Skip to comments.Soviet vetoes blamed by US for Pakistan's 1971 division
Posted on 02/28/2005 1:36:19 AM PST by CarrotAndStick
WASHINGTON, Feb 27: The United States believed that an overwhelming majority of UN members were against the division of Pakistan in 1971 but Russian vetoes prevented the world body from playing any role in the crisis.
This assessment is included in a set of classified documents the US State Department released this week to the media on US relations with the United Nations from 1969 to 1972.
Summing up the UN role during the 1971 crisis, the US permanent mission at the United Nations informs the State Department: "On Dec 7, the UN General Assembly, acting under the Uniting for Peace procedure, recommended by an overwhelming majority a cease fire and withdrawal of troops to their own territories and the creation of conditions for voluntary return of refugees." These were Bengali refugees who had fled to the Indian state of West Bengal after the 1971 military action in former East Pakistan.
As many as 104 member states voted for the resolution, 10, including India and the former Soviet Union, voted against it and 11 abstained. "The vote showed the strong sentiment in the United Nations against the use of military force to divide a member state," the US mission observes.
In a separate memo assessing the proceedings of the 26th General Assembly which dealt with the 1971 crisis, the US permanent mission writes: "The overwhelming majority (voted) for a resolution calling for a cease fire and withdrawal of troops in the Indo-Pakistan war (but) the Security Council was prevented from acting by Soviet vetoes."
Despite the world body's failure to enforce a cease fire, the US mission says that "in the India-Pakistan crisis, the General Assembly showed its utility. Early attempts by Secretary General U. Thant to persuade the permanent members of the Security Council to address the crisis over East Pakistan had foundered mainly on Soviet objections."
The memo points out that in December 1971, following the outbreak of hostilities, the US had brought the dispute before the Security Council but repeated Soviet vetoes blocked action.
"The Security Council belatedly adopted a resolution endorsing a cease fire and pointing toward withdrawal of troops, political accommodation, and humanitarian relief under UN auspices," says the internal memo.
In an earlier memo sent to the US permanent mission at the UN on Sept 3, 1971, the State Department predicts that the 26th UNGA could well be "a turbulent one" and the situation in Pakistan, "fraught with danger of conflict, could also lead to heated debates."
The memorandum suggests that the then US Secretary of State William Pierce Rogers "should give major emphasis to South Asia" in his address to the 26th General Assembly, underlining the dangers of war in the area, and especially focusing "attention on the humanitarian problem in India and East Pakistan".
"The secretary should underline the UN role of leadership in dealing with these problems and should provide vigorous support to the secretary-general's appeal for contributions and support from the world community," the memo says.
The memo urged Mr Rogers to include the following points in his speech: a) the threat to peace poses dangers not only to India and Pakistan but to the world community, b) the threat of famine in East Pakistan and the problem posed by the influx of refugees into India must also concern the international community, c) the international community, and India and Pakistan, have a responsibility for ensuring the peace, for averting famine and relieving human misery, d) we look to the UN to continue asserting vigorous leadership and coordination of efforts to deal with the food situation in East Pakistan and refugee relief in India.
We intend continuing our support for these efforts, e) we recognize that the political problems in Pakistan must be resolved by the Pakistanis themselves, f) we trust both India and Pakistan will avoid actions which can increase tensions and will also be alert to the opportunities for dealing with the refugee problem so as to reduce tensions.
Mr Rogers, who died at the age of 87 four years ago, delivered his speech on Oct 4, 1971, focusing on the points suggested by his aides. Another State Department memo, written after the speech, says that both Indian and Pakistani representatives (Agha Shahi) commented that the speech was clear and balanced.
"Naturally Indians would have preferred greater stress on political settlement in East Pakistan and Pakistanis less, but in general their reactions were decidedly favourable."
