142. Paper Prepared for the Senior Review Group1 2


In the present situation our two principal objectives are to prevent famine in East Pakistan and to deter hostilities between India and Pakistan resulting either from the continuing refugee flow or escalation of cross-border activities.

Additional subsidary objectives are therefore to:

encourage progress toward a political settlement.
stop the refugee flow from Pakistan.
prevent its re-emergence once stopped by comprehensive and effective relief measures to avert famine.
end cross-border activities from India.

Beyond this, to achieve a return flow of any magnitude there will be necessary at least:

  • —a return of normal security conditions in East Pakistan.
  • —the elimination of the threat of famine.
  • —assurances of a return of property and jobs.
  • —impartial neutral monitoring and assurances to the refugees of their personal safety.
  • —international participation and monitoring of relief in East Pakistan and India.

A full return would probably only take place if there is an agreed political settlement with the Awami League. Our efforts must begin with Pakistan because it is in Pakistan that famine conditions will occur, it is only there that steps can be taken to create conditions conducive to the refugees’ return and it is there that the fundamental problem of political accommodation can be dealt with.

The basic requirement for, a durable and viable settlement of the current crisis is the achievement of a political accommodation with the Bengali people. Until such an accommodation is achieved, normal conditions will not be restored, the insurgency will continue and India will only to a limited degree agree to compromise and cooperate in efforts to defuse the situation. There are many specific steps to propose to President Yahya in other areas, particularly with respect to famine relief and the restoration of more normal law and. order conditions. These are outlined below. None of them can hope to be fully effective, however, except in a changed and more constructive political atmosphere. Our basic approach to President Yahya should, therefore, emphasize the necessity for actions to reverse the current negative political trends [Page 3] and to move toward reconciliation. It is recognized that any progress toward political accommodation risks Yahya’s own political position and that direct negotiation with Mujib or other established leaders of the Awami League may not now be politically feasible. Nonetheless, there is still scope for an accelerated timetable of constitutional reform and direct dealing with a substantial percentage of the elected Awami League members. These proposals are also included in the following scenario as are those steps which can be taken with respect to the refugees and famine problems. These problems are critical in the short term if hostilities are to be avoided.


Refugee Outflow.

Because of the inter-relationship between the refugee problem and the dangers of war, our first efforts must be to end the refugee outflow and to prevent its resumption because of famine conditions. Without this there is little prospect that the Indians will agree to other proposals we are making, i.e., an end to cross-border activity and a UN presence on their side of the border.

We should, therefore, approach Yahya through a Presidential letter or through Ambassador Farland indicating our [Page 4] concern that a continued refugee flow threatens the peace and security of South Asia and requesting that:

his government stop summary military reprisals against predominantly Hindu villages, and indicate that punishment in the future will be meted out through the judicial process.
there be a restoration of a civil administration, leaving the maintenance of law and order to the police and provincial para-military forces.
mount a massive and effective effort to deal with the threat of famine. (A paper on East Pakistan humanitarian relief making detailed program recommendations is attached.) In suggesting immediate and effective steps to avoid famine,, we should stress the need (1) to work through international humanitarian relief agencies using UN and foreign voluntary agencies to the maximum, and (2) to improve port operations and to restore normal inland distribution of food and other relief supplies.

Return Flow.

We should also indicate our view that further steps must be taken to facilitate and encourage the return of at least some of the refugees and that in our view this will require that the GOP emphatically make clear through other actions and public announcements that it is prepared to:

call for national reconciliation and a common effort to rebuild East Pakistan.
announce that because of the need for a period of reconciliation and common effort, the Government is ready to declare a general amnesty for all those inside and outside of East Pakistan, except those engaged in armed resistance or specifically charged with criminal offenses.
announce that refugees can return to their homes with full personal security and restoration of their personal and real property.
announce that there will be no further allocation to Muslims of Hindu property, and implement the proposal to return property already allocated.
develop specific plans for financial assistance on an individual and family basis to compensate refugees for losses as a result of the conflict.

Political Accommodation

Finally, we should tell Yahya that in our view it is vital that progress be made towards a political settlement which embraces all Awami League representatives, except those specifically charged with heinous crimes or actively engaged in resisting. This proposal could be made to Yahya in the context of his already stated willingness to deal with the elected representatives of the people.

Because political accommodation clearly is vital to a long term solution and is perceived as vital in the shorter term by the Indians, we should specifically urge Yahya: [Page 6]

to proceed as rapidly as possible with his efforts to achieve a settlement with the elected representatives of the people, on the basis of maximum autonomy for East Pakistan (whether “Six Points” or otherwise).
to avoid exacerbating the situation by a trial of Mujibur Rahman, and
to appoint a new governor to replace General Tikka Khan, preferably a civilian and a Bengali and to search for new leadership for the martial law administration in East Pakistan perhaps by calling out of retirement prominent West Pakistanis who enjoy a degree of confidence in East Pakistan—General Azam, or Admiral Ahsan.
abolish the Peace Committees, which have become symbols of the martial law rule.


