Confidential telegram to Washington DC
Observer Online Report
On March 11 of 1971 leader of the Pakistan Justice Party Air Marshal Asghar Khan after a visit to Dhaka tells a gathering in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province that if " EAST Pakistan becomes independent the rest of Pakistan will cease to exist within five years."
However, there were few takers in West Pakistan for his line of reasoning.
Meanwhile the US Embassy in Islamabad sent a confidential telegram to Washington DC. It said:
l . In general we agree with analysis of Reftel in Dacca. We still in breathing spell after events of last weekend although crisis continues. Military has not yet tipped hand re (in) response to Mujib's demand for end to Martial Law and for early transfer of power as condition for Awami League attendance at National Assembly. MLA (Martial Law Administration) answer will probably not be known at least until Yahya goes to Dacca and sees Mujib.
2. At (the) same time, Mujib's ability to step in as de facto ruler of Bangla Desh has strengthened his bargaining position vis-a-vis West Pakistan. We hope realities of situation in East will help tip balance in favor of further effort by MLA to seek negotiated settlement with Mujib rather than impose solution by bayonet. While, as Dacca points out, we do not know whether emotion or logic will prevail, our hopes for settlement somewhat greater than day or two ago. In this regard, we note hopeful comments by British Hicomer (High Commissioner) and Soviet Ambassador (to) (Islamabad).
3. Bhutto is on good behavior in face of undertone of criticism in West that he is to blame for provoking present crisis by his earlier refusal to attend NA session. We read his March 10 telegram to Mujib offering to come to Dacca for talks as showing some give in his previous hard line. It in his interest to participate in dialogue on crisis and not leave discussions entirely to Yahya and Mujib. PPP shares AL desire to end military rule. Next expected public word from Bhutto is at March 14 rally (which) he (is) holding in Karachi.
4. Regarding possible solutions, confederation idea could be appealing to Bhutto, who expressed interest in it to AP correspondent about a month ago. However, we believe army would be inclined (to) resist proposal under which Center would have little more than fig leaf of power. Army would probably read confederation as merely (a) way station on road to formal separation. Moreover, if public opinion in West Pakistan interpreted confederation proposal as subterfuge to permit eventual split, Bhutto might find it politically inexpedient (whatever his private sentiments) to accept.
5. Possible variation, which (is) even closer to de facto independence, would be confederation in which East and West had own armed forces and foreign offices, but were bound together by joint defense and other agreements. Disadvantage of such arrangement, which would probably be acceptable to Mujib, would be that unity of Pakistan maintained in name only.
6. Other solution, which mentioned in Para 7, Dacca Tel would be transfer of power to some sort of interim government-either in provinces, Center or both. This might be acceptable to Bhutto, if substance and not merely facade of power passes to elrkted (elected) representatives. We assume that arrangement which included interim government at Center as well as in provinces would also be more palatable to Mujib. Think it conceivable military might also accept, provided President Yahya retained ultimate power pending adoption of constitution. Advantage of such arrangement, in addition to putting politicos to work, would be further defusing of situation and allowing East and West to seek to work out new relationship in calmer atmosphere than presently exists. (We note precedent in somewhat analogous Congress-Muslim League interim government formed in undivided India.)
7. All above is speculation pending further developments, particularly reestablishment of personal contact among the three principals.