Department of State
ACTION AmEmbassy ISLAMABAD PRIORITY
INFOR AmConsul DACCA
U.S. Mission USUN NEW YORK
U.S. Mission GENEVA
SUBJECT : Call by M. M.
Ahmad on Secretary
1. M.M. Ahmad, Economic Advisor to President Yahya,
called on Secretary May 12 accompanied by Ambassador Hilaly
and DCM Farooqi. Dept' Asstt
Sect' Van Hollen, Spengler and Fuller
(NEA/PAF) sat in.
2. After amenities (exchanges personal greetings from and to Yahya), Ahmad opened by stating President Yahya had been anxious have emissaries explain to friendly governments actions which
Martial Law Administration had taken in East Pakistan
and its plans for future. President wished Ahmad particularly to express thanks to USG for showing "understanding"
toward Pakistan despite contrary "pressures".
3. Ahmad reiterated familiar GOP position re events leading to military crackdown,
emphasizing that "extremist elements got upper hand in Awami
League and left its leader helpless". Yahya through
Legal Framework Order had provided for maximum provincial autonomy as long as
national unity preserved. Awami League, however, had gone
beyond autonomist mandate received in election and put forth demand for
confederation, and later separation. Large-scale lawlessness and atrocities perpetrated
against West Pakistanis before March 25 had been deliberately kept from press. Ultimately GOP had been obliged
take military action.
4. Ahmad stressed that "President Yahya was anxious for political settlement, not military
solution". Asserted Yahya's aim remains transfer
political power to elected representatives and that "as soon as present
phase is over" Yahya will present
"political package for East Pakistan" based on Awami League Six Point program. In
response to Secretary's
question as to character of contemplated federal system, Ahmad stated
foreign affairs, defense, "some elements of finance" and coordination
international economic relations would remain with central government.
5. Ahmad said
new election would not be held since December elections had been contested essentially on individual basis.
"Majority" of elected East Pak members of Provincial and
National Assemblies, Ahmad thought, would participate
new government. Provincial legislatures would be established first with
national Constituent Assembly coming later. Hilaly
interjected that legislators would be required renounce membership in Awami League and swear loyalty to Pakistan. Asked by Secretary
who would be leading East Pakistan political figure
under such an arrangement, Ahmad said he could not say for certain but might be
6. Ahmad foresaw "interim constitution" which would rally
moderates in East Pakistan. Observed "Our
actions not directed against popular will but only against extremist
elements". Pointed out problem posed by
continuing Indian intervention. Hence GOP desired its friends to use
influence to restrain India.
7. In response
to Secretary's question re present situation in East Pakistan, Ahmad stated economy had "taken jolt" but law and order restored
except in Sylhet and area across from Agartala in northeast. Emphasized army
manpower thin in those regions - as was case
even in Chittagong at beginning of
fighting there, when 300 West Pakistanis faced 8000 hostile East Pak troops. These limited
numbers of West Pakistani forces underscored fact that President Yahya did not work out careful advance plans for
acknowledged some of population of cities had fled, but claimed now 50% of Chittagong port labor force had returned.
Referred to transportation problems, noting two bridges destroyed on Chittagong-Dacca rail line. Cited current
need to improve water transportation which
could be used in lieu of railroads to move foodstuffs. Ahmad admitted famine could occur because of disruption
of distribution system and weakening of rural purchasing power. "You can
have famine in country despite
availability of stocks." Referred to GOP efforts to
revive Rural Works Projects to pump money
into rural economy. Asserted food supply situation adequate, however, with 200,000 tons of grain "in the
pipeline," 150,000 tons of cyclone relief wheat and rice to be delivered, and additional grain to be
shipped from West Pakistan.
9. Ahmad emphasized Pakistan would like to
receive international assistance for East Pakistan and was now
assessing needs. Said army had been forced to take stern action in East Pakistan and image needed
to be improved. Army had, however, done "lot of good work" in cyclone
disaster relief and Yahya felt it should also assume responsibility
now for relief and reconstruction activities. Ahmad indicated Government
willingness develop relief/rehabilitation plan "in coordination with international organization"
and hoped to elaborate on Yahya's
"positive" response to U Thant's offer
of international relief assistance during visit to UN May 17.
10. After exchange regarding Soviet
reaction critical of military action in East Pakistan, Secretary said
there had been some suggestions that USG should make stronger public
statement but we had wanted maintain friendly attitude toward Pakistan and avoid
involvement in country's internal affairs. Our policy is to do what
we can to support Pakistan's continued unity
and help prevent country from being divided.
11. Secretary referred to adverse American press and Congressional reaction
in East Pakistan and observed GOP not getting its story
across. Emphasized importance of publicizing apparent reasonableness in present
GOP position re East Pakistan and willingness accept outside relief.
Discussion then ensued of possibility of M. M. Ahmad appearing on TV and meeting
informally with members Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ahmad had been invited for
full hearing before SFRC and staff but Hilaly had
declined out of concern that implication might be drawn in Pakistan that Ahmad
"summoned" to report to Senate.
12. Economic assistance subjects not discussed for lack of time, though Hilaly put last minute request that U.S. take lead in
support of Pakistan in current deliberations by
IBRD and IMF on future aid.