Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

military confrontation between India and Pakistan alongside the Bangladesh Liberation War

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military conflict between India and Pakistan. Lasting just 13 days, it is considered one of the shortest wars in history.[27][28]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Part of the Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts and Bangladesh Liberation War

First Row: Lt-Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, the Cdr. of Pakistani Eastern Comnd., signing the documented instrument in Dacca in the presence of Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora (GOC-in-C of Indian Eastern Comnd.). Surojit Sen of All India Radio is seen holding a microphone on the right.
Second Row (left to right): Vice Adm. N. Krishnan (FOC-in-C Eastern Naval Comnd.), Air Mshl. H.C. Dewan, (AOC-in-C Eastern Air Comnd., Lt Gen. Sagat Singh (Cdr. IV Corps), Maj Gen. JFR Jacob (COS Eastern Comnd.) and Flt Lt Krishnamurthy (peering over Jacob‘s shoulder).
Date3–16 December 1971 (13 days)
Result Decisive Indian victory[1][2][3]
Eastern front:
Surrender of East Pakistan military command
Western front:
Unilateral ceasefire

Eastern Front:

Western Front:

  • Indian forces captured around 15,010 km2 (5,795 sq mi) of land in the West but returned it in the 1972 Simla Agreement as a gesture of goodwill.[4][5][6]


Bangladesh Provisional Government of Bangladesh

Soviet Union Soviet Union


Pakistan East Pakistan

United States United States

United Kingdom United Kingdom

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

Iran Pahlavi Iran

France France

Turkey Turkey

China China

Israel Israel
Commanders and leaders
India Indira Gandhi
(Prime Minister of India)
India V. V. Giri
(President of India)
India Swaran Singh
(External Minister of India)
India Jagjivan Ram
(Defence Minister of India)
Gen Sam Manekshaw
(Chief of Army Staff)
Lt.Gen J.S. Arora
(GOC-in-C, Eastern Command)
Lt.Gen G.G. Bewoor
(GOC-in-C, Southern Command)
Lt.Gen K. P. Candeth
(GOC-in-C, Western Command)
Lt.Gen Premindra Bhagat
(GOC-in-C, Central Command)
Lt.Gen Sagat Singh
(GOC-in-C, IV Corps)
Lt.Gen T. N. Raina
(GOC-in-C, II Corps)
Lt.Gen Sartaj Singh
(GOC-in-C, XV Corps)
Lt.Gen Karan Singh
(GOC-in-C, I Corps)
MajGen Farj R. Jacob
(COS, Eastern Command)
MajGen Om Malhotra
(COS, IV Corps)
MajGen Inderjit Singh Gill
(Dir, Military Operations)
Adm S. M. Nanda
(Chief of Naval Staff)
VAdm S. N. Kohli
(Cdr. Western Naval Command)
VAdm N. Krishnan
(Cdr. Eastern Naval Command)
RAdm S H Sarma
(Cdr. Eastern Fleet)
ACM Pratap C. Lal
(Chief of Air Staff)
Rameshwar Kao
(Director of RAW)
Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmad
(PM Provisional Government)
Bangladesh Col. M.A.G. Osmani
(Commander, Mukti Bahini)
Pakistan Yahya Khan
(President of Pakistan)
Pakistan Nurul Amin
(Prime Minister of Pakistan)
Gen. A.H. Khan
(Chief of Staff, Army GHQ)
Lt.Gen A.A.K. Niazi Surrendered
(Commander, Eastern Command)
Lt.Gen Gul Hassan Khan
(Chief of General Staff)
Lt.Gen Abdul Ali Malik
(Commander, I Corps)
Lt.Gen Tikka Khan
(Commander, II Corps)
Lt.Gen Sher Khan
(Commander, IV Corps)
MGen Iftikhar Janjua
(GOC, 23rd Infantry Division)
MGen Khadim Hussain
(GOC, 14th Infantry Division)
VAdm Muzaffar Hassan
(Cdr-in-Chief, Navy)
RAdm Rashid Ahmed
(COS, Navy NHQ)
RAdm Moh'd Shariff  Surrendered
(Cdr, Eastern Naval Command)
RAdm M.A.K. Lodhi
(Cdr, Western Naval Command)
RAdm Leslie Norman
(Commander, Pakistan Marines)
AM Abdul Rahim Khan
(Cdr-in-Chief, Air Force)
AVM P.D. Callaghan
(Chief Ins, Pakistan Air Force)
Air Cdre Inamul Haq Surrendered
(Cdr Eastern Air Command)
Gp.Capt. Z.A. Khan Surrendered
(COS, Air AHQ Dhaka)
Abdul Motaleb Malik  Surrendered
(Governor of East Pakistan)
Indian Armed Forces: 1,000,000[7]
Mukti Bahini: 180,000[8]
Total: 1,180,000
Pakistan Armed Forces: 350,000[7]
Casualties and losses

2,500[9]–3,843 killed[10][11]
9,851[10]–12,000[12] injured

Pakistani claims

Indian claims

Neutral claims

9,000 killed[22]
25,000 wounded[12]
93,000 captured
2 Destroyers
1 Minesweeper
1 Submarine[23]
3 Patrol vessels
7 Gunboats

  • Pakistani main port Karachi facilities damaged/fuel tanks destroyed[24]
  • Pakistani airfields damaged and cratered[25]

Pakistani claims

Indian claims

Neutral claims

During the war, Indian and Pakistani forces fought on the eastern and western fronts. The war effectively came to an end after the Eastern Command of the Pakistani Armed Forces signed the Instrument of Surrender (1971) on December 16, 1971.[29][30] After the surrender, East Pakistan seceded as the independent state of Bangladesh. Around 97,368 West Pakistanis who were in East Pakistan at the time of its independence, including some 79,700 Pakistan Army soldiers and paramilitary personnel[31] and 12,500 civilians,[31] were taken as prisoners of war by India.

