Monday, September 5, 2016

Performance of Pakistan Armed Forces in 1971 War

Talking with Karan Thapar on BBC's Face-to-Face about the 1971 India-Pakistan war, India's Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw said as follows:

"About the 5th day of the (1971) conflict in (East Pakistan)...everything had gone wrong (for India); the (Indian) Navy had lost the Khukri; Our (India) Air Force has lost a lot of aircraft on the ground; my (Indian Army's) advances in Bangladesh were halted......The Pakistan Army in East Pakistan fought very gallantly but they had no chance; they were a thousand miles away from their base; I had 8 or 9 months of preparation; I had almost 50:1 advantage; they had no chance but they fought very gallantly."

Clearly, Indian Army Chief Sam Manekshaw was the victor of the 1971 war  but he also was honest in acknowledging the fact that he had all the advantages over his enemy fact, he said he had "almost 50:1 advantage".

In addition to praising Pakistan Army's gallantry, the Field Marshal also mentioned the losses suffered by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. Let's look at what he was talking about.

Sinking of Indian Navy Frigate INS Khukri:

Pakistan Navy submarine PNS Hangor sunk Indian warship INS Khukri off the coast of Diu, Gujarat on December 9, 1971, the first such sinking of a warship since WW2 by a submarine.  194 Indian Navy sailors died in the sinking that has been described in detail by the Indian Defense Review in 2014.

INS Kirpan,  another Indian warship which was close by when the attack took place fled the scene rather than attempt to rescue the sailors on board Khukri. Had Kirpan mounted rescue, at least some of the lives of the194 people (18 officers and 176 sailors) who perished in the sinking of INS Khukri could have been saved.

A book by retired Major General Ian Cardozo of the Indian Army on the sinking of Khukri has recorded the dismay of some of survivors at the cowardice INS Kirpan's captain and staff.

 “We were hoping that Kirpan, our sister ship would come to rescue us but we saw her sailing away from the area”, Commander Manu Sharma, a survivor of Khukri, has been quoted by Cardozo.

 “An early rescue was what everyone hoped for. We thought that at least INS Kirpan would send boat for our rescue, but no rescue boat came from INS Kirpan” Lt Commander SK Basu, who was aboard Khukri and survived the Pakistani attack, told Cardozo.

Prior to the Khukri sinking, Indian Navy had launched missile attacks on Karachi port and destroyed an oil terminal causing a huge oil fire that lit up the night sky.

After the sinking of Khukri, the Indian Navy ceased its attacks on Karachi and moved the focus of its operations to East Pakistan ports like Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.   To date, INS Khukri is the only ship lost in combat in the history of the Indian Navy.

Indian Air Force Losses:

Pakistan Air Force struck Indian air bases and destroyed scores of Indian Air Force fighter aircraft sitting on the ground as acknowledged by Field Marshall Manekshaw in his interview with Karan Thapar.

Legendary USAF pilot General Chuck Yeager observed the performance of the Pakistan Air Force in 1971 war.  Here's what he wrote in his autobiography "The Right Stuff":

 "This air force (the PAF), is second to none...The (1971) air war lasted two weeks and the Pakistanis scored a three-to-one kill ratio, knocking out 102 Russian-made Indian jets and losing thirty-four airplanes of their own. I'm certain about the figures because I went out several times a day in a chopper and counted the wrecks below...They were really good, aggressive dogfighters and proficient in gunnery and air combat tactics. I was damned impressed. Those guys just lived and breathed flying. "

Ground War on the Western Front:

There is a myth that Pakistan lost the 1971 war not just in the East but also on the western front. India did take territory in farflung, desolate and uninhabited areas of negligible importance but lost more of the fertile land in strategic areas.

Here's an except from Indian Defense Review on 1971 ground war on western front:

"The major Indian gains claimed in terms of area were about 3,200 square kilometres in the Ladakh region under Lt Gen Sartaj Singh and 1,200 square kilometres. under Lt Gen G G Bewoor in the Rajasthan Desert. In both regions these gains lay in farflung, desolate, uninhabited and difficult areas of negligible economic, strategic and political value which could hurt the rulers of Pakistan only in their prestige. On the other hand, Sartaj Singh lost the area of Chhamb, where the aftermath of the refugee problem still haunts the Jammu and Kashmir administration. The loss of the Kasowala bulge, the Hussainiwala enclave and the Fazilka agricultural belt in Punjab could not be equated with marginal gains in the Sehjra bulge and the Mamdot enclave in economic, military or political terms. The Indian occupation of the major portion of the Shakargarh bulge was somewhat embarrassing to the Bhutto government.....Rawlley lost more than he gained in Punjab. The loss of Hussainiwala, the Fazilka cotton track and Chhina Bidhi Chand were inexcusable. The battle in this sector was a peripheral loss and gain of border outposts and nothing more."


