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1930-47: Development of the Two Nations Theory which led to the Partition of the Indiansub-continent on the basis of two religion Hindu and Muslim, a separate state for each religion.
August 14: The Partition of India:
“‘Partition’ here refers not only to the division of the Bengal province of British India into the Pakistani state of East Bengal (later East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) and the Indian state of West Bengal, as well as the similar partition of the Punjab region of British India into the Punjab province of West Pakistan and the Indian state of Punjab, but also to the division of the British Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service and other administrative services, the railways, and the central treasury, and other assets.
“The partition of India in 1947 led to a process which we today probably would describe as ‘ethnic cleansing’. Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred and millions had to move; Muslims from India to Pakistan, Hindus in the opposite direction.” - Øyvind Tønnesson
(Image credit: Wannabehuman)
# Muslims wanted Pakistan as a separate state for Muslims and they voted for it
# Congress did everything possible to avert partition
# The Bengal partition was not opposed
However each was untrue. Read this for details.
Mountbatten told this to his successor C Rajgopalacharya as governor general of India during this farewell banquet in June 1948. Health Minister Rajkumari Amrit Kaur is seated between the outgoing and incoming governor generals.
Khwaja Nazimuddin (chief minister of East Pakistan) introduces the East Pakistan cabinet to Mr Jinnah (the founding father of Pakistan) in March 1948. Arrogant ICS Chief Secretary Aziz Ahmed is seen at extreme left. It is said that even Bengali ministers could not enter his office and he created more ill will against West Pakistan than any other single indivdual
(Images credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
“Bengalees, who speak Bangla, constitute 54% of the population of Pakistan at its inception. But Urdu is widely favored by the establishment in the Western wing, even if only a tiny minority really speak it. The major native languages in the West are: Punjabi, Baluchi, Sindhi, and Pashtu (Pakhtun).
In 1947, a key resolution at a national education summit in Karachi advocated Urdu as the sole state language, and its exclusive use in the media and in schools. Begalis started to protest and later it was transformed into a movement.”
The “All Pakistan Awami Muslim League” was formed by Maulana Abdul Hameed Khan Bhashani as a breakaway faction of the “All Pakistan Muslim League” in 1949. The word “Muslim” was dropped in 1955. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one of its three initial assistant general secretaries.
“Politicians and students join their forces for a broader movement under the leadership of Maulana Bhashani of Awami League. As demonstrations and unrests seem to get out of control, the Government cracks down by imposing a curfew in Dhaka; a number of demonstrators are killed in front of the Dhaka Medical College over a period of one week (February 21-27, 1952). Hundreds and thousands of people took the streets to protests unanimously and the seeds of Bangladeshi nationalism was sown during that mobement.”
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during the fifties
March: The United Front (Awami League and the Krishak Sramik Party) wins most of the seats in the East Bengal Legislative Assembly. Sheikh Mujib was elected to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly and serving briefly as the minister for agriculture.
March-October: The Bengali dominated United Front Government (East Bengal leg. Assembly) is dismissed by the Governor General of Pakistan. The Governor General imposes his direct rule in East Pakistan.
October: The West Pakistan Bill had been passed. East Bengal is renamed East Pakistan and the west wing provinces of the Punjab, Baluchistan, Sindh, and NWFP are grouped into one unit called West Pakistan.
The Awami Muslim League dropped the word Muslim from its name at a spacial council of the Bangladesh Awami League, making the party a truly modern and secular one. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was re-elected General Secretary of the Party.
Awami League leaders, during a meeting with the Chief Minister, demanded that the subject of provincial autonomy be included in the draft constitution.
September: Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, the seasoned politician from East Pakistan replaced Chaudhry Mohammad Ali as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib joined the coalition government, assuming the charge of Industries, Commerce, Labour, Anti-Corruption and Village Aid Ministry.
March: Governor Gurmani declares presidential rule in West Pakistan.
May: Sheikh Mujib resigned from the cabinet in response to a resolution of the Party to strengthen the organization by working for it full-time.
August: Sheikh Mujib went on an official tour of China and the Soviet Union.
October: Suhrawardy lost support in the National Assembly and was forced to resign. Chundrigar is sworn in as the new PM.
December: Malik Feroz Khan Noon replaces Chundrigar as Prime Minister.
An unequal rate of growth between the two wings of the country seems to have been an important feature of economic development since the independence: only one-fifth of large-scale manufacturing is located in East Pakistan after ten years.
September: Shahid Ali, Deputy Speaker of East Pakistan Assembly died. It was beleived that the cause of death were the wounds suffered 2 days ago when disorder broke out inside the assembly.
Muhammed Ayub Khan
Ayub Khan announced his cabinet: three military officials including Lt General Azam Khan, and eight civilians including a young politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
“All meetings and demonstrations are forbidden and political parties banned. Popular politicians are either imprisoned — including Sheikh Mujib, Maulana Bhashani, and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (NWFP)— or their activities are restricted.”
After Sheikh Mujib’s arrest on 11 October he was continiously harassed through one false case after another. Released from prison after 14 months, he was arrested again at the jail gate.
October: On the first anniversary of ‘his revolution’ President Ayub Khan promulgated an ordinance for setting up “basic democracies,” or small units of local self-government in the country. There would be around 120000 such units, each representing from 1000 to 15000 citizens. “Democracy has been brought to the very doorstep of the people,” he said.
January: Elections for Basic Democracies (BD) members were carried out this month according to the presidential plan. The 80,000 elected BDs would decide whom they want to be the ruler. The system is criticised for eliminating the basic purpose of democracy, but some defend for being closer to the tribal majlis-e-shura current in early days of Islam.
February: Ayub Khan is elected President for a five-year term by 80,000 elected BD members. In the Presidential Elections held on the simple formula of referendum, 95.6% of all BD members have said yes to the question: “Do you have confidence in President Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan?”
April: Lt Gen Azam Khan becomes governor of East Pakistan.
February: Once again Sheikh Mujib was arrested under the Public Security Act.
June: Martial Law ends, national assembly elected. The National Assembly consisted of 150 seats from each province to be elected by the Basic Democracy (BD) members with an additional 3 seats for women from each province to be elected by the members of National Assembly.The ban on political parties is lifted. Sheikh Mujib was freed.
The Pakistan Muslim League splits into two groups – Council and Convention. The Convention Muslim League is backed by President Ayub.
January: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former Minister for Basic Democracies is appointed Foreign Minister on death of Mohammad Ali Bogra.
Combined Opposition Parties (COP) stuns Ayub’s camp by nominating Miss Fatima Jinnah (sister of Jinnah), popularly called “Mother of the Nation” as presidential candidate for the elections to be held in Jan, 1965. The 9 point program of COP includes restoration of direct elections, adult franchise, democratization of 1962 Constitution.
After suffering a brief ban, the Jamaat-e-Islami does an about-turn on its established dogma of not accepting the leadership of a woman and supports Miss Fatima Jinnah for head of state against Ayub Khan.
The government charged Sheikh Mujib with sedition and making objectionable statements. He was sentenced to a one year jail term. He was later released on an order of the High Court.
Miss Jinnah says:
“The system under which these elections were fought was initially devised to perpetuate the… incumbent of the Presidential Office. Neither does it provide room for the free expression of the popular will, nor does it conform to the known and established principles of democracy in the civilised world… There is no doubt that the elections have been rigged.
August: Hidden away from public eyes, Indian and Pakistani armies have been engaged in secret conflicts over Kashmir boundary for the past two months.
Z A Bhutto seems indifferent as Ayub Khan declares war in 1965
(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
September: The second India-Pakistan War breaks out over Kashmir as Ayub addresses the nation “We are at war”.
UN Security Council calls upon India and Pakistan to cease fire on September 20. India and Pakistan cease fire on September 23.
Political discontent, especially in the much neglected East Pakistan, resurfaces in the aftermath of the war.
“During the last fifteen years, East Pakistan has been drained out of one thousand crores of rupees of its solid assets by way of less imports and more exports. Today is the sixteenth year we have been reduced to paupers to build West Pakistan; we are told ‘get out boys’, we have nothing for you, we do not require you.” — Mahbubul Haq, a member of the National Assembly
On the contrary the economy was booming in West Pakistan with industrialization over the last five years. GNP grew by 30 percent during the second five year plan period (1960 – 65), industrial production grew by 61 per cent and forex earnings at 7 per cent per annum.
December: Nurul Amin’s views on East Wing Autonomy
“President made an offer of the Vice Presidency to Nurul Amin. Nurul Amin’s conditions were a form of regional autonomy for East Pakistan, extended franchise, and an end to disparity, including fair shares of foreign exchange.”
February: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected party president. Awami League declares the Six Point Movement.
“I know of no nobler battle than to fight for the rights of the exploited millions. We believe that this feeling of absolute equality, sense of inter-wing justice and impartiality is the very basis of Pakistani patriotism. Only he is fit to be a leader of Pakistan who is imbued with and consumed by such patriotism, a leader who zealously holds that any one who deliberately or knowingly weakens any limb of Pakistan is an enemy of the country.”
Ayub Khan with opposition leaders
(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
“His attacks on the Opposition became more virulent and he referred openly to the possibility of Pakistan breaking apart. The Awami League, he claimed, nurtured the “horrid dream” of a greater sovereign Bengal. It could only spell disaster for the country, the people of East Pakistan would be turned into slaves, and he reminded them how they had been dominated by Hindus during British days. Islamic countries flourished in history at times when a strong central authority existed and fell into decadence at times of weak central authority.
He said that the Nation should be prepared to face even a civil war if thrust upon it ‘by disruptionists.’ The Government would not tolerate any attempt to tamper with the unity and solidarity of the Nation and expressed his concern at the activities of Opposition parties. If necessary, we would have to use ‘the language of weapons’.”
His talk of resorting to weapons and civil war was badly judged and resented by almost all East Pakistanis.
April 28: Popularity of the six point programme
“The the left wing National Awami Party (N.A.P. – Bhasani) has given considerable support, for instance, to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Six Point Programme for further autonomy for East Pakistan. The Government appears to have lost patience with Mujibur Rahman. He was arrested on 18 April, released on bail, re-arrested on another charge and finally again released on bail.”
“AL is gaining its popular support following the Government’s harassment of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Its six point autonomy agenda is widely supported by other political parties and civil societies.”
“Influential minority communities such as the Ismailis are badly upset by an ugly affair in Chittagong, when a Memon girl was prevented by her family from marrying a Bengali boy, and Bengali-nationalist rioting following”
January: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the heir to a feudal landlord in Sindh and a member of the Military Dictator Ayub Khan’s cabinet, quits and launches Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on the line: “Islam is our religion, Democracy is our politics, Socialism is our economy, All power to the people.”
“Blithely ignoring his own public blasts against Sheikh Mujibur last year when he was still the Foreign Minister and a part of the Establishment, Bhutto praised the imprisoned opposition chief as a man who had sacrificed much for Pakistani independence. He did not see Sheikh Mujib’s famous Six Points as implying East Pakistani secession, forgetting that this was exactly what he had charged last year.
On the issue of (East Pakistani) provincial autonomy, he said, it will be decided by the elected representatives of the people.”
“Allegations that a comparatively small number of Bengali civil servants, ex-military officers, military officers, and politicians planned to assassinate President Ayub Khan during his recent visit to East Pakistan and to follow up the assassination with a coup d’etat aimed at establishing an independent state in East Pakistan. GOP security agencies detected plot before conspirators could act and subsequently arrested between 50 and 60 Bengalis.”
January: The Agartala Conspiracy Case filed and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrested:
It involves litigations against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and thirty-five other Bengalis who allegedly wanted to separate East Pakistan and establish an independent Bengal, with Indian assistance.
The Agartala Conspiracy Case consolidates the East Pakistani sentiments against discrimination in all fronts, including positions in the Government and the Armed Forces especially coveted by the middle class.
“…it evoked a totally unexpected Bengali reaction. While the prosecution wanted to dub Mujib a traitor, Bengalees made a hero out of him. The trial conferred such [a] popularity on Mujib that would otherwise have taken him a lifetime to acquire.” — Siddiq Salik, in his book A Witness to Surrender.
Ayub suffers serious heart attack, but the news was suppressed. Commander-in-Chief General Yahya Khan unofficially takes charge during his recovery period.
June: Arrest of three prominent Bengali CSP officers on suspicion of involvement in East Pakistan separatist conspiracy.
“If found guilty and sentenced to a long prison term. Sheikh Mujib will become another martyr in the cause of Bengali autonomy and in East Pakistan’s ‘war with the Rawalpindi Establishment.’ If he were involved as deeply as the government brief alleges, a silent cheer is probably raised by the Bengali.”
“The most damaging aspect so far for the Government of the trial of Rahman and some 35 others accused of plotting to establish a separatist regime in East Pakistan has been the testimony of a prosecution witness who broke down in court and asserted that he had been tortured and threatened with death by military officials who wished him to testify falsely against the alleged conspirators”
“On 10 November President Ayub, addressing a large public meeting in Peshawar, was reportedly fired at by a student. On 13 November Mr. Z.A. Bhutto, Mr. Wali Khan and certain other opposition politicians were arrested.”
The rumor was that it was a ‘staged event’ to fulfill regime’s desire to elicit sympathy for Ayub Khan.
November: Report on economy -The disparity widens:
East Pakistan suffers from a number of fundamental deficiencies, The diet of the people is far from satisfactory.
January – February: Violence breaks out between people demonstrating against Ayub Khan’s martial law regime and the police. Bhutto announces a hunger strike protesting against Ayub Khan’s draconian laws.
The Agartala Conspiracy Case is withdrawn, and Sheikh Mujib is released, at the insistence of some of the West Pakistani leaders meeting with Ayub Khan in a round table discussion for restoring peace.
Sergeant Zahurul Haq, one of the 35 accused in the Agartala Conspiracy Case, is shot dead while in military custody at the Dhaka Cantonment (February 15).”
“Daily disorders throughout Pakistan culminated in a massive general strike on 24 January. On that date and in the days immediately following, pitched battles were fought with the police; pro-government newspaper offices, government buildings, and even the homes of officials were attacked and some were gutted by fire. Eventually the government was forced to impose curfews on most of the nation’s cities, and the army was called in to restore order and enforce the curfew in Dacca, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and several smaller communities. Over 30 deaths were directly attributable to the violence.
Ayub’s political party, the PML–never a particularly effective organization–appears to have virtually collapsed.”
The radical wing has three components:
February 20: Pakistan on the Brink:
“Ayub mistakenly discounted the ability of the new militant leaders to catalyze mass urban and East Pakistani hatred of his regime. Politically isolated over the years by Ayub and overtaken by extremists, the moderates have been at least temporarily neutralized.
Events in Pakistan are being forced by mobs in the streets — comprised largely of students and the urban discontented. It is to the uncompromising leadership of Z.A. Bhutto of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Maulana Abdul Hamid Bhashani of the left wing of the National Awami Party, and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman of the Six-Point Awami League (who articulates East Pakistan’s demand for autonomy) that the mobs respond.”
February 23: Sheikh Mujib was given the tiltle, ‘Bangabandhu’ (Friend of Bengal) in a rally in Race Course Field.
March 13: Sheikh Mujib’s Address to the round table conference again demands for the establishment of a Federation providing for full regional autonomy to East Pakistan.
Closing Phase of Ayub regime : From the report of the Commission of Inquiry – 1971 War, as declassified by the Government of Pakistan.
April 11: Roy Fox’s talks with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:
“Ayub had offered to make him (Mujib) Prime Minister of Pakistan but he refused saying he wanted to be elected, not appointed. Mujib said he still wanted one Pakistan. He had been vilified as a Hindu supporter because he supported the use of Bengali language and because of Agartala. He was ready to compromise on parity instead of 56% of representation for East Pakistan but he wanted the capital to be Dacca. The Bengalis were not cowards and were not afraid to die. Probably some would die but the rest would fight on. Autonomy was inevitable.”
April 30: A note on political development in Pakistan:
“Probably very few East Pakistanis want anything which would be called complete secession, but there is always a risk that the vehemence of their own demands may force them to go further than they wish, or that if East Pakistan’s demands were excessive.”
“The basis of his dilemma is the fact that the demands of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for greater autonomy for East Pakistan, which are unacceptable to him as they were to Ayub, still command majority support in East Pakistan . Faced with this dilemma, General Yahva could try to risk imposing a constitutional solution unacceptable to Mujib. There is a danger_ likely to grow with time, that General Yahya might be tempted to resolve his difficulties by staying on as President.”
August 20: Conversation with Pir Syed Sikander Shah, Shah Mardan Sani, PIR SAHIB PAGARO, one of Sind’s key religious figures whose temporal role is central to Sind politics.
“He was giving serious consideration to the wisdom-and suitability–of joining forces with Mujib. Following discussions with Mujib during the latter’s August 7-14 visit to Karachi, he came to the conclusion that there is something to be gained by supporting the Awami League”
November 7: Current Pakistani scene – comment:
“Bengali accusations that the GOP is not doing enough to try to narrow the disparity are increasingly countered by privately expressed West Pak views that the deficiencies on the East Pakistani side play the greater role in hampering development-the chronically unfavorable weather, inefficiencies in the public sector, absence of an adequate entrepreneurial class, lack of investor interest, etc. Thus, indignation of the Bengalis over allegedly insufficient GOP interest clashes with West Pakistan feelings that Bengali demands are unreasonable.”
November 28: Excerpts from President Yahya Khan’s Address to the nation declares election in 1970.
December 5: Sheikh Mujib declared at a discussion meeting that henceforth East Pakistan would be called Bangladesh. He added:
“There was a time when all efforts were made to erase the word ‘Bangla’ from this land and its map . The existance of the word ‘Bangla’ was found nowhere except in the term Bay of Bengal. I, on be half of Pakistan, announce today that this land will be called ‘Bangladesh’ instead of ‘East Pakistan’.”
December 8: Demand to rename East Wing as Bangladesh Hailed
“Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, Chief of National Awami Party, welcomed the demand for renaming East Pakistan as Bangla Desh and said it was a genuine demand from the historical pint of view.
Maulana Bhasani said the nomenclature of Bangla Desh was not a new thing. He said this region of the country populated by the Bengali speaking people was known as Bangla Desh (Bengal) for long. The NAP leader said that ill the regions of West Pakistan were known by their own names before One Unit. Only the name of Bangla Desh was snatched away and the name of East Pakistan was forcibly imposed.”
Although the media remains silent on the issue, the grapevine was buzzing with stories about Yayha Khan’s private life. With his penchant for the bottle and attractive women, the general’s private life was increasingly becoming entangled with his public persona. A number of starlets, as well as the mysterious ‘General’ Rani, were the subject of gossip.
“Asked by Mr. Sober what would happen if the constituent assembly elected on October 5 fails to agree on a constitution within the specified period of 120 days, Sheikh Mujib responded, “We will try. We will try. If we cannot agree, then we cannot agree.” The import of Mujib’s reply was not clear. He seemed to Mr. Killgore to be implying that if East and West Pakistan could not agree then they might go their separate ways.”
January 31: The Strategy for Autonomy
“Whilst his present tactics will allow Mujib to capture a majority of the seats from East Pakistan, he obviously cannot get a constitution of his choice on the basis of his strength in one province alone… In West Pakistan, there is hardly any political group today which will not insist on deleting some popular provisions of the Six Points including perhaps establishment of regional reserve bank, separate Exchange Control and a Federal Government shorn of fiscal power.
In response to these pragmatic considerations, if Mujib tries, as it is argued, to re-adjust his position after the general election, he will find such options highly dangerous. After the tremendous build up of mass feelings through his campaign for Six-Points and chanting of Joi-Bangla, any search on his behalf for a workable compromise with his West Pakistani associates will be looked upon by the average man, including his party youngsters, as a crude attempt to barter away some of the Province’s unfulfilled rights.”
February 13: While the western wing seems to be tantalised by Bhutto’s promises to put an end to capitalist exploitation, in the east wing Mujib attacks West Pakistan as the capitalist exploiter.
Interestingly, neither of the two leaders enjoys much support beyond his own part of the country. Meanwhile, there are also those who are contesting elections in the name of religion. Hardline religious parties claiming that “Islam is in danger” view both Bhutto and Mujib as agents and purveyors of anti-Islamic ideas.
“Wali Khan is convinced that if Pakistan is to be strong, it must inevitably have a weakened Center. Given the strength of regional sentiment in both the East and West Wings, only the devolution of greater autonomy to the provinces can provide the basis for unity through the accommodation of diverse and divergent aspirating. Insofar as West Pakistan is concerned, the dismemberment of One Unit is a complete necessity.”
March 30: Legal Framework Order, 1970
May 7: Awami League Manifesto
May 22: The Pakistani political scene
June 2: East Pakistan: Sheikh Mujib in serious mood
Mujib threatened, “I will proclaim independence and call for guerilla action if the army tries to stop me. It is primarily fear of communist exploitation a Vietnam type situation which has kept me patient this long.”
June 4: US ambassador meets Bhasani
“In short, he (Bhasani) struck us as a figure with considerable nuisance value but probably not posing any serious threat to the government or to the anticipated electoral process.”
“Sheikh (Mujib) repeatedly held out the assurance that Islam was in no danger on the sacred soil of Pakistan, and lashed out at those who raised cries of “Islam in danger” on flimsy grounds, to promote their own political ends. He censured the Jamaat-i-Islami for what he called their anti-East Pakistan role and for trying to deprive the people of this province of their legitimate rights by creating confusion in the name of Islam.”
June 30: Suhrawardy’s death was not natural
July 28: Election Assessment (10 weeks to go)
October 25: Polls, a referendum on autonomy.
November 26: Mujib deplores apathy towards cyclone victims
“Despite the advance information available through SUPARCO and the weather satellites, almost two whole days before the cyclone struck, no proper or adequate warning was given to the unwary inhabitants of the coastal areas, left alone any attempts being made to evacuate at least some of them.
We are confirmed today in our conviction that if we are to save the people of Bangla Desh from the ravages of nature, as of their fellowmen, we must attain full regional autonomy on the basis of the 6-point/11-point formula. We must have plenary powers to manage our economy.”
December 3: President Yahya Khan’s address to the nation
December 10: Assessment of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
“Mujib the man is hard to characterize. He is primarily a man of action-a mass leader. In private meetings he is charming, calm and confident. He is well traveled and urbane. He knows Europe, particularly the UK, as well as China and the U.S. On the rostrum he is a fiery orator who can mesmerize hundreds of thousands in pouring rain. As a party leader he is tough and authoritative, often arrogant. Mujib has something of a messianic complex which has been reinforced by the heady experience of mass adultation. He talks of “my people, my land, my forests, my river.” It seems clear that he views himself as the personification of Bengali aspirations.”
December 21: Quantum of Autonomy by Mutual Accord
December 30: Call on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
January 3: Awami League called a meeting at the Racecourse ground (Shurwardi Udyan) to mark its overwhelming victory.
January 8: President Yahiya Khan arrived in Dhaka to meet Mujib to discuss issues. He mentions Mujib as “the next Prime Minister of Pakistan”.
January 14: US Ambassador call on Bhutto:
“Bhutto said first job was to write constitution, and he would try to work it out with Mujib. He did not know whether Mujib would follow “taking it or leave it” posture on Six Points, but in any event there should be agreement on very major degree of autonomy for each province. (Bhutto told Canadian Hicomer that he would hold out for a general legislature if Mujib insisted on Six-Point formula.)”
February 4: Indian airliner Ganga, which was hijacked on January 30 by alleged Kashmiri freedom fighters to Lahore, was destroyed by the hijackers. They had released the passengers before detonation. India banned all Pakistani aircraft from flying over its territory in retaliation to the incident. It is feared that this move will lead to severe communications problems between the two wings of Pakistan.
February 10: Pakistan: In search of a consensus -Research study – Bureau of Intelligence and research, USA
February 13: Bhutto met with the American Ambassador:
“Bhutto indicated quite clearly that he wanted to “turn over a new leaf’ in his relatiom with the US and pointed out that, as a concrete gesture of good will on his part. He said he was wondering what would be the attitude of the US if the PPP could not agree on a “Modus Vivendi” with the Awami League on the constitution. I wanted him to know that the policy of the US has been and continues to be that of supporting the independence, unity and integrity of Paksitan.”
