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.
“Qaiyum said MEA policy planning chairman DP Dhar in his latest visit to Calcutta had questioned BD “Foreign Minister” Mushtaq Ahmed about allegations that Mushtaq was negotiating with USG, saying that in so doing, Mushtaq was “traitor.” According Qaiyum, Mushtaq denied everything, but Dhar said he knew all about “negotiations” because State Department had told everything to Indian Embassy in Washington.
He told Indians BDG had not sold its soul to India and that as independent government, it could talk with any other government it wished.”
Memorandum from Kissinger to President Nixon on summary of the exchange between Prime Minister Gandhi and Ambassador Keating in New Delhi on November 29:
– Yahya’s problems had been self-created and “we are not in a position to make this easier for him.” That was one of the reasons why India could not withdraw its troops. India was being asked to allow the misdeeds of Yahya to stand and “we are not going to allow that.”
– No one in all of India was more opposed to war than she was. “I wouldn’t like to take this country to war”, but, added, “this war and this situation are/4/ not of our making.”
“India-Pakistan Situation: there are indications that the situation is starting to deteriorate in the interior where the guerrilla forces are operating more freely now that most of the Pak forces have been drawn off to defend the frontiers. Some towns as close as 17 miles from Dacca reportedly have been abandoned to the guerrillas and there are reports of the Bangla Desh flag flying in a number of towns elsewhere in the interior. The Indians have also set up a “Mukti Bahini navy” with their own forces with the priority objective of blocking shipping into East Pakistan.
The disparity in manpower and supplies apparently is taking its toll on the Pak forces and they reportedly have abandoned a number of contested locations in the face of relentless pressure in the direction of several major provincial cities.”
Yahya’s letter to Nixon pleads for US support to resist aggression launched by India which has enormous superiority of arms and equipment over Pakistan.
In a speech to the nation on December 3, 1971, Prime Minister Gandhi charged that Pakistan had launched a full-scale attack against India earlier in the day, shortly after 5:30 p.m. She said that Pakistan’s Air Force had struck at six Indian airfields in Kashmir and the Punjab and that Pakistani artillery was shelling Indian positions at several locations along the border between India and West Pakistan. India, Gandhi said, had no option but to adopt a war footing.
Pakistan responded to the Indian charges in a note conveyed to the United States Embassy in Islamabad on December 3. Pakistan alleged that the Indian Air Force had been carrying out aggressive reconnaissance over the territory of West Pakistan for 3 or 4 days as a prelude to attacks launched by the Indian army between 3:30 and 4 p.m. on December 3 at several points on a front that stretched from Kashmir in the north to Rahim Yar Kham in the south. Pakistan represented the attacks on Indian airfields as necessary countermeasures.
In Washington the question of responsibility for the initiation of warfare along the front between India and West Pakistan bore on policy considerations. The Central Intelligence Agency weighed the evidence on December 4 and concluded that it was not possible to determine with certainty which side had initiated hostilities on December 3. (Source)
The (Indian) Foreign Secretary Kaul said that Pakistan had issued a proclamation that they were in a state of war against India at 0900 December 4. The government of India had not declared war. Furthermore, he said, the GOI had not yet recognized Bangla Desh, but would do so at the appropriate time and would keep us informed.
Helms briefed from notes that described a combined Indian-Mukti Bahini offensive in East Pakistan and the beginning stages of the fighting along the border between India and West Pakistan. Pakistani troops were being hard pressed in the east, but there was little beyond artillery exchanges in the west.
The CIA prepared a chronology and covering memorandum entitled, “India- Pakistan: Responsibility for Initiating Hostilities on 3 December 1971″ and the chronology runs through December 4. The covering memorandum concluded that it was difficult to determine conclusively which country initiated hostilities, but the weight of evidence tended to support Indian claims that Pakistan struck first in the west with air strikes.
On the afternoon of 3rd December 1971, the Government of Pakistan led by President Yahya Khan ordered a massive attack on India across its western frontiers. This has been followed by a gazette extraordinary published by the Government of Pakistan on the forenoon of the 4th December 1971, declaring that it is a state of war against India.
hat this aggression is premeditated and planned is evident from the fact that President Yahya Khan had declared on November 25 that he would be “off to fighting in ten days’ time”.
