11.48 THE INDIA, PAKISTAN AND BURMA ASSOCIATION-NOTE ON POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN PAKISTAN

 

 

Public Record Office

 

REF: FCO 37/472

THE INDIA, PAKISTAN AND BURMA ASSOCIATION

 

Telephone:                                                       Outer Temple, 222, Strand,

353 0571 (3 Lines)                                           London, W.C.2.

Telegraphic address:

INBATRA London W.C.2.

 

627/69                                                             30th April, 1969

 

To the Members of the General Committee

 

The President felt that a comprehensive note on political developments in Pakistan over the last twenty years might be of some interest now and of value for record purposes later. The accompanying note has therefore been prepared by him in conjunction with Mr. R.T. Cochran.

 

     For obvious reasons it is being given only limited circulation and it is most important that it should not go back to Pakistan.

 

W .D. Bryden

Secretary

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Enclosure:

NOTE BY SIR PERCIVAL GRIIFFITHS

THE PAKISTAN POLITICAL SCENE, 1950 TO MARCH 31, 1969

 

The two parts into which this note is divided deal respectively with the period; before and after the Revolution. Each part consists of a chronological summary of the main features of Pakistan domestic politics, and the note ends with reflections any opinions as to why events in each period followed their particular course. The note :> based mainly on reports written or notes of speeches given by Sir Percival Griffith, during the period, together with the monthly Confidential Reports of the India. Pakistan and Burma Association. These sources have been supplemented by note written by Mr. R.T. Cochran and by the personal observations of Mr. Cochran and Sir Percival, both of whom have visited Pakistan frequently throughout the period.

 

 

Part I: Before the Revolution of 1958

 

1. For the first three years of Independence, the general mood of exaltation damped down dissenting voices, while the ascendancy, first of Jinnah and then of Liaquat All Khan, assured stability - even though, during the last year before Liaquat All Khan's murder, the economy was getting out of hand.

 

2. After the murder of Liaquat All Khan in 1951, things took a rapid turn for the worse. The .most unfavourable features in the next seven years were as follows:

 

(a) Growing antagonism between the East and West Wings.

(b) The lack of any real public opinion in either Wing. (c) Growing disrespect for the Parliamentary system.

(d) The inability of Pakistan politicians to agree on a Constitution until 1956 -

and the facts

 

(i) that immediately after adopting the Constitution they began to quarrel about it, and

(ii) that these quarrels made it impossible to hold elections, so that the new Constitution was never tried.

 

(e) The all pervading corruption amongst Ministers and officials, accompanied

by profiteering and hoarding on a large scale.

(f) The unsound management of the economy in 1951 and 1952, and again in

1956 and 1958, which was driving Pakistan towards bankruptcy and making

life difficult for the ordinary man.

 

3. In 1952, an unwise suggestion by the Prime Minister that Urdu should be the sole official language of Pakistan, resulted in serious riots in East Pakistan and brought out into the open the East Pakistan dislike of what was regarded as West Pakistan rule. That dislike had indeed been evident to careful observers from the start, and was accelerated by the contempt with which West Pakistani officials at that time treated East Pakistanis. This was a serious factor, since, for historical reasons, when Pakistan was established there were very few East Pakistanis in the superior services, and most important posts in East Pakistan had to be filled up by West Pakistanis -- some of whom did not hesitate to refer openly to the East Pakistanis as `these black beetles,' who, in turn, characterized the Administration as `brown imperialists.'

 

4. In the same year, the constitutional proposals of the Basic Principles Committee - which would have deprived East Pakistan of the majority position which it claimed in the Lower House and would have given it 50% of the seats in the Upper House - satisfied neither the East nor the West Wing and heightened the antagonism between them.

 

5. Political considerations, combined with a genuine though mistaken idea as to the possible pace of economic progress, had led to an orgy of overspending in 1950 and 1951 as a result of failure to realise the temporary nature of the Korean War boom. Sensible attempts were made to recover the position in 1952, but they necessarily involved restriction of imports, which combined with a foodstuff shortage and with drastic overspending by the Government to produce conditions of economic hardship. Discontent grew apace.

 

6. In 1953 anti-Ahmadiya riots in Lahore, inspired by Daultana who was determined to achieve Cabinet office, led to the imposition of Martial Law and. t'(-)r "I time, seriously lowered the stock of the Central Government. This lent added force to the demand of the East Pakistani firebrand Bhashani that Pakistan should be split 11110 two autonomous wings. Perhaps few East Pakistanis took this demand in its extreme form seriously, but it was the starting point of a continuing demand for a greater degree of freedom from Central control. Attempts were made by the Central Government to pacify East Pakistan, and the Prime Minister proposed a new form of parity between East and West, under which East Pakistan would have had a slight majority in the Lower House, while each of the five Provinces would have had ten seats in the Upper House. Like most compromises it satisfied nobody. A little later, a statement by the Prime Minister that Bengali would be a national language, only angered Punjab politicians.

 

7. In 1954, the complete rout of the Muslim League in the East Pakistan Provincial elections, was in effect a vote for greater Provincial autonomy, or to put it differently, an expression of discontent with the Central Government. It was widely believed in East Pakistan that import policies were framed solely to suit West Pakistan. The official demand of the United Front - which now had an overwhelming majority in the East Pakistan Assembly - was that Central subjects should be limited to Defence, Foreign Affairs and Currency. Further stresses and strains arose from the fact that after the defeat of the Muslim League in East Pakistan, the representatives of that Province in the Constituent Assembly no longer represented the views of their Province. Fazlul Huq, the Chief Minister of East Pakistan, made matters worse by a foolish statement claiming independence for East Pakistan. He afterwards to some extent explained this statement away, but the damage had been done. The East Pakistan Government was superseded by the Central Government and the appointment of a Governor who was a West Pakistani (in spite of attempts to describe him as an East Pakistani) made matters worse in the long run, though for the time being order was restored.

 

8. In October 1954, the Governor General dissolved the Constituent Assembly - presumably because it was unrepresentative but, according to the Governor General because it would no longer function. This left the Governor General solely in command, but immediately thereafter he formed a new Cabinet under the Premiership of Mohammed Ali of Bogra. This might have been accepted by the common man, but the Governor General soon fell sick and before long it was clear that nobody was in charge. A little later, the Sind High Court held the Governor General's action to be invalid. That decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, but certain other Acts of the Central Government were invalidated and the general effect was to increase the confusion in the public mind and to undermine the authority of the Central Government.

 

9. At this stage it was decided to integrate the West Punjab. Sind, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier and the Princely States of Khairpur, Bahawalpur and certain others into One Unit. The official reason for this decision was the need to counter fissiparous tendencies which are appearing in West Pakistan, and to establish parity between the Last and West Wings. The real reason appears to have been the fear of the Central Government that East Pakistan politicians would play off one Province in West Pakistan against another and secure power for themselves. It was in fact a concession to feeling in West Punjab, which in return had to accept a smaller representation in the proposed new legislature than it could have claimed on a population basis. The wisdom or otherwise of the integration is a matter of controversy, but it was much resented in East Pakistan, and in Sind. The opposition in Sind was dealt with by simple and brutal methods. The Speaker of the Sind Assembly was arrested and taken into the desert as soon as it was known that he was about to oppose the One Unit Bill and other opponents were dealt with by similar measures. The One Unit Bill was passed in October 1955, after deplorable scenes in the new Constituent Assembly, which the Governor General had convened some months after the dissolution of the old Constituent Assembly and which consisted of forty members from each Wing, elected by their respective Provincial Assemblies.

 

10. In 1956, when the proposed Constitution was under discussion, there was much antagonism between the Punjab, which wanted a strong Centre, and East Pakistan which fought for the grant of the maximum authority to the Provinces. In its final form, the Constitution Act, which was passed in February 1956, gave more power to the Centre than suited East Pakistan, but conceded parity of representation to the East Wing in the Federal Assembly. The United Front in East Pakistan at once claimed that there should also be parity in Service appointments, allocation of food and foreign exchange, and recruitment to the armed forces. Distrust of West Pakistan became almost pathological.

 

11. In West Pakistan, continuing party instability in the Provincial Assembly led to the imposition of President's rule in March 1957.

 

12. An agitation against One Unit was now made the occasion of a shameless bargain between the Republicans who, having warmly supported the One Unit proposal when it was enacted, joined up with the National Awami party in demanding its abolition in order to secure the support of that party against the Muslim League. Determination to attain or maintain power was now the only factor governing the parties in Pakistan, with the possible exception of the Muslim League.

 

13. Confusion and instability prevailed in the party alignments at the Centre. Prime Ministers were in and out - there were three of them in 1957 - and when the President, Iskander Mirza, refused to accede to the demand of the Prime Minister, Suhrawardy, for an early meeting of the Assembly, Suhrawardy resigned. The clash between the President and Suhrawardy was serious. The Army was strongly in support of the President and there was talk of a coup d'etat to overturn the Constitution. The

public were thoroughly sick of the tergiversations of the politicians, but pinned their faith to early elections to put matters right.

 

14. Economic conditions were also adverse at this stage. Genuine attempts had been made from 1953 to 1955 to recover from the orgy of overspending indulged in during 1950 and 1951, but in the political chaos of 1956 onwards, politicians vied with each other in promising their constituents a new Heaven and a new Earth. The financial results were very serious. Syed Amjad Ali, a sound Finance Minister, was powerless against the combined forces of the politicians and Ghulam Faruque, the

Chairman of the PIDC, who refused to pay the slightest attention to any financial restraints. Deficit financing on a considerable scale resulted and the nation's economic health was rightly described by one observer as `debilitated and febrile.'

 

15. The ordinary man thus found himself worse off at a time when Cabinet Ministers and senior officials were growing rich by shameless corruption. Resentment grew apace.

 

16. In both Wings, 1958 was a year of a paralleled political opportunism. Events during this year were of such importance that they justify a lengthy extract from a report by the present writer, written at the end of the year after visits to Pakistan both

before and after the Revolution.

 

"1. The Background

 

(a)    Throughout 1958 it had been a matter of constant speculation as to whether the promised general elections would be held. All political parties were clamouring for elections and the public had an almost pathological belief that somehow or other they would bring in a more honest administration. By the middle of the year it looked, despite the President's opposition, as if the elections would be held in the early part of 1959. Certain factors were, however, working in the opposite direction.

 

(b)   The Parliamentary system was proving wholly unsatisfactory: even the Constituent Assembly might well have been described as a bedlam which the Speaker was quite unable to control, and disorder was the rule rather than the exception in the Legislatures. Political parties seemed to have no fixed principles, but to move from policy to policy at convenience, while individual members were prepared at any time to join a new party in the course of the scramble for power. Corruption was rife, particularly in the East Wing (in spite of the respect in which the Chief Minister, Ataur Rahman, was held) and it penetrated to very high places. Import licences and industrial sanctions were freely bought and sold and bribery reached levels high even by Asian standards. At the same time, honest officials at the Centre complained that they never knew where they were and that there was no continuity of policy. Those concerned with economic affairs were particularly worried, first at the expansionist policy of Suhrawardy, and then at the refusal of Malik Firoz Khan Noon to face economic facts. The public were growing angry at the prevalence of hoarding, profiteering and racketeering generally and there was a general sense that things could hardly be worse.

 

(c)    Throughout the year the Army was growing restive. Officers, particularly, were enraged at the high prices of consumer goods; others felt a sense of frustration over the successful attempts of the East Pakistan Administration to make the military anti-smuggling operations infructuous: and the Army, in general, had a sense of shame over the degradation of Pakistan public life.

 

(d)   The President was contemptuous of the politicians, regarded the Constitution as a millstone round his neck, and had for some years been anxious to intervene. His difficulty, however, was that by mid-1958 he had no political following: he had, in fact, alienated all parties, partly because of his unconcealed contempt for their leaders and partly because of his own inept attempts to manage the parties. Patriotism and personal ambition led him to regard himself as the only possible saviour of Pakistan.

 

(e)    General Mohammad Ayub Khan. the Commander-in-Chief, had been pressing the President for two months to act and telling him that if he did not intervene, sooner or later the Army would take action. There is little doubt that in this attitude lie had the Army behind him.

 

(f)     At the beginning of August, the President began to 'test' public opinion by arresting prominent Muslim Leaguers - but he seems to have been still uncertain it' the time was ripe for action.

 

(g)    At this stage the fracas in the Dacca Legislative Assembly, in which the Speaker was injured and the Deputy Speaker killed, shocked right-thinking men and seemed to make Pakistan a laughing-stock. At about the same time there was a shameless selling of places in the Government of West Pakistan, and out of a House of 80 members. 37 held ministerial office either in Lahore or at the Centre. In the Central Legislative Assembly the tergiversations of parties were kaleidoscopic and Malik Firoz Khan Noon was frankly using patronage to secure support. Several members of the Awami League were now permitted by Mr. Suhrawardy to accept office in the Central Government, but there was a dispute about the distribution of portfolios and within two hours of their having been installed, they resigned. A few days before these resignations, the President had decided to act and it has been said by one objective observer that all parties suddenly realised that they had gone too far, while another impartial observer states that by their behaviour in the Legislatures the various parties had 'put it all on the President's plate.' It seems clear that the final decision to act at this particular time was taken by the President and not by General

      Ayub."

