AGREEMENT SUBJECT TO OUR UNDERSTANDING

Z. A. Bhutto's press conference on March 22, 1971 at Dacca

 

The Pakistan People's Party Chairman, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto said today they were examining the broad agreement reached between the President and Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and assured that his party would make every effort to reach an understanding to end the present crisis, which he described as "most unfortunate and tragic."

 

Addressing a hurriedly called Press conference on the top floor of Hotel Inter­continental, Dacca, Mr. Bhutto said the President had communicated to him during his meeting with him the general agreement arrived at with the Awami League Chief. The President had also told him this agreement was subject to "our agreement".

 

Mr. Bhutto said he met Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the tripartite meeting at the President House. Asked whether he also met the Awami League Chief separately without the President, Mr. Bhutto parried the question.

 

He however, added he had a "fruitful" and "satisfactory" meeting with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He would welcome another opportunity of meeting the Sheikh.

 

Mr. Bhutto said if necessary, he would fly_ out to Karachi to consult the members of the Central Committee ere not with Y him here, on the latest situation. They were discussing at present interim arrangements which must take into account permanent arrangements. "We are thinking in terms of one Pakistan" he told a correspondent in reply to a question.          `

Mr. Bhutto replied in the negative when asked if he offered any formula to solve the present crisis, and stressed that there must be an understanding bet­ween we two (Awami League and People's Party).

 

The People's Party Chief said he had had a "satisfactory meeting" with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hoped to meet him again. Referring to the political situation, Mr. Bhutto said: "Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and I must come to a mutual understanding".

 

Asked if they were working on an interim arrangement, Mr. Bhutto said they were working on both interim as well as permanent arrangements for the country. He added the interim arrangement must take into account a permanent solution to the crisis.

 

Asked to comment on the four pre-conditions of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for consideration of his party's attending the National Assembly Session, Mr. Bhutto said they were working on those as well as "more points". He repeated that they were working on reaching understanding on both interim and perma­nent arrangement.

 

The PPP Chief said on his arrival here he met President Yahya Khan both yesterday and today and referred to the talks Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had with the President between March 15 and 20. He said he hoped to meet the President again.

Mr. Bhutto said his party would make every effort to reach an understanding to bring about an end to the present "unfortunate" political crisis. He added: "We will do our best to come to an understanding" and added reality required that "Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and I must come to an agreement".

 

NA's Postponement

 

Replying to a question on the postponement of the National Assembly Session, Mr. Bhutto said: "This is the factual position. All that I wanted is to have some time for reaching broad understanding and agreement."

 

The People's Party Chief said there should be tripartite understanding-the two "major political parties" democratically elected on the one hand and the Army which is to transfer power, on the other.

 

Replying to a question, Mr. Bhutto said they were discussing the points raised by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and "things beyond that and the future shape of things".

 

Mr. Bhutto declined to speak about the nature of the broad agreement and understanding reached between President Yahya Khan and Sheikh Mujibur Rah­man. He said: "I would not like to say anything now."

 

No Veto Power

 

Asked if he considered the Awami League to be the majority party in the country, Mr. Bhutto said he had already answered such question last time when he came here. To another question he said: "I am not holding any veto and none of us has power of veto," and explained the role of the two major parties­People's Party and Awami League.

 

Replying to a question, he said: "We have not put forward any formula" to end the crisis.

 

He said: "I had a fruitful and satisfactory meeting with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman this morning. I would welcome another meeting." Asked if they had separate meeting, Mr. Bhutto said he did not want to contradict what Sheikh Mujib had said and asked the correspondent not to press for further details about it.

 

Mr. Bhutto said he would stay here as long as necessary. He added if necessary he would go to West Pakistan to consult his partymen and come back. He was already holding discussions with his partymen here and added the mem­bers of the PPP Central Committee who are not here, might also be summoned to Dacca for consultations.

 

Replying to a question on the Lahore Resolution, Mr. Bhutto said: "It is not an ideal situation" against the background of the peculiar geographical posi­tion of the country. We want a democratic arrangement for the future of the country and to the satisfaction of the people of both the wings, "let both exer­cise (power) for the benefit of the people," he added.

 

(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 23, 1971)

 

 

Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol – I, p. 259-260