I am writing to you at a moment of grave peril and danger to my country and my people. The success of the freedom movement in Bangla Desh has now become a war on India due to the adventurism of the Pakistan military machine. It has imposed upon my people and my Government the imperative responsibility of safeguarding our security and territorial integrity. We are left with no other option but to put our country on a war footing.
May I request Your Excellency to exercise your undoubted influence with the Government of Pakistan to stop their aggressive activities against India and to deal immediately with the genesis of the problem of East Bengal which has caused so much trial and tribulations to the people not only of Pakistan but of the entire sub-continent.”
“I am glad to inform the House that in the light of the existing situation and in response to the repeated requests of the Government of Bangla Desh, the Government of India have after the most careful consideration, decided to grant recognition to the GANA PRAJATANTRI BANGLA DESH.
Our thoughts at this moment are with the father of this new State-Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Bangla Desh Government have reiterated their anxiety to organise the expeditious return of their citizens who have found temporary refuge in our country, and to restore their lands and belongings to them. We shall naturally help in every way in these arrangements.”
-In East Pakistan the Indian forces are making gradual progress on several fronts. They are pressing the outnumbered Pak forces on several strategic fronts and the Indian gains so far may be laying the basis for more dramatic successes in the near future. The Indian objective is to force a Pak surrender in East Pakistan within the next week, if at all possible.
-Ground action on the Indian-West Pakistan front has been increasing, but it is not yet as widespread as in the East and neither side appears to be making clear-cut major gains. The Indian strategy is to maintain an essentially defensive posture in the West until the battle is won in the East, but there are indications that the Paks may be preparing a major offensive thrust in Kashmir that would undoubtedly force an Indian counter.
“The Indian government is trying for a rapid and successful conclusion of the fighting in East Pakistan. Indian Premier Gandhi, on 3 December, stated that Indian objective was to complete action within 10 days and redeploy Indian troops to the borders with West Pakistan.
The West Pakistan objective is to overwhelm Indian forces in Kashmir. They feel Kashmir might be sufficient compensation for the loss of East Pakistan to India.”
“Director Helms (CIA) completed his briefing by noting that India’s recognition of Bangladesh provided a justification for intervention in East Pakistan. Helms felt that 10 days was a conservative estimate of how long it would be before the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan would be forced to surrender.”
“In accordance with the above the Soviet representative in the Security Council has been instructed to seek such a solution that would closely combine two questions: a proposal for an immediate cease-fire between Pakistan and India and a demand that the Government of Pakistan immediately recognize the will of the East Pakistani population as expressed in the December 1970 elections. The Soviet leaders express the hope that the President will give instructions to the U.S. representative in the Security Council to act in the same direction.”
Meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh and Keating of USEmbassy:
“We are quite clear on what we are doing. India was making no territorial claims of any type.
The Indian army was being welcomed as liberators. Indian recognition of Bangla Desh also was an effort to curb local extremist elements.
In response to my question whether the Bangla Desh government would be led by the same people as were now in Mujibnagar, the Foreign Minister said that he didn’t know, but it was for them to decide. The GOI did not need to replace the existing administrative setup. It didn’t want to interfere.”
December 7: Jessore, Sylhet and Moulovi Bazar are liberated by the Indian troops with the help of Muktibahini.
Message from Yahya to Nixon:
If India should succeed in its objective, the loss of East Pakistan with a population of 70 million people dominated by Russia will also be a threat to the security of South Asia. It will bring under Soviet domination the region of Assam, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia.
On December 7th the General Assembly by a vote of 104 to 11 with 10 abstentions called on India and Pakistan to institute an immediate cease-fire and to withdraw troops from each other’s territory. Pakistan has accepted the resolution. India has refused.
December 8: General Manekshaw, chief of Army staff calls on Pakistani army in Bangladesh to surrender immediately to Indian army in view of the hopeless position they are situated.
Indian troops acting in concert with Mukti Bahini liberated Comilla and Bramhonbaria.
UN General Assembly votes a resolution calling upon India and Pakistan to cease fire immediately.
“Kissinger pointed to the threat to West Pakistan: “At this stage, we have to prevent an Indian attack on West Pakistan.” Nixon agreed. Kissinger continued: “We have to maintain the position of withdrawal from all of Pakistan.” He concluded that if the United States held firm in its approach to India and the Soviet Union, the administration would achieve its overall goals, even if it failed to prevent India from dismembering Pakistan: “If they maintain their respect for us even if you lose, we still will come out all right.” For Kissinger, it was a question of preserving credibility and honor. By introducing United States military power into the equation, in the form of a carrier and other units from the Seventh Fleet, the United States was seeking to prevent “a Soviet stooge, supported by Soviet arms” from overrunning an ally.”
