January: The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (termed a constitutional coup) establishes a one party rule by the newly formed Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL); Mujib cites widespread corruption and failure of the goverment to address the needs of the poor. Bangladesh switched over to the presidential system of governance and Bangabandhu took over as President of the republic.
On June, all political parties were banned and were asked to join the newly formed BAKSAL. Many Newspapers were banned. All these triggered massive resentment against Mujib Government.
August 15: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is assassinated by a group of Army officers led by Col. Faruk Ahmed, Col. Rashid, and a Maj. Dalim; among the dead are Mujib’s wife, his three sons including the eight year old Shiekh Russel, and two daughters-in-law.
The only family members of Mujib who survive are his two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana; they were abroad at the time with their respective families.
The coup was staged by army officers repatriated from Pakistan after the War. Because of their anti-communist leanings, some role of CIA (who were engaged in similar operations across the Latin America at the time) is widely suspected.
Khondkar Moshtaque Ahmed becomes the President; the four key figures from the Mujibnagar Government, who had sidelined Moshtaque for his suspected subversive activities in Calcutta, West Bengal during the War, are brutally murdered in Dhaka Central Jail. Moshtaque’s first (and last) major directive is to design a National Costume (for men only, apparently) that includes his favorite Islamic cap.
The lower ranks in the army stage a coup; Col. Taher quells the uprising and rescues Ziaur Rahman, now a Maj. Gen.; Zia later assumes full control and declares Martial Law.
Col. Abu Taher, one of the 11 Sector Commanders and a valiant Freedom Fighter who had lost a leg in action, is tried behind closed doors as a “conspirator” in the November 7 “Sipoy Mutiny” and hanged under Zia’s directives.
April 9:A Tri-patriate agreement was signed between Bangladesh-India-Pakistan in New delhi. Those who signed were Kamal Hossain (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh), Swaran Singh, (Minister of External Affairs, India) and Aziz Ahmed (Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs, Pakistan).
September 24: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed the UN General Assembly in Bangla. Earlier the Peoploe’s Republic of Bangladesh was accorded membership of United Nations.
Henry Kissinger continues to refuse to accept Bangladesh, or provide any aid, referring to it as a “basket case” — possibly because of Mujib’s pro-socialist rhetorics and participation in the Non-Aligned Movement
A famine breaks out in 1974 which is viewed as the direct result of inefficiency and corruption by politicians and civil servants. The 1974 famine was not an isolated incident, but instead part of a long trend in declining food production in Bangladesh following its independence from Pakistan.
Possibly over a million people died in the Bangladesh famine of 1974, from July 1974 to January 1975, although the Bangladesh government claimed only 26,000 people died. (wikipedia).
In a review of Amartya Sen’s book, Development as Freedom, James North maintains this view of the famine that hit Bangladesh in 1974:
No dictator stole food from the Bangladeshi poor in 1974. The normal functioning of the economy, with property rights respected, led to their deaths.
Among the socio-political factors, Devinder Sharma of the Global Hunger Alliance claims that:
At the height of the 1974 famine in the newly born Bangladesh, the US had withheld 2.2 million tonnes of food aid to ‘ensure that it abandoned plans to try Pakistani war criminals’.
Sheikh Mujib sidelines Tajuddin Ahmed, while Khondakar Mustaq Ahmed, a holdover from the Pakistani Muslim League, wins Mujib’s confidence.
In spite of the Mujib Government’s commitment to democracy and socialism, the Awami League finds itself in opposition to the growing Left movement. The Jatiya Rakshibahini, a para-military formed with mostly pro-Mujib Fredom Fighters, becomes a symbol of excessive and repressive government.
January 30: While looking for his missing brother Shahidullah Kaisar, film-maker Zahir Raihan disappears — his car is found outside an enclave serving to protect the Biharis; the anti-liberation forces are still believed to be active in their subversive roles against pro-liberation intelligentsia.
The Tragedy of the Stranded Biharis:
Pakistan refuses to accept this ethnic group, who had originally emigrated from the state of Bihar, India during the Partition, and were mostly aligned with the West Pakistanis before and during the War; the Bangalees cannot accept them for their complicity in the genocidal atrocities of the Pakistani army (as Al Shams); the Red Cross sets up a number of enclaves, including the Geneva Camp in Dhaka, in order to protect them from further violence by Bangalee mobs.
February 19: Sheikh Mujib and Indira Gandhi signs the 25-year treaty of friendship and cooperation between Bangladesh and India in Dhaka.
March 1: Sheikh Mujib went to the Soviet Union on an official visit.
March 17: The allied Indian army left Dhaka at the request of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In September 1971 an international conference of jurists convened in Aspen, Colorado, by the ICJ and the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies called upon the International Commission of Jurists to set up a Commission of Enquiry into the events in East Pakistan. A Commission of three prominent international lawyers was accordingly appointed in November with the following terms of reference:
‘To enquire into the reported violations of human rights and the rule of law in East Pakistan since March 1, 1971, and, insofar as they are shown to be well-founded, to enquire into their nature, extent and causes and to report, with recommendations.’
The Indian Government and the provisional Government of Bangladesh agreed to cooperate fully with the Commission, but unfortunately the former Pakistan Government refused their cooperation, contending that the subject of the enquiry was a purely internal matter.
Bhutto winth daughter Benazir and Indira at Simla: all were assassinated later in their lives
July 2: Prime Minister Bhutto and his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi have signed an agreement in Simla, India, declaring their resolve “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon.”
The Indian army will withdraw from West Pakistani territory occupied since 1971 war.
The Simla Talks at the behest of the Indira Gandhi Government over the fate of the Pakistani Prisoners of War end up in unconditional pardoning of all; in return the Pakistani governmernt agrees to return all the Bangladeshi Civil Servants and Army Officers held in various concentration camps since 1971; however, it also refuses to admit the Biharis stranded in Bangladesh opting for Pakistani citizenship.
Sheikh Mujib also pardons most of the native (Bangalee) Collaborators, except for those accused of criminal activties.
Nov: 617 Indian POWs held since 1971 War are unilaterally released by Bhutto.
November 4: Bangabandhu announced that the first general election in Bangladesh would be held on 7 March, 1973
December 16: On the first anniversary of liberation the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh was adopted.
Among the important achievements of the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government:
The re-organization of the administrative system, adoption of the constitution, rehabiliation of ten million people people, restoration and development of communication system, expansion of education, supply of fre books to students upto class five and at low price to students up to class eight, effective ban on all anti-Islamic and anti-social activities like gambling, horse races, liquor, establishment of Islamic foundation, re-organization of Madrassa Board, establlishedment of 11,000 primary schools, nationalization of 40,000 primary schools, establishment of women’s rehabilitation centre for the welfare of distressed woman. Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, waiving tax upto 25 bighas of land, distribution of agricultural inputs among farmers free of cost or at nominal price, nationalization of banks and insurance companies abandoned by the Pakistais and 580 industrial units, employment to thousands of workers and employees, construction of Ghorashal Fertilizer Factory, primary work of Ashugangj Complex and establishment of othe new industrial units and reopening of the closed industries.
