220. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State1

3052. Embassy concerned at recent signs continuing tendency Mirza fall back on President’s rule as solution to conditions he considers unsatisfactory. Recent examples are action West Pakistan and remark to Ambassador reported Embtel 29802 that he might, if West Pakistan legislature functioning, institute President’s rule East Pakistan. This latter may have been merely unimportant display typical Mirza impatience or may have been serious warning. As Embassy commented, move could be made constitutionally only with Suhrawardy’s consent which most unlikely, or after his resignation, which would mean break up of present center coalition probably dictatorship.

Nevertheless Embassy thinks US Government should not ignore Mirza’s remark. Presidential rule East Pakistan would hurt US in light (a) identification of Mirza’s strongarm methods and US military aid and (b) East Pakistan interpretation US supports Punjabi tyranny and victimization their province. A US objective is promotion orderly transition from government by small bureaucratic clique to effective parliamentary system conducted by political parties supporting foreign and domestic policies in line with US aims. Imposition President’s rule would lead many to conclude that representative regime cannot exist in same system with expanded Pakistan military strength. Embassy realizes potential danger exists in East Pakistan from Communist and Indian subversion. GOP might tackle this problem by harassing Bhashani and his followers by all legitimate means, including prosecution of Bhashani group. On other hand, such tactics might well backfire and enhance Bhashani prestige with masses.

Significant that Dawn3 editorial May 9 implores Prime Minister at length to show courage versus left wingers in Awami League; and that Amjad Ali speaking privately to Chargé was critical of Suhrawardy’s handling of AL followers. Suhrawardy so far has preferred maintain facade of unity in Awami League rather than risk becoming prisoner of Republican Muslim League KSP alliance, which is only possible conservative rallying ground.

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While fully recognizing deficiencies Awami-led coalition in Dacca and difficulties caused by Bhashani, Embassy does not support Mirza blanket condemnation present East Pakistan coalition and believes coalition has scored creditable achievements such as democratically passed budget with welfare and development features. Awami League remains predominantly secular and middle class and is committed parliamentary practices. Its program of provincial autonomy reflects desires of bulk of population, though it is no credit to their intelligence. It is more truly representative of people as result general provincial election which put it in power and hence reaction to imposition President’s rule likely to be stronger than has been case in past when provincial governments which were suspended were hardly representative.

Finally, Embassy does not believe dictatorship would solve any of Pakistan’s basic problems. Embassy would welcome Dacca comment on above. Suggest Department may wish consider requesting Embassy express to Mirza US hope that representative government may continue4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790D.00/5–957. Secret. Repeated to New Delhi, Dacca, and Lahore. Hildreth left his post as Ambassador on May 1.
  2. Dated May 1, not printed. (Ibid., 790D.00/5–157)
  3. A leading Pakistani newspaper.
  4. In telegram 3060 to Karachi, May 23, the Department informed the Embassy that it shared the Embassy’s concern over indications that Mirza was continuing to consider the establishment of some form of authoritarian rule as a solution to the present unsatisfactory situation. “However,” the telegram continued, “Department reluctant take any action which could be construed as interference in internal political affairs Pakistan and thus would prefer at present not make suggested representations to Mirza.” (Ibid., 790D.00/5–957)

    In telegram 364 from Lahore, May 24, Consul Carvel Painter stated in part that he agreed with the Embassy’s analysis that the imposition of President’s rule in East Pakistan would tend to alienate the East Pakistanis and in the end strengthen leftist elements. It would also harm the United States, he noted, by bringing back the old slogan “real Pak Prime Minister is named Hildreth.” (Ibid., 790D.00/5–2457)