations. Richard Nixon was furious, and was behind the initial Government statements branding India the aggressor.

Last week, in an attempt to justify U.S. policy, Presidential Adviser Kissenger help a press briefing. (the remark were supposed to be for "background use" only until Senator Barry Goldwater blew Kissinger's cover by printing a transcript of the briefing in the Congressional Record. Kissinger insisted that the U.S. has not really sided with Pakistan, but had been working quitely and intensively to bring about a peaceful political solution. Indeed, at the time of the Indian attack, he claimed, U.S. diplomats had almost persuaded Yahya Khan and the Calcutta-based Bangladesh leadership to enter into negotiations. New Delhi had precipitated the fighting in East Pakistan. Washington believed, and refused to accept a cease-fire because it was determined to drive the Pakistani army out of East Bengal.

It can be argued, however, that Washington was guilty of an unfortunate naivete by believing that a political solution was possible after the passions of the Indians and Pakistanis had become so aroused. Given the continued existence of a power vacuum in East Bengal, it may have been unrealistic to expect the Indians to refrain indefinitely from dealing their archenemy a crippling and permanent blow as to have expected the Israelis to halt their 1967 advance in the middle of the Sinai.

It is true that the new U.S. policy toward China has further restricted Washington's room for maneuver with the Indians, but this hardly explains or excuses the Administration's handling of recent affairs on the Indian subcontinent. Because of blunders in both substance and tone, the US has

  1. destroyed whatever chance it had to be neutral in the East Asian conflict;
  2. tended to reinforce the Russia-India, China-Pakistan lineup;
  3. Seemingly placed itself morally and politically on the side of a particularly brutal regime, which, moreover, is an almost certain loser; and
  4. made a shambles of its position on the subcontinent.

India: Easy Victory,
Uneasy Peace

Section: The World, Page 28, TIME, Dec. 27, 1971

"My dear Abdullah. I am here," read the message to the general in beleaguered Dacca. "The game is up. I suggest you give yourself up to me and I'll look after you." The author of that soothing appeal was India's Major General Gandharv Nagra. The recipient was Lieut. General A.A.K.("Tiger") Niazi, commander of Pakistan's 60,000 troops in East Bengal and a onetime college classmate of Nagra's. Minutes before expiration of India's cease-fire demand, Niazi last week bowed to the inevitable. By United Nations radio, he informed the Indian command that he was prepared to surrender his army unconditionally.

Less than an hour later, Indian troops rode triumphantly in to Dacca as Bengalis went delirious with joy. "It was liberation day," cabled TIME Correspondent Dan Coggin. "Dacca exploded in an ecstasy of hard-won happiness. There was wild gunfire in the air, impromptu parades, hilarity and horn honking, and processions of jammed trucks and cars, all mounted with the green, red and gold flag of Bangladesh. Bengalis hugged and kissed Indian jawans, stuck marigolds in their gun barrels and showered them with garlands of jasmine. If ` jai Bangla!' (Victory to Bengal!) was screamed once, it was screamed a million times. Even Indian generals got involved. Nagra climbed on the hood of his Jeep and led the shouting of slogans for Bangladesh and its imprisoned leader, Sheik Mujibur Rahman. Brigadier General H.S. Kler lost his patches and almost his turban when the grateful crowed engulfed him."

Late that afternoon as dusk was beginning to fall, General Niazi and Lieut. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, commander of India's forces in the East, signed the formal surrender of the Pakistani army on the grassy lawn of Dacca's Race Course. Niazi handed over his revolver to Aurora, and the two men shook hands. Then, as Pakistani commander was driven away in a Jeep. Aurora was lifted into the shoulders of the cheering crowd.

Thus, 13 days after it began, the briefest but bitterest of the wars between India and Pakistan came to an end. The surrender also marked the end of the nine-month-old civil war between East and West Pakistan. Next day Pakistan's President Aga Mohammed Yahya Khan reluctantly accepted India's cease-fire on the western border. It was a complete and humiliating defeat. The was stripped Pakistan of more than half of its population and with nearly one-third of its army in captivity, clearly established India's military dominance of the subcontinent.

Considering the magnitude of the victory, New Delhi was surprisingly restrained in its reaction. Mostly, Indian leaders seemed pleased by the relative ease with which they had accomplished their goals -- the establishment of Bangladesh and the prospect of an early return to their homeland of the 10 million Bengali refugees who were the cause of the war. In announcing the surrender to the Indian Parliament, Prime Minister declared,"Dacca is now the free capitol of a free country. 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."