Another landmark achievement of the Bangabandhu government was to gain recognition of almost all countries of the world and the United Nations membership in a short period of time.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.)”
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.
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.”
“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”
“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.”
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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”
“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”.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“-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.”
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.
“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.”
October 2:Discussion Between US Secretary Rogers and India FonMin Swaran Singh (India)-Bangla Desh-GOP Negotiations:
Secretary urged GOI initiate dialogue without insisting upon Mujib’s participation to see what could be accomplished. Swaran Singh replied that US has contacts with Bangla Desh people. It has greater influence, it should try bring about dialogue.
“Beginning from end of March, within a couple of months total influx of refugees into India had gone up to nearly four million, and today it has crossed 9 million already, without any signs of them returning to East Pakistan at all. Average inflow per day still continues to be between 30,000 to 50,000 persons, and if this rate continues at this scale we may well have not less than 12 million refugees on our hands by end of this year. “
“The State Department paper judges that the political steps taken so far by President Yahya, which exclude the Awami League, do not provide the basis of a settlement acceptable to the Bangla Desh leadership in Calcutta. To facilitate a political evolution, the paper suggests that “our next step should be designed to promote the beginning of a dialogue between the government of Pakistan and the Bangla Desh leadership.” The paper notes that we have two possible channels-the Government of India and the Bangla Desh representatives in Calcutta and elsewhere. State suggests that we say we believe President Yahya would be receptive to a dialogue. The problem with this is that as far as we know the Bangla Desh leadership only wants to negotiate on the basis of independence and the release of Mujib.”
“Senior Pakistani officials are convinced that Yahya will launch a pre-emptive attack in the next few weeks. Yahya himself has given the British the impression that he is considering such action, but he has assured our DCM he is not.
The secret treason trial of Mujibur Rahman has antagonized the East. A reliable source says he has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Yahya can uphold the sentence, commute it or let the matter lie. His decision will be an indication of how conciliatory he intends to be toward East Pakistan.”
“We have heard reports for some time of possible large-scale cross-border effort by Mukti Bahini to coincide with end monsoon season. We would, therefore, strongly urge that GOI act immediately to reduce these risks by efforts with MB to restrict cross-border operations. While we recognize that major responsibility for maintenance of India-Pak peace rests with GOP, GOI also bears major responsibility keep present situation from deteriorating into war or prolonged insurgency. Should such cross-border operations lead to conflict with Pakistan, this would have serious effect on US-India relations.”
“Pakistan is considering to call a meeting of the Security Council to consider serious threat to peace in the sub-continent arising from India’s open and mounting interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and ever-increasing Indian military activities on Pakistan’s borders.”
“USG has no desire place itself between GOP and BD reps or to enter into merits of positions of either side. USG therefore has no substantive comment to make on points raised by Mushtaq. We would urge, rather, that the BD reps seek earliest opportunity to present views directly to GOP reps, in effort explore possibility of negotiated settlement.”
October 10: “Six month long ban on politics in Pakistan lifted, yet Awami League is Illegal. Following the ban on the Awami League, the biggest single faction in the Assembly became the People’s Party of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.” ( Reuters )
Pakistan: The propaganda War : The Sunday Times (Page 1) (Page 2)
October 11: Pakistan Peoples Party’s Karachi Secretary Meiraj Mohammad Khan admits Razakar terror.
Meiraj alleged that in East Bengal “power in effect has been transferred to those reactionary and anti-people political parties defeated in the elections and rejected by the people”.
He named one party-the Muslim Jammaat-e-Islami group-of indulging in wholesale massacre of political opponents for which they are using their Razakars.
Meiraj, who has influence among students, added: “Under the umbrella of a Government consisting of members of defeated and reactionary parties, elections cannot be free.”
The General secretary of NAP, Moshiur Rahman and Anwar Zahid (former joint secretary) who had left the NAP in 1970 met Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders in Dhaka who came to survey the situation in view of forthcoming by-elections for 78 seats formerly held by members of the Awami League. Maulana Kawser Niazi, publicity secretary of the PPP said that the talks had been fruitful. The PPP and Jamaat-i- Islami were against Bangladesh and directly supported the Pakistani army.
“I referred specifically to possibility of Mujib’s serving as “trump card” and asked whether he might tell me anything further in that regard. Yahya noted that Mujib’s trial was still going on. If he were convicted, court would sentence him to punishment which would conceivably be death. Matter would then come before Yahya who had presidential power to modify court’s judgement. As he had already told us, he did not intend to permit any death sentence to be carried out.
Mujib’s role seemed to be a crucial issue, for example, with regard initiation any direct talks between GOP and BD leadership. We have recent indications that various pressures on BD leadership in Calcutta have inhibited any progress toward initiating talks, and one of their primary concerns seems to be that Mujib should have role.
Yahya responded that there were limits on his freedom of action. He pointed to predominant West Pak public opinion damning Mujib, and opined that not a single West Pak political leader would welcome an act to free Mujib and negotiate with him.”
October 12: Air Marshal (Retd.) Asghar Khan complains that there is no press freedom in Pakistan and he withdraws his party Tehrik-i-Istiqlal from the by-elactions. (The Dawn)
“Foreign Minister (a) claimed East Pakistan insurgency profoundly rooted in Bengali alienation and has own dynamic, not dependent upon India; (b) argued insurgency exists deep within East Pakistan and significance of cross-border activities easily exaggerated and any event GOI cannot shoot down East Bengalis entering or departing India; (c) noted how long insurgency will be prolonged and whether it leads to Pak attack upon India depends upon GOP; (d) stressed insurgency is caused basically by Pak military repression to which Mukti Bahini (MB) is reaction.
Foreign Minister (a) expressed strong resentment at any suggestion East Pakistan insurgency being maintained by India; (d) charged US support to GOP strengthens Yahya regime determination to maintain military repression policy; and (e) concluded US has heavy responsibility to exercise its “great influence” with GOP. Foreign Minister asserted in event GOP agreed to withdraw military forces from Indo-Pak borders, GOI could reconsider situation in light circumstances at that time.”
“Ali said Yahya’s October 12 broadcast to nation showed Yahya still trying pull wool over world’s eyes. They had seen no glimmer of hope for change in Yahya’s remarks.
Ali noted that Mukti Bahini had worked hard to build itself up in past few months, was ready for battle and eager to fight for independence of BD. Poloff argued that continuation and escalation of violent method by MB might lead to death, destruction and suffering, which USG earnestly hoped could be avoided. It would be much better for BD to find peaceful solution to their problems so that energies of MB could be more constructively channeled to rebuild in East. While Ali agreed that this might be more desirable solution, he said he was not sure in his own mind that it would be possible for simple reason he did not believe Yahya would peacefully accord independence to BD.”
