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September 1971

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”.

September 3: Report from the Deputy Administrator of Aid Maurice Williams to Secretary of State:

“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.’

September 5: Address to the nation by Tajuddin Ahmed Prime Minister of Bangla Desh – Page 1, Page 2

US president’s monday brief:

‘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…..’

September 7: Amembassy, Islamabad’s telegram to Secretary State, Washington DC on East Pakinstani intelelctuals:

“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.

September 16: Memorandum from Harold Sunders and Samuel Hoskinson to Dr. Kissinger

Situation Report on India/Pakistan:

“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 17: Extracts from U.N. Secretary-General’s introduction to the Annual Report on the
work of the U.N. Organisation relating to the situation in East Bengal
.

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)

C-in-C of Mukti Bahini M.A.G. Osmani gives a speech on war situation.

Report on Pak plans to initiate small-scale border incident with India:

“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.”

September 27: An Intelligence note from Bureau of Intelligence and Research:

“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.

American Congen political officer Poloff meets with BD ForMin Mustaque in Calcutta:

“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.”

U.S. leverage in current East Pakistan crisis: U.S. Policy

September 29: Indo-Soviet joint Statement of the conclusion of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s visit to U.S.S.R.

“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.”

September 29: Asst Secy Sisco discussed with Indian Ambassador Jha on the current situation:

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.

Extracts from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s address at the Moscow University:

“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.’

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