We should tell Yahya that we are pressing the Indians to refrain from giving assistance to the insurgent movement and that we anticipate the Indian response will be increasingly affirmative as progress is made on ending the refugee outflow, on developing a province-wide famine prevention effort, and on a political accommodation.
in anticipation of a situation in which some of the refugees would be willing to return we plan to press the Indians further to accept a UN presence on their side of the border to facilitate the return flow. This phased scenario with the Pakistanis emphasizes interim measures which are most immediately achievable in the hope and expectation that this will improve the prospects for political accommodation which is essential to any general restoration of the situation in East Pakistan.

Economic and Military Assistance.

In addition to inter-relating developments in East Pakistan with our proposed demarche in India we will also have to phase our bilateral economic and military programs. Simultaneously, with our urging on the point of province-wide famine relief efforts, we should reiterate our willingness to support Pakistan’s relief plans within the UN framework with additional food and coastal vessels. Direct cash assistance can be added as plans for its use are put forward. If reasonable progress on humanitarian programs is made by fall, it may be possible to work out tacit agreement to a continuation of Pakistan’s unilateral debt moratorium.

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Our broader development assistance should await the creation of conditions in which development can take place and which we have referred to under the general rubric of developmental criteria. We should indicate to General Yahya that in our view this is closely related to the creation of conditions in which the refugees can return to their homes.

Finally, our hold on military shipments, which will have become almost total by mid-August, should not be lifted until there is an end of military activity against the civilian population and until the army is returned to its barracks and effective civilian administration is in operation. We should indicate to General Yahya that this is likely to happen only when there has, in fact, been progress toward a political settlement.


On the Indian side our strategy must be one which seeks:

to ease the pressure on India of the existing refugees,
to end Indian support for cross border operations, and
to remove such obstacles to the refugees’ return as India may be placing in the way.

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Refugee Burden

To meet the immediate burden India faces and to diminish the Indian sense of desperation we should be prepared to make an explicit offer of an additional $100 million for refugee relief for the current fiscal year. (Half of this in food and other PL–480 commodities could be provided at once. The balance in cash would have to await congressional authorization and appropriation. The House version of the Foreign Assistance Act contains authorization of an additional $100 million for relief in India and Pakistan.)

In discussions with the Indians we should also indicate our willingness to sign a first tranche FY 1972 $100 million development loan and a new PL–480 agreement. We should indicate in making these loans that our economic assistance programs can only continue in conditions in which economic development can effectively take place. We would, of course, be concerned if Indian military actions were to interfere with India’s development or if India were obdurate under circumstances in which there is marked improvement in the situation in East Pakistan. It might then be difficult for us to continue our development assistance.

Refugee Outflow and Return.

We should tell the Indians of our efforts with Yahya to end the outflow of refugees both immediately and in the future context of famine. We should say to them that as the flow subsides we would expect them to agree to measures which would facilitate the return process, notably a UN [Page 10] presence at collecting points on their side, for non-peacekeeping purposes, and a de-linking of political accommodation with refugee return.

At that point we should also inform the Indians of the steps we have taken and propose to take in Pakistan with respect to the security of returning refugees, the creation of more normal conditions in East Pakistan and movement towards a political settlement.

Cross Border Activity

Because insurgency and the Pakistani response to it are causes of the refugee outflow we should also urge the Indians to refrain from giving official support to cross border activities, and generally to cut back on training and logistic support and the sending of Indian personnel or units across the border. We should point out to them that sabotage activities against rail and inland water transport facilities contribute to the probability of famine-induced refugee migration and interferes with the distribution of famine relief supplies in East Pakistan. We might also urge them to use their influence with the Mukti Fauj to avoid activities likely to result in reprisals against Hindu villages.

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We recognize that India is unlikely to accept these suggestions at this time. Agreement on their part would imply acceptance of a West Pakistani victory, an end to Bangla Desh aspirations and the probability of the radicalization of the insurgent movement. None of these are acceptable to the GOI.

Even if accepted, it would not result in a complete cessation of insurgent activity since there is now a limited indigenous insurgent capability in East Pakistan. In addition, non-official communist and Naxalite-supported cross-border activities would continue to take place which the GOP would charge was Indian-sponsored.

We should indicate that we would take a most serious view of any official Indian involvement in a Mukti Fauj effort to seize territory in East Pakistan and that such an involvement could seriously affect our ability to assist India.