Yahya proceeding with his blueprint for transfer of power. Has sent Bhutto on short visit to UNGA. Yahya said that the emergency had brought about a greater unanimity of opinion among Pakistani politicians than had heretofore been in evidence, and that he was hopeful.
He said the GOP armed forces in East Pakistan would fight qte to the last Muslim, for not only their country but their faith is in jeopardy.
December 9: Indian troops acting in concert with Mukti Bahini liberated Chandpur and Daudkandi.
“Indian forces in East Pakistan are now making steady progress on several fronts and are at one point 22 miles from Dacca. At the UN, yesterday’s activity was highlighted by a strong appeal from U Thant for a Dacca area cease-fire to permit the evacuation of international community personnel there. Thant asked both the Indians and Paks to agree to a 24-hour stand-down to permit repair of runways for evacuation of foreigners.
Both India and Pakistan are preparing for another round of debate at the UN. Indian Foreign Minister Singh is on his way to New York as is Bhutto, the new Pakistani Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.”
People’s Party leader Z.A. BhuttoNewly designated by Yahya as vice Primin-said he will do utmost to bring about ceasefire and withdrawal of forces. He is also ready to do what he can to achieve satisfactory political accommodation with East Pakistan. Including active negotiation with Mujib.
Kissinger: Well, they will lose East Pakistan. There’s nothing to be done about that.
Nixon: We all know that.
Kissinger: The Brezhnev letter says the negotiations should start at the point at which they were interrupted on March 25, 1970. At that point, East Pakistan was part of Pakistan.
Kissinger: Now if we, if you and Brezhnev, could make a joint declaration. The way I see this thing evolving.
Kissinger: So then we’ve got the Indians at a disadvantage. And we’ll have separated the Soviets from the Indians to some extent.
An intelligence report says that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has indicated that India’s war objectives are:
A. Liberation of Bangla Desh
B. The incorporation into India of the southern area of Azad (Pakistani-held) Kashmir
C. The destruction of Pakistani armored and air force strength so that Pakistan can never again threaten India.
“Bhutto has earlier received instructions to work for simple cease-fire resolution with the provision that the Security Council would later take up other aspects.
Latest reports from Dacca indicate that the Indians are preparing for a final all-out assault on the city that could begin in a few hours (down Dacca time) unless last minute efforts to obtain a cease-fire are successful. Yahya has confirmed, via his Foreign Secretary to Ambassador Farland, that General Niazi’s cease-fire formula from East Pakistan can be transmitted to the Indians.
Our carrier task force is transiting the Straits of Malacca and will arrive at a point near the center of the base of the Bay of Bengal tomorrow evening. Rumors about this move are already widespread in the area where they are being combined with stories that the US is considering military assistance to Pakistan.
The British are also moving some naval vessels into the area — a commando carrier and a frigate off the southern coast of Ceylon. Soviet task force, consisting of a guided missile cruiser, an oiler and diesel powered submarine continues to steam through the South China Sea toward the Indian Ocean where if it continues on that course it should arrive in about three days. The Soviets have 12 other naval ships in the Indian Ocean but none of these is in or known to be heading for areas near the Indo-Pakistani conflict.”
“Jha noted that India had recognized Bangla Desh, but there was no intention of annexation in the East or what he termed a protectorate relationship with Bangla Desh. With respect to Azad Kashmir, he could not give any answer totally free of uncertainty. Jha then asked what are the Pak aims? Under Secretary pointed out that Pak aims were made very clear today in note to Secretary General accepting General Assembly resolution calling for ceasefire and withdrawal.”
December 10: Laksham is liberated. The Pak commanding officer surrenders with his officers and 416 men.
The war in the East has reached its final stages. The Indian forces are encircling Dacca and preparing for the final assault if the Pak forces in the capital area refuse to surrender. Pak resistance elsewhere in the province appears on the verge of total collapse, although they continue to hold some isolated areas. Faced with this desperate situation, the top Pak military official in Dacca has called on the UN to arrange (a) peaceful transfer of power to the “elected representatives of East Pakistan,” (b) an immediate cease-fire, (c) repatriation of the Pak forces to West Pakistan, (d) repatriation of all other West Pak personnel who desire to leave, (e) the safety of the others settled in East Pakistan since 1947 and (f) a guarantee of no reprisals.
