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moment, Mujib had the upper hand over him. The Chinese might try to fish in troubled waters. There was also a hard core of Naxalites in East Pakistan.
10. Kaul said they had just heard that Radio Pakistan had reported the arrest of Mujib. This had subsequently been denied by the Free Bengal Radio which had said Mujib was not in his house at the time of the reported Pak raid. Kaul said "our apprehension is that this will not simmer down." He felt it was not wise for West Pakistan to be attempting to control the situation by force since this would only sow the seeds for future trouble. He then asked for my assessment.
11. I said that I had thought that Yahya was sincerely attempting to carry out his original idea of a democratic government in all of Pakistan and that he was prepared to accept the six points and recognize greater autonomy in East Pakistan. Speaking personally, I told him that when I heard six shiploads of army personnel had arrived in East Pakistan I had doubts and wondered if talks were being dragged out waiting for the troops to arrive and then crack down. I told Kaul that based on our cables, it was my government's position that the present conflict was an internal matter that should be settled internally.
12. Kaul said GOI had recently heard that all units of the Pak army had been permitted to ask for fighter support from the Pak air force and that there had in fact been some air activity in Comilla. At this point, Kaul read me the text of what I took to be a reporting telegram from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad recording the events of the last few days. The essential point was that Bhutto had made it known that he believed that accession to the Awami League demands verged on a grant of sovereignty.
13. Kaul said that GOI information was that there had been four army brigades in East Pakistan. Since the crisis began, two brigades had been added one of which had been brought in by air and one by sea. Seven passenger ships loaded with troops (not six, he said) had arrived. This all amounted to more than two divisions of West Pakistani troops. Kaul said that since March there had been at least 13 C-130 flights and 30 flights of PIA Boeings transitting Ceylon. In reply to a question about tank strength, Kaul said that West Pakistan had one armoured regiment in East Pakistan, one squadron of which was employed in Dacca city.
14. I asked Kaul if there had been any movement of Indian troops. He reminded me that they had militarily reinforced West Bengal prior to the elections and had said at the time that they would not remove such troops until they were certain that the situation had stabilized. So far, he said, we have not made any movements of troops in response to the developments in East Pakistan. However, "we may have to strengthen our borders". When asked if this meant increasing the
border security forces, he replied that border security was already stretched to the limit.
15. At this point, S.K. Singh, MEA spokesman, walked in carrying a ticker story. Kaul read this aloud. Story was based on a monitor report from Agatala of the Free Bengal Radio which claimed that martial law administrator Lt. General Tikka Khan had been killed by resistance forces which had stormed his premises.
16. Comment: I believe it will be useful for us to be reasonably full and frank in exchanging information on East Pakistan with the GOI. I hope Department can give me an indication of the extent to which we would be prepared to do in humanitarian relief effort on behalf of East Pakistan refugees soonest.
Memorandum From Samuel Hoskinson of the National
Washington, March 28, 1971.
Situation in Pakistan
As you will have noted from the cables2 and situation reports, the situation in East Pakistan appears to have taken another turn for the worse. Having beaten down the initial surge of resistance, the army now appears to have embarked on a reign of terror aimed at eliminating the core of future resistance. At least this seems to be the situation in Dacca. We have virtually no reliable information on the situation in the other major cities or what is going on in the countryside where most of the population resides.
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. IV, 1 Mar 71–15 May 1971. Secret. Sent for action.
2 On March 28 Consul General Blood reported from Dacca as follows: "Here in Dacca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak military. Evidence continues to mount that the MLA authorities have a list of Awami League supporters whom they are systematically eliminating by seeking them out in their homes and shooting them down." He recommended that the United States express shock
These latest developments would seem to raise new policy issues for us. The most immediate questions which come to mind are:
-Is the present U.S. posture of simply ignoring the atrocities in East Pakistan still advisable or should we now be expressing our shock at least privately to the West Pakistanis? Our Consul General in Dacca thinks that the time has now come to approach the West Pakistanis. We do not yet, but should before long, have a recommendation from Ambassador Farland. [Comment: The Government has deported all foreign press correspondents but the story is still getting considerable play here. The full horror of what is going on will come to light sooner or later. After our major effort to provide natural disaster relief last fall, the Administration could be vulnerable to charges of a callous political calculation over a man-made disaster.]3
-The Indians are clearly nervous about the situation. They do not seem disposed to intervene but there is considerable pressure on Mrs. Gandhi and we know that they are dusting off their own contingency plans. At a time when tensions are high in the subcontinent, there is always a chance that another irrational move could ignite a larger and even more serious conflict. Is now the time, as our contingency plans would seem to suggest, to begin closer consultations with New Delhi?
