The limited Pakistani attack surprised even the US. Admiral Thomas H.Moorer, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), told the Washington Special
Action Group (WASAG) meeting on 3 December (held just three hours after the PAF attack) that he was ‘surprised that the Paks attacked at such a low level. In 1965, they moved much more strongly.’ Henry Kissinger, the chair of the group, added:
‘These aren’t significant fields. That’s [a] helluva a way to start a war.’ Moorer filled in the details: ‘One field had only 12 helos [helicopters] and 17 Gnats [fighter aircraft]…There was a field not too far away with
82 aircraft on it, including 42 MIG-21s. They didn’t go for them.’
The confused state of higher-level decision-making in Pakistan
was revealed by the fact even the defence secretary and the head of the ISPR, the official mouthpiece of the regime, were unaware about the imminence of the war on 03 December. The latter was informed via a telephone call at his residence from the defence
secretary about an announcement he had heard over Radio Pakistan that India had invaded West Pakistan. The statement was so worded as to convey that it were the Indian forces that had attacked West Pakistan at ‘various points.’ According to Shuja
Nawaz, ‘the thinking behind this subterfuge was to invoke US help, based, among other things, on the aide-memoire of 06 November 1962 to Ayub Khan in which US ambassador McConaughy had promised to assist Pakistan “in the event of aggression from
India against Pakistan”.’
The naval chief, too found out about the air strikes from a Pakistani radio broadcast; Pak Navy ships
at sea also heard about the attack from the radio. On the eastern front, Lt Gen. A A K Niazi learnt of the air strikes while listening to the BBC world service.
A day after the war began Brigadier Gul Mawaz went to see Yahya, his close friend. According to Hassan Abbas, the brigadier found Yahyaand Gen Hamid inebriated. Yahya told Gul Mawaz that as commander he had launched his armies. Now it was up to
his generals. While they were talking, Yahya received a call from Japan from Nur Jahan, the famous Pakistani singer. After telling the brigadier whom the call was from, Yahya asked her to sing him a song.
In the context of the war in the west continuing after the fall of Dacca (Dhaka), when Roedad Khan, then Information Secretary, raised the matter with Yahya and told him that nations do not fight wars by halves,
Yahya retorted that he was not going to endanger West Pakistan ‘for the sake of Bengalis’. This was very much like Ayub Khan saying at a cabinet meeting after the 1965 war that never again would Pakistan ‘risk 100 million Pakistanis for 5