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A total of nearly 26 squadrons, inclusive of supersonic aircrafts, are today positioned against Pakistan. There is a virtual combat air ring around East Pakistan for offensive purposes. The Indian navy has been put to a state of war-preparedness with
sixty percent of its forces deployed against the coasts of West Pakistan. The remaining strength of the Indian navy is positioned to move against the shores of East Pakistan.
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. Our concern is all the more grave since India has shown no inclination to give up its policy of instigating and assisting armed infiltration into East Pakistan. It continues to support, train, and launch rebels and insurgents who seek the dismemberment and destruction of Pakistan. I am constrained to say that if this state of affairs continues it may lead to dangerous consequences: a situation which we in Pakistan--and I am sure all the friends of Pakistan and India, particularly, the United States--would wish to avoid.
It is most unfortunate that to justify its aggressive posture, India continues to exploit the humanitarian question of displaced persons. As you perhaps know, Mr. President, my government has taken several constructive steps for the return and speedy rehabilitation of these persons who are our own kith and kin. This contrasts sharply with India's totally negative attitude and leaves us with no doubt that India does not wish an amicable settlement of this problem.
I would wish to add that the political situation in Pakistan is rapidly progressing towards the objective I have set out for transfering power to the elected representatives of the people. I have already taken some decisive steps, including the appointment of a civilian governor in East Pakistan, fixing a time schedule for holding by-elections in December this year, declaration of general amnesty and release of detained persons. These efforts towards the civilianisation of provincial government in East Pakistan have evoked a highly favourable response from the people. In addition, the food situation in the province is fully under control and the industrial and economic life is rapidly returning to normal. A very healthy improvement in the atmosphere in East Pakistan is thus discernible.
Mr. President, since you have always taken a keen personal interest in the preservation of peace in the sub-continent, I do hope that you would share my belief that whether it be for the creation of a climate conducive to the return of the displaced persons, or for the normalisation of situation, it is essential that India and Pakistan should work out necessary ways and means to reduce tension and allow normalcy to return at the earliest. Having this in mind, 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. As I have always maintained, war will solve nothing. I, therefore, earnestly hope that wise counsels would prevail in India and the Indian leaders would exercise restraint and caution in this highly surcharged atmosphere. I would request you, Mr. President, personally to take up this matter in your talks with the Indian Prime Minister during her forthcoming visit to Washington. On my part, I shall welcome any constructive suggestion that you may wish to offer in this regard.
With warm personal regards,
170. Telegram From the Consulate General in Dacca to the
Department of State
Dacca, October 20, 1971, 1400Z.
4498. Subj: East Pakistan Insurgency-Evaluation.
1. Summary. East Pakistan insurgency has increased in tempo and geographic scope in last three months. Still unable challenge Pakistan army in urban areas, but shows increasing capability carry out ambushes and hit-and-run attacks in certain areas, while limited to minor sabotage elsewhere. Govt efforts reduce popular support by "civilianization" and general amnesty unsuccessful, except possibly among middle class in cities. Future course of insurgency will depend heavily on (a) Indian support, (b) tenacity of Islamabad Govt, (c) quality of Bengali leadership (Sheikh Mujib or other emerging leader). In meantime insurgency successfully disrupting major economic activities especially exports.
2. 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
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK. Confidential. Repeated to Islamabad, New Delhi, Calcutta, and Karachi.
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.
3. Critical factor in increased insurgent capability up to now has been Indian support in form of training on Indian territory, supply, and assistance in infiltration into East Pakistan. Moreover, by adopting forward military posture on East Pak borders, Indians have pinned bulk of Pak army regular troops in border areas, so that internal defense against MB operations has devolved principally upon Razakars, police, and other para-military or semi-volunteer organizations which are less efficient than regular army and considerably less reliable. (Several reports received of defections, both individually and en masse, of Razakars to MB, taking their weapons with them; one report received that group of Razakars suspected of collaborating with MB were summarily executed by military [garble] explanation frequently cited by GOEP officials for alleged recent intensification Indian shelling border areas is provision of cover for large scale infiltrations of newly-trained MB into EP.) EP press regularly carries accounts massive captures Indian-origin weapons and ammunition from infiltrating "Indian agents” allegedly intercepted after crossing border. While virtually overt and acknowledged support of India by MB is undoubtedly important factor in sustaining latter and making possible its increased activity, we believe MB now sufficiently established in many areas of country and has sufficient cohesion to sustain itself even if India cut down its support to level which could be maintained by truly covert means. Continued Indian support at present levels will inevitably further extend MB range of operations.
