Signing of Surrender Document on 16 December 1971 Surrender received by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora (General Officer Commanding (GOC), Eastern Command) from Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi. (Photo courtesy - indopakmilitaryhistory.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.
War on two fronts
One of the major reasons why India could take on Pakistan on two fronts – in Bangla Desh and on the Western Front, was because, there was no Chinese action to support Pakistan. China has been positioned as an all-weather friend of Pakistan? So, in the hour of need, China did not lift its little finger to help Pakistan against India?
The Bangla Desh Theatre of war (Graphic courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.
The 1971 Bangladesh War changed world perception of India – leading to Nixon’s famous outbursts. As the tapes show, the US President pushed, prodded and cajoled the Chinese to act against India – to no avail.
China’s puzzling inaction, similar to its inaction in 1965 also, declassified White House Tapes show, in the 1971 Bangladesh War, is rarely analysed in the current India-China narratives.
The answer for 1971 seems to be the dreaded Soviets.
The Chinese dreaded the Soviets. China’s aggressive posturing against Soviet Russia on the border island of Zhenbao-Damanskii had alienated the Russians. Soviet Russia backed off after China was made to pay a price. It was some US show of support to China, that made the Soviets stop from complete bull-dozing of China. This aspect of international politics is rarely analyzed or factored into analysis. But this does not explain 1965-Chinese neutral posturing.
This extract below from The Guardian gives a perspective on the USSR-China-USA relationship.
The Tribune announcing Niazi's appeal for surrender. Niazi's surrender with 1,00,000 soldiers, was the largest surrender received by any general in 20th century. (Picture courtesy - bangladesh-tour.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.
de facto alliance was personally decided by Nixon in August 1969 just as the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on China. Nixon had decided the Soviets were the more dangerous party and that it was against American interests for China to be “smashed” in a Chinese-Soviet war. “It was a revolutionary moment in US foreign policy,” Kissinger explains. “An American president declared we had a strategic interest in the survival of a major communist country.”
In October 1969, Mao Zedong was so convinced war was nigh, he ordered all Chinese leaders to disperse around the country, except for the indispensable Zhou Enlai. Kissinger says that it was only Moscow’s uncertainty about America’s response that led the Soviets to postpone the project. Soon after, Kissinger, as Nixon’s national security adviser, engaged in the secret negotiations that led to the American president’s meeting with Mao in 1972, an event that astonished America’s enemies and its friends. (via On China by Henry Kissinger – review | Books | The Guardian).