Bhutto refuses to accept Mujib’s leadership in the Central Assembly. The chaos which defined Pakistani politics effectively began on February 15, 1971, the day Z A Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party and putative leaderof the opposition in the National Assembly on the strength of the 88 seats his party had come by at the elections, publicly declined to attend the parliament session called by President Yahya Khan for March 3 in Dhaka..
February 16: Bhutto, whose Pakistan People’s Party controls more than half of the Assembly seats from West Pakistan, has asserted that he is the spokesman for the West.
Sheikh Mujib bitterly criticised the demand of Bhutto and said:
“The demand of Bhutto sahib is totally illogical. Power has to be handed over to the only majority party, the Awami League. The people of East Bengal are now the masters of power.”
February 19: Awami League Apprehensions:
Alamgir said Mujib had on February 19 asked him to check out reports that Pak army was making significant troop dispositions. He hadreported back to Mujib that he found no such evidence. Placement of anti-aircraft guns around airport and other nearby locations is viewed by Awami League as primarily psychological move to indicate to people that air of tension with India exists.
February 21: Mujib called a meeting of all the political leaders of Pakistan to discuss the 6-point demand before it would be placed at the National Assembly session.
February 22: The generals in West Pakistan took a decision to crush the Awami League and its supporters. “Kill three million of them,” said President Yahya Khan at the February conference, “and the rest will eat out of our hands.” (Robert Payne, Massacre , p. 50.)
February 24: Mujib announced that there was a conspiracy to undermine the election results.
February 26: Yahiya holds a secret meeting with Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party.
February 28: Bhutto announced that the National Assembly session should be postponed. He said that the people of West Pakistan vetoed the 6-point.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said: “We cannot go there only to endorse a constitution already prepared by a party, and return humiliated… We have a duty to those millions who elected us.” He proposes that the PPP should control West Pakistan while the Awami League could rule over East Pakistan. He has also warned his newly elected delegates to the National Assembly that he will break the legs of any party member who dares to attend the March 3 session.
March 01: People tuned their radios and turned their TVs on because President Agha Yahiya Khan was supposed to address the nation. However, someone else read out a statement that President Yahya Khan has announced the postponement until “a later date” of the National Assembly. He termed it Pakistan’s “gravest political crisis.” Hundreds of thousands of enraged people took the streets.
Mujib reacts and calls for emancipation of Bengalees. Mujib held a press conference and said that this was not democracy but dictatorship and as a sign of revolt the people would observe general strike on 2nd March in Dhaka and the whole country on the 3rd. He also said further announcements would be held on March 7th.
Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan (the man with the idea), ASM Rab and Shajahan Shiraj of Chhatra (Student) League believed that only an armed revolution to create an independent socialist Bangladesh was the way. They demanded the indepndence of Bangladesh right away.
For the first time in Bengali history, slogans demanding independence for Bangladesh were heard: “Bir Bangali ostro dhoro Bangladesh shwadhin koro (Courageous Bengalis, take up arms and free Bangladesh)”.
Governor East Pakistan Admiral S.M.Ahsan, who refuses to open fire on the Bengalis if they go on strike, is replaced by General Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan.
“In response to a request from the Government of Pakistan, a decision was reached in Washington on March 1 to divert to West Pakistan 150,000 tons of wheat intended for disaster relief in East Pakistan. The request was triggered by grain shortages and rising prices in West Pakistan.” -WSAG minutes
March 2: Curfew was clamped in Dhaka from 8 am to 7 pm. However, the indomitable Bangalees took to the streets. Many were gunned down by the Pakistani troops.
Bengalees reacts. Mujib denounced firing on unarmed men and declares province-wide Hartal on each day from 3rd March 1971 to the 6th March, 1971 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. in all spheres.
Defiant students (Central Students Action Committee) at Dhaka University led by A. S. M Abdur Rab (VP of the student government), Shajahan Siraj (GS of student govt), Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui, and Abdul Kuddus Makhan held a massive rally. Here for the first time the Independent Bangla Flag (currently Bangladesh flag is the same just without the golden map of Bangladesh inside the red circle) was raised by Rab at the historic Battala at the University of Dhaka.
March 3: Rab and Siraj read out the declaration of Independence of Bangladesh at a public rally in the presence of Sheikh Mujib fearing that since Mujib was in negotiations with Yahiya the revolutionary spirit was on the wane. But Mujib called for a non-violent non-cooperation movement instead of revolution. This day which was to have been the day for the sitting of the National Assembly was observed as a day of national mourning. Mujib demands in a meeting “Withdraw forces, transfer power“.
Curfew imposed in Sylhet, Rangpur, Chittagong, and Khulna. Angry mob burned the Pakistani flag angered by the decision to postpone the Assembly session.
Yahya Khan continues to posture for negotiations while non-bengali regiments of soldiers are surreptitiously flown into Dhaka from West Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rejected the invitation of President Yahya Khan to attend the proposed meeting of the leaders of all the parliamentary groups in the national assembly on March 10.
March 4: Non cooperation movement continued. Mujib congratulates people for stirring response to his call. He had asked the Government and non-Government offices where employees have not yet been paid their salaries, to function between 2-30 p.m. to 4-30 p.m. for the purposes of disbursing salaries during the next two days of Hartal.
“Mujib has admitted to several foreign correspondents “off the record” that he will announce the equivalent to independence for East Pakistan on Sunday (March 7). He did, however, go on to say that the East and West wings should write their respective constitutions and thereafter discussions over the form of linkage could take place.
At least one Pakistani air force C-130 has been seen flying into Dacca and there are recurrent reports of forces being flown into Dacca via the Pakistani commercial airline and of the movement of troops from the West via ship….It is known that there is pressure from some elements in the military to make a quick repressive strike against the East Pakistani leaders in hopes of cowing them and the rest of the province.”
General Khan resigns protesting Yahya’s refusal to visit East Pakistan; General Tikka Khan takes over as Governor East Pakistan.
March 5: Public demonstrations against a West Pakistani scheme to prevent the Bengalees from forming a Government are brutally suppressed. 300 killed in army actions on protesters. Army Withdrawn to Barracks- East Wing protest continues- Firing in Tongi, Rajshahi.
March 6: President Yahiya Khan announced that the Assembly session would be held on the 23rd of March and appointed General Tikka Khan as the Governor of East Pakistan. Text of the address to the nation by the President Yahya Khan, broadcast over
Radio Pakistan network. Minutes of senior review group meeting in US Department of state including Henry Kissinger:
Another reason for our not taking the lead is that West Pakistan is very suspicious that we are supporting a separate East Pakistan state. If we tell Yahya to call off the use of force, it will merely fuel this suspicion.
“It is only too clear to the people of the country and indeed the world that it is a minority group of Western Wing which has obstructed and is continuing to obstruct the transfer of power”.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced his decision to participate in the National Assembly session provided his four-point demand was accepted before the session. This negligence, he said, towards the leaders of the majority party was in fact a dishonour shown to the seven crore people of Bangla Desh.
“Mujib announced 4 preconditions for participating in the Assembly session. 1. Withdrawal of the martial law 2. Return of the troops back to their barracks. 3. Power handed back to the elected people’s representatives. 4. Proper investigation into the killings of unarmed civilians.
Finally, raising his fist Bangabandhu cried out at the top of his voice : “OUR STRUGGLE THIS TIME IS A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM, OUR STRUGGLE THIS TIME IS A STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE. JOY BANGLA.”
He asked that every house become a fort and attack the enemy wherever they can.
March 8: “People’s rule” by Bangabandhu, became the order of the day. The Bangalis were supremely disciplined and dedicated in this matter. Every man, woman and child scrupulously following the dictates of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Mujib asked for black flags to be raised on roof-tops for a week. He again asked for total shutdown and that no money be transmitted from the East to the West for an indefinite period.
In the evening Tajuddin Ahmad issued several clarifications and exemptions to mitigate public hardship and to prevent damage to the East Bangla economy.
March 9: Maulana Bhasani held a mammoth rally at Paltan Maydan extending his support to Mujib. 2 Bhasani asked Yahiya Khan to acknowledge the independence of Bangladesh.
Tikka Khan had arrived in Dhaka a few days after the non-cooperation movement had started, to take up the dual role of Governor and Martial Law Administrator for the Eastern part. But he had not yet sworn it. Finally he decided to be formally sworn in as Governor and summoned the chief justice of East Bangla for the purpose of administering the oath. Justice Siddique very politely declined. So did the other judges of the Dhaka High Court. This proved that Bangabandhu’s directives were being obeyed even at that top level.
Leftist forces of Bangla in exile formed the Bangladesh Jatiyo Mukti Songram Somonnoy Committee (Bangladesh National Freedom Struggle Organizing Committee) with Bhasani as the leader at Beleghata, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India.
The Bangladesh government in exile also formed the All Party Advisory Committee under Bhasani’s leadership. The others were Moni Singh (Founder of the Communist Party of Bangladesh) and Muzaffar Ahmed (NAP), Monoranjan Dhar, Tajuddin Ahmed and Khondokar Mushtaq Ahmed.
March 10: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a telegram to the UN Secretary General informing him that the human rights of the Bangalees (Bengalis) were being trampled. He asked for UN Secretary General’s help in stopping the flow of arms and ammunition from the west that were being used to kill the Bangalee civilians. Japanese, German and UN workers were withdrawn to their respective countries.
Chances of a political situation – from a telegram of US consulate:
It is difficult to be completely objective in Dhaka in March when, out of discretion rather than valor, our cars and residences sport balck flags and we echo smiling greetings of ‘Joy Bangla’ as we move about the streets. Daily we lend our ears to the outpouring of the Bengali dream, a touching admixture of bravado, wishful thinking, idealism, animal cunning, anger and patriotic fervor. We hear on Radio Dacca and see on Dacca TV the impressive blossoming of Bengali nationalism and we watch the pitiful attempts of students and workers to play at soldiering.
March 12: Air Marshall Asgar Khan at Lahore said that if Bangladesh gains independence then, West Pakistan wont survive 5 years.
March 10-13: Pakistan International Airlines canceling most of it’s international services, concentrated all available aircraft of ferrying “Government Passengers” to Dhaka. But those were the troops in civilian dress.
Yahia gives explicit warning that force would be used against any move for separation.
Asked by a foreign journalist if he planned to go for a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI), Mujib sounded ambiguous: “Independence? No, not yet.” At around the same time, when another foreign newsman questioned Mujib’s challenging of the authority of the Pakistan government in the province, the Awami League chief snapped: “What do mean by government? I am the government.”
March 14: People did not go to work in defiance of martial orders.
Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, Chief of the Council Muslim League said that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s demands were quite reasonable and should be accepted to end the present political crisis in Pakistan. (The Dawn, Karachi March 14, 1971)
Syed Siddiqul Hasan Gilani, Chief of the Parliamentary Affairs of the JamaatiIslami, said that the responsibility for the present crisis lay with Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, the People’s Party Chief, who had aggravated the situation by threatening to boycott the National Assembly session on March 3. (The Dawn, Karachi March 14, 1971)
“In spite of the disastrous gravity of the situation in East Pakistan, of the tremendous heat and pressure generated there and the scope thus given to disruptive forces, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has shown his stature and his firm commitment to the solidarity of Pakistan, by putting in the present crisis four demands that are not in the least parochial or regional, but exclusively based on a national approach.”
Mr. Zulfikar All Bhutto, Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party addressing a public meeting in Nishtar Park said there were two Wings of the country. The People’s Party was in majority in this Wing and the Awami League in East Pakistan. If power was to be transferred to the majority parties of the two Wings, it should be given to the Awami League in East Pakistan and to People’s Party in West Wing.
March 15: Mujib claims he has taken over administration of East Pakistan except for the cities of Dhaka, comilla and Jessore – Central Intelligence Bulletin
Announcement of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – issued 35 directives (laws) to carry on with civilian rule.(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971):
- Non-co-operation movement to go on.
- Peoples determination commended.
- Fresh action programme as struggle enters 3rd week.
President Yahiya Khan arrived along with several other generals at Dhaka at 2:20 pm to meet Mujib for “negotiations”.
March 16: Mujib arrived at the President House hoisting a black flag to protest the horrendous massacre for the so called negotiations.
“Pakistan’s Peoples Party cannot be ignored in country’s governence” says Bhutto in a press conference.
Minority parties leaders in West Pakistan criticise Bhutto’s speech.
Air Marshal Asghar Khan says “Bhutto’s stand is self contradictory“:
On the one hand, Mr. Bhutto has opposed the “grouping” of provinces in West Wing and on the other is suggesting transfer of power to the “majority party in West Pakistan”. “Politically there is no West Pakistan. There are four provinces in this Wing of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is at present “holding the Country together.” Because, if East Pakistan goes, West Pakistan will also disintegrate.
West Pakistan political leaders slate Bhutto-Press report on March 16, 1971 (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971)
Professor Ghulam Azam, Amir of the Jama’at-i-Islami said that it had been crystal clear from the statement of Mr. Bhutto that he did not want to see Pakistan United. The Jama’at leader alleged that Mr. Bhutto had engaged himself in ” a conspiracy” immediately after the last general elections to divide the nation to fulfil his desire. He made an appeal to the President “not to help Mr. Bhutto in any way to break Pakistan”.
Prof. Azam said that immediate lifting of Martial Law and transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people could only save the nation from crisis.
March 18: Second day of “negotiations”. Mujib declines to accept probe body set up by the Martial Law Administrator Zone B “to go into the circumstances which led to the calling of the Army in aid of civil power in various parts of East Pakistan between March 2 and March 9″.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mujib has sent Capt. Mansur Ali, leader of Parliamentary party in the East Pakistan Assembly. Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed, Vice-President, East Pakistan Awami League and Mr. Abidur Reza Khan, MNA-elect to Chittagong to make an on the spot enquiry into the recent firings and other incidents there.
March 19: Clash near Dacca – Curfew clamped in Joydevpur.
After 90 minutes of heated discussion with Yahiya, Mujib heard that the military had fired upon people at Tongi, Joydebpur and other places. Hearing this he found no reason to continue talks.
Mujib condemned the killings and said:
No sacrifice would be considered enough to emancipate the people of “Bangla Desh”. Bangla Desh can not be suppressed by force. If necessary we shall give the last drop of our blood to see that our posterity lived happily as a free citizen in a free country.
March 20: Mujib and Yahiya talked for 2 hours, this time with their advisors.
March 21: Mujib and Yahiya talked again as thousands agitated in the streets of Bangladesh. Pakistan People’s Party chief Z. A. Bhutto came to Dhaka for “talks” with Mujib. With Bangabandhu finally consenting to Bhutto’s joining the talks, Yahya Khan had him come over to Dhaka. Angry crowds of Bengalis dogged Bhutto and his team all the way to the Sheraton.
March 22: The concept of a united Pakistan had dwindled, owing to the stiff position adopted by the Awami League, to the issue of a confederal arrangement for the two wings of the country. After talks, Yahiya again postponed the session of the National Assembly.
“Political crisis will be resolved” – says President Yahya Khan in a message.
In the message given on the occasion of bringing out of special supplements captioned, “Emancipation of Bangla Desh” by most dailies, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman described the present movement as the struggle for total emancipation of seven crore Bengalees. This struggle will continue until the final goal is achieved, he said and added, the people of Bangla Desh could no more be silenced by bullets, guns and bayonets because they are united today (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 23, 1971).
Bhutto said in a press conference he had a “satisfactory meeting” with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hoped to meet him again. Bhutto said they were examining the broad agreement reached between the President and Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and assured that his party would make every effort to reach an understanding to end the present crisis.
March 23: Mujib declared 23rd March as a holiday. At his residence in Dhanmondi, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman raised the Bangladesh flag, to the cheers of the crowd gathered on the road outside his gate. It was the Bangladesh flag that was displayed on his car as it wound its way through the streets and into the President’s House for a fresh round of negotiations with President Yahya Khan. The Awami League submitted a draft of what was considered its final proposals regarding a transfer of power to the Yahya Khan team on the day. General Peerzada promised to get back to the AL the next day.
March 24: The advisors of Yahiya and Mujib met. Mujib warns against bid to impose decision:
“Whatever conspiracy you indulge in you will not succeed in suppressing the demands of the people. We would not bow our heads to any force. We will free the people of Bangla Desh”.
Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, General Secretary of East Pakistan Awami League, urged the people to be vigilant and to be ready to make any sacrifice to defeat the conspiracies of anti-people forces.
Rumours abounded that Yahiya would hand over power on the 25th. Bhutto and his heavy body guard stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (Sheraton Hotel).
Major Ziaur Rahman and M. R. Choudhury asked Major Rafiq to abandon his (Rafiq’s) plans of pre-emptive attack on the Pakistanis to disarm them before they got a chance to attack. Zia and Choudhury said that the Pakistanis would not do anything and Rafiq’s ill-conceived plans would result in all of their deaths.
March 25: Daytime -newspaper headlines read that 150 people were killed in various parts of the country by the armed forces. Mujib regrets delays and fears that the talks were decoys. Mujib condemns attempts to divide Bengalees and Mohajir.
Sheikh Mujib gave a call for a general strike throughout ‘Bangla Desh’ on March 27th
as a mark of protest against heavy firing upon the civilian population in Saidpur, Rangpur and Joydevpur.
Mujib orders resumption of jute trade telecom links to function via Manilla.
“Only way out is to accept Awami League demands”, statement by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The staff and employees of the Hotel Intercontinental ceremoniously hoisted a regular sized ‘Joy Bangla flag’ replacing the smaller one at the main mast. The new flag measuring 100 x 60 inches was unfurled in the presence of a large number of people including foreign journalists.
Rumours flew around of imminent military action against the Awami League, indeed against the population.
Mr. Z. A. Bhutto’s Press conference in Dacca on March 25, 1971: Mr. Bhutto said that the quantum of autonomy sought by the Awami League was some thing which could be termed as “more than autonomy “. It was bordering on sovereignty.
Yahiya and his generals secretly fled Dhaka by 6 pm. Three battalions took up position in Dhaka as per previous plans.
Around 11 PM the army pounced on sleeping citizens of Dhaka to execute operation searchlight. The goal was to “crush” Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able-bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. By midnight, Dhaka was literally burning, especially the Hindu dominated eastern part of the city. Although the violence focused on the provincial capital, Dhaka, the process of ethnic elimination was also carried out all around Bangladesh. Hindu areas all over Bangladesh suffered particularly heavy blows.
Death squads roamed the streets of Dacca, killing some 7,000 people in a single night. It was only the beginning. Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed. Chittagong, too, had lost half its population.
Thus began the worst genocide of history… a genocide that many would like to forget and many would like that the new generation not hear about. The international media and reference books in English have published casualty figures which vary greatly, from 5,000–35,000 in Dhaka, and 200,000–3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole.
The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid May.
These systematic killings served only to enrage the Bengalis, which ultimately resulted in the secession of East Pakistan later in the same year.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Pakistani Army late at night. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto watched from the window of his suite at the Sheraton and saw the offices of The People newspaper blazing.
More on operation searchlight -from the “Witness to Surrender” by Siddiq Salik.
Hamoodur Rahman Commission’s report on the state of preparedness of the
March 26: The violence unleashed by the Pakistani forces on March 25, 1971, proved the last straw to the efforts to negotiate a settlement. Following these outrages, a declaration from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was distributed widely:
Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between E.P.R. and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla. (source)
A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s declaration reached some students in Chittagong in 26th of March early hours.
Soon after the Pakistan army took over Dacca Betar Kendro in the early hours of March 26, 1971. The Pakistanis renamed the radio station as “Radio Pakistan Dacca” and used it to announce martial law orders. On the evening of that same day a small radio station started broadcasting defiantly in the face of the Pakistan military’s bloody onslaught on the Bengalis. The clandestine radio station, located in Kalurghat north of the city of Chittagong called itself Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro -SBBK (Free Bengal Radio Station).
The first persons to broadcast that “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has declared the 75 million people of East Pakistan as citizens of the sovereign independent Bangla Desh.” in the evening on March 26, 1971 from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro in English were Ashikul Islam, a WAPDA engineer, and in Bengali, Abul Kashem Sandwipi. Later in the evening M. A. Hannan also broadcast the declaration from the telegram in a speech. (Bangladesh Observer, April 23, 1972)
March 26, 1971 is considered the official Independence Day of Bangladesh.
As evening descended on March 26, Bhutto arrived back in Karachi, to tell waiting newsmen: “Thank God, Pakistan has been saved.” In the evening, General Yahya Khan addressed Pakistanis to announce an outlawing of the Awami League and a determination to punish Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his “act of treason” in challenging the authority of the government of Pakistan.
Memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon:
“The West Pakistani army has moved to repress the East Pakistan secession movement. Our embassy believes that the military probably has sufficient strength to assert immediate control over Dacca and other major cities, but is not capable of maintaining control over an extended period.”
Minutes of the Washington special actions group meeting:
“After reviewing the situation in East Pakistan, the WSAG agreed that the U.S. should continue its policy of non-involvement in the dispute between West and East Pakistan. In particular, the U.S. should avoid being placed in a position where it could be accused of having encouraged the break-up of Pakistan. The WSAG agreed that the U.S. should delay action on any request that might be forthcoming for recognition of an independent East Pakistani regime.”
March 27: The Kalurghat Bridge area was controlled by an East Bengal Regiment under Major Ziaur Rahman who revolted against the Pakistani army. Bengali soldiers were requested to gueard the station. On request of Belal Mohammed of the SBBK, at 19:45 hrs on 27 March 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman broadcasted the announcement of the declaration of independence which is as follows.
This is Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro. I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangobondhu sheikh Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that the independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken command as the temporary Head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalis to rise against the attack by the West Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our Motherland. By the grace of Allah, victory is ours. Joy Bangla.
Major Ziaur Rahman’s declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a moral boosting impact to the nation considering the fact that an army major is on the side of Sheikh Mujib. He was quoted in international media as the provisional Commander-in-Chief of the Liberation Army.
Source: Audio of Zia’s announcement (An interview with Belal Mohammed)
Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro And Bangladesh’s Declaration Of Independence – Mashuqur Rahman & MMR Jalal (also published in Prothom Alo and the Daily Star)
Shaheed Minar (Monument to commemorate the martyrs of the Language Movement) was blown up by the army with demolition charges.
1. Here in Decca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak[istani] Military. Evidence continues to mount that the MLA authorities have list of AWAMI League supporters whom they are systematically eliminating by seeking them out in their homes and shooting them down.
2. Moreover, with the support of the Pak[istani] Military. non-Bengali Muslims are systematically attacking poor people’s quarters and murdering Bengalis and Hindus.
A telegram from the Embassy in India to the Department of State on the subject of
Government of India’s reaction to East Pakistan Developments.
During the debate in Lok Sabha Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India made an intervention and talked
about the political situation in East Pakistan. She also discussed about it in Rajya Sabha:
“We are interested in this matter for many reasons, firstly as one Member has said, that Shri Mujibur Rahman has stood for the values which we ourselves cherish the values of democracy, the values of secularism and the values of socialism. We are also concerned with the truly wonderful and unique way in which the people there had stood behind him and behind these values. We are no less full of sorrow and grave concern and even agony at what is happening there but I can only appeal to the Hon. Members that this is not a moment when the Government can say anything more and whatever the Government may or may not be able to do it would not be wise if this becomes a matter for public debate.”
March 28: Memorandum From Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger).
March 28: Sidney H. Schanberg was one of 35 foreign newsmen expelled Saturday morning from East Pakistan. He cabled his dispatch from Bombay, India titled “IN DACCA, TROOPS USE ARTILLERY TO HALT REVOLT”
March 29: New York Times said 5,000-7,000 people were killed in Dhaka. The Sydney Morning Herald said, 10,000 – 100,000 were killed.
Rain exposed two mass graves, one at Zahrul Huq Hall and the other at Rokeya Hall.
US department of State secret memo predicts Indian future response to situation:
a. Tolerate privately provided cross-border assistance to the East Bengalis ; This assistance could range from propaganda support to weapons and explosives.
b. Permit East Bengal dissidents to use India as a refuge and to conduct crossborder activities from within India.
c. Covertly provide supplies, including weapons, and perhaps some training, to East Bengal dissidents.
Archer Blood sends another telegram:
American priests in old Dacca reports that army acted with no provocations on part of Bengalis except barricade erection. Army exclusively responsible for all fires. Technique was to set houses afire and then gun down people as they left their homes. Stated army looking for Awami Leaguers but more indiscriminate rather than selective in approach. Most army destructions on 25th and 26th night, lesser on March 27th and March 28th.
