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1971: Pakistan intensifies air raids on India

VIDEO : Fighting on the India Pakistan border

Border battles between India and Pakistan have erupted into full-scale war.

Jets from West Pakistan have attacked at least four Indian airports, with reports eight airfields have been struck.

The West Pakistan Government said it was in retaliation for a major ground offensive against the area by the Indian army.

This has been denied by New Delhi.

Initial reports of the Pakistani air attacks were unclear but both capitals confirmed the Indian airports of Amritsar, Pathankot, Avantipur and Sringar were hit.

The Indian Government has declared a state of emergency.


"We must be prepared for a long period of hardship and sacrifice"

India PM Indira Gandhi

In a broadcast to the nation, India's Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, said the Pakistani war against Bangladesh has become one against their homeland.

Mrs Gandhi said the town of Agra, 120 miles south of New Delhi, and the site of the Taj Mahal, had been hit.

"We must be prepared for a long period of hardship and sacrifice," she said.

In West Pakistan, President Yahya Khan, called up "essential persons and ex-servicemen who have no reserve liability".

The current eruption of military strikes comes in a conflict which dates back to March after President Khan's attack on the independence movement in East Pakistan.

President Khan believed the Indian Government supports East Pakistani rebels with training and arms.

The United Nations is understood to be discussing the possibility of invoking Security Council intervention in the conflict.

In Context
Since Britain dismantled its Indian empire and partitioned the sub-continent in 1947, tensions have existed between India and Pakistan.

Indo-Pakistani relations deteriorated in the early 1970s when civil war erupted in Pakistan, pitting the West against the East, who were demanding autonomy and later independence.

The fighting forced an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India.

In 1971 Pakistan's army surrendered at Dhaka.

East Pakistan became the independent country of Bangladesh on 6 December 1971.

Regional tensions were reduced by the Simla accord of 1972 and by Pakistan's recognition of Bangladesh in 1974.


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