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August 1971

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.

* George/Ringo Help from a friend
* 40000 cheer two beatles

Telegram of Amconsul, Calcutta to Amembassy New Delhi:

“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

August 6: Telegram from the Department of State to Embassy in India :

“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.”

India and Soviet Union enters into a treaty of peace.

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.

August 11: Discussion with UN Secretary General and US Secretary of State on UN Relief Effort in East Pakistan.

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.”

Letter from the Indian Ambassador (Jha) to President Nixon:

“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.”

With the Bangladesh Guerillas – The New Statesman (Page 1, Page 2)

Bangladesh PM warns against fake trial of Mujib (Page 1, Page 2)

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)

Telegram from AmConsul Calcutta to Secretary of State:

Foreign Minister Mustaaque planning a trip to Moscow, but would like to visit U.S. First.

August 15: Interview with Aga Hilaly

Statement by senator Edward Kennedy

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.”

August 25: Secret Telegram from State Department to Amconsul, Calcutta:

“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……”

August 28: Secret Telegram from Amconsul Calcutta to Secretary of State:

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.”

August 30: Conversation with retired Maj. – Gen Jilani, NAP ( R ):

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.”

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