We have received reliable reports of troops engaged in looting homes. Military reportedly is standing by while non-Bengalis looting Bengali dwellings.
Police were simply executed in Mohammadpur and elsewhere as Army considered them as potential threat. 800 Police killed in surprise attacks. The East Pakistan Rifles camp in Peelkhana had 1000 EPRs present. 700 Killed, 200 overpowered and 100 escaped.
House to house searches underway with ex Bengali servicemen being special target and shot at site whenever found. “No police seen anywhere in Dhaka”.
“26 hour chronicle of Dacca drama” -A diary through the eyes of Robert Kaylor of UPI of what happened in Dacca when the Pakistani Army took control.
March 30: Telegram from Archer Blood:
The university professors believed they were subject to a pre-planned purge and the burning of university documents suggested that the army wanted to eliminate all traces of the current “trouble making” elements at the university.
Six naked female bodies were found with bits of rope dangling from the ceiling fans at Rokeya Hall. Apparently the girls were raped, shot and hung from the heels.
The army burned Hindu and Bengali (Bangalee) areas in the Old Dhaka and shot ocupants as they came out. Hindus undeniably were specual focus of military brutality. Large fires burned on 30 and 31 March mostly in Hindu predominant areas. There were steady gunfire (1 shot every 10 seconds) in those areas. Large number of prisoners were taken into the EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) base.
First signs of ressistance: A British report said that army unit faced ressistance was in a desparate situation near Pabna.
March 31: Another Telegram from American consulate in Dhaka on the number of atrocities prdicts 4000-6000 death.
More on Army terror campaign and evidence that military faced some difficulties elsewhere.
Letter from Yahya Khan to Kissinger.
Minutes of meetings at US Deaprtment of state:
Dr. Kissinger: Does the government have Mujibur Rahman?
Mr. Blee: They captured him. Presumably he is in West Pakistan, perhaps in Quetta.
Dr. Kissinger: Will they execute him?
Lt. Gen. Cushman: Yahya accused him of treason. Possibly he has been shot already or was shot inadvertently.
Dr. Kissinger: Are we going to keep VOA quiet about reports coming from our Consul?
From an editorial in New York Times:
The United States, having played a major role in training and equipping Pakistanis armed forces, has a special obligation now to withhold any military aid to the Yahya Government. Economic assistance should be continued only on condition that u major portion be used to help bind up East Pakistan’s grievous wounds.
April 1: New York Times reports heavy killing in Dhaka.
Muslim League President Mumtaz Daultana:
Mujib’s demands were much as President Yahya had spelled out in his address to the nation, except that Yahya had not detailed Mujib’s views on an interim central government. Mujib had wanted Yahya to remain as President with no political government at the Center. Mujib was not “particularly concerned” about the Six Points and was willing to accept an interim arrangement based on the 1962 Constitution. However, he envisaged that the President would allow the Awami League to exercise full control over the affairs of East Pakistan, while the President would perform a coordinating role for inter-provincial affairs of the West Wing. On the “two-Assembly” proposal, Daultana said Mujib had been rather vague as to whether he really envisaged two separate assemblies or two subcommittees of the National Assembly.
Mujib replied, and Daultana accepted his response as sincere, that while he was under great pressure to declare an independent Bangla Desh, he wanted to maintain Pakistan. Mujib was convinced the West Pakistan establishment as represented by Yahya and Bhutto would never permit Bengalis to rule Pakistan.
April 4: The Pakistani ambassador to USA Agha Hilaly tells Assistant Secretary (USA) Sisco:
The army had to kill people in order to keep the country together.
“The Slaughter in East Pakistan“, Editorial, The Times, London
“From the evidence available one must conclude that the aim was so to wipeout the Awami League leadership that it could no longer provide an effective leadership for any resistance movement.”
April 6: Archer Blood, the US Consul General, officers of USAID and USIS sents the famous blood telegram to the Department of State condemning the failure of the US to denounce the suppression of democracy and the widespread attrocities.
April 7: “Foreign evacuees from East Pakistan tell of grim fight“, Sydney H. Schanberg, in New York Times.
“Two weeks after Yahya sent army into action, Pak military has control major cities in east, but Bengalis still hold major areas, especially in countryside. Bengali grievances now etched in blood. For present, Awami Leaguers leading resistance forces. If AL movement crumbles before it able consolidate position on ground, resistance movement likely to pass to more radical and left extremist groups such as Naxalites.
Bhutto is eager for power and he may be prepared make deal with military to play key, if not leading role, in new central government.”
April 10: The proclamation of independence order from Mujib Nagar (which was issued on April 10 shall be deemed to have come into effect from March 26, 1971).
US Consul General Archer Blood’s telegram from Dhaka:
“It is, in our opinion, a minor miracle that no American was killed or injured by trigger-happy Pak troops fresh from killing and looting during the delay caused by our accetance of Govt. of Pakistan arrangements.”
April 11: Radio adress by Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister, on behalf of the
Government of Bangla Desh headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, broadcast by Swadhin
Bangla Desh Betar Kendra to the people of Bangladesh.
“Today a mighty army is being formed around the nucleus of professional soldiers, from the Bengal Regiment and E.P.R. who have rallied to the cause of the liberation struggle. These have been joined by the Police, Ansars and Mujahids and now by thousands of Awami League and other volunteers and are being trained into a fighting force ready to use the captured weapons from the defeated West Pakistani mercenaries and fresh arms being purchased from funds collected by our Bengali Brothers overseas.
In Chittagong and Noakhali we have commissioned Major Zia Rahman of the Bengal Regiment to take full command of operations. His heroic defence of Chittagong City against overwhelming odds, which included attacks from the air and sea, will take its place with the defence of Stalingrad in the annals of warfare.”
April 13: “Chinese government holds that what is happening in Pakistan at present is purely internal affair of Pakistan, which can only be settled by Pakistan people themselves and which brooks no foreign interference whatsoever.” -Chou En Lai
April 14: “Rhetoric and Reality”, Editorial, Guardian, London:
“Nobody can tell precisely what Yahya’s strategists whispered in his ear three weeks ago. They appear to have thought that cutting off the head would kill Bengali nationalism: precisely the reverse. They appear to have forgotten about world opinion. They appear, most insanely of all, to have ruled India out of the military calculations, so that the uncontrolled border and aid seeping in has them as much by the throat as proliferatin- diplomatic complications.”
April 16: “Blood of Bangla Desh“, New Statesman, London:
“If blood is the price of a people’s right to independence, Bangla Desh has overpaid. The Bengalis’ case for statehood may be hard to refute, but it is inconvenient to every one else. And yet, by an unusual combination of circumstances, Bangla Desh has managed to obey all the rules. So, this may be the moment to consider what we, and other countries, mean by those splendid words which recur like a chorus in the United Nations charter: `the right to self-determination of peoples’. Objectively or subjectively, in Chinese or English, in capitalist or socialist jargon, it is hard to fault the East Bengalis, or justify their abandonment by all the major powers.”
Memorandum from Senior Review Group meeting regarding Pakistan – American relations
April 17: The formation of Bangladesh Government:
The First Bangladesh Government is Formed in exile. Awami League leaders convene in the district of Meherpur near the Indian border in Jessore, in the village of Baidyanathtala later renamed Mujibnagar, and affirm Sheikh Mujib’s March 26 proclamation for an independent Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is declared the President of the newly formed Republic, and Syed Nazrul Islam the Vice-President. Nazrul Islam assumes the reponsibilities of the Interim President, and appoints Tajuddin Ahmed as the Prime Minsiter to lead the provisional government.
April 18: Telegram from the Department of State to the embassy in Pakistan on the Provisional Government of Bangla Desh.
Kissinger: “I agree I used to think that 30,000 men couldn’t possibly subdue 75 million, which I suppose is the Western way of looking at it. But if the 75 million don’t organize and don’t fight, the situation is different.”
April 20: Press Statement issued by Professor Muzaffar Ahamed, President of National Awami Party (NAP), Bangla Desh concerning full support to Bangla Desh Government:
“We declare in unequivocal terms that the government headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the only legally constituted government of Bangla Desh. And urge upon all the democratic and progressive nations of the world ‘to recognise the newly-born state and its government and to render all material help and moral support.”
“I appeal to you. Mr. Secretary-General (UN), in the name of humanity to issue an immediate appeal to stop these brutal massacres of innocent people and to extend all possible help for the relief of the victims of dictator General Yahya Khan against military rule in Bangla Desh. I would welcome sending your observers inside Bangla Desh to see the nature and volume of looting, arson, mass killings and molestation of women by West Pakistani Army so that they can reveal the true picture of the sordid tale of Bangla Desh to the people of the world through the United Nations.”
April 22: Press statement of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, President of National Awami Party, Bangladesh:
“The question is whether the people of the world and nation of the world will support the struggle of the 71 crore people of Bengal for independence or support the abominable conspiracy of the dictatorial exploiting ruling clique which is indulging in mass murder.
Yahya, who is a Muslim himself, in the name of religion is mercilessly killing lakhs of Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. His soldiers who say that they are Muslims are raping women, including Muslim women. Though Muslims themselves, they are destroying mosques. They kill Muslims who are offering prayers. What will the Muslim world do about this ? Will they support the un-Islamic antihumanity abominable policy of Yahya ? Or will they support the cause of truth, justice and love as preached by Islam ?”
April 27: Maulana Abdul Mannan, General Secretary of Muslim League issued a statement saying that “patriotic” (by which he meant Islamic minded) people imbued with the zeal of crusading (Jihad) had come forward to welcome the (maurauding) army of West Pakistan.
April 28: Tajuddin pleas for arms aid and thus help a new-born country to free itself from the clutches of a murderous army. (The Times of India- New Delhi-April 29, 1971)
Henry Kissinger wrote in a secret memo to President Nixon:
The Pakistani army was poised to “retake” physical control of the major towns and that the ressistance was too poorly organised. He also said that the West Pakistanis were afraid that their economy would crash without emergency foreign aid. Till this day the country survives on foreign aid, like Bangladesh. Kissinger feared that Yahya might be forced to let East Pakistan (Bangladesh) go if this news leaked out.
Kissinger recommended Give serious assistance to Yahya Khan to end the war and bring about an arrangement which would be transitional to autonomy in Bangladesh. He suggested sending aid to Pakistan so that later the US would be in a position to pressurize Pakistan into adhering to the arangement.
The feedback from Nixon was an instruction not to squeeze Yahya Khan at the moment.
April 29: Memorandum from Haig to President Nixon on relief assistance for East Pakistani refugees in India:
According to the Indians, there are now over 500,000 East Pakistani refugees and they expect their numbers could eventually total one to two million. The magnitude of this problem-coming suddenly as it does-is beyond India’s limited resources.
It is recommended that you approve this $2.5 million modest program of assistance to East Pakistani refugees to be administered through appropriate international and voluntary agencies.*
* President Nixon initialed his approval of the recommendation on April 29. The Embassy in India was informed of the President’s decision in telegram 75479 to New Delhi, May 1.”
May 3: Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of East Pakistan (Bangla Desh) on the situation in Bangladesh:
“A just struggle:
(i) The present struggle of the people of Bangla Desh is the culmination of their struggle for democracy and autonomy which they were conducting since 1948 against the reactionary ruling classes which had ruthlessly suppressed democracy and national rights of the various nationalities.
(ii) The people of Bangla Desh and their leaders had never wanted the secession of East Pakistan. But they had always tried to establish their democratic and national rights through democratic struggles and through the election held in 1970. Even after a sweeping victory in the election and securing an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the Awami League and its Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had wanted nothing more than a constitution based on the six-point programme. Sheikh Mujib had also repeatedly tried to come to a political settlement with the ruling military junta.
(iii) But it was the ruling military junta, which had earlier held the election but had ultimately refused to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people, that launched a treacherous armed attack against the people. In fact, the military junta had no intention of transferring power. The Yahya-Mujib talks, etc., were nothing but ruse by the junta to gain time for preparation of the armed attack.
It was only after this armed attack by the ruling military junta that the popular struggle for democracy and autonomy had turned into an armed battle for the liberation of our motherland.
(iv) This liberation battle is fundamentally a battle for the just right of self-determination of the 75-million Bengalis waged against the reactionary ruling classes composed of the monopolists and feudalists who are backed and armed by the imperialists, especially the U.S. imperialists.
(v) In no case it is a struggle against the people of West Pakistan. Rather this liberation struggle of Bangla Desh against the reactionary ruling classes which are also suppressing and oppressing the people of West Pakistan will help their struggle for democracy and autonomy.
(vi) The liberation struggle is being carried on by the Mukti Fouz (Liberation Army) and the people of Bangla Desh. Therefore, the propaganda by the ruling military junta of Pakistan that it is an ” India-inspired struggle “, ” by Indian armed intruders ” and that ” India is interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan “, etc., is nothing but a canard. Similarly, the propaganda by some pro-Peking groups that this liberation struggle is inspired by the imperialists is a dire falsehood.
Judging all the above facts, all democrats of the world should be fully convinced that the present struggle for the liberation of our motherland is a just struggle against native and foreign reactionaries who are enemies of humanity and peace. The defeat of these reactionaries in Bangla Desh will strengthen the forces of democracy and peace in the South-east Asia region.”
May 4: Telegram from the Embassy in India to the Department of State on the subject of alleged Indian support to Freedom Fighters and other observations:
“Foreign Secretary Kaul referred me to the reports of Frank Moraes in the Indian Express as well as to those of British and American journalists regarding the organization and training of the liberation forces inside East Pakistan. Kaul said the refugees were in no state to fight. They were hungry, sick and at times almost naked.”
“In the last ten days we have received through clandestine reports and journalists’ accounts increasing evidence of Indian involvement with the Bengali separatists and of India’s own contingency planning in the event of war. The Indian Government has reinforced Border Security Force units and has moved regular Indian Army units to within three kilometers of the border. The BSF has established camps at which 2,000 Bengalis are reportedly receiving training in guerilla and sabotage tactics. Limited quantities of arms and ammunition have been provided to the Bengali separatists and some Indian forces have infiltrated into East Bengal to provide assistance and training to the separatists.”
May 7: Letter From President Nixon to Pakistani President Yahya expressing concern but using soft tone.
May 10: A conversation among economic advisor to President Yahya Khan (M.M. Ahmed), Assistant to the President (Kissinger), Ambassador of Pakistan(Agha Hilaly), NSC staff (Harold H. Saunders).
(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
Nixon declared to a Pakistani delegation that “Yahya is a good friend.” Rather than express concern over the ongoing brutal military repression, Nixon explained that he “understands the anguish of the decisions which [Yahya] had to make.” He said that the US is not going to become involved.
May 13: The Indian Government requested that the United States make available four C-130 transport aircraft and the crews to fly them to help ferry refugees from East Pakistan from the over-burdened state of Tripura to Assam (Telegram 7325 from New Delhi)
“Until the 12th May, 1971, the number of fugitives who were registered on their crossing the border into India was 2,328,507. We believe that there is a fair number who have avoided registration. Refugees still continue to pour in at the rate of about fifty thousand a day. We are doing our utmost to look after them. But there is a limit to our capacity and resources. Apparently, Pakistan is trying to solve its internal problems by cutting down the size of its population in East Bengal and changing its communal composition through an organised and selective programme of eviction; but it is India that has to take the brunt of this.
It is our earnest hope that the Government of the United States of America will impress upon the rulers of Pakistan that they owe a duty towards their own citizens whom they have treated so callously and forced to seek refuge in a foreign country.”
May 14: The Embassy in Islamabad warned that Pakistan would react unfavorably to a United States decision to participate in an airlift of East Pakistani refugees.
(The Department of State announced on June 12 that the United States would participate in the airlift. The airlift exercise, which was code-named Bonny Jack, was terminated on July 14. source)
May 17: Memorandum to Henry A. Kissinger about halting military assistance to Pakistan. Kissinger responded with a handwritten comment in the margin that reads: “Al-See me. The end result of this will be to terminate the relationship.”
May 18: A research study on Pakistan by Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
May 21: Dr. Kissinger told Indian Ambassador Jha “you can’t go to war over refugees.”
(Image credit: UNHCR)
May 23: President Yahya said that he tended to disagree with GOI’s current estimate that there were now over two and one-half million East Pakistani refugees in India, but that the GOP was aware of the fact that a substantial number of people had crossed the border and that the problem was both real and substantial.
(Image credit: Kana_ratnam from Flickr)
May 24: Indira Gandhi’s statement in Lok Sabha on the situation in Bangla Desh:
“It is mischievous to suggest that India has had anything to do with what happened in Bangla Desh. This is an insult to the aspirations and spontaneous sacrifices of the people of Bangla Desh, and a calculated attempt by the rulers of Pakistan to make India a scapegoat for their own misdeeds. It is also a crude attempt to deceive the world community. The world press has seen through Pakistan’s deception. The majority of these so-called Indian infiltrators are women, children and the aged.
We are proud of our tradition of tolerance. Our nation, our people are dedicated to peace and are not given to talking in terms of war or threat of war.
We are convinced that there can be no military solution to the problem of East Bengal. A political solution must be brought about by those who have the power to do so.”
“The secessionist elements in East Pakistan were encouraged and assisted by India. The Indian Parliament, in an unprecedented move, officially extended sympathy and support to these elements. The question of “recognising” the rebellious movement has also been under consideration of the Indian Government. Infiltrators and saboteurs from across the border have violated our territory and indulged in activities to dislocate and destroy East Pakistan’s economic and industrial life, including the vital communications system.
It is most unfortunate that due to disturbed conditions and for other reasons, a large number of people left their homes in East Pakistan and crossed into India. I have, therefore, in a public statement urged the law abiding citizens of East Pakistan who were compelled to migrate, to return to their homes and resume their normal duties. I am afraid, however, that I cannot extend a welcome to those persons who committed murders, indulged in rape and arson, destroyed private and public properties and looted Government treasuries and food stores. No Government can condone such crimes against the people and the State.”
May 26: The State Department gave a memorandum to President Nixon expressing fears of an imminent Indo-Pak war. The memorandum noted 3 points that would be the cause of the war.
1. Continued military repression in the East (Bangladesh), economic dislocation and lack of political accomodation in East Pakistan (Bangladesh)
2. The very heavy flow of refugees to India (over three million according to the Indians) which is imposing a great burden to India.
3. And the Indian cross-border support to Bengali guerrillas (Mukti Bahinis).
The following decisions were made:
a. Defer recognition of Bangla Dash for the immediate future.
b. Maintain constant military readiness.
c. Take every diplomatic step to force the major powers to take action to force the GOP to atop the refugee flow and to repatriate those who have crossed into India, including hints that Mia might bke unilateral military action.
d. Seek financial aid from all sources to temporarily support the refugees.
They also decided to release off-the-record press comments that India is reaching the point where some sort of action, possibly military, was possible if there is not immediate relief for the refugee problem.”
Nixon: But we don’t say anything against Yahya?
Kissinger: No, no. You just say you hope the refugees will soon be able to go back to East Pakistan. He will then reply to you that’s exactly what he wants.
I’ve got it all arranged with the—
Nixon: Good. Go ahead.
Kissinger: —Embassy. Then you can take credit. You can tell the Indians to pipe down—
Kissinger: And we’ll keep Yahya happy.
Nixon: The Indians need—what they need really is a—
Kissinger: They’re such bastards.
Nixon: A mass famine. But they aren’t going to get that. We’re going to feed them—a new kind of wheat. But if they’re not going to have a famine the last thing they need is another war. Let the goddamn Indians fight a war [unclear].
May 27: The East Bengal tragedy: (THE GUARDIAN, London)
The total picture of what has been happening in East Bengal is clear to us without any shadow of doubt. There are scores of survivors of firing-squad line-ups. Hundreds of witnesses to the machine-gunning of political leaders, prefessors, doctors, teachers and students. Villages have been surrounded, at any time of day or night, and the frightened villagers have fled where they could, or been slaughtered where they have been found. or enticed out to the fields and mown down in heaps. Women have been raped, girls carried off to barracks, unarmed peasants battered or bayoneted by the thousands.
The pattern, after seven weeks, is still the same. Even the least credible stories, of babies thrown up to be caught on bayonets, of women stripped and bayoneted vertically, or of children sliced up like meat, are credible not only because they are told by so many people, but because they are told by people without sufficient sophistication to make up such stories for political motives. We saw the amputation of a mother’s arm and a child’s foot. These were too far from the border, and gangrene developed from their bullet-wounds. Many saw their daughters raped and the heads of their children smashed in. Some watched their husbands, sons, and grandsons tied up at the wrists and shot in more selective male elimination.
About 400 were killed at Chaudanga while on their way to India, surrounded and massacred. Why? Lest they take tales to India? Or because choosing a certain democratic system under Sheikh Mujib means forfeiting the right to live in any country?”
May 28: Letter from President Nixon to Pakistani President Yahya talks about humanitarian aids not about the Pak atrocities.
May 29: Interview with PM Tajuddin Ahmed
July 3: US ambassador to India, Keating suggested Kissinger that military assistance to Pakistan was out of the question since they were still killing in East Pakistan and when refugees were still pouring into India. Kissinger informed him that the President would uphold the “One Time Exception” of arms sales to Pakistan.
Nixon: Look, even apart from the Chinese thing, I wouldn’t do that to help the Indians, the Indians are no goddamn good. Now Keating, like every Ambassador who goes over there, goes over there and gets sucked in. He now thinks the—
Kissinger: Those sons-of-bitches, who never have lifted a finger for us, why should we get involved in the morass of East Pakistan? All the more so, I quite agree with the point, if East Pakistan becomes independent, it is going to become a cesspool. It’s going be 100 million people, they have the lowest standard of living in Asia—
Kissinger: No resources. They’re going to become a ripe field for Communist infiltration. And then they’re going to bring pressure on India because of West Bengal. So that the Indians in their usual idiotic way are playing for little stakes, unless they have in the back of their minds that they could turn East Pakistan into a sort of protectorate that they could control from Calcutta. That they may have in the back of their mind.”
June 11: Lunch Conversation Between Indian Ambassador Jha and Mr. Kissinger -The purpose of the conversation was to prepare for the meeting of Foreign Minister Singh and also to prevent Indian military action against Pakistan while the Chinese channel was being maintained.
The number of refugees is now 5.4 million and that rate of flow is increasing. This should be evidence enough that no matter what noises President Yahya may make about restoration of normalcy, he has not yet done anything to effectively impede reign of terror and brutality of Pakistan army, the root cause of the refugee exodus. I most strongly recommend that the time is overdue for us to utilize all leverage available to pressure the GOP into halting without further delay the terror and repression by the army in the east wing.
June 13: Genocide in Bangladesh: – Anthony Mascarenhas, former Assistant Editor, Morning News, Karachi (published in Sunday Times, London):
He was 24 years old, a slight man surrounded by soldiers. He was trembling, because he was about to be shot.
“Normally we would have killed him as he ran,” I was informed chattily by Major Rathore, the G-2 Ops. of the 9th Division, as we stood on the outskirts of a tiny village near Mudafarganj, about 20 miles south of Comilla. “But we are checking him out for your sake. You are new here and I see you have a squeamish stomach.”
“Why kill him?” I asked with mounting concern.
“Because he might be a Hindu or he might be a rebel, perhaps a student or an Awami Leaguer. They know we are sorting them out and they betray themselves by running.”
“But why are you killing them? And why pick on the Hindus?” I persisted.
“Must I remind you,” Rathore said severely, “how they have tried to destroy Pakistan? Now under the cover of the fighting we have an excellent opportunity of finishing them off.”
“Of course,” he added hastily, “we are only killing the Hindu men. We are soldiers, not cowards like the rebels. They kill our women and children.”
The pogrom’s victims are not only the Hindus of East Bengal-who constitute about 10 per cent of the 75 million population-but also many thousands of Bengali Muslims.”
“In the context of briefing Nixon in advance of his meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister, Keating painted a grim picture of the situation in East Pakistan. He suggested that Nixon could put pressure on Pakistan to stop what he described as genocide in East Pakistan by withholding economic assistance. Keating pointed to the flood of five million refugees into India and said that the problem was growing at a rate of 150,000 a day. The strain on India was tremendous, and Keating said that the situation was further inflamed by what he described as a deliberate policy by Pakistan to drive out or kill the Hindus in East Pakistan. His assessment of the Indian response to the problem was that India wanted the killing stopped and a climate created in East Pakistan which would allow the refugees to return to their homes. In his view, India had adopted a moderate position and was seeking a political solution to the building crisis. Keating did not believe a political settlement would emerge until Yahya Kahn’s government was prepared to deal with the Awami League leaders who had been outlawed.” (Summary)
June 16: President Nixon met at the White House with Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh. Ambassadors Jha and Keating were also present, as were Henry Kissinger and Joseph Sisco. Nixon suggested quiet diplomacy by offering aid for the refugee instead of putting pressure on Yahya (Details).
