Tag Archives: Yahya


January: The Agartala Conspiracy Case filed and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrested:

It involves litigations against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and thirty-five other Bengalis who allegedly wanted to separate East Pakistan and establish an independent Bengal, with Indian assistance.

The Agartala Conspiracy Case consolidates the East Pakistani sentiments against discrimination in all fronts, including positions in the Government and the Armed Forces especially coveted by the middle class.

“…it evoked a totally unexpected Bengali reaction. While the prosecution wanted to dub Mujib a traitor, Bengalees made a hero out of him. The trial conferred such [a] popularity on Mujib that would otherwise have taken him a lifetime to acquire.” — Siddiq Salik, in his book A Witness to Surrender.

Ayub suffers serious heart attack, but the news was suppressed. Commander-in-Chief General Yahya Khan unofficially takes charge during his recovery period.

March: US Department of State concludes there existed no assassination plot against President Ayub during his December visit to East Pakistan

June: Arrest of three prominent Bengali CSP officers on suspicion of involvement in East Pakistan separatist conspiracy.

July: American consulate’s views on Shiekh Mujibur Rahman’s role in the Agartala Conspiracy:

“If found guilty and sentenced to a long prison term. Sheikh Mujib will become another martyr in the cause of Bengali autonomy and in East Pakistan’s ‘war with the Rawalpindi Establishment.’ If he were involved as deeply as the government brief alleges, a silent cheer is probably raised by the Bengali.”

August: Trial of Alleged Conspirators in East Pakistan Tarnishing Government Image

“The most damaging aspect so far for the Government of the trial of Rahman and some 35 others accused of plotting to establish a separatist regime in East Pakistan has been the testimony of a prosecution witness who broke down in court and asserted that he had been tortured and threatened with death by military officials who wished him to testify falsely against the alleged conspirators”

September: Hearing for the Agartala Conspiracy Case begins

November: Disturbances in West Pakistan, Bhutto arrested:

“On 10 November President Ayub, addressing a large public meeting in Peshawar, was reportedly fired at by a student. On 13 November Mr. Z.A. Bhutto, Mr. Wali Khan and certain other opposition politicians were arrested.”

Reactions to Bhutto’s arrest:

The rumor was that it was a ’staged event’ to fulfill regime’s desire to elicit sympathy for Ayub Khan.

Protests against Bhuttos arrest spread across Pakistan

November: Report on economy -The disparity widens:

East Pakistan suffers from a number of fundamental deficiencies, The diet of the people is far from satisfactory.

December: Hearing of Mr. Williams’ writ petition challenging the validity of the Agartala conspiracy Trial


February: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected party president. Awami League declares the Six Point Movement.


March 23: 6-Point Formula-Our Right to Live by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

“I know of no nobler battle than to fight for the rights of the exploited millions. We believe that this feeling of absolute equality, sense of inter-wing justice and impar­tiality is the very basis of Pakistani patriotism. Only he is fit to be a leader of Pakistan who is imbued with and consumed by such patriotism, a leader who zealously holds that any one who deliberately or knowingly weakens any limb of Pakistan is an enemy of the country.”


Ayub Khan with opposition leaders

(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)

March 24: President Ayub’s outburst on secessionist demands:

“His attacks on the Opposition became more virulent and he referred openly to the possibility of Pakistan breaking apart. The Awami League, he claimed, nurtured the “horrid dream” of a greater sovereign Bengal. It could only spell disaster for the country, the people of East Pakistan would be turned into slaves, and he reminded them how they had been dominated by Hindus during British days. Islamic countries flourished in history at times when a strong central authority existed and fell into decadence at times of weak central authority.

He said that the Nation should be prepared to face even a civil war if thrust upon it ‘by disruptionists.’ The Government would not tolerate any attempt to tamper with the unity and solidarity of the Nation and expressed his concern at the activities of Opposition parties. If necessary, we would have to use ‘the language of weapons’.”

His talk of resorting to weapons and civil war was badly judged and resented by almost all East Pakistanis.

April 28: Popularity of the six point programme

“The the left wing National Awami Party (N.A.P. – Bhasani) has given considerable support, for instance, to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Six Point Programme for further autonomy for East Pakistan. The Government appears to have lost patience with Mujibur Rahman. He was arrested on 18 April, released on bail, re-arrested on another charge and finally again released on bail.”

May 5: General Yahya becomes chief of Pakistan army

The political scene in East Pakistan: Growing popularity of Awami League

“AL is gaining its popular support following the Government’s harassment of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Its six point autonomy agenda is widely supported by other political parties and civil societies.”

