Bangladesh Cabinet discusses war strategy

The Bangladesh cabinet met today and issued instructions to Col MAG Osmani for preparing a strategy to oust the occupation army from certain important strongholds.

The cabinet reviewed the overall war situation in the country and took note of the sagging morale of the Pakistani forces. Chief of Mukti Fauz Col Osmani was learnt to have expressed confidence in the liberation force and told the cabinet that the occupation army would be wiped out from vital strongholds sooner rather than later.

The cabinet also discussed how to gear up the relief machinery and coordination committee for getting food and other essential commodities to the people of Bangladesh in different districts that remained largely isolated.

The diplomatic coup in the Pakistan Deputy High Commission in Calcutta was given a positive shape today when official appointment letters were sent to Hossain Ali, the head of the mission and all the Bangalee staff of the mission for serving as foreign representatives of the sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh Mission started functioning at 9:30am. It had its new letterhead and new seal. The first letter it issued was to the chief secretary, Government of West Bengal seeking permission for a meeting with the chief minister.

HEAVY FIGHTING REPORTED

Heavy fighting was reported today in several areas of Bangladesh including Kasba and Shalurkati where the Pakistani army was said to be pressing an all‐out offensive to seal off the borders.

Today the Press Trust of India reported that fighting had been going on for Meherpur, three miles from the Indian border in the western sector of Bangladesh.

‘THE CONCEPT OF A UNITED PAKISTAN IS DEAD’

A paper prepared by the US National Security Council’s Interdepartmental Group for Near East and South Asia assessed the situation in East Pakistan in the following words:

“Psychologically the concept of a united Pakistan is dead in Bengal. We see no way in which President Yahya can establish a civilian government based on any significant degree of popular support. There are, however, signs that some of the non-Awami League political leaders in East Pakistan, motivated either by fear or hatred of India, concern for the suffering of the Bengali people or by personal ambition, will come forward to re-establish a civilian administration in cooperation with President Yahya. They may be joined by some Awami Leaguers who are unwilling to adopt a revolutionary posture. The Government of Pakistan (GOP) will probably attempt to transfer some power to them to give the military administration a facade of legitimacy. It may even concede most of the Awami League’s six point autonomist program. Eventually in its search for legitimacy, the GOP might hold controlled elections or perhaps a constitutional referendum in East Pakistan under a franchise excluding Hindus and dissident groups. The only alternative would seem to be direct negotiations with the Awami League leadership. Such negotiations would in present circumstances probably have only one issue to resolve — the terms of independence, though a solution such as confederation remains an outside possibility. For the present, negotiations seem unlikely and, because of the bitterness and mistrust engendered by the civil wars, could probably only take place if Yahya himself were to offer to step down.”