Year
1971

Pakistani forces defeated in Bangladesh

Two weeks after the Indian invasion of East Pakistan in support of the independence movement there, 90,000 Pakistani troops surrender to the Indian forces. East Pakistan was subsequently declared the independent nation of Bangladesh.

At the end of British rule in the Indian subcontinent in 1947, East Pakistan was declared a possession of Pakistan to the west, despite the fact that the two regions were separated by over 1,000 miles of Indian territory. Although the two Pakistans shared the Islamic religion, significant cultural and racial differences existed between the regions, and by the late 1960s East Pakistan began to call for greater autonomy from West Pakistan. In March 1971, the independence of Bangladesh was proclaimed and West Pakistani forces were called in to suppress the revolt.

An estimated one million Bengalis–the largest ethnic group in Bangladesh–were killed by the Pakistani forces during the next several months, while over 10 million more took refuge in India. In December, India, which had provided substantial clandestine aid to the East Pakistani independence movement, launched a massive invasion of the region and routed the West Pakistani occupation forces. In 1974, Pakistan agreed to recognize the independence of Bangladesh.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Battle of the Bulge begins

With the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler orders a massive attack against the western Allies by three German armies.The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium ...read more

OPEC states raise oil prices

On December 16, 1979, the night before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ annual price-setting meeting in Caracas, two member states (Libya and Indonesia) announce plans to raise the price of their oil by $4 (Libya) and $2 (Indonesia) per barrel. (The resulting ...read more

The Boston Tea Party

In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor.The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a ...read more

Westmoreland asks for more troops

Gen. William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, sends a request for more troops. With nearly 200,000 U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam already, Westmoreland sent Defense Secretary Robert McNamara a message stating that he would need an ...read more

OJ Simpson rushes record 2,000 yards in a season

On December 16, 1973, the Buffalo Bills running back Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson becomes the first player in the National Football League (NFL) to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season.After leading the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans to a Rose Bowl ...read more

Clinton orders air attack on Iraq

On this day in 1998, President Bill Clinton announces he has ordered air strikes against Iraq because it refused to cooperate with United Nations (U.N.) weapons inspectors. Clinton’s decision did not have the support of key members of Congress, who accused Clinton of using the ...read more

Jane Austen’s birthday

English novelist Jane Austen is born on this day in 1775, the seventh of eight children of a clergyman in a country village in Hampshire, England.Jane was very close to her older sister, Cassandra, who remained her faithful editor and critic throughout her life. The girls had ...read more

Two airplanes collide over New York City

On this day in 1960, two airplanes collide over New York City, killing 134 people on the planes and on the ground. The improbable mid-air collision is the only such accident to have occurred over a major city in U.S. history.It was a snowy morning in New York when a United DC-8 ...read more

A terrorist bomber begins his deadly rampage

Federal Judge Robert Vance is instantly killed by a powerful explosion after opening a package mailed to his housenear Birmingham, Alabama. Two days later, a mail bomb killed Robert Robinson, an attorney in Savannah, Georgia, in his office. Two other bomb packages, sent to the ...read more

Truman declares state of emergency

In the wake of the massive Chinese intervention in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency. Proclaiming that “Communist imperialism” threatened the world’s people, Truman called upon the American people to help construct an “arsenal of freedom.”In ...read more