“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 rehabilitation 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”.