“It is most unfortunate that this humanitarian question should be cynically turned into political propaganda by India, and that the Indian Government should use the problem of the displaced persons, as an instrument of pressure on Pakistan to impose a political government of Indian choice in East Pakistan. No government could yield to such blackmail.”
The situation is far from normal. The general sense of fear and lack of confidence on the part of most of the population.
“We have received through international air mail a letter mailed from Berlin without return address which purported to ask for recognition of the ‘People’s Republic of Bangladesh’. It would be inappropriate for us to take any action with respect to it since we consider the territory of East Pakistan to be part of the State of Pakistan.”
June 25: Memorandum from the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon:
“On June 22 The New York Times reported that two Pakistani freighters were preparing to sail from New York with cargos of military equipment for Pakistan. Ambassador Jha called on Under Secretary Irwin on the same day to warn that if the report were true, the shipment of arms to Pakistan would have an unfortunate impact upon relations between the United States and India.”
June 26: East Pakistan Refugees: Discussions with Sadruddin of UNHCR who had pro Pakistan views.
June 28: Letter from Pakistani President Yahya to US President Nixon: Yahya was troubled by media reports of Western governments (like UK) enforcing aid embargo on Pakistan to pressure a political settlement. All these developments have led to a strong and widespread public reaction in Pakistan.
He requested Nixon to “prevent the present ambiguity and misunderstanding from becoming a source of further strains in Pakistan’s relations with the Western world.”
Yahya’s public address to the nation:
Pakistan’s new political leaders would not include any representatives of the outlawed Awami League of East Pakistan under that party label. While reiterating the illegal status of the League, Yahya announced that Awami League members-elect of the national and provincial assemblies who had not disqualified themselves by secessionist activities would be eligible to participate in those bodies. Those Awami Leaguers who had disqualified themselves would be replaced through by-elections to take place this fall.
Banning Awami League made political accommodation impossible. The disqualification of many of the 440 Awami League members-elect and its probable unacceptability to most of the others means that most of those seats would have to be filled through by-elections in East Pakistan.
US president Nixon refused a proposal for arms embargo on Pakistan.
Telegram from the embassy in Pakistan to the US Department of State regarding the subject of East Pakistan Refugees: Special Assistant Kellogg’s Discussion with Pres. Yahya:
“Yahya launched into bitter attack on PM Gandhi and her government. He referred to statements in which Mrs. Gandhi reported to have said that refugees can’t go back. ‘Indian Government says they won’t let them go back.’ Some of the few refugees who have trickled back, he said, show wounds and say they were beaten up on main roads in India leading back to Pakistan. Kellogg interjected that none of Indian officials with whom he had spoken had indicated anything other than that India wanted refugees to return to East Pakistan as soon as possible. Kellogg noted enormous economic, religious, political and social pressures on India resulting from refugee influx, and GOI estimated that $400 million would be required to care for refugees over six-month period.
Kellogg repeated that none of Indian officials with whom he had spoken had said they wanted refugees to remain; nor had any referred to desire to see independent East Pakistan; “Bangla Desh” was never once mentioned to him. Meanwhile, if persons were continuing to leave East Pakistan and not returning in any appreciable numbers, Kellogg said, it would appear that they continued to be motivated by fear which caused them to flee in first place.”
June 29: US Dept. of State Report: Scenario for action in Indo-Pakistan crisis (pdf file)
Telephone conversation between the President’s Assistant for National Security
Affairs (Kissinger) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South
Asian Affairs (Sisco).
“With regard to the need for actions which will make possible a reversal of the refugee flow, we have continued to emphasize that a return to peace and security in East Pakistan and a viable political settlement are crucial to restoration of a more stable situation in South Asia. Dr. Kissinger will also be talking to President Yahya about this subject and will be delivering a personal message from me.”
“It remains our earnest hope that you and your government will succeed in your efforts to enable these refugees to return to their homes. For our part, we continue to urge the Government of India to exercise restraint, as we have in our discussions with you.”
“According to [name not declassified], Kosygin pledged support for the Indian guerrilla army operating in East Bengal, and, upon receipt of a formal request from India, the Soviets promised a guarantee of military protection to enable India to resist pressure from Communist China. Soviet policy makers, in [name not declassified] view, assume a divided Pakistan is no longer politically viable, and that an independent East Bengal is inevitable. “
“Events during the past three months in East Pakistan have touched all levels of East Pakistani society. The resulting bitterness of most Bengalis against West Pakistan, the Army and “Bihari” immigrants is scarcely veiled, runs very deep, and, in the reporting officer’s view, is irreconcilable. Any political “settlement”, short of rehabiliation of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and formation of provincial governments with broad autonomous powers analagous to the Six Point formula under his leadership, will not bridge the hostility which has surfaced as a result of the series of events in East Pakistan.”
July 6: The Consulate General in Dacca reported that there was a serious threat of famine in East Pakistan, and that prospects for averting widespread hunger were not good.
“Calling President Yahya’s June 28 speech a “complete fraud” Bhutto revealed he intensely angered and embarrassed by it. Said he had been assured by President only weeks before that speech would define in quite precise terms program for holding elections and transferring large measure of political power to elected representatives of people near future.
Also, speech carried President even further away from any possible reconciliation with Awami League.
Failure to reach an accommodation with Mujib and Awami League could only have “disastrous” consequences for country since elections evidenced Mujib and his party have overwhelming support in East Pakistan. Bhutto spoke a good deal about Mujib, suggesting that his and Mujib’s relations had been close, that their differences had been minor and could have been easily resolved had it not been for actions of MLA (Martial Law Administrator) which set Bhutto and Mujib at odds.”
July 7: Meeting with Kissinger and Indira Gandhi:
“She said that she does not wish to use force and that she is willing to accept any suggestions that the US may have. She told Dr. Kissinger how serious the situation was and said that India is not wedded to any particular political solution in East Pakistan. She also volunteered that India is not preventing the (6.8 million) refugees from returning to East Pakistan, as the Pakistanis have charged.
Dr. Kissinger asked whether the settlement in East Pakistan must include Awami League leader Mujibur Rahman. The Prime Minister said the settlement must be between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. This is not an Indo-Pakistani problem. India would not have been involved except for the refugees.”
Henry Kissinger’s conversations with Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram:
Ram assessed the Chinese military threat to India. Kissinger observed that China might intervene on behalf of Pakistan if there was a war between India and Pakistan. Kissinger assured Ram that the United States would take a grave view of any Chinese move against India.
Ambasssador Agha Hilaly receives Henry Kissinger at Chaklala Airport on 8 July 1971. Also in the picture Joseph Farland the US Ambassador to Pakistan and Sultan M Khan the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
Kissinger met privately with Yahya on July 8 and apparently did not prepare a full record of that meeting.
In his memoirs, Kissinger summarized his conversation with Yahya as follows: “I had several conversations with President Yahya and Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan. I urged them to put forward a comprehensive proposal to encourage refugees to return home and to deny India a pretext for going to war. I urged Yahya and his associates to go a step further in the internationalization of relief by admitting the United Nations to supervise its distribution. And I recommended the early appointment of a civilian governor for East Pakistan.”
Yahya discussing with Kissinger (Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
July 9: Nixon was briefed about Russia’s support to India. He writes “”Warn them that if they intervene RN (Richard Nixon) will personally cut off all aid to India.”
July 10: Study prepared in response to NSSM
The developing confrontation between India and Pakistan was one of the subjects discussed by Henry Kissinger and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai during Kissinger’s trip to Peking July 9-11, 1971. Kissinger says:
“We strongly oppose any military action to solve the problems of East Pakistan. And if India takes military action in East Pakistan, we would strongly and publicly disapprove of it.”
July 11: A regime of thugs and bigots: An account by Murray Sayle (Sunday Times, London-July 11, 1971) after spending a week in the areas from which many thousands of refugees fled:
“Some Muslims from their village had come up to see what was going on. The soldiers grabbed four of them and told them to recite something from the Holy Koran.
They said the four Muslims were terrified but managed to begin “Bismillah Irrahman Irrahim……..” (the opening words of the Koran). They said the soldiers shouted “These are not Muslims! They have been taught to say this to trick us!” They then shot all four.
The entire population of the Benapol reception centre was five forlorn dogs.
On the refugees issue, it is clear that only a very brave or very foolish refugee would even try to return as things are, and that his welcome would be very doubtful if he did.”
“The people of Bangla Desh are manfully resisting the efforts of Pakistani Junta to suppress freedom and democracy. The terror which has been unleashed on Bangla Desh has stirred the conscience of the world. The bravery and heroism of those engaged in this struggle is widely admired and applauded.
A significant percentage of the population of Bangla Desh has been forced out and has sought shelter in India. It is clear that the Pakistan Army is engaged in a ruthless genocide of the people of Bangla Desh and is, in the process, mounting a threat to our economy, our society, and on the basic principles which our Constitution enshrines.”
“Dr. Kissinger said that the US is not in favor of secession. We are in favor of a political solution. What we want is a situation that will permit the refugees to return.
The Defense Minister said that he understands the situation in East Bengal. The Punjabis do not regard the Bengalis as of the same stock. The Punjabi rulers have not put faith in the Bengalis.
The Minister continued that Mujibur Rahman never wanted secession. he was a moderating influence.”
July 14: West Pakistan pursues subjugation of Bengalis (Sydney H. Schanberg In New York Times):
“Army trucks roll through the half-deserted streets of the capital of East Pakistan these days, carrying ‘antistate’ prisoners to work-sites for hard labor. Their heads are shaved and they wear no shoes and no clothes except for shorts-all making escape difficult.
Street designations are being changed to remove all Hindu names as well as those of Bengali Moslem nationalists as part of campaign to stamp out Bengali culture.. Shankari Bazar Road in Dacca is now Tikka Khan Road, after the lieutenant general who is the martial-law governor of East Pakistan and whom most Bengalis call ‘the Butcher.’
In addition to the daily troops arrivals, the Government is bringing in wave upon wave of West Pakistanis to replace East Pakistanis in Government jobs. No Bengali is trusted with a responsible or sensitive post ; even the man who cuts the grass at the Dacca airport is a non-Bengali.
Since the offensive began the troops have killed countless thousands of Bengalis -foreign diplomats estimate at least 200,000 to 250,000-many in massacres. Although the targets were Bangali Moslems and the 10 million Hindus at first, the army is now concentrating on Hindus in what foreign observers characterise as a holy war.
One missionary said that the army recently killed over 1,000 Hindus in a day in a section of Barisal District, in the south. Another reported that in Sylhet District, in the northeast, a”peace committee ‘, called a meeting of all the residents of one area, ostensibly to work out a reconciliation. When everyone had gathered troops arrived, picked out the 300 Hindus in the crowd, led them away and shot them.
In the countryside-for miles at a stretch sometimes-villages have been burned to the ground on both sides of the road. In the cities and towns large areas have been reduced to rubble by heavy gunfire.”
July 15: US Acting Secretary John Irwin told the Indian Ambassador to the United States L.K. Jha, that as long as there is guerrilla activity in Bangladesh, Pakistan would not be able to cease fire which would be necessary for returning the millions of refugees. In this reference, he mentioned Indian cross-border help for the guerrillas. He forgets that the guerrilla activity started due to the military genocide.
He says that despite the fact that Awami League swept the elections, accomodation of Awami League should not be a pre-condition. (Interesting notion of democracy)
He also called Bangla Desh’s need for independence a psychological need.
“Mr. Helms (Director of CIA) noted that the pressures are building in India to go to war. The President (Nixon) said that the situation “smells bad.” The Indians are not to be trusted.”
July 19: A report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation on July 19 confirms that the number of refugees are from 6.4 million to 6.8 million. They stressed the humanitarian conditions of the refugees and suggested actions.
“U.S. military equipment still in the pipeline for delivery to Pakistan may be even more than has been publicly admitted by the U.S. Government.”
“There is a proposal to try Sheikh Mujibur Rahman…Any trial of that nature will be a farce.
When we talked of giving up military means and trying to find a political settlement, which means a settlement acceptable to the people of Bangla Desh, acceptable to the Awami League, and to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is the undisputed leader of the Awami League and the people of Bangla Desh. Any attempt, therefore, to take any action against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will be follow-up action on the statement that President Yahya Khan made on 28th June, which has paved the way completely for the emergence of an independent Bangla Desh. Any further action of this type will be a mad action, which will result only in making the freedom-fighters more determined in the pursuit and realisation of their objective namely, freedom for Bangla Desh and for the people of Bangla Desh.”
He further adds:
“President Yahya Khan is reported to have said that ‘if India made any attempt to seize any part of East Pakistan’ he will declare war.
We have no desire ‘to seize any part or Pakistan’. President Yahya Khan is either trying to mislead his people and the world at large or preparing them for an aggression against India by making such unwarranted and baseless statements.”
July 22: Bangla Desh prime minister Tajuddin Ahmed said that Gen. Yahya Khan’s blustering talk of “war with India” is an indication of his despair, aimed at deflecting the world’s attention from the liberation movement and creating communal and racial disharmony.
July 23: The US Consulate General in Dacca warned that unless steps were taken to prevent famine in East Pakistan anticipated deaths from mass starvation could approach the catastrophe of the Bengal famine of 1943 in which millions of people died.
He (A doctor) whispers of recent events in this town : the streets littered with bloated and decomposing bodies ; the burning, looting and raping and the continuing terror. “We are afraid to speak the truth. Those who speak the truth are punished, and the only punishment is death.”
After a World Bank team’s visit in Pakistan, One member had said that East Pakistan looked like “Arnheim after the Nazi blitz” and another said that it looked like “a country after a nuclear attack.”
Yahya says he could get 45 to 60 of Awami League MPs and hold by-elections for the seats of all the others. We could either see him disenfranchise 167 out of 169 Assembly members or ask him to do something he might not be able to do.
“As Kissinger says that the Indians might attack Pakistan due to its complete helplessness Nixon asserts: ‘After all they have done we just aren’t going to let that happen.”
“Local officials being screened in Rangpur. Few refugees returning but probably no significant outflow either. Bengali Bishop strongly condemns US arms aid to Pakistan.
Rangpur Deputy Commissioner (DC) stated that peace committees in his district not very influential and subject to control of civil administration. Role has changed from period during April/May when situation was more unsettled allowing peace committees more power. They make recommendations concerning distribution of abandoned property and compensation to those whose property was destroyed. Both are reviewed by civil administration before implementation. Peace committees not on committee interviewing returnees from India. They have no political function.”
July 28: “Escape from terror”: a report of the International Rescue Committee’s Emergency Mission to India for Pakistan refugees.
“Preoccupied with the basic needs of refugees, i.e., food, shelter and first-aid, the (Indian) governmental assistance program, though substantial, cannot cope with the multi – faceted organizational and financial needs described in the foregoing pages. Nor can it be expected to take care of relief payments to the substantial number of artists, writers, journalists, scientists and similar categories of refugees who have found asylum in India. They have depended thus far on the help of their Indian colleagues. Some of them face starvation.”
Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland), Washington:
“Yahya told me that they had pinpointed 29 camps within India where guerrillas were being trained. Now I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but the guerrilla threat is growing by leaps and bounds. They’re averaging 18 Pakistanis a day now; they are averaging two bridges a day. Killing that many.”
“The situation in East Pakistan is intolerable, as is a foreign policy which in practice reinforces the status quo there. The United States should instead use all the influence, limited though it may be, which it can bring to bear. In this connection, steps should be taken to insure that military goods, including spare parts, are not shipped to Pakistan and the offer of F-104′s B-57′s patrol aircraft, and armoured personnel carriers made last fall should be immediately resigned Economic assistance should be suspended until the Pakistanis, both East and West, agree upon a satisfactory political solution and until steps are taken to repatriate the refugees now in India.”
“A July 23 press report, quoting the West Bengal Health Services Director, warned that 300,000 refugee children were on the verge of death from starvation.”
Kissinger: Over any two or three year period, 75,000 Punjabi cannot govern 75 million Bengalis.
Memorandum of conversation among Farland, Kissinger and Saunders: Ambassador Farland agreed that the possibility of war is imminent.
Attempts to make “Bangla Desh” an India-Pakistan issue is a “wrong attitude and cannot bring peace in this part of the world”.
August 1: The “Concert For Bangla Desh” is held. Ravi Shankar conceived the idea of the concert to raise awareness and funds to help the victims of the jihadi Pakistani soldiers. He got together with George Harrison, an ex-Beetle and organised one of the biggest concerts at Madison Square Garden. Shankar, Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russel, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Badfinger, Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, Mike Gibbons, Allan Beutler, Jesse Ed Davis, Chuck Findly, Marlin Greene, Jeanne Greene, JD Green, Dolores Hall, Jim Horn, Kamala Chakravarty, Jackie Kelso, Jim Keltner, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Claudia Lennear, Lou McCreary, Ollie Mitchell, Don Nix, Don Preston, Carl Radle, Alla Rakah performed at this historic concert that brought the genocide to world attention. George Harrison wrote and sang the famous song, “Bangladesh” at the concert thus introducing the nation to the world.
“Kazi Zahirul Qaiyum MP of Awami League met consulate official on behalf of Khondkar Mustaque Ahmed to convey to the US government that ‘A.L. Leaders are anxious for political settlement with GOP and are prepared recede from total independence demand.’
When asked about Bangladesh plans, Qaiyum said there have been several long Cabinet meetings recently, and Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed “is at a loss what to do.” He said that seizing and holding “liberated territory” was out of the question as two fully trained and equipped army divisions would be needed to hold significant portion of East Bengal. Rather, he thought Mukti Fouz would continue to emphasize guerrilla tactics in effort to erode West Pakistan’s economy and will. He said AL had some “friends” in West Pakistan who might eventually influence the situation to AL’s advantage. Pakistan might be compelled to change its policy towards East Bengal in six months.
Qaiyum emphasized that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman must play key role in any possible settlement as only Mujib is capable of holding East Bengal people together. If Mujib is tried and executed, all hope for resolution of current impasse will be lost. For this reason Qaiyum asked that US government do everything in its power to ensure Sheikh Mujib’s safety.”
Source: Bangladesh Liberation War and the Nixon White House 1971. p. 166 – 167
August 2: American Embassy, Islamabad reports to State Department on Dacca Internal Assessment; Lahore Internal Assessment; and Karachi Internal Assessment:
“Security situation has not improved. Some evidence non-cooperation. Persecution of Hindus declining in direct proportion to decline in size Hindu population. Latest estimate puts six million East Pakistan Hindus in India. Hindu monuments being destroyed some areas. Such destruction observed in Dacca and Chittagong and Hindu sculpture now very easy to obtain. Some Dacca streets with Hindu and English names renamed with Muslim names.”
August 3: Yahya announces that Sheikh Mujib will be tried by special military court for ‘waging war against Pakistan’
August 5: Bangladesh Govt hails US House decision
“Cross-border shelling by both Indians and Pakistanis has increased as has tempo of guerilla activity which is shifting from sabotage to direct attacks on West Pakistani forces…”
“At a meeting with political officer of the Consulate A.L. M.N.A. Zahirul Qaiyum said
he was acting ‘under specific instruction of Bangladesh Minister who hopes to convince USG to initiate negotiations with GOP which will lead to a meeting of interested parties and peaceful settlement…
According Qaiyum, AL leaders think there is a good chance of war breaking out, perhaps in the next 15-20 days, which would be an enormous disaster for everyone on subcontinent. In long run, AL is confident that it can achieve military victory. East Bengal, however, is being devastated… Under any circumstances an enormous reconstruction job will be required. Qaiyum thought that US was only country capable of providing necessary assistance.”
The Consulate General in Dacca did an assessment of Qaiyum’s role in the Awami League and concluded that he was not prominent in the leadership but was probably a confidant of Khondkar Mushtaq Ahmad, the “Foreign Minister” of the Bangladesh independence movement, and a bona fide representative of Mushtaq. (Telegram 3057 from Dacca, August 8)
August 7: President Nixon wrote (handwritten) personally thank Yahya for his assistance in arranging contacts between the U.S. and China.
August 9: A Press Note issued by the Headquarters of the Chief Martial Law Administrator said that sheikh Mujibur Rahman will be tried by a Special Military Court for “waging war against Pakistan” and other offences. The trial will commence on August 11 in camera and its proceedings will be secret. (THE DAWN, Karachi-August 10, 1971)
A statement by External Affairs Minster of India in Lok Sabha expressing reaction on Sheikh Mujib’s trial:
“What happened after the 25th of March this year is known to the whole world. The denial of the verdict of the people and letting loose of military oppression and trampling on the fundamental human rights of the people of Bangla Desh stand self-condemned. Instead of respecting the verdict of the people and acknowledging Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the elected and undisputed leader of Bangla Desh. the Pakistan Government has launched a reign of terror and carried out a calculated plan of genocide, the like of which has not been seen in recent times. To stage a farcical trial against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a gross violation of human rights and deserves to be condemned by the whole world.”
Memorandum from Acting Secretary of State Irwin to President Nixon on the Indo-Soviet treaty:
“The essence of the Treaty is its provision that in the event of attack or the threat of attack there will be immediate mutual consultations. Each side also undertakes to refrain from giving assistance to any third party taking part in armed conflict with the other party. These clauses not only assure Soviet neutrality in the event of hostilities in South Asia but also the prospect of Soviet assistance and support in the event of war.”
Memorandum of conversation between Indian Ambassador L.K. Jha and Henry Kissinger:
“Mr. Kissinger said he could not be more categorical in pointing out that a war between India and Pakistan would set back Indian-American relations for half a decade. “
August 10: Pakistan filed a protest note against U.N. Secretary General’s statement regarding Sheikh Mujib’s trial.
US Ambassador to Pakistan’s conversation with Pak Army Chief of staff on East Pakistan situation:
“Gen. Hamid acknowledges insurgency activity in East Pakistan is continuing at fairly active pace. He admits to crucial importance of successful political reconciliation but declined to express opinion on prospects. He acknowledges uncertainty on number of persons elected under Awami League ticket last December who will actually come forward to claim their seats in National Assembly. A recent publication ahows a list of 88 Awami League MNAs-elect, who are now cleared to take their seats.
Hamid said he was rather pleased with performance of “Razakars”, recruits (mainly Bengalis) from local population who have been given brief training and then put on armed duty mainly in static defense of bridges and other key structures.”
He adds further:
“GOI has not taken military measures that indicated intention to initiate war against Pakistan.”
“We apprehend that this so-called trial will be used only as a publicity to execute Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This will aggravate the situation in East Bengal and will create a serious situation in India because of the strong feelings of our people and all political parties. Hence our grave anxiety. We appeal to you to exercise your influence with President Yahya Khan to take a realistic view in the larger interest of the peace and stability of this region.”
Minutes of Senior Review Group meeting held at US President’s office:
“President Nixon: ‘Let me be very blunt…… The US “must not – cannot – allow” India to use refugees as pretext for breaking up, Pakistan ……. That is what India wants to do.”
August 12: Indo Soviet joint statement:
“Both sides reiterated their firm conviction that….. Urgent steps be taken in East Pakistan for the achievement of political solution and for creation of conditions of safety for the return of the refugees to their homes which alone would answer the interests, of the entire people of Pakistan….”
August 13: Memorandum from Harold Saunders, NSC staff to Henry Kissinger :
“Bangla Desh representatives in India have recently sought out and made contact with middle ranking U.S. officials in New Delhi and Calcutta concerning a settlement with the West Pakistanis. It is not at all clear, however, what they are really fishing for. The approach in Calcutta (by Quayum), allegedly reflecting the Bangla Desh “Foreign Minister’s” wishes, was along the lines of a settlement on the basis of something less than full independence, while the approach by the ‘Foreign Secretary’ (M. Alam) in New Delhi was based on the opposite outcome of total independence.”
August 14: An officer from the Consulate General in Calcutta met with Bangladesh representative Qaiyum. Qaiyum reaffirmed that he was acting under instructions from his Foreign Minister (Khondoker Mushtaq) who was prepared to accept a negotiated settlement that provided for less than complete independence. Qaiyum emphasized that only Mujibur Rahman could negotiate on behalf of the people of East Bengal, and only he could get them to accept a political settlement. Qaiyum added, “if Sheikh is alive, there is hope for compromise, if he is killed, there is no hope.” (Telegram 2321 from USConsul Calcutta)
Foreign Minister Mustaaque planning a trip to Moscow, but would like to visit U.S. First.
