130. Telegram 1249 From the Consulate General in Dacca to the Department of State 1 2
Dacca, April 10, 1971, 1508Z
- Specific Areas of Dissent With Current U.S. Policy Toward East Pakistan
- As promised reftel A. this message conveys FYI our specific areas of dissent with current U.S. policy toward East Pakistan. We note NSCIG/ NEA 71–9 dated March 2 suggests in Section II, Part C, a proposed U.S. posture in contingency West Pak military intervention imminent or actually occurs to squash independence move on part of Bengalis. “If West Pakistan intervention becomes imminent or actually occurs, we would have an interest in doing what we could avoid bloodshed and restore peace, and to prevent the conflict from escalating beyond a purely East-West Pakistan clash. We should be willing to risk irritating the West Pakistanis in the face of such a rash act on their part, and the threat of stopping aid should give us considerable leverage.” We concur with this proposal but are concerned that it seemingly has been ignored.
- Our dissent with current policy stems largely from disagreement with our colleagues’ analysis of the current situation such as set forth in Islamabad 2954. Our reactions to President Yahya Khan’s March 26 speech were made explicit in Dacca 1019. We question Yahya’s bonafides in seeking political solution that would incorporate minimal Bengali demands. Yahya’s March 1 postponement of National Assembly session for indefinite period was taken here as vindication of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s contention voiced at January 3 rally that “politics in Pakistan has been politics on conspiracy.” Even Daultana considered Yahya’s moves in post-March 1 [Page 2] period a charade (Lahore 515). In Dacca 1067 we outlined our prognostication that military repression of moderates would radicalize them and force them to ally with extreme left.
- Although we appreciate “in-house” expressions of concern about ruthless and excessive use of force by Pak military, etc., we take exception with line that holds that “since we are not only human beings but government servants, however, righteous indignation is not of itself an adequate basis for our reaction to events now occurring in East Pakistan.” In a country wherein our primary interests defined as humanitarian rather than strategic, moral principles indeed are relevant to issue. Horror and flouting of democratic norms we have reported is objective reality and not emotionally contrived (see Dacca 0959, Dacca 0975, and others). It inconceivable that world can mount magnificent relief effort to save victims of last November’s cyclone disaster on one hand, and on other condone indiscriminate killing of same people by essentially alien army defending interests different from those of general populace.
- We also disagree with view that current situation should be viewed simply as “constituted” government using force against citizens accused of flouting its authority. Although existing as de facto government, at least in West Pakistan, extra-constitutional martial law regime of President Yahya Khan is of dubious legitimacy (how many votes did Yahya obtain?). MLA in turn however describes freely elected representatives of approximately 73 percent of the voters of East Pakistan as “miscreants”. Ironically, as pointed out in Dacca 1052, most of the countryside of East Pakistan apparently still in hands of these “miscreants”.
- We do not see issue as distinctly internal one. Aside from international moral obligations to condemn genocide (of Pakistani Hindus, although by Websters definition term likewise seems applicable to Awami League followers who being hunted down with vengeance), geographical realities also enter equation. Conflict has definite colonial versus anti-colonial aspects. Previous examples of people of one region fighting for freedom from domination by people of another physically discontiguous territory historically have been glorified as revolutions, wars of national liberation, anti-colonial wars, etc. In defiance of geography, as well as ethnic and linguistic differences inveighing against unity of Pakistan, we continue to be blinded to reality of situation: people of East Pakistan want to live as free people of free country, preferably within Pakistan, but, if given no other choice, outside it. They want to participate in deciding their own destiny. Even our forefathers fought for similar ideals. Thus we find the view that “deplorable as current events in East Pakistan may be, it is undesirable that they be raised to level of contentious international issue,” is woefully inadequate reaction to events. This contrasts sharply with more decisive reaction of Russians, who for own reasons went on public record with message to which many of us could subscribe on grounds both national interest and morality. To us, an independent “Bangla Desh” is now inevitable.
- Our concern over evacuation procedures (i.e., that “our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pakistan dominated government and to lessen likely and deservedly negative international public relations impact against them”), centers on the decision, made without consulting ConGen Dacca to accept “with appreciation” the [Page 4] GOP’s counter-proposal to use PIA as a method of evacuation action rather than U.S. aircraft. Other countries had been allowed previously to evacuate their citizens via own chartered flights, both military and civilian. Our previous experience with the Pak Air Force, who had taken over PIA operations in Dacca, would have led us to predict the confusion, delays and indignities which were in fact experienced. Our knowledge of the virtually unanimous repugnance of U.S. citizens over the indiscriminate killing indulged in by the Pak military in East Pakistan would have led us to predict the adverse reaction on the part of many Americans to underwriting half of the costs of bringing more troops to East Pakistan to continue the military action. Troops were unloaded and marched onto trucks in front of Americans waiting to depart on the same plane. To many americans, whose close friends had been killed, were missing, or in hiding, this situation made it impossible to leave East Pakistan with even the semblance of self-respect.
- It is, in our opinion, a minor miracle that no American was killed or injured by trigger-happy Pak troops fresh from killing and looting during the delay caused by our acceptance of GOP arrangements.
- From here, it appears that we have peen placed in the position of “bending over backwards to placate the West Pakistan dominated government” at the expense of the safety of U.S. citizens. Our reading of State’s 52912, 52817, 54324, 55686 and Islamabad’s 2931, 2930, 2967 and the failure, at an extremely crucial point, to consult with ConGen Dacca, leads us to believe that decisions were made for reasons other than the interests of U.S. citizens. On the contrary, on March 30, we were cautioned (State 52912) that we must “avoid the appearance that we were panicky” and that we might be placed in a bad light if practically all Americans were evacuated in circumstances where a number of other foreign communities stayed, including Russians and Chinese.” Our Consul General, once he had made the decision to evacuate, was subjected to second guessing (Islamabad 2930; 2931; state 54324). The very choice of words “thinning out” to disguise an evacuation we feel represents an over-concern with the GOP’s international public relations problem. That the GOP Lied to us and delayed our evacuation while it sought a convenient way out is a fact (Islamabad 3011, 3020, 3022, 3056, 3076). That we accept “watery thin” excuses for this action without protest is a sad commentary on our desire to protect [Page 5] US citizens.
- These views are subscribed to by all signatories of reftel A who remain behind in Dacca. FYI Donald C. Horan’s name was omitted from original list. Due to pressures of time we have not cited areas of disagreement which we consider subsidiary to the fundamental points raised above.
- Principal officer’s comments: I wish to note that the above comments were written at the same time as Reftel A. To some extent they thus have become historical and academic, particularly since we sense that Washington, Islamabad and Dacca are now talking on approximately the same wave length. I would urge that there be no rebuttal from Washington and Islamabad to this rebuttal. These are matters which can best be discussed over a drink with friends and colleagues when the opportunity next presents itself.
- I cannot emphasize too strongly that the motivation of the dissenters has been not to cavil at stances assumed by the Department and the Embassy but to try to influence changes in U.S. policy toward Pakistan. To this end we are preparing a series of policy recommendations. These recommendations do not seem from any dissenting group but rather are the fully staffed out recommendations of the USG agencies in East Pakistan. Accordingly, I propose to dispense herewith with the Nodis channel and to forward these recommendations in the normal way, restricting them as appropriate according to their sensitivity.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Sent with a request to pass to Islamabad.↩
- The staff of the Consulate General expanded on their objections to the U.S. response to the crisis in East Pakistan first outlined on April 6 in telegram 1138 from Dacca.↩