11.68 CIA'S BRIEFING OF THE COMMONWEALTH LIAISON OFFICERS - BRIEFING BY GEOFFERY PRATT
Public Record Office
REF: FCO 37/472
B.T.W. Stewart, Esq., CMG.,
At today's CIA briefing of the Commonwealth Liaison Officers, Geoffrey Pratt spoke on this subject.
2. Pratt said that Yahya's Martial Law Administration continued to be successful in maintaining law and order. The discontented groups were largely quiescent and the Government had taken some steps to remove the many causes of their grievances. Arrangements for pay increases secured under duress were to be implemented; a new educational policy had been proposed which could satisfy the students although it would be some time before it was fully put into force; an anti-corruption drive had been started; the Basic Democrat system was under review and it seemed likely that the electoral college would lose its elective functions; a committee had been established to review the question of decentralisation in West Pakistan and this stood a fair chance of meeting the demands for decentralisation without going so far as to split West Pakistan into separate provinces; and finally several senior posts in the Civil Service had been allotted to Bengalis: Mujibur Rahman alone had dismissed this offer as more "tokenism."
3. The military junta seemed to be working reasonably well together. Air Marshal Nur Khan might possibly emerge in time as a rival to Yahya. Some differences had already appeared between them, mainly because Nur Khan thought that in order to wage a successful anti-corruption drive, a significant example should be made of members of the Ayub's family. Yahya seemed to be too loyal to Ayub to take determined action against his family.
4. In the meantime, Pratt continued, Yahya had seemed to be trying to give the impression that he had no wish to remain in power indefiniteSy, and Pratt thought he was probably sincere in his desire eventually to restore civilian rule. Yahya had retained the title of Commander-in-Chief; he had refused to accept the pomp and ceremony associated with Ayub during his tours of the country; he had repeatedly and publicly pledged that elections would be held soon and he had impressed most political writers (with the marked exception of Mujibur Rahman) that he intended to restore civilian rule.
5. There were, however, some problems
which would prevent an early move in that direction. Yahya believed that the
numerous political factions should first merge into three or four national
parties so as to give more stability to any future political system and, to
avoid a straight East-West confrontation. There were already rumours that many
of these factions intended to merge, but it seemed doubtful that this would
happen until after the Administration had allowed a resumption of normal
political activities. There was also the problem of deciding the purpose of the
elections: were they intended to elect members to the existing legislative
bodies to work out a constitution or to elect a special constituent assembly.
It also had to be decided whether the elections should be held under the
present constitution or that of 1956. It was very uncertain when the elections
would be held. Most reports from
6. Pratt said that he thought Yahya
sincerely intended to try to meet some of the Bengali demands but he was flatly
opposed to granting autonomy to
7. Pratt said that if the Central
Government failed to meet the basic grievances in
8. Pratt concluded by saying that there
had been no significant changes in
(a) two radar
units, which were now being installed in
(b) at least 60 medium tanks and possibly as many as 200: 50 had already probably reached
(d) 60 130mm guns;
(e) some OSA patrol boats: as many as 8 might be involved.
cc O.N. Joslin,
The British Papers – Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan.Bangladesh