 

17. When, therefore, on October 7 1958, the President, Iskander Mirza, abrogated the Constitution completely and proclaimed Martial Law, the natural public fear as to what the Army would do was more than counterbalanced by a sense of relief that a corrupt gang of politicians had been removed from power.

18. Under the new set-up, General Ayub was appointed Martial Law Administrator, and supreme executive authority was conferred upon him. The position of the Martial Law Administrator vis-a-vis the President was left vague. In each Wing a Deputy Martial Law Administrator was appointed. His relations with the Governor do not appear to have been formally defined, but it may be said that while the Governor carried on the ordinary administration, the Deputy Administrator had the right to interfere whenever he thought it necessary. Apart from the Deputy Administrator's power to supervise and control, the Army was also supposed to be a kind of `ginger group' intended to make administration speedier and tougher and, in particular, to deal with corruption.

 

19. The revolution was remarkable for its non-violence and when the present writer visited Pakistan twelve days after the abrogation of the Constitution, very few troops were to be seen in the streets of Karachi. To all outward appearances life was completely normal, though excess of zeal had led the Army from time to time into petty tyrannies - perhaps some at least of the victims deserved what they suffered.

 

 

Part II: October 1958 - March 31 1969

 

20. During the first fortnight after the Revolution, the President talked freely about his plans for a future Cabinet of non-politicians, but thought he had better give the Army time to clean up the mess first. On October 24, he appears to have changed his mind and announced the formation of a Cabinet, with General Ayub as Prime Minister and containing three other Generals, together with four civilians from East Pakistan and four from West Pakistan.

 

21. At this stage, the Army decided to act. Mirza had always been an intriguer and the Army evidently suspected that he was again intriguing with the politicians. On October 27, Ayub forced Mirza to abdicate and himself assumed the role of President, associating with himself as advisers the civilians and generals whom Mirza had appointed to the Cabinet. The general public accepted this second Revolution readily and the disappearance of Iskander Mirza was welcomed in East Pakistan, where he had been unpopular.

 

22. The period of open military rule did not last long, but while it lasted Draconian sentences were passed for such offences as hoarding, profiteering and smuggling. The writer reported at the time that 'new life was put into the police' and it is credibly reported that a military officer even compelled a constable to pay for the hire of a conveyance -- a notable departure from Karachi police practice. The Deputy Martial Law Administrator, a general, was soon seen, particularly in East Pakistan, to be much more important than the Governor, while at lower levels, Army officers were deputed to accompany and supervise district magistrates and sub-divisional officers. In many respects this temporary military regime had a tonic effect, but the military behaved with particularly stupidity in such matters as price control, which they did not understand. The trading community became profoundly depressed, since not only was it prevented from profiteering, but it was deprived even of legitimate trading profits.

 

23. Fortunately, Ayub was fully conscious of the danger that a long-continued
and unqualified military regime would not only arouse resentment, but might lead to
the corruption of the Army itself. At about the end of November 1958, he began to
withdraw Army officers from direct participation in the civil administration. The
Generals still remained as members of the Cabinet and as Martial Law Deputy
Administrators. To outward appearances ordinary civil administration was restored,
but everybody was fully aware that the real power lay in the hands of the Generals.

24. Administration was rapidly toned up and a number of corrupt or inefficient
officials - some of them occupying very senior posts - were sacked or told to resign.
Desirable though this was, it had the unfortunate effect that other officials became

unwilling to pass orders and considerable delays occurred in obtaining decisions or executive action.

 

25. All objective observers were impressed with the sincerity of the new President and the present writer expressed the view that `it is difficult not to feel that the destinies of Pakistan are in better hands than at any time since the death of Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan.'

 

26. Towards the end of 1959 any enthusiasm on the part of the public for the new regime seemed to have evaporated. East Pakistanis disliked their exclusion from politics and the writer noted at that time that `though no new movement against the regime seems to be expected in the near future, no particular resistance would be offered to any force directed against that regime.' The decision of the President in June 1959 to move the capital from Karachi to Rawalpindi was unpopular with many West Pakistan officials, and was keenly resented in East Pakistan. It was felt by East Pakistanis that this would place them more firmly than ever under West Pakistan rule.

 

27. The President's ideas as to a Constitution now began to take shape, and in the middle of 1959 he expounded to the writer his theory of Basic Democracy. The President's view was that `while the villager knows nothing about economics or politics, he is quite capable of choosing good men of his locality to represent him. Pakistan will be divided into about a thousand units, each of which will elect a group of eighty members. The groups will have a threefold function - to administer small local affairs, to provide contact between the Government and the people, and to form an electoral college for the election of the President and the Central Legislature.' The writer suggested that a halfway house between dictatorship and democracy would not work for long, but the President insisted that the public could not be kept indefinitely out of the business of government, and that the right course was to bring them back into it in a limited way while he himself was there to direct them. `Controlled Democracy' - a phrase borrowed from President Soekarno - was the watchword of the President and he consistently stuck to that principle.

 

28. The years 1960 and 1961 were unspectacular and were marked chiefly by progress towards a more liberal Constitution. The elections for the Basic Democracies attracted much interest and indeed 55% of the electorate voted, but in West Pakistan the best men tended to hold themselves aloof, apparently thinking the Basic Democracies beneath them. In East Pakistan the position was better since the Basic Democracies were in a sense successors to the Union Boards which had been firmly established in East Bengal before independence. Insofar as the Basic Democracies were local self-governing bodies, they did useful work in East Pakistan, but as electoral bodies they were never accepted by the East Pakistanis. In 1960 and 1961 open criticism would still have been dangerous, but already there were signs that in due course the demand for direct elections would become serious in East Pakistan. Shortly after the elections of Basic Democrats in January 1960, the President held a "referendum" of the Basic Democrats in order to justify himself in going ahead with the framing of the Constitution and in treating himself as the first President when the new Constitution came into force. Two years were to elapse before that consummation. In February 1960, the President set up a Constitution Commission, under the Chainnanship of Mr. Justice Shahabuddin, to draft a Constitution. The President set his heart on a Unitary Constitution with no Provincial Legislatures and when the Commission presented its report in May 1961, he made it clear that he regarded the report as being of the nature of advice which he might or might not take. Nevertheless, public feeling was too strong for the President and when he promulgated the new Constitution on March 1 1962, it differed considerably from what he had originally intended, in as much as it provided for a quasi Federal Constitution with Provincial Legislatures in each of the two wings. It did, however, follow the Presidential system and provided, as the President had wished, that members of the Central and Provincial Cabinets were not to be members of the Legislature.