“Since the formal proclamation of our Independence on April 10, our struggle for liberation has gained increased momentum and strength. Nearly 60,000 members of the former East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles and other para-military formations identified themselves with the struggle of the 75 million people of Bangla Desh and took up arms in defence of our motherland. They were joined by hundreds of thousands of young men whom they trained to defend the sovereignty and independence of their homeland, and to release it from the bonds of colonial oppression.
The policy of repression has continued with increasing brutality in the vain hope of liquidating the leadership and reducing the majority of the Bengalispeaking people to a minority. Members of the minority communities became special victims of the reign of terror. As a result of this policy of genocide, rape, arson and loot, nearly nine million of our men, women and children have been driven out in terror and have taken shelter in your country, and the exodus still continues.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, our undisputed leader and President, has been subjected to a secret military trial and has been reportedly condemned to death. The Awami League has been banned, which had won an unparalleled victory in the national elections held last December. The military regime of Pakistan has disqualified 79 duly elected representatives of the people and has imposed a so-called civilian regime consisting of defeated candidates and quislings which is now supported by the might of the military machine of Pakistan. These gestures have not deceived the 75 million people of Bangla Desh. They have only exposed the deception and insincerity of the military oppressors. All this has only made us more determined than ever to liberate Bangla Desh.
We are glad to inform you, Excellency, that this struggle has borne fruit. The liberation army of the People’s Republic of Bangla Desh, the Mukti Bahini, are in full control of half the territory of Bangla Desh. We also confirm that the Bangla Desh Government has established effective civil administration over this area which is functioning smoothly. This development has not merely been welcomed by the broad masses of the people, but the efforts of our Government have found spontaneous and overwhelming support in the areas under its control.”
“She did not categorically deny that India was helping them. She said instead, ‘perhaps you know, they have many helpers, mostly their own people, all over the world. Also, many avenues are open to them’. She did not elaborate. ‘Whether they have arms or not, nobody can suppress the struggle’.
Mrs. Gandhi cited ‘threatening statements from Pakistan which, we feel, cannot be entirely ignored’. She mentioned, in particular, the speech last week of President Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan in which he accused India of ‘feverish military preparations’ and called on his people to meet the threat as a nation of one hundred and twenty million mujahids or preachers of Islam ‘whose hearts are pulsating with love of the Holy Prophet’.
Mrs. Gandhi was asked if she felt there was a breaking point to the economic and social pressures placed on India by the refugees, a point beyond which India might feel compelled to take military action against Pakistan to halt the influx. “Well, actually, I would say, we have already reached it “, she replied. “But this does not mean that we are going to crack under it”.
“In an already tense situation India’s land, sea and air forces have been brought to a state of confrontation against Pakistan’s frontiers in both the wings. There are 7 divisions of the Indian army which are deployed against West Pakistan and additional forces have been put in a state of readiness to move to forward positions at short notice.
Mr. President, the inevitable conclusion that one can draw from this offensive posture of the Indian armed forces is that it is pointed in the direction of conflict and not of peace. May I urge you to impress upon the Government of India the need for urgent constructive steps with a view to arresting further deterioration of the situation in the sub-continent.”
“Over past three months East Pakistan insurgency has increased in intensity and widened its geographic scope of operations. Concentrating in the rural areas, with only token activity in cities (exception has been systemic and repeated disruption of power supply to Chittagong), Mukti Bahini (MB) have stepped up their disruption of roads, bridges, railroad lines in most parts of the country. In some districts, notably Dacca, Comilla, Noakhali, Faridpur, Bakarganj, MB seems able move about almost at will and appears even to have set up parallel administration at some points. Evidence on hand suggests that insurgents are better armed than formerly, (automatic weapons, mortars, heavier explosives) and increasingly able undertake sophisticated operations (mining of ships, effective sabotage of bridges, etc.). In central and southern districts mentioned, MB has demonstrated aggressiveness and skill in ambush operations against Razakars (voluntary home guards) and army, occasionally inflicting significant casualties. Areas other than those cited above, MB activities largely confined destruction of bridges, culverts, railway lines, apparently avoiding contact with govt forces.
To extent that “civilianization” and general amnesty were intended damp insurgent activities, they have demonstrably failed. While weariness and desire for “peace at almost any price” apparent among middle class urban groups, we have impression that younger Bengalis, particularly those in countryside, are entrenched in their detestation of Islamabad Government and bitterness against Pak army. These attitudes reinforced by persisting reports atrocities and indiscriminate retaliation carried out by government forces, principally army or Razakars, to point where even many conservative Bengalis see no other outcome than to drive army out by force.”
“As a result of the tragic events in East Bengal, 9,000,000 people have poured into our territory, creating a situation which seems to surpass the convulsions of partition. The crisis in Pakistan is a deep one and the spectre which haunts that unhappy country cannot be exercised by the usual recourse to blaming India. Two questions arise: first, whether religion by itself can form the basis of a nation state, especially when the state machinery is impervious to the ordinary laws of political development and cultural aspirations, and secondly, whether some action other than that of the bayonet is not necessary to win loyalty. We in India are restrained and calm in the face of provocation but we are bound to protect the interests of our country….”
On October 26 the press in Pakistan printed the text of Yahya’s October 25 letter to U Thant welcoming his offer to mediate in the dispute between India and Pakistan. I know of the Secretary General’s very recent letter to you and Mrs. Gandhi, and I welcome the tenor of your response to that letter.
“It seems very strange to us how the situation can be normalised by suddenly declaring that some elected people are no longer there when they are very much in the world. You suddenly say that you are going to have new elections and that new elections are going to solve the problem. They cannot possibly solve the problem. The elections were not considered illegal when they were held, the programme put before the people was well known to the Government and the elections were presided over by the same governmental authority. They had a six-point programme on which they fought the elections and which was supported by the vast majority of the people of both sides of Pakistan. Nobody objected to it. The time to raise an objection was before the elections were fought. They could have said, ” well, we don’t approve of this programme, we are not going to accept the six points and, therefore, if you want to fight the elections you will have to re-think”. I do not know if it would have been proper, but certainly if any objection had to be raised, that was the time to raise it, not when the programme was accepted. The people thought it was accepted and they voted accordingly.”
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.”
“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.”
‘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
‘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…..’
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.
“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.
“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 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)”
– 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.”
“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.”
“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)
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
“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 ….”
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.’
August 1: The “Concert For Bangla Desh” is held. Ravi Shankar conceived the idea of the concert to raise awareness and funds to help the victims of the jihadi Pakistani soldiers. He got together with George Harrison, an ex-Beetle and organised one of the biggest concerts at Madison Square Garden. Shankar, Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russel, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Badfinger, Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, Mike Gibbons, Allan Beutler, Jesse Ed Davis, Chuck Findly, Marlin Greene, Jeanne Greene, JD Green, Dolores Hall, Jim Horn, Kamala Chakravarty, Jackie Kelso, Jim Keltner, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Claudia Lennear, Lou McCreary, Ollie Mitchell, Don Nix, Don Preston, Carl Radle, Alla Rakah performed at this historic concert that brought the genocide to world attention. George Harrison wrote and sang the famous song, “Bangladesh” at the concert thus introducing the nation to the world.