Although both sides claimed at week's end that the cease-fire was being violated, serious fighting did appear to be over for the present. Initial fears that India might make a push to capture Pakistani Kashmir proved to be unfounded. India undoubtedly wanted to risk neither a hostile Moslem uprising in the region nor Chinese intervention. But several major issues between India and Pakistan remain -- and it may take months to resolve them:

  1. repatriation of Pakistan's 60,000 regular troops in the East,
  2. release of Sheik Mujibur Rahman, whom the Bangladesh government has proclaimed President but who is still imprisoned in West Pakistan on charges of treason.
  3. disposition of various chunks of territory that the two countries have seized from each other along the western border.

Mrs. Gandhi may well try to ransom Mujib in exchange for release of the Pakistani soldiers. India is also expected to press for a drawing of the cease-fire line that has divided the disputed region of Kashmir since 1949. The Indians have captured 50 strategic Pakistani outposts in the high Kashmiri mountains. These are the same outposts that India captured in 1965, and then gave up as part of the 1966 Tashkend Agreement: India is not likely to be as accommodating this time.

In the chill, arid air of Islamabad, West Pakistan's military regime was finding it difficult to come to grips with the extent of the country's ruin. Throughout the conflict there had been a bizarre air of unreality in the West, as Pakistani army officials consistently claimed they were winning when quite the reverse was true. Late last week the Pakistani government still seemed unable to accept its defeat simultaneously with the announcement of the cease-fire, officials handed newsmen an outline of Yahya's plans for a new constitution. Among other things, it provides "that the republic shall have two capitals, at Islamabad and at Dacca." It adds:"The principal seat of Parliament will be located in Dacca." That will, of course, be news to Bangladesh.

President Yahya Khan had declared the conflict a jihad (holy war) and, even while surrender was being signed in the East, he was boasting that his nation would "engage the aggressor on all fronts." He became the first political victim of the conflict. At week's end, Yahya announced that he would step down in favor of Deputy Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, head of the Pakistan People's Party. A rabid anti-India, pro-China politician who served as Foreign Minister in the government of former President Ayub khan, Bhutto was the chief architect of Pakistan's alliance with China. In the nation's first free election last December, his party ran second to Mujib's Awami League. Regarding that as a threat to his own ambitions, Bhutto was instrumental in persuading Yahya to set aside the election results.

Ali Bhutto, who had a brief interview with President Nixon last Saturday concerning "restoration of stability in South Asia," will return to Islamabad this week to head what Yahya said would be "a representative government." A dramatic emotional orator, who tearfully stalked out of the U.N. Security Council last week to protest its inaction on the war. Bhutto has recently made little secret of his displeasure with the military regime,"The people of Pakistan are angry," he fumed last week, "The generals have messed up the land."

Yahya's overconfidence had undoubtedly been fed by the outcome of the two nations' previous tangles, all of them inconclusive territorial disputes that altered little and allowed both sides to claim victory. This time, though, the Indians felt they were fighting for a moral cause. Pakistan's army in the East, moreover, was cut off by Indian air and naval superiority from the West, and had to contend with a hostile local populations well as combined forces of the tough Mukti Bahini guerrillas and a numerically superior and better equipped Indian army. Despite the brief duration of the war, the fighting was fierce. The Indian alone reported 10,633 casualties -- 2,307 killed, 6,163 wounded, 2,163 missing in action. Pakistan's casualties, not yet announced, are believed to be much higher, and there are no figures at all for guerrilla losses.

Battle of the Tanks

India also claims to have destroyed 244 Pakistani tanks, against a loss of 73 of its own. No fewer than 60 tanks -- 45 of Pakistan's, 15 of India's -- were knocked out in the last day of the war in a fierce struggle that raged for more than 24 hours. The incident took place on the Punjabi plains, where the Indians tried to draw the Pakistanis out of the town of Shakargarh (meaning "the place of sugar"), in order to attack the important Pakistani military garrison of Sialkot.

In the East, Indian troops skirted cities and villages whenever possible in order to avoid civilian casualties, a strategy that also scattered the demoralized Pakistani forces and led to their defeat. After the signing of the surrender, a military spokesman in New Delhi announced triumphantly:"Not a single individual was killed in Dacca after the surrender." Unhappily, that turned out not to be true. One report said that Bengali guerrillas had executed more than 400 razakars , members of the West Pakistani army's much-hated local militia.