4. Up to now and for reasonably foreseeable future MB not likely present dangerous threat to Pak army, despite probable increases in numbers and scope of activity. In contrast with situation in Viet-Nam, MB does not possess redoubt in which it can concentrate masses of supplies and weapons, nor are there protected trails through which large quantities heavy equipment can reach them from easily accessible seaport. For many months to come Pak army will certainly retain advantage in equipment and training on other hand, even at present level of activity, MB is serious thorn in army's side. We have no means of accurate assessment of army casualties, but indications are that figure may run as high as 10 to 12 killed daily, with corresponding number of wounded. While not in itself crippling to Pak army contingent in EP, these figures over extended period of time could create serious morale problem among troops far from home, living among unfriendly people and in difficult and wearing climate. Concern felt by MLA authorities in Dacca is evidenced by precautions being taken to protect vulnerable points in city. Brick walls with rifle or machine gun ports being constructed entirely around airport, electric power stations, etc., while sandbagged strong points set up at many places along principal streets. Security check points maintained along main roads, and occasionally set up unexpectedly at other places. Series of pillboxes and fortifications have been installed along northern rim of Gulshan residential area.
5. Economy of EP slowly but surely declining as MB keep up pressure on roads, bridges, railroads, powerlines and fuel supplies. Dacca 40322
presents latest overall picture with no improvement noted since.
6. 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.
7. Such slim evidence as we possess indicates greater overall organization among MB, including recently-reported (Dacca 4374) setting up of Mukti Bahini as kind of civil defense force. Problems of coordination and communication persist, with some units apparently following different lines of action and policy. Recent CAS reports indicate awareness on part of MB of danger of such radical insurgent groups as Naxalites to overall unity of movement. On other hand there have also been reports of differences of opinion between MB and group of Bangla Desh politicians at Calcutta. While we still believe that Sheikh
2 Telegram 4032 from Dacca, September 27, summarized the economic disruption occurring in East Pakistan as a result of the insurgency. (Ibid., E 8 PAK)
Dated October 13. (Ibid., POL 23–9 PAK)
Mujib, released and allowed freedom of action, could assert control over MB and use it as disciplined instrument of his policy, longer he is restrained more likely we consider it that new leadership will emerge from among MB which, tempered by fighting and action-oriented, might one day challenge both Mujib and old Awami League leadership for primacy in independent or largely autonomous East Bengal. Orientation such eventual leadership on right-left spectrum impossible to predict at present.
171. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President
Washington, October 22, 1971.
The potential for an outbreak of hostilities between India and Pakistan remains high; but we have no information that either side intends to take the initiative at this time. A possible indicator of the level of tensions will be whether Mrs. Gandhi begins her three-week international tour on October 24.
We have urged maximum restraint on both India and Pakistan. Specifically we have suggested to both that they pull their troops back from the border. President Yahya has reacted positively in private. The Indians have said they would consider withdrawals only if Pakistan withdrew first. They indicated that India would have to withdraw much farther than Pakistan. Both President Yahya and Mrs. Gandhi have publicly discussed the circumstances under which they might withdraw in contexts which are probably mutually unacceptable at this point. We are now planning, if Ambassador Farland concurs, to suggest that President Yahya consider a unilateral and limited withdrawal as a signal to the Indians of his desire to de-escalate and reduce tensions. We believe he might be willing to do this without jeopardizing
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA-PAK. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Constable and cleared by Laingen, Schneider, and Van Hollen.