22. Letter From Bangladeshi President Zia to President Carter1

Dear Mr. President,

I avail myself of this opportunity to express deep appreciation of the people of Bangladesh and that of my own for the generous assistance we have received from the Government and the people of your great country. On our part we have made a sustained effort to use this valuable assistance in a constructive manner for generating a process of rapid socio-economic development. We have taken various steps to streamline our administration and to increase productivity in all sectors of our economy. We are paying special attention to agriculture, population control and rural development with a view to improving the condition of life of our people.

2. In spite of priority attention to production of foodgrains Bangladesh continues to face a sizable annual deficit. Hence, we have been obliged to depend on substantial supplies of foodgrains from abroad. Unfortunately, our food production has suffered a set-back this year owing to natural causes, and the total yield is substantially below initial estimates. The full impact of this shortage will be felt during the latter part of this year.

3. In these compelling circumstances we have to act urgently to bridge the food gap. Failure to take timely action will result in spiralling of foodgrain prices as also of all other essentials, and thus place these commodities beyond the reach of the common man. Such an eventuality will seriously disturb the delicate socio-economic and political balance that the present Government has been striving so hard to maintain. At the same time if Bangladesh has to finance the import of large quantities of foodgrains out of her own limited resources it would deal a crippling blow to her economic development programmes.

4. I am writing to urge that, as the biggest food-donor to Bangladesh, your country would, as in the past, come to our help with the utmost expedition. It is my earnest request and sincere hope that you and your Government would please respond most urgently.

5. I am happy to inform you that we are taking all necessary measures to gear up the administrative machinery that would enable us to receive without difficulty additional shipments at our ports, ensure [Page 80] adequate and safe storage, prevention of wastage and speedy distribution of foodgrains to various parts of the country.

6. Kindly accept, Mr. President, my best wishes for your personal health and happiness and for the continued progress and prosperity of your people.

Major General Ziaur Rahman
President, People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 2, Bangladesh: President Ziaur Rahman, 4/77–12/80. No classification marking.