 

29. During the same period the work of "cleaning up" went on apace. In West Pakistan, of the fifty cases dealt with by the West Pakistan Elected Bodies Disqualification Tribunal, only one respondent was exonerated. Some of the most important of those disqualified, including Firoz Khan Noon and a number of other ex Ministers, exercised the option of avoiding an enquiry by voluntarily accepting disqualification up to December 31 1966. H.S. Suhrawardy, who elected to go before the Tribunal, was found guilty of various forms of corruption during his term of office as Prime Minister and was duly disqualified. In East Pakistan 3,000 persons were disqualified from contesting elections. Although these purges were thoroughly justified, they created a large number of enemies for the President and his regime. It was reasonable to guess that when they were once again allowed to take part in public life, they would be enemies of the President.

 

30. A great deal of harm at this time was done by the arrogance and "bossiness" developed by Government officials - presumably because they felt that the might of the Army was behind them.

 

31. Inter-provincial relations to some extent deteriorated in this period. West Pakistan was proving too unwieldy a unit, and the failure to carry out effectively the decentralisation once envisaged led to local resentments. It was noted at the time that in "the eternal triangle between the Pathans, Punjabis and Sindhis, the Pathan is at the moment the odd man out." Lack of good feeling between the East and the West Wings again became more noticeable, and at the end of 1961 the writer recorded his feeling of unease as to the future.

 

32. The year 1962 was perhaps a turning point in the affairs of' Pakistan. The elections to the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies, which were a prelude to the inauguration of a new Constitution, took place in April and Ma~, respectively. They were held under very artificial conditions, since political parties, were still banned and candidates' election meetings were held under the chairmanship of local officials. Moreover, the two most powerful personalities in East Pakistan Suhrawardy and Mujibur Rahman - were in jail on charges which the Government were ultimately unable to substantiate. Nevertheless, the measures taken by the President to exclude the influence of the corrupt "old gang" failed and the successful

candidates were in the main camp followers of the former leaders. With the promulgation of the new Constitution, Martial Law came to an end.

 

33. The authority of the President had declined considerably since the commencement of the Constitution-making process and shortly after the promulgation of the Constitution, he had to agree to the formation of political parties and also to resile from his decision that members of his Cabinet could not be members of the Legislature. The order which gave effect to this change undermined the very concept of the Presidential system, and the fact that the Supreme Court subsequently invalidated this order, did not enhance the President's prestige. This was in fact the first major defeat of the President and he never fully recovered his position. Politicians were quick to take advantage of the new situation. In October 1962 the Muslim League split into two parties -one party which came to be known as the Conventionists, supported the new Constitution, while the Councillor section presided over by Khwaja Nazimuddin demanded direct elections based on adult suffrage and the conferment of enhanced powers on Provincial Legislatures. The Council also demanded that the Constitution should be given an Islamic character. These demands had a measure of support in West Pakistan, but it was in East Pakistan that their full impact was felt. It was noted at the time that "the issue has assumed serious proportions and nothing short of the restoration of Parliamentary Democracy will satisfy the demands of the local leaders." For the time being the situation was saved by international complications arising out of the Indo-China War, but this was perhaps the last chance for the President to recognise, without loss of face, that he was powerless to check the new current of thought. He seemed unable to enter into the feelings of the East Bengalis. In September 1962, Suhrawardy made an attempt to form a loose alliance of opposition parties to be called the National Democratic Front. It was a very amorphous group and even when Nur-ul-Amin became its chairman in March 1964, it still failed to show any signs of cohesion.

 

34. In 1963 it appeared to some observers that the position of the President had been strengthened and the Government had more success than was expected in a meeting of the National Assembly. This recovery was illusory. Contrary to the wishes of the President, the Franchise Committee which he had appointed recommended direct elections to the Legislatures, though conceding that the election of the President could continue to be by the electoral college of Basic Democrats. At a later stage the President was able to resist the demand for direct elections, but it has since been recognised that by becoming the head of the Muslim League Convention at about the end of 1963, the President was in fact stepping down into the political arena. He could not in future speak just as a benevolent dictator. The apparent improvement of the position of the Government in the Legislature was mainly the result of complete disunity amongst the opposition coalition - and the President's position was for the time being strengthened by the death of his most determined able opponent, Suhrawardy. There was, however, no relaxation of the antipathy between East and West Pakistan, which was to be the real determinant of Pakistan politics.

 

35. No significant development took place in the next two years. Just before the introduction of the Franchise bill in the National Assembly in March 1964, a very successful though orderly hartal in Dacca and elsewhere in East Pakistan showed the strength of feeling behind the demand for what they called Responsible Government. Nevertheless, the Franchise Bill was passed in a form which provided that Basic Democrats would elect the National and Provincial Assemblies and the President. Much of the energy of the opposition parties for the rest of the year was taken up with manoeuvreing for position ready for the Presidential elections in January 1965. The results of those elections were striking. Ayub was easily elected, but of the East Pakistan votes, out of an electorate of 40,000, he secured a bare 2,000 more than the rival candidate, Miss Jinnah. It was now clear that any idea that he had recovered his former strength, at any rate in East Pakistan, was illusory.

 

36. An unhappy feature of this period was the frequent recurrence of student riots. The students had some grievances of their own, but they seem to have been mainly concerned to embarrass the Government. They were in fact beginning to be used by opposition politicians -- a technique which was to be a major factor in the troubles of 1969.

 

37. In the second half of 1965, the war with India temporarily united the various political factions, and in any case the stringent Defence of Pakistan Regulations would have made open hostility to the Government out of the question.

 

38. The year 1966 was an unhappy one. The exalted mood induced by the war was succeeded in East Pakistan by a reaction based on the feeling that East Pakistan had had little to gain and much to lose by a war with India over Kashmir. The war had in fact clearly revealed the isolation and vulnerability of East Pakistan -- the Centre was virtually out of touch with East Pakistan during the war. Her people felt that they were out on a limb and her politicians repeated the old but rather meaningless cry that East Pakistan did not have its rightful share in the defence forces. Apart from the personal unpopularity of the Governor, Monem Khan, he was increasingly felt to be the President's creature and allegations of West Pakistan domination were widespread. A few wild men talked of secession, but the real demand was for a greater degree of Provincial autonomy and for Responsible Government, that is to say, direct election to the Legislatures and responsibility of the Ministers to them. This demand had for long been present, but had been intensified by the conditions resulting from the war with India.

 

39. Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the Awami League, availed himself of this popular mood to issue Six Points in February 1966. They included demands for a Federal system of Government with only Defence and Foreign Affairs reserved to the Federal Government, while taxation and fiscal and monetary policies were to be Provincial subjects. It is not clear if the Awami League contemplated the possibility of separate currencies or merely claimed the right to exercise exchange control. It is in any case possible that this extreme statement was a bargaining counter but most East Pakistanis were with Mujibur Rahman in demanding a much greater measure of autonomy. Mujibur Rahman was again sent to jail, but this did not deter the Awami League in June 1966 from organising a hartal in support of its regional autonomy demand. Road and rail traffic and business generally were seriously disrupted, and the fact that the Police were compelled to open fire only added to the bitterness, though the violent demonstrations collapsed at once.