“Kazi Zahirul Qaiyum MP of Awami League met consulate official on behalf of Khondkar Mustaque Ahmed to convey to the US government that ‘A.L. Leaders are anxious for political settlement with GOP and are prepared recede from total independence demand.’
When asked about Bangladesh plans, Qaiyum said there have been several long Cabinet meetings recently, and Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed “is at a loss what to do.” He said that seizing and holding “liberated territory” was out of the question as two fully trained and equipped army divisions would be needed to hold significant portion of East Bengal. Rather, he thought Mukti Fouz would continue to emphasize guerrilla tactics in effort to erode West Pakistan’s economy and will. He said AL had some “friends” in West Pakistan who might eventually influence the situation to AL’s advantage. Pakistan might be compelled to change its policy towards East Bengal in six months.
Qaiyum emphasized that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman must play key role in any possible settlement as only Mujib is capable of holding East Bengal people together. If Mujib is tried and executed, all hope for resolution of current impasse will be lost. For this reason Qaiyum asked that US government do everything in its power to ensure Sheikh Mujib’s safety.”
Source: Bangladesh Liberation War and the Nixon White House 1971. p. 166 – 167
“Security situation has not improved. Some evidence non-cooperation. Persecution of Hindus declining in direct proportion to decline in size Hindu population. Latest estimate puts six million East Pakistan Hindus in India. Hindu monuments being destroyed some areas. Such destruction observed in Dacca and Chittagong and Hindu sculpture now very easy to obtain. Some Dacca streets with Hindu and English names renamed with Muslim names.”
“Cross-border shelling by both Indians and Pakistanis has increased as has tempo of guerilla activity which is shifting from sabotage to direct attacks on West Pakistani forces…”
“At a meeting with political officer of the Consulate A.L. M.N.A. Zahirul Qaiyum said
he was acting ‘under specific instruction of Bangladesh Minister who hopes to convince USG to initiate negotiations with GOP which will lead to a meeting of interested parties and peaceful settlement…
According Qaiyum, AL leaders think there is a good chance of war breaking out, perhaps in the next 15-20 days, which would be an enormous disaster for everyone on subcontinent. In long run, AL is confident that it can achieve military victory. East Bengal, however, is being devastated… Under any circumstances an enormous reconstruction job will be required. Qaiyum thought that US was only country capable of providing necessary assistance.”
The Consulate General in Dacca did an assessment of Qaiyum’s role in the Awami League and concluded that he was not prominent in the leadership but was probably a confidant of Khondkar Mushtaq Ahmad, the “Foreign Minister” of the Bangladesh independence movement, and a bona fide representative of Mushtaq. (Telegram 3057 from Dacca, August
August 7: President Nixon wrote (handwritten) personally thank Yahya for his assistance in arranging contacts between the U.S. and China.
August 9: A Press Note issued by the Headquarters of the Chief Martial Law Administrator said that sheikh Mujibur Rahman will be tried by a Special Military Court for “waging war against Pakistan” and other offences. The trial will commence on August 11 in camera and its proceedings will be secret. (THE DAWN, Karachi-August 10, 1971)
“What happened after the 25th of March this year is known to the whole world. The denial of the verdict of the people and letting loose of military oppression and trampling on the fundamental human rights of the people of Bangla Desh stand self-condemned. Instead of respecting the verdict of the people and acknowledging Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the elected and undisputed leader of Bangla Desh. the Pakistan Government has launched a reign of terror and carried out a calculated plan of genocide, the like of which has not been seen in recent times. To stage a farcical trial against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a gross violation of human rights and deserves to be condemned by the whole world.”
Memorandum from Acting Secretary of State Irwin to President Nixon on the Indo-Soviet treaty:
“The essence of the Treaty is its provision that in the event of attack or the threat of attack there will be immediate mutual consultations. Each side also undertakes to refrain from giving assistance to any third party taking part in armed conflict with the other party. These clauses not only assure Soviet neutrality in the event of hostilities in South Asia but also the prospect of Soviet assistance and support in the event of war.”
“Gen. Hamid acknowledges insurgency activity in East Pakistan is continuing at fairly active pace. He admits to crucial importance of successful political reconciliation but declined to express opinion on prospects. He acknowledges uncertainty on number of persons elected under Awami League ticket last December who will actually come forward to claim their seats in National Assembly. A recent publication ahows a list of 88 Awami League MNAs-elect, who are now cleared to take their seats.
Hamid said he was rather pleased with performance of “Razakars”, recruits (mainly Bengalis) from local population who have been given brief training and then put on armed duty mainly in static defense of bridges and other key structures.”
“We apprehend that this so-called trial will be used only as a publicity to execute Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This will aggravate the situation in East Bengal and will create a serious situation in India because of the strong feelings of our people and all political parties. Hence our grave anxiety. We appeal to you to exercise your influence with President Yahya Khan to take a realistic view in the larger interest of the peace and stability of this region.”
“Both sides reiterated their firm conviction that….. Urgent steps be taken in East Pakistan for the achievement of political solution and for creation of conditions of safety for the return of the refugees to their homes which alone would answer the interests, of the entire people of Pakistan….”
“Bangla Desh representatives in India have recently sought out and made contact with middle ranking U.S. officials in New Delhi and Calcutta concerning a settlement with the West Pakistanis. It is not at all clear, however, what they are really fishing for. The approach in Calcutta (by Quayum), allegedly reflecting the Bangla Desh “Foreign Minister’s” wishes, was along the lines of a settlement on the basis of something less than full independence, while the approach by the ‘Foreign Secretary’ (M. Alam) in New Delhi was based on the opposite outcome of total independence.”
With the Bangladesh Guerillas – The New Statesman (Page 1, Page 2)
Bangladesh PM warns against fake trial of Mujib (Page 1, Page 2)
August 14: An officer from the Consulate General in Calcutta met with Bangladesh representative Qaiyum. Qaiyum reaffirmed that he was acting under instructions from his Foreign Minister (Khondoker Mushtaq) who was prepared to accept a negotiated settlement that provided for less than complete independence. Qaiyum emphasized that only Mujibur Rahman could negotiate on behalf of the people of East Bengal, and only he could get them to accept a political settlement. Qaiyum added, “if Sheikh is alive, there is hope for compromise, if he is killed, there is no hope.” (Telegram 2321 from USConsul Calcutta)
August 17: Vice Admiral S.M. Ahsan, the governor of East Pakistan until end of February 1971 on current situation:
“Ahsan recommended that special USG representative be sent to talk to Yahya before it is “too late” to explain absolute necessity of finding political solution in East Pakistan, which possible only through rehabilitation and use of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Prior to March at least, separation from Pakistan was not Mujib’s intention and hopefully his attitude has not significantly altered.