-There are a whole range of AID issues that will be coming up because of prior commitments and things already in the pipeline. Our actions on those could add up, in some peoples' eyes, to approval or disapproval of the West Pakistani actions. At a minimum, they imply U.S. involvement given the situation in Pakistan.
to the Pakistani authorities "at this wave of terror directed against their own countrymen by Pak military." (Telegram 959 from Dacca) On March 29 the Consulate General reported that the army was setting houses on fire and shooting people as they emerged from the burning houses. (Telegram 978 from Dacca) On March 30 the Consulate General reported that the army had killed a large number of apparently unarmed students at Dacca University. (Telegram 986 from Dacca) The Embassy in Islamabad concurred in expressing its sense of horror and indignation at the “brutal, ruthless and excessive use of force by the Pak military,” but went on to state: "In this Embassy's view, deplorable as current events in East Pakistan may be, it is undesirable that they be raised to level of contentious international political issue.” (Telegram 2954 from Islamabad, March 31) All cables cited here are published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972, Documents 125-128. When President Nixon discussed the reports of atrocities in East Pakistan briefly with Kissinger in a telephone conversation on March 28, he agreed with the position taken by the Embassy: "I wouldn't put out a statement praising it, but we're not going to condemn it either.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) 3 Brackets in the source text.
Recommendation: It is hard to predict what the next several days will bring, but, based on the current situation, you might wish to consider adding Pakistan to the agenda for Wednesday.*
* Kissinger did not indicate whether he approved or disapproved the recommendation, but there was only passing discussion of the issue when the Senior Review Group considered developments in East Pakistan on Wednesday, March 31; see Document 17.
Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President
San Clemente, California, March 29, 1971.
K: Mr. President.
P: Hi Henry. You sleep well?
K: Yes, very well. It's really a very restful place out here.
P: What's new today. Got anything on the wires or anything of interest?
K: There's nothing of any great consequence Mr. President. Apparently Yahya has got control of East Pakistan.
P: Good. There're sometimes the use of power is...
K: The use of power against seeming odds pays off. Cause all the experts were saying that 30,000 people can't get control of 75 million. Well, this may still turn out to be true but as of this moment it seems to be quiet.
P: Well maybe things have changed. But hell, when you look over the history of nations 30,000 well-disciplined people can take 75 million any time. Look what the Spanish did when they came in and took the Incas and all the rest. Look what the British did when they took India.
K: That's right.
P: To name just a few.
1 Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. A note on the transcript indicates that the tape recording from which the transcript was prepared was "brought in" on March 29.
K: Well in those cases the people were more or less neutral. In the Inca case they expected a god to come from the West...
P: That sort of... yeah, put them out.
K: Which helped a bit.
P: That's right. But anyway I wish him well. I just... I mean it's better not to have it come apart than to have to come apart.
K: That's right. The long-term impact of its coming about [apart] ... people now say that the fellow Mujib in the East is really quite moderate and for a Bengali that's right. But that's an extremely unstable situation there and the radical groups are likely to gain increasing strength.
P: This will be only one blip in the battle and then it will go on and on and on and it's like everything in the period we live in isn't it since World War II.
K: That's right, that's right.
P: Where revolution in itself, independence is a virtue which of course it never was. That wasn't true at the time of the French revolution either and it isn't any more true today. The real question is whether anybody can run the god-damn place.
K: That's right and of course the Bengalis have been extremely difficult to govern throughout their history.
P: The Indians can't govern them either.
K: No, well actually the Indians who one normally would expect to favor a breakup of Pakistan aren't so eager for this one. Because they're afraid that East Pakistan may in time, or East Bengal may in time have an attraction for West Bengal with Calcutta and also that the Chinese will gain a lot of influence there.
K: And that, I think, is a good chance.
[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to South Asia.]