Western and Soviet involvement

The Blood Telegram

The Soviet Union sided with the Bangladeshis, and supported the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini during the war. The Soviets thought that the independence of Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals—the United States and China. The USSR gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, it would take counter-measures. This assurance was enshrined in the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty signed in August 1971.[32]

The United States supported Pakistan politically and with supplies. President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger feared Soviet expansion into South and Southeast Asia.[33] Pakistan was a close ally of the People's Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement. Nixon was planning to visit China in February 1972. Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of West Pakistan would give the Soviets control over the region. It would seriously undermine the global position of the United States and the regional position of America's new tacit ally, China. In order to demonstrate to China the bona fides of the United States as an ally, Nixon sent military supplies to Pakistan, routing them through Jordan and Iran,[34] while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan. The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the "genocidal" activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram. This prompted widespread criticism and condemnation both by Congress and in the international press.[35][36][37] The United States introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of armed forces by India and Pakistan. It was vetoed by the Soviet Union. In the following days Nixon and Kissinger tried to get India to withdraw, but they did not succeed.[38]

President Nixon requested Iran and Jordan to send their F-86, F-104 and F-5 fighter jets in aid of Pakistan.[39]

When Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, Nixon deployed a carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. The Enterprise and its escort ships arrived on station on 11 December 1971. According to a Russian documentary, the United Kingdom deployed a carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to the Bay.[40]

On 6 December and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers and a submarine armed with nuclear missiles from Vladivostok;[32] they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18 December 1971 until 7 January 1972. The Soviets also had a nuclear submarine to help ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise task force in the Indian Ocean.[41][42]


  1. Lyon, Peter (2008). Conflict between India and Pakistan: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-57607-712-2. India's decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war and emergence of independent Bangladesh dramatically transformed the power balance of South Asia
  2. Kemp, Geoffrey (2010). The East Moves West India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East. Brookings Institution Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-8157-0388-4. However, India's decisive victory over Pakistan in 1971 led the Shah to pursue closer relations with India
  3. Byman, Daniel (2005). Deadly connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism. Cambridge University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-521-83973-0. India's decisive victory in 1971 led to the signing of the Simla Agreement in 1972
  4. Nawaz, Shuja (2008). Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within. Oxford University Press. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-19-547697-2.
  5. Chitkara, M. G (1996). Benazir, a Profile – M. G. Chitkara. APH. ISBN 9788170247524. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  6. Schofield, Victoria (18 January 2003). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War – Victoria Schofield. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781860648984. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Dixit, J.N. (2 September 2003). India-Pakistan in War and Peace. Routledge. ISBN 1134407572. while the size of the Indian armed forces remained static at one million men and Pakistan's at around 350,000.
  8. Rashiduzzaman, M. (March 1972). "Leadership, Organization, Strategies and Tactics of the Bangla Desh Movement". Asian Survey. 12 (3): 191. doi:10.2307/2642872. JSTOR 2642872. The Pakistan Government, however, claimed [in June 1971] that the combined fighting strength of the 'secessionists' amounted to about 180,000 armed personnel.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Leonard, Thomas M. (2006). Encyclopedia of the Developing World. Taylor & Francis. p. 806. ISBN 978-0-415-97664-0.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "This Vijay Diwas, remember the sacrifices and do good by our disabled soldiers". Times of India. 16 December 2018. Archived from the original on 17 December 2018. About 3,843 Indian soldiers died in this war that resulted in the unilateral surrender of the Pakistan Army and led to the creation of Bangladesh. Among the soldiers who returned home triumphant were also 9,851 injured; many of them disabled.
  11. Vulnerable India: A Geographical Study of Disaster By Anu Kapur
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Air Warfare, edited by Chris Bishop (Amber publishing 1997, republished 2004 pages 384–387 ISBN 1-904687-26-1)
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  15. "Pakistan Air Force Combat Expirence". Global Security. 9 July 2011. Pakistan retaliated by causing extensive damage through a single B-57 attack on Indian naval base Okha. The bombs scored direct hits on fuel dumps, ammunition dump and the missile boats jetty.
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  20. "Pakistan Air Force – Official website". Archived from the original on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
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  28. World’s shortest war lasted for only 45 minutes, Pravda, 2007-03-10
  29. [1] Archived 2007-01-02 at the Wayback Machine,
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  33. "Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972". US State Department. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  34. Stephen R Shalom. "The Men Behind Yahya in the Indo-Pak War of 1971". Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  35. "The U.S.: A Policy in Shambles". Time Magazine, 20 December 1971. 20 December 1971. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
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