Although General Aurora was firm in his insistence that the Mukti Bahini disarm, it was unlikely that the bloodshed could be totally halted for sometime. The new government of Bangladesh, if only to satisfy public opinion, will almost certainly hold a number of war-crimes trials of captured members of the former East Pakistan government. Potentially the most explosive situation is the Bengali desire for vengeance against 1,500,000 Biharis -- non-Bengali Moslems living in East Pakistan, many of whom are suspected of collaborating with the Pakistani army. In some villages, the Biharis have been locked in jails for their own protection. In an unusual conciliatory gesture, Aurora permitted Pakistani soldiers to keep their weapons until they had reached person camps. He explained:"You have to see the bitterness in Dacca to believe it."

The Losers

Islamabad, of course was the principal loser in the outcome of the war. But there were two others as well. One was the United Nations, The Security Council last week groped desperately toward trying to achieve an international consensus on what to do about the struggle, and ended up with seven cease-fire resolutions that were never acted upon at all. The other loser was Washington, which had tried to bring about a political settlement but from the New Delhi viewpoint -- and to other observers as well -- appeared wholeheartedly committed to the support of Pakistan's military dictatorship.

Indian anger at U.S. backing of Pakistan was compounded last week when the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise and a task force of destroyers and amphibious ships from the Seventh Fleet sailed into the Bay of Bengal. Although Soviet vessels were reported to be moving toward the area, word of the U.S. move touched off a storm of anti-American demonstrations. In Calcutta, angry protesters burned effigies of Richard Nixon and Yahya Khan. The Seventh Fleet action was justified by the Navy on the grounds that it might have to evacuate American civilians from Dacca. (As it turned out, most of the foreigners who wanted to leave were flown out the same day the carrier left Vietnamese waters by three British transports.) All across India, though, there were rumors that the Navy had been sent to rescue Pakistani troops and that the U.S. was about to intervene in the war.

Lip Service

Mrs. Gandhi made several gestures to try to dampen the anti-American feeling, and refused to allow debate in the Indian Parliament on the U.S. moves. But she also sent a long, accusatory and somewhat self-serving letter to President Nixon, in which she argued that the war could have been avoided "if the great leaders of the world had paid some attention to the fact of revolt, tried to see the reality of the situation and searched for a genuine basis for reconciliation," Instead, Mrs. Gandhi said, only "lip service was paid to the need for a political solution, but not a single worthwhile step was taken to bring this about."

India's triumph is in large measure a stunning personal one for Mrs. Gandhi. Throughout the crisis Indians have been united behind her as never before, and she is even being compared with the Hindu goddess Durga, who rid the world of the demon Mahasura. Quite apart from war, India seems to be feeling a new self-assurance. The land that for centuries was synonymous with famine now enjoys a wheat surplus and will soon become self sufficient in rice, thanks to the Green Revolution. Mrs. Gandhi, backed by overwhelming mandate in last March's elections, has been able to bring about a large measure of political stability for the first time since Nehru's death. India is still poverty-ridden and in need of foreign aid, but its industries are developing rapidly in size and sophistication. All these factors, reinforced by military victory, may bring profound psychological change in India and a lessening of corrosive self-doubt.

For that reason, there is no feeling in New Delhi that the Soviet Union, whose aid was primarily diplomatic rather than military, in any way won this war for India--any more than China or the U.S. lost it for Pakistan. Despite the current popularity of the Soviet Union and the unpopularity of the U.S., Indians are probably as horrified by Russian totalitarianism and Chinese Maoism as by what they consider "American materialism." In the long run, India's new found strength could conceivably lessen rather than enlarge Soviet influence.

Essential Reconstruction

Meanwhile the huge task of reconstruction in Bangladesh begins. India has already set a target date of Jan. 31 as the goal for the return of all 10 million refugees. Free bus service is being provided, and the vehicles loaded down with belongings and passengers have begun rolling back across the borders to Bangladesh. The Indian Planning Commission, which charts India's overall developed program, estimates that it will take nearly $900 million for essential reconstruction work in Bangladesh and for the refuges' rehabilitation. Bridges, buildings, roads and almost the entire communications network must be restored.

The State Dept has made it plain that Washington stands ready to supply Bangladesh with humanitarian aid. At week's end Bangladesh's Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam and his government were already settled in Dacca, and Washington was said to be considering recognition of the new nation.

