Yahya urges Thant to visit India, Pakistan
October 22, 1971
US Secretary of State William Rogers, in a memorandum presented to the US President Richard Nixon today, said there remained a high potential for outbreak of hostilities between India and Pakistan. However, none of the countries intended to take the first move at that time, added Rogers.
Since India insisted that they would consider withdrawal of their force from the border only if Pakistan withdrew first, the US state department was planning to suggest to Pakistan President Yahya Khan to consider a unilateral and limited withdrawal. This move would act, according to Rogers, as a signal to the Indians of Yahya's desire to de-escalate and reduce tensions.
"We believe he might be willing to do this without jeopardising his military position, in order to put the onus on the Indians to take reciprocal action," shared the US secretary of state.
He further pointed out, "The lack of a viable political settlement in East Pakistan continues to fuel the tensions between India and Pakistan."
The state department, therefore, was focusing on beginning a dialogue between Yahya Khan and the elected representatives of East Pakistan. The US Ambassador to Pakistan Joseph Farland was asked to consult with Yahya over whether Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman can play a part in forging a political settlement, informed Rogers.
YAHYA'S REPLY TO THANT
Pakistan President Yahya Khan, in reply to a letter from the UN Secretary General U Thant, urged him to pay an immediate visit to Pakistan and India to discuss the issue of withdrawal of forces from the India-Pakistan border.
He further recommended deployment of UN observers on both sides of the border to "oversee the withdrawal and supervise the maintenance of peace".
It may be noted here that U Thant had sent appeals to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Yahya on October 20 offering his personal mediation assistance to head off a conflict between the two countries.
ON THE WAR FRONT
Mukti Bahini today attacked Pakistani troops near Barakhata in Rangpur district, killing two and injuring three enemy soldiers. Another group of freedom fighters raided the Pakistani occupation troops in Bhurungamari area of Kurigram district. Twenty Pakistani soldiers were killed in the operation.
On the same day, Mukti Bahini ambushed enemy troops in Mirdarbazar inflicting 10 casualties on them, including one officer. In reprisal, the Pakistan army burnt the houses of the villagers.
Mukti Bahini ambushed razakars' patrol in Munshirhat area in Feni, capturing 15 of them. Four rifles were also captured by the freedom fighters during this operation.
WILLY BRANDT CONGRATULATED
Syed Nazrul Islam, the acting president of Bangladesh, sent a telegram to Willy Brandt, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, congratulating him upon receiving the Nobel Prize for peace.
Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org