The source of power and voice of authority in Pakistan is President Yahya. He is first and last authority.
India’s position, has despite public outcry, been reasonably moderate and its hands before the events in March were relatively clean.”
The Washington Special Actions Group Meeting reiterated that ‘The basic (U.S.) policy is to be helpful in maintaining the integrity of Pakistan.’
– In East Pakistan, a serious insurgency movement is now underway in the countryside and is beginning to penetrate the major cities. This has been fed by the Indians in terms of logistics, training and some arms, but basically reflects a strong Bengali will to resist the West Pakistanis. This in turn provokes an army response which stimulates further refugee flow.
– The refugee flow to India continues. This has increased to a rate of some 50,000 per day after a drop in late July. This could be a temporary aberration; it could result from a new increase in violence; or it could reflect hunger in some pockets. Just maintaining the present number of refugees is projected to cost (Indians) $600 million in a year, a figure larger than the net flow of foreign aid from consortium donors.
Both your officials and ours recognize that the most immediate priority is to mount a major effort to avert famine in East Pakistan. This step is fundamental to progress in re-establishing normal conditions. I am confident that you also share our judgment that it would also be helpful in this task for you to continue your efforts to build on the program announced in your June 28 address for enlisting the support of the elected representatives of the East Pakistani people in the urgent work of national reconciliation.
Meeting with President Yahya, M.M. Ahmad and US Ambassador Farland:
“Yahya discussed his plans to associate Bengalis in administration of province by clearing 88 of former Awami League representatives to National Assembly. He said that only some 15 or 16 of the 88 were presently in Dacca and they were being protected by the government since they feared for their lives. The rest of 88 were either in the countryside or in India. He did not know how many of them would come forward to claim their seat.
After some discussion of this point from several angles it was quite clear that President Yahya refused to deal with any group however cleansed under name of Awami League. He said that he was severely criticized in West Pakistan for having cleared as many as 88 of former AL members to take their seats in next assembly if they came forward.”
He further said on trial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman “you can stops worrying because I am not going to execute the man even though he is a traitor.”
US Embassy’s telegram confirms that The US ambassador pressured Yahya not to execute Sheikh Mujib. Yahya further stated that because the charge carried the possibility of a death sentence, it was his plan that if such the verdict be, a request for mercy would be made in the Sheikh’s behalf, and he, Yahya, would accept the petition.
The Pakistani officer stood in one of the small villages of East Pakistan. And told the hungry public gathered around him “My men are wounded and I want some blood, I want volunteers.” Before waiting for a reply, the soldiers rushed forward, selected some young men, threw them on the ground and pricked their arteries. Blood began to flow and continued flowing until the young men died.
A meeting in Calcutta with a representative of the “Bangla Desh” Cabinet and a political officer from US consulate:
–”Any” agreement between Mujib and Yahya will be acceptable if arranged through `proper channels’ i.e. US participation in the arrangements, since “Mujib’s life is more important than independence”.
–Bangla Desh “Foreign Minister” (Kh. Mustaque) Ahmed would like to head a delegation to the US to discuss their problems with US officials, although they understand they could not be received “officially.”
–There is a split within the Bangla Desh movement between the “rightists” who are in control but want to save themselves and Mujib through a compromise settlement and “leftwing elements” who will quickly take over if Mujib dies.”
“Qaiyum said early August BD Cabinet meetings with GOI officials in New Delhi were mainly concerned with Mukti Bahini (MB) problems. GOI has now agreed MB may purchase arms from abroad and bring them into India. Only foreign arms received to date (other than those taken from Indian army inventory) was consignment of Yugoslav weapons channeled to MB through GOI. GOI also agreed greatly to step up MB training. In addition to training now given at youth camps and MB centers, Indian army agreed provide additional training for 14,000 men from the western zone and 10,000 from the eastern side of East Bengal each month. From 24,000 total, 5,000 recruits monthly will be selected for additional 4 weeks advanced training. Qaiyum said recently India has increased supply of arms for MB. GOI also now manufacturing ammunition for Chinese weapons taken from East Pakistan.
Qaiyum said that he and majority of his colleagues are anticommunists and “rightists.” They want ‘to save themselves,’ and only way they can envisage doing this is to work out compromise in near future.”
‘I asked Yahya if he saw any major obstacle to a select group of GOP members,
unpublicized and on neutral ground in a foreign country with a few of the key
people for whom Qaiyum indicated he spoke…. Yahya replied he would favour
such a development wholeheartedly, asking that in case such a contingency
developed, I keep closely in touch with him on this matter generally.
“General mood in Karachi is essentially one of xenophobic defiant support of government and its policies as necessary to preserve integrity of Pakistan. Dominant political figure, Z.A. Bhutto, while not basing complaints on regional bias, has made it quite clear that he believes that military is arbitrarily retaining power, dragging its feet in turning over power to elected representatives of people, and in general mismanaging country. Press has almost uniformly endorsed all policies of MLA whether support given in order to remain in print or out of true conviction.
MLA, as well as President, continue to hold considerable public support. Their position has been helped by relative prosperity of this area. To most people, MLA is still considered saviour and preserver of national unity and any criticisms or complaints levelled tend to be directed against “civilian bureaucrats”. On practical level, few see any workable alternative to military rule.
After India, Sheikh Mujib Rahman and his Awami League rank second in order of disapproval. To most the Sheikh is treacherous collaborator of India. To more generous, he willing dupe to wiles and anti-state plots of Indians and anti-state miscreants. Clearance of former Awami Leaguers MNA’s is acknowledged by most as not overly pleasant necessity and sign of magnanimity by MLA. Jamaat-i-Islam leaders have openly criticized MLA for recognizing traitors.
Small Bengali community in Karachi is generally silent. In security of discussions with foreigners, they express their resentment over government’s decision of putting the sole blame for the problems of day on Bengalis while ignoring the irresponsible action of Bhutto.”
“We will welcome continuing analysis and comments : ( a ) possibilities for negotiation between BD reps and GOP, (b) dynamics of possibly troublesome division within BD movement (including Mukti Bahini) over Quote independence vs accommodation UNQUOTE……”
At meeting with Qaiyum August 27 he showed us note from Bangladesh Fonmin urging Qaiyum to expedite his efforts. According Qaiyum, (US) Congen is ‘only pipeline’ for BD negotiation effort.
Qaiyum said Mukti Bahini guerrilla activity will be greatly stepped up during next month. He said very large number (15,000, he claimed) guerrillas sent into East Bengal August 10-15. The GOP announcement ‘clearing’ 88 MNA’s has caused difficulty for those cleared, who now vulnerable to charge of collaborating. Many of ‘cleared’ MNA’s are making effort to show loyalty to Awami League by making special trip to Calcutta from East Bengal to pledge allegiance, by joining Mukti Bahini.
