Gandhi Declaration of Indo-Pak War



Intro: India and Pakistan have escalated their border conflict into what could become total warfare. VOA Correspondent Don Weaver reports from New Delhi.

Text: Prime Minister Gandhi early Saturday morning put India on a war footing with Pakistan. She declared a state of emergency a few hours after All India Radio reported Pakistan had suddenly attacked a number of airfields in Northwestern India with jet warplanes.

India said bombs were dropping and that Pakistani ground forces were engaged in probing actions in the northwest. New Delhi said two Pakistani jets were shot down.

Pakistan and Communist China said India had attacked on the western border, a charge that India called "totally false."
In a nationwide broadcast, Prime Minister Gandhi said, in her words, "this wanton and unprovoked aggression of Pakistan would be decisively and finally repelled."

She accused Pakistan of launching a full-scale war against India with air strikes at Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Avantipur, Uttarlai, Jodhpur, Ambala and Agra. Agra is less than two hundred kilometers from New Delhi. Missus Gandhi said Pakistani ground forces were also shelling Indian positions.

"Today," said Missus Gandhi, "the war on Bangladesh has become a war on India." She said it is a moment of great peril for India and its people, and the nation must be prepared for a long series of hardship and sacrifice.

Indians, the prime minister said, are peace-loving people. But she said "peace cannot last if we do not guard our freedom, our democracy and our way of life."

"We fight not merely for territorial integrity," Missus Gandhi added, "but for the basic ideas which have given strength" to India. She said aggression must be met. And she said "the people of India will meet it with fortitude and determination."

Prime Minister Gandhi, speaking to the nation from New Delhi after a cabinet meeting, said India had borne heavy burdens. New Delhi had asked the world to help bring about a peaceful solution in East Pakistan to prevent annihilation of an entire people whose only crime was to vote democratically. The world, she said, ignored the basic problems in a situation that was bound to deteriorate.

Now, she said, every necessary step has been taken and India is prepared for all eventualities.

In New Delhi, Indian Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram said Indian forces would give a fitting reply to what he described as Pakistani aggression. It was announced that both houses of Parliament would meet Saturday in special session to hear a statement by the prime minister and to pass the Defense of India bill.

Most airports closed at least temporarily in India and several commercial flights were cancelled. An all-night blackout was ordered in New Delhi. But in Calcutta, not far from the East Pakistan border, lights were burning through the night.

The prime minister had made a sober speech Friday to a massive rally in Calcutta in which she warned that India faced the possibility of a major conflict. She apparently received the report of action on the western border while still in Calcutta.