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November 1971

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.”

November 2: Telegram from the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State:

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.”

Memorandum from Kissinger to President Nixon:

“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.”

November 4: Telegram from Deputy Secretary of Defense to Hnorable U. Alexis Johnson:

“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.”

* (Chronology of Miltary supply to Paksitan)”

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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.

November 5: A. I. D. Deputy Administrator’s Report on situation of East Pakistan:

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.)”

Memorandum of conversation among Nixon, Kissinger and others:

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.”

Assistant Secretary Sisco discusses with Fonsec Kaul on East Pakistan Problem:

“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.”

Telegram from Amembassy Islamabad to Secretary State Page 1, Page 2:

“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.”

Briefing for President Nixon:

“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.”

UN Role in East Pakistan Problem:

“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.”

Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting:

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.”

US Ambassador’s conversation with President Yahya:

Yahya was hopeful that international mediation would somehow prevent a confrontation in the Subcontinent which could be an international disaster.

Letter from the Government of Bangla Desh (sd Tajuddin) to the Prime Minister of India:

“-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.”

November 24: Discussion with cleared Awami League MNA-elect Nurul Islam and MPA-elect S.B. Zaman:

“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.

Discussion with UNHCR president Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan and Asst Secy Sisco:

“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.”

Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting:

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.

Discussion between President Nixon, Secretary of State Rogers, and National Security Assistant Kissinger:

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.

Raja Tridiv Roy in Ceylon as representative of GOP President Khan:

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.

Washington Special Actions Group Meeting:

“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.

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