May 18: Political affairs in East Pakistan: Rioting in Chittagong

“Influential minority communities such as the Ismailis are badly upset by an ugly affair in Chittagong, when a Memon girl was prevented by her family from marrying a Bengali boy, and Bengali-nationalist rioting following”

Pakistan: Reign of Terror

Newsweek April 19, 1971; p. 52-54

Blealy-eyed from lack of sleep and emotionally drained by what they called their “ten days of terror,” hundreds of Americans who had been trapped in war-ravaged East Pakistan finally got out to safety last week. Nearly 500 of them were evacuated by air from the East Pakistani capital of Dacca. Another 119 foreign nationals, including 37 Americans, were brought out by a British freighter from the battered East Pakistani port city of Chittagong. Most of them begged off from interviews, fearful that anything they said might endanger some 200 Americans-consular officials, businessmen and missionaries-who chose to remain behind in East Pakistan. But a few, unable to contain their outrage at the wanton slaughter they had witnessed, talked guardedly to newsmen. And their harrowing accounts tended to confirm earlier reports of savage repressions by the Punjabi-Ied Pakistani Army in its attempt to stamp out the Bengali rebellion in East Pakistan.

The Americans evacuated from Chittagong told NEWSWEEK’S Tony Clifton that the bitter fighting there had reduced East Pakistan’s largest port to a ghost town. “In the first few days,” recalled Neil O’Toole, a New Yorker working for a private charitable organization, “I actually saw Awami League people [supporters of Bengali nationalist leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] patrolling the streets with bows and arrows, and I wondered how they could possibly hold off the army with things like that.” Four days later, the reinforced Pakistani Army gained full control of the city and launched a reign of terror. “Some Punjabi soldiers called a kid over and hit him around the head and in the groin and then forced him to his knees,” said Fritz Blankenship, a crane operator who had been employed by an American construction firm. “The kid was crying, begging and the soldiers just watched him for a minute.” Finally, according to Blankenship, “they just shot him out of hand and walked on.”

A similar wave of atrocities was reported by the Americans who had been in Dacca. As soon as the curfew was lifted, they said, at least a half-dozen Americans were met by nearly hysterical Bengali friends who told of a massacre at Dacca University. When three young Americans agreed to investigate the story, they found a staircase in a faculty building splattered with the bloodshed when five teachers were dragged out and coldly mowed down by gunfire. Still more shattering was the experience of Victor Chen, who had been visiting Dacca as a tourist when the war broke out and was led by a group of excited Bengalis to a shantytown set in the middle of Dacca’s sprawling racetrack. “The houses were burned down, and some were still smoldering,” he told NEWSWEEK’S Milan J. Kubic. “Literally dozens of dead bodies were strewn all over the place, many of them small kids, all of them riddled by bullets.” And another young American said in obvious disgust: “We just don’t see why the U.S. should go on supporting a regime that behaves in this fashion.”

Cautious: Indeed, Washington’s policy of calculated ambiguity on Pakistan has left the U.S. open to charges that official silence is tantamount to support for the martial-Iaw regime of President Mohammed Yahya Khan. Even touchier was the charge that U .S.-supplied Patton and Sabre jets were being used Pakistani Army to slaughter Bengalis. But State Department officials argued that the unsettled circumstances dictated a cautious policy. They also pointed out that no American weapons have been Delivered to the Pakistani Army since 1965. And last week, the department’s spokesman, Charles Bray 3rd, expressed “sympathy” to the “victims” and hoped that “it will be possible soon to alleviate the suffering caused by recent events” in East Pakistan. Though U .S. officials denied any implications beyond humanitarian concern, Bray’s use of the word “victims..struck some Pakistani Government officials as a slap at the Yahya Khan regime, which has never conceded that there was much suffering going on in East Pakistan.

Washington, of course, was hardly alone in this dilemma. Both the Soviet Union and Communist China, the principal purveyors of arms to Pakistan since 1965, have only begun to choose their rhetorical stance-with Moscow urging Yahya to find a way to end the fighting and Peking edging toward Yahya’s side. But by far the most difficult position was that facing the government of India, where popular sentiments remained overwhelmingly pro-Bengali and where pressures mounted for direct action. “It is neither proper nor possible for India to keep quiet [over the Pakistani situation),” said Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The watch-and-wait policy assumed by most foreign governments stemmed from a widely held belief that the Pakistani Army will ultimately fail in its attempt to subjugate 75 million East Pakistanis. Still, fears increased that the army was fully prepared to wreak bloody havoc even in a futile try. An American businessman who was evacuated from Dacca last week recalled asking a Punjabi major why the army was killing so many people. “There are millions of them, and only thousands of us,” the major replied. “The only way we can control these people is by making them scared stiff.” And from what he saw, the American said, “it looked as if the army went berserk. I can’t help feeling sorry about the poor Bengalis in that hell.”