In 1971, the Pakistani army launched a devastating crackdown on what was then East Pakistan (today’s independent Bangladesh), killing thousands of people and sending ten million refugees fleeing into India. The events also sparked the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
Drawing on recently declassified documents, unheard White House tapes, and meticulous investigative reporting, Gary Bass gives us an unprecedented chronicle of the break-up of Pakistan, and India’s role in it. This is the pathbreaking account of India’s real motives, the build-up to the war, and the secret decisions taken by Indira Gandhi and her closest advisers.
This book is also the story of how two of the world’s great democracies—India and the United States—dealt with one of the most terrible humanitarian crises of the twentieth century. Gary Bass writes a revealing account of how the Bangladeshis became collateral damage in the great game being played by America and China, with Pakistan as the unlikely power broker. The United States’ embrace of the military dictatorship in Islamabad would affect geopolitics for decades, beginning a pattern of American anti-democratic engagement in Pakistan that went back far beyond General Musharraf.
The Blood Telegram is a revelatory and compelling work, essential reading for anyone interested in the recent history of our region.