August 15: Interview with Aga Hilaly
August 17: Vice Admiral S.M. Ahsan, the governor of East Pakistan until end of February 1971 on current situation:
“Ahsan recommended that special USG representative be sent to talk to Yahya before it is “too late” to explain absolute necessity of finding political solution in East Pakistan, which possible only through rehabilitation and use of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Prior to March at least, separation from Pakistan was not Mujib’s intention and hopefully his attitude has not significantly altered.
The source of power and voice of authority in Pakistan is President Yahya. He is first and last authority.
India’s position, has despite public outcry, been reasonably moderate and its hands before the events in March were relatively clean.”
The Washington Special Actions Group Meeting reiterated that ‘The basic (U.S.) policy is to be helpful in maintaining the integrity of Pakistan.’
August 18: Memorandum from the Kissinger to President Nixon:
- In East Pakistan, a serious insurgency movement is now underway in the countryside and is beginning to penetrate the major cities. This has been fed by the Indians in terms of logistics, training and some arms, but basically reflects a strong Bengali will to resist the West Pakistanis. This in turn provokes an army response which stimulates further refugee flow.
- The refugee flow to India continues. This has increased to a rate of some 50,000 per day after a drop in late July. This could be a temporary aberration; it could result from a new increase in violence; or it could reflect hunger in some pockets. Just maintaining the present number of refugees is projected to cost (Indians) $600 million in a year, a figure larger than the net flow of foreign aid from consortium donors.
August 19: Letter from President Nixon to President Yahya:
Both your officials and ours recognize that the most immediate priority is to mount a major effort to avert famine in East Pakistan. This step is fundamental to progress in re-establishing normal conditions. I am confident that you also share our judgment that it would also be helpful in this task for you to continue your efforts to build on the program announced in your June 28 address for enlisting the support of the elected representatives of the East Pakistani people in the urgent work of national reconciliation.
Meeting with President Yahya, M.M. Ahmad and US Ambassador Farland:
“Yahya discussed his plans to associate Bengalis in administration of province by clearing 88 of former Awami League representatives to National Assembly. He said that only some 15 or 16 of the 88 were presently in Dacca and they were being protected by the government since they feared for their lives. The rest of 88 were either in the countryside or in India. He did not know how many of them would come forward to claim their seat.
After some discussion of this point from several angles it was quite clear that President Yahya refused to deal with any group however cleansed under name of Awami League. He said that he was severely criticized in West Pakistan for having cleared as many as 88 of former AL members to take their seats in next assembly if they came forward.”
He further said on trial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman “you can stops worrying because I am not going to execute the man even though he is a traitor.”
US Embassy’s telegram confirms that The US ambassador pressured Yahya not to execute Sheikh Mujib. Yahya further stated that because the charge carried the possibility of a death sentence, it was his plan that if such the verdict be, a request for mercy would be made in the Sheikh’s behalf, and he, Yahya, would accept the petition.
August 20: War of annihilation – Al Hawadith –Lebanon
The Pakistani officer stood in one of the small villages of East Pakistan. And told the hungry public gathered around him “My men are wounded and I want some blood, I want volunteers.” Before waiting for a reply, the soldiers rushed forward, selected some young men, threw them on the ground and pricked their arteries. Blood began to flow and continued flowing until the young men died.
A meeting in Calcutta with a representative of the “Bangla Desh” Cabinet and a political officer from US consulate:
–”Any” agreement between Mujib and Yahya will be acceptable if arranged through `proper channels’ i.e. US participation in the arrangements, since “Mujib’s life is more important than independence”.
–Bangla Desh “Foreign Minister” (Kh. Mustaque) Ahmed would like to head a delegation to the US to discuss their problems with US officials, although they understand they could not be received “officially.”
–There is a split within the Bangla Desh movement between the “rightists” who are in control but want to save themselves and Mujib through a compromise settlement and “leftwing elements” who will quickly take over if Mujib dies.”
Qaiyum reveals intel on Bangla Desh contacts with India:
“Qaiyum said early August BD Cabinet meetings with GOI officials in New Delhi were mainly concerned with Mukti Bahini (MB) problems. GOI has now agreed MB may purchase arms from abroad and bring them into India. Only foreign arms received to date (other than those taken from Indian army inventory) was consignment of Yugoslav weapons channeled to MB through GOI. GOI also agreed greatly to step up MB training. In addition to training now given at youth camps and MB centers, Indian army agreed provide additional training for 14,000 men from the western zone and 10,000 from the eastern side of East Bengal each month. From 24,000 total, 5,000 recruits monthly will be selected for additional 4 weeks advanced training. Qaiyum said recently India has increased supply of arms for MB. GOI also now manufacturing ammunition for Chinese weapons taken from East Pakistan.
Qaiyum said that he and majority of his colleagues are anticommunists and “rightists.” They want ‘to save themselves,’ and only way they can envisage doing this is to work out compromise in near future.”
August 24: Amembassy, Islamabad reports to U.S. Secretary of State on contacts With Bangladesh Representatives – President Yahya’s reaction :
‘I asked Yahya if he saw any major obstacle to a select group of GOP members,
unpublicized and on neutral ground in a foreign country with a few of the key
people for whom Qaiyum indicated he spoke…. Yahya replied he would favour
such a development wholeheartedly, asking that in case such a contingency
developed, I keep closely in touch with him on this matter generally.
Telegram from Amconsul, Karachi to Secretary of State on Political coordination:
“General mood in Karachi is essentially one of xenophobic defiant support of government and its policies as necessary to preserve integrity of Pakistan. Dominant political figure, Z.A. Bhutto, while not basing complaints on regional bias, has made it quite clear that he believes that military is arbitrarily retaining power, dragging its feet in turning over power to elected representatives of people, and in general mismanaging country. Press has almost uniformly endorsed all policies of MLA whether support given in order to remain in print or out of true conviction.
MLA, as well as President, continue to hold considerable public support. Their position has been helped by relative prosperity of this area. To most people, MLA is still considered saviour and preserver of national unity and any criticisms or complaints levelled tend to be directed against “civilian bureaucrats”. On practical level, few see any workable alternative to military rule.
After India, Sheikh Mujib Rahman and his Awami League rank second in order of disapproval. To most the Sheikh is treacherous collaborator of India. To more generous, he willing dupe to wiles and anti-state plots of Indians and anti-state miscreants. Clearance of former Awami Leaguers MNA’s is acknowledged by most as not overly pleasant necessity and sign of magnanimity by MLA. Jamaat-i-Islam leaders have openly criticized MLA for recognizing traitors.
Small Bengali community in Karachi is generally silent. In security of discussions with foreigners, they express their resentment over government’s decision of putting the sole blame for the problems of day on Bengalis while ignoring the irresponsible action of Bhutto.”
“We will welcome continuing analysis and comments : ( a ) possibilities for negotiation between BD reps and GOP, (b) dynamics of possibly troublesome division within BD movement (including Mukti Bahini) over Quote independence vs accommodation UNQUOTE……”
At meeting with Qaiyum August 27 he showed us note from Bangladesh Fonmin urging Qaiyum to expedite his efforts. According Qaiyum, (US) Congen is ‘only pipeline’ for BD negotiation effort.
Qaiyum said Mukti Bahini guerrilla activity will be greatly stepped up during next month. He said very large number (15,000, he claimed) guerrillas sent into East Bengal August 10-15. The GOP announcement ‘clearing’ 88 MNA’s has caused difficulty for those cleared, who now vulnerable to charge of collaborating. Many of ‘cleared’ MNA’s are making effort to show loyalty to Awami League by making special trip to Calcutta from East Bengal to pledge allegiance, by joining Mukti Bahini.
He said special efforts were being made to disrupt maritime traffic to and from East Bengal, and added that effort would be made to destroy Pakistan ship ‘Padma’ currently enroute to Karachi from US carrying consignment of military equipment.”
Although the NAP (R) had disagreed with the Foreign Trade position in Mujib’s Six Points, surely acceptance of those six points, or whatever, would have been better than the situation that has resulted in East Pakistan.
Some East Pakistan Observations: A trip report by FSO H. Batjer:
“The general atmosphere in East Pakistan is one of sustained anxiety, uncertainty and in some cases real fear. Perhaps the most disturbing element in the East Pakistan situation is the public’s total lack of confidence in the future. Personal security and general well being are nonexistent for most people whether they support the idea of a united Pakistan or Bangla Desh. Without reason, citizens are killed, maimed and/or deprived of family and possessions.
The Mukti Bahini seeks refuge and food from the sympathetic local Bengalis, but their lives are endangered should the local Peace Committee and/or Army collaborators learn of their support.”
September 1: Directives to the nation by Bangla Desh government
September 2: The slaughter of 200,000 Bengalis – El Commercio – Equador
Memorandum of conversation between The Secretary Christopher Van Hollen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA Peter D. Constable, Senior Political Officer, Pakistan-Afghanistan Affairs Maj. Gen. Inam-ul Haq, Director General, Defense Procurement; Pakistan Ministry of Defense Mr. Z.M. Farooqi, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Pakistan:
The Secretary stated, they are not pressing the Government of Pakistan. “We want to take a look at the problem together. We do not want to change our policy toward Pakistan or to do anything that will hurt Pakistan. If it does work out, it would be to our mutual advantage, since it would give us an opportunity to try to play a constructive role in economic assistance.”
Statement by Peter Shore, British MP: “The British Government should not resume consortia aid or economic aid to West Pakistan”.
“When asked about exclusion of Hindus from relief assistance in the cyclone disaster area, President Yahya Khan replied that ‘discrimination against Hindus was contrary to instructions,’ and that he ‘encourages the return of the refugees.’
General Rahim Khan said 200 local leaders had been killed by Mukti Bahini attacks in the struggle which is now beginning for administrative control of rural areas. The government is turning to, and arming as irregulars, the most deeply orthodox Muslims in the rural villages. These tend to be the poorer, opportunistic elements with little or no experience in leadership roles, but with fierce loyalty to Islam and equally fierce anti-Hindu feelings.
General Rahim Khan told us of plans to abolish all traditional village leaders and councils and displace them with thoroughly loyal peace committees — the deeply orthodox Muslims mentioned above.”
US Government’s assessment of their achievements:
“President Nixon’s initiative in directing massive relief to East Pakistan has: (a) improved the public and moral posture of President Yahya Khan’s government (through its concern for relief to its citizens in. the East Wing), (b) reduced the prospects of widespread famine, (c) led to some deemphasis of military control over civil affairs, and (d) brought a Bengali Governor to head the civil administration in East Pakistan. These are important gains which were only possible because of our policy of maintaining a dialogue with Pakistan, as well as with India. We should continue to keep open channels of communication and influence.”
September 4: Guerilla activities by Bangladesh rebels – Keesing’s archives.
Secret Telegram from Amembassy, Islamabad to Secretary of State on Contacts with Bangla Desh Reps:
‘We commented that we understood Moshtaque Ahmed had been thinking of going
to UK, and that might be better site for meeting. Yahya raised no objection to
that possibility ….. I believe that Dept should now instruct Calcutta to make
contact with Moshtaque Ahmed in accordance previous plan.’
‘Farland reports that Yahya was “entirely agreeable” and “reacted favourably”
to the mention of BD “Foreign Minister” whom Yahya knew and described as one
of the true moderates amongst Mujib’s followers, Yahya suggested, a possible
meeting could take place in East Pakistan…..’
“Repression of East Pakistani intellectuals are continuing probably on a reduced scale than in March.”
Pak army chief of staff on military situation in East Pakistan:
“Hamid had not yet seen evidence that GOI intended war. He hoped that expanded amnesty effective Sept. 5 would encourage further return to normalcy.”
September 8: Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting:
Yahya said that his policy was for a “civilianization of the Government in East Pakistan” which means deemphasizing the role of the military in running the place. He has now appointed Dr. A.M. Malik, a Bengali, as Governor of East Pakistan in place of the Commanding General there.
With regard to political accommodation, the amnesty does not extend to most of the Awami League. Only 88 of the elected League members of the General Assembly and 94 League members of the Provincial Assembly have been cleared of criminal charges and therefore included in the amnesty. Most of these are in India-only 16 of the 88 General Assembly members are in Dacca. The remaining 79 General Assembly members and 60 Provincial Assembly members are on trial either in person or in absentia. There has been some blunting of anti-Hindu practices and some improvement in a more balanced distribution of relief supplies.
Mr. Williams: The first step in the communal violence may have been the killing by the Bangla Desh of the Urdu-speaking Bihari Minister. The counter-reaction when the Pak troops arrived led to the communal riots. The exact number of casualties is not known, but the deaths in the communal riots were probably in the thousands and in the later attacks on the Hindus, probably in the ten-thousands.
We also need to settle on the number of refugees in order to calculate refugee needs. India claims 8 million, the Pakistanis say over 2 million.
Dr. Kissinger: What do you think?
Mr. Williams: Probably around 6 million.”
September 10: Secret Telegram from Amconsul Calcutta to Secretary of State:
“Consulate General in making attempt arrange appointment with Bangladesh “Foreign Minister” Mushtaq Ahmed learned that BD Cabinet position has hardened recently. Cabinet now taking line that only Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is qualified to deal with GOP and therefore opposes negotiations at this stage. Contact man Qaiyum reports Cabinet has agreed that essential preconditions to negotiations are for Yahya to (A) free Mujib and return him to East Bengal and (B) Proclaim general amnesty for all MNA’s, MPA’s and others connected with Bangladesh movement — essentially a return to status quo ante March 25.”
September 15: Secret Telegram from Amconsul Calcutta to Secretary State on contacts with Bangla Desh reps:
“Qaiyum indicate that earlier initiative seeking BD-GOP negotiations has cooled off considerably as result of intervening events and new pressures… we think direct talks with Mushtaq may still be useful.”
Telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in India on East Pakistan relief.
“A consultative committee or “National Liberation Front” has been formed in Calcutta by the Awami League and representatives of pro-Soviet Communist and other leftist parties from East Pakistan. The committee includes the Bangla Desh cabinet and Acting President, as well as representatives from the other parties, but does not include the pro-Chinese Toaha group, which has some independent guerrilla capability in East Pakistan.”
September 18: In a conference in London Dr. AR Mallik (VC of Chittagong University), leader of Non-official delegation from Bangladesh attacked the ‘self styled guardians of Pakistan and Islam’ in Islamabad who had no quelms in going for a mass annihiliation of Bengalis.
September 21: Dates of East Pakistan by-election revised. According to the revised schedule for these by-elections, nomination papers for election to the National Assembly and the, Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan will be received by the Returning Officers concerned on 20th October and 21st October, 1971, respectively.
The last date for withdrawal of candidature, if any, will be 28th October, 1971, in the case of both the Assemblies. Polls shall be taken for elections to the two Assemblies simultaneously commencing from 12th December, 1971, and will be conducted by 23rd December, 1971.
Telegram from the Department of State to the Consulate General in Calcutta
“On September 20 the Consulate General in Calcutta reported that the Bangladesh leadership in the city were divided over whether to meet with representatives of the U.S. Government. Qaiyum sent word through a messenger that, while Mushtaq Ahmed and Tajuddin Ahmed were not interested in such a meeting, Acting President Nazrul Islam was ‘keen’ to meet with a political officer of the Consulate General. (Telegram 2527 from Calcutta)”
September 22: Situation report:
- Appointment of Dr. A.M. Malik, a Bengali, as Governor to replace Lt. General Tikka Khan and the formation of a ten-man civilian cabinet of ministers, including two former Awami Leaguers, announced earlier this month. Although the cabinet members are generally conservative, undistinguished and with limited political appeal, its formation and the appointment of Malik himself constitute a positive first step away from a strictly military approach to the East Pakistan situation.
- A general amnesty announced September 4 which does not, however, apply to Awami League MNAs-elect or MPAs-elect against whom criminal proceedings have been initiated. (Dacca indicates that arrests of intellectuals are continuing and that only one political figure has been released so far under the amnesty provision. suggesting it is of dubious credibility.)
Meanwhile, the refugee flow has continued at a ratio of 15,000 to 40,000 a day over the past two months, according to Indian figures. Probably close to 7.5 million of the total of 8.76 million refugees are Hindus, meaning that roughly three-quarters of the Hindu population of East Pakistan has left.
The Mukti Bahini have decided not to disrupt the UN food distribution program in East Pakistan. Guerrilla sector commanders are reported to have met in Calcutta and decided to exempt the UN relief effort from attack on the grounds that the UN is not likely to permit its activities to be of assistance to the Martial Law Administration.
The approximate value of US relief assistance to East Pakistan is now about $135 million. Of this total, our dollar assistance to date is $13.9 million, food assistance is valued at approximately $107.6 million, and local currency (rupee) assistance is the equivalent of $13.5 million.”
India and Pakistan: Preparations for Hostilities – Intelligence Indicators–:
“The air forces of both sides have been in a high state of alert since early August, and ground forces have been in various states of alert over the same period. Both sides have restricted or cancelled military leaves, possibly recalled some reservists, and conducted civil defense exercises. Both sides have reportedly been evacuating villagers from border areas. In addition, the following more specific preparations for hostilities have been reported in the past few weeks by various sources.”
September 24: Secret Telegram from Amconsul Calcutta to Secretary State:
“Afternoon September 23 Qaiyum’s messenger called on Poloff to set up meeting with Qaiyum. Messenger volunteered that delay (see reftel) was due to fact that GOI had learned that USG officials had seen BD representatives and had apparently issued warning to “Acting President” Islam that dealing with USG could be ticklish matter. According messenger, head of MEA branch secretariat Ashok Ray on September 21 spoke to Islam and asked him if it was true, as GOI had heard, that BD representatives were holding discussions with USG officials. Messenger assumed Islam’s reply was affirmative and reported that Ray then delivered warning that Poloff was “experienced and extremely clever diplomat” who would attempt manipulate Islam and BD policy.
Poloff met Qaiyum briefly evening September 23 and was told that Islam still “keen” meet Poloff either September 24 or 25.
Qaiyum continued that he and Islam blame GOI for current internal dissension in BDG and said: “We are fed up with this attempt to control our actions.” He opined that GOI wished to prolong currant situation and said this worried BDG because it worked to advantage of Maulana Bhasani and other leftists.”
September 25: Bangla Desh government publishes a key document “Bangladesh – Contemporary events and documents” – a compilation of the main events that took place between March 1969 to April 1971 which lead to the present conflict and declaration of the independence of Bangladesh (Press release – page 1, page 2)
“There are other reasons which we think might impel GOP at some time to take heavy risks involved in initiating any military action against India. One is possibility of unhappiness among military elements over recent events in country, which might lead Yahya to adventure. Another possible reason for Pak military action against India is feeling that Pak military is doomed to eventual defeat as result Indian support of Mukti Bahini.”
“Yahya went to Tehran in a final attempt to arrange a summit meeting between himself and Mrs. Gandhi in order to avert war. He allegedly appealed to the Shah to use “every influence” to arrange such a meeting.”
Maulana Mannan, then president of the Madrasah Teachers’ Association, led a delegation and met General Niazi. Niazi was Zonal Martial Law Administrator for Zone B: East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and commander of the Eastern Command to extend the support of the Madrasah teachers and students. Mannan said, “We are ready to cooperate with the army for Pakistan’s security and to enhance the glory of Islam.”
Niazi welcomed the support and said that the Ulemas (Islamic scholars), and others could organise voluntary groups. He extended full official support to form Village Defence Forces and counter the “Indian spies”. After the meeting the , madrasah teachers and students were inducted into the Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces and given military training.
September 28: A press note from chief martial law administrator:
Update of the Sheikh Mujib trial and warning to people refrain from saying or doing anything which may constitute a contempt of court.
“Mushtaq placed blame for events in East Pakistan since March 25 squarely on USG because of its continued support of GOP. He nonetheless said it fervent desire of BDG to regain close friendship with United States. He hoped USG would find it in its own interest to help arrange for peaceful independence for Bangladesh.
Poloff asked what BDG expected from USG. Mushtaq replied, “Stop helping Yahya. Stop helping kill my innocent people. You have practically forced my people into the lap of the extremists. What is our crime? You must put pressure on Yahya to stop. You have minimized my population, one million of them are dead. Another nine million have been forced to flee to India and Burma, where they are not wanted. He said USG could, by following present policy, help extremists win out in BD and deny all its democratic victory.
In discussing BDG desire have Sheikh Mujib freed, Poloff reminded Mushtaq USG had made public appeal to GOP. Mushtaq replied that he aware of this, but added, “Moscow is also claiming in New Delhi that they kept the Sheikh alive.
List of BDG desires follows:
(a) full independence for BD;
(b) release Sheikh Mujib;
(c) after independence, massive, long-term economic assistance from USG to help reconstruct nation and quick input humanitarian aid from USG to get people back on feet;
(d) after independence, establishment of normal diplomatic and business relations with Pakistan;
(e) details and modalities of plans for handing over nation to BD leaders and withdrawal Pak army to be worked out in consultations between BDG, USG and GOP;”
Mushtaq expressed hope he could maintain direct contact with Poloff via Hossain Ali “conduit.” He said he had authorized no rpt no other channel to USG and that if he did so, he would so inform Poloff.”
“Urgent measures should be taken to reach a political solution…playing regard
to the wishes, the inalienable right, and lawful interests of the people of East
Bengal as well as the speediest and the safe return of the refugee to their
homeland in conditions safeguarding their honour and dignity.”
Sisco spells out US assessment: If no dialogue possible without Mujib then dialogue will not get started. It ought to be possible to start dialogue with people who are reasonably representative and who have Bangla Desh interests in mind without insisting that it be between Yahya and Mujib.
Sisco noted USG has been in touch with Bangla Desh representatives and had purposefully told GOI of these contacts. Jha inquired who would be next best people to contact if Mujib excluded. Sisco replied we would leave that to GOI.
“We were about to embark upon a new programme of economic advance, when from across our frontiers we had a new kind of invasion: not of armed men, but of a vast influx of helpless terror-stricken men, women and children from East Bengal-some wounded, some ill and all hungry. More than 9 million people have come in the last six months, and they continue to pour in. Has there been a greater migration in history?
When millions of people are pushed into another’s territory, jeopardizing its normal life, its plans for the future, and its very security, it is obvious that peace is in peril. We have shown the greatest forbearance, but it is essential that the basic cause of the crisis be immediately removed by a political solution acceptable to the people concerned. Unfortunately, there is no sign that this is being attempted. It is the world’s responsibility to create without further delay conditions to enable the refugees to return to their homes in safety and dignity ….”
September 30: President Nixon and Henry Kissinger met at the White House:
Kissinger said: “The Bangladesh people are actually quite eager to talk.” “At first, they were willing to settle for autonomy, and as we all know autonomy would produce independence, there is no other way it can go. Now the Indians have escalated their demand into total independence immediately.” He said that Yahya never would agree to such a demand.
we were trying to set up a meeting between the Bangladesh people and the West Pakistanis outside of India. And we had Yahya’s agreement to that. And the Indians have now totally thwarted. They made it hard for these people to deal with us, they are forcing them to check everything with them, they are padding demands which are totally incapable of fulfillment.’
October 2: Discussion Between US Secretary Rogers and India FonMin Swaran Singh (India)-Bangla Desh-GOP Negotiations:
Secretary urged GOI initiate dialogue without insisting upon Mujib’s participation to see what could be accomplished. Swaran Singh replied that US has contacts with Bangla Desh people. It has greater influence, it should try bring about dialogue.
“Qaiyum met Political Officer October 3 to pass message from BD “Acting President” Islam requesting speedy USG response to BDG demarche presented to Poloff by “Fonmin” Mushtaq Ahmed September 28.
Qaiyum reported Mukti Bahini plans to inject 40 to 60 thousand armed men into East Pakistan by end of October in effort to wreck GOP administration.
He quoted Islam as saying only Mujib can negotiate anything less than independence for BD and that in Mujib’s absence BDG has no choice but to demand complete independence.
Later, Qaiyum said only he, Islam, Mushtaq and “two other members of Cabinet” were aware of substance and fact of Mushtaq’s meeting with Poloff.”
