Liberation war, emergence of Bangladesh, and Indo-Pak war context

16 December 2022
 Liberation war, emergence of Bangladesh, and Indo-Pak war context

Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
After long 9 months of genocides, rapes, loots, arson, plunder of occupational Pakistani force, our closest neighbor India declared war against Pakistan. India started massive air attack on 3rd December. Basically communication was disrupted and Pakistani military operation was about to be in a position of standstill. they were being demoralized. As defeat loomed large, the Pakistani military high command and President Yahya Khan were confused about what to do. On December 14, 1971, Pakistani forces with the help of their Bangladeshi collaborators killed more than 200 intellectuals in East Pakistan, as the territory was then known. On December 16, Pakistani forces surrendered at Dhaka's Ramna Racecourse. While many know what had happened in those two days, they are barely aware of what had happened on December 15.
It is particularly significant because that was the decisive day on which Pakistani forces had to make a decision about surrendering to the joint forces of the Indian Army and Bangladesh's liberation force. Late in December 1971, within a week of replacing General Yahya Khan as Pakistan's president, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formed a commission to identify the reasons behind Pakistan's defeat in the war. It was headed by the chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, Hamood-ur-Rahman. As per the Hammodur Rahman Commission report, on December 15, the Pakistani military high command as well as the President Yahya Khan were very confused about what to do. By December 15, the fate of the war was pretty much decided and it was evident that the Pakistani force had no option but to surrender to the Indian force backed by the Bangladeshi Muktijoddhas. The commission said that there was no actual order to surrender. In view of the desperate picture painted by the Commander Eastern Command General AK Niazi, the higher authorities gave him permission to surrender if he, in his judgment, thought it necessary. On December 15, the Chief of Army of Pakistan General AH Khan sent a message to Niazi for taking any free decision of his own accord.
Detailed accounts of witnesses given to the commission indicate that Niazi had suffered a complete moral collapse during the closing phases of the war and was waiting for a clear guidance from Pakistan's president and the army chief on December 15, which he failed to get. But by December 15, Niazi's senior staff officers and East Pakistan Governor Abdul Motaleb Malik's chief advisers had lost the will to fight. Earlier, on December 12, an urgent message had gone from Niazi to Pakistani President Yahya Khan urging him to save innocent lives. There was no reply from him till December 14. That day, a high-level meeting was scheduled at the Government House in Dhaka, at which Governor Malik was to preside. radio intercept alerted the Indian authorities and while the meeting was underway, the Government House was raided by Indian aircraft. The roof of its main hall collapsed. Malik rushed to the air-raid shelter and wrote out his resignation. Soon after, the Governor, his cabinet and senior civil servants, including West Pakistanis, moved to the neutral zone that had been created by the International Red Cross at the Hotel Intercontinental.
Manekshaw was himself keen to end the hostilities. He had been making repeated calls in broadcasts to Pakistani forces in East Pakistan to surrender. Leaflets in Urdu, Pushtu and Bengali were also dropped. His reply to Niazi was, however, quite firm. It stated that cease-fire would be acceptable provided the Pakistani Armed Forces in Bangladesh surrendered to the advancing Indian troops by 0900 hours on December 16. He also gave the radio frequencies on which the Pakistani command could contact General Jagjit Singh Aurora's headquarters to co-ordinate the surrender. As a token of good faith, he made it known that all action over Dhaka would cease from 1700 hours on December 15. At Niazi's request, the deadline for the surrender was later extended to 1500 hours on December 16. His headquarters sent out a signal around midnight to lower formations to contact their Indian counterparts and arrange the cease-fire on December 15. On the battlefront.  Meanwhile, considering Niazi's ceasefire proposal, the allied force declared to stop air attacks on Dhaka from 5 am. Besides, the allied force also told the Pakistan army that no truce would take place before the military surrendered.
The surrender ceremony took place at the Ramna Race Course in Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), on 16 December 1971: A. A. K. Niazi of the Pakistan Army formally surrendered to Jagjit Singh Aurora, an Indian Army officer and joint commander of the Bangladesh Forces. A. K. Khandker, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangladesh Forces, represented the Provisional Government of Bangladesh at the ceremony. India took approximately 93,000 prisoners of war, including Pakistani soldiers and their East Pakistani civilian supporters. 79,676 prisoners were uniformed personnel, of which 55,692 were Army, 16,354 Paramilitary, 5,296 Police, 1,000 Navy and 800 PAF. The remaining prisoners were civilians - either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars). The Hamoodur Rahman Commission report instituted by Pakistan lists the Pakistani POWs as follows: Apart from soldiers, it was estimated that 15,000 Bengali civilians were also made prisoners of war. The Pakistani Instrument of Surrender was a written agreement between India, Pakistan, and the Provisional Government of Bangladesh that enabled the capitulation of 93,000 West Pakistani troops of the Armed Forces Eastern Command on 16 December 1971, thereby ending the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 with the formal establishment of the People's Republic of Bangladesh in erstwhile East Pakistan. It was the largest surrender in terms of number of personnel since the end of World War II.
However, 1971 surrender of Pakistan Army in Bangladesh was eventful. As a military custom each Pakistan army division, Air, Navy, para military forces surrendered separately after General Niazi. Outside Dhaka before and after 16 December, in order to save life many Pakistani units (division to company) surrendered to the advancing local joint command at public ceremonies by laying down their weapons/ badges of rank and by signing the instruments of surrender. For communication problem surrender of some units were delayed. A few units ignored the surrender of General Niazi. Some Bihari (paramilitary) gangs and other elements were active in pockets of Dhaka (Mirpur), North Bengal and Chittagong Hill Tracts until February 1972 and after 'negotiation' surrendered their arms. These public surrender sites will serve as the graveyards of Pakistan Army's unsuccessful ambition to permanently colonies Bangladesh through a genocide.
The unconditional surrender of Pak Army to allied force took place on 16 December 1971 evening, at Race Course. Through this process of surrender activities, the Liberation war started on 26 March 1971 came to a successful end. from the study of liberation struggle of different races and Nation in the world, it is observed that only the liberation war of Bangladesh could achieve its final goal within the shortest and very minimum time period. Among all the reasons, support of Indian force is remarkably mentioned. The declaration of War was identified as a direct support for our Liberation force. In the first week of December 1971, the Pak Air Force was lost by the attack of Indian Air Force. The Pak Army was demoralized fully. But still then it was beyond the idea of India's win. Basically their defence was punctured for disruption of Administration, economy and communication. So, it was found no possibility of the survival of the Pak army. At last the historic surrender took place on 16 December 1971. This episode was termed as a black chapter of the Pakistani army without hesitation or raising any question. This defeat has been narrated as a wonder to the world people. Actually Pakistan was the plot maker of this black chapter, for which for which they were supposed to bear the sufferings of their misdeeds. The overview of the world people is that history never pardons the Pakistanis.

Former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar & VDP
Writer, columnist and researcher   

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