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Dr. Kissinger: Will they execute him?
Mr. Blee: The [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reports we have been getting indicate they might do so. It would be more sensible for them to keep him comfortable in captivity in order to use him
as a pawn.
Lt. Gen. Cushman: Yahya accused him of treason. Possibly he has been shot already or was shot inadvertently.
Dr. Kissinger: Are we going to keep VOA quiet about reports coming from our Consul?
Mr. Johnson: That was not VOA's fault. It was Charlie Bray's.* Frankly, we slipped on this. VOA just picked up what Charlie said at the briefing. Charlie talked on the basis of his daily report. No one had briefed him on the sensitivity of the Consulate communications.
Dr. Kissinger: I didn't know about that either until I saw Farland's blast.5
Mr. Blee: If the Indians recognize the Government of Bangla Desh, the Pakistanis might recognize Kashmir. However, this doesn't look probable.
Dr. Kissinger: There is no government to recognize in East Pakistan.
Mr. Blee: There is a radio [that purports to speak for the government of East Pakistan]."
Dr. Kissinger: Where is it located?
Mr. Blee: Probably in one of the small towns.
Dr. Kissinger: Did they kill Professor Razak? He was one of my students.
Mr. Blee: I think so. They killed a lot of people at the university. Dr. Kissinger: They didn't dominate 400 million Indians all those years by being gentle.
5 On March 27 Ambassador Farland reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had registered a complaint about a report broadcast by the Voice of America, All India Radio, and the BBC, which cited Consul General Blood as the source of a report that heavy fighting was taking place in Dacca and that tanks were being used. Farland noted that, despite the fact that communications between Islamabad and Dacca had been severed, he had denied that Blood was the source of the report. He also said that he had counseled against spreading incendiary rumors. (Telegram 2770 from Islamabad; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9)
6 Brackets in the source text.
Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President
Washington, April 3, 1971.
Background to the Thinning Out of the U.S. Presence in East Pakistan
The situation in East Pakistan has seriously deteriorated over the last ten days. In the period up to March 25 there had been considerable hope that President Yahya and the East Pakistan Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would reach an agreement on some constitutional formula which would have permitted Pakistan to remain a united country. However, at some point in the period March 23-25, President Yahya decided that Mujibur Rahman's constitutional proposals would have led to a virtual separation of East from West Pakistan. As a result, on the evening of March 25 President Yahya, using Pakistan Army troops, arrested Mujibur Rahman and his principal followers, suppressed the Awami League and asserted full military control over East Pakistan.
The details of what transpired on the night of March 25-26 may never be known in full because reports are conflicting and first-hand evidence is scarce. Our Consul General in Dacca estimates that between 4000-6000 people were killed in the Dacca area over the next several days. Extensive damage was done to the University, to the offices of the newspapers supporting the Awami League, and to Hindu settlements in the heart of Dacca. In Chittagong, the principal port of East Pakistan, considerable damage and fatalities also occurred.
In the days which followed the Army's intervention a semblance of normality has returned to Dacca but there continues to be small arms firing at night in residential areas in which Americans live. Some foreigners already have had narrow escapes with their lives. Most shops remain closed, and a very small portion of the civil servants are at work in government offices. It is not possible for foreigners to leave the vicinity of Dacca or Chittagong, the two cities in which most of the approximately 750 Americans in East Pakistan are located.
In this situation, our Consul General recommended the thinning out of the U.S. presence in East Pakistan. In making his recommendation, the Consul General noted the continuing danger to Americans
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23-9 PAK. Secret. Drafted by Van Hollen and Anthony C.E. Quainton (NEA/INC) on April 2, and cleared by Sisco, and by Spengler in draft.
and the psychological stress under which the Americans were living. He explained that schools were not operating, shops were closed, mail and telephone service was suspended, and that many of our people were unable to carry out the jobs to which they had been assigned. He also noted that the World Bank, the UN, the Germans, Japanese, and the Yugoslavs had already begun evacuating their personnel. Since then, the British, French and Australians have decided to evacuate dependents and we are informed that the Soviets have decided to do so as well. In keeping with the Consul General's recommendation, endorsed by Ambassador Farland, we have made plans to facilitate the departure within the next few days of nonofficial Americans who want to leave, the wives and children of American officials, and some official Americans who are considered non-essential. To ensure that their departure will not appear to be a precipitate or large scale evacuation, we have made it clear to the Pakistan Government and to the press that, although we are temporarily thinning out our people, we will maintain a substantial enough American presence in East Pakistan to represent our continuing interests and take care of our operational requirements. We are phasing the withdrawal of Americans over a period of days beginning on Sunday, April 4. The Pakistan Government has shown full understanding of our decision and has put at our disposal one Pakistan International Airline commercial flight each day to enable us to move our people from Dacca to Karachi.
