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Pakistanis Retreat to Dacca

The Harvard Crimson, December 10, 1971

Indian spokesmen reported yesterday that thousands of East Pakistani troops were retreating in front of the Indian army’s advance which came within 25 miles of Dacca. East Pakistan’s capital. India claims to have wiped out the last of East Pakistan’s air force during the day.

The Pakistani U.N. delegation told Secretary-General U Thant yesterday that Pakistan accepts the General Assembly’s cease-fire appeal, subject to a call for U.N. observers on both sides.

The East Pakistanis were using sampans, barges and steamers to retreat across the Ganges River into Chittagong, where they hoped to be evacuated. Pakistani forces attempting to escape by river would meet “certain death” at the hands of the Indian Navy.

While Radio Pakistan claimed that Indian invaders had been “blunted on all fronts in East Pakistan,” the Indian Army reported its capture of the Meghna River, 25 miles southeast of Dacca. As Indian forces drew nearer to Dacca, thousands of residents fled the city.

Lt. Gen. Hagjit Singh Aurora, Indian eastern front commander, said yesterday that about 7000 Pakistani troops trying to escape across the Ganges River were under air attack. He said at least one river steamer, carrying an estimated 500 Pakistani troops, had been sunk by Indian aircraft, which made over 100 sorties during the day.

Francis G. Hutchins, assistant professor of Economics, said yesterday that “the conflict seams to be going according to India’s plan of a show, methodical advance on Dacca.” He added that the Pakistanis are probably hoping to make up for their losses on the eastern front with advances in Kashmir, so that if a cease-fire is negotiated. Pakistan will have gained some land in the conflict.

“The Pakistani government, may already have decided to abandon Dacca,” Hutchins said. “The invasion may actually help the Pakistani leaders by allowing them to blame their loss of East Pakistan on India rather than on internal political revolution,” he said.

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December 1971

December 1: Telegram from Amconsul Calcutta to Secretary State

“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.

Pakistan intensifies air raids on India – BBC report (including video)

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)

Telephone Conversation between President Nixon and Kissinger:

It appears that West Pakistan has attacked because situation in East collapsing.

Details on the India-Pakistan war in 1971 from Indian-Subcontinent Database

December 4: Letter from Government of Bangla Desh to Indian Prime Minister.

Telegram from American Embassy New Delhi to Secretary State:

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.

Washington Special Actions Group Meeting:

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.

December 5: Letter from Indian Prime Minister Gandhi to President Nixon:

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.”

Pakistan Request for Jordanian Military Assistance

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.”

Bangladesh Foreign Minister’s letter on recognition.

Memorandum from Kissinger to President Nixon:

-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.

Secretary of Defense Laird’s Armed Forces Policy Council Meeting:

“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.”

National Security Council Meeting:

“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.”

Message from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the United States

“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.”

Telegram from Secy of State to UNMission NATO:

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.

Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:

“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.”

Bhutto’s views on eve of departure for New York:

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.

Discussion with Nixon and Kissinger:

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.

Memo from CIA – implications of Indian victory over Pakistan:

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.

Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:

“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.”

Indian ambassador Jha meets undersecretary Sisco:

“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.

Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:

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.”

Discussion with Kissinger and Nixon:

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.”

Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland) to Kissinger:

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.

Kissinger to Nixon:

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.

Telephone Conversation between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and Deputy Prime Minister Bhutto:

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.


The Indo-Pakistan Conflict — East and West

December 12: Indian Para-troopers arive in East Pakistan to mount an assault on Dhaka.

White house Update:

“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)

Bush meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Singh:

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):

India Pakistan refugee problems:

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.

Message from the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon:

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.

Message from the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon:

“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.”

Discussion with Pres. Yahya and US ambassador re Ceasefire:

“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)

Image credit: Doc Kazi

“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.

Discussion with Nixon and Kissinger:

“Brezhnev said in a letter: “The Soviet Union guarantees there will be no military action against West Pakistan.”

Telegram from the Consulate General in Dacca to the Department of State:

“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.”

Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:

“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.”

The Niazi Cease-Fire Proposal:

“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.”

Letter from the Indian Ambassador (Jha) to President Nixon

“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.”

December 16:

auroraniazi3.jpg

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.

* The Instrument of Surrender

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.

