Friday, March 7, 2008

Kissinger's Memo to Nixon on Mujib's 7th March Speech

Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon/1/

/1/ Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 210, Geopolitical File, South Asia, Chronological File, Nov 1969-July 1971. Secret. Sent for information. President Nixon put a checkmark on the memorandum to indicate he saw it.
Washington, March 13, 1971.

Situation in


While East Pakistani leader Mujibur Rahman has stepped back a bit from a declaration of independence, the full text of his March 7 speech conveys a harsher tone than the initial summary reports, and it seems apparent that his retreat was tactical. He made clear that something very close to independence, i.e., "emancipation," is his goal and that his movement will not be deflected until that is achieved. Noteworthy also is the fact that Rahman quite openly took issue with Yahya, accusing him of "submitting to the declaration of a minority" [West Pakistan] and asserting that his own Awami League is the only legitimate source of authority in the country.

Awami League President Mujibur Rahman addressed a rally at Dacca racecourse on March 7 and called for a continuation of the "peaceful non-cooperation" movement against the government, including the closure of all government offices and educational institutions. He said that he would consider attending the National Assembly session scheduled by President Yahya for March 25 if martial law were terminated, the troops in East Pakistan were withdrawn to their barracks, and power was returned to the elected representatives of the people. (Telegram 637 from Dacca, March 7; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL PAK)

Our embassy in Islamabad believes that Rahman's goal remains unchanged-"emancipation" of East Pakistan from West Pakistani domination. This could still conceivably mean "full provincial autonomy" within a united Pakistan. But it is just as likely, if not more so, that Rahman has come to believe firmly that the freedom he seeks is only attainable by outright independence. His speech last Sunday would suggest an effort to achieve his goal by gradual assertion of power without risking a direct confrontation with the army that might follow a unilateral declaration of independence.


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