Our overriding concern to date has been the safety of the American community in East Pakistan. However, as a manifestation of our humanitarian concern, we have also made plans to be ready to offer food and other types of relief assistance if requested by the Pakistan Government.
Looking toward the future, much will depend upon the ability of the Pakistan armed forces in the East, now numbering about 30,000, to maintain effective military control in the face of the general alienation of the Bengali population of 75 million. Thus far, the Awami League resistance groups have gained little momentum although they control an estimated 75% of the East Pakistan territory. However, over time these resistance elements may be able to mount a large scale rebellion with possible covert support from Bengali elements in India. The key question is whether the events of the last week have made it unlikely— or impossible-for the Government of Pakistan ever to reassert effective political influence over the East.
During the period immediately ahead we may be faced with a number of difficult policy decisions. These include our political reaction to the events in East Pakistan and various aspects of our economic assistance and military supply programs for Pakistan.
William P. Rogers
Telegram From the Consulate General in Dacca to the
Dacca, April 6, 1971, 0730Z.
1138. Subj: Dissent From U.S. Policy Toward East Pakistan.
1. Aware of the task force proposals on "openness" in the Foreign Service, and with the conviction that U.S. policy related to recent developments in East Pakistan serves neither our moral interests broadly defined nor our national interests narrowly defined, numerous officers of AmConGen Dacca, USAID Dacca and USIS Dacca consider it their duty to register strong dissent with fundamental aspects of this policy. Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak dominated government and to lessen likely and deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy, ironically at a time when the USSR sent President Yahya a message2 defending democracy, comdemning arrest of leader of democratically elected majority party (incidentally pro-West) and calling for end to repressive measures and bloodshed. In our most recent policy paper for Pakistan, our interests in Pakistan were defined as primarily humanitarian, rather than strategic. But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional public servants express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 1 PAK-US. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Sent as a joint State/AID/USIS message. Also sent to Islamabad and repeated to Karachi and Lahore. Received at 1008Z. In his memoirs Kissinger suggests that the Consulate General deliberately gave a low classification to this telegram in order to encourage broad circulation in Washington. (White House Years, p. 853) The distribution limitation was added to the telegram in the Department.
2 The text of President Podgorny's message to Yahya Khan, as released to the press by TASS on April 3, was transmitted to Islamabad on April 3 in telegram 56617. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23–9 PAK)
3 Apparent reference to the contingency study on Pakistan prepared by the Interdepartmental Group for Near East and South Asia on March 2; see footnote 5, Docu
redirected in order to salvage our nation's position as a moral leader of the free world.
2. Our specific areas of dissent, as well as our policy proposals, will follow by septel.*
Robert L. Bourquein
John L. Nesvig
Shannon W. Wilson5
4. I support the right of the above named officers to voice their dissent. Because they attach urgency to their expression of dissent and because we are without any means of communication other than telegraphic, I authorize the use of a telegram for this purpose.
5. I believe the views of these officers, who are among the finest U.S. officials in East Pakistan, are echoed by the vast majority of the American community, both official and unofficial. I also subscribe to
4 The dissenting members of the Consulate General sent a follow-on telegram to the Department on April 10 in which they characterized the martial law regime in East Pakistan as being of "dubious legitimacy" and took further issue with the view that the "current situation should be viewed simply as 'constituted' government using force against citizens flouting its authority." They concluded that it was "inconceivable that world can mount magnificent effort to save victims of last November's cyclone disaster on one hand, and on other condone indiscriminate killing of same people by essentially alien army defending interests different from those of general populace." Telegram 1249 from Dacca is published in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972, Document 130.
5 On April 6 seven specialists on South Asian affairs from the NEA bureau, one from INR, and another from AID/NESA sent a letter to Secretary Rogers associating themselves with the views expressed in telegram 1138 from Dacca. (National Archives, RG 59, NEA Files: Lot 73 D 69, Box 6396, Pakistan)
"Ambassador Farland supported the principle that members of his mission had the right to express their views on the problems facing the United States in the crisis developing in Pakistan. He noted that the Embassy had also submitted a proposal to register serious concern about developments in East Pakistan, and he suggested that it was time to review the policy toward Pakistan which excluded interference in its domestic affairs. (Telegram 3196 from Islamabad, April 6; ibid., Central Files 1970-73, POL PAK-US)