Public Record Office


REF: FCO 37/472


British High Commission,


6 June, 1969


R.J. Stratton, Esq.,



Dear Dick,




I made two further calls on 4 June. The first was on Mian Manzar Bashir, of the Justice Party, whose draft manifesto, issued on 23 March, I imagine you and the other addressees of this letter have already received. After rehearsing something of his family and personal history, he gave me an account of how he himself had fallen out of sympathy with the policies of the Council Muslim League, and more particularly, of how he had come to the conclusion that Daultana's love of political intrige and of playing one man off against another rendered him completely untrustworthy. (I had the strong impression that personal rather than political antipathies had led to his leaving the party).

      2. He then went on to describe how he and others of his friends had found in Air Marshal Asghar Khan the ideal leader of a new group - a highly respected senior officer, who had shown himself a capable administrator of P.I.A. and who above all had a clean record. (In parenthesis, it appears accepted Pakistan doctrine, even amongst politicians, that all power corrupts and political power corrupts politically).

      3. On the future of the party, he claimed that in the last few months it had received massive support, to some extent from members of other political parties who like himself had come to despair of their leaders, but more generally from the people who had hitherto kept clear of politics and politicians. This indeed was the picture which he appeared to be trying to build up - of a new party, with a new leader, new ideals and a new popular appeal. I fancy he vastly overestimates its chances of success, but few politicians other than perhaps British Liberals are immune from this conceit. He proposed to work for an alliance with the Nizam-i-Islam (the planks of whose platform seemed somewhat similar), with the National Democratic Front, and with the Nasrullah branch of the Awami League. He favoured the re­introduction of the 1956 Constitution, and claimed that this was the general wish of

all parties. All is a big word, but so far I have not found anyone who disagrees. He felt that Field Marshal Ayub should be arraigned before the Courts in order that he might be either convicted or cleared of charges of corruption.

      4. 1 enjoyed the talk, but was left with the impression that Mian Manzar Bashir, a pleasant enough personality, was something of a lightweight, and that Asghar Khan's high reputation would prove no adequate substitute for political experience.

      5. Later the same morning I called on Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan, of the Council Muslim League, whom I had known as an Army Officer during the war when his father was Punjab Premier.

      6. He too was in favour of a re-introduction of the 1956 Constitution. He referred in scathing terms to the ineffectiveness of such "minor factions" as the Nizam-i­Islam, dismissed Nasrullah Khan as a man of no real following, and was openly contemptuous of Air Marshal Asghar Khan's Justice Party; how, (as he claimed to have told the Air Marshal) could a former service officer, however brilliant, hope to become a politician in a matter of a few months? He, Shaukat, had been at the job for 20 years and was still learning the ropes.

      7. He considered that the key to the future lay in East Bengal. There Bhashani, under the influence of four young Chinese trained communists, represented the real danger and it was essential to keep him from power and to work for some form of alliance with Mujibur Rahman, with whom he expected to have discussions in Karachi on 10 June. Unless the East Pakistanis could be made to feel that they had a real say in the Central Government, there was every danger that Bhashani would be able to work on their discontent and that the coming Autumn would see the appearance in the border regions of guerillas infiltrated from China with a view to destroying completely any semblance of law and order in the Eastern Wing. For the same reason, he thought it essential that the next Prime Minister of a Central Government should be an East Pakistani, probably Mujibur Rahman himself.

      8. On the Martial Law Administration, he considered that for every day that it continued, there was an increasing risk of corruption setting in amongst the middle and junior service ranks. He wondered whether Yahya, himself an honest man, had the necessary complete control over his more senior subordinates and whether there was not a risk that the latter might become infected with love of power and overthrow the President. He did not think that Ayub should be arraigned before any tribunal; there might be grounds for such action but the effect would be counter-productive. The Council Muslim League would be working in the course of the next few weeks for an alliance not only with Mujibur Rahman but also with the Wall Khan faction of the National Awami Party. They might also pick up a few stragglers from the Convention Muslim League who had lost any corporate feeling with the departure of Ayub. He felt confident that in any elections to be held the Council Muslim league and their allies would sweep the board and saw little or no danger from such figures as Bhutto.

      9. 1 am copying this Dacca and Karachi and enclose a spare copy of your use.



(P.R. Oliver)



Source: The British Papers – Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan.Bangladesh Documents 1959-1969, Oxford University Press. P. 952-953