300. Telegram From the Consulate General in Dacca to the Department of State1

5637. Subject: Niazi Cease-Fire Proposal.

Lt. Gen. Niazi telephoned me at 1720 hours today to ask that I receive him urgently in my office. He appeared in company of Major General Rao Farman Ali and said that bombing of Dacca city this afternoon had convinced him that the fighting must be stopped immediately to prevent further bloodshed, even though, he said, his troops were still in good positions and were not in danger at the moment.

General Farman Ali had in his possession a rough draft of a proposal he wished me to transmit to New Delhi so that it could be [Page 809] communicated through Indian channels to the Indian field commander in East Pakistan. After some discussion, the following proposal was drawn up in the form of a letter to me, signed by General Niazi and his signature attested by General Farman Ali:

“In order to save future loss of innocent human lives which would inevitably result from further hostilities in the major cities like Dacca, I request you to arrange for an immediate cease-fire under the following conditions:

Regrouping of Pakistan armed forces in designated areas to be mutually agreed upon between the commanders of the opposing forces;
To guarantee the safety of all military and paramilitary forces;
Safety of all those who had settled in East Pakistan since 1947;
No reprisals against those who helped the administration since March 1971.

In those conditions, the Pakistan armed forces and paramilitary forces would immediately cease all military operations.

I would further abide by any resolutions which the Security Council of the United Nations may pass for the permanent settlement of the present dispute.

I make this proposal with full authority vested in me by virtue of my position as martial law administrator of Zone B (East Pakistan) and Commander Eastern Command exercising final authority over all Pakistan military and paramilitary forces in this area.”

Niazi asked that I indicate in my transmittal message that he was prepared to name a representative immediately to discuss the details of his offer with an Indian counterpart, and he hoped that the Indian commander would do the same immediately, so that negotiations could begin at once.
Generals Niazi and Farman still wish to avoid use of word “surrender”.
You will note that Niazi states that he has full authority to take above action. When I questioned him specifically whether any concurrence was required by President Yahya or anyone else in Islamabad, his reply was definitely “No”.
Niazi will send his ADC to my office in about two hours from now, when he hopes some sort of reaction will be available. He is very anxious that some progress be made before daylight tomorrow, when he fears a resumption of bombing in Dacca.
In regard to Niaziʼs authority to act, I should also point out that Governor A.M. Malik has left the governorʼs house and has placed himself under the protection of the International Red Cross, thus abdicating [Page 810] any governmental function. General Farman Ali said that Malik had submitted a letter of resignation.2
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Flash; Exdis. Repeated to Islamabad, New Delhi, Calcutta, and USUN. The text of this telegram was repeated by the White House to Kissinger in the Azores in telegram WH 11170. The Department of State repeated it to Rogers in telegram Tosec 41. Both cables were sent to Air Force One. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 643, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan)
  2. In telegram 224441 to Islamabad, December 14, the Department instructed Farland to see President Yahya to ascertain what, if anything, he wanted the United States to do with Niaziʼs cease-fire proposal. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK) Farland responded that Yahya had indicated, through Sultan Khan, that General Niazi had full authority to act along the lines reported in telegram 5637 from Dacca. Yahya authorized the transmittal of the proposal to New Delhi and to Bhutto in New York. (Telegram 12548 from Islamabad, December 14; ibid.) The Department was leery of being put into the position of facilitating negotiations between Indian and Pakistani military authorities. (Telegram 224564 to Islamabad, December 14; ibid.) The Embassy in New Delhi was instructed, therefore, not to deliver Niaziʼs cease-fire proposal to the Indian Government. USUN was instructed to give the message to Bhutto with the suggestion that he might want to pass it to the Indian Foreign Minister in New York, or pass it through the UN Secretary General. (Telegram 224925 to New Delhi, December 14; ibid.) Bhutto chose not to deliver the message. After confirming that Yahya wanted the message delivered, the Department instructed USUN to deliver the message to the Indian delegation with the caveat that the United States took no position on the contents of the message. (Telegram 225265 to New Delhi, December 15; ibid.)