Thought of separating East and West Pak started in 1965: INS officer Anil Chawla


By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Six years before 1971 India-Pakistan War, the thought to separate East and West Pakistan had commenced after Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) started training and arming rebels in the North-East.
According to Vice-Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command, on Saturday said, “The thinking started actively after the 1965 war and the principal reason was the interference of the ISI with insurgents in the North East, particularly arming and training of Naga rebels.”

Speaking at the IAF conclave to commemorate 50 years of the 1971 India-Pakistan War, the top Navy officer said the insurgents were in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and India took the leaf out of it when it started training “Mukti Bahini.”

Explaining the circumstances before the 1971 war, the officer said “The Congress party had split and Indira Gandhi had barely managed to hold on to become the Prime Minister. She was called ‘Goongi Gudia’ by the opposition faction (opposition parties) and she was not expected to last very long.”  

Realizing that she was not very powerful, Indira Gandhi called for elections in December 1970, ahead of schedule. Around the same time, Yahya Khan had taken over in Pakistan in 1969 and called for elections in 1970.   “So when you see the circumstances in both the countries, Yahya Khan was very firmly entrenched and Indira Gandhi was on a weak wicket at that stage.

But, it suddenly changed in December 1970 when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won 160 seats in East Pakistan and Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) won 81 seats in West Pakistan,” he said adding Indira Gandhi won a landslide victory and that strengthened her hands, and that is when she emerged as what she was then called “Durga” of India.

In the global scenario, the cold war was at its peak and Pakistan and the US were firmly entrenched. He said though preparations had started in 1965 onwards, it was in a very nascent stage and documents show that after January 30, 1971 hijacking of Indian Airlines aircraft to Lahore by Kashmiri separatists, India stopped Pakistan flights in its airspace preventing it from rearming.

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