Public Record Office


REF: FCO 37/472


British High Commission,


6 June, 1969


R.J. Stratton, Esq..



Dear Dick,




On 5 June I called on Syed Ahmed Said Kirmani (Convention M.L.). Questioned about the present state of the party, he admitted with engaging frankness that it had suffered a set-back with the Ayub "debacle." Today's report in the Pakistan Times of the prosecution complaint lodged against one of the former President's sons would not help matters. Nevertheless, he was not utterly despondent. The best course was for the party to lie low for the present, and let the others make the running. When they had tired themselves out with scheming and counter-scheming, then would be the time for the P.M.L. to re-enter the lists. And, whatever their present unpopularity in the cities, he was convinced that their ground-roots strength in the countryside - especially in the West Wing - remained unabated. (Mamdot had made the same point, although he spoke rather of feudalism, which coming from him was perhaps natural).

      2. He claimed that the great advantage the P.M.L. had over the Council Muslim League lay in the efficiency of its party machine. The Council M.L. consisted of a group of Political intellectuals, who carried weight in the towns, but it had no low level party organisation elsewhere. At the same time, he admitted that it was about time that the P.M.L. set about its pattern; whilst lying low, there was every reason not only to ensure that the party machinery was still working smoothly but also to draw up and have ready a fresh party manifesto.

      3. The main thing which the P.M.L. lacked was a leader. Ayub had gone, and he admitted that there was at present no successor, although a possibility might be Mahmoud Haroon, (He disclaimed any such ambition on his own part; he was a party manager, but was far too unpopular in the towns to be a possible leader).

      4. He did not think that there was much chance of election within the next eighteen months, but doubted whether Yahya could afford to continue exclusively

service rule for so long. (He hinted that there might be pressure from such aid-giving countries as the United States for him to broaden the basis of government, American dislike of Service rule being what it was). For this reason, he thought there was a fair chance that Yahya might be considering the possibility of setting up some form of non-Service Advisory Council, if he could find political leaders prepared to co­operate.

      5. He claimed that Bhutto, Bhashani and Mujibur Rahman had all lost a good deal of their initial impetus and had experienced some falling off of strength, to the advantage of the P.M.L. Asghar Khan, he said, was too aloof and too little of a mixer to stand any real chance as a political leader. Finally, in reply to a question by me, he said that he did not exclude the possibility of a reconciliation between the P.M.L. and the Council M.L. or in any event the winning by the former of a number of the latter's adherents. Such an alliance might produce a winning combination of party machine and potential leaders. I have some doubts about this. On the other hand, it is perhaps significant that whilst I was talking with him, saw someone arrive in the front courtyard who looked surprisingly like Shaukat Hyat Khan. However, I could easily have been wrong, and certainly there was no sign of him when I left.

      6. I am copying this to Dacca and Karachi and enclose a spare copy for your use.



(P.R. Oliver)



Source: The British Papers – Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan.Bangladesh Documents 1959-1969, Oxford University Press. P. 956-957