301. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State 1

12537. Subject: Discussion with Pres. Yahya re Ceasefire—Dec. 14. Ref: Dacca 5627; Dacca 5628;2 Islamabad 12507;3 and Islamabad 12538.4

Summary: President Yahya acknowledges that military situation in East Pakistan has hopelessly deteriorated. He provided me with [Page 811] Governor Malikʼs Dec. 13 report of chaotic conditions. Because military situation now irretrievable and for over-riding humanitarian reasons, Yahya is giving Bhutto widest possible latitude at UN to effect ceasefire and troop withdrawal. End summary.
At my request, I met with President Yahya in his residence at 1130 hours local, Dec. 14. The conversation ensued for an hour and 45 minutes. FonSec Sultan Khan was present during most of the meeting.
I informed President Yahya that a flash wire5 from my Consul General in Dacca, Herbert A. Spivack, reported that he had this morning received a phone call from Governor Abdul Motaleb Malik saying that he and Maj. Gen. Rao Farman Ali were prepared to submit to him (Spivak) certain proposals for a ceasefire, saying that a ceasefire was absolutely necessary inasmuch as the situation had become hopelessly worsened. Malik had assured the Consul General that the proposals would carry their signatures and would have the approval of President Yahya. I went on to say that shortly thereafter I had received another flash message6 from Consul General Spivack indicating that these proposals, according to Governor Malik, would not be forthcoming inasmuch as “General Niazi had stated that negotiations are taking place in Islamabad between the central government and Ambassador Farland, and that there was no need for me (Malik) to convey any proposals.”
I then asked Yahya if the GOP had had further thoughts over and beyond our last conversation of Dec. 12 (Islamabad 12415)7 during which he had informed me that, on the matter of ceasefire, he was prepared to do “anything reasonable under the circumstances”; and raised the question of whether or not GOP was now prepared to go beyond the UNGA resolution.
Yahya said that the situation in East Pakistan had continued to deteriorate, and this deterioration was taking place at a much [more] rapid rate than anticipated. Consequently, for humane reasons, it was necessary to minimize the bloodshed which was occurring, and that he wanted me to know that the bloodshed being inflicted both by the military and civilian populations was reaching “holocaust” proportions.
In our previous conversations, Yahya noted, the subject of cease-fire had been discussed only in general terms and without reference to [Page 812] specifics; however, current conditions now require USG be informed of specific determinations of GOP. Consequently, Yahya said that, when he received my call, he was in the process of instituting a request for me to come to see him this morning.
Also, he advised me that he had attempted to call Governor Malik this morning but the communication system was largely inoperative and no satisfactory conversation was concluded. He added that his call to Malik was predicated upon a communication from the Governor which he had received yesterday and which now prompted his (Yahyaʼs) current evaluation and thinking. He read and then, at my request, gave me a copy of Governor Malikʼs report, asking that I send it to the Department. It is being dispatched separately by reftel Islamabad 12538.
Because of his now firm decision that the military situation in East Pakistan was chaotic and irretrievable and that, for over-riding humanitarian considerations, he had decided to give Vice Prime Minister-designate and Foreign Minister-designate Zulfikar A. Bhutto the widest possible latitude in his approach to the United Nations to effect a ceasefire and troop withdrawal. Yahya went on to say that the Foreign Office had prepared and processed a communication to him spelling out his commission in detail. Yahya added that Bhutto would get in touch with Ambassador Bush at the USUN and would convey to him the substance of the reported message. At this juncture I asked Yahya if he would care to elaborate at this time upon Bhuttoʼs commission. Yahya replied that the communication to Bhutto was couched in Foreign Office jargon but what it said in brief was “do the best you can under the circumstances.”
Yahya concluded the conversation by telling me that he would advise Governor Malik of our meeting and of his decision to give Bhutto widest discretion. Also, he said he would be sending military instructions to General Niazi to continue moderate defensive activities during present diplomatic maneuvering, but with every effort being made to reduce loss of life.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis.
  2. See footnotes 2 and 3, Document 296.
  3. In telegram 12507 from Islamabad, December 14, Farland reported that he had requested an urgent appointment with President Yahya in discuss the possibility of a cease-fire in East Pakistan. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 573, Indo-Pak War, South Asia, 12/14/71–12/16/71)
  4. In his report to President Yahya on December 13, Governor Malik warned that, according to his information, the Indian army intended to kill all West Pakistanis in East Pakistan, both military and civilian. He and his cabinet felt that Pakistan had to accept any cease-fire terms dictated that would prevent a massacre in East Pakistan. (Telegram 12538 from Islamabad, December 14; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK)
  5. Reference is to telegram 5627 from Dacca, cited in footnote 2 Document 296.
  6. Reference is to telegram 5628 from Dacca, cited in footnote 3 Document 296.
  7. The reference is in error; the correct citation should be to telegram 12414 from Islamabad, December 12. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–1973, POL 27 INDIA–PAK) Telegram 12414 is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 176.