“Yahya does not believe Pakistan can be held together by force” | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:45 AM, March 12, 2017


“Yahya does not believe Pakistan can be held together by force”

Today we are publishing two documents from the recently declassified CIA files. These documents reflect on the developments following Yahya Khan's arrival in Dhaka on March 15, 1971 to meet Sheikh Mujib for “negotiations”. 

Interestingly, the document dated March 16 states that Yahya might not be open to agree to Mujib's demand, while the option of using force is equally unpalatable to him.

But the document dated March 18 referring to the US Consul General in Karachi hints that Yahya intends to give in to Sheikh Mujib's demand of transferring power to National Assembly members as he believes Pakistan cannot be held together by force.

The President's Daily Brief

16 March 1971



According to one of Mujib's advisers, the East Pakistani leader intended to urge President Yahya, during discussions between the two in Dacca, to turn over power in East Pakistan to Mujib's Awami League immediately. Mujib also planned to demand the withdrawal of troop reinforcements sent to East Pakistan in the last few weeks. Should the military attempt to use force, Mujib plans to proclaim independence.

Yahya will be reluctant to agree to such actions. On the other hand, he will find the alternatives—East Pakistani secession or a costly and probably futile effort to hold the country together by force—just as unpalatable.

Meanwhile, there has been no central government response to Mujib's latest move toward complete independence for East Pakistan. The 35-point directive that Mujib issued yesterday essentially clarifies and amplifies actions to be taken under the noncooperation movement he launched on 7 March. If and when implemented, the actions would put Mujib in effective control of East Pakistan's government.


The President's Daily Brief

18 March 1971



After a second meeting with President Yahya in Dacca yesterday, Mujibur Rahman appeared discouraged but said he hopes discussions will continue. Another meeting is scheduled for today.

According to a report reaching the Consulate General in Karachi, Yahya does not believe Pakistan can be held together by force. He therefore intends to give in to most of Mujib's demands and turn “the whole bloody business” over to him – meaning the National Assembly, which is to write a constitution. According to other reports, the main barrier to an agreement is Yahya's insistence that martial law will continue until a constitution is written.

Meanwhile, the pro-Peking East Bengal Communist Party may already be trying to take the initiative away from Mujib and his moderate followers.

[Paragraph redacted]

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