"We Know How
the Parisians Felt"

Section: The World, Page 28, TIME, Dec. 27, 1971

Time Correspondent Dan Coggin, who covered the war from Pakistani side, was in Dacca when that city surrendered. His report:

For twelve tense days, Dacca felt the war draw steadily closer, with nightly curfews and blackouts and up to a dozen air raids a day. It was a siege of sorts, but one of liberation. Until the last few days, when it appeared that Pakistani troops would make a final stand in the city, the Indian army was awaited calmly and without fear. Most people went about their usual business -- offices were open, rickshas running and pushcarts plying. The sweet tea of the street stalls drew the same gabby old fellows with white beards. The mood of the overwhelming majority of Bengalis was less one of apprehension than pent-up anticipation. Said one Bengali journalist: "Now we know how the Parisians felt when the Allies were approaching."

The Indian air force had knocked out the Pakistanis' runways and, outside of the limited range of ack-ack guns, Indian planes could fly as freely as if they were at an air show. I was surprised at the extent to which India could do no wrong in the eyes of the Bengalis. They showed me through rocketed houses where about 15 people had died. Several Bengalis whispered that it must have been a mistake, and I heard no one cursing the Indians.

In the final two days of fighting, the Indians put rockets on the governor's house, starting a small fire and bringing about the prompt resignation of the Islamabad-appointed governor and his cabinet of so-called dalals , or "collaborators." They fled to the eleven-story Hotel Intercontinental, a Red Cross neutral zone that became a haven for foreigners, minorities and other likely targets. Thanks to three gusty British C-130 pilots who made pinpoint landings on the heavily damaged airfield, all who wanted to go went, including two myanah birds and a gray toy poodle named "Baby" that had been on tranquilizers for a week.

Also at the hotel were all of ex-Governor A.M. Malik's cabinet members, who were mostly hand-picked opportunists from minor parties. They are expected to face trial as war criminals. Their wives and other Pakistani women lived in fear, and the frequent moaning from their rooms at the Intercontinental contrasted eerily with the noisy candlelight poker and chess games of the correspondents who were not standing four-hour guard duty to keep out intruders. The hotel roof could hardly have been a better place for TV crews to grind away at air strikes. During the raids, shrapnel was occasionally fished out of the swimming pool, and a large time bomb planted in the hotel was disarmed and replanted in a trench on the nearby lawns. Beer soon ran out, but there was always fish or something else tasty for those cured of curry.

Outside the city, reporters had to go looking for the war, and for the first few days they found the countryside, more often than not, as peaceful as North Carolina during military maneuvers. "We'll give those buggers a good hammering" had been a favorite boast of Pakistani officers. But once the serious fighting began, only a few of the outnumbered and outgunned Pakistani units fought it out in pitched battles.

One of the bloodiest was a Jamalpur, north of Dacca where the Pakistani battalion commander was sent a surrender offer by one of three Indian battalions surrounding him. The Pakistani colonel replied with a note ("I suggest you come with a Sten gun instead of a pen over which you have such mastery") and enclosed a 7.62mm bullet. Apparently thinking the Indians were bluffing and that he was confronted by a company or so, the Pakistani colonel attacked that night, with five waves of about 100 men each charging head-on at a dug-in Indian battalion. The Indians claimed to have killed nearly 300 and captured 400 others. The top Indian commander at Jamalpur, Brigadier General Hardev Singh Kler, 47, said later that the battle "broke the Pakistanis' backs" and enabled his troops to reach Dacca first. A Pakistani officer waving a white flag went to a Mirpur bridge two miles west of the city to make the first surrender contact.

"It's a great day for a soldier," beamed the Indian field commander, bush-hatted Major General Gandharv Nagra, who led the first red-bereted troops in. "For us, it's like going to Berlin," The scene at the Dacca garrison's cantonment seemed bizarre to an outsider, although it was obviously perfectly natural for professional soldiers of the subcontinent. Senior officers were warmly embracing old friends from the other side, amid snatches of overhead conversation about times 25 years ago. Top generals lunched together in the mess, and around general headquarters it was like an old home week at the war college.

After the surrender of Dacca, death was mixed with delight. Small pockets of Pakistani soldiers switched to civilian clothes and ran through the city of celebrants shooting at Bengalis and Mukti Bahini at random. By midday Friday most of them had been hunted down and either arrested or killed. I saw one summarily executed by three Mukti outside the U.S. Consulate General that morning and few minutes later the head of another Pakistani was laid on the corpse's chest. Civilians and soldiers were killed in nervous shoot outs and accidents. Five died in front of Hotel Intercontinental, as South Asia's greatest convulsion since the partition of India and Pakistan neared its bloody finale

: http://www.vidyasoft.com/interest/war/war71.html

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