He said special efforts were being made to disrupt maritime traffic to and from East Bengal, and added that effort would be made to destroy Pakistan ship ‘Padma’ currently enroute to Karachi from US carrying consignment of military equipment.”
Although the NAP (R) had disagreed with the Foreign Trade position in Mujib’s Six Points, surely acceptance of those six points, or whatever, would have been better than the situation that has resulted in East Pakistan.
“The general atmosphere in East Pakistan is one of sustained anxiety, uncertainty and in some cases real fear. Perhaps the most disturbing element in the East Pakistan situation is the public’s total lack of confidence in the future. Personal security and general well being are nonexistent for most people whether they support the idea of a united Pakistan or Bangla Desh. Without reason, citizens are killed, maimed and/or deprived of family and possessions.
The Mukti Bahini seeks refuge and food from the sympathetic local Bengalis, but their lives are endangered should the local Peace Committee and/or Army collaborators learn of their support.”
“With regard to the need for actions which will make possible a reversal of the refugee flow, we have continued to emphasize that a return to peace and security in East Pakistan and a viable political settlement are crucial to restoration of a more stable situation in South Asia. Dr. Kissinger will also be talking to President Yahya about this subject and will be delivering a personal message from me.”
“It remains our earnest hope that you and your government will succeed in your efforts to enable these refugees to return to their homes. For our part, we continue to urge the Government of India to exercise restraint, as we have in our discussions with you.”
“According to [name not declassified], Kosygin pledged support for the Indian guerrilla army operating in East Bengal, and, upon receipt of a formal request from India, the Soviets promised a guarantee of military protection to enable India to resist pressure from Communist China. Soviet policy makers, in [name not declassified] view, assume a divided Pakistan is no longer politically viable, and that an independent East Bengal is inevitable. “
“Events during the past three months in East Pakistan have touched all levels of East Pakistani society. The resulting bitterness of most Bengalis against West Pakistan, the Army and “Bihari” immigrants is scarcely veiled, runs very deep, and, in the reporting officer’s view, is irreconcilable. Any political “settlement”, short of rehabilitation of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and formation of provincial governments with broad autonomous powers analagous to the Six Point formula under his leadership, will not bridge the hostility which has surfaced as a result of the series of events in East Pakistan.”
“Calling President Yahya’s June 28 speech a “complete fraud” Bhutto revealed he intensely angered and embarrassed by it. Said he had been assured by President only weeks before that speech would define in quite precise terms program for holding elections and transferring large measure of political power to elected representatives of people near future.
Also, speech carried President even further away from any possible reconciliation with Awami League.
Failure to reach an accommodation with Mujib and Awami League could only have “disastrous” consequences for country since elections evidenced Mujib and his party have overwhelming support in East Pakistan. Bhutto spoke a good deal about Mujib, suggesting that his and Mujib’s relations had been close, that their differences had been minor and could have been easily resolved had it not been for actions of MLA (Martial Law Administrator) which set Bhutto and Mujib at odds.”
“She said that she does not wish to use force and that she is willing to accept any suggestions that the US may have. She told Dr. Kissinger how serious the situation was and said that India is not wedded to any particular political solution in East Pakistan. She also volunteered that India is not preventing the (6.8 million) refugees from returning to East Pakistan, as the Pakistanis have charged.
Dr. Kissinger asked whether the settlement in East Pakistan must include Awami League leader Mujibur Rahman. The Prime Minister said the settlement must be between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. This is not an Indo-Pakistani problem. India would not have been involved except for the refugees.”
Henry Kissinger’s conversations with Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram:
Ram assessed the Chinese military threat to India. Kissinger observed that China might intervene on behalf of Pakistan if there was a war between India and Pakistan. Kissinger assured Ram that the United States would take a grave view of any Chinese move against India.
Ambasssador Agha Hilaly receives Henry Kissinger at Chaklala Airport on 8 July 1971. Also in the picture Joseph Farland the US Ambassador to Pakistan and Sultan M Khan the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
July 8: Kissinger’s conversation with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan, Economic Adviser to President Yahya M.M. Ahmed etc. In Rawalpindi (His report):
Kissinger met privately with Yahya on July 8 and apparently did not prepare a full record of that meeting.
In his memoirs, Kissinger summarized his conversation with Yahya as follows: “I had several conversations with President Yahya and Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan. I urged them to put forward a comprehensive proposal to encourage refugees to return home and to deny India a pretext for going to war. I urged Yahya and his associates to go a step further in the internationalization of relief by admitting the United Nations to supervise its distribution. And I recommended the early appointment of a civilian governor for East Pakistan.”
Yahya discussing with Kissinger (Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)
July 9: Nixon was briefed about Russia’s support to India. He writes “”Warn them that if they intervene RN (Richard Nixon) will personally cut off all aid to India.”
“We strongly oppose any military action to solve the problems of East Pakistan. And if India takes military action in East Pakistan, we would strongly and publicly disapprove of it.”
July 11:A regime of thugs and bigots: An account by Murray Sayle (Sunday Times, London-July 11, 1971) after spending a week in the areas from which many thousands of refugees fled:
“Some Muslims from their village had come up to see what was going on. The soldiers grabbed four of them and told them to recite something from the Holy Koran.
They said the four Muslims were terrified but managed to begin “Bismillah Irrahman Irrahim……..” (the opening words of the Koran). They said the soldiers shouted “These are not Muslims! They have been taught to say this to trick us!” They then shot all four.
The entire population of the Benapol reception centre was five forlorn dogs.
On the refugees issue, it is clear that only a very brave or very foolish refugee would even try to return as things are, and that his welcome would be very doubtful if he did.”
“The people of Bangla Desh are manfully resisting the efforts of Pakistani Junta to suppress freedom and democracy. The terror which has been unleashed on Bangla Desh has stirred the conscience of the world. The bravery and heroism of those engaged in this struggle is widely admired and applauded.
A significant percentage of the population of Bangla Desh has been forced out and has sought shelter in India. It is clear that the Pakistan Army is engaged in a ruthless genocide of the people of Bangla Desh and is, in the process, mounting a threat to our economy, our society, and on the basic principles which our Constitution enshrines.”
“Army trucks roll through the half-deserted streets of the capital of East Pakistan these days, carrying ‘antistate’ prisoners to work-sites for hard labor. Their heads are shaved and they wear no shoes and no clothes except for shorts-all making escape difficult.
Street designations are being changed to remove all Hindu names as well as those of Bengali Moslem nationalists as part of campaign to stamp out Bengali culture.. Shankari Bazar Road in Dacca is now Tikka Khan Road, after the lieutenant general who is the martial-law governor of East Pakistan and whom most Bengalis call ‘the Butcher.’
