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Reviewed by:
  • An Atlas of the 1971 India-Pakistan War
  • Robin Higham
An Atlas of the 1971 India-Pakistan War. By John H. Gill. Washington: National Defense University, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies Occasional Paper, 2004. Maps. Illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. 112. Available at

The 1971 India-Pakistan War did not settle Indian security as it created Bangladesh. And that in one sense greatly eased Pakistan's defense conundrum—not having two parts on either side of a hostile India.

In his summation the author overlooks the fact that the declaration of the 1947 partition would leave New Delhi the insoluble problem of a huge Moslem minority, not to mention having to guard the Northwest Frontier against Afghan and, for a time, Soviet threats.

As the second volume of the history of the Pakistan Air Force (1998) pointed out, Islamabad's task is not to be defeated. As a nation in being it prevents India from dominating the subcontinent and perhaps being more aggressive. Interestingly, both countries have built upon British traditions and in some cases are more English than the English themselves.

Colonel Gill herein provides a concise summary of the war on two fronts with topographical/tactical maps in color. The narrative is straightforward [End Page 606] and tied to the maps, a feature that will appeal to military officers and historians. The aim of the atlas is to serve as a current reference. One major question is how far the two countries have matured since 1971, when Pakistan had no interservice planning and General Yahya Khan had to both run the martial-law domestic government and fight a war on two fronts. India having not made a brilliant showing in 1965, had learned better, while at the same time being a quasi-major power. Operations for the defenders in East Pakistan were complicated by an ongoing counter-insurgency campaign. In the west Kashmir was a distraction.

Col. Gill's maps are generally helpful, though as one who flew out of Chittagong for four months in 1945, I did not find the map on page 33 all that clear, perhaps because the place names are too small in contrast to the readability of the text.

The volume concludes with 66 pages of maps and text and 40 pages of notes, appendixes, establishment tables, and bibliography.

Col. Gill, U.S. Army, is a specialist on South Asian affairs and a faculty member at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C.

Robin Higham
Emeritus, Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas


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pp. 606-607
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2010
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