The American Papers
||Oxford University Press
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Table of contents Preface
Available for delivery within US & Canada only.
Who Dismembered Pakistan ?
The documents (collected & compiled by Roedad Khan) are drawn from the recently DE-CLASSIFIED FILES of the U.S State and Defence departments, focusing on the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the downfall of Ayub, the Elections in 1970, the East Pakistan crisis of 1971, the breakup of Pakistan, and the first two years of Z.A. Bhutto’s rule.
The documents consist of telegrams, airgrams etc., to and from the State Department: Memoranda of conversations with heads of governments, foreign ministers, important political leaders. They include confidential letters to the US President, and minutes of meetings at the State Department. The documents help in developing reasonably a full picture of events in the subcontinent as seen through American eyes.
Review: (Excerpts from Newsline, Dec'99)
These papers cover the two wars with India, in 1965 and 1971- wars which were generally considered inconclusive but which decidedly left Pakistan worse off than before. The first made a substantial contribution to the process of the state’s dismemberment and the second brought the curtain down on that catastrophe. There is much in this book to correct the officially sold perceptions of these events.
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The first major issue covered in these papers is the 1965 Indo- Pakistan conflict, and there should be sufficient interest in Pakistan in knowing how the western countries viewed the matter. The US saw in the conflict a threat to western policies and interests in Asia. It suspended military aid to both Pakistan and India and declared full support to UN efforts to stop the war. While it took a serious view of the Indian attack along Pakistan’s international border, its diplomats reminded Pakistani leaders that after sending guerillas into held Kashmir they should have been prepared for the Indian response.
Since the central issue was Kashmir, Pakistani leaders were pressed to define their objectives. Ayub was more precise in his reply to the Canadian envoy: “We want Kashmir, but we know we can’t win it by military action. If only some of you people could show some guts, we would have it.” Bhutto conceded to the US envoy something more than the government was prepared to say in public when he said: “We [are] not bartering over piece of territory but are concerned with [the] fate of five million people. If they want India, okay. If they wish to be part of Pakistan, that’s fine. If they wish something else, that’s alright too. Whatever they want.”
The richest part of the papers deals with the East Bengal crisis (1967- 71). It shows that the western diplomats had a more timely understanding of the situation than Pakistan’s rulers and politicians. The portrait of the state of Pakistan that emerges from this record is extremely ugly. Ayub’s fall is noted and one is somewhat shocked at finding A.K. Brohi justifying the Yahya martial law which, in his view, did not raise basic questions of constitutionality and legality!
By May 1971, the Americans had started analyzing the possibility of an India- Pakistan war over East Bengal. There is a record of their attempts to persuade Yahya to find a political solution and avoid war. But their efforts to make Yahya agree to negotiate with Mujib or even with persons designated by him failed. Instead, as war clouds gathered, he started blackmailing ‘his friends’ with the remark that if India started a full-scale war, Mujib would be the first casualty.
The final part of the papers reveals the US commentary on the Z.A. Bhutto government (Dec 1971-73). While the Americans appreciated the speed with which Bhutto moved to stabilize a shattered Pakistan, before the end of his first year in power they had concluded that “pressures on the regime and its style of operation suggest that Pakistan [is] likely to move in [the] direction of increased statism and authoritarianism.” That Bhutto desperately tried to develop with the US a military relationship of the kind Ayub had, comes across clearly.
We also find in these papers that our rulers confided more in their foreign patrons/friends than in their own people. The condition of the state was such that Prime Minister Bhutto sought out a US diplomat to act as a mediator to negotiate with Bizenjo, the Baluchistan governor he had dismissed.
It may be difficult to find fault with the position US representatives took on various issues but it is possible that the documents that have not been released contain something that would demand a revision of this view. What is more relevant is the fact that Pakistanis should take their own leaders to task for the debacles suffered by them.
Also available: The British Papers
The American Papers