The Issue of Prisoners of War (POWS), 1971 and Recognition of Bangladesh

Ghulam Mustafa

Abstract


After the surrender of Pakistan army, near about 93,000 Pakistani military personnel and civilians were taken to India as Prisoners of war (POWs). The UNO Security Council passed a resolution on December 21, 1971 calling upon the parties to observe the Geneva Convention and not to attach any conditions to the repatriation of the POWs. Article 118 of the Geneva Convention (1949) puts it as a condition that Prisoners of War must be repatriated immediately after the cessation of active hostilities. It also stipulates that detaining power is obliged to work out a plan for their repatriation. India declared as an afterthought that Pakistan Army had surrendered to joint command of India and Bangladesh and therefore it was not within the jurisdiction of India to repatriate the prisoners of war at her own. Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman, on the other hand, had declared that he would not take part in any meeting, bi-lateral or tri-lateral, unless Bangladesh was recognized by Pakistan. On August 28, 1973 India and Pakistan signed an agreement in Delhi to repatriate 93000 civil and military prisoners of war to Pakistan. Bengalis in Pakistan were to be returned to Bangladesh. Mujib Ur Rahman clung to his demand of trial of 195 war criminals. Bhutto insisted that Pakistan would not recognize Bangladesh until all prisoners of war were released. Recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan in February 1974 led to rapprochement between the two countries. A tripartite agreement between India-Pakistan-Bangladesh signed in April 1974 resolved all contentious issues related to 1971 war and paved the way for return of 195 war criminals as well. The last batch of prisoners of war reached Lahore in April 1974.


Keywords


Prisoners of War; War Criminals; Simla agreement; Delhi accord 1973; Recognition of Bangladesh; Pakistan.

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/ijbsr.v4i3.424

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