In addition to the daily troops arrivals, the Government is bringing in wave upon wave of West Pakistanis to replace East Pakistanis in Government jobs. No Bengali is trusted with a responsible or sensitive post ; even the man who cuts the grass at the Dacca airport is a non-Bengali.
Since the offensive began the troops have killed countless thousands of Bengalis -foreign diplomats estimate at least 200,000 to 250,000-many in massacres. Although the targets were Bangali Moslems and the 10 million Hindus at first, the army is now concentrating on Hindus in what foreign observers characterise as a holy war.
One missionary said that the army recently killed over 1,000 Hindus in a day in a section of Barisal District, in the south. Another reported that in Sylhet District, in the northeast, a”peace committee ‘, called a meeting of all the residents of one area, ostensibly to work out a reconciliation. When everyone had gathered troops arrived, picked out the 300 Hindus in the crowd, led them away and shot them.
In the countryside-for miles at a stretch sometimes-villages have been burned to the ground on both sides of the road. In the cities and towns large areas have been reduced to rubble by heavy gunfire.”
July 15: US Acting Secretary John Irwin told the Indian Ambassador to the United States L.K. Jha, that as long as there is guerrilla activity in Bangladesh, Pakistan would not be able to cease fire which would be necessary for returning the millions of refugees. In this reference, he mentioned Indian cross-border help for the guerrillas. He forgets that the guerrilla activity started due to the military genocide.
He says that despite the fact that Awami League swept the elections, accomodation of Awami League should not be a pre-condition. (Interesting notion of democracy)
He also called Bangla Desh’s need for independence a psychological need.
“There is a proposal to try Sheikh Mujibur Rahman…Any trial of that nature will be a farce.
When we talked of giving up military means and trying to find a political settlement, which means a settlement acceptable to the people of Bangla Desh, acceptable to the Awami League, and to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is the undisputed leader of the Awami League and the people of Bangla Desh. Any attempt, therefore, to take any action against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will be follow-up action on the statement that President Yahya Khan made on 28th June, which has paved the way completely for the emergence of an independent Bangla Desh. Any further action of this type will be a mad action, which will result only in making the freedom-fighters more determined in the pursuit and realisation of their objective namely, freedom for Bangla Desh and for the people of Bangla Desh.”
“President Yahya Khan is reported to have said that ‘if India made any attempt to seize any part of East Pakistan’ he will declare war.
We have no desire ‘to seize any part or Pakistan’. President Yahya Khan is either trying to mislead his people and the world at large or preparing them for an aggression against India by making such unwarranted and baseless statements.”
July 22:Bangla Desh prime minister Tajuddin Ahmed said that Gen. Yahya Khan’s blustering talk of “war with India” is an indication of his despair, aimed at deflecting the world’s attention from the liberation movement and creating communal and racial disharmony.
July 23:The US Consulate General in Dacca warned that unless steps were taken to prevent famine in East Pakistan anticipated deaths from mass starvation could approach the catastrophe of the Bengal famine of 1943 in which millions of people died.
He (A doctor) whispers of recent events in this town : the streets littered with bloated and decomposing bodies ; the burning, looting and raping and the continuing terror. “We are afraid to speak the truth. Those who speak the truth are punished, and the only punishment is death.”
Yahya says he could get 45 to 60 of Awami League MPs and hold by-elections for the seats of all the others. We could either see him disenfranchise 167 out of 169 Assembly members or ask him to do something he might not be able to do.
“Local officials being screened in Rangpur. Few refugees returning but probably no significant outflow either. Bengali Bishop strongly condemns US arms aid to Pakistan.
Rangpur Deputy Commissioner (DC) stated that peace committees in his district not very influential and subject to control of civil administration. Role has changed from period during April/May when situation was more unsettled allowing peace committees more power. They make recommendations concerning distribution of abandoned property and compensation to those whose property was destroyed. Both are reviewed by civil administration before implementation. Peace committees not on committee interviewing returnees from India. They have no political function.”
“Preoccupied with the basic needs of refugees, i.e., food, shelter and first-aid, the (Indian) governmental assistance program, though substantial, cannot cope with the multi – faceted organizational and financial needs described in the foregoing pages. Nor can it be expected to take care of relief payments to the substantial number of artists, writers, journalists, scientists and similar categories of refugees who have found asylum in India. They have depended thus far on the help of their Indian colleagues. Some of them face starvation.”
Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland), Washington:
“Yahya told me that they had pinpointed 29 camps within India where guerrillas were being trained. Now I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but the guerrilla threat is growing by leaps and bounds. They’re averaging 18 Pakistanis a day now; they are averaging two bridges a day. Killing that many.”
“The situation in East Pakistan is intolerable, as is a foreign policy which in practice reinforces the status quo there. The United States should instead use all the influence, limited though it may be, which it can bring to bear. In this connection, steps should be taken to insure that military goods, including spare parts, are not shipped to Pakistan and the offer of F-104’s B-57’s patrol aircraft, and armoured personnel carriers made last fall should be immediately resigned Economic assistance should be suspended until the Pakistanis, both East and West, agree upon a satisfactory political solution and until steps are taken to repatriate the refugees now in India.”
(i) The present struggle of the people of Bangla Desh is the culmination of their struggle for democracy and autonomy which they were conducting since 1948 against the reactionary ruling classes which had ruthlessly suppressed democracy and national rights of the various nationalities.
(ii) The people of Bangla Desh and their leaders had never wanted the secession of East Pakistan. But they had always tried to establish their democratic and national rights through democratic struggles and through the election held in 1970. Even after a sweeping victory in the election and securing an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the Awami League and its Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had wanted nothing more than a constitution based on the six-point programme. Sheikh Mujib had also repeatedly tried to come to a political settlement with the ruling military junta.
(iii) But it was the ruling military junta, which had earlier held the election but had ultimately refused to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people, that launched a treacherous armed attack against the people. In fact, the military junta had no intention of transferring power. The Yahya-Mujib talks, etc., were nothing but ruse by the junta to gain time for preparation of the armed attack.
It was only after this armed attack by the ruling military junta that the popular struggle for democracy and autonomy had turned into an armed battle for the liberation of our motherland.
(iv) This liberation battle is fundamentally a battle for the just right of self-determination of the 75-million Bengalis waged against the reactionary ruling classes composed of the monopolists and feudalists who are backed and armed by the imperialists, especially the U.S. imperialists.
(v) In no case it is a struggle against the people of West Pakistan. Rather this liberation struggle of Bangla Desh against the reactionary ruling classes which are also suppressing and oppressing the people of West Pakistan will help their struggle for democracy and autonomy.
(vi) The liberation struggle is being carried on by the Mukti Fouz (Liberation Army) and the people of Bangla Desh. Therefore, the propaganda by the ruling military junta of Pakistan that it is an ” India-inspired struggle “, ” by Indian armed intruders ” and that ” India is interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan “, etc., is nothing but a canard. Similarly, the propaganda by some pro-Peking groups that this liberation struggle is inspired by the imperialists is a dire falsehood.
