ON MARCH 6, 1971


Following is the full text of the address to the nation by the President, General A. M. Yahya Khan, broadcast over Radio Pakistan network today:


"My dear countrymen, "Assalam-o-Alaikum,

In my statement of the 1st of March I had recounted to you the steps that I took to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people. In the same statement I had also said that 1, on my part, would do everything possible to help our elected leaders in moving towards the attainment of our common goal-which was and which continues to be, a smooth transition towards a democratic way of life.


"As you would recall, in this direction my latest step has been to call a conference of the leaders of all parliamentary groups to meet me at Dacca on the 10th of March. Unfortunately, however, in total disregard of my genuine and sincere efforts to bridge the gap between the various points of view, the response to my call has been rather discouraging particularly from the leader of our majority party who, before the announcement over the radio, had given me the impression that he would not be averse to the idea of such a conference. His outright rejection was therefore both a surprise and a disappointment. As you are aware, Mr. Nurul Amin has also refused to participate. This in effect means that there would be no representative from East Pakistan in the proposed conference.


"You will thus see that from the time the elections were completed practically every step that I took in the process of transfer of power has in one way or another been obstructed by some of our leaders. I might also mention at this stage, that after the completion of elections on the 17th of January and after I had met the leaders of the two major parties and the leaders had met among themselves at Dacca I had invited them to come and discuss the situation with me on more than one occasion with a view to working out an acceptable method of moving forward. I regret to say that the President of Awami League did not think it fit to respond to my invitations and we thus lost the opportunity of avoiding misunderstandings and of working out an amicable solution.


"As the resulting environments were not conducive to constitution making in that a very large number of West Pakistani representatives refused to attend the Assembly session on the 3rd of March, I came to the conclusion that having the inaugural session of the National Assembly on that date would be futile exercise and was likely to result in the dissolution of the Assembly itself. I therefore, tried to save the situation by postponing the date of the session. I had thereby hoped to achieve two purposes-firstly, to save the assembly and all the national effort that had gone into its birth and secondly, allow time for passions to cool down and a fruitful dialogue to take place. But instead of accepting the decision in the spirit in which it was taken, our East Pakistan leadership reacted in a manner which resulted in destructive elements coming out in the streets and destroying life and property. Needless to say, no Government could have remained a silent spectator in such a situation. It was, therefore, my moral obligation to take the minimum essential measures for protecting the lives and property of the innocent and otherwise peaceful law-abiding citizens who in the absence of any such measures would have fallen victims to extremist elements. I am, however sorry to say that lawlessness continues to be the order of the day in East Pakistan.




"For some reason, the postponement of the date of the Assembly session has been completely misunderstood. Whether this is deliberate or otherwise I cannot say but one thing is certain this misunderstanding has become the rally­ing cry for the forces of disorder. When such forces become activated the main sufferers are the innocent citizens whose daily life is seriously disturbed and who are in constant danger of suffering bodily harm and even death. While realising that an application of adequate force can effectively bring the situation under control I have deliberately ordered the authorities in East Pakistan to use the absolute minimum force required to stop the law-breakers from loot, arson and murder.


"It will be seen that only one of my purposes behind the postponement of the session of the Assembly-namely the preservation of the Assembly itself, has been achieved. The other and equally important purpose of having a fruitful dialogue has, however, not been achieved. In the meanwhile innocent lives are being lost for which the bereaved families have my fullest sympathies and which in a situation that is not of my creation is the least that I can offer.


"As explained earlier, my efforts to arrive at a date for the opening of the National Assembly session in consultation with political leaders have been frus­trated.

"I therefore, in my capacity as President and Chief Martial Law Administrator of this country, feel duty bound to resolve this unfortunate impasse by taking a decision myself. I cannot wait indefinitely. I have consequently decided that the inaugural session of the National Assembly will take place on 25th of March. It is my sincere hope that this decision will elicit a patriotic and constructive response from all our political leaders.

"Since my efforts to get the leaders to arrive at a broad consensus on the process of constitution making have not succeeded, to those political parties who may have doubts about viability of the future constitution of Pakistan, I would like to say that no better assurance than the provisions of the Legal Framework Order is needed.

"Finally, let me make it absolutely clear that no matter what happens, as long as I am in command of the Pakistan Armed Forces and Head of the State, I will ensure complete and absolute integrity of Pakistan. Let there be no doubt or mistake on this point. I have a duty towards millions of people of East and West Pakistan to preserve this country. They expect this from me and I shall not fail them. I will not allow a handful of people to destroy the home­land of millions of innocent Pakistanis. It is the duty of the Pakistan Armed Forces to ensure the integrity, solidarity and security of Pakistan a duty in which they have never failed.


"Let us go forth with full confidence in ourselves and faith in Almighty Allah towards the goal we have set before us for achieving a democratic way of life and enable the elected representatives of the people to fulfil their duty which the nation expects of them.


"God bless you all.


"Pakistan Paindabad".


(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 7, 1971)




Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol - I