On this day 47 years ago, Pakistan lost half its country, its forces in the East, and had to publicly surrender to India. It was also the largest military surrender after World War II.
The war started when Pakistan launched air strikes on 11 Indian airbases. It was perhaps the first time in which India's all three forces fought in unison.
India quickly responded to Pakistan Army's movements in the west and captured around 15,010 kilometres of Pakistan territory.
The war ended after the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the joint forces of Indian Army and Bangladesh's Mukti Bahini.
General A A K Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan also lost half of its territory with the birth of Bangladesh.
The war lasted for just 13 days, and is one of the shortest wars in history.
The military confrontation between India and Pakistan occurred from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971.
Over 3,800 soldiers of India and Pakistan lost their lives in this war to end the genocide Pakistan had been conducting against the Bengali population of East Pakistan.
The conflict was a result of the Bangladesh Liberation war, when Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) was fighting to seek freedom from (West) Pakistan. In 1971, Pakistani Army began to commit the barbaric genocide on innocent Bengali population, particularly the minority Hindu population in East Pakistan.
As Pakistan’s atrocities increased, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi decided to take action against Pakistan at the same time give refuge to civilians from other side of the border.
She ordered Army Chief General Sam Manekshaw to launch offensive against Pakistan following which India launched a full-scale war against its neighbour.
It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh. Rape, torture, killings and conflicts followed due to which eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.
Indira Gandhi was reluctant to launch a full-scale war against Pakistan as the country was already facing the burden due to the continous flow of refugees from East Pakistan and entering a war meant inviting more burden.
She also appealed to world leaders to intervene and pressurise Pakistan to stop its brutalities but India did not have much time and a quick response became necessary.
On December 6, she announced in Parliament that India had accorded recognition to the Bangladesh Government.
On August 2, 1972, India and Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement under which the former agreed to release all the 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war.