Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon/1/
Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 210,
Geopolitical File, South Asia, Chronological File, Nov 1969-July 1971. Secret. Sent for information.
President Nixon put a checkmark on the memorandum to indicate he saw it.
immediate showdown between East and
Situation in Perspective
Yahya and the West Pakistani military appear determined to maintain a unified
/2/ See footnote 5, Document 6.
Pakistani leader Mujibur Rahman has stepped back a bit from a declaration of
independence, the full text of his March 7 speech/3/ conveys a harsher tone
than the initial summary reports, and it seems apparent that his retreat was
tactical. He made clear that something very close to independence, i.e.,
"emancipation," is his goal and that his movement will not be
deflected until that is achieved. Noteworthy also is the fact that Rahman quite
openly took issue with Yahya, accusing him of "submitting to the
declaration of a minority" [
League President Mujibur Rahman addressed a rally at
/4/ Brackets in the source text.
The other element in this delicate political equation-West Pakistani political leader Z.A. Bhutto-is for the moment remaining relatively quiet. Since triggering the current crisis in mid-February with his refusal to attend the constituent assembly, Bhutto has worked to consolidate further his support in the West Wing and at least to appear more conciliatory. Substantively, the differences between Bhutto and Rahman on the division of powers between the center and the provinces might be reconciled, or at least papered over, if a constituent assembly could be held. The bigger question, at this point, is whether either Bhutto or Rahman retain any genuine interest in cooperating toward settlement.
days should tell whether Yahya and the West Pakistani military decide there are
still grounds for trying to work out a political solution that would insure the
continued unity of
following would seem to be the most likely situations that could now develop:
1. Yahya could decide not to take Rahman's challenge lying down and to retaliate, perhaps to the extent of arresting Rahman and the other leaders, and attempting to clamp a military lid on
static waiting game could develop with neither the army nor the civilians
prepared to take a bold initiative to break the deadlock and each hoping the
other will break first. This is where we are now and Rahman would probably
prefer to continue like this for a while longer so that he can gradually take
de facto control of
3. There might be more tactical political moves by Yahya, Rahman or Bhutto designed to probe for areas of accommodation and buy more time without giving up anything. This has been the mode of operation so far but it may be that just about all of the possibilities in this sphere have been played out.
know, the Senior Review Group met last Saturday/5/ to consider the
/5/ March 6; see Document 6.
-It is not
necessary for us to shift now to a more activist approach since Yahya knows we
favor unity and is doing everything possible to achieve a political settlement.
-It is undesirable for us to intervene now since we could realistically have little influence on the situation and anything we might do could be resented by the West Pakistanis as unwarranted interference and jeopardize our future relations.
be pointed out that the main cost of following this approach is that it may
jeopardize our future relations with
Source: Document 8, volume XI, South Asia crisis 1971, Department of State.