 

40. The President appeared to be curiously insensitive to East Pakistan demands, and the writer recorded the view at the time that unless the President went a long way to meet the demand for Responsible Government, the demand for separatism would become serious. The President did indeed lay himself out more than in previous years to establish communications with the people of East Pakistan, but it is doubtful if he appreciated the strength of their desire for more autonomy.

 

41. In other respects too, the image of the President was not as bright as it had once been. In West Pakistan there were critics who had not understood the necessity of the Tashkent Settlement from Pakistan's point of view - and they were under the illusion they were winning the war when the President called it off. There was still no desire to see the President leave the scene and even in East Pakistan the resentment was against the regime rather than against Ayub himself. Nevertheless, even in West Pakistan his charismatic power had disappeared. He had quarrelled with the powerful Khan of Kalabagh, Governor of West Pakistan, and before long there was a breach between the President and Mr. Bhutto, who resigned from the Cabinet in June 1966. Altogether, 1966 left many observers with a feeling of considerable apprehension about the future of Pakistan.

 

42. The end of 1966 and the beginning of 1967 were to some extent characterised by a propaganda duel between the President and Bhutto. From November 1966, the President had carried out a strenuous two months election tour, which was made necessary, partly by the imminence of the removal of the bans on disqualified politicians, and partly by the proximity of the elections to the Council of Muslim League Conventionists, now known as the Pakistan Muslim League. The President's theme at this time was the necessity for maintaining the unity of Pakistan at all costs, and he had much to say about the secessionists. Bhutto, on the other hand, in the early part of 1967 went into open attack, and set himself up as the advocate of democracy. Later in the year he formed the Pakistan People's Party based on the theme of Islam, Socialism and Democracy. In spite of his defects, Bhutto has great charm and persuasiveness, and at this time he made a considerable impact upon the youth of West Pakistan - an impact which was all the greater because he now began to criticise the Tashkent policy, which he himself had supported when it was settled.

 

43. In April 1967, a concerted attempt to unite the opposition parties on a common programme led to the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, which was formally announced on May I over the signatures of the Party leaders of the National Democratic Front, the Council of the Muslim League, the Jamaat-i-Islam, the Nizam­i-Islam and the Awami League. It put forward a programme containing eight points, the most important of which were the demand for adult suffrage and for a federal form of constitution in which the powers of the Federal Government would be very limited. Although All-Pakistan Awami League leaders had subscribed to the manifesto, the Awami League Executive in East Pakistan refused to have anything to do with it and stood firmly on Mujibur Rahman's Six Points. Bhashani's National

Awami Party also held aloof. Altogether the period was characterised by endless wrangling amongst the various opposition parties, who were united only by their desire for direct elections. This disunity might have presented Ayub with a chance of retrieving the situation, but he did not take it, though he did go so far as to increase the number of Basic Democrats from 80,000 to 120,000. A little later, the representation of the Punjab in the West Pakistan Assembly was increased. This was justified by the fact that when One Unit was formed, the Punjab representatives agreed to accept less than their proportionate share of representation in order to get One Unit accepted.

 

44. At the end of the year 1967, the President spent another eleven days in East Pakistan, but although he was now making every effort to bring himself into closer touch with the East Pakistanis, it cannot be said that he achieved much success.

 

45. The year 1968 was a period during which the forces which were to make for a Revolution were building up, but they lacked cohesion and few of the parties had any carefully thought out long term policy.

 

46. The year opened dramatically with the re-arrest of Mujibur Rahman in what was known as the Agartala Conspiracy case, on allegations that he and others were conspiring to bring about the secession of East Pakistan from Pakistan. Some competent observers consider that this was one of Ayub's most serious mistakes. Few people believed the charges to be genuine and in any case, they made Mujibur Rahman into a martyr and strengthened the Awami League. The action taken did, however, frighten some of those who had talked of greater autonomy for East Pakistan and led them to assert hastily that they did not want to disintegrate Pakistan. This was probably true - they had never very clearly defined in their own minds the implications of the increased autonomy which they claimed.

 

47. This was a period of great confusion amongst the opposition parties. The N.A.P. split into two groups. One group, led by Muzaffar Ahmad and opposed to Bhashani, demanded complete regional autonomy. Bhutto, who had formed the Pakistan People's Party, began infructuous talks with Bhashani, who for his part attacked the P.D.M. as the party of the rich. A little later the Councillor Muslim League also split into two groups. Thanks to this confusion, opposition activities were for a time at a low ebb as far as any effect was concerned. The Awami League, which now claimed that its Six Point programme would strengthen Pakistan, had some success in securing support from the Trade Unions.

 

48. In May, trouble broke out in Quetta, partly as a result of the activities of the N.A.P., the leader of whose dissident group was Khan Abdul Wall Khan, son of the former Frontier Gandhi, the arch-exponent of Pakhtunistan. Many arrests were made and the trouble subsided.

 

49. The P.D.M. showed a great deal of moderation but, nevertheless, in July 1968 reasserted its demands for the restoration of democracy. This was still the one demand common to all the dissident groups.

 

50. In October, Bhutto joined in the attempts to stir up trouble on the Frontier, and in that very inflammable area repeated his demand for "the restoration of democracy." He also adopted what was now becoming a regularly accepted political technique and allied himself with the students and with the agitation against One Unit. In the second week of November there were considerable disturbances in Rawalpindi and elsewhere in the North West. A good deal of damage was done and the Police were compelled to open fire in Rawalpindi, and in Peshawar pistol shots were fired while the President was addressing a meeting. Neither the President nor outside observers attached much importance to this somewhat stupid attempt, but more serious was Bhutto's refusal to condemn the demonstrations. As for the students, "I am with you in your struggle" was his declaration. Not surprisingly, he and the President of the dissident N.A.P. were arrested.

 

51. November 1968 was a month during which more than one observer commented on the growing sense of middle class frustration - maladministration and corruption were evident everywhere, but it seemed impossible to do anything about it. At this stage, Air Marhsal Asghar Khan appeared on the political scene. He is a man of integrity, greatly respected, but he had no policy to offer and his emergence is not so much of importance in itself as indicative of the general discontent which led a man of his calibre and background to associate himself with open criticism of the regime. Of less significance, but perhaps of greater potential interest, was the re­emergence of General Azam Khan, who had displayed remarkable demagogic qualities during his tenure of office as G.O.C. East Pakistan some years previously.

 

52. In December, the President decided to cancel the foreign tour which he had planned for January, and a few weeks later he told the writer quite frankly that conditions were so disturbed that it would have been unwise for him to leave Pakistan. To outward appearances conditions nevertheless seemed quieter than for some time. Many opposition stalwarts were in jail and those at liberty felt the need for caution and for proceeding on constitutional lines. The President made a broadcast intended to be conciliatory. It contained the first admission that all was not well in the educational and administrative fields. The President announced a number of minor reforms, but they did not touch the real issues.