October 5: Statement by Shri G.S. Kahlon, Rehabilitation Secretary, Government of India In the 22nd session of the executive committee of UNHCR held in Geneva:
“Beginning from end of March, within a couple of months total influx of refugees into India had gone up to nearly four million, and today it has crossed 9 million already, without any signs of them returning to East Pakistan at all. Average inflow per day still continues to be between 30,000 to 50,000 persons, and if this rate continues at this scale we may well have not less than 12 million refugees on our hands by end of this year. “
“The State Department paper judges that the political steps taken so far by President Yahya, which exclude the Awami League, do not provide the basis of a settlement acceptable to the Bangla Desh leadership in Calcutta. To facilitate a political evolution, the paper suggests that “our next step should be designed to promote the beginning of a dialogue between the government of Pakistan and the Bangla Desh leadership.” The paper notes that we have two possible channels-the Government of India and the Bangla Desh representatives in Calcutta and elsewhere. State suggests that we say we believe President Yahya would be receptive to a dialogue. The problem with this is that as far as we know the Bangla Desh leadership only wants to negotiate on the basis of independence and the release of Mujib.”
“Senior Pakistani officials are convinced that Yahya will launch a pre-emptive attack in the next few weeks. Yahya himself has given the British the impression that he is considering such action, but he has assured our DCM he is not.
The secret treason trial of Mujibur Rahman has antagonized the East. A reliable source says he has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Yahya can uphold the sentence, commute it or let the matter lie. His decision will be an indication of how conciliatory he intends to be toward East Pakistan.”
October 8: Telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan US warns India to stop assisting Mukti Bahini:
“We have heard reports for some time of possible large-scale cross-border effort by Mukti Bahini to coincide with end monsoon season. We would, therefore, strongly urge that GOI act immediately to reduce these risks by efforts with MB to restrict cross-border operations. While we recognize that major responsibility for maintenance of India-Pak peace rests with GOP, GOI also bears major responsibility keep present situation from deteriorating into war or prolonged insurgency. Should such cross-border operations lead to conflict with Pakistan, this would have serious effect on US-India relations.”
Yahya’s letter to Nixon asking American support:
“Pakistan is considering to call a meeting of the Security Council to consider serious threat to peace in the sub-continent arising from India’s open and mounting interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and ever-increasing Indian military activities on Pakistan’s borders.”
“USG has no desire place itself between GOP and BD reps or to enter into merits of positions of either side. USG therefore has no substantive comment to make on points raised by Mushtaq. We would urge, rather, that the BD reps seek earliest opportunity to present views directly to GOP reps, in effort explore possibility of negotiated settlement.”
October 10: “Six month long ban on politics in Pakistan lifted, yet Awami League is Illegal. Following the ban on the Awami League, the biggest single faction in the Assembly became the People’s Party of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.” ( Reuters )
October 11: Pakistan Peoples Party’s Karachi Secretary Meiraj Mohammad Khan admits Razakar terror.
Meiraj alleged that in East Bengal “power in effect has been transferred to those reactionary and anti-people political parties defeated in the elections and rejected by the people”.
He named one party-the Muslim Jammaat-e-Islami group-of indulging in wholesale massacre of political opponents for which they are using their Razakars.
Meiraj, who has influence among students, added: “Under the umbrella of a Government consisting of members of defeated and reactionary parties, elections cannot be free.”
The General secretary of NAP, Moshiur Rahman and Anwar Zahid (former joint secretary) who had left the NAP in 1970 met Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders in Dhaka who came to survey the situation in view of forthcoming by-elections for 78 seats formerly held by members of the Awami League. Maulana Kawser Niazi, publicity secretary of the PPP said that the talks had been fruitful. The PPP and Jamaat-i- Islami were against Bangladesh and directly supported the Pakistani army.
Telegram from the Consulate General in Karachi to the Department of State on discussion with Yahya:
“I referred specifically to possibility of Mujib’s serving as “trump card” and asked whether he might tell me anything further in that regard. Yahya noted that Mujib’s trial was still going on. If he were convicted, court would sentence him to punishment which would conceivably be death. Matter would then come before Yahya who had presidential power to modify court’s judgement. As he had already told us, he did not intend to permit any death sentence to be carried out.
Mujib’s role seemed to be a crucial issue, for example, with regard initiation any direct talks between GOP and BD leadership. We have recent indications that various pressures on BD leadership in Calcutta have inhibited any progress toward initiating talks, and one of their primary concerns seems to be that Mujib should have role.
Yahya responded that there were limits on his freedom of action. He pointed to predominant West Pak public opinion damning Mujib, and opined that not a single West Pak political leader would welcome an act to free Mujib and negotiate with him.”
October 12: Air Marshal (Retd.) Asghar Khan complains that there is no press freedom in Pakistan and he withdraws his party Tehrik-i-Istiqlal from the by-elactions. (The Dawn)
Telegram from the Embassy in India to the Department of State on discussion with Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh and Foreign Secretary Kaul:
“Foreign Minister (a) claimed East Pakistan insurgency profoundly rooted in Bengali alienation and has own dynamic, not dependent upon India; (b) argued insurgency exists deep within East Pakistan and significance of cross-border activities easily exaggerated and any event GOI cannot shoot down East Bengalis entering or departing India; (c) noted how long insurgency will be prolonged and whether it leads to Pak attack upon India depends upon GOP; (d) stressed insurgency is caused basically by Pak military repression to which Mukti Bahini (MB) is reaction.
Foreign Minister (a) expressed strong resentment at any suggestion East Pakistan insurgency being maintained by India; (d) charged US support to GOP strengthens Yahya regime determination to maintain military repression policy; and (e) concluded US has heavy responsibility to exercise its “great influence” with GOP. Foreign Minister asserted in event GOP agreed to withdraw military forces from Indo-Pak borders, GOI could reconsider situation in light circumstances at that time.”
October 13: Bangla Desh Government’s reaction to Yahya’s broadcast to the nation.
October 14: Abdul Monem Khan, former Governor of East Pakistan, died of gunshot wounds inflicted by two men who visited his home in Dacca.
In absence of BD “Foreign minister” Mushtaq Ahmed, Poloff met BD “High Commissioner” Hossain Ali and briefed US position:
“Ali said Yahya’s October 12 broadcast to nation showed Yahya still trying pull wool over world’s eyes. They had seen no glimmer of hope for change in Yahya’s remarks.
Ali noted that Mukti Bahini had worked hard to build itself up in past few months, was ready for battle and eager to fight for independence of BD. Poloff argued that continuation and escalation of violent method by MB might lead to death, destruction and suffering, which USG earnestly hoped could be avoided. It would be much better for BD to find peaceful solution to their problems so that energies of MB could be more constructively channeled to rebuild in East. While Ali agreed that this might be more desirable solution, he said he was not sure in his own mind that it would be possible for simple reason he did not believe Yahya would peacefully accord independence to BD.”
October 15: Letter from the Government of Bangla Desh to the Prime Minister of India requesting for recognition to the free and duly constituted Government of Bangla Desh.
“Since the formal proclamation of our Independence on April 10, our struggle for liberation has gained increased momentum and strength. Nearly 60,000 members of the former East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles and other para-military formations identified themselves with the struggle of the 75 million people of Bangla Desh and took up arms in defence of our motherland. They were joined by hundreds of thousands of young men whom they trained to defend the sovereignty and independence of their homeland, and to release it from the bonds of colonial oppression.
The policy of repression has continued with increasing brutality in the vain hope of liquidating the leadership and reducing the majority of the Bengalispeaking people to a minority. Members of the minority communities became special victims of the reign of terror. As a result of this policy of genocide, rape, arson and loot, nearly nine million of our men, women and children have been driven out in terror and have taken shelter in your country, and the exodus still continues.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, our undisputed leader and President, has been subjected to a secret military trial and has been reportedly condemned to death. The Awami League has been banned, which had won an unparalleled victory in the national elections held last December. The military regime of Pakistan has disqualified 79 duly elected representatives of the people and has imposed a so-called civilian regime consisting of defeated candidates and quislings which is now supported by the might of the military machine of Pakistan. These gestures have not deceived the 75 million people of Bangla Desh. They have only exposed the deception and insincerity of the military oppressors. All this has only made us more determined than ever to liberate Bangla Desh.
We are glad to inform you, Excellency, that this struggle has borne fruit. The liberation army of the People’s Republic of Bangla Desh, the Mukti Bahini, are in full control of half the territory of Bangla Desh. We also confirm that the Bangla Desh Government has established effective civil administration over this area which is functioning smoothly. This development has not merely been welcomed by the broad masses of the people, but the efforts of our Government have found spontaneous and overwhelming support in the areas under its control.”
October 18: Dhaka Guerillas start offensive: The Guardian
“She did not categorically deny that India was helping them. She said instead, ‘perhaps you know, they have many helpers, mostly their own people, all over the world. Also, many avenues are open to them’. She did not elaborate. ‘Whether they have arms or not, nobody can suppress the struggle’.
Mrs. Gandhi cited ‘threatening statements from Pakistan which, we feel, cannot be entirely ignored’. She mentioned, in particular, the speech last week of President Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan in which he accused India of ‘feverish military preparations’ and called on his people to meet the threat as a nation of one hundred and twenty million mujahids or preachers of Islam ‘whose hearts are pulsating with love of the Holy Prophet’.
Mrs. Gandhi was asked if she felt there was a breaking point to the economic and social pressures placed on India by the refugees, a point beyond which India might feel compelled to take military action against Pakistan to halt the influx. “Well, actually, I would say, we have already reached it “, she replied. “But this does not mean that we are going to crack under it”.
“In an already tense situation India’s land, sea and air forces have been brought to a state of confrontation against Pakistan’s frontiers in both the wings. There are 7 divisions of the Indian army which are deployed against West Pakistan and additional forces have been put in a state of readiness to move to forward positions at short notice.
Mr. President, the inevitable conclusion that one can draw from this offensive posture of the Indian armed forces is that it is pointed in the direction of conflict and not of peace. May I urge you to impress upon the Government of India the need for urgent constructive steps with a view to arresting further deterioration of the situation in the sub-continent.”
October 20: An evaluation of East Pakistan insurgancy:
“Over past three months East Pakistan insurgency has increased in intensity and widened its geographic scope of operations. Concentrating in the rural areas, with only token activity in cities (exception has been systemic and repeated disruption of power supply to Chittagong), Mukti Bahini (MB) have stepped up their disruption of roads, bridges, railroad lines in most parts of the country. In some districts, notably Dacca, Comilla, Noakhali, Faridpur, Bakarganj, MB seems able move about almost at will and appears even to have set up parallel administration at some points. Evidence on hand suggests that insurgents are better armed than formerly, (automatic weapons, mortars, heavier explosives) and increasingly able undertake sophisticated operations (mining of ships, effective sabotage of bridges, etc.). In central and southern districts mentioned, MB has demonstrated aggressiveness and skill in ambush operations against Razakars (voluntary home guards) and army, occasionally inflicting significant casualties. Areas other than those cited above, MB activities largely confined destruction of bridges, culverts, railway lines, apparently avoiding contact with govt forces.
To extent that “civilianization” and general amnesty were intended damp insurgent activities, they have demonstrably failed. While weariness and desire for “peace at almost any price” apparent among middle class urban groups, we have impression that younger Bengalis, particularly those in countryside, are entrenched in their detestation of Islamabad Government and bitterness against Pak army. These attitudes reinforced by persisting reports atrocities and indiscriminate retaliation carried out by government forces, principally army or Razakars, to point where even many conservative Bengalis see no other outcome than to drive army out by force.”
October 23: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Broadcast to the Nation urges Indians to unite to uphold the freedom and integrity of the nation
October 26: A Bangla Desh Government press release on Bangladesh delegation in the UNO
“As a result of the tragic events in East Bengal, 9,000,000 people have poured into our territory, creating a situation which seems to surpass the convulsions of partition. The crisis in Pakistan is a deep one and the spectre which haunts that unhappy country cannot be exercised by the usual recourse to blaming India. Two questions arise: first, whether religion by itself can form the basis of a nation state, especially when the state machinery is impervious to the ordinary laws of political development and cultural aspirations, and secondly, whether some action other than that of the bayonet is not necessary to win loyalty. We in India are restrained and calm in the face of provocation but we are bound to protect the interests of our country….”
On October 26 the press in Pakistan printed the text of Yahya’s October 25 letter to U Thant welcoming his offer to mediate in the dispute between India and Pakistan. I know of the Secretary General’s very recent letter to you and Mrs. Gandhi, and I welcome the tenor of your response to that letter.
“It seems very strange to us how the situation can be normalised by suddenly declaring that some elected people are no longer there when they are very much in the world. You suddenly say that you are going to have new elections and that new elections are going to solve the problem. They cannot possibly solve the problem. The elections were not considered illegal when they were held, the programme put before the people was well known to the Government and the elections were presided over by the same governmental authority. They had a six-point programme on which they fought the elections and which was supported by the vast majority of the people of both sides of Pakistan. Nobody objected to it. The time to raise an objection was before the elections were fought. They could have said, ” well, we don’t approve of this programme, we are not going to accept the six points and, therefore, if you want to fight the elections you will have to re-think”. I do not know if it would have been proper, but certainly if any objection had to be raised, that was the time to raise it, not when the programme was accepted. The people thought it was accepted and they voted accordingly.”
November 1: Peking Policy in Indo-Pak Dispute
“China’s major operational goal at the present is to avoid an Indo-Pak war and to discourage the forcible detachment of East Pakistan from the west – the latter not because the Chinese have any vital interests in the unity of Pakistan but because they wish to avoid a Pak humiliation which would indirectly embarrass China, boost India’s confidence in its future dealings with the PRC, and make the Soviets appear to be the arbiter of events in South Asia.”
Yahya agreed to unilaterally withdrawing military units as first step in defusing explosive situation in subcontinent.
November 3: On a possible Yahya-Nurul Islam Meeting:
“Yahya agreed during the conversation to meet with Nurul Islam and his group of former Awami Leaguers to discuss Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s future and to explore means of effecting contacts with representatives of Bangladesh. Yahya said that he would welcome an opportunity to talk to Nurul Islam since the point of view of these “cleared” MNAs would be very interesting and, hopefully, useful. He also observed that Nurul Amin, President of Pakistan Democratic Party, would be calling upon him shortly with suggestions applicable to East Pakistan.”
“President Yahya Khan would be willing to withdraw Pakistani forces first from the border to varying distances, depending upon the terrain of different sectors, provided the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, gives an undertaking to President Nixon that the Indian forces will then also withdraw shortly afterwards.”
“Our research to date shows that the U.S. Army shipped 149 line items from its depots (to Pakistan) between 3 May 1971 and 30 June. The shipments represented spare parts for machine guns, tanks and artillery with a total value of $83,000. During the same time frame, the Air Force continued routinely to release spare parts for aircraft in two of its 89 then active sales cases for Pakistan. The two affected cases comprised the so-called depot supply support plan (DSSP) under which the purchaser was afforded direct automated access to the USAF logistical system. Under the DSSP some $2.4 million worth of lethal as well as non-lethal spares were shipped during the May-June period. This included parts for F-86 and F-104 fighters and B-57 bombers as well as Pakistani transport and trainer aircraft. Our analysis of inputs from the Navy is still incomplete, but we estimate that shipments amounting to about $61,000 in value have been made contrary to our directives. Releases of lethal spares constituted some $36,000 out of this total.”
Meeting Between President Nixon, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Mr. Parmeshwar Narain Haksar and Dr. Henry A. Kissinger:
The President asked the Prime Minister if she believed that President Yahya could really survive if Mujib were released at this point in time. The Prime Minister said that the crucial issue remained the future of Mujib who was a symbol of the imperative for autonomy.
The Pakistan Army in East Pakistan has achieved nearly autonomous control of the province, in many respects independent of the policies and direction of President Yahya Khan in Islamabad. Only foreign affairs affecting East Pakistan is firmly in the hands of Islamabad. The relative isolation of President Yahya Khan is probably the result of many factors. Indications of this isolation are that: (a) Army commanders in the East pursue independent military operations, (b) the Army governs the province behind the facade of the puppet civilian Governor Malik and his cabinet — who are completely dependent on the Army for their personal security — with limited reference to Islamabad,
(c) little but Pakistani successes and India’s perfidy is reported from Dacca to Islamabad, and (d) President Yahya Khan lacks independent means of observation, reporting and verification of events in the East.
Myth and Reality on Civilian Support in East Pakistan. President Yahya Khan told us October 28 that “civilianization” of government in East Pakistan, under Governor Malik and his Cabinet, is succeeding in stabilizing the political situation. The myth of growing political stability in East Pakistan is almost certainly fed to Yahya Khan by reports from his civilian Governor and his Army commanders.
The reality is that Army policies and operations — behind the facade of a civilian government — are progressively and seriously alienating the Bengali population in East. Pakistan, and that the seeds of rebellion are not only those sown by India. The wide gap between the myth of growing stability as seen by Yahya Khan, and the reality of political deterioration was most striking from comparing my recent visit to East Pakistan, October 21 – 26, to observations made during the earlier August 19 – 25 trip.
Civil Affairs Run by the Military Advisor to the Governor Major General Rao Farman Ali Khan. The are even selecting the men who would be elected in the next Provincial elections.
Army Policy is Selective Terror and Reprisal. General Farman Ali Khan described the level of Mukti guerrilla insurgency as some-what intensified but manageable because the newly trained Bengali guerrillas entering from India feared to take action.
Despite orders from Islamabad that the Army not engage in terrorist operations against the civilian population — and repeated assurances to U. S. officials to this effect — Pakistan Army commanders continue to carry out terror raids against the population and villages, even within the environs of Dacca and in sight of its large foreign community.
General Farman All Khan said the Army sought to leave the fighting of the Mukti guerrillas to the newly armed Bengali “Rasikars”, who now numbered 60,000. However, the “Rasikars” are a destabilizing element — living off the land, able to make life and death decisions by denouncing collaborators and openly pillaging and terrorizing villagers without apparent restraint from the Army. With villagers caught between the Rasikars and Mukti guerrillas, law and order is breaking down rapidly in rural East Pakistan.
Army Policy to Clear East Pakistan of Hindus. The Pakistan Army is ideologically anti-Hindu and their historic experience in West Pakistan, from the time of partition, has been that Hindus should go to India. Hence, reprisal operations naturally continue to focus against Hindus. Without law or order, except that sanctioned by the Army, Hindu lives and property are not safe in East Pakistan today. General Farman All Khan accepted the estimate that at least 80 percent of the Hindus had left East Pakistan. He, off-the-record, spoke of about six million refugees who had gone to India and he anticipated that a further 1, 500, 000 refugees would probably go to India “before the situation settles down.” (1,500,000 is a reasonable estimate of the number of Hindus still in East Pakistan.)”
Nixon: This is just the point when she is a bitch.
Kissinger: Well, the Indians are bastards anyway. They are starting a war there. It’s—to them East Pakistan is no longer the issue. Now, I found it very interesting how she carried on to you yesterday about West Pakistan.
November 8: Secretary’s Meeting with Prime Minister Gandhi; East Pakistan Problem: PriMin and other members Indian delegation stated doubts that Yahya actually desires political solution.
November 10: Journalist visits Mukti Bahini-held areas:
Mannan was at pains to make clear that Mukti Bahini (MB) not Marxists and that Bangladesh would not be a communist country, saying that Naxalites would bet their fair share of power but that their share would not be large as they were tiny minority. Mannan stated that MB’s war aim was simply to have Awami League’s victory honored.
De Borchgrave (The Daily Telegraph) dined with General Niazi. Niazi appeared to be misinformed about conditions in the province, showing no understanding of true situation. De Borchgrave was obviously impressed by extent of insurgency and stated belief that Bangladesh victory only a question of time.”
“East Pak problem was not of India’s making. There had been discrimination against East Pak. Use of force after March 25 responsible for refugee problem. US also sympathizes fully in regard to refugee burden. US view was that solution to East Pak problem could not be obtained by pursuing one course of action in isolation. We should not consider exclusively refugee relief, withdrawal of forces, third party involvement, or political accommodation. All these elements should be pursued together”
November 11: Telegram from Amconsul Dacca to Secretary State
“Given rate at which MB activity increasing inside province and apparently Growing organization and self-confidence of these forces, it begins to look as if India might achieve such possible major objectives as pressure on Islamabad govt, weakening of Pakistan, or even independent Bangla Desh by simply continuing its present activities without escalating them into actual warfare.”
November 12: Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting:
“Mukti Bahini guerrillas were increasingly effective in East Pakistan and Cushman estimated that up to 30 percent of rural East Pakistan was under guerrilla control. Tensions between India and Pakistan had increased as Indian border security forces and Indian army troops joined in the fighting along the border between Pakistan army forces and Mukti Bahini guerrillas. Cushman noted that on the border between India and West Pakistan both sides had made preparations in anticipation of war.
There are five or six (Pakistani army) casualties a day as opposed to three a day before October.”
“What was unthinkable six months ago in West Pakistan may have become acceptable today-regime could probably survive opening of negotiations with Shiekh Mujibur Rahman provided latter agreed to support unified Pakistan. Public opinion in West would now generally acquiesce in such development and some would welcome it. Reaction within army likely be more mixed, but with army discipline maintained. In East Pakistan, Mujib has become symbol of Bengali nationhood. However, to retain credibility with Bengalis Mujib in any negotiations probably could not settle for less than Awami League Six Points, certain of which are still anathema to Pak military and still carry with them seeds of eventual secession. Even if Six Points compromised, any negotiated settlement acceptable to Bengalis would probably require withdrawal of army at least to cantonments, again opening door to secession.”
Maury Williams’ Views on Pakistan: The Army’s policy is such that the running battle with guerrillas is likely to continue with little effect on the changing practices in a way that could restore genuine civilian government.
November 15: GOI May Be Prepared to Wait a Little Longer on War.
Conversation among Nixon, Kissinger and Sultan Khan: The Pak Foreign Secretary (Sultan Khan) noted that there had been considerable interest in how to launch a political process which in some way involved Mujibur Rahman within the limits which President Yahya felt constraining him.
November 16: Observers believe Mrs. Gandhi Trying Cool Political Temperature at Least Temporarily.
November 18: Statement by the Indian Delegate, Mr. Samar Sen, on UNHCR’s report In the third committee of the U.N. General Assembly:
“On October 26, the Special Consortium of the World Bank meeting in Paris announced that ” more than 9.5 million refugees have entered India by now and the influx is continuing “. The latest figure is 9,608,901 on November 5, the daily average influx in September was 27,000 and in October 17,000.
It is also noteworthy that Pakistan’s figure of 200,000 refugees having returned to their homes has remained unchanged over the last three months. And then the figure is nicely divided and rounded upto 140,000 muslims and 60,000 Hindus, at the same time as the High Commissioner has been informed that 640,001 passed through reception centres and 136,000 came back on their own. Here again is another instance of counting people who, no one knows, how they came; but then people, who first described all the refugees as “criminals”, who define all free voters as ” anti-state ” elements, who call all freedom-fighters as ” miscreants ” or now ” indian infiltrators “, cannot be expected to be too scrupulous about facts.”
Prince Sadruddin Agha Khan’s Statement in the third committee of the U. N. General Assembly echoes the same
Discussions on the report submitted by the U.N.H.C.R in the third committee of the U.N. General Assembly. The world leaders urged Pakistan to reduce use of force and try to solve East Pakistan problem through peaceful political means and thus creating an environment for the refugees to come back.
November 19: US Ambassador’s Conversation with President Yahya:
“Mujib was not the key to negotiations but rather Indira Gandhi held “both the key and the lock.” From this position Yahya expressed disinclination to permit Mujibur Rahman to designate a Bangla Desh representative who could speak on his behalf and negotiate for the Bangla Desh movement with the GOP. Said GOP would be happy to meet with Bangla Desh leaders as previously agreed (Only cleared Awami Leager).
He threatened: if India starts war, total resources of nation will be dedicated to effort of survival. Noted that Mujib will be first casualty.
To ease refugee problem, Yahya indicated he is contemplating asking UN to take over all facilities refugee centers in Pakistan and establish circumstances under which returning refugees would be accepted under care and protection of UN.
He sketched his scenario for a political settlement through promulgation of a constitution in mid-December, convening the National Assembly on December 27 and transfer of power “several weeks” thereafter. Then the new civilian government could, if it wished, deal with Mujib and Bangla Desh.”
