East Pakistan tragedy.


Byline: Khalid Hassan Mahmood - Karachi

APROPOS the letter 'Setting record straight' (April 18). The writer holds former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto solely responsible for the separation of East Pakistan. I think there are many factors and a number of individuals who are to blame for all the blunders committed in mishandling the situation in East Pakistan. However, if one person has to be blamed for the tragedy, it is the then president, Yahya Khan.

I mention only a few: a) He had no public mandate to do away with the agreed principle of parity between the two wings; b) when elections were held in East Pakistan he remained totally unaware of the Awami League's tactics which were instrumental in not allowing people to vote against them in many areas; c) after the elections were held, the National Assembly was not convened within the stipulated time period as required under the constitution; d) Yahya's negotiations with Mujib failed because Yahya wanted to remain president with executive authority. Mujib had agreed to let him remain the president but disagreed to let the prime minister's authority be diluted.

e) During the period March to Nov 1971, no serious effort was made to find a political solution despite Indian threats; f) the Indian Army entered East Pakistan on Nov 21, 1971 but the Security Council was not approached; g) war was declared by Pakistan without proper...

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