Documents from the Indian External Affairs Ministry show Yahya told New Yorker magazine correspondent Bob Sharpley that he would be "at the front within 10 days," The Daily Star reported Sunday.
Within 10 days of this conversation, Pakistan launched air attacks on military targets in northwest India on Dec. 3, 1971.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called the airstrikes a declaration of war on the country. India launched an integrated ground, sea and airstrike of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
After the attacks, then U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Barnard Keating met with Indian Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul in New Delhi to discuss Yahya and Sharpley's conversation.
"They [Sharpley 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.
On Dec. 6, 1971, India recognized Bangladesh as an independent country. Ten days after that, Pakistan surrendered unconditionally to India.