Secret telegram

August 20, 1971

Memorandum for Dr. Kissinger From: Samuel M. Hoskinson


Subject: Cable to Paks on "Bangla Desh"

State has sent over for your clearance a cable (Tab B) with instruc­tions to Ambassador Farland to inform the Paks of recent US con­tacts with "Bangla Desh" representatives.



At a meeting yesterday in Calcutta (Calcutta 2365 repeated Sun Clemente) a representative of the "Bangla Desh" Cabinet made the following major points to a political officer from our consulate:


--Appreciation for US efforts to solve the current impasse.


--"Any" agreement between Mujib and Yahya will be accept­able if arranged through `proper channels' i.e. US participa­tion in the arrangements, since "Mujib's life is more impor­tant than independence".


--US "expert advice" is needed on how to avoid being "swallowed' by the Indo-Soviet combination and how to cope with the overall situation in East Pakistan.


--Bangla Desh "Foreign Minister" Ahmed would like to head a delegation to the US to discuss their problems with US offi­cials, although they understand they could not be received "officially."


--There is a split within the Bangla Desh movement between the "rightists" who are in control but want to save them­selves and Mujib through a compromise settlement and "left­wing elements" who will quickly take over if Mujib dies.


Earlier contacts with the Bangla Desh representative in Calcutta pro­duced about the same result (Tab C) but the "Foreign Secretary" told an embassy officer in New Delhi that only a settlement based on full independence was acceptable.


State's Instructions


State thinks that the "Bangla Desh" proposals provide a "glimmer of hope" for a negotiated political settlement between the West Paki­stanis stanis and the Awami League and would like to inform the Paks about them. They would, therefore, instruct Ambassador Farland to do this with Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan at an early opportunity. The Ambassador would also be instructed to:


--not reveal intelligence on Indian involvement gained from conversation with Bangla Desh representatives;


--stress that we have only listened to the Bangla Desh repre­sentative and that we have taken no initiative to pursue his suggestion that we meet with the "Foreign Minister";


--stress that we have made no judgement on the value of the proposals but "hope very much GOP would be able to find means to establish continuing contact of its own with Bangla Desh representatives;"


--avoid impression US seeking to play mediatory role "but we are prepared to be helpful in whatever way GOP thinks use­ful."


Calcutta would be instructed to say that the question of a visa for the "Foreign Minister" is under consideration, subject to a clear under­standing that he would not be coming in an official capacity nor would he be received by US officials.



Given Yahya's strong feeling about the Awami League, the "Bangla Desh" proposals certainly provide no more than a "glimmer of hope", yet there may be just enough here to pass on to the Paks on the far out chance they might be interested in following up them­selves. Ambassador Farland should be able to do this within the framework of the friendly posture we have established in Islamabad and without straining our relationship. There would also be the bene­fit that we would be protecting ourselves against a leak that could harm our position in Islamabad.


Perhaps a more important issue is whether Farland goes one step, further and (1) gently urges the Paks to establish their own contacts with the Bangla Desh leaders and (2) offers our assistance. This is  the way his instructions reads now (see underlined quotes above and underlined clauses in paragraphs 2 and 3 of cable for clearance).


This is a highly debatable move at this point, and personally I would refrain from even this small involvement on this first approach to Paks. They will know what to do if they want to take the bait and, given their sensitivities, the need to protect our credibility and the small chance of success, it would seem wiser not to go beyond a strictly honest broker role.


The instructions for Calcutta concerning the Bangla Desh "Foreign Minister's" visa seem unnecessary and potentially harmful to our interests at this point. I find it difficult to believe that we would want to have this fellow in the US under any conditions. In any event, that is a separate decision on which State should make a specific recom­mendation to the White House. In the meantime, the fellow should not be led on at all nor our decision prejudiced in this way.


Recommendation: That you approve the redraft of State's cable which I have done to reflect the above considerations (Tab A).


(Editors' note: No attachments were available.)




Source: Bangladesh Liberation War and the Nixon White House 1971. p. 177-180