The story of Pakistan’s surrender after the India Pakistan war in 1971 is one of the most fascinating. It almost reads like a psychological thriller. In fact, a movie has been made on this who situation and how it transpired. As Lt General Niazi signed the surrender document in a racecourse, Pakistan suffered possibly the most humiliating defeat in modern history.
From a ceasefire to surrender and public signing of the document happened in four hours. Pakistani troops had indulged in unbelievable war crimes and rapes in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).
Please read Pakistani ‘Army’ is a Genocidal mob of War Criminals also.
Lieutenant General J F R Jacob discussed in an interview with Rediff on how the battle for Dhaka went. Lt Gen Jacob and his troops – 3000 in all – were outside Dhaka on December 13.
There was an attack planned from the north, with the movement of two brigades and a paradrop. At that time, an American fleet was moving into the Straits of Malacca.
Interestingly, Islamabad was sending messages to the Pakistanis saying “Fight on, you are getting help from yellow (China) from the north, and white (America) from the south.”
It was at this time that US had moved a resolution in the UN which had been vetoed by the USSR. It was India’s last lifeline. They clearly indicated that no more vetoes would happen.
The Chief of Indian Army, Sam Manekshaw then directed the troops to capture “all the towns in Bangladesh except Dacca.” This included a list of towns that the troops had bypassed while coming over to the border of Dhaka. This had happened due to a disagreement between Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora and Lieutenant General J F R Jacob. The former had wanted to capture those towns, whereas the latter opposed it.
That night of December 13, Lt Gen Jacob contacted Gen Niazi of Pakistan on the wireless and informed him that Dhaka was surrounded by strong Indian forces and a Mukti Bahini uprising was about to start. Now, the Pakistani troops will be treated with dignity if he was to surrender.
Next day, an intercept suggested that one of the Government House in Dhaka was going to be the venue of a meeting. The Air force zeroed-in on of them and bombed it. It was then that the Governor of East Pakistan resigned. And, Lt Gen Niazi and Major General Farman Ali went to meet Herbert Spivack, the US Counsel General. Their proposal included 4 options.
- Ceasefire under the United Nations
- Withdrawal under UN
- Handover of the government to the UN, and
- No war crimes trials and other stipulations
On December 15, the Americans shared it with the Pakistani foreign minister, ZA Bhutto, who refused to accept it. The resolution passed on December 15 evening NY time, was torn up by Bhutto in a fit of rage as he said that it did not “condemn India as an aggressor”.
It was then that on December 16, Army Chief Manekshaw called up Lt Gen Jacob to “Go and get a surrender”
Taking a staff officer, Gen Jacob set off to meet Gen Niazi for lunch, which was approved by the government of India. As Lt Gen Jacob’s chopper landed at the airfield, he was accompanied by a Pakistani Brigadier who accompanied him to Niazi.
On the way, both were stopped by Mukti Bahini who finally let them off when Gen Jacob said: “Look, your new government is coming in tomorrow, and Niazi wants to surrender, for God’s sake let us go!”
Without a weapon and support, with just 3000 troops backing him, while Niazi had 30,000 stationed in East Pakistan, went ahead and shared the draft surrender document.
This is an unconditional surrender, objected Niazi. That’s when Lt Gen Jacob laid it out for him.
“General,” I replied, “this is not unconditional, I have worked on this for some time. I had put in it that we would protect ethnic minorities, that we would ensure the safety of them and their families, that they would be treated with dignity as officers and men according to the Geneva Convention. So it is not unconditional. Where would you find all these conditions laid down?”
Conditions he refused. At this time, Gen Jacob explained to Niazi on what was he up against.
“Look general, you surrender, I will ensure your safety, the safety of your families, ethnic minorities, everyone. You will be treated with respect. If you don’t I am afraid I can take no responsibility for what happens to you or your families. What is more, we will have no other option but to order the immediate resumption of hostilities. I give you 30 minutes.”
In those 30 minutes, Gen Jacob asked him thrice if he accepted the paper? And, when no answer was forthcoming from Niazi, Gen Jacob declared “I take it that it is accepted”
With tears in his eyes and glares from other Pakistani generals and admirals, Niazi accepted that he will sign.
He didn’t know of another condition of Lt Gen Jacob on surrender. That it had to be done at the Racecourse in front of the people of Dhaka. And, NOT his office, as he wanted. Not just that, he also had to provide a guard of honor.
There was no precedent for this event. Nothing in modern history compared to such a humiliation ever. A ceasefire had been converted into a public surrender and signed within 4 hours.
With 30,000 troops, the Pakistanis could have fought for some more weeks and hoped for a UN intervention, since it was in session at that time.
The man who made all of this happen – Lt Gen Jacob, hitched a ride to the racecourse, the location of surrender in a truck, while everyone left in the car.
Then Aurora and his entourage, including his wife, landed. I was supposed to travel with Niazi and Aurora, but I was told to make way for Mrs Aurora. She was more important. Since everyone else had gone, and this was the last car, I hitched a ride in a truck.
Niazi was whisked away after the surrender as the crowd was ready to lynch him to death! Watch the movie Mukti to see how it happened.
Thus happened Pakistan’s surrender post the India Pakistan war in1971.