In the West, the Indians seem to be successfully repulsing Pak attacks in Kashmir, but show no signs yet of initiating a major offensive of their own. Repeated Indian air strikes and shellings from naval forces on Karachi have dealt a major blow to Pakistan’s POL supply.
The Indians have announced a bombing pause over both Dacca and Karachi for evacuation purposes. Evacuation planes will be given safe conduct into Karachi for four-hour periods today and tomorrow and the Dacca airport is to be free from attacks for 24 hours so that it can be repaired. Foreign evacuation planes bound for Dacca will then be given safe conduct for 10 hours on Saturday on the condition that they land at Calcutta before and after going to Dacca. UN personnel reportedly will remain behind in Dacca for possible assistance in arranging a cease-fire or surrender.”
I’m going to hand him a very tough note to Brezhnev and say this is it now, let’s settle the, let’s get a cease-fire now. That’s the best that can be done now. They’ll lose half of their country, but at least they preserve the other half.” Nixon agreed that “our desire is to save West Pakistan.”
Nixon asked for an assurance that the necessary steps were being taken to “keep those carriers [sic] moving.” Kissinger assured him that “everything is moving.” In addition to the carrier group, Kissinger reported that “four Jordanian planes have already moved to Pakistan, twenty-two more are coming. We’re talking to the Saudis, the Turks we’ve now found are willing to give five.”
Yahya proposes (a) India and Pakistan should agree to an immediate ceasefire with the separate armed forces “standing fast”; and that the United Nations or other international organization provide observers to see that the ceasefire is effective; (b) that India and Pakistan “at any effective level” immediately open negotiations aimed at a settlement of the war and troop withdrawal; and coincident therewith simultaneously enter into negotiations looking towards the political satisfaction of Bengali aspirations, i.e., a political settlement.
December 11: Indian troops acting in concert with Mukti Bahini liberated Hilli, Mymenshingh, Kushtia and Noakhali.
Maj. Gen Rao Forman Ali request U-Thant, UN secretary general for help in repatriating troops and West Pakistani civilians.
Sixteen Soviet naval units are now in the Indian Ocean area, including three space support ships. Communications intelligence indicates that most of the ships are near Ceylon and Socotra, although one space-related unit may be monitoring British naval units in the Arabian Sea. However, of the sixteen ships less than half are combatants.
Kissinger: Now after our original resolution is defeated, however, Mr. Minister, then I think you have to decide whether you want to go to a simple ceasefire resolution, because it isn’t that we don’t want to help you, it is that we want to preserve you. It is all very well to stand for principles, but finally we have to assure your survival. And that is the Chinese problem.
“Haig learned that the Chinese initiative did not mean that China had decided upon military action in support of Pakistan. Instead, Huang Hua indicated that China was prepared to support the United Nations procedure Kissinger had outlined in the December 10 meeting, which was to ask for a cease-fire and mutual troop withdrawal but to settle for a standstill cease-fire.”
Ambassador Bush introduced a resolution which, in its operative paragraphs, called for an immediate cease-fire, the withdrawal by India and Pakistan of their armed forces from each other’s territory, and the creation of conditions necessary to safeguard the lives of civilians and to facilitate the safe return of the refugees to their homes. (UN doc. S/10446 and Rev. 1) The Security Council voted 11-2 in favor of the resolution, with 2 abstentions. The resolution was not adopted because of the negative vote of the Soviet Union. (Source)
On UN action: UN cannot take useful action at this time. Further debate will only harden positions and create additional frictions. UN tied to precedent and formalistic rites and cannot deal with such complex issues. If UN has to meet in future, Bangla Desh reps must be present; it is a reality.
Indian Aims in East. Indian aims are simple: Surrender of Pak forces with repatriation to follow; recognition of Bangla Desh. GOI very much aware need protect Biharis. Will establish safe areas under Indian control and assist in repatriation to West Pakistan if they desire. India had not attacked on ground in West.
US was still attempting to see whether UN action “could be useful”.
Memorandum from the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger):
There are four classes of refugees/ displaced persons who will probably require assistance on an international basis following the termination of hostilities.
1. Up to 10 million refugees from East Pakistan who are now in India.
2. Over 600,000 non-Bengali Muslims in East Pakistan who may want to move to West Pakistan, as well as West Pakistani government officials and military in the East.
3. Some 50-100,000 Bengalis living in West Pakistan, most of whom will almost certainly wish to return to East Pakistan.
4. An undetermined number of persons who are being displaced by the fighting within East Pakistan.
December 13: General Manekshaw asks Rao Forman Ali to stand down to prevent shedding of innocent bloods. Dhaka is surrpounded by Indian troops.
We have attentively examined your message over the direct communications link. In accordance with the confidential exchange of opinions existing between us, we are advising you that at the present time, we are conducting a clarification of all the circumstances in India.
We will inform you of the results of the clarification without delay.
December 14: Top intellectuals of the country were were taken from homes by Razakars, Al Badr and Al Shams and slaughtered in killing fields with the vain objective of cripling the nation.
Bogra is liberated.
The Indian casualty figures of the 10 day war is announced by Indian defence minister in parliament:
Killed – 1978, Wounded 5025, Missing 1662.
Pakistani causalty figures are much higher, he claims.
Highest officers of the Pakistani administration in Bangladesh resigns fgrom their posts and seeks refuge to Red Crescent.
“It would be good if the American side on its part stressed to the Pakistani Government the necessity of embarking on the path towards political settlement in East Pakistan on the basis which is now rather clear.”
The Soviet Union vetoes for the 3rd time to block US resolution for an immediate Indo-Pakistani ceasefire.
Letter from Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon:
“The Russian proposal about the cease-fire, withdrawal and negotiations has by now clearly been demonstrated to have been only a hoax….The passage of time is clearly playing into the hands of the Russians. We are convinced that, after acquiring East Pakistan, they would let the Indians turn their might single-mindedly against West Pakistan for which they have already begun to equip the Indians.
Time has come for the United States to go beyond warnings and démarches if its determination to punish aggression across international borders is to have any effect on the Soviet Union and India. The Seventh Fleet does not only have to come to our shores but also to relieve certain pressures which we by ourselves are not in a position to cope with.”
“President Yahya acknowledges that military situation in East Pakistan has hopelessly deteriorated. He provided me with Governor Malik’s Dec. 13 report of chaotic conditions. Because military situation now irretrievable and for over-riding humanitarian reasons, Yahya is giving Bhutto widest possible latitude at UN to effect ceasefire and troop withdrawal.”
Soviet first deputy foreign minister came to India on December 12 to discuss the political recognition of Bangladesh. Soviet Union continued to Veto any cease fire to give India time to liberate Bangladesh. However they were growing impatient by now. (CIA information)
“So what if Dacca falls? So what if the whole of East Pakistan falls? So what if the whole of West Pakistan falls? We will build a new Pakistan. We will build a better Pakistan… We will fight for a thousand years.” Afterwards, he tears up his notes and walks out.
“I have been informed by Governor Malik and General Farman Ali that President Yahya Khan strongly desires to put a end to hostilities in EP. For this purpose he wishes to arrange with the Indian Govt an immediate cease-fire period of at least two hours in which discussions for this purpose can take place between the military commanders concerned. The President desires honorable conditions for Pakistani troops and protection of civilians.”
“Foreign Minister Bhutto declined to pass General Niazi’s ceasefire proposal to the Indians in New York, so our UN mission was instructed to communicate it to Foreign Minister Singh, and subsequently Ambassador Keating was instructed to pass its text to Mrs. Gandhi’s secretary, Haksar. In this as in the negotiations on the Security Council resolution, Bhutto is apparently being careful to sidestep onus for the surrender of East Pakistan. Meanwhile, latest Indian reports indicate that Dacca is receiving heavy artillery fire, and three Indian columns have advanced to within a few miles of Dacca where they are preparing for attack.
Our carrier task force is transiting the Straits of Malacca and should arrive at a point near the center of the base of the Bay of Bengal this (15 Dec) evening. Rumors about this move are already widespread in the area where they are being combined with stories that the US is considering military assistance to Pakistan.”
“In order to save future loss of innocent human lives which would inevitably result from further hostilities in the major cities like Dacca, I request you to arrange for an immediate cease-fire under the following conditions:
(A) Regrouping of Pakistan armed forces in designated areas to be mutually agreed upon between the commanders of the opposing forces;
(B) To guarantee the safety of all military and paramilitary forces;
(C) Safety of all those who had settled in East Pakistan since 1947;
(D) No reprisals against those who helped the administration since March 1971.
In those conditions, the Pakistan armed forces and paramilitary forces would immediately cease all military operations.
“I had previously informed General Farman Ali in two messages that I would guarantee (a) the safety of all your military and paramilitary forces who surrender to me in Bangla Desh. (b) Complete protection to foreign nations, ethnic minorities and personnel of West Pakistan no matter who they may be. Since you have indicated your desire to stop fighting I expect you to issue orders to all forces under your command in Bangla Desh to cease fire immediately and surrender to my advancing forces wherever they are located.
Immediately I receive a positive response from you I shall direct General Aurorea the commander of Indian and Bangla Desh forces in the Eastern theatre to refrain from all air and ground action against your forces. As a token of my good faith I have ordered that no air action shall take place over Dacca from 1700 hours today.
I assure you I have no desire to inflict unnecessary casualties on your troops as I abhor loss of human lives.”
“The tragic war, which is continuing, could have been averted if during the nine months prior to Pakistan’s attack on us on December 3, the great leaders of the world had paid some attention to the fact of revolt, tried to see the reality of the situation and searched for a genuine basis for reconciliation. Our earnest plea that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman should be released, or that, even if he were to be kept under detention, contact with him might be established, was not considered practical on the ground that the US could not urge policies which might lead to the overthrow of President Yahya Khan.
We are asked what we want. We seek nothing for ourselves. We do not want any territory of what was East Pakistan and now constitutes Bangla Desh. We do not want any territory of West Pakistan.”
The Pakistani commander Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi surrenders to Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, the Commander of the Joint Forces, at the same Dhaka Racecourse where Sheikh Mujib had made his historic call for independence only nine months and nine days earlier.
More than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers are taken prisoner of war by Indian forces. The president of Bangladesh is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is still in prison somewhere in West Pakistan where he is denied all information about the outside world. He knows nothing of the bloodshed that has preceded the creation of his state.
People begin their search for the remains of the missing ones at the numersous execution grounds and mass gravesites around the country.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi speking at Lok Sabha hailed Dacca as “the free capital of a free country.” At the same time, the Indian Government announced a cease-fire on the front between India and West Pakistan to take effect the following day. In making the announcement a government spokesman stated that India had no territorial ambitions in the conflict.
December 17: When US ambassador Farland saw President Yahya on the morning of December 17 and urged him to accept the Indian cease-fire offer, Yahya took the position that he had previously indicated his willingness to accept a cease-fire in accepting the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 7. He did not see the necessity to reiterate that position and respond to what he referred to as Mrs. Gandhi’s dictates. Upon further urging from Farland, he agreed to consider responding to the Indian offer. At 3 p.m. local time on December 17, Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan brought Farland the news that Yahya was prepared to accept the Indian offer publicly. (Source)
“The Deputy Prime Minister was critical of past policies in Pakistan which he claimed were the result of the will of a clique of military leaders who were no longer in touch with the people of Pakistan. All of this contributed in large measure to the calamity which befell his nation.”
Decembr 17-20: Pakistanis in general and young military officers in particular made it clear that they wanted Yahya Khan and his regime to go.
At one point, General Abdul Hamid Khan, chief of staff of the Pakistan army (the army was then headed by a commander-in-chief, in this case Yahya), called a meeting of army officers in Rawalpindi cantonment and attempted to explain the causes behind the debacle in Bangladesh.
He was greeted with expletives, one more profane than the next, and eventually was forced to leave the room. Hamid, who had after the Dhaka surrender begun nurturing ambitions of taking over from Yahya, now knew that the end was near. Officers like General Gul Hasan, in contact with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, were already planning to dominate the new circumstances.
December 20: Bhutto arrived back in Rawalpindi around noon and was immediately whisked away to the president’s house for a meeting with General Yahya Khan. He emerged a few hours later as Pakistan’s new president and, incongruously, chief martial law administrator. Late in the evening, President Bhutto addressed the nation, and in a rambling speech promised his people that he would build a new Pakistan for them. He extolled the bravery of Pakistan’s soldiers in the just concluded war and asked forgiveness of his “brothers and sisters” in “East Pakistan.”
He showed absolutely no contrition over his role in the making of the crisis in Bangladesh but appeared keen to reassure Pakistanis that their future was safe in his hands. He placed Yahya Khan under house arrest and appointed new chiefs of staff for the army, air force and navy.
Meanwhile, there is still considerable public resentment about the way the war ended. In Karachi, for example, bands of demonstrators have been roving in and out of the major business and residential areas setting fires and causing disruptions. Many educated Pakistanis are still openly attacking Yahya and saying that the people will never allow the return of a military government under any circumstances. At the same time, even those who oppose and distrust Bhutto seem inclined to give him a chance.
The situation is still fluid in the East. The Indian Army seems to be gradually restoring a minimum of law and order in Dacca and reorganizing the administrative apparatus. The “Bangla Desh” cabinet, however, has still not arrived from Calcutta, although there are reports that it may proceed to Dacca by mid-week. The Bangla Desh “Prime Minister” is quoted by Dacca Radio as saying that there is a great need for foreign aid but that they will “not touch” any part of U.S. aid because of the “hateful and shameful” policy that the U.S. has followed toward the Bangla Desh “freedom struggle.
December 22: Bangladesh’s provisional government arrived in Dhaka from exile. Bhutto decreed that detained Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman be moved from solitary confinement in prison to house arrest.
At the UN, the Security Council was finally able to agree on a resolution last night by a vote of thirteen to nothing with the Soviet Union and Poland abstaining. The operative paragraph in effect formalizes the cease-fire and demands that it “remain in effect until withdrawals take place, as soon as practicable, of all armed forces to their respective territories and to the cease-fire line supervised by UNMOGIP.”
Bhutto is reported to have announced plans for a judicial inquiry into the causes for Pakistan’s defeat. It is not to submit its findings for three months and may be Bhutto’s effort to satisfy public opinion with a minimum move.
Bhutto arrived at the rest house where Mujib had been moved. Surprised Mujib
asked Bhutto: “Bhutto, how are you here?” Bhutto’s response did not fit the question: “I am president of Pakistan.” An even more surprised Mujib teased him: “But you know that position belongs to me.” He was evidently referring to the Awami League’s victory at the general
elections of a year earlier. This time Bhutto told him: “I am also chief martial law administrator.”
In the next hour or so, Bhutto gave Mujib to understand that the Indian army had occupied “East Pakistan” and that the two men needed to be together in the coming struggle to drive the Indians off. Mujib, ever the astute politician, knew better.
(Source: Distant Neighbours: A Tale of the Subcontinent – Kuldip Nayar)
“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.”
June 3: US ambassador to India, Keating suggested Kissinger that military assistance to Pakistan was out of the question since they were still killing in East Pakistan and when refugees were still pouring into India. Kissinger informed him that the President would uphold the “One Time Exception” of arms sales to Pakistan.
Nixon: Look, even apart from the Chinese thing, I wouldn’t do that to help the Indians, the Indians are no goddamn good. Now Keating, like every Ambassador who goes over there, goes over there and gets sucked in. He now thinks the—
Kissinger: Those sons-of-bitches, who never have lifted a finger for us, why should we get involved in the morass of East Pakistan? All the more so, I quite agree with the point, if East Pakistan becomes independent, it is going to become a cesspool. It’s going be 100 million people, they have the lowest standard of living in Asia—
Kissinger: No resources. They’re going to become a ripe field for Communist infiltration. And then they’re going to bring pressure on India because of West Bengal. So that the Indians in their usual idiotic way are playing for little stakes, unless they have in the back of their minds that they could turn East Pakistan into a sort of protectorate that they could control from Calcutta. That they may have in the back of their mind.”
The number of refugees is now 5.4 million and that rate of flow is increasing. This should be evidence enough that no matter what noises President Yahya may make about restoration of normalcy, he has not yet done anything to effectively impede reign of terror and brutality of Pakistan army, the root cause of the refugee exodus. I most strongly recommend that the time is overdue for us to utilize all leverage available to pressure the GOP into halting without further delay the terror and repression by the army in the east wing.
June 13:Genocide in Bangladesh: – Anthony Mascarenhas, former Assistant Editor, Morning News, Karachi (published in Sunday Times, London):
He was 24 years old, a slight man surrounded by soldiers. He was trembling, because he was about to be shot.
“Normally we would have killed him as he ran,” I was informed chattily by Major Rathore, the G-2 Ops. of the 9th Division, as we stood on the outskirts of a tiny village near Mudafarganj, about 20 miles south of Comilla. “But we are checking him out for your sake. You are new here and I see you have a squeamish stomach.”
