April 02, 1971: Airgram from American Consul to Secretary of State

Airgram from American Consul to Secretary of State

Department of State

 

AIRGRAM
CONFIDENTIAL

 

TO           : SecState, WASH DC

INFO       : Amembassy, ISLAMABAD

Amconsul, KARACHI

Amconsul, DACCA

FROM     : Amconsul, LAHORE DATE: APRIL 2, 1971

SUBJECT : Daultana’s Comments On Crisis

REF         : LAHORE 515

 

The referenced telegram summarized a conversation which the Consul General and the reporting officer held with Council Muslim League President Mumtaz Daultana at his residence on March 29. Mr. Daultana spoke at length on the present crisis and the political negotiations in Dacca which immediately preceded President Yahya’s decision to use the Armed Forces against the Awami League in East Pakistan.

Muiib And His Demands : Daultana said that Mujib’s demands were much as President Yahya had spelled out in his address to the nation, except that Yahya had not detailed Mujib’s views on an interim central government. Mujib had wanted Yahya to remain as President with no political government at the Center. Mujib was not “particularly concerned” about the Six Points and was willing to accept an interim arrangement based on the 1962 Constitution. However, he envisaged that the President would allow the Awami League to exercise full control over the affairs of East Pakistan, while the President would perform a coordinating role for inter-provincial affairs of the West Wing. On the “two-Assembly” proposal, Daultana said Mujib had been rather vague as to whether he really envisaged two separate assemblies or two subcommittees of the National Assembly. Daultana said he tried to press Mujib to let the full Assembly meet to sanction the interim arrangements, but that Mujib refused on the grounds (which Daultana considered inadequate) that his supporters would not tolerate his sitting in the same room with Bhutto. Daultana said he also tried to persuade Mujib to let the leaders of the small parties work on a solution that would put Mujib in power at the Center. Mujib said they could try, but he was convinced the West Pakistan establishment as represented by Yahya and Bhutto would never permit Bengalis to rule Pakistan. Daultana reported that Mujib was also infuriated by the President’s choice of advisers for the negotiations–Cornelius, Pirzada and M.M. Ahmed, whom Mujib considered representative of the anti-Bengali West Pak establishment.

In a conversation alone with Mujib, Daultana asked him if he genuinely wanted Pakistan to remain one. He told Mujib that some forty MNAs-elect in West Pakistan were prepared to work with Mujib toward a constitutional settlement that would permit the Awami League majority to take power at the Center and to enjoy maximum provincial autonomy in the East Wing. If, however, Mujib was working toward separation Daultana and his friends needed to know, so that efforts could be made to prevent a bloody rupture. Mujib replied, and Daultana accepted his response as sincere, that while he was under great pressure to declare an independent Bangla Desh, he wanted to maintain Pakistan.

Daultana concluded from his conversations with Mujib in Dacca that the Awami League leader was unshakeably persuaded that West Pakistanis would never permit a Bengali accession to power through democratic means and that recent moves by Yahya and Bhutto, such as the postponement of the National Assembly, were additional steps in an historical process of conspiracy directed against the Bengalis. As a result of these suspicions, Mujib’s goal in the negotiations with Yahya appeared to be the achievement of de jure control in East Pakistan under an interim arrangement. If he achieved this, Mujib believed he could then negotiate on an equal basis with West Pakistan over permanent constitutional arrangements. Daultana surmised that Mujib would ultimately seek a confederal arrangement.