on Pakistan, November 5, 1971
Report by Mr M. Williams for Secretary State, November
Copy 1 of 6 copies
DEPARTMENT OF STATE AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20523
OFFICE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR
November 5, 1971 LIMIT DISTRIBUTION
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY
Subject: A.I.D. Deputy Administrator's Report on
A. President Yahya Khan's control in East Pakistan
is increasingly limited
Growing Isolation of President Yahya Khan
In Islamabad October 27, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Secretary
to the Cabinet, told me that President Yahya Khan was increasingly
isolated from events in East Pakistan. He believed the Army's reporting
from East Pakistan had been misleading the President about recent
developments. The same points, concerning President Yahya Khan's
growing isolation and misleading reporting from East Pakistan, were
made by M.M. Ahmad, Economic Advisor to the President.
Autonomous Army Control in East Pakistan
The Pakistan Army in East Pakistan has achieved nearly
autonomous control of the province, in many respects independent
of the policies and direction of President Yahya Khan in Islamabad.
Only foreign affairs affecting East Pakistan is firmly in the hands
of Islamabad. The relative isolation of President Yahya Khan is
probably the result of many factors. Indications of this isolation
(a) Army commanders in the East pursue independent
(b) the Army governs the province behind the facade
of the puppet civilian Governor Malik and his cabinet - who are
completely dependent on the Army for their personal security -
with limited reference to Islamabad,
(c) little but Pakistani successes and India's perfidy
is reported from Dacca to Islamabad, and
(d) President Yahya Khan lacks independent means
of observation, reporting and verification of events in the East.
Myth and Reality on Civilian Support in East
President Yahya Khan told us October 28 that "civilization"
of government in East Pakistan, under Governor Malik and his Cabinet,
is succeeding in stabilizing the political situation. Accordingly
to Yahya Khan, when elections have filled the vacated Awami League
Assembly seats, "political accommodation" for a loyal
provincial government will have been completed. Although the Army
openly runs these elections, Yahya Khan believes the political stability
after elections will assure that India's strategy of supporting
insurrection will have been defeated - and that Mrs. Gandhi will
then have nothing in hand to achieve her objectives except recourse
to war. The myth of growing political stability in East Pakistan
is almost certainly fed to Yahya Khan by reports from his civilian
Governor and his Army commanders.
The reality is that Army policies and operations
- behind the facade of a civilian government - are progressively
and seriously alienating the Bengali population in East Pakistan,
and that the seeds of rebellion are not only those sown by India.
The wide gap between the myth of growing stability as seen by Yahya
Khan, and the reality of political deterioration was most striking
from comparing my recent visit to East Pakistan, October 21-26,
to observations made during the earlier August 19-25 trip.
B. Pakistan Army policy and operations in East
Civil Affairs run by the Military Advisor to
Major General Rao Farman Ali Khan is the Army's civil
affairs specialist with ten years service in the East. As Military
Advisor, he sits in the Governor's House and runs the Province on
behalf of the Governor. My call on General Farman Ali Khan October
25th interrupted a meeting with some ten of his military colleagues.
They were, he said, selecting the men who would be elected in the
next Provincial elections.
Army Policy is Selective Terror and Reprisal
General Farman Ali Khan described the level of Mukti
guerrilla insurgency as somewhat intensified but manageable because
the newly trained Bengali guerrillas entering from India feared
to take action. Over 1,400 guerrillas had entered Dacca district
in the last 30 days but only a few had chosen to fight. He acknowledged,
off-the-record, that this was due to the terroristic reprisal policy.
He also acknowledged that terror and reprisal had an "unfortunate
effect on Bengali attitudes." But he said, "All Army commanders
had concluded that insurgency was more of a problem in areas where
the Army had been too lenient and had not demonstrated clean-up
The Pakistan Army is one of the best disciplined and
professional infantry forces in the world. Despite orders from Islamabad
that the Army not engage in terrorist operations against the civilian
population - and repeated assurances to U.S. officials to this effect
- Pakistan Army commanders continue to carry out terror raids against
the population and villages, even within the environs of Dacca and
in sight of its large foreign community.
Increasing Chaos in Rural East Pakistan
General Farman Ali Khan said the Army sought to leave
the fighting of the Mukti guerrillas to the newly armed Bengali
"Rasikars" [sic. "Razakar"] - who now
numbered 60,000. He acknowledged that "Rasikars" - raised
as village levies for guard duty with only ten days training, and
without NCOs or officers - did not constitute a disciplined force.
However, the "Rasikars" are a destabilizing
element - living off the land, able to make life and death decisions
by denouncing collaborators and openly pillaging and terrorizing
villagers without apparent restraint from the Army. With villagers
caught between the Rasikars and Mukti guerrillas, law and order
is breaking down rapidly in rural East Pakistan. Hence, the rural
population is moving either to the cities which are now over populated
or going to India. The flow of Muslim refugees to India has recently
increased - many of them small land-holders and farmers who are
normally the more stable political elements.
Army Policy to Clear East Pakistan of Hindus
The Pakistan Army is ideologically anti-Hindu and
their historic experience in West Pakistan, from the time of partition,
has been that Hindus should go to India. Hence, reprisal operations
naturally continue to focus against Hindus. Without law or order,
except that sanctioned by the Army, Hindu lives and property are
not safe in East Pakistan today.
General Farman Ali Khan accepted the estimate that
at least 80 percent of the Hindus had left East Pakistan. He, off-the-record,
spoke of about six million refugees who had gone to India and he
anticipated that a further 1,500,000 refugees would probably go
to India "before the situation settles down." (1,500,000
is a reasonable estimate of the number of Hindus still in East Pakistan.)
C. Form and Content of Yahya Khan's diplomacy
With the Army's autonomous control in East Pakistan,
President Yahya Khan's role affecting the Eastern Province appears
to be primarily in foreign affairs, including the managing of the
U.S. relationship. All official American suggestions are immediately
taken seriously and lead to major policy statements by President
Yahya Khan in Islamabad. The result is "public relations diplomacy"
but it is important not to confuse the form with the substance of
policy. Elections, political accommodation, welcoming the return
of all refugees, amnesty - these are fine policy pronouncements,
but their implementation is in the hands of the Army commanders
who govern the Eastern Province, and these Army commanders do not
as yet appear subject to foreign influences.
Maurice J. Williams
Source: The White House and Pakistan: Secret
declassified documents, 1969 - 1974
Selected and Edited by F. S. Aijazuddin (2002). Oxford University
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