Lamia Afrin


          Strategic history is the history that helps us to understand concerning the full and proper meaning of the concept of strategy. It is the history of the influence of the use, and threat of use, of politically motivated force. To know the importance of understanding the contexts of strategic history, I have chosen the liberation war of Bangladesh as a modern war. 

In this paper, I will discuss concerning the contexts of Liberation War of Bangladesh and I will try to represent the importance of understanding the contexts of the strategic history (Liberation war of Bangladesh).

Contexts of the Strategic History:

              There are various contexts of the strategic history for knowing about a strategy. Here, I will discuss seven contexts of the strategic history (Liberation war of Bangladesh).

                                  1. Political

                                 2. Socio-Cultural

                                   3. Economic

                                  4. Technological

                                   5. Geographical

                                   6. Geographical

                                     7. Historical

Political Context

           War and politics are interconnected. Everyone includes a completely different narrative in war. The military implements the rules/ policies that political leaders make. War and peace are outlined through politics. 

Moreover, it’s up to the political leaders to make a decision whether there will be a war or not. The military not only the policy implements but also they gives the protection of society. What the war is and how legitimate the war is, depends on the political context.

Political Context of Bangladesh Liberation War

         We have to travel back to 1947 to know concerning the Liberation war of Bangladesh and its final outcome began after 1970’s election. In 1947, two separate states, India and Pakistan, were established on the basis of religion. The Hindus of Pakistan migrated to India and the Muslims of India migrated to Pakistan. 

The Pakistan was divided into 2 territories (West Pakistan and East Pakistan). East Pakistan was exploited by West Pakistan. Although 62% of the revenue was generated in East Pakistan, 75% of the National budget was spent in West Pakistan despite of being small population.  

East Pakistan had no representative in high government posts. In such a situation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah spoke of making Urdu as the state language, the language movement started in 1952 demanding to make Bengali as the state language. Later, during the Pakistan-India war in 1965 and famine, the problems of inequality in East Pakistan became clearer. 

And Sheikh Mujibur Rahman raise a “six-point” demands that referred to as the Charter of liberation of Bengali. Yahya Khan took power from Ayub Khan in 1969. And released those arrested in the Agartala Conspiracy case (1968). Yahya Khan declared elections (1970). 

Within the election, Awami League won 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan. And in West Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto won 81 of the 144 seats. Yahya khan declared the meeting of the National Assembly on 3rd March, 1971. But Zulfikar Ali Bhutto blocked it, so it was canceled on 1st March. In the wake of which the strike in East Pakistan began. 

When West Pakistanis conducted “Operation Searchlight” on 25 March, a fierce movement for the independence and autonomy of Bangladesh began with the declaration of independence. 

The East Pakistan divided into 11 sectors and launched “Guerrilla attacks” on the West Pakistanis. Later, India joined with “Mukti Bahini” on 3rd December. And finally victory was achieved on 16 December 1971. 

             Everyone had a different narrative of the liberation war of Bangladesh. The liberation war of Bangladesh was a way for the people of East Pakistan to survive, while for West Pakistan it was a way of domination by suppressing the East Pakistanis.


Each country has its own social and cultural characteristics: We see, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a very important leader. On the opposite hand, hearing the name of Pakistan gives us a negative view which is considered complete opposite in the case of the people of Pakistan. 

This is because we live in Bangladesh and liberation war based books, movies and documentaries affect our thoughts and ideas. 

Every strategy is made based on the values and beliefs of a society and when a person makes a strategy based on values and beliefs, his name is related to it. But whether one state will fight or not does not depend on the beliefs and values of the society. 

              West Pakistanis developed a number of strategies for their own interests based on values and beliefs of their society. On the other hand, East Pakistanis developed strategies to survive themselves based on the values and beliefs of their society. 

The Mujibnagar government was formed due to strategic reasons of the war and subsequently three forces were formed whose names were made by the first letter of the Captain’s name. Such as: ‘Z’ force (Major Ziaur Rahman), ‘S’ force (KM Shafiullah), ‘K’ force (Khaled Mosharraf). There were also irregular forces- Mujib Bahini and Kaderia Bahini. 

Although the values and beliefs of the East Pakistanis were not aggressive, when the West Pakistanis started the genocide on March 25, the East Pakistanis were forced to fight for the establishment of East Pakistan as a separate state and for their rights.


      Financial assistance is very important for everything from strategy formulation to war management and to maintain post-war peace and order. In the liberation war, the East Pakistan (Bangladesh) was economically ruined.  In this time Bangladesh needed economic help and many countries including India and the Soviet Union, helped Bangladesh. About one crore refugees took refuge in India. The Indian government provided training, weapons and ammunition to the troops, including shelter and food aid. India had to spend about seven thousand crore taka for these works.


