It's now a week since Indo-Pakistan border fighting exploded into all-out war. At first, confusion?
It's now a week since Indo-Pakistan border fighting exploded into all-out war. At first, confusion reigned. There wasn't even a clear-cut declaration of war. But as the week progressed, certain patterns of conflict began to emerge. For as long as the conflict continues on its present scale, Visnews will be issuing a weekly round-up of the fighting and its international repercussions.
The first fact to emerge was the scale of the conflict. Unlike the hostilities of 1947 and 1965, with their relatively restricted theatres of war, fighting at once flared along the whole length of India's borders with both East and West Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi, declaring a state of emergency on Saturday, spoke of Pakistani air raids deep into Indian territory. Pakistan said it was retaliating to earlier Indian infantry attacks. Both air forces were at once locked in a battle for aerial supremacy.
Below them, Indian troops started their push deep into East Pakistan territory, capturing Jessore, Sylhet and Comilla on their drive to Dacca. Pakistan denied these reverses, while claiming successes on the western front. India admitted losing some territory.
Meantime, an ideological conflict made the international community impotent to intervene in the fighting. There was deadlock in the United Nations Security Council as Soviet delegates, supporting India, vetoed American peace moves and clashed with Pakistan's major ally, the Chinese People's Republic. Indo-American relations plummetted when Washington blamed the conflict primarily on Indian aggression. Though the U.N. General Assembly finally got through a resolution calling on the two sides to cease fighting, the international community has not yet been able to airlift foreigners threatened by the fighting away from East Pakistan.
SYNOPSIS: Just one week ago, the long-smouldering fuse of Indo-Pakistan border fighting exploded into total war. The two countries were locked in conflict for the third time in twenty-five years, and the world had a new major trouble spot to worry over. No -one actually declared war -- they seldom do on this continent -- and the overall picture was at first confused. The war of words from rival propaganda machines only added to the confusion; but as the week progressed, details of campaigns and indications of strategy started to emerge.
Hostilities actually started about the time Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was addressing a Calcutta rally. Immediately afterwards, she announced a state of emergency.
Indian aircraft took off to retaliate against what Mrs. Gandhi described as large-scale Pakistani air-raids deep into Indian territory. Pakistan, however, claimed the fighting started as a result of Indian infantry attacks.
Ali Bhutto summed up the West Pakistan official attitude:
On Tuesday, President Yahya Khan asked Mr. Bhutto to form a coalition civilian government with a right-wing party leader. Mr. Bhutto was one of the two non-Awami League candidates elected in East Pakistan last spring.
In East Pakistan, itself, the guerrilla supporters of the imprisoned Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman now had the might of the Indian Army behind them. Darsana was one of the first towns to fall. That was on Sunday. Since then, India claims occupation of Jessore, Comilla and Sylhet, apparently encountering little opposition as the Pakistan army fell back on the capital, Dacca. On the western front, however, Pakistan claimed considerable success in Kashmir and India admitted losing some territory.
As Pope Paul joined numerous governments in appealing for a truce, the United Nations security council was called into session. The result was deadlock. The Chinese People's Republic, supporting Pakistan, clashed with the Soviet Union, upholding its treaty with India. The Russians vetoed an American ceasefire plan; and the Americans outraged Delhi by putting the major blame for the conflict on India.
It was Tuesday before the General Assembly, at an emergency session, finally hammered out an appeal for an end to the fighting. By then, the Indian army was driving on Dacca in an apparent effort to establish a Bangla Desh government as quickly as possible. In the meantime, a new flood of refugees joined the ten-million already displaced earlier this year. And a new army of casualties joined the estimated million who died in the East Pakistan civil war and its aftermath.