“A frequent comment from Indian and foreign observers is that Mrs. Gandhi remains less hawkish than the country as a whole and that she apparently continues to work to avoid a major war.
Some official U.S. observers believe that the Indian and guerrilla pressures on the Pak forces could be gradually building up to a point at which the Paks could be goaded into counteractions which could precipitate a full-scale war.”
November 21: Resolution unanimously adopted by the third committee of the United Nations General Assembly:
“The only solution to this grave refugee problem is the safe return of the refugees to their homes, and that this requires a favourable climate which all persons of good will should work to bring about in a spirit of respect for the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
“We interpret Prime Minister Gandhi’s reply to UN Secretary General as (A) polite, firm rejection of international mediation between India and Pakistan, (B) renewed appeal for international pressure on GOP to move toward political settlement”
The French Government set forth its policy of neutrality regarding the India-Pakistan situation and urged the necessity of a political solution permitting the return of the refugees to East Pakistan.
November 22: The BDG contact’s views:
“Qaiyum said if Sheikh not released soon, communists would wrest BD leadership from moderates, which not in interest of BD, GOP, GOI or USG. Release, even if Sheikh restricted to West Pakistan, would cool situation considerably and allow peaceful solution to be found, since only Mujib has power to provide Yahya with face-saving way out of crisis.
He suggested that it in best interest of Pakistan for Yahya to step down and hand over power to another military figure saying Yahya ‘has no right to destroy both parts of Pakistan.’ Qaiyum warned that time is running out for GOP leadership. Mukti Bahini increasingly successful, getting ‘all help’ from India, and BD leaders expect military victory in east within next two months”.
Reports of Heavy Fighting in East Pakistan as Mukti Bahini strikes and Pakistan interprets it as Indian offensive:
“Mukti Bahini forces have launched major offensive in Kushtia, Khulna and Jessore districts. According these reports Mukti Bahini have captured Chougacha in Jessore district and Maheshpur in same district. Debhata, border town in Khulna district, also said to have been taken with Mukti Bahini forces advancing to Satkhira, northeast of Debhata. In Kushtia district Mukti Bahini also reported as moving toward towns of Jibannagar and Damurhuda under cover their own artillery, having established “liberated areas” near border towns of Banpur and Gede.
Karachi domestic service report in English at 1500 GMT, November 22: “India, without a formal declaration of war, has launched an all-out offensive against East Pakistan.” Broadcast adds that Indian army has concentrated all its might in Jessore area where attack has been launched by nine Indian infantry divisions, four Indian mountain divisions and two Indian tank regiments.
GOI official spokesman reportedly categorically denied Pakistan radio report that India had launched a big offensive in Jessore area. Spokesman referred to reports of increasing Mukti Bahini activities and said that Karachi radio report obviously mixing up Mukti Bahini activities with those of India.”
Mr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Irwin) What do you think?
Mr. Irwin: We think the Pakistanis are probably overplaying the situation and the Indians are underplaying it. We think increased participation by Indian regulars is designed either to put enough pressure on Yahya to get a more favorable political situation, or to try to provoke a Pakistani attack on India and thereby put Pakistan further in the wrong in the eyes of the world. We believe the first reason is more likely than the second.
November 23: Letter from President Yahya to President Nixon:
“Mr. President, as you are aware, Indian armed forces in the last few months have maintained pressure all along our eastern borders. Apart from training, equipping and launching rebels supported by Indian border security force personnel into Pakistan territory, Indian artillery units have been constant(y shelling areas in East Pakistan. But as I have pointed out above, in the last 3 or 4 days the Indian armed forces have turned from localized attacks to open and large scale warfare on so many fronts. They have further escalated the conflict by introducing armor and air force. Pakistan army and air force units in East Pakistan have been under strict order not to cross the frontiers and to exercise utmost restraint in the face of grave provocations. The present situation, however, is such that the offensive launched by Indian armed forces must be met by us with all the force at our command in the defense of our territorial integrity.
India continues to harp on the theme that the inroads into Pakistan are being made by the so-called “Mukti Bahini” – a rebel force created, maintained and sustained by India. No one will be deceived by the Indian claim which stands disproved by the scale of present operations and by the equipment including armor and air force elements now being used.
I would like to say unhesitatingly that I wish to avoid a senseless and destructive war with India. But the developing situation created by India may lead us to a point of no return.”
Yahya was hopeful that international mediation would somehow prevent a confrontation in the Subcontinent which could be an international disaster.
“-The military rulers of West Pakistan are not open to persuasion to return to the path of reason and face the realities of the situation.
- The so-called civilian government of East Pakistan are quislings who constitute the defeated candidates are sustained by a repressive martial law regime universally and hated by the people of Bangla Desh.
- Nearly five million citizens (in addition to 10 million refugee in India) of Bangla Desh are victim of systematic brutality of Pakistani army and wandering with no succour or relief. The military regime of Pakistan has embarked on a pre-meditated and planned extermination of our race.
- The military regime of West Pakistan still refuses negotiations with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Government of Bangla Desh.
- The people of the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan have expressed their dissatisfaction in a manner which has now compelled the Government of West Pakistan to ban the National Awami Party which had won a majority in the provincial elections in these two provinces of West Pakistan.
- The Mukti Bahini, with the universal support of the people of Bangla Desh, has achieved signal successes in regaining effective administrative control over large areas of our motherland against the military oppressor.
- The military regime of West Pakistan has sought to divert the attention of the world from the root cause of the problem by attempting to internationalise the issue by projecting it as an Indo-Pakistan dispute.
- Bangladesh has proclaimed independence and the basic principles of our State policy are democracy, socialism, secularism and the establishment of an egalitarian society, where there would be no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or creed. We assure you of our Government’s full co-operation in organising the expeditious return of the refugees back to their home.
- We request that you accord immediate recognition to the sovereign People’s Republic of Bangla Desh.”
“Islam said he and other cleared Awami Leaguers sought no personal power in present crisis, but were only interested in seeing killing stopped in East Pakistan and dying of East Pakistanis in refugee camps in India brought to an end. Toward these ends he appealed to (1) seek to obtain Soviet agreement to stop arms supplies to Mukti Bahini and (2) halt Indian attacks on East Pakistan.
Zaman said that extremists on both the right and left in East Pakistan were supported by about 10 per cent each of East Pakistan population. Vast majority of East Pakistanis, including cleared Awami Leaguers, wanted united Pakistan on basis of six points and thereby an end to exploitation of the past. They did not seek, however, independence. Islam said he agreed with Yahya’s assessment that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would be killed by East Pakistanis, i.e. Naxalites, if he agreed to anything short of independence. In any case, Mujib’s credibility would be very suspect among general public who are likely to believe that he had been brainwashed by Army during captivity.”
During his Nov 23 discussions with Yahya he proposed that in an effort to clarify current situation (1) he be permitted to meet Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to ascertain Rahman’s personal views, i.e. whether he continued to support six points approach or complete independence for East Pakistan. Islam said Rahman would without question tell him that he had been out of touch for eight months and could not express his views until he had consulted with other members of the Awami League. (2) After discussion with Rahman, Islam would proceed to Calcutta for discussion with Tajuddin and other Awami Leaguers there or if government so desired, alternatively, go to other foreign countries where Bangladesh missions are maintained to meet with Awami Leaguers in those locations. Islam said President Yahya did not respond to these suggestions.
Washington Special Actions Group Meeting considers cut off of aid and military pipeline to India and Pakistan.
“He had feeling from his conversations (in New Delhi) that India did not want war and would accept whatever solution in East Pakistan was acceptable to Awami League. GOI leaders pressed Sadruddin to work for political solution in Islamabad.
He said he thought current Jessore operaton was limited GOI test of its ability to use Mukti Bahini with Indian support to put pressure on Yahya. Sadruddin said it was his assessment that Mujib might not want independent Bangla Desh. Even today he wants unified Pakistan. Although Yahya claims that he could not deal with Mujib because Mujib would be killed by his own people, Sadruddin said he thought Yahya was completely wrong. Sadruddin said he had ‘pleaded’ with Yahya for many hours to establish his credibility not by transfer of power but by starting dialogue with Mujib. Yahya in response argued there would be tremendous unrest in West Pakistan. Sadruddin said he thought Yahya was definitely exaggerating reaction.
Yahya’s solution however is to put pressure on Mrs. Gandhi to give up support of Mukti Bahini. He believes he could then clean up Mukti Bahini in matter of days and transfer power to elected representatives.
Sadruddin emphasized that Yahya must make sure that army recognizes that there can be no military solution in East Pakistan and that it must accept political solution.”
Sisco: I believe India would be willing to go along if Mujib were restored to power by peaceful means. India doesn’t want war. If Mujib were back in power, he would organize an East Pakistan Government and it wouldn’t be long before it was a separate entity or independent.
Kissinger: We got the military governor replaced with a civilian governor. We got them to admit UN observers. We got them to permit UN peace.
Rogers “agreed fully” that the United States should tilt toward Pakistan. The question was how to do it.
November 25: Telegram from Amconsul Calcutta to Secretary State:
Qaiyum said “war has already started on this side,” and claimed Mukti Bahini (MB) had ‘liberated’ great deal of territory. He believed MB tactics were to surround Pak troop contingents and wipe them out or drive them out. After that, Indian army could come in if it wanted to provide artillery support for next MB attack.
He denied that India army doing most of fighting “inside Bangladesh” saying, “we do not want Indian army in our country any more than we want Pak army.” He allowed that Indian army might venture into east behind MB, since there would then be no Pak army to keep them out.”
November 26: Message from the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) on today’s discussion with Yahya:
Yahya is continuing to exercise maximum restraint, but expressed regretfully that there was limit thereto in event India renews attacks.
Roy stated that quote Pakistan has opened the door for the refugees to return to their homeland, but India is trying to discourage them from going home in order to increase tensions in the area.
Group calling itself Ceylon Committee for Human Rights in Bangla Desh was refused interview with Roy and promptly branded him “an outcast.. .who cannot reconcile the teachings of the compassionate Buddha with murder, rape and pillage by the military clique whose cause he had come here to espouse.”
November 27: Presidential Message to Mrs. Gandhi from Nixon:
“I note your Government has confirmed that your armed forces have been engaged on Pakistani territory. The situation has reached a critical stage and there is danger of all-out hostilities.
President Yahya would be willing to take the first step in disengaging his forces on the frontier with West Pakistan provided India were willing to take reciprocal action subsequently. I have not heard from you on the point, and I hope you would agree promptly to designate a representative who could discuss a limited disengagement with a representative named by President Yahya.”
November 29: Memorandum from the Kissinger to President Nixon:
India-Pakistan: Active fighting continues in the border areas of East Pakistan. Indian officials seem increasingly open about the fact that Indian troops have gone across the border, but they continue to maintain that the crossings are to quell Pakistani shelling or in some other act of self-defense.
“India had seven divisions massed along the border with East Pakistan, but Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman (CIA) noted that most of the fighting within East Pakistan was being done by the Mukti Bahini supported by Indian artillery, armor, and, on occasion, troops.”
November 30: A press release by Mujibnagar Bangla Desh Government on success of Mukti Bahini and Yahaya’s bogey of Indian attack to hide their success.
“Qaiyum said MEA policy planning chairman DP Dhar in his latest visit to Calcutta had questioned BD “Foreign Minister” Mushtaq Ahmed about allegations that Mushtaq was negotiating with USG, saying that in so doing, Mushtaq was “traitor.” According Qaiyum, Mushtaq denied everything, but Dhar said he knew all about “negotiations” because State Department had told everything to Indian Embassy in Washington.
He told Indians BDG had not sold its soul to India and that as independent government, it could talk with any other government it wished.”
Memorandum from Kissinger to President Nixon on summary of the exchange between Prime Minister Gandhi and Ambassador Keating in New Delhi on November 29:
- Yahya’s problems had been self-created and “we are not in a position to make this easier for him.” That was one of the reasons why India could not withdraw its troops. India was being asked to allow the misdeeds of Yahya to stand and “we are not going to allow that.”
- No one in all of India was more opposed to war than she was. “I wouldn’t like to take this country to war”, but, added, “this war and this situation are/4/ not of our making.”
December 2: Memorandum from Kissinger to President Nixon:
“India-Pakistan Situation: there are indications that the situation is starting to deteriorate in the interior where the guerrilla forces are operating more freely now that most of the Pak forces have been drawn off to defend the frontiers. Some towns as close as 17 miles from Dacca reportedly have been abandoned to the guerrillas and there are reports of the Bangla Desh flag flying in a number of towns elsewhere in the interior. The Indians have also set up a “Mukti Bahini navy” with their own forces with the priority objective of blocking shipping into East Pakistan.
The disparity in manpower and supplies apparently is taking its toll on the Pak forces and they reportedly have abandoned a number of contested locations in the face of relentless pressure in the direction of several major provincial cities.”
Yahya’s letter to Nixon pleads for US support to resist aggression launched by India which has enormous superiority of arms and equipment over Pakistan.
December 3: The 3rd India Pakistan war broke out.
In a speech to the nation on December 3, 1971, Prime Minister Gandhi charged that Pakistan had launched a full-scale attack against India earlier in the day, shortly after 5:30 p.m. She said that Pakistan’s Air Force had struck at six Indian airfields in Kashmir and the Punjab and that Pakistani artillery was shelling Indian positions at several locations along the border between India and West Pakistan. India, Gandhi said, had no option but to adopt a war footing.
Pakistan responded to the Indian charges in a note conveyed to the United States Embassy in Islamabad on December 3. Pakistan alleged that the Indian Air Force had been carrying out aggressive reconnaissance over the territory of West Pakistan for 3 or 4 days as a prelude to attacks launched by the Indian army between 3:30 and 4 p.m. on December 3 at several points on a front that stretched from Kashmir in the north to Rahim Yar Kham in the south. Pakistan represented the attacks on Indian airfields as necessary countermeasures.
In Washington the question of responsibility for the initiation of warfare along the front between India and West Pakistan bore on policy considerations. The Central Intelligence Agency weighed the evidence on December 4 and concluded that it was not possible to determine with certainty which side had initiated hostilities on December 3. (Source)
It appears that West Pakistan has attacked because situation in East collapsing.
The (Indian) Foreign Secretary Kaul said that Pakistan had issued a proclamation that they were in a state of war against India at 0900 December 4. The government of India had not declared war. Furthermore, he said, the GOI had not yet recognized Bangla Desh, but would do so at the appropriate time and would keep us informed.
Helms briefed from notes that described a combined Indian-Mukti Bahini offensive in East Pakistan and the beginning stages of the fighting along the border between India and West Pakistan. Pakistani troops were being hard pressed in the east, but there was little beyond artillery exchanges in the west.
The CIA prepared a chronology and covering memorandum entitled, “India- Pakistan: Responsibility for Initiating Hostilities on 3 December 1971″ and the chronology runs through December 4. The covering memorandum concluded that it was difficult to determine conclusively which country initiated hostilities, but the weight of evidence tended to support Indian claims that Pakistan struck first in the west with air strikes.
On the afternoon of 3rd December 1971, the Government of Pakistan led by President Yahya Khan ordered a massive attack on India across its western frontiers. This has been followed by a gazette extraordinary published by the Government of Pakistan on the forenoon of the 4th December 1971, declaring that it is a state of war against India.
hat this aggression is premeditated and planned is evident from the fact that President Yahya Khan had declared on November 25 that he would be “off to fighting in ten days’ time”.
I am writing to you at a moment of grave peril and danger to my country and my people. The success of the freedom movement in Bangla Desh has now become a war on India due to the adventurism of the Pakistan military machine. It has imposed upon my people and my Government the imperative responsibility of safeguarding our security and territorial integrity. We are left with no other option but to put our country on a war footing.
May I request Your Excellency to exercise your undoubted influence with the Government of Pakistan to stop their aggressive activities against India and to deal immediately with the genesis of the problem of East Bengal which has caused so much trial and tribulations to the people not only of Pakistan but of the entire sub-continent.”
December 6: British Reaction to USG Position on Indo-Pak Conflict: America had been too critical to India.
British stance on South Asian crisis, is based on firm assumption that India will win and that Bangla Desh will be established as independent country.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Statement in Parliament recognizing Bangladesh:
“I am glad to inform the House that in the light of the existing situation and in response to the repeated requests of the Government of Bangla Desh, the Government of India have after the most careful consideration, decided to grant recognition to the GANA PRAJATANTRI BANGLA DESH.
Our thoughts at this moment are with the father of this new State-Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Bangla Desh Government have reiterated their anxiety to organise the expeditious return of their citizens who have found temporary refuge in our country, and to restore their lands and belongings to them. We shall naturally help in every way in these arrangements.”
-In East Pakistan the Indian forces are making gradual progress on several fronts. They are pressing the outnumbered Pak forces on several strategic fronts and the Indian gains so far may be laying the basis for more dramatic successes in the near future. The Indian objective is to force a Pak surrender in East Pakistan within the next week, if at all possible.
-Ground action on the Indian-West Pakistan front has been increasing, but it is not yet as widespread as in the East and neither side appears to be making clear-cut major gains. The Indian strategy is to maintain an essentially defensive posture in the West until the battle is won in the East, but there are indications that the Paks may be preparing a major offensive thrust in Kashmir that would undoubtedly force an Indian counter.
“The Indian government is trying for a rapid and successful conclusion of the fighting in East Pakistan. Indian Premier Gandhi, on 3 December, stated that Indian objective was to complete action within 10 days and redeploy Indian troops to the borders with West Pakistan.
The West Pakistan objective is to overwhelm Indian forces in Kashmir. They feel Kashmir might be sufficient compensation for the loss of East Pakistan to India.”
“Director Helms (CIA) completed his briefing by noting that India’s recognition of Bangladesh provided a justification for intervention in East Pakistan. Helms felt that 10 days was a conservative estimate of how long it would be before the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan would be forced to surrender.”
“In accordance with the above the Soviet representative in the Security Council has been instructed to seek such a solution that would closely combine two questions: a proposal for an immediate cease-fire between Pakistan and India and a demand that the Government of Pakistan immediately recognize the will of the East Pakistani population as expressed in the December 1970 elections. The Soviet leaders express the hope that the President will give instructions to the U.S. representative in the Security Council to act in the same direction.”
Meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh and Keating of USEmbassy:
“We are quite clear on what we are doing. India was making no territorial claims of any type.
The Indian army was being welcomed as liberators. Indian recognition of Bangla Desh also was an effort to curb local extremist elements.
In response to my question whether the Bangla Desh government would be led by the same people as were now in Mujibnagar, the Foreign Minister said that he didn’t know, but it was for them to decide. The GOI did not need to replace the existing administrative setup. It didn’t want to interfere.”
December 7: Jessore, Sylhet and Moulovi Bazar are liberated by the Indian troops with the help of Muktibahini.
Message from Yahya to Nixon:
If India should succeed in its objective, the loss of East Pakistan with a population of 70 million people dominated by Russia will also be a threat to the security of South Asia. It will bring under Soviet domination the region of Assam, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia.
On December 7th the General Assembly by a vote of 104 to 11 with 10 abstentions called on India and Pakistan to institute an immediate cease-fire and to withdraw troops from each other’s territory. Pakistan has accepted the resolution. India has refused.
December 8: General Manekshaw, chief of Army staff calls on Pakistani army in Bangladesh to surrender immediately to Indian army in view of the hopeless position they are situated.
Indian troops acting in concert with Mukti Bahini liberated Comilla and Bramhonbaria.
UN General Assembly votes a resolution calling upon India and Pakistan to cease fire immediately.
President Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s telephone discussion on the crisis on the Indian subcontinent:
“Kissinger pointed to the threat to West Pakistan: “At this stage, we have to prevent an Indian attack on West Pakistan.” Nixon agreed. Kissinger continued: “We have to maintain the position of withdrawal from all of Pakistan.” He concluded that if the United States held firm in its approach to India and the Soviet Union, the administration would achieve its overall goals, even if it failed to prevent India from dismembering Pakistan: “If they maintain their respect for us even if you lose, we still will come out all right.” For Kissinger, it was a question of preserving credibility and honor. By introducing United States military power into the equation, in the form of a carrier and other units from the Seventh Fleet, the United States was seeking to prevent “a Soviet stooge, supported by Soviet arms” from overrunning an ally.”
Yahya proceeding with his blueprint for transfer of power. Has sent Bhutto on short visit to UNGA. Yahya said that the emergency had brought about a greater unanimity of opinion among Pakistani politicians than had heretofore been in evidence, and that he was hopeful.
He said the GOP armed forces in East Pakistan would fight qte to the last Muslim, for not only their country but their faith is in jeopardy.
December 9: Indian troops acting in concert with Mukti Bahini liberated Chandpur and Daudkandi.
“Indian forces in East Pakistan are now making steady progress on several fronts and are at one point 22 miles from Dacca. At the UN, yesterday’s activity was highlighted by a strong appeal from U Thant for a Dacca area cease-fire to permit the evacuation of international community personnel there. Thant asked both the Indians and Paks to agree to a 24-hour stand-down to permit repair of runways for evacuation of foreigners.
Both India and Pakistan are preparing for another round of debate at the UN. Indian Foreign Minister Singh is on his way to New York as is Bhutto, the new Pakistani Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.”
People’s Party leader Z.A. BhuttoNewly designated by Yahya as vice Primin-said he will do utmost to bring about ceasefire and withdrawal of forces. He is also ready to do what he can to achieve satisfactory political accommodation with East Pakistan. Including active negotiation with Mujib.
Kissinger: Well, they will lose East Pakistan. There’s nothing to be done about that.
Nixon: We all know that.
Kissinger: The Brezhnev letter says the negotiations should start at the point at which they were interrupted on March 25, 1970. At that point, East Pakistan was part of Pakistan.
Kissinger: Now if we, if you and Brezhnev, could make a joint declaration. The way I see this thing evolving.
Kissinger: So then we’ve got the Indians at a disadvantage. And we’ll have separated the Soviets from the Indians to some extent.
Alleged US military assistance to Pakistan was not true.
An intelligence report says that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has indicated that India’s war objectives are:
A. Liberation of Bangla Desh
B. The incorporation into India of the southern area of Azad (Pakistani-held) Kashmir
C. The destruction of Pakistani armored and air force strength so that Pakistan can never again threaten India.
“Bhutto has earlier received instructions to work for simple cease-fire resolution with the provision that the Security Council would later take up other aspects.
Latest reports from Dacca indicate that the Indians are preparing for a final all-out assault on the city that could begin in a few hours (down Dacca time) unless last minute efforts to obtain a cease-fire are successful. Yahya has confirmed, via his Foreign Secretary to Ambassador Farland, that General Niazi’s cease-fire formula from East Pakistan can be transmitted to the Indians.
Our carrier task force is transiting the Straits of Malacca and will arrive at a point near the center of the base of the Bay of Bengal tomorrow evening. Rumors about this move are already widespread in the area where they are being combined with stories that the US is considering military assistance to Pakistan.
The British are also moving some naval vessels into the area — a commando carrier and a frigate off the southern coast of Ceylon. Soviet task force, consisting of a guided missile cruiser, an oiler and diesel powered submarine continues to steam through the South China Sea toward the Indian Ocean where if it continues on that course it should arrive in about three days. The Soviets have 12 other naval ships in the Indian Ocean but none of these is in or known to be heading for areas near the Indo-Pakistani conflict.”
“Jha noted that India had recognized Bangla Desh, but there was no intention of annexation in the East or what he termed a protectorate relationship with Bangla Desh. With respect to Azad Kashmir, he could not give any answer totally free of uncertainty. Jha then asked what are the Pak aims? Under Secretary pointed out that Pak aims were made very clear today in note to Secretary General accepting General Assembly resolution calling for ceasefire and withdrawal.”
December 10: Laksham is liberated. The Pak commanding officer surrenders with his officers and 416 men.
The war in the East has reached its final stages. The Indian forces are encircling Dacca and preparing for the final assault if the Pak forces in the capital area refuse to surrender. Pak resistance elsewhere in the province appears on the verge of total collapse, although they continue to hold some isolated areas. Faced with this desperate situation, the top Pak military official in Dacca has called on the UN to arrange (a) peaceful transfer of power to the “elected representatives of East Pakistan,” (b) an immediate cease-fire, (c) repatriation of the Pak forces to West Pakistan, (d) repatriation of all other West Pak personnel who desire to leave, (e) the safety of the others settled in East Pakistan since 1947 and (f) a guarantee of no reprisals.
