June 18, 1971
Pakistan President Yahya Khan, in a letter dated June 18, 1971, drew attention of American President Richard Nixon to the “rapidly mounting threat to peace and security in the sub-continent”.
“In the last few days belligerent statements have been made by the Indian prime minister and her cabinet ministers which amount to a threat of war,” he added.
Yahya further said, “It makes it obvious that the speaker is determined to exploit the presence of displaced persons in India to aggravate a tense situation and justify military intervention in East Pakistan. Should Indian leaders be allowed to continue on this course, consequences would be disastrous not only for the sub-continent but for the entire region.”
Yahya claimed that his government had taken adequate measures to ensure safe return of Bangladeshi refugees to their home. He further claimed that UNHCR Chief Prince Aga Khan had expressed his satisfaction at the arrangement of receiving these refugees at the border.
It may be mentioned here that Aga Khan had categorically denied this claim at a press conference in New Delhi on June 17, 1971.
Yahya accused India of turning the refugee issue into political propaganda and said, “The Indian government should not use the problem of the displaced persons as an instrument of pressure on Pakistan to impose a political government of Indian choice in East Pakistan. No government could yield to such blackmail.”
Referring to increasing concentration of Indian forces at the border, Yahya said, “We do not want a conflict with India. It remains our earnest hope that India will not resort to a conflict. The danger is that through constant repetition of threats, Indian leaders may succeed in creating an atmosphere and mood in their country which could inevitably lead to a conflict.”
Yahya requested Nixon to use his influence with India to persuade her to desist from actions, “which could lead not only to a breach of peace but as a result of that, to unforeseen consequences which could affect the world community”.
Yahya informed Nixon that he would announce political plans for the country on June 28. “But unless India is restrained, my efforts would be seriously affected,” he concluded.
WORLD BANK POSTPONES FINANCIAL AID FOR PAKISTAN
World Bank representative Peter Cargill recommended the indefinite postponement of the meeting of the Aid Pakistan Consortium which meant postponement of any consideration of financial aid programmes to Pakistan for an indefinite period. Cargill had visited West and East Pakistan in early June, 1971. He had found that the conditions in both the wings were not conducive to foreign investment because of political uncertainty and economic depression resulting from the widespread destructive Pakistan army action leading to stoppage of productive activities.
YAHYA AGAIN ASKS EVACUEES TO RETURN
President Yahya today made a fresh appeal to the Bangladeshi refugees to return home from India. In his appeal, directed especially at Hindu evacuees, he said they would be given “full protection and every facility as they were equal citizens of Pakistan and there was no question of any discriminatory treatment”.
Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org