16. Letter From the Pakistani Ambassador (Hilaly) to Secretary of State Rogers1

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I have just been requested by the President of Pakistan to convey the following message from him to President Richard M. Nixon. I will be grateful if you transmit it to its high destination urgently.


“Your Excellency.

I am taking earliest opportunity to inform you of the political developments which have taken place in Pakistan since general elections were held last December. It has been my constant endeavour to lead the country towards a restoration of democratic processes through elected representatives of the people. For this purpose, I have been holding talks with leaders of political parties. I had hoped that these discussions would lead to a broad political agreement regarding convening of the National Assembly and framing of a constitution. Unfortunately however the political leadership in East Pakistan and especially Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took a progressively rigid stand which made such an agreement impossible. Meanwhile murder, arson and widespread disorder in defiance of governmental authority were let loose in the province.

In the larger interest of the country I exercised utmost restraint and patience and tried to evolve a generally acceptable formula to resolve constitutional difficulties. In pursuit of the same objective, I went personally to East Pakistan to hold consultations with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Even while I was there, the Awami League leaders continued to make statements and to indulge in practices which clearly showed that they were not prepared for pursuing a compromise. The last round of talks in Dacca left me in no doubt that they had no intention of accepting any constitutional formula which would ensure integrity and unity of the country. Eventually a point was reached where the Awami League put forward final proposals which virtually amounted to dismemberment of the country. Since they had no such mandate from the people and as unity of the country was at stake, firm action had to be [Page 39] taken to assert governmentʼs authority and to safeguard the integrity of Pakistan. There was no option but to take that decision.

The situation in East Pakistan is well under control and normal life is being restored. Accounts to the contrary circulated by some outside sources especially from news media, do not reflect the correct position and are designed to mislead world public opinion.

While we are engaged in a national effort to safeguard our integrity, the Indian attitude is causing us grave concern. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and other important leaders of India have made public statements regarding developments in East Pakistan which constitute a clear interference in our internal affairs. A dangerous precedent is thus being set by India which is of direct concern to the international community.

Far more serious is the deployment of nearly six divisions of the Indian Army not too far from the borders of East Pakistan. The composition of these forces which include artillery regiments and parachute brigades has no relevance to the needs of internal security in West Bengal or to the requirements of Indian elections which ended three weeks ago. This concentration of Indian forces on our borders constitutes a direct threat to our security.

In view of Your Excellencyʼs dedication to the cause of international peace and security and to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of other states, I hope Your Excellency would consider the desirability of expressing your support for the forces of peace and stability in this region and of impressing upon Indian leaders the paramount need for refraining from any action that might aggravate the situation and lead to irretrievable consequences.

I remain

Very sincerely yours

A.M. Yahya Khan


With my warm personal regards.

Yours sincerely,

A. Hilaly
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 759, Presidential Correspondence File, Pakistan (1971). Most Immediate. The letter was conveyed to the White House on March 31 under cover of a transmittal memorandum from Executive Secretary Eliot to Kissinger. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL PAKUS)