Pakistan Army fought gallantly against an Indian Army which had an "almost 50:1 advantage" in East Pakistan as acknowledged by Indian Army Chief Sam Maneckshaw who led the Indian military to victory over Pakistan in 1971.

At the same time, Pakistani Army, Navy and Air Force scored major successes against India on the western front. Pakistanis not only captured territory of greater economic and strategic value from India but also inflicted disproportionately heavy damage to Indian Air Force and Navy in 1971.

Here's a video clip of Sam Maneckshaw speaking with Karan Thapar on 1971 war:

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on Pakistan Army's gallantry in 1971 War from cherie22579 on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's War Hero Manekshaw Passes On

India's Pakistan Obsession

Is this a 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History?

What if Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Ex Indian Spy Documents India's Covert Wars Against Pakistan

Pakistan Army at the Gates of Delhi


Mahesh said...

All soldiers are trained to fight valiantly. The superiors and the decision makers above them are the ones who are responsible.
Ultimately, just as in any sport, it only matters who comes out victorious in war.

Sammy said...

Agreed. There are stories of valor on both sides but the question is, what has Pakistan Superiors or High Command achieved in the last 60 odd years?
Kashmir banega Pakistan is still an impossible pipe dream despite lives sacrificed in 1965 and then again in the blunder of Kargil

Any over dominant military without civilian checks and balances will succumb to the hubris of catastrophic blunders

Riaz Haq said...

Sammy: "Kashmir banega Pakistan is still an impossible pipe dream despite lives sacrificed in 1965 and then again in the blunder of Kargil"

Kashmir is very much alive as an issue today in spite of India's best efforts to make it go away.

Pakistan has played a crucial role in keeping it alive.

A new generation of Kashmiris has now renewed the struggle against the brutal occupation of their home by 700,000 Indian troops.

In fact, nukes have made the Kashmir more relevant than ever.

It's recognized by the world as a nuclear flashpoint that must be resolved for world peace.

Unknown said...

A certain man named Tareq Fateh is often on Indian TV channels spewing hatred against Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular. His most common anti Pakistan rant which he uses to please his mostly Hindu extremest audience from whom he pockets millions no doubt is how Pakistan was badly beaten up by India in the 65 war. He fails to mention the fact that there was a huge size difference between the Indian and Pakistani army in the 65 war and that the Indian army failed badly in its main objective to capture Lahore... One day you should enlighten him Mr. Haq... Debate him

Riaz Haq said...

Unk: " One day you should enlighten him Mr. Haq... Debate him"

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims

Please read and watch:

Anonymous said...

Tariq Fateh is looking for his 15 minutes of glory. No need to pay any attention to him. I enjoy hearing opposing views but was quite disappointed when he started making fun of physical features of Zakir Naik? What has a man's appearance got to do with what he is saying?

Also, Tariq Fateh lacks any original thought. All his views are borrowed from others.

G. Ali

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Excellent article as usual but the timing is a bit off. It is an odd time to write about the 1971 war, that shud be done in December. Sep is the time to write about 1965 when the Pakkki army scored a victory of Ghaznavid proportions over the Hindoos.


dantes said...

Haq : "Kashmir is very much alive as an issue today in spite of India's best efforts to make it go away.

Pakistan has played a crucial role in keeping it alive. "

That's true its Alive , keep it that way !! I believe you are 60 years old atleast . So given the shape you are in and life expectancy in US you may have 20 more years to live at best.

So do you foresee any change in the status quo over Kashmir in next 20 years ?
If no ? Then I must say a lifetime went in chasing the improbable
Be realistic in your introspection and then answer .

Riaz Haq said...

dantes: "So do you foresee any change in the status quo over Kashmir in next 20 years ? "

Did any one "foresee any change in status quo over" Soviet Union in 1980s?

Do you know that India is using Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law in Kashmir that the Brits used in 1942 to try to crush "Quit India" movement launched by Gandhi? Did the Brits succeed?

dantes said...

Haq : Did any one "foresee any change in status quo over" Soviet Union in 1980s?

"Quit India" movement launched by Gandhi? Did the Brits succeed?

Unfortunately India is not Soviet on 80's and neither it has a opponent as strong as America of 80's. Neither its opponent has as much disposable income as America of 80's.
And I clearly don't see another Gandhi being born among the stone-pelters of kashmir , because there is a certain level of education needed to become Gandhi and understand his ways.Gandhi's struggle wasn't religion based unlike the stone pelters.
Did you know that Gandhi prayer meetings opened my reciting verses from Quoran followed by Geeta shlokas and prayers.

But Yeah A world-war may tilt the balance much like Britain of 1942 ... But seriously a world-war ?? .. that will be more like freedom of earth from human race .