 

53. On December 31 1968, in an address to the Muslim League, the President insisted that the Presidential system was vital to the well-being of Pakistan and he made it clear that there would be no major alterations of the Constitution, nor did he make any real attempt to meet the East Pakistan demand for a greater degree of autonomy. The address perhaps made clear the impossibility of a compromise between his position and that of practically all opposition groups. Thereafter, there was no turning back.

 

54. Opposing positions were taken up rapidly. A Democratic Action Committee was formed to demand direct elections and a federal parliamentary system, and to boycott the elections if these demands were not conceded in advance. Pakistan politics are so confused and tedious that it is perhaps worthwhile reminding ourselves that the constituent elements of the Democratic Action Committee were - the dissident element in the N.A.P., the two sections of the Awami League, the Councillor Muslim League, the N.D.F., the Nizam-i-Islam, the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-i­Islam. Bhashani and his group held aloof.

 

55. At this stage the President laid himself out to be still more conciliatory. Orders under Section 144 Cr.P.C. were lifted and the ban on the East Pakistan left wing Journal Ittifaq was removed. These concessions, however, were too late, since it was obvious that they proceeded from weakness. The Pakistan Information Minister told the writer in January 1969 that the President had been ready to offer concessions in December, but had waited until he could do so from strength and not from weakness. The concessions contemplated, however, amounted to little more than the expansion of the powers of the Provincial Assembly and were in fact derisory.

 

56. The Democratic Action Committee's Demand Day on January 17, 1969, triggered off disturbances which were to continue until the imposition of Martial Law. They began in Dacca, where the writer witnessed a very effective hartal, including a stoppage of all traffic of any kind and all business. The usual vicious circle was then seen. Violence had to be met by Police action and in some cases firing; this led to allegation of Police "excesses" - even, for example, where the Police opened fire to defend their own lives; and that in turn led to more violence, more Police action and so on. The contagion spread from Dacca to other towns in East Pakistan, and thence to Pindi, Peshawar, Lahore and elsewhere, and by the end of the month, in Karachi - which was by no means the worst affected town -- 850 persons had been arrested. Any detailed recital of incidents of violence or Police action would be pointless, since they occurred all over the country. On his return from a visit to East and West Pakistan in January 1969, the writer reported that discontent and disorder were almost universal and could no longer be contained.

 

57. In February, the President went to the utmost limit in making concessions. He withdrew the Emergency Powers which had been in force since the war with India and he released Bhutto. He then invited opposition leaders to a conference to discuss constitutional changes and when the Awami League refused to join the conference unless the case against Mujibur Rahman and his associates was withdrawn, the President acceded even to that demand. On February 21 he announced his intention of not standing for election again, but none of these conciliatory gestures softened the demands of the opposition hotch-potch. The N.A.P. dissidents continued to press for the dissolution of One Unit and the D.A.C. again repeated its demands for a federal system of government, with considerable regional autonomy. All alike insisted on the restoration of direct elections. In the meantime, law and order were rapidly breaking down and it seemed clear that Pakistan was ripe for revolution.

 

58. The events of March 1969 were so complicated that they are not easy to summarise. It may be said that it was perhaps the most unhappy month Pakistan has ever experienced; that in the first few days a complete breakdown of law and order appeared to be a possibility; that towards the middle of the month the situation improved; and that amongst thoughtful people there were some signs of a reaction in favour of Ayub. At this stage Ayub's attempts to arrive at agreement with the opposition parties as to the method of proceeding to a restoration of Parliamentary government broke down, partly because of the intransigence of the East Pakistan representatives and partly because of the complete lack of unanimity amongst the opposition groups. Ayub now threw in his hand and on March 25 called in General Yahya Khan to administer Martial Law. On March 31 Yahya proclaimed himself as President. This summary must now be filled out with some detail.

 

59. In the first and second weeks of March, strikes and riots intended to force the Basic Democrats to resign led to looting and arson in East Pakistan, and in some districts - particularly Bogra and other northern districts - to murder. This moreover was originally intended to force not only Basic Democrats but also members of the National Assembly to resign, but Mujibur Rahman - who is more practical-minded than his critics realise - persuaded the leaders of the agitation that the resignation of the Members of the Assembly would destroy the only body which could bring about the desired reforms. Bhashani now threatened to inaugurate a no-tax campaign and gave considerable support to students who were organising a violent campaign against the administration. Industrial workers, in both the public and private sectors, intensified their violent demonstrations and took the opportunity, by "gheraos" and general intimidation, to force employers to agree to quite unrealistic wage increases - a practice which was encouraged when in the middle of March Government increased the wages of its lower paid employee and encouraged industry and commerce to do likewise. The atmosphere of violence spread and murder and arson on a considerable scale took place. They were, however, only at their worst in certain areas and it is unfortunate that the reporting of the Times correspondent, Peter Hazelhurst, was so sensational and out of perspective that it can only be described as irresponsible and was so regarded by responsible British businessmen in Pakistan. It is important, however, not to go to the other extreme and minimise the seriousness of the situation. The Police in some areas appeared to be paralysed.

 

60. In the meantime the political situation had become even more confused. When the conference called by the President assembled on March 10, the D.A.C. put forward what purported to be agreed proposals for a federal Parliamentary system, with regional autocracy based on direct elections. It soon appeared that there were very divergent interpretations of this formula. Mujibur Rahman would limit Federal subjects to Defence, Foreign Affairs and Currency; the Wall Khan section of the N.A.P. put the main emphasis on the dismemberment of One Unit; Choudhury Mohammed All's group insisted on the maintenance of One Unit and on parity between East and West Pakistan in the National Assembly; and so on. Ayub proposed that they should go ahead on the basis of direct elections and Parliamentary Government --- which all supported -- and leave the other issues to be settled by a National Assembly elected on an adult suffrage basis. This was not acceptable to some of the groups. Mujibur Rahman now disassociated his Awami League from the D.A.C., since it did not give adequate support to his claims for Regional autonomy, and it was clear that there was no hope of cooperation between the different parties.

 

61. Ayub now made another conciliatory gesture. He replaced Musa, the Governor of West Pakistan, by Yusuf Haroon whom Ayub himself disliked but who was popular with some of the opposition groups. This to some extent allayed the tension in West Pakistan, but the East Pakistan situation deteriorated. After some days Ayub replaced the detested Governor of East Pakistan, Monem Khan, by Dr. Huda. Some improvement seemed to follow. To outward appearances the President might still

have been able to dominate the scene sufficiently to bring about agreement - certainly he did not seem on March 20 to have any intention of resigning, though the present writer felt that Ayub could never again be in control of the situation.