* December 16, 1971: A few moments from a historic day(video)

People begin their search for the remains of the missing ones at the numersous execution grounds and mass gravesites around the country.

freedomfighteratdhaka.jpg

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)

Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:

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

US Intelligence note on Bangladesh leadership:

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.”

feer-18-12-71.jpg

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.”

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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.

Memo from Kissinger to Nixon:

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.

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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)

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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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1965

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.

January: Ayub Khan is elected President for a second five-year term defeating Fatema Jinnah.

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.

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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.

The 1965 India-Pakistan War – A NDTV report

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.

November: Expression of political desire for East Wing Autonomy.

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.”

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Text of the tri-patriate agreement of Bangladesh-Pakistan-India

Following is the full text of tripartite agreement signed in New Delhi on 9 April 1974.

1. On 2 July 1972, the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India signed an historic agreement at Simla under which they resolved that “the two countries put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of durable peace in the subcontinent.” The agreement also provided for the settlement of “their differences by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon”.

2. Bangladesh welcomed the Simla Agreement. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh strongly supported its objective of reconciliation, good neighborliness and establishment of durable peace in the subcontinent.

3. The humanitarian problems arising in the wake of the tragic event of 1971 constituted a major obstacle in the way of reconciliation and normalization among the countries of the subcontinent. In the absence of recognition, it was not possible to have tripartite talks to settle the humanitarian problems, as Bangladesh could not participate in such a meeting except on the basis of sovereign equality.

4. On 17 April 1973, India and Bangladesh took a major step forward to break the deadlock on the humanitarian issues by setting aside the political problem of recognition. In a declaration issued on that date, they said that they “are resolved to continue their efforts to reduce tension, promote friendly and harmonious relationship in the sub-continent and work together towards the establishment of a durable peace.”

Inspired by this vision and “in the larger interest of reconciliation, peace and stability in the subcontinent”, they jointly proposed that the problem of the detained and stranded persons should be resolved on humanitarian considerations through simultaneous repatriation of all such persons except those Pakistani prisoners of war who might be required by the Government of Bangladesh for trial on certain charges.

5. Following the declaration, there were a series of talks between India and Bangladesh and India and Pakistan. These talks resulted in an agreement at Delhi on 28 august 1973, between India and Pakistan with the concurrence of Bangladesh, which provided for a solution of the outstanding humanitarian problems.

6. In pursuance of this agreement, the process of three-way repatriation commenced on 19 September 1973. So far nearly three lakh persons have been repatriated which has generated an atmosphere of reconciliation and paved the way for normalization of relations in the sub-continent.

7. In February 1974, recognition took place thus facilitating the participation of Bangladesh in the tripartite meeting envisaged in the Delhi Agreement, on the basis of sovereign equality. Accordingly, Dr. Kamal Hossain, Foreign Minister of Government of Bangladesh, Mr. Swaran Singh, Minister of External affairs, Government of India, and Mr. Aziz Ahmed, Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs of the Government of Pakistan, met in New Delhi from 5 April to 9 April 1974 and discussed the various issues mentioned in the Delhi Agreement, in particular the question of the 195 prisoners of war and the completion of the three-way process of repatriation involving Bangladesh and Pakistani prisoners of war in India.

8. The Ministers reviewed the progress of the three-way repatriation under the Delhi Agreement of 28 August 1973. They were gratified that such a large number of persons detained or stranded in the three countries had since reached their destinations.

9. The Ministers also considered steps that needed to be taken in order expeditiously to bring the process of three-way repatriation to a satisfactory conclusion.

10. The Indian side stated that the remaining Pakistani prisoners of war and civilian internees in India to be repatriated under the Delhi Agreement, numbering approximately 6,500, would be repatriated at the usual pace of a train on alternate days and the likely shortfall due to suspension of trains from 10 April to 19 April 1974, on account of the Kumbh mela, would be made up by running additional trains after April 19. It was thus hoped that the repatriation of prisoners of war would be completed by the end of April 1974.

11. The Pakistan side stated that the repatriation of Bangladesh nationals from Pakistan was approaching completion. The remaining Bangladesh nationals in Pakistan would also be repatriated without let or hindrance.

