Telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan/1/
National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL INDIA-PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted
by Laingen and Constable on October 29; cleared by
Schneider, Van Hollen, Sisco,
and Saunders; and approved by Irwin. Repeated to
Subject: Indo-Pak Confrontation. For Ambassador Farland. Deliver October 30.
1. You should seek earliest possible appointment with Yahya to deliver President's letter/2/ (septel) and to elicit response from Yahya to presentation below to be available here if at all possible before Mrs. Gandhi's arrival November 4. Overall objective of your talk is elicit maximum Pakistani package which can be used during talks with Mrs. Gandhi here in urging Indian restraint and reciprocal de-escalation.
/2/ Document 175.
2. You should emphasize at the outset that you are speaking as a concerned friend in a desire to be helpful and make most of the Gandhi visit in the context of common desire to preserve peace and to follow through with orderly political process. We need a Pakistani position that is as forthcoming and defensible as possible.
3. Presentation outlined below covers two subjects: (a) military pullback and (b) next steps in Yahya's political process. Question for Yahya is how he mixes variety of political and military moves open to him. US not the party to make that judgment. Approach described below designed strictly to help Yahya canvass options open to him.
4. On military pullback, we now have response from both GOP and GOI to our proposal for mutual withdrawal of forces. Despite largely negative and now public nature of Indian response and some disadvantages in Yahya's going public with a proposal to which he has added his own conditions, we have achieved reaffirmation by both of their intention not to initiate hostilities and each has expressed a willingness to consider withdrawal in context some action by the other.
believe our next step should be to advise Yahya
directly of what we have heard from Indians and probe whether he prepared
consider action unilaterally that might serve as means of triggering some
response from Indians and thus be start of self-generating series of steps. We
should also note Yahya's positive response to U Thant(
/3/ See footnote 4, Document 175.
6. While we
recognize difficulty for GOP of unilateral actions in present crisis (para. 5 Islamabad 10479),/4/ it seems to us that Pakistan
has most to gain from any reduction present military confrontation and that
some risk, therefore, may be worth taking. Is such a pullback possible without
diminishing significantly precautionary moves already made by GOP? In this
connection, it is our understanding (on basis DIA information) that GOP was
first to undertake major movement of forces when in mid-Sept. it deployed Sixth and Seventeenth divisions from Kharian
/4/ Dated October 18. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL INDIA-PAK)
7. In this
context, you should broach with Yahya whether some
/5/ Document 165.
8. If Yahya prepared make this kind of beginning, we would like to be able to mention during Gandhi visit, pointing to this as indicative of Yahya's bona fides in desiring initiate process of gradually reducing force confrontation, in West to begin with, possibly in East later. We would press GOI immediately to respond with equivalent withdrawal of its own. Would seem desirable to proceed without publicity.
political side, we continue to believe that long-term resolution of current
crisis can only be found through progress toward political solution in
/6/ See footnote 7, Document 159.
10. If you
agree with above, suggest you speak frankly and in some detail with Yahya about political timetable he has now outlined,
specifically possibilities that might present themselves within this timetable
to get privately across to BD clear signals that Yahya
both recognizes strong autonomous sentiments of East Pakistan and does not
exclude major realignment East-West Pakistan relationship within constitutional
process. In this connection you should say that we attach significance to Swaran Singh October 8 statement Simla
that GOI will accept any political solution "acceptable to people of Bangla Desh or their elected
representatives", including one within framework of Pakistan. (FYI: We
note also Chib's comment in
11. Yahya knows we understand complexity his political problems and that we have no desire further complicate them by moralistic pronouncements or public advice. You should say frankly, however, that our judgment is that success of political-constitutional scenario he has worked out now depends heavily on his readiness himself to signal, through us or otherwise, his willingness engage in substantive dialogue with BD as a means of markedly broadening support for that process. The longer this dialogue is delayed the greater the depth of alienation of BD (not to mention MB) and the less reason to hope for any kind of political settlement. FYI: When we speak of negotiated settlement, we have in mind process of winning East Pakistani support for new constitution and involvement sufficient numbers key Bengalis to make its implementation a realistic possibility. End FYI.
12. What we have outlined below is illustrative of what might be conceivable and is not intended as any American blueprint. You will have other ideas to use yourself with Yahya to get our concern across that time may be rapidly working against political process Yahya envisions for implementing his constitution for united Pakistan.
13. With respect Mujib himself, we understand sensitivities and only note that, right or wrong, he seems to have become major symbol so at minimum it would seem necessary to success any political process to avoid any step such as publishing full transcript Mujib trial which would inflame Bengali opinion and might, as Yahya had already noted, produce "explosive" reaction in West Pakistan. Whether Yahya can use Mujib as "trump card" as he put it at some point we must leave entirely to his judgment. Short of that, we assume Yahya fully aware possibilities such as simple statement from Defense Attorney Brohi that trial was fair or use of any appeals procedure available which would both soften international criticism and provide further time to see whether some way open for negotiated settlement.
broader issues, you might sound out Yahya as to
degree of autonomy for East Pakistan contemplated in constitution he intends to
promulgate and how new constitution will handle provision for eventual
constitutional review that would allow for evolutionary political development.
While we have no formula on this point, it seems to us as sympathetic observers
15. In terms
of present situation, and recognizing all problems involved, you might say that
we wonder whether it would be feasible to convey in some way to BD Calcutta
that new constitution would not exclude re-entry at some point of Awami League into political life in
16. If you
find Yahya in receptive mood on any of these
"thoughts," you should use opportunity to probe more deeply Yahya's ideas on mechanics getting dialogue with BD
started, reminding him that we have urged Indians and Soviets to get behind
idea of open-ended political dialogue. You should emphasize, nevertheless, our
basic view that this is not likely to get off the ground except through Yahya himself finding ways through suggestions indicated
above or otherwise to signal BD directly that possibilities of dialogue exist (
telegram 2713 from
17. In sum, remind you that main purpose this talk is to provide understanding here of maximum Yahya can offer as background for judicious use with Mrs. Gandhi.
18. For Dacca: You may wish to provide Embassy with your thoughts on these suggestions or with additional ideas including that suggested by Nurul Islam (Dacca 4497)/9/ that might be discussed with President Yahya.
/9/ Consul General Spivack commented on October 27 on a proposal put forward by Nural Islam for indirect negotiations between Mujibur Rahman and the Martial Law Administration. The essence of Islam's proposal was that he and other members of his Bangladesh leadership group were sufficiently acceptable to Mujib and Yahya to act as a credible bridge between them. In Spivack's judgment there was no point in pursuing the proposal unless Yahya was in principle open to the idea of negotiating with Mujib. (Telegram 4497 from Dacca; ibid.)
Source: Document 176, volume XI,