US asked not to give aid to Pakistan | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 12, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 12, 2021

Road to Freedom: This Day in Bangladesh Liberation War History

US asked not to give aid to Pakistan

May 12, 1971


Any American economic aid to Pakistan "will leave cash in their hands to pay their French arms bill and to step up arms purchases in the open market", Rehman Sobhan charged today, adding that the US should give no aid, except for relief to be dispensed by international agencies. Any other aid "would simply prolong the conflict at tremendous cost in direct deaths from military operations as well as deaths from the pending famine".

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The Dhaka University Professor was in Washington seeking support from Capitol Hill and elsewhere for Bangladesh. State department personnel had been ordered not to see him. In an interview, he challenged the claims of MM Ahmed, a senior Pakistan government official now in Washington on an aid seeking mission, that central government's control of East Pakistan had permitted the resumption of normal administration.

"The government simply does not have the administrative control over Bangladesh to run an aid programme," he said.

He charged that the central government wanted to use relief as a political tool and for "coercion", not for humanitarian reasons. It was seeking boats, he said, not because there was any shortage in East Pakistan but to provide assault landing craft for the army. He said some had already been secured from Turkey "US supplied, inevitably".

And while the Pakistan government was talking about seeking reconciliation and turning over power to a civilian regime, said Rehman Sobhan, this should not be taken seriously.

"Murderers of 200,000 people do not know the meaning of good faith."

He said MM Ahmed telling officials here that about 70 officials of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Awami League were ready to cooperate with the government was "an outright lie," and that only one elected official had thrown in with the central government.

Rehman Sobhan said if Ahmed did not get the economic aid and postponement of debt payments he was seeking, continued military options against the Bangalees would become economically unbearable for West Pakistan.

"The major economic demands are for commodity assistance to keep industry afloat. They are geared to supplies from the West."

Rehman Sobhan said the suggestion that China might meet these needs was raised because "the Chinese are in no position" to supply Western materials.

"The US has to make up its mind whether it wants to underwrite a military adventure with no conceivable policy solution at the end of it."

He suggested the US government tell the Pakistan government: "If you want to do it, you foot the bill."


Pakistan President Yahya Khan told UN Secretary General Thant that United Nations emergency help for East Pakistan was not needed now but he left open the possibility of accepting international aid in the future.

In a letter, Yahya also complained that news accounts of widespread casualties and destruction in East Pakistan were "highly exaggerated—if not altogether tendentious".

The pakistan president told Thant that there were adequate supplies of medicines and food in East Pakistan, that authorities there saw "no cause for concern" and that rehabilitation and reconstruction were moving ahead.

As for international help, if and when required, "it will be administered by Pakistan's own relief agencies", Yahya said.


Nurul Amin, leader of the Pakistan Democratic Party and a member of the Pakistan National Assembly, refused to head a puppet government in East Pakistan. Nurul Amin, who met Yahya in Rawalpindi yesterday, told newsmen that the formation of a presidential advisory council would not serve any useful purpose.

Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at

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