Department of State

 

AIRGRAM

CONFIDENTIAL A-0002

 

 

TO : Department of State

Anumhassy Rawalpindi

INFO : Karachi. Lahore, Peshawar

FROM : Amconsul DACCA

DATE : January 7, 1970

SUB : Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Freign Policy Views, Electoral Strategy

REF :

Limdis (Sheikh Mujib's statements should be most strictly protected.)

 

During a courtesy call on Sheikh Mujibur RAHMAN by Embassy Rawalpindi DCM Sidney Sober and Dacca Consul-In-Charge Andrew Killgore, the Awami League president seemed in a confident mood. Sheikh Mujib said he hoped to draw a crowd of 300 to 400 thousand at the Awami League's January 11 rally scheduled to be held at Dacca's Paltan Maidan. A Peasant Rallyhas been scheduled by the League for January 16 in Mymensingh. The Awami League's president hoped Mr Killgore could attend the January 16 rally, particularly if he thought that Maulana Bhashani was the one East Pakistan politician able to attract the peasant masses. Mujib promised a turnout so large that Bhashani would be ashamed of his relative inability to attract crowds.

 

A Strategy for the Election

Sheikh Mujib predicted he would win 80 per cent of the vote in East Pakistan next October 5. (It was unclear if he also meant 80 per cent of the total number of seats.) He would not enter into a coalition with another party prior to the elections. NAP (R) was already pressing him hard to assign it certain seats which the Awami League would not contest. But Mujib would make no such agreement with NAP (R) or any other party.

 

Sheikh Mujib planned a political foray into West Pakistan about the second week of February. He had no exaggerated ideas about the number of seats he would take in West Pakistan, but he intended to contest several seats in each area, such as the Sindh, the Northwest Frontier, and even the Punjab. He would campaign under the banner of the Awami League and was confident of winning of at least a few seats in every area of West Pakistan. Mujib said he would campaign under his Six Points but will generally avoid getting into specific details. Not that he would be unable to discuss details intelligently. Mujib claimed to have access to academic and practical experts in both economic and political science. He could call on these experts at any time and they could provide him with intelligent answers in a short period of time.

 

(Comment: Mujib's confident statement about having access to experts came in response to a question from Mr. Sober as to whether he had available a brain trust to assist him. Ability in systematic thinking has never been Mujib's strong point, and both the substance of his response and the confidence with which he made it left an unusually favourable impression.)

 

Foreign Policy and other Views

If he achieves a position of power, Sheikh Mujib will pursue a policy of friendship with all major powers. He would take all possible steps to restore full trade and commercial relations with India. He specifically mentioned the necessity of getting cheaper Indian coal for East Pakistan which he described as costing 70 rupees per ton as against 170 rupees per ton for coal now coming from China. Cooperation with India on water problems was an absolute necessity. Mujib said he was not referring merely to Farakka but was talking about the whole flood control problem of East Pakistan. Flood control could never succeed without the cooperation of India and this he would seek to assure. He fully realized that foreign assistance would be needed in tackling the water problems.

 

Sheikh Mujib would try hard to reach a settlement with India on the Kashmir issue. As he saw the problem, it might be settled either by partition or by independence. Mujib would seek international mediation as a means of achieving Indo-Pakistani agreement on the problem. Mujib said he was not unaware of the sensitivity of Kashmir in West Pakistan and he would thus be extremely cautious during the election campaign to phrase any of his statements on the issue with extreme care.

 

One of Sheikh Mujib's objectives if he came to power would be to cut defense expenditures. He saw SEATO and CENTO as dead. They were `foolish', apparently meaning that these alliances struck him so as a Bengali.

 

Attitude Toward United States

Mujib spoke fondly of his visit to the United States in 1958. The Americans had treated him with every kindness. Perhaps some day he could visit the United States again. He struck both Mr. Sober and Mr. Killgore as very well disposed towards Americans and America.

 

If the Constituent Assembly Fails to Agree on a Constitution

Asked by Mr. Sober what would happen if the constituent assembly elected on October 5 fails to agree on a constitution within the specified period of 120 days, Sheikh Mujib responded, "We will try. We will try. If we cannot agree, then we cannot agree." The import of Mujib's reply was not clear. He seemed to Mr. Killgore to be implying that if East and West Pakistan could not agree then they might go their separate ways.

 

Killgore

 

 

 

Source: The American Papers Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan.Bangladesh Documents 1965-1973,  The University Press Limited, p.316 317.