Binoo Joshi
JK News Today special

On December 16, 1971, Bangladesh was liberated. Pakistani army ‘s 93,000 soldiers had surrendered before the Indian army in Dhaka , now the capital of Bangladesh . That is all what is known and recorded in the history, but what perhaps is not adequately reflected and recorded in the text books is Pakistan ‘s military ruler Gen. Yahya Khan reflections on the defeat of his country and its geo-strategic impact on Jammu and Kashmir when the die-hard Pakistani segments acknowledged on the airwaves the might of India and said “ Hindustan zindabad”.

In his address to the nation on Radio Pakistan , Yahya Khan started with “ Mere Ham watano ( My countrymen) . His voice was slurring , as he continued “ Jang abhi kahatam nahin hui hai, Jang abhi jari hai” ( The war is not over as yet, it It continuing) .

Then he went on to say that the new war will be fought in the fields , industries and so on It was in chaste Urdu , but young minds were wondering , how could he not say that the war is over and Pakistan army has not surrendered . But there were many who understood that how he was trying to distract real defat and change the narrative . He said, in between the speech “ Pakistan ek rahega” ( Pakistan will stay as one). Even the kids started mocking and reminding Pakistan, “ well, you have lost East Pakistan, of, course, you are left with one part of Pakistan only.”
On December 3, 1971 , windows had rattled in the border areas under the intense impact of the shelling , and the first signs of war had appeared when Pakistani war aircraft had intruded into the Indian space and then went back. By December 16, much had changed not only in East Pakistan , but also in its western part. Indian army had advanced and closed in on to Lahore . It was just a matter of few more hours.

This was a momentous victory for India . The kind of love the people showed for the army was overwhelming . Resources were being pooled, stalls were set up, steaming hot tea in steel glasses was offered to jawans whose vehicles were heading toward borders. Every child would salute the soldiers . Each story of the Indian army advancing inside Pakistan, was relayed by children to their parents, grandparents, neighbours as if this was a lesson that they had to retell their parents as good students.

This was a display of an inseparable bond between the army and the masses. I watched it all as a kid in Kathua, a town close to border in Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir . Dog fights in skies where Gnat planes of India would chase and down much bigger Pakistani fighter planes , and the sparkle of the anti-aircraft guns in the evenings were the moments which are still treasured in memories .
That was a war that helped India rediscover itself as a confident power . Not only Pakistan was defeated , but also the American power that had backed Pakistan . Its seventh fleet failed to help Pakistan. Spirit triumphs over technology . Indian army showed it in December 1971.