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The Bangladesh Liberation War (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ Muktijuddho), also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh, was a military conflict between East Pakistan (later joined by India) and West Pakistan in 1971 which established the Bangladeshi republic. The war began on 25 March 1971, when the Pakistani military junta led by General Yahya Khan began a military operation against Bengali nationalists, civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel, who were demanding self-determination and acceptance of the 1970 election results. The junta arrested Prime Minister-elect Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and banned major political parties and newspapers in East Pakistan; it brought the region under West Pakistani-dominated martial law authority.

The Pakistan Armed Forces targeted urban and rural areas with military raids, air strikes and widespread human rights abuses, including massacres, killings, rape, arson and systematic elimination of members of the liberation forces of Bangladesh. It promoted radical religious militias- the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams- which colluded in the atrocities. Sectarian violence broke out between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking immigrants, who were loyal to West Pakistan. An estimated 10 million Bengali refugees fled to neighboring India, while 30 million were internally displaced. The genocide in Bangladesh is widely regarded as one of the five largest genocides of the twentieth century.

The Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence was issued in response to the crackdown. Defecting Bengali military and paramilitary formed the Mukti Bahini led by General M. A. G. Osmani and eleven sector commanders. They waged a massive guerrilla war against Pakistani forces. The Bangladesh Forces liberated many cities and towns in the initial months of the war before the Pakistan Army regained momentum. The Bengali resistance secured control of large parts of the countryside. The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was formed on 17 April 1971 and later moved to Calcutta in neighboring India as a government in exile. They received extensive diplomatic, military and economic aid from the Indian state led by Indira Gandhi. Internationally, the plight of Bangladeshi civilians sparked worldwide outrage and alarm; however some of Pakistan's key allies, including US President Richard Nixon, remained committed to the military junta in West Pakistan. British, Indian and American musicians organized the world's first benefit concert in New York to support the Bangladeshi people. American diplomats in Dacca sent the strongest dissent telegrams in US diplomatic history, and members of the US Congress, led by Senator Ted Kennedy, campaigned for an end to Pakistan's military repression.

The liberation war lasted for nine months, with the Mukti Bahini successfully managing to restrict Pakistani forces to their barracks at night by November. India joined the war on 3 December 1971, after Pakistan launched preemptive air strikes on North India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War witnessed engagements on two fronts, as well as the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan became the first country to recognize Bangladesh on 6 December 1971. On 16 December 1971, Pakistan surrendered to the Allied Forces of Bangladesh and India in the East. 90,000 Pakistani soldiers were taken as POWs under the Geneva Convention, the largest since World War II.

The end of the war spelt the emergence of a liberated Bangladesh, the world's seventh-most populous country at the time. The majority of UN member states recognized the new country in 1972.



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