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     Volume 4 Issue 59 | August 19, 2005 |

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15 August 1975
Us and US


Lawrence Lifschultz, Anatomy of a Coup - A Journey of A Quarter Century, 19 August 2000: "A newly declassified 'Memorandum for the Record' describes in detail a White House meeting on 11 August 1971 specifically held to discuss the Bangladesh crisis. It was attended by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and Harold Saunders, among others. In the document, John Irwin, Under Secretary of State, is quoted as saying, 'We have had reports in recent days of the possibility that some Awami League leaders in Calcutta want to negotiate with Yahya on the basis of giving up their claim for the independence of East Pakistan.' According to a member of Mustaque's 1971 Calcutta staff who this correspondent interviewed in 1976, Irwin's reference to 'some Awami League leaders in Calcutta' referred only to Khondaker Mustaque Ahmed and his two leading protégées from the days of the Calcutta liaison Mahbub Alam Chashi and Taheruddin Thakur.

"Following the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Mustaque was pardoned by Mujib for his indiscretions but given only minor positions in the post-independence regime. Yet, four years later it was Mustaque, together with Chashi and Thakur, who emerged as the political leadership of the putsch which killed Mujib in the immediate post-coup period.

"Mustaque appointed to leading positions in the bureaucracy and national intelligence organisations people who had been prominent among the Bengali 'Vichy' of 1971 the minute per cent of the Bengali population who had actually collaborated with the Pakistan Army following Pakistan's crackdown in Dacca in March 1971."

US Citizenship and Immigration Service, Resource Information Centre, 9 August 2003: "Sheikh Mujibur (Mujib) Rahman was the leader of the independence movement that led to the establishment of the country of Bangladesh. He was the country's first president and became the Prime Minister after his party the Awami League, the founding party of Bangladesh, won a majority of the votes in the general election in 1973. Sheikh Mujib was assassinated in a 1975 military coup. Sheikh Mujib is considered the founding father of Bangladesh. The coup leaders were granted immunity from prosecution under an Indemnity Ordinance implemented immediately after the coup by the late president Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed. It was later incorporated in the constitution by assassinated president Ziaur Rahman. (Agence France Press 18 October 1996) Some of the individuals involved with the coup were subsequently appointed to foreign diplomatic posts."

THE US Response to Humanitarian Crises, Stephen R. Shalom, September 1991: "Nixon and Kissinger claimed to be worried that India would not content itself with defeating Pakistani forces in the East, but was determined to destroy West Pakistan as well, even though Indian military moves in the West were basically defensive holding actions. (Virtually no other U.S. policymaker with access to the same intelligence interpreted India's intentions as did the President and his National Security Adviser. (Van Hollen, Tilt Policy Revisited...) Washington dispatched a naval task force headed by the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier 'Enterprise' to the Bay of Bengal. On December 10, the commander of Pakistan troops in the East tried to arrange a ceasefire and transfer of power to Bangladeshi officials. Encouraged by the prospects of US and Chinese intervention on his side, Yahya ordered his troops to fight on. (Jackson, South Asian Crisis...) Civilians continued to suffer during the war: as it retreated the Pakistani army killed Bengali non-combatants, and Bengalis killed non-Bengali Pakistanis. (U. Thant, View From the U.N.) On December 16, Pakistani forces in the East surrendered unconditionally and Yahya declared that he would fight on. India announced that it had ordered a unilateral cease-fire on the western front to begin the next day. On the afternoon of the 17th, Pakistan accepted the ceasefire. (Jackson, South Asian crisis…)

"Despite the end of the war, conditions for the people of Bangladesh were still grim. A State Department official had told Kissinger on December 6 that Bangladesh would be 'an international basket case,' to which Kissinger replied, it would 'not necessarily be our basket case.' (in the words of the minute taker) Washington did provide food aid, but in September 1974 it threatened to cut off the aid unless Bangladesh stopped exporting jute (its principle crop) to Cuba. (McHenry and Bird, Food Bungle...) In 1975, the Mujib government in Dacca was overthrown in a military coup, perhaps with U.S. involvement, (Lifschultz, Bangladesh) and the new regime became heavily dependent on the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia, while cutting its ties to Moscow and New Delhi. (Sisson and Rose, War and Secession)."

Daily Times, Pakistan, 15 August 2006: "WASHINGTON: Declassified documents have surfaced in the United States which carry a telegram dating 28 February 1971 based on the sentiments of Sheikh Mujib. The telegram was sent to the State Department by the US embassy in Pakistan. The documents stand declassified from June 9, 2005.

The telegram entitled Conversation with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, shows the path followed by the Awami League leader as he talks of excesses by West Pakistan, states he (Mujib) is not willing to share power and does not want separation but rather a form of confederation. He also refers to East Pakistan as independent Bangladesh, explores possibilities of getting aid from the Consortium and policies pursued by a free Bangladesh."

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