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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976
Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 129


129. Telegram 58039 From the Department of State to the Consulate General in Dacca, Washington, April 7, 1971, 0014Z11. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted on April 6 by Sisco; cleared by Irwin, U. Alexis Johnson, Eliot, Macomber, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Press Relations Robert J. McCloskey, Deputy Director Henry Loomis (USIA), and Maurice Williams (AID); and approved by Rogers. Repeated to Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.

  • REF:
  • Dacca's 1138

ACTION: AmCONSUL DACCA

1. Appreciate fully depth of feeling expressed by your associates in REFTEL. As we have reviewed their statement it makes two principal points on which Department wishes to comment: (a) that we have failed to denounce the actions taken by the Pakistan Government in East Pakistan which, in their judgment, includes suppression of democracy, atrocities, etc., while placating West Pak dominated government; and (b) that our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens.

2. In connection with point (a) above, we have been restrained in our public utterances for several reasons: (1) We have been particularly mindful that the cooperation of safety of Americans in both East and West Pakistan and the GOP is necessary in order to assure orderly and safe evacuation of Americans from East Pakistan (2) We view situation in East Pakistan as primarily an internal matter of the Pakistan Government and most other governments have same view; and (3) Reports have been conflicting: media in US has been carrying stories of atrocities on both sides although we do not, of course, equate the two. However, we have not been silent. Over the past two weeks following points made by the Department's spokesman:

A. On the first day following reports of developments in East Pakistan (March 26), Department spokesman said: QUOTE We are watching developments closely, with concern. UNQUOTE. Department spokesman revealed QUOTE American personnel who reached Consul General this morning have reported the presence of Army troops throughout a the city and extensive firing, including, I understand, the use of tanks … I know that Ambassador Farland called at the MFA in West Pakistan this morning and made a strong request that the GOP insure all possible protection for Americans in the East. UNQUOTE.

B. On March 30, based on Dacca's reports, Department spokesman stated situation remained quiet in Dacca and that we did not have reliable information re elsewhere in East Pakistan. We also made clear in response to inquiries that while military supply agreement does not prohibit use of weapons supplied for internal security purposes, no weapons have been supplied to Pakistan since 1965 and none have gone as result of one-time exception decision.

C. On March 31 Department spokesman confirmed Consul General Dacca's recommendation on evacuation. He also made statement critical of Pakistan Government saying: QUOTE We felt that legitimate news gathering functions of American journalists had been unduly restricted. UNQUOTE. Based on continuing conflicting reports, he made no explicit comment on further developments stressing our responsibility at this point is for safety of Americans who are there.

D. On April 2 Department spokesman made full-blown statement stressing our concern over developments and giving explicit support to SYG humanitarian initiative. He said:

1. QUOTE. We are naturally concerned at the reported loss of life, damage and hardship suffered by the people of Pakistan. What is impossible for us to establish at this time is any reliable set of facts regarding the recent events in the area or their foreseeable consequences.

2. QUOTE. Now, in this respect we have noted the statement yesterday by the UN Secretary General and in this connection we would, of course, give sympathetic consideration to any humanitarian efforts to assist that might be requested by the Government of Pakistan in line with the Secretary general's statement. UNQUOTE.

3. He also said the following re use of American arms: QUOTE…It is a matter of concern to the USG when its weapons are used. UNQUOTE.

E. On April 5 the Department spokesman reiterated April 2 statement and added: QUOTE It is our hope that peaceful conditions can be reestablished. UNQUOTE.

3. We will keep under a active review question of further public statements in light of any further reports more clearly establishing facts and when the withdrawal of Americans is further along.

4. The second charge is far more serious. Their statement states that our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens. We would appreciate supporting evidence to this effect; we do not have such evidence. On March 30, you recommended and Ambassador Farland concurred that you be given authority to evacuate Americans. While reaffirming your discretionary authority, Department raised question as to whether thinning out could be accomplished by withdrawing non-official Americans in first instance and dependents of officials. We also asked for your views re retention satisfactory official presence in Dacca and civilian or military aircraft. Upon receipt your firm recommendation for.” (DACCA 1027), Department approved recommendation three hours later, transmitting approval at 3:51 AM EST (STATE 54549/ April 1) starting preparations for airlift. This matter subsequently taken up by Ambassador Farland with GOP which declined approve US military airlift and offered alternative means now in train. Department concurred in Ambassador Farland's recommendation that we proceed on the basis of the means insisted upon by the Paks. Dacca informed Department it would proceed on basis GOP plan (DACCA 1098). Thinning out process is proceeding in orderly manner, and we are not aware of any confirmed reports of any Americans (other than young man you reported prior to airlift) either being injured or killed.

5. As to the longer range implications of current developments, Task Force has this matter under active review and views of Amembassy Islamabad, New Delhi and ConGen Dacca have been requested by the Department. We welcome your colleagues' policy proposals and will of course expect your own comments on them. Obviously, if USG concludes, as your message does, that the most likely outcome of present civil war is a Bengali victory and consequent establishment of an independent Bangla Desh then this has implications which we will have to take into account in our policy review.

6. We welcome expression of strongly held views as well as recommendations on policy. We are sure, however, that you wish these be forwarded privately and directly to principal officers, while at the same time not receiving such wide-spread dissemination as to increase likelihood of leak to press. Hence this message is NODIS and future messages in this series should be NODIS. However, we assume you will share this message with your colleagues.

END

Rogers

1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted on April 6 by Sisco; cleared by Irwin, U. Alexis Johnson, Eliot, Macomber, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Press Relations Robert J. McCloskey, Deputy Director Henry Loomis (USIA), and Maurice Williams (AID); and approved by Rogers. Repeated to Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.