NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MINORITY GROUPS BACK AWAMI LEAGUE'S FOUR-POINT DEMAND-PLEA FOR INTERIM GOVERNMENTS AT CENTRE AND PROVINCES


REPORT OF THE MEETING HELD ON MARCH 13, 1971 AT LAHORE
BY MINORITY GROUPS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

 

Delegation to see President Yahya and Sheik Mujib

 

The minority groups in the National Assembly at a meeting held here today

accepted in principle, the four-point demand of Awami League Chief, Sheikh Mujibur

Rahman, and demanded that interim governments should be set up at the Centre and in the Provinces before the commencement of the Assembly Session on March 25.

The meeting which was convened and presided over by Maulana Mufti Mahmud, leader of the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Islam Parliamentary Party, was attended among others by Council League leaders, Mian Mumtaz Daultana and Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani of Jamiatul Ulema-i-Pakistan, Prof. Abdul Ghafoor of Jamaat-i-Islami, Mr. Jamal Mohammad Koreja of the Convention League, and Independent MNAs, Maulana Zafar Ahmad Ansari and Sardar Maula Bux Soomro.

The Wali Khan NAP was not represented at the meeting but the Convener, Maulana Mufti Mahmud claimed that the decisions of the conference enjoyed their backing. Qayyum Muslim League was the only minority party, which was conspicuous by its absence.

 

Delegation to see Yahya

 

The meeting decided that a delegation, headed by Mufti Mahmud, should at the earliest possible time call on President Yahya to discuss the mechanics of transfer of power.

 

The delegation would also meet Sheikh Mujib in the same connection.

 

The meeting felt that the two demands of Sheikh Mujib, namely withdrawal of military to their barracks and judicial enquiry into the firings in East Pakistan should be accepted without any delay. As regards the demands for the immediate lifting of Martial Law and transfer of power to the elected representatives, "it is a unanimous demand of the entire nation and has been the consistent effort, as it should be crowning achievement of the President of Pakistan".

 

But in the altered circumstances and in view of the gravity of the develop­ments, a speedier process of bringing this about, as suggested by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, must be effectively considered, the meeting felt.

 

May see Bhutto also

 

Asked if the meeting itself discussed some mechanics for the withdrawal of Martial Law and transfer of power. Mufti Mahmud said a number of proposals were considered at the meeting but he would announce only that which would be agreed upon by the President and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

 

Replying to a question, Mufti Mahmud said the delegation would also meet the People's Party Chairman, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto if needed. In fact, he added, the question of the withdrawal of Martial Law and transfer of power was to be decided by the Government and the majority party.

 

Written statement

 

Mufti Mahmud also gave a written statement to the Press which said: "In the present crisis which threatens the very being of Pakistan, the single and sole concern of every partriot must be to preserve and guarantee the existence and solidarity of Pakistan.

"There can be no Pakistan, nor can the concept of Pakistan have an ideologi­cal validity or practical credibility without the unity of the people of East and West Pakistan. The only basis, source and assurance of this unity is the free will to live together based on a sense of identity, comradeship, mutual justice and brotherhood. While the aspirations and interests of each part, as in fact, of every section of the people of Pakistan, are to be preserved through adjustments, arguments, agreements and compromises there can be no question of threats, coercion, force or violence and anyone who thinks in these terms can be no friend to our solidarity or our freedom.

 

"No constitutional crisis, as such, exists in Pakistan at the present moment. The elected representatives of the people have not yet, almost a hundred days after their election, even had an inaugural opportunity to meet much less to identify, discuss and thrash out the issues of their common and agreed destiny. In the meantime, the leader of the majority party of the people of Pakistan in the National Assembly has given the clearest assurance of an atmosphere of free unprejudiced discussion, and a conviction wholly open to argument.

 

"Compromises insisted upon and arrived at outside the floor of the house and concealed from the scrutiny and vigilance of the people, can have no rele­vance to constitutional settlement, although they may have to arrangements for sharing power.            '

 

Tragic Developments

 

"The disturbing developments of the past fortnight have been tragic. They may have given rise to apprehensions and suspicions that undemocratic manipula­tions may be on foot to negate the verdict of the people, to obstruct the process of transfer of power to the people, and to deprive the majority party its weight and effectiveness. We, the representatives of the political parties and MNAs of West Pakistan assembled in this meeting wish to announce without reserve, that if there is ever such a manipulation, we will stand resolutely by the side of our brothers from East Pakistan to resist and defeat it.

 

"We, however, feel that a great part of the present crisis is due to misunderstandings. We feel that the immediate step that must be taken is for the President of Pakistan to pro­ceed to Dacca, and to remove all these misunderstandings, apprehensions and suspicions in frank and cordial talks with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

 

"In spite of the disastrous gravity of the situation in East Pakistan, of the tremendous heat and pressure generated there and the scope thus given to disrup­tive forces, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has shown his stature and his firm commit­ment to the solidarity of Pakistan, by putting in the present crisis four demands that are not in the least parochial or regional, but exclusively based on a national approach.

 

"We are of the convinced opinion that the Awami League's demand about judicial enquiry into the firings in East Pakistan, and the withdrawal of the military to their quarters should be accepted at once. The demand for the immediate lifting of Martial Law and the transfer of authority to the elected repre­sentatives of the people is a unanimous demand of the entire nation, and has been the consistent effort as it should be crowning achievement of the President of Pakistan. The National Assembly of Pakistan has been elected and was poised to speedily bring about this very result. But in the altered circumstances and in view of the gravity of possible developments, a speedier process of bringing this about, if and as suggested by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman must be effectively considered. Whatever the solution arrived at in this respect, we feel that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the leader of the majority in the National Assembly should be called upon to form a Government interim to the framing and promulgation of a new Constitution. All these steps must be expeditiously taken, so that the National Assembly Session duly takes place on the 25th March, 1971 as scheduled.

 

Request to President

 

"So that we can effectively convey the solidarity of the people of West Pakistan with their brothers and fellow-citizens in East Pakistan, as well as express our deepest concern about the urgency of immediately resolving the present crisis and discuss our views with respect to the ways and means of doing so, we request the President of Pakistan to grant an immediate interview to a dele­gation of the parties and MNAs represented in this meeting. For the same purpose we propose that a similar delegation should, proceed to Dacca and meet Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

 

"We call upon the people of West Pakistan to express, by all democratic means, their commitment to the integral solidarity of Pakistan and their conse­crated sense of comradeship and identity with their blood brothers in faith and destiny, namely the people of East Pakistan.

 

"At the same time, we know that the leaders of East Pakistan will continue to inculcate, as they have done already, a spirit of restraint and moderation and show as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has done in his statements, their attachment to the indivisible unity and solidarity of Pakistan."

 

(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 14, 1971)

 

 

Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol – I, p. 230-233