Anyway it will be interesting to see how it unfolds, I would love to have tracking of it on yearly basis , let say 10 sep every year ? Are you game ?

Riaz Haq said...

dantes: "Anyway it will be interesting to see how it unfolds, I would love to have tracking of it on yearly basis , let say 10 sep every year ? Are you game ? "

No one knows how irrational Indian leadership can be in attempting to hold on a region with totally hostile population by deploying 700,000 troops under Armed Forces Special Powers Act indefinitely.

But any rational person can see it as a losing proposition.

You can not call yourself a democracy while denying fundamental rights to tens of millions of the people you claim as your citizens.

On practical level, long term deployments of troops cause low morale, suicidal tendencies and poor discipline that India is already seeing among its 700,000 troops deployed in Kashmir.

At the same time, a new generation of tech-savvy Kashmiris is stepping up their struggle for "azadi".

All of this leads to only one conclusion: India can only barely hold on Kashmir to high and rising cost to itself.
The only question is how irrational can they be and how long they'll do it.

dantes said...

I work with a few Tech-savy Kashmiris myself , in particular muslims from the valley.
And my observation is, more learned they are, less is their aggression towards India.
Ofcourse, they resent the situation of the valley but aren't prepared to wage jihad against India.
You see there more distractions in the world now then time Gandhi was around.Being tech-savy only distracts you more ;)

Anyway I could be wrong since my sample size is too small for making a extrapolation.

And May be all that you say is correct. But then again its still a "MAY BE".
Being an Engineer you would know there are variables to an equation , which in this case can only be assigned a value with time.

So lets play the time ... I will take that as a YES see you on 10 sep 2017 . Stay put!!

Anonymous said...


Did any one "foresee any change in status quo over" Soviet Union in 1980s?

Do you know that India is using Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law in Kashmir that the Brits used in 1942 to try to crush "Quit India" movement launched by Gandhi? Did the Brits succeed?


You know total population of Kashmir Valley is 7 million. How much trouble will it take for Indian Army to liquidate all of them 7 million? The winters are approaching and will cut Pakistan off from Indian Administered Kashmir. What will stop indian army to just get rid of these 7 million? I think Kashmir is simply too small to effect a proper resistance to Indian control.

Riaz Haq said...

US State Dept Archive 1969-1972:

"Nixon: But these Indians are cowards. Right?

Kissinger: Right. But with Russian backing. You see, the Russians have sent notes to Iran, Turkey, to a lot of countries threatening them. The Russians have played a miserable game."


"Nixon: And what do we do? Here they are raping and murdering, and they talk about West Pakistan, these Indians are pretty vicious in there, aren’t they?
Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: Aren’t they killing a lot of these people?

Kissinger: Well, we don’t know the facts yet. But I’m sure [unclear] that they’re not as stupid as the West Pakistanis—they don’t let the press in. The idiot Paks have the press all over their place.

Nixon: Well, the Indians did, oh yes. They brought them in, had pictures of spare tanks and all the rest. Brilliant. Brilliant public relations.

Kissinger: Yeah, but they don’t let them in where the civilians are.

Nixon: Oh, I know. But they let them in to take the good shots. The poor, damn Paks don’t let them in at all.

Kissinger: Or into the wrong places.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: The Paks just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.

Nixon: Well, they don’t lie. The Indians lie. Incidentally, did Irwin carry out my order to call in the Indian Ambassador?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Riaz Haq said...

93,000 #Pakistani soldiers did not surrender in 1971 because….? #Bangladesh #Pakistan #India … via @GVS_News

Undisputed fact is that Pakistan had only one corps comprising three divisions in East Pakistan during 1971. In fact when operation search light began on 25th March, 1971, the total number of Pakistani troops on ground were around 27,000. More troops were sent from west Pakistan but they had to arrive through a long circuitous route since India had blocked air route over India taking advantage of the famous “Ganga Hijacking Case” (believed to be a false flag planned by RAW for this purpose)

The three divisions, of Pakistan army, by end November 1971, comprised a total force of 45,000, on books, including combatant and non-combatant troops. Out of these, there were 34,000 combatant troops and the remaining 11,000 were non-combatants, supporting men and CAF personnel. But between six to seven thousand Pakistani soldiers died in the war also.

It was also helpful in putting meat to the story of three million killed, hundreds and thousands of rapes and genocide. An army of less than 40,000, spread over a large theatre of conflict under attack from guerrillas supported by Indian army was hardly in a situation of doing what it was accused of.

This one corp was pitched against three corps of Indian Army from the West and North West and another two corps from the North East and East, a total of five Indian Corps plus 175,000 Indian backed and trained Mukti Bahini and many thousands of Awami League miscreants. When the total number of Pakistan army troops ranged between 34,000 to 45,000 how could 93,000 soldiers surrender?

From time to time various officers and commentators have attempted clarifying the myth but the power of first narrative is such that still the figure of 93,000 POW’s sticks in popular imagination.

All the aforementioned references point toward one fact that the number of total army personnel who surrendered were far less than 93,000. Whereas my research shows that they were only around 34,000 but in any case they could not have been more than 40,000. The number of 93,000 soldiers that is talked about has been conflated with civilians. West Pakistani civilians who were present in large numbers in former East-Pakistan were taken over into custody by Indian army to protect them from revengeful Bengali crowds and Mukit Bahni.

The figure of 93,000 also included children, women, civil administration officials and staff, non-combatant troops such as nurses, doctors, cooks, barbers, shoemakers, carpenters and others. The higher number talked about was a deliberate attempt to defame and demoralize Pakistani army, to demonstrate to the world extent of Indian victory. It was also helpful in putting meat to the story of three million killed, hundreds and thousands of rapes and genocide. An army of less than 40,000, spread over a large theatre of conflict under attack from guerrillas supported by Indian army was hardly in a situation of doing what it was accused of.

The total figure, a mix of soldiers and civilians was deliberately floated by Indians, and later by Bangladeshis to support their case for victimization. In Pakistan, a clever Bhutto used this for various reasons of his own politics. No one ever wanted to clarify. In reality, the actual number of Pakistani troops who surrendered on 16th December 1971 was only around 34,000.

Riaz Haq said...

Chinese Warships Visit Pakistan
Three Chinese warships arrived in the port city of Karachi on June 10 for a four-day goodwill and training visit.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has dispatched three surface warships on a four-day goodwill and training visit to the Pakistani port of Karachi, Chinese state-owned media reported on June 11.

The ships arrived in the port city on June 10 and were welcomed by Chief of Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah. The small PLAN fleet is commanded by Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the deputy commander of the PLAN’s East Sea Fleet.

The Pakistan Navy and PLAN will conduct a so-called passage exercise to enhance interoperability between the two navies, according to Pakistani military officials. The PLAN fleet consists of three ships, the Type 052C Luyang II –class guided missile destroyer Changchun, the Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided missile frigate Jingzhou, and the Type 903 Quiandaohu-class replenishment ship Chaohu.

The Luyang II-class, equipped with a four array AESA multi-function phased array radar system and armed with up to 48 vertically launched HQ-9 naval air defense missiles, was the first PLAN class of warships capable of long-range fleet air defense. The class is succeeded by the Type 052D Luyang III-class–dubbed the “Chinese Aegis.” As I explained elsewhere (See: “China Launches Yet Another ‘Carrier Killer’ Destroyer”):

A Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer is equipped with 64 vertical launch cells, each capable of carrying one to four missiles. The ship carries one of the PLAN’s deadliest anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM), the vertically-launched YJ-18 ASCM. Next to its YJ-18 arsenal, Type 052D guided-missile destroyers are also equipped with modern HQ-9 surface-to-air-missiles.

The Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided missile frigate Jingzhou is the 21st ship of the class currently in service with the PLAN and was commissioned in January 2016. Type 054A Jiangkai II-class frigates are multirole warships and have been deployed overseas on multiple occasions including anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Around 25 Type 054A Jiangkai II-class frigates are currently in service with the PLAN. At least five more ships of the class are currently under construction. In December 2016, I elaborated on the Type 054A class’ capabilities:

The stealth frigate is armed with HQ-16 medium range air defense missiles and boosts a 32-cell vertical launching system (VLS) in the forward section, capable of firing anti-ship and air defense missiles as well as anti-submarine torpedoes. It also features a Russian-made AK-630 fully automatic naval close in weapon system and a Chinese variant of the AK-176 76 millimeter naval gun.

Some frigates of the class are also known to have been equipped with variable depth sonar and towed array sonar systems. In addition, the ship is equipped with a Type 382 phased-array radar system and Type 344 and Type 345 multifunctional fire control radar systems, capable of over the horizon targeting.

Type 054A frigates also feature a hangar capable of accommodation Kamov K-27 and Harbin Z-9 helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). (…) The ship has a standard range of about 3,800 nautical miles—7,037 kilometers–at a speed of 18 knots, and a maximum un-refueled radius is 12,000 kilometers or 8,000 miles.

The small PLAN fleet departed Shanghai in April. The three ships are expected to visit 20 countries around the world in the coming months. “This voyage is an innovative way to promote harmonious ideals, peace and friendship,” said Admiral Miao Hua, political commissar of the PLAN, in April, according to China Daily. “It is also a good platform to deepen military-military dialogue and cooperation, and showcase our Navy’s positive image.”