May 10, 1971
Syed Nazrul Islam, acting president of the provisional government of Bangladesh, today assured the countrymen that the promises and pledges given by the Awami League would be fulfilled and the country would be taken towards the path of socialism. The Bangladesh government proposed nationalisation of big industries and abolition of land revenue as some of the measures to achieve the goal. The speech of the acting president was broadcast from the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra.
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Nazurl Islam further said the people of the world supported the Bangladesh movement and he hoped that it would not be long before the government of these countries extend their recognition to the Bangladesh government. In particular reference to the Muslim countries of the world, he said Islam had never supported violence.
SITUATION REPORT: CHITTAGONG
A group of foreign journalists including the New York Times correspondent Malcom W Browne was allowed by the Pakistan military government to visit Chittagong today for three hours.
Browne reported that war, sabotage and a staggering absentee rate at key facilities virtually paralysed the deep-water port on the Bay of Bengal. He didn’t find any evidence of continued fighting between Bangalees and the Pakistani army. Five key bridges north of Chittagong and the entire neighborhoods of the city were found demolished. In some places Hindu shrines were destroyed along with any buildings near them. Bangalees working for Electrical Supply Company of East Pakistan were indiscriminately killed by the Pakistan army, added the New York Times.
Browne also reported killing of a large number of Biharis in Chittagong.
PAKISTAN ENVOY, SEEKING AID, MEETS US PRESIDENT
President Richard Nixon met today with a special emissary from Pakistan President Yahya Khan who was in the US to convince American and international monetary officials to bail out the nearly bankrupt country that had been wrecked by war.
The emissary, MM Ahmad, was Yahya’s top economic adviser. He was understood to have been carrying a letter from Yahya to Nixon, but the White House declined to give any details of the 30-minute meeting.
The White House only disclosed, in response to reporters’ inquiries, that the meeting was to take place.
Diplomatic sources said the message to Nixon contended that stories of large-scale massacres in East Pakistan had been grossly exaggerated, although Yahya reportedly conceded that his army’s initial action was tough.
Yahya reportedly wrote that this was made necessary because East Pakistan’s dominant Awami League party had been taken over by “extremists”. But, according to this account of the message, he was ready to implement the party’s six-point programme for the province’s autonomy once moderates were restored to control of the Awami League.
Ahmad’s visit came as congressional pressure was building against any US aid to the Pakistan government that could contribute to repression of the independence movement in Bangladesh. The House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled hearings on Pakistan for May 11, with Sen Edward M Kennedy scheduled to testify in support of the Bangladesh government and advocate international economic sanctions against the Pakistani central government.
MM Ahmad was said to be proposing a number of measures, including devaluation of the Pakistani rupee by half or more; temporary payment to the international consortium of Pakistan’s creditors in rupees instead of in hard currency, and “association” of civilians, including “rational” elements from East Pakistan, with Yahya’s military government.
Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org