                  What will be the strategy of a state, it depends on technology. Weapons that used by West Pakistanis in 1971:

                Imported guns, Automatic weapons, mortars, Artillery trucks, tanks, airplanes and ammunition etc. By using these weapons, they conducted genocide on East Pakistanis. On the other hand, the weapons used by the freedom fighters: 

Weapons of defeated soldiers, bombs, knives, bows, arrows and some firearms came from India. Technology is important which is also noticeable in Bangladesh liberation war.  During the liberation war, the west Pakistani forces could not sustain the way they started the operations in the beginning because of the limitations of their technology. Technology requires funding that varies from government to government.


                 To know about strategic history, one needs to analyze what a strategic war was like before, during and after the war. Military-strategic context basis on the Liberation war of Bangladesh: 

The time of pre-war: The meeting was canceled on 1st March, 1971 and the anger of the people of East Pakistan against West Pakistanis increased. Later on March 25, when the West Pakistanis started the genocide, three million people were killed. On 26 March, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence and the people started fighting for their rights and for the autonomy of East Pakistan. However, at the beginning of the Bangladesh liberation war, the war between West Pakistan and East Pakistan was going on.

The time of war: At this time, the war took on an international form. India, Soviet Union and non-aligned countries supported East Pakistan. On the other hand, China, USA and Muslim countries supported West Pakistan.

The time of post war: On 3rd December, India joined with the East Pakistanis to wage war jointly. On 16 December, General Abdullah Niazi signed a surrender document with 93,000 soldiers and officers at the Racecourse and the nine- month-long liberation war came to an end. 

Military-Strategic dimension depends on the soldiers. In 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman strongly inspired the common people and soldiers in his speech on 7th March. However, the message of hope that was given to the people in the name of independence at that time could not be achieved even today.


               Strategies are formed based on specific locations:  The West Pakistanis formulated a strategy focusing on East Pakistan. On the other hand, the people of East Pakistan, made a strategy to survive themselves. 

People must live in one territory or another and there is a tendency to occupy to other lands. In the liberation war of Bangladesh, East and West Pakistan were two territories. The West Pakistanis dominated the East Pakistanis through various forms of exploitation and increased their own economic and political power. And the war began to get rid of it.

 Geographical location played a very important role in the victory of East Pakistan in the war of liberation of 1971. Due to India’s position between East Pakistan and West Pakistan, it was difficult for West Pakistanis to wage war in East Pakistan. Moreover, due to its geographical location, East Pakistan had a rainy season during the war of liberation, which is very important for the victory of East Pakistan.

                The destiny of a state is determined through geography. The political behavior of a territory is controlled by geography. Moreover, a state cannot be moved anywhere if it wants to.  


           To know about a strategy one must know when it happened, why it happened and what contemporary issues it was etc.

Every Strategy is bound by time and it is not an isolated issue, there is a chronology behind it. To know about the liberation war of Bangladesh, we must go back to 1947-1971. West Pakistan was stronger than the East Pakistan. They started genocide and raped women at that time to achieve their own interests by eradicating the people of East Pakistan. 

The genocide was condemned in the international arena. East Pakistan’s weapons, technology was not good. But the people of East Pakistan took advantage of the limitations of West Pakistan’s weapons on the battlefield and launched guerrilla attacks. Finally, West Pakistan surrendered on 16 December, 1971.

Importance of understanding the contexts of the Liberation war of Bangladesh

               Seemingly, we see that East Pakistan has won the liberation war Bangladesh. Now, if we want to know about-

Who was the opposition party of East Pakistan? 

Why did the war start? When did the conflict start and when the final outcome is formed in the form of war? 

What kinds of discrimination was between West Pakistan and East Pakistan? 

What kinds of tactics and technology did the West Pakistanis use in the war? 

What were the demands of the people of East Pakistan and what was their strategy? 

Who are the strategy formulate? How tactics were implemented on the battlefield? 

When did the war take on an international dimension and why did any country any country support East Pakistan/West Pakistan? 

When did India join with the Mukti Bahini and how did it cooperate? 

What were the reasons for the failure of West Pakistan’s tactics/strategy? 

When did the West Pakistan accept defeat and where did they surrender? 

                In order to know about the above various issues, we need to know well about the contexts of strategic history. By knowing the different contexts, we can know why the West Pakistan strategy failed and why East Pakistan’s strategy was successful etc. That is, it is important to understand the contexts of strategic history in order to know and evaluate a strategy in detail.


            Strategic history is shaped and driven by multiple contexts. By knowing the seven contexts discussed above, we can know about the liberation war of Bangladesh. Moreover, we can know that religion played an important role in the liberation war of Bangladesh although these are not all. 

Knowing the contexts, we can know that the strategy of East Pakistan was more effective than the strategy of West Pakistan which resulted in being established of the independent sovereign state (Bangladesh) in 1971.


           1.  Colin S. Gray, War, Peace and International Relations

            2. 1971 Liberation War, birth of Bangladesh and Comparison with Present Day Pakistan


            3. Hugh Russell Tinker, Bangladesh, the Pakistani Period (1947-71)


            4. Shahid Javed Burki, Pakistan, Political Process, July 9, 2021


            5. Salam Aazad, Contribution of India in the War of Liberation of Bangladesh

            6. Zaid Kalam, Arms for freedom, The Daily Star, 29 December, 2017.    

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *