March 31, 1971: “In the name of Pakistan”, Editorial, New York Times

Editorial title ‘In the name of Pakistan’ appeared in New York Times.


Editorial, New York Times, March 31, 1971


Acting “in the name of God and a united Pakistan”, forces of the West Pakistan-dominated military government of President Yahya Khan have dishonoured both by their ruthless crackdown on the Bengali majority seeking a large measure of autonomy for their homeland in the country’s eastern region.

Any appearance of “unity” achieved by vicious military attacks on unarmed           , civilians of the kind described by correspondents and diplomats who were in the East Pakistani capital of Dacca when the crackdown began cannot possibly have real meaning or enduring effect. The brutality of the Western troops toward their ” Moslem brothers” in the East tends only to confirm the argument of the out­right secessionists in Bengal who argue that differences between East and West Pakistan are irreconcilable.

Although this is a domestic dispute, the struggle in Pakistan could have dangerous international consequences, especially if a prolonged period of guerrilla warfare ensues. The least the world community can do at this stage is to call on President Yahya, in the name of humanity and common sense, to stop the bloodshed and restore Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to his rightful role as elected leader of his people.

The United States, having played a major role in training and equipping Pakistanis armed forces, has a special obligation now to withhold any military aid to the

Yahya Government. Economic assistance should be continued only on condition that u major portion be used to help bind up East Pakistan’s grievous wounds.


(NEW YORK TIMES-March 31, 1971)


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Radio Pakistan is nothing if not official, and its claim that the situation in East Pakistan is returning to normal may be noted with that in mind. In fact with the expulsion of foreign reporters from Dacca there is no trustworthy source of present information. The official channels say what they are told to say. A rebel radio speaks of continued fighting in Dacca, Chittagong and elsewhere, but the authority of that source is not established. Intelligence by way of India is in large part rumor.

One thing does seem clear, however. The observations of the foreign reporters before they were expelled give a picture of the events of late last week quite at variance with the government’s picture. The army, which is to say the West Pak­istani army, did not act to suppress an uprising. It struck calculatedly, dealing death beyond all immediate provocation.

John E. Woodruff of The Sun, one of the reporters expelled, writes today from New Delhi of earlier rumors, received with some skepticism at the time, that Presi­dent Yahya Khan’s regime was deliberately prolonging the recent Dacca talks, to lull East Bengal into believing a compromise imminent, and then would attack without warning.

True or not, that reading is given credence by the regime’s curious explanation that the crisis was brought to a head, and the brutal crackdown justified, on a legal technicality-that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Bengali leader, had demanded a turn-over of power to elected civilians before any meeting of the projected National Assembly. That the Pakistan People’s party led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto offers the. same story indeed suggests a scheme and a connivance not of recent date.

If the government’s notion of normality is ruthless military oppression, -it may be that East Pakistan can be made to appear normal, after a while and for a while. Even that is doubtful; and it may be taken as certainty that the divisions between the two Pakistans have now been widened beyond repair, and that the East Bengalis will not permanently endure physical rule by troops who in looks and habits and language are, after all, foreign troops.


Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol – I, p. 388-389