Judging all the above facts, all democrats of the world should be fully convinced that the present struggle for the liberation of our motherland is a just struggle against native and foreign reactionaries who are enemies of humanity and peace. The defeat of these reactionaries in Bangla Desh will strengthen the forces of democracy and peace in the South-east Asia region.”
“Foreign Secretary Kaul referred me to the reports of Frank Moraes in the Indian Express as well as to those of British and American journalists regarding the organization and training of the liberation forces inside East Pakistan. Kaul said the refugees were in no state to fight. They were hungry, sick and at times almost naked.”
“In the last ten days we have received through clandestine reports and journalists’ accounts increasing evidence of Indian involvement with the Bengali separatists and of India’s own contingency planning in the event of war. The Indian Government has reinforced Border Security Force units and has moved regular Indian Army units to within three kilometers of the border. The BSF has established camps at which 2,000 Bengalis are reportedly receiving training in guerilla and sabotage tactics. Limited quantities of arms and ammunition have been provided to the Bengali separatists and some Indian forces have infiltrated into East Bengal to provide assistance and training to the separatists.”
Nixon declared to a Pakistani delegation that “Yahya is a good friend.” Rather than express concern over the ongoing brutal military repression, Nixon explained that he “understands the anguish of the decisions which [Yahya] had to make.” He said that the US is not going to become involved.
May 13: The Indian Government requested that the United States make available four C-130 transport aircraft and the crews to fly them to help ferry refugees from East Pakistan from the over-burdened state of Tripura to Assam (Telegram 7325 from New Delhi)
“Until the 12th May, 1971, the number of fugitives who were registered on their crossing the border into India was 2,328,507. We believe that there is a fair number who have avoided registration. Refugees still continue to pour in at the rate of about fifty thousand a day. We are doing our utmost to look after them. But there is a limit to our capacity and resources. Apparently, Pakistan is trying to solve its internal problems by cutting down the size of its population in East Bengal and changing its communal composition through an organised and selective programme of eviction; but it is India that has to take the brunt of this.
It is our earnest hope that the Government of the United States of America will impress upon the rulers of Pakistan that they owe a duty towards their own citizens whom they have treated so callously and forced to seek refuge in a foreign country.”
May 14: The Embassy in Islamabad warned that Pakistan would react unfavorably to a United States decision to participate in an airlift of East Pakistani refugees.
(The Department of State announced on June 12 that the United States would participate in the airlift. The airlift exercise, which was code-named Bonny Jack, was terminated on July 14. source)
May 17:Memorandum to Henry A. Kissinger about halting military assistance to Pakistan. Kissinger responded with a handwritten comment in the margin that reads: “Al-See me. The end result of this will be to terminate the relationship.”
May 23: President Yahya said that he tended to disagree with GOI’s current estimate that there were now over two and one-half million East Pakistani refugees in India, but that the GOP was aware of the fact that a substantial number of people had crossed the border and that the problem was both real and substantial.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi, premier of India, with her popularity again elected as Prime Minister in March, 1971
“It is mischievous to suggest that India has had anything to do with what happened in Bangla Desh. This is an insult to the aspirations and spontaneous sacrifices of the people of Bangla Desh, and a calculated attempt by the rulers of Pakistan to make India a scapegoat for their own misdeeds. It is also a crude attempt to deceive the world community. The world press has seen through Pakistan’s deception. The majority of these so-called Indian infiltrators are women, children and the aged.
We are proud of our tradition of tolerance. Our nation, our people are dedicated to peace and are not given to talking in terms of war or threat of war.
We are convinced that there can be no military solution to the problem of East Bengal. A political solution must be brought about by those who have the power to do so.”
“The secessionist elements in East Pakistan were encouraged and assisted by India. The Indian Parliament, in an unprecedented move, officially extended sympathy and support to these elements. The question of “recognising” the rebellious movement has also been under consideration of the Indian Government. Infiltrators and saboteurs from across the border have violated our territory and indulged in activities to dislocate and destroy East Pakistan’s economic and industrial life, including the vital communications system.
It is most unfortunate that due to disturbed conditions and for other reasons, a large number of people left their homes in East Pakistan and crossed into India. I have, therefore, in a public statement urged the law abiding citizens of East Pakistan who were compelled to migrate, to return to their homes and resume their normal duties. I am afraid, however, that I cannot extend a welcome to those persons who committed murders, indulged in rape and arson, destroyed private and public properties and looted Government treasuries and food stores. No Government can condone such crimes against the people and the State.”
The following decisions were made:
a. Defer recognition of Bangla Dash for the immediate future.
b. Maintain constant military readiness.
c. Take every diplomatic step to force the major powers to take action to force the GOP to atop the refugee flow and to repatriate those who have crossed into India, including hints that Mia might bke unilateral military action.
d. Seek financial aid from all sources to temporarily support the refugees.
They also decided to release off-the-record press comments that India is reaching the point where some sort of action, possibly military, was possible if there is not immediate relief for the refugee problem.”
Nixon: But we don’t say anything against Yahya?
Kissinger: No, no. You just say you hope the refugees will soon be able to go back to East Pakistan. He will then reply to you that’s exactly what he wants.
I’ve got it all arranged with the—
Nixon: Good. Go ahead.
Kissinger: —Embassy. Then you can take credit. You can tell the Indians to pipe down—
Kissinger: And we’ll keep Yahya happy.
Nixon: The Indians need—what they need really is a—
Kissinger: They’re such bastards.
Nixon: A mass famine. But they aren’t going to get that. We’re going to feed them—a new kind of wheat. But if they’re not going to have a famine the last thing they need is another war. Let the goddamn Indians fight a war [unclear].
The total picture of what has been happening in East Bengal is clear to us without any shadow of doubt. There are scores of survivors of firing-squad line-ups. Hundreds of witnesses to the machine-gunning of political leaders, prefessors, doctors, teachers and students. Villages have been surrounded, at any time of day or night, and the frightened villagers have fled where they could, or been slaughtered where they have been found. or enticed out to the fields and mown down in heaps. Women have been raped, girls carried off to barracks, unarmed peasants battered or bayoneted by the thousands.
The pattern, after seven weeks, is still the same. Even the least credible stories, of babies thrown up to be caught on bayonets, of women stripped and bayoneted vertically, or of children sliced up like meat, are credible not only because they are told by so many people, but because they are told by people without sufficient sophistication to make up such stories for political motives. We saw the amputation of a mother’s arm and a child’s foot. These were too far from the border, and gangrene developed from their bullet-wounds. Many saw their daughters raped and the heads of their children smashed in. Some watched their husbands, sons, and grandsons tied up at the wrists and shot in more selective male elimination.
About 400 were killed at Chaudanga while on their way to India, surrounded and massacred. Why? Lest they take tales to India? Or because choosing a certain democratic system under Sheikh Mujib means forfeiting the right to live in any country?”