 

62. It is clear that the President still intended to propose the minimum constitutional changes referred to above. Most Western observers have assumed that at this stage the Army, which means General Yahya, was prepared to run no risks and told Ayub to go. More informed opinion, however, suggests that the course of events was more complicated than this. It had now become doubtful whether, if the President summoned the National Assembly, he would be able to secure the necessary majority (two-thirds of the sitting members) to enact amendments which he would be prepared to accept. This doubt was very realistic, since not only had the Awami League given notice of an amendment which in the President's view would have destroyed the unity of Pakistan, but even Daultana was now demanding the break up of One Unit. The dangers which might follow from the resulting deadlock were obvious and the possibility of introducing Martial Law must have been discussed by the President with the Commander in Chief, Yahya, and his colleagues in the other Services. They are believed to have made it clear that they would not support Martial Law with Ayub as President. Since there seemed no way of breaking this deadlock, Ayub decided to hand over and vacated his charge in favour of Yahya. It must be emphasised that this interpretation is to some extent speculative but is unlikely to be far from the truth.

 

63. Be that as it may, on March 25 1969 the President handed over administration to General Yahya, who at once proclaimed Martial Law and abrogated the Constitution. On March 31, Yahya proclaimed himself as President.

 

64. The proclamation of Martial Law was followed by the institution of special courts of criminal jurisdiction. Strikes, lock-outs and unauthorised meetings were forbidden under heavy penalties, and drastic punishments were prescribed for arson, looting, smuggling and other offences against the Martial Law administration. These regulations made their impact at once and law and order were rapidly restored.

 

65. During March, widespread disorder had seriously disrupted industry and commerce in certain areas though the Tea Districts were undisturbed. The effects of the disturbances were felt by businessmen in two ways. In the first place, lack of confidence led to a considerable transfer of funds from East to West Pakistan, and at the same time there was a serious falling off in overseas orders for jute. Money became tight and one cool-headed British businessman in East Pakistan wrote on March 23 to the effect that massive foreign aid would be required to restore economic conditions to normal. It is too early yet to assess the significance or otherwise of this view, and it may be that little permanent economic damage has been done. l he second effect of the disorders on business may in the long run be more serious. It was produced by the success of many employees in extorting wage concessions from employers by intimidation. On March 28 the Chief Martial Law Administrator issued orders, which were clarified on April 5, to the effect that agreements which had been executed under duress must be honoured for the time being, but that the whole question of labour conditions and wages would be reviewed by the Martial Law Administrator in due course. It would be unrealistic to believe that these enforced concessions could ever be withdrawn in their entirety. One major company has already been able to arrive at an agreement with its labour as to what proportion of the increases is to be retained, and it is thought that other companies will follow suit. In some cases, the upshot of the matter is that wages will be permanently raised beyond the level justified by economic facts.

 

 

REFLECTIONS ON THE TWO REVOLUTIONS

 

1: 1958

 

66. The causes of the 1958 Revolution may be summarised as follows:

 

The underlying cause of the Revolution was the lack of any coherent public opinion. In East Pakistan, the disappearance of many influential Hindus had left a political vacuum and there were very few traditional Muslim leaders capable of filling it. In West Pakistan on the other hand, tribal organisation and feudal tradition still counted for much and there were, therefore, numbers of rival leaders « ho were not willing to work together, and none of whom had authority outside his own group. Jinnah and Liaquat might have filled this gap had they lived, but after their death political confusion prevailed and except for the reactionary mullahs, nobody with widespread influence had any clear cut political philosophy to offer.

 

67. Parties grew up round personalities and except perhaps for the Muslim League, few of them had any definite creed. There were thus no foundations for stable Parliamentary Government. Party politics became merely an opportunists' game. Members of the Assembly changed parties at convenience, and parties themselves changed policies radically on grounds of expediency - a fact well illustrated by the complete turn-round of the Republicans with regard to One Unit. The Legislatures became objects of contempt for those who thought about these matters at all.

 

68. A second effect of the lack of public opinion was the unconstrained growth of financial corruption on a large scale amongst Ministers and senior officials. Corruption at low level had been taken for granted in British days, but licensing and controls had now become the means by which the rulers of Pakistan grew shamelessly rich at a time when food shortages and high prices were making life difficult for the ordinary man. Resentment mounted rapidly in the second half of the fifties. The dangerous overspending which characterised several years in this period would perhaps not have affected public opinion much, except for its inflationary effect.

 

69. Regionalism was also a powerful factor and the spectacular defeat of the Muslim League in East Pakistan in 1954 was primarily due to dissatisfaction with what was felt to be a Government largely run by West Pakistanis. Suhrawardy, the only East Pakistan politician at this time of any real stature, might have been able to

do something to stem this current of feeling but for the serious clash between him and the President. The new men, such as Mujibur Rahman, who now emerged in East Pakistan were in the main rabble rousers, who encouraged the feeling against West Pakistan.

 

70. In West Pakistan, One Unit was resented by many in three of the constituent Provinces and the promised decentralisation of administration which might have made it more acceptable was not carried out.

 

71. Above all, it is to be remembered that the Revolution was the work of the Army and not the public. For the reasons set out above, the Army was sick of rule by the politicians and for the same reasons the public either accepted the Revolution with relief, or at least acquiesced in it.

 

72. Up to here, this note has been purely factual, but a speculative thought may be advanced. There is some ground for thinking that whereas in India the Indian National Congress had taught people the meaning and mechanics of democracy. Pakistan had not had an equally effective political education. The rank and file counted for much in the Congress and not even Nehru, or Patel - or even Gandhi --­

could ignore them. The Muslim League, on the other hand, was more regimented by a few leaders. Is this a reflection of the difference between the Hindu and Muslim background? Is it the case that Islam has always combined social equality with political regimentation, whereas in Hinduism, although there is no pretence of social equality, the tradition of democracy in the Panchayats is age-long?

The speculation in this paragraph is only included to provoke thought and its soundness or otherwise is irrelevant to the rest of the note.

 

11. 1969

 

73. Any parallel drawn between the Revolutions of 1958 and 1969 would be misleading. The earlier Revolution was entirely the work of the Army. The public acquiesced in it or even approved of it, but did nothing to bring it about. In 1969, on the other hand, the motive force was a popular uprising which the Army had to be called in to quell. Again, the 1958 Revolution was the result of disgust with the effects of democratic government, whereas in 1969 the demand for the restoration of such a form of government was widespread. The evils which attended that system before 1958 had been forgotten - and moreover, a new generation had been deeply affected by the rebellion of youth throughout the world. Again, in spite of general discontent, in 1958 law and order were still well maintained. In 1969 they had completely broken down over large areas. The resentment at the corruption of the ruling class was a common factor in both movements, but by itself it probably would not have been sufficient to trigger off revolution in 1969. The antagonism between the East and West Wings played its part in both Revolutions, but it was not as potent a force in 1958 as in 1969.

