Hailing Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as a great soldier with "rakish charm" and "razor sharp wit", British media on Monday paid glowing tributes to the former chief of Indian Army who crafted India's greatest military victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
In an obituary, The Guardian said that Manekshaw's first battle was to withstand the political pressure to launch his forces "that spring, as around 10 million refugees poured across the border".
"He held his ground until he had created the conditions for almost certain victory. Inspired by example of Israel's pre-emptive air strike on its Arab neighbours in the six-day war of 1967, on Dec 3, 1971 Pakistan attacked airfields in north-west India, hoping that if it could make inroads in the west, then it would be able to relieve pressure in the east.
"But these sorties, carried out with just 50 planes, caused only temporary damage, and India made inroads into West Pakistan and launched a coordinated assault by land, sea and air on West Pakistani forces in East Pakistan."
The report said that the lightning speed of the operations in the east led to the fall of Dhaka and Lieutenant General AAK Niazi's surrender on December 16, with 93,000 soldiers taken prisoner. Under intense US and UN pressure, India agreed to a ceasefire the following day.
Gandhi asked Manekshaw to go to Dhaka, the capital of the new nation, to accept the surrender of the Pakistani forces, but he declined the honour, which he said belonged to the eastern army commander, Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora.