New Delhi: Around 10 days before war broke out between India and Pakistan in 1971, the then President of Pakistan Yahya Khan had given an inkling of his intentions to attack this country after taking a few drinks with an American journalist.

Yahya had told the journalist on the day of their meeting that he would be "at the front within 10 days" when the American talked about getting back to the General in ten days time on the issue of meeting the President again, according to recently declassified Ministry of External Affairs documents.

And Yahya's word, perhaps made unwittingly, came true when Pakistan launched air attacks on military targets in India's northwest on the evening of December 3, 1971.

Shortly afterwards, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said the air strikes was a declaration of war on this country. At midnight on the same day, India launched an integrated ground, sea and air strike on East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Attacks were also launched against West Pakistan.

The next day, then US Ambassador to India Kenneth Barnard Keating called on Foreign Secretary T N Kaul in New Delhi to discuss the situation, during which he mentioned how Yahya Khan had told Bob Shapley, a correspondent of the New Yorker magazine when they met that Pakistan would be at war with India within the next 10 days, the MEA files showed.

"They (Shapley and Khan) were returning from a party and the President had taken a few drinks when Bob asked him that he would like to see him again.

President Yahya Khan said that he would be happy to see him, to which the correspondent replied that he would ring him up within 10 days. To this President Yahya Khan said that he may be at the front by that time so he had better make it very soon," Keating told Kaul.