 

74. The fundamental causes of the 1969 Revolution were two in number - the passionate desire for the return to the Parliamentary system of government and the fissiparous tendencies of the regions. As regards the first of these factors, both before

and after Partition, the intelligentsia had taken profound interest in parliamentary activities and the exercise of power, and it could have been taken for granted that if ever the grip of a benevolent dictatorship were relaxed, they would again insist on sharing effectively in the business of government.

 

75. Regional hostility was exacerbated by the undisguised contempt of the West Wing for the East Wing, and by the fact that until the last few years the economic resources of Pakistan were devoted more to the interests of West Pakistan than to those of East Pakistan. This has not been so in the last three or four years, but the change of heart has come too late and East Pakistanis still believe, mistakenly, that they do not get a fair share of the economic cake. They will not recognise that the limiting factor is the lack of East Pakistani capital and expertise which would enable them to make the best use of the available resources.

 

76. Regional tensions between the constituent elements of the West Wing have always existed, but they increased when it was felt that the authority of the Centre was being weakened. However sensible the political union of Sindhis, Punjabis, Pathans and Baluchis may have been - and this is a matter of opinion -- it could only be maintained harmoniously either by such a degree of decentralisation as to make it innocuous, or by firm Central control. In 1969 neither of these conditions prevailed.

 

77. Personal and sectional factors were also at work. Many politically minded Pakistanis had been antagonised by the perfectly justifiable action taken by the President against corrupt politicians and officials of the old regime. These resentments were bound to come to the front if ever the grip of the President was loosened. The President's descent into the political arena, together with the attacks made on him over the Tashkent Agreement and the criticism of his overall direction of the campaign against India, not only did in fact loosen that grip, but also made people realise that it had been loosened.

 

78. A subsidiary factor was the growth of corruption at high levels in the last few years of Ayub's personal rule. It has not been suggested that he lost his own integrity, but the economic scandals connected with his family and the notorious corruption of some of his Ministers and Governors, gave a great handle to his enemies. To these factors must be added the growing isolation of the President. By 1968 he had quarrelled with all his old advisers and had no means of keeping in touch with public feeling. He had to face the problem which continually haunted the Moghul Emperors. If an Emperor had close confidents, in due course they rebelled against him.

 

79. Arrogance of Pakistani officials and the contempt which they showed for the ordinary public bred almost universal dislike of the Ayub regime. The top level officials with whom most British people deal were not quite so arrogant -- though even with them authoritarianism and arbitrariness were normal - but the officials at lower levels treated the Pakistan public like dirt. In East Pakistan, similar odium attached to the Basic Democrats, since they were believed to have appropriated to their own use considerable sums from the funds granted to them for local works and improvements. It is perhaps for this reason that they were the first victims of mob fury in March 1969.

 

80. It has been suggested that after his illness the President was less capable of taking decisions than before it and that it was for this reason that he failed to make concessions to popular demands while there was still time. It cannot be said that there is any direct evidence of such a failure of power of decision. Insensitivity to, or lack of comprehension of the feelings of East Pakistanis is another matter and was always present, but even as recently as January 1969 the President gave the writer the impression of being relaxed and confident and perhaps not fully aware that the pressure of public opinion was becoming almost irresistible.

 

81. Two other suggestions have been made with regard to which it is not yet possible to take a definite view. The first is that Chinese influence has been at work in East Pakistan. The writer knows of no evidence to support this view, though there has been an increase in the number of Chinese shops, agencies and establishments in East Pakistan. The second suggestion is that recent political events in West Bengal have raised the temper of opposition politics in East Pakistan, and those who make this suggestion call attention to the violence of the outbreaks on the West Bengal border of East Pakistan. The writer prefers to suspend judgment on these suggestions until some evidence is available.

 

82. The Future: It is impossible at the moment to make any confident prediction, and the following suggestions as to what may happen must be regarded as mere guesses.

 

When Martial Law was proclaimed on March 25 1969, General Yahya's statement appeared to mean that there would be a speedy return to normal, civil administration. More recent statements, however, seem to suggest that Martial Law may last longer than was then expected. General Yahya is in fact likely to be faced with a dilemma. If he allows the politicians to resume their previous activities, disorder and chaos may once again prevail; if on the other hand he keeps them on too tight a rein, it may be impossible to arrive at a Constitution which would have public support, particularly in East Pakistan.

 

When Martial Law comes to an end, there will be a return to direct elections on the basis of adult suffrage and Ministerial responsibility to the Legislature. West Pakistanis left to themselves might be content with some approximation to the Presidential system, but it is most unlikely that East Pakistan would acquiesce for any considerable length of time in anything less than the full Parliamentary system.

 

East Pakistan will undoubtedly have a much greater degree of autonomy than at present, that is to say, Central subjects will be considerably curtailed and Provincial subjects augmented. Defence and Foreign Affairs would presumably be retained at the Centre, but Finance - on which they depend - may be a matter of grave dispute. Currency will presumably remain Central, but if as seems probable, East Pakistan demands full control of whatever is agreed to be her share of the available foreign exchange, that would seem to necessitate Provincial import and export control. Whether that would continue

for long to be compatible with the maintenance of a common currency is open to doubt.

 

These will be matters of hard bargaining. Probably very few East Pakistanis want anything which would be called complete secession, but there '1a always a risk that the vehemence of their own demands may force them to go further than they wish, or that if East Pakistan's demands were excessive. West Pakistan might be prepared to let her secede. The real East Pakistani aim is probably a loose Federation, perhaps so loose that it might in time become a Confederation.

 

It is difficult to feel that a semi-autonomous East Pakistan, under a system of parliamentary democracy, would be sufficiently cohesive to make stable government possible. On the other hand, it is even more difficult to feel that any dictatorship from the West could long continue. Altogether a great question mark must hang over the future of East Pakistan.

 

Some observers suggest that an autonomous East Pakistan might link up with West Bengal, but the continuing antagonism between Hindus and Muslims may militate against this. It is more likely that trade restrictions between the two Bengals will be removed.

 

The general demand for a greater measure of regional autonomy and the profound antagonism between Sindhis, Pathans and Punjabis may lead to tile break up of One Unit. This would not necessarily be a catastrophe and the political outlook for West Pakistan is perhaps not as grim as that in East Pakistan.

 

The economic prospects of East and West Pakistan with varying forms and degrees of autonomy are under examination and will be the subject of a separate note in due course.

 

April, 1969                                                                                                                            F.J. Griffiths

 

 

Source: The British Papers – Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan.Bangladesh Documents 1959-1969, Oxford University Press. P. 882-903