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India-Pakistan Wars

The 1971 War

Indo-Pakistani relations deteriorated when civil war erupted in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding greater autonomy. The fighting forced 10 million East Pakistani Bengalis to flee to India. When Pakistan attacked Indian airfields in Kashmir, India attacked both East and West Pakistan. It occupied the eastern half, which declared its independence as Bangladesh, on Dec. 6, 1971. Under great-power pressure, a UN cease-fire was arranged in mid-December, after Pakistan's defeat. Pakistan lost its eastern half, an army of 100,000 soldiers, and was thrown into political turmoil. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto emerged as leader of Pakistan, and Mujibur Rahman as prime minister of Bangladesh. Tensions were alleviated by the Shimla accord of 1972, and by Pakistan's recognition of Bangladesh in 1974, but tensions have periodically recurred.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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