Beginning in 1970 Pakistan faced its biggest internal crisis. The country?s first general election produced a split verdict-Zulfikar Alt Bhutto?s party emerged a winner in West Pakistan, while the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman swept through East Pakistan. The Bengali population of East Pakistan had voted to protest against years of being treated as a second class citizens by the rulers based in West Pakistan. The Pakistani rulers were not willing to accept the democratic verdict. Now they were ready to accept the Awami League?s demand for a federation. Instead, in early 1971 the Pakistani army arrested Sheikh Mujib and unleashed a reign of terror on the people of East Pakistan. In response to this, the people started a struggle to liberate ?Bangladesh? from Pakistan. Throughout 1971, India had to bear the burden of about 80 lakh refugees who fled East Pakistan and took shelter in the neighbouring areas in India. India extended moral and materiel support to the freedom struggly in Bangladesh. Pakistan accused India of a conspiracy to break it up. After months of diplomatic tension and military build-up, a full scale war between India and Pakistan broke out in December 1971. Pakistani aircrafts attacked Punjab and Rajasthan, while the army moved on the Jammu and Kashmir front, India retaliated with an attack involving the air force navy and army on both the western and the eastern front welcomed and supported by the local population. The Indian army made rapid progress in East Pakistan. Within ten days the Indian army had surrounded Dhaka from three sides and the Pakistani army of about 90,000 had surrender with Bangladesh as a free country. India declared a unilateral ceasefire. Later the signing of the Shimla Agreement between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 3 July 1972 formalised the return of peace.
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