In the West, the Indians seem to be successfully repulsing Pak attacks in Kashmir, but show no signs yet of initiating a major offensive of their own. Repeated Indian air strikes and shellings from naval forces on Karachi have dealt a major blow to Pakistan’s POL supply.
The Indians have announced a bombing pause over both Dacca and Karachi for evacuation purposes. Evacuation planes will be given safe conduct into Karachi for four-hour periods today and tomorrow and the Dacca airport is to be free from attacks for 24 hours so that it can be repaired. Foreign evacuation planes bound for Dacca will then be given safe conduct for 10 hours on Saturday on the condition that they land at Calcutta before and after going to Dacca. UN personnel reportedly will remain behind in Dacca for possible assistance in arranging a cease-fire or surrender.”
I’m going to hand him a very tough note to Brezhnev and say this is it now, let’s settle the, let’s get a cease-fire now. That’s the best that can be done now. They’ll lose half of their country, but at least they preserve the other half.” Nixon agreed that “our desire is to save West Pakistan.”
Nixon asked for an assurance that the necessary steps were being taken to “keep those carriers [sic] moving.” Kissinger assured him that “everything is moving.” In addition to the carrier group, Kissinger reported that “four Jordanian planes have already moved to Pakistan, twenty-two more are coming. We’re talking to the Saudis, the Turks we’ve now found are willing to give five.”
Yahya proposes (a) India and Pakistan should agree to an immediate ceasefire with the separate armed forces “standing fast”; and that the United Nations or other international organization provide observers to see that the ceasefire is effective; (b) that India and Pakistan “at any effective level” immediately open negotiations aimed at a settlement of the war and troop withdrawal; and coincident therewith simultaneously enter into negotiations looking towards the political satisfaction of Bengali aspirations, i.e., a political settlement.
December 11: Indian troops acting in concert with Mukti Bahini liberated Hilli, Mymenshingh, Kushtia and Noakhali.
Maj. Gen Rao Forman Ali request U-Thant, UN secretary general for help in repatriating troops and West Pakistani civilians.
Sixteen Soviet naval units are now in the Indian Ocean area, including three space support ships. Communications intelligence indicates that most of the ships are near Ceylon and Socotra, although one space-related unit may be monitoring British naval units in the Arabian Sea. However, of the sixteen ships less than half are combatants.
Kissinger: Now after our original resolution is defeated, however, Mr. Minister, then I think you have to decide whether you want to go to a simple ceasefire resolution, because it isn’t that we don’t want to help you, it is that we want to preserve you. It is all very well to stand for principles, but finally we have to assure your survival. And that is the Chinese problem.
December 12: Indian Para-troopers arive in East Pakistan to mount an assault on Dhaka.
“Haig learned that the Chinese initiative did not mean that China had decided upon military action in support of Pakistan. Instead, Huang Hua indicated that China was prepared to support the United Nations procedure Kissinger had outlined in the December 10 meeting, which was to ask for a cease-fire and mutual troop withdrawal but to settle for a standstill cease-fire.”
Ambassador Bush introduced a resolution which, in its operative paragraphs, called for an immediate cease-fire, the withdrawal by India and Pakistan of their armed forces from each other’s territory, and the creation of conditions necessary to safeguard the lives of civilians and to facilitate the safe return of the refugees to their homes. (UN doc. S/10446 and Rev. 1) The Security Council voted 11-2 in favor of the resolution, with 2 abstentions. The resolution was not adopted because of the negative vote of the Soviet Union. (Source)
On UN action: UN cannot take useful action at this time. Further debate will only harden positions and create additional frictions. UN tied to precedent and formalistic rites and cannot deal with such complex issues. If UN has to meet in future, Bangla Desh reps must be present; it is a reality.
Indian Aims in East. Indian aims are simple: Surrender of Pak forces with repatriation to follow; recognition of Bangla Desh. GOI very much aware need protect Biharis. Will establish safe areas under Indian control and assist in repatriation to West Pakistan if they desire. India had not attacked on ground in West.
US was still attempting to see whether UN action “could be useful”.
Memorandum from the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger):
There are four classes of refugees/ displaced persons who will probably require assistance on an international basis following the termination of hostilities.
1. Up to 10 million refugees from East Pakistan who are now in India.
2. Over 600,000 non-Bengali Muslims in East Pakistan who may want to move to West Pakistan, as well as West Pakistani government officials and military in the East.
3. Some 50-100,000 Bengalis living in West Pakistan, most of whom will almost certainly wish to return to East Pakistan.
4. An undetermined number of persons who are being displaced by the fighting within East Pakistan.
December 13: General Manekshaw asks Rao Forman Ali to stand down to prevent shedding of innocent bloods. Dhaka is surrpounded by Indian troops.
We have attentively examined your message over the direct communications link. In accordance with the confidential exchange of opinions existing between us, we are advising you that at the present time, we are conducting a clarification of all the circumstances in India.
We will inform you of the results of the clarification without delay.
December 14: Top intellectuals of the country were were taken from homes by Razakars, Al Badr and Al Shams and slaughtered in killing fields with the vain objective of cripling the nation.
Bogra is liberated.
The Indian casualty figures of the 10 day war is announced by Indian defence minister in parliament:
Killed – 1978, Wounded 5025, Missing 1662.
Pakistani causalty figures are much higher, he claims.
Highest officers of the Pakistani administration in Bangladesh resigns fgrom their posts and seeks refuge to Red Crescent.
“It would be good if the American side on its part stressed to the Pakistani Government the necessity of embarking on the path towards political settlement in East Pakistan on the basis which is now rather clear.”
The Soviet Union vetoes for the 3rd time to block US resolution for an immediate Indo-Pakistani ceasefire.
Letter from Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon:
“The Russian proposal about the cease-fire, withdrawal and negotiations has by now clearly been demonstrated to have been only a hoax….The passage of time is clearly playing into the hands of the Russians. We are convinced that, after acquiring East Pakistan, they would let the Indians turn their might single-mindedly against West Pakistan for which they have already begun to equip the Indians.
Time has come for the United States to go beyond warnings and démarches if its determination to punish aggression across international borders is to have any effect on the Soviet Union and India. The Seventh Fleet does not only have to come to our shores but also to relieve certain pressures which we by ourselves are not in a position to cope with.”
“President Yahya acknowledges that military situation in East Pakistan has hopelessly deteriorated. He provided me with Governor Malik’s Dec. 13 report of chaotic conditions. Because military situation now irretrievable and for over-riding humanitarian reasons, Yahya is giving Bhutto widest possible latitude at UN to effect ceasefire and troop withdrawal.”
Soviet first deputy foreign minister came to India on December 12 to discuss the political recognition of Bangladesh. Soviet Union continued to Veto any cease fire to give India time to liberate Bangladesh. However they were growing impatient by now. (CIA information)
December 15: Bhutto, on a diplomatic visit to the US since December 8, makes an agitated speech at the UN Security Council: (Full text and video of speech here)
“So what if Dacca falls? So what if the whole of East Pakistan falls? So what if the whole of West Pakistan falls? We will build a new Pakistan. We will build a better Pakistan… We will fight for a thousand years.” Afterwards, he tears up his notes and walks out.
“Brezhnev said in a letter: “The Soviet Union guarantees there will be no military action against West Pakistan.”
“I have been informed by Governor Malik and General Farman Ali that President Yahya Khan strongly desires to put a end to hostilities in EP. For this purpose he wishes to arrange with the Indian Govt an immediate cease-fire period of at least two hours in which discussions for this purpose can take place between the military commanders concerned. The President desires honorable conditions for Pakistani troops and protection of civilians.”
“Foreign Minister Bhutto declined to pass General Niazi’s ceasefire proposal to the Indians in New York, so our UN mission was instructed to communicate it to Foreign Minister Singh, and subsequently Ambassador Keating was instructed to pass its text to Mrs. Gandhi’s secretary, Haksar. In this as in the negotiations on the Security Council resolution, Bhutto is apparently being careful to sidestep onus for the surrender of East Pakistan. Meanwhile, latest Indian reports indicate that Dacca is receiving heavy artillery fire, and three Indian columns have advanced to within a few miles of Dacca where they are preparing for attack.
Our carrier task force is transiting the Straits of Malacca and should arrive at a point near the center of the base of the Bay of Bengal this (15 Dec) evening. Rumors about this move are already widespread in the area where they are being combined with stories that the US is considering military assistance to Pakistan.”
“In order to save future loss of innocent human lives which would inevitably result from further hostilities in the major cities like Dacca, I request you to arrange for an immediate cease-fire under the following conditions:
(A) Regrouping of Pakistan armed forces in designated areas to be mutually agreed upon between the commanders of the opposing forces;
(B) To guarantee the safety of all military and paramilitary forces;
(C) Safety of all those who had settled in East Pakistan since 1947;
(D) No reprisals against those who helped the administration since March 1971.
In those conditions, the Pakistan armed forces and paramilitary forces would immediately cease all military operations.
Indian response to Niazi ceasefire proposal from General Manekshaw to General Niazi:
“I had previously informed General Farman Ali in two messages that I would guarantee (a) the safety of all your military and paramilitary forces who surrender to me in Bangla Desh. (b) Complete protection to foreign nations, ethnic minorities and personnel of West Pakistan no matter who they may be. Since you have indicated your desire to stop fighting I expect you to issue orders to all forces under your command in Bangla Desh to cease fire immediately and surrender to my advancing forces wherever they are located.
Immediately I receive a positive response from you I shall direct General Aurorea the commander of Indian and Bangla Desh forces in the Eastern theatre to refrain from all air and ground action against your forces. As a token of my good faith I have ordered that no air action shall take place over Dacca from 1700 hours today.
I assure you I have no desire to inflict unnecessary casualties on your troops as I abhor loss of human lives.”
“The tragic war, which is continuing, could have been averted if during the nine months prior to Pakistan’s attack on us on December 3, the great leaders of the world had paid some attention to the fact of revolt, tried to see the reality of the situation and searched for a genuine basis for reconciliation. Our earnest plea that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman should be released, or that, even if he were to be kept under detention, contact with him might be established, was not considered practical on the ground that the US could not urge policies which might lead to the overthrow of President Yahya Khan.
We are asked what we want. We seek nothing for ourselves. We do not want any territory of what was East Pakistan and now constitutes Bangla Desh. We do not want any territory of West Pakistan.”
The Pakistani commander Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi surrenders to Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, the Commander of the Joint Forces, at the same Dhaka Racecourse where Sheikh Mujib had made his historic call for independence only nine months and nine days earlier.
More than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers are taken prisoner of war by Indian forces. The president of Bangladesh is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is still in prison somewhere in West Pakistan where he is denied all information about the outside world. He knows nothing of the bloodshed that has preceded the creation of his state.
People begin their search for the remains of the missing ones at the numersous execution grounds and mass gravesites around the country.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi speking at Lok Sabha hailed Dacca as “the free capital of a free country.” At the same time, the Indian Government announced a cease-fire on the front between India and West Pakistan to take effect the following day. In making the announcement a government spokesman stated that India had no territorial ambitions in the conflict.
December 17: When US ambassador Farland saw President Yahya on the morning of December 17 and urged him to accept the Indian cease-fire offer, Yahya took the position that he had previously indicated his willingness to accept a cease-fire in accepting the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 7. He did not see the necessity to reiterate that position and respond to what he referred to as Mrs. Gandhi’s dictates. Upon further urging from Farland, he agreed to consider responding to the Indian offer. At 3 p.m. local time on December 17, Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan brought Farland the news that Yahya was prepared to accept the Indian offer publicly. (Source)
Indian Foregn Minister Singh said that in the east India planned to install a civilian government of officials elected in 1970. He asked whether the U.S. could get Mujib released to head it
December 18: Nixon meets Bhutto:
“The Deputy Prime Minister was critical of past policies in Pakistan which he claimed were the result of the will of a clique of military leaders who were no longer in touch with the people of Pakistan. All of this contributed in large measure to the calamity which befell his nation.”
Decembr 17-20: Pakistanis in general and young military officers in particular made it clear that they wanted Yahya Khan and his regime to go.
At one point, General Abdul Hamid Khan, chief of staff of the Pakistan army (the army was then headed by a commander-in-chief, in this case Yahya), called a meeting of army officers in Rawalpindi cantonment and attempted to explain the causes behind the debacle in Bangladesh.
He was greeted with expletives, one more profane than the next, and eventually was forced to leave the room. Hamid, who had after the Dhaka surrender begun nurturing ambitions of taking over from Yahya, now knew that the end was near. Officers like General Gul Hasan, in contact with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, were already planning to dominate the new circumstances.
December 20: Bhutto arrived back in Rawalpindi around noon and was immediately whisked away to the president’s house for a meeting with General Yahya Khan. He emerged a few hours later as Pakistan’s new president and, incongruously, chief martial law administrator. Late in the evening, President Bhutto addressed the nation, and in a rambling speech promised his people that he would build a new Pakistan for them. He extolled the bravery of Pakistan’s soldiers in the just concluded war and asked forgiveness of his “brothers and sisters” in “East Pakistan.”
Yahya Khan hands over all power to Z A Bhutto
(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
He showed absolutely no contrition over his role in the making of the crisis in Bangladesh but appeared keen to reassure Pakistanis that their future was safe in his hands. He placed Yahya Khan under house arrest and appointed new chiefs of staff for the army, air force and navy.
Meanwhile, there is still considerable public resentment about the way the war ended. In Karachi, for example, bands of demonstrators have been roving in and out of the major business and residential areas setting fires and causing disruptions. Many educated Pakistanis are still openly attacking Yahya and saying that the people will never allow the return of a military government under any circumstances. At the same time, even those who oppose and distrust Bhutto seem inclined to give him a chance.
The situation is still fluid in the East. The Indian Army seems to be gradually restoring a minimum of law and order in Dacca and reorganizing the administrative apparatus. The “Bangla Desh” cabinet, however, has still not arrived from Calcutta, although there are reports that it may proceed to Dacca by mid-week. The Bangla Desh “Prime Minister” is quoted by Dacca Radio as saying that there is a great need for foreign aid but that they will “not touch” any part of U.S. aid because of the “hateful and shameful” policy that the U.S. has followed toward the Bangla Desh “freedom struggle.
December 22: Bangladesh’s provisional government arrived in Dhaka from exile. Bhutto decreed that detained Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman be moved from solitary confinement in prison to house arrest.
At the UN, the Security Council was finally able to agree on a resolution last night by a vote of thirteen to nothing with the Soviet Union and Poland abstaining. The operative paragraph in effect formalizes the cease-fire and demands that it “remain in effect until withdrawals take place, as soon as practicable, of all armed forces to their respective territories and to the cease-fire line supervised by UNMOGIP.”
December 27: Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:
Bhutto is reported to have announced plans for a judicial inquiry into the causes for Pakistan’s defeat. It is not to submit its findings for three months and may be Bhutto’s effort to satisfy public opinion with a minimum move.
Bhutto arrived at the rest house where Mujib had been moved. Surprised Mujib
asked Bhutto: “Bhutto, how are you here?” Bhutto’s response did not fit the question: “I am president of Pakistan.” An even more surprised Mujib teased him: “But you know that position belongs to me.” He was evidently referring to the Awami League’s victory at the general
elections of a year earlier. This time Bhutto told him: “I am also chief martial law administrator.”
In the next hour or so, Bhutto gave Mujib to understand that the Indian army had occupied “East Pakistan” and that the two men needed to be together in the coming struggle to drive the Indians off. Mujib, ever the astute politician, knew better.
(Source: Distant Neighbours: A Tale of the Subcontinent – Kuldip Nayar)
Janauary 8: President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto accompanied Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Chaklala airport.
Mujib’s first diplomatic achievement: Indian troops leave Bangladeshi soil, dispelling any fear of a new occupation by a new colonizer.
* Mujib speaks at New Delhi on his way from Pakistan to Dhaka (audio file from BBC)
Banglapedia’s entry on The Constitution of Bangladesh including the major amendments.
Sheikh Mujib returns to an Independent Bangladesh as millions of people greeted him
(Image credit: tovarish_udn from Flickr)
Evolution of Fundamental Principles of 1972 – Bangladesh Constitution. The Four Founding Principles: Democracy, Socialism, Secularism, and Bangalee Nationalism are adopted by the new government to be the foundations of a constitution for the newborn nation.
January 30: While looking for his missing brother Shahidullah Kaisar, film-maker Zahir Raihan disappears — his car is found outside an enclave serving to protect the Biharis; the anti-liberation forces are still believed to be active in their subversive roles against pro-liberation intelligentsia.
The Tragedy of the Stranded Biharis:
Pakistan refuses to accept this ethnic group, who had originally emigrated from the state of Bihar, India during the Partition, and were mostly aligned with the West Pakistanis before and during the War; the Bangalees cannot accept them for their complicity in the genocidal atrocities of the Pakistani army (as Al Shams); the Red Cross sets up a number of enclaves, including the Geneva Camp in Dhaka, in order to protect them from further violence by Bangalee mobs.
February 19: Sheikh Mujib and Indira Gandhi signs the 25-year treaty of friendship and cooperation between Bangladesh and India in Dhaka.
March 1: Sheikh Mujib went to the Soviet Union on an official visit.
March 17: The allied Indian army left Dhaka at the request of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In September 1971 an international conference of jurists convened in Aspen, Colorado, by the ICJ and the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies called upon the International Commission of Jurists to set up a Commission of Enquiry into the events in East Pakistan. A Commission of three prominent international lawyers was accordingly appointed in November with the following terms of reference:
‘To enquire into the reported violations of human rights and the rule of law in East Pakistan since March 1, 1971, and, insofar as they are shown to be well-founded, to enquire into their nature, extent and causes and to report, with recommendations.’
The Indian Government and the provisional Government of Bangladesh agreed to cooperate fully with the Commission, but unfortunately the former Pakistan Government refused their cooperation, contending that the subject of the enquiry was a purely internal matter.
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Outline of Events in East Pakistan
1-25 March, 1971
25-March-18 December, 1971
Part III: Legal Position under Pakistan Law
Part IV: Legal Position under International Penal Law
Part V: Right of Self-determination in International Law
Part VI: The Role of the United Nations
Part VII: The Role of India
Summary of Conclusions
Bhutto winth daughter Benazir and Indira at Simla: all were assassinated later in their lives
July 2: Prime Minister Bhutto and his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi have signed an agreement in Simla, India, declaring their resolve “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon.”
The Indian army will withdraw from West Pakistani territory occupied since 1971 war.
The Simla Talks at the behest of the Indira Gandhi Government over the fate of the Pakistani Prisoners of War end up in unconditional pardoning of all; in return the Pakistani governmernt agrees to return all the Bangladeshi Civil Servants and Army Officers held in various concentration camps since 1971; however, it also refuses to admit the Biharis stranded in Bangladesh opting for Pakistani citizenship.
Sheikh Mujib also pardons most of the native (Bangalee) Collaborators, except for those accused of criminal activties.
Nov: 617 Indian POWs held since 1971 War are unilaterally released by Bhutto.
November 4: Bangabandhu announced that the first general election in Bangladesh would be held on 7 March, 1973
December 16: On the first anniversary of liberation the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh was adopted.
Among the important achievements of the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government:
The re-organization of the administrative system, adoption of the constitution, rehabiliation of ten million people people, restoration and development of communication system, expansion of education, supply of fre books to students upto class five and at low price to students up to class eight, effective ban on all anti-Islamic and anti-social activities like gambling, horse races, liquor, establishment of Islamic foundation, re-organization of Madrassa Board, establlishedment of 11,000 primary schools, nationalization of 40,000 primary schools, establishment of women’s rehabilitation centre for the welfare of distressed woman. Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, waiving tax upto 25 bighas of land, distribution of agricultural inputs among farmers free of cost or at nominal price, nationalization of banks and insurance companies abandoned by the Pakistais and 580 industrial units, employment to thousands of workers and employees, construction of Ghorashal Fertilizer Factory, primary work of Ashugangj Complex and establishment of othe new industrial units and reopening of the closed industries.
Another landmark achievement of the Bangabandhu government was to gain recognition of almost all countries of the world and the United Nations membership in a short period of time.
March: The Awami secured 293 out of the 300 Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) seats in the first general elections.
August 28: An agreement between India and Pakistan governments regarding repatriations of persons was signed. India agreed to repatriate POWs and civil detainees; terms for release of 195 military personnel wanted for war crimes to be decided later; Pakistanis living in Bengladesh and Bengalis living in Pakistan to be transferred.
September 3: The Awami League, CPB and NAP formed Oikya Front (United Front).
September 6: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman travelled to Algeria to attend the Non-aligned Movement Summit Conferrence.
September 19: First batch of Pakistani POWs return to Karachi.
April 9: A Tri-patriate agreement was signed between Bangladesh-India-Pakistan in New delhi. Those who signed were Kamal Hossain (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh), Swaran Singh, (Minister of External Affairs, India) and Aziz Ahmed (Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs, Pakistan).
September 24: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed the UN General Assembly in Bangla. Earlier the Peoploe’s Republic of Bangladesh was accorded membership of United Nations.
Henry Kissinger continues to refuse to accept Bangladesh, or provide any aid, referring to it as a “basket case” — possibly because of Mujib’s pro-socialist rhetorics and participation in the Non-Aligned Movement
A famine breaks out in 1974 which is viewed as the direct result of inefficiency and corruption by politicians and civil servants. The 1974 famine was not an isolated incident, but instead part of a long trend in declining food production in Bangladesh following its independence from Pakistan.
Possibly over a million people died in the Bangladesh famine of 1974, from July 1974 to January 1975, although the Bangladesh government claimed only 26,000 people died. (Wikipedia).
In a review of Amartya Sen’s book, Development as Freedom, James North maintains this view of the famine that hit Bangladesh in 1974:
No dictator stole food from the Bangladeshi poor in 1974. The normal functioning of the economy, with property rights respected, led to their deaths.
Among the socio-political factors, Devinder Sharma of the Global Hunger Alliance claims that:
At the height of the 1974 famine in the newly born Bangladesh, the US had withheld 2.2 million tonnes of food aid to ‘ensure that it abandoned plans to try Pakistani war criminals’.
Sheikh Mujib sidelines Tajuddin Ahmed, while Khondakar Mustaq Ahmed, a holdover from the Pakistani Muslim League, wins Mujib’s confidence.
In spite of the Mujib Government’s commitment to democracy and socialism, the Awami League finds itself in opposition to the growing Left movement. The Jatiya Rakshibahini, a para-military formed with mostly pro-Mujib Fredom Fighters, becomes a symbol of excessive and repressive government.
January: The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (termed a constitutional coup) establishes a one party rule by the newly formed Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL); Mujib cites widespread corruption and failure of the goverment to address the needs of the poor. Bangladesh switched over to the presidential system of governance and Bangabandhu took over as President of the republic.
On June, all political parties were banned and were asked to join the newly formed BAKSAL. Many Newspapers were banned. All these triggered massive resentment against Mujib Government.
August 15: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is assassinated by a group of Army officers led by Col. Faruk Ahmed, Col. Rashid, and a Maj. Dalim; among the dead are Mujib’s wife, his three sons including the eight year old Shiekh Russel, and two daughters-in-law.
The only family members of Mujib who survive are his two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana; they were abroad at the time with their respective families.
The coup was staged by army officers repatriated from Pakistan after the War. Because of their anti-communist leanings, some role of CIA (who were engaged in similar operations across the Latin America at the time) is widely suspected.
Khondkar Moshtaque Ahmed becomes the President; the four key figures from the Mujibnagar Government, who had sidelined Moshtaque for his suspected subversive activities in Calcutta, West Bengal during the War, are brutally murdered in Dhaka Central Jail. Moshtaque’s first (and last) major directive is to design a National Costume (for men only, apparently) that includes his favorite Islamic cap.
The lower ranks in the army stage a coup; Col. Taher quells the uprising and rescues Ziaur Rahman, now a Maj. Gen.; Zia later assumes full control and declares Martial Law.
Col. Abu Taher, one of the 11 Sector Commanders and a valiant Freedom Fighter who had lost a leg in action, is tried behind closed doors as a “conspirator” in the November 7 “Sipoy Mutiny” and hanged under Zia’s directives.
Timeline credits: NOVO’s Library, Majlish, Virtual Bangladesh, Uttorshuri, Bangla Gallery, NY Bangla -Liberation war archives, Profile of Bengal, The chronicle of Pakistan, Bangabandhu and Bangladesh and many more. We are indebted to your patriotic efforts and linked to your fabulous works.