We should also continue to pursue our efforts at the United Nations to get a UN presence in place on the Indian side of the border, either through the consensus currently being sought by the President of the Security Council, through a Security Council meeting or through our own bilateral efforts.

As Pakistan demonstrates progress toward more normal conditions, attested to by our own people in East Pakistan [Page 12] and by neutral UN observers, we should become more insistent in demanding a complete cessation of Indian support to the guerillas using such influence as our on-going programs in India give us.

It would be well to recognize, however, that unless progress and a positive evolution of the situation in East Pakistan can be demonstrated to the Indians, efforts to get them to act with additional restraint or to accept a UN presence will probably be of limited effectiveness

In devising a scenario for India we have endeavored to avoid actions which would cut directly across India’s perceptions of its vital national interests and which, in fact, could be presented to the Indians as consistent with the Indian interest in refugee return and a political evolution in East Pakistan. In this regard, a continuing confidential dialogue will be essential to share assessments on such crucial subjects as the food situation in East Pakistan and to keep India abreast of the dangers in the situation, and of the motives for specific actions we may take to alleviate those dangers.

Soviet Role

A possible moderating influence on the Indians is the USSR. Soviet support for a UN presence would have an impact [Page 13] in New Delhi. India, now feeling itself diplomatically isolated, is increasingly relying on the Soviets, and their influence and counsel are likely to be more effective than ours. For this reason alone it is important for us at an early stage in our scenario to engage in a high-level discussion with the Soviets with a view:

to obtaining a Soviet assessment of events in South Asia.
to indicate to them our concern about the dangers of famine and war and to ascertain their views about what might be done to avert them.
to inform them in general terms of our own thoughts on what needs to be done.
to encourage them to counsel restraint in both Islamabad and New Delhi, and
to seek their support for UN relief efforts on both sides of the border.

British Role

Both Britain and the US have significant interests in breaking the vicious cycle into which the South Asian crisis has reduced itself, and in working towards fundamental solutions through a viable political accommodation and an end to the Indian-supported insurgency in East Pakistan. Although [Page 14] British influence in Pakistan is minimal at present, it is still important in New Delhi. We should, therefore, in the near future engage them in high-level consultations preferably in Washington, but also possibly in London.

The purpose of these consultations would be:

to consider the substance of steps which need to be taken with the Indians and Pakistanis in New Delhi and Islamabad.
to consider possible alternative ways of making our respective presentations and to consider other means of getting across to the Indians and Pakistanis the need for a basic reorientation of their policies. This might include (1) a joint effort by the US and UK Ambassadors/High Commissioners in New Delhi and Islamabad; (2) designation of a senior British or Commonwealth official to undertake a special mission (for example, Sir Morrice James, former High Commissioner in both India and Pakistan and negotiator of the Rann of Kutch dispute, or H. Shirley Amerasinghe, Ceylonese Permanent Representative at the UN); (3) support for the five commonwealth nation proposal of Prime Minister Bandaranaike.
to consider ways in which the Soviets could be associated with our initiatives either formally or informally.
to discuss ways to mobilize UN members and the UN organizations in both refugee and famine relief efforts and in political action.

UN Role

Concurrently with the working out of our scenario bilaterally in India and Pakistan, we will need to keep in mind the constructive role which the UN may be able to play in the crisis not only in the relief context but also politically. The President of the Security Council is already engaged in the search for a consensus on the UN Secretary General’s proposal for a UN presence on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border. Pressures for a Security Council meeting are growing and Pakistan now seems to favor a meeting. If a Security Council meeting does take place, we should consider ways in which we might use the UN to reinforce the efforts we are making bilaterally, and to give the UN a more effective operating role with respect to relief. We might also seek to support a Security Council or Secretary General-sponsored initiative to send a representative or a team to the area to explore ways of reducing tensions. In any event, we would wish to keep the UN Secretary General informed of the success of the efforts we are making bilaterally with the parties.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–058, SRG Meeting, South Asia, 7/30/71. Secret; Exdis. This scenario was prepared in response to an instruction to the Department from the Senior Review Group on July 23 to draft a paper outlining what the U.S. perceived as a desirable outcome to the crisis developing in East Pakistan. The instruction called for a paper that could serve as “a scenario for discussions with the Pakistanis, the Indians and possibly the Russians.” (Ibid., Box H–112, SRG Minutes, Originals, 1971) Drafted by Quainton and used by the Senior Review Group at their meeting on July 30. Because of a typographical error, the drafting date on the paper is given as June 29. The attached paper on humanitarian relief, cited in the scenario, is not published.
  2. This “Scenario For Action In Indo-Pak Crisis” was prepared in the Department of State in response to an instruction from the Senior Review Group.