12. In respect of non-Bengalis in Bangladesh, the Pakistan side stated that the Government of Pakistan had already issued clearances for movement of Pakistanis in favour of those non-Bengalis who were either domiciled in former West Pakistan, were employees of the Central Government and their families or were members of the divided families, irrespective of their original domicile. The issuance of clearances to 25,000 persons who constitute hardship cases was also in progress.

The Pakistan side also reiterated that all those who fall under the first three categories would be received by Pakistan without any limit to numbers. In respect of persons whose applications had been rejected, the Government of Pakistan would, upon request, provide reasons why any particular case was rejected. Any aggrieved applicant could at a time, seek a review of his application provided he was able to supply new facts or further information to the Government of Pakistan in support of his contention that he qualified in one or other of the three categories. The claim of such persons would not be time-barred. In the event of the decision of review of a case being adverse, the Government of Pakistan and Bangladesh might seek to resolve it by mutual consultation.

13. The question of 195 Pakistani prisoners of war was discussed by the three Ministers in the context of the earnest desire of the Governments for reconciliation, peace and friendship in the sub-continent. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stated that the excesses and manifold crimes committed by those prisoners of war constituted, according to the relevant provisions of the UN General Assembly resolutions and international law, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and that there was universal consensus that persons charged with such crimes as 195 Pakistani prisons of war should be held to account and subjected to the due process of law. The Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs of the Government of Pakistan said that his Government condemned and deeply regretted any crimes that may have been committed.

14. In this connection, the three Ministers noted that the matter should be viewed in the context of the determination of the three countries to continue resolutely to work for reconciliation. The Ministers further noted that following recognition, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had declared that he would visit Bangladesh in response to the invitation of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and appealed to the people of Bangladesh to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past in order to promote reconciliation. Similarly, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh had declared with regard to the atrocities and destruction committed in Bangladesh in 1971, that he wanted the people to forget the past and to make a fresh start, stating that the people of Bangladesh knew how to forgive.

15. In the light of the foregoing and, in particular, having regard to the appeal of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to the people of Bangladesh to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stated that the Government of Bangladesh had decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency. It was agreed that the 195 prisoners of war might be repatriated to Pakistan along with the other prisoners of war now in the process of repatriation under the Delhi Agreement.

16. The Ministers expressed their conviction that the above agreements provide a firm basis for the resolution of the humanitarian problems arising out of the conflict of 1971. They reaffirmed the vital stake the 700 million people of the three countries have in peace and progress and reiterated the resolve of their Governments to work for the promotion of normalization of relations and the establishment of durable peace in the sub-continent.

Signed in New Delhi on 9 April 1974, in three originals, each of which is equally authentic.

(Kamal Hossain)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh
(Swaran Singh)
Minister of External Affairs, Government of India
(Aziz Ahmed) Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan.

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1947

1930-47: Development of the Two Nations Theory which led to the Partition of the Indian sub-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 led to the creation on 14 August 1947 and 15 August 1947, respectively, of the sovereign states, Dominion of Pakistan (later Islamic Republic of Pakistan) and Union of India (later Republic of India), upon the granting of independence to British India by the United Kingdom. ‘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.

East Bengal celebrates its freedom from British colonial rule as it becomes a province of Pakistan. West Bengal remains with India, which celebrates its own independence the following day.

“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)

* Partition of India and Bengal and Some Myths:

  • 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.

    More on Partition of India.

    Source: Uttorshuri, Wikipedia

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    The Partition of India

    The Partition of India led to the creation on 14 August 1947 and 15 August 1947, respectively, of the sovereign states, Dominion of Pakistan (later Islamic Republic of Pakistan) and Union of India (later Republic of India), upon the granting of independence to British India by the United Kingdom. ‘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.

    East Bengal celebrates its freedom from British colonial rule as it becomes a province of Pakistan. West Bengal remains with India, which celebrates its own independence the following day.

    A mass exodus ensues, especially in Punjab, where Hindus and Muslims feel forced into territories awarded to India and Pakistan, respectively. Communal violence erupts among people uprooted and displaced by a political decision over which they had no control.

    Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, becomes the Governor General of Pakistan, now a member of the British Commonwealth.

    More on Partition of India

    * Partition of India and Bengal and Some Myths:

  • 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.

    Source: Uttorshuri, Wikipedia

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