“Why kill him?” I asked with mounting concern.
“Because he might be a Hindu or he might be a rebel, perhaps a student or an Awami Leaguer. They know we are sorting them out and they betray themselves by running.”
“But why are you killing them? And why pick on the Hindus?” I persisted.
“Must I remind you,” Rathore said severely, “how they have tried to destroy Pakistan? Now under the cover of the fighting we have an excellent opportunity of finishing them off.”
“Of course,” he added hastily, “we are only killing the Hindu men. We are soldiers, not cowards like the rebels. They kill our women and children.”
The pogrom’s victims are not only the Hindus of East Bengal-who constitute about 10 per cent of the 75 million population-but also many thousands of Bengali Muslims.”
“In the context of briefing Nixon in advance of his meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister, Keating painted a grim picture of the situation in East Pakistan. He suggested that Nixon could put pressure on Pakistan to stop what he described as genocide in East Pakistan by withholding economic assistance. Keating pointed to the flood of five million refugees into India and said that the problem was growing at a rate of 150,000 a day. The strain on India was tremendous, and Keating said that the situation was further inflamed by what he described as a deliberate policy by Pakistan to drive out or kill the Hindus in East Pakistan. His assessment of the Indian response to the problem was that India wanted the killing stopped and a climate created in East Pakistan which would allow the refugees to return to their homes. In his view, India had adopted a moderate position and was seeking a political solution to the building crisis. Keating did not believe a political settlement would emerge until Yahya Kahn’s government was prepared to deal with the Awami League leaders who had been outlawed.” (Summary)
“It is most unfortunate that this humanitarian question should be cynically turned into political propaganda by India, and that the Indian Government should use the problem of the displaced persons, as an instrument of pressure on Pakistan to impose a political government of Indian choice in East Pakistan. No government could yield to such blackmail.”
“We have received through international air mail a letter mailed from Berlin without return address which purported to ask for recognition of the ‘People’s Republic of Bangladesh’. It would be inappropriate for us to take any action with respect to it since we consider the territory of East Pakistan to be part of the State of Pakistan.”
June 25:Memorandum from the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon:
“On June 22 The New York Times reported that two Pakistani freighters were preparing to sail from New York with cargos of military equipment for Pakistan. Ambassador Jha called on Under Secretary Irwin on the same day to warn that if the report were true, the shipment of arms to Pakistan would have an unfortunate impact upon relations between the United States and India.”
June 28:Letter from Pakistani President Yahya to US President Nixon: Yahya was troubled by media reports of Western governments (like UK) enforcing aid embargo on Pakistan to pressure a political settlement. All these developments have led to a strong and widespread public reaction in Pakistan.
He requested Nixon to “prevent the present ambiguity and misunderstanding from becoming a source of further strains in Pakistan’s relations with the Western world.”
Pakistan’s new political leaders would not include any representatives of the outlawed Awami League of East Pakistan under that party label. While reiterating the illegal status of the League, Yahya announced that Awami League members-elect of the national and provincial assemblies who had not disqualified themselves by secessionist activities would be eligible to participate in those bodies. Those Awami Leaguers who had disqualified themselves would be replaced through by-elections to take place this fall.
Banning Awami League made political accommodation impossible. The disqualification of many of the 440 Awami League members-elect and its probable unacceptability to most of the others means that most of those seats would have to be filled through by-elections in East Pakistan.
“Yahya launched into bitter attack on PM Gandhi and her government. He referred to statements in which Mrs. Gandhi reported to have said that refugees can’t go back. ‘Indian Government says they won’t let them go back.’ Some of the few refugees who have trickled back, he said, show wounds and say they were beaten up on main roads in India leading back to Pakistan. Kellogg interjected that none of Indian officials with whom he had spoken had indicated anything other than that India wanted refugees to return to East Pakistan as soon as possible. Kellogg noted enormous economic, religious, political and social pressures on India resulting from refugee influx, and GOI estimated that $400 million would be required to care for refugees over six-month period.
Kellogg repeated that none of Indian officials with whom he had spoken had said they wanted refugees to remain; nor had any referred to desire to see independent East Pakistan; “Bangla Desh” was never once mentioned to him. Meanwhile, if persons were continuing to leave East Pakistan and not returning in any appreciable numbers, Kellogg said, it would appear that they continued to be motivated by fear which caused them to flee in first place.”