Awami League Chief ready to meet any West Wing Leader.

Sheikh Mujibur Press Conference on March 19, 1971, at Dacca


The fateful talks between President Yahya Khan and the Awami League Chief, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, were resumed at the President's house here today. The dialogue lasted 90 minutes. Another round of talks will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m.


Later in the evening three advisers of the Awami League Chief had a meeting with the advisers of the President.


Although the Awami League Chief, talking to newsmen after the meeting, did

not say if any formula had been proposed to end the present constitutional deadlock the agreement to hold meeting at advisers' level itself indicates that some ground has been broken at the third round of talks between the President and , the Awami League Chief today.


It is also significant that the advisers' level meeting will be followed up by another meeting between the President and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman when the latter will be accompanied by six leaders of his party.


A cheerful Sheikh Mujibur Rahman told newsmen at his residence after his meeting with the president that the discussions would continue. He said Awami League's stand (vis-a-vis constitution-making) was clear and the whole world knew why the people

of Bengal had made sacrifices. He, however, pointed out that it was not an easy problem and sufficient time was needed to solve it.


Step forward


The result of the third round of the talks-the decision to have meeting of the advisers-was seen as a definite step forward towards a determined search for solution of the present crisis. This coupled with the decision to continue talks between the President and the Awami League Chief has raised hopes that a way out of the current impasse may be found.


But Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made no comment when a newsman asked him if the increased activities was any sign of progress in the talks. The Awami League Chief told the journalists: " You may make your own assumption ".


He also would not say whether he was satisfied with the talks. He said whether he was satisfied or not " I always hope for the best and prepare for the worst ".


Asked whether any particular formula was being discussed. Sheikh Mujib said his advisers would discuss with the President's advisers " what formula they give."


Syed Nazrul Islam, Deputy Leader of Awami League Parliamentary Party in the National Assembly and a Vice-President of East Pakistan Awami League. Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, General Secretary, East Pakistan Awami League, and Dr. Kamal Husain will act as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's advisers today.


Khandkar Mushtaq Ahmed and Mr. Mansoor Ali Vice-Presidents of East Pakistan Awami League, Mr. Kamruzzaman, General Secretary of All-Pakistan Awami League, Dr. Kamal Husain, Syed Nazrul Islam, and Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, will accompany Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the President's House tomorrow.


Replying to a question the Awami League Chief' said he would be very happy to receive any leader from West Pakistan. He would be happy to welcome any individual person from West Pakistan to his residence. " I welcome them to come and have talks with me ", he said when a correspondent asked whether he would have talks with visiting West Pakistani leaders.


When asked whether any document figured in his discussions, Sheikh Mujib said: " nothing of the kind."


He added: " my advisers will discuss this evening to decide on what formula and how they will proceed."


Whether he was assisted by his aids in today's talks, Awami League Chief said that both the President and he (Mujib) were alone.


Asked whether he was ready to meet West Pakistani leaders, including Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, Sheikh Mujib said that anybody coming from West Pakistan was welcome. He said that he had no objection in meeting them " my doors are open ".


" It was never closed ", he added.


When asked about the progress of talks, Sheikh Mujib said: " I have nothing to say. It is up to you to guess. You can assume anything you like ".


" I can't say ", Sheikh Mujib said when a correspondent asked whether his Meeting tomorrow would be the final round.


Replying to another question as to who will be assisting the President in his talks tomorrow Sheikh Mujib said: " I don't know".


He declined to answer a question on the rejection of the Inquiry Commission set up by the Martial Law Administrator, Zone "B".


When asked whether the "Joy Bangla" slogan raised by him after he emerged from the President's House indicated something hopeful, the Awami League Chief said that he always uttered this slogan. This slogan he would utter at the time of death also along with Kalima.


Earlier apparently in jovial mood, the Awami League Chief came out of the President's House after his 90-minute talks and drove straight to his residence.


Several thousand people who waited all the time outside the security area of the President's House broke the security cordon and mobbed the car of the Sheikh. The crowd was so intense in front of the President's House that the waiting newsmen could not approach the car of Sheikh Saheb.


Sheikh Mujib came out of the car and requested the people to allow him to go.


He also requested the newsmen to go to his residence. Following the request, the slogan-chanting crowd left the place and allowed the car of the Sheikh to move towards its destination.


Many enthusiastic people also gathered in front of Sheikh Mujib's residence to know the outcome of the talks.


"Please wait and see our wonderful land and its unfortunate people" the Sheikh told a foreign newsman when he wanted to know when the progress of the talks would be known to newsmen.


Replying to a question as to when he was going to laugh last, Sheikh Saheb, with his traditional broad smile replied, "This is difficult to answer. You yourself assess ".


(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 20, 1971)



Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol I, p.253-255