Here's an interesting article:
COLD WAR GAMES
© Naval War College Press
Vice Admiral Swaraj Prakash (Retd.), NCC Class of 1965
I graduated from the Naval Command Course (NCC) at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1965. On my return to India, I reported at Naval Headquarters New Delhi for an appointment at sea. As a matter of protocol and having undergone training abroad, I was required to call on the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) to apprise him of my assessment of the NCC course. I briefly narrated the curriculum, concluding that it was a wholesome course promoting understanding amongst the international naval community. After carefully listening, the Chief shot a straight question back at me: "Do you believe this training in the USA is of any value to the Indian Navy or a prop to your personal career?" I was taken aback a bit, but collecting my wits, I replied that such an exposure as in the NCC should help one to contribute to the interests of the Navy in the long run, and that my career was only a side issue. He gave an enigmatic smile. To date I have not been able to figure out whether the Chief thought that I believed in what I said.
It was exactly six years after the NCC experience, in 1971, that I had the privilege of commanding the only aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, INS Vikrant. The tension between India and Pakistan was building up. The USA/Soviet Union cold war was at its height, with the famous U.S. tilt against India. A good deal is on record as to how the nuclear carrier task force led by USS Enterprise (the 'Big E') was sailed from the Far East to create a presence in the Bay of Bengal to influence the outcome of the Indo-Pakistani conflict. INS Vikrant Task Force, comprising the carrier and three anti-aircraft/anti-submarine frigates, was deployed in the Bay of Bengal with a directive to establish a Zone of Command to ensure that there was no outside interference from the sea with the advancing Indian Army in the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). In the execution of its aim the Indian Task Force had in a short time captured about forty foreign and Pakistani ships attempting to break the blockade to reach East Pakistan ports, carrying reinforcements and supplies for the beleaguered Pakistani Army. By 12 December 1971, the fighting on land had entered the final phase in favour of the Indian Army.
INS Vikrant was on patrol north of Andaman Islands blocking the approaches to Chittagong when, on December 15th, late in the evening, the BBC announced the entry of the 'Big-E' task force in the Bay of Bengal. The broadcast added that the U.S. task force was to make for Chittagong to evacuate the stranded American citizens. This was a bolt from the blue. I conjured up a situation of a direct confrontation. I waited for instructions from the Naval Headquarters but none arrived. It was later at night that I decided to proceed south anyway, to intercept the 'Big-E' before she could enter the war zone. It was near midnight when the Midshipman on Watch approached me on the bridge and sought permission to ask a question. I nodded, and he said, "Sir, what would you do when you sight the Big-E?" This question was no doubt uppermost on my mind, but without any hesitation I replied, "You do not have to worry, young man. America is a friendly country, so I would wish the captain of the 'Big E' a good morning and ask him what I could do for him." The midshipman was not convinced and added, "What if the 'Big-E' opened fire against us?" I replied, "I have been educated in the Naval War College, and I understand the American psychology well. If the 'Big-E' attacks us, Abraham Lincoln would be turning in his grave."
Throughout that night INS Vikrant continued her sortie south, and our air recce covered an area to a depth of 500 miles. There was no sign of the U.S. task force, so in the absence of any instruction from the Naval Headquarters I turned back north to rejoin my patrol area. As the day dawned, BBC broadcast amplified its earlier report: that having entered the Bay of Bengal from the Malacca Straits, the U.S. task force had proceeded west instead of going north to Chittagong. On reflection I felt that my reactions in the warlike situation proved the value of my tenure at the NCC. As a postscript to this anecdote, soon after the victory of the Indian Armed Forces, one of the foreign celebrities that visited India was the renowned naval leader Admiral S.G. Gorshkov, Chief of the Soviet Navy. During his visit to Bombay he came onboard INS Vikrant. I had known the Admiral well earlier during my tenure in Moscow as the Indian Naval Attaché. The Admiral congratulated me and asked, "Were you worried about a battle against the American carrier?" He answered himself: "Well, you had no reason to be worried, as I had a Soviet nuclear submarine trailing the American task force all the way into the Indian Ocean."
I thought to myself, it is not easy to convert a cold war into a hot war. Cold war is brinkmanship and only posturing. When the chips are down, you do not play cat and mouse games but come prepared to hit hard to vanquish your adversary.
Copyright © Naval War College Press. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Naval War College Press is prohibited.
How, may I ask, was America "well justified" to act the way it did then? And what was special about the circumstances?
Remember Bangladesh, which won independence due to India's intervention is a far moderate country than Pakistan, which is now a Jehadi hellhole.
The independence of Bangladesh was good. The dissolution of West Pakistan would be better.
We had a whole world to save. I'm sorry we didn't do exactly what India wanted us to do at that exact moment. Too bad, eh? Remember, you're either with us or you're against us. When global communism or global jihad is the threat, there's really no other way. Not choosing is choosing.
The US under Nixon made a mistake tilting towards pakiland.
I think the point is that things like India backing Bangladesh or Israel bombing Iraq's reactor may be illegal, immoral and fattening even if they benefit the whole world. Bad people are very good at putting you in the position of having to take the first shot and taking a propaganda beating. That's why foreign policy handlers should not learn their morality from old "B" westerns. (Instead see how Judge Bean (Paul Newman) handled Bad Bob in the movie. The bad guys don't deserve a chance.)
Be sure to genuflect to Kissinger when China and US go to war.
Whatever you think is right, the fact remains India did more than fine with the Soviets, and Pakistan collapsed siding the US. And about your opinion on India being on the wrong side, how conviniently you've forgotten America's tacit strategy in siding and going kissy-kissy with the Chinese back in the '70s(remember Kissinger?).
And look now, with all that US aid to China, which directly resulted in China's rise as a major power America is now having a China problem cooking up right next to its @ss!(forgive me for lack of better words).Why, did you forget that forced naval plane incident around '00?
Same with aid to the Pakistanis who in turn aided the Jehadis and who directly caused 9-11.
So, who was on the wrong side now?
Anyway, things are going just fine between America and India, and the alliance will be an insurance against any future Chinese threat, as long as it continues to grow.
And this happened only under Bush. Thank him for saving the world.
The left always blames the Machiavellian choices America and its allies have been forced to make on some moral inferiority on our part. They always forget the forces with which we have been dealing -- and how hard they have been to defeat.
India just chose the wrong path, as expedient as it may have been. We've forgiven, but we sure haven't forgotten.
Yes, I know about the blowback issue and 9/11. Don't blame Kissinger for that. Monica Lewinsky probably had more to do with that than he did. While India was trying to deal with its own problems, we've had a world of issues to handle.
Maybe India will get its act together and work with the west to support global democracy. Or maybe not. Meanwhile, don't complain to me about a single thing we did during the Cold War. India chose wrong, and the consequences hurt.
Both sides made mistakes during the cold war. It is an overstatement to say that only India showed a lack of judgement.
What you are talking is plane old B*LLSH*T!
Take a hike! We dont owe you any apologies for siding with the Soviets. We did what was necessary for our security. To me "Henry Alfred Kissinger" was/is a war criminal. As simple as that! It was he who had given Gen Yahya Khan the tacit approval of carrying out the sub-continents worst genocide. He is responsible for siding with a tyrant and has his hands soaked in blood of 20 Million Bengalis.
As a fellow Bengali I find it appalling that Henry Kissinger, a Jew, could side with a General who could carry out one of history's worst genocides.
Sorry but...... I wasn't India that chose the worng path of allowing Gen Yahya Khan to kill another 20 million more Bengalis. Whatever we did under those circumstances was perfectly alright to me. Big deal if America didn't like it. They couldn't stop us anyway.
And once again its WE who forgive you. You dont forgive US!
Finally, the delusional anti-Nixon rantings of leftist blow-hards have been thoroughly debunked.
Yes, perhaps the United States could have done more to ensure that the fundamental human rights of the persecuted Bengalis were protected, but that doesn't negate the extraordinary efforts made by our our State Department, at the time.
Nor does it mean that that Nixon administration was cozying up to the brutal Pakistani regime of Mr. Khan.
I hope these revelations will be digested by Chistopher Hitchens, before he finally issues an apology to former Sec'y of State Kissinger.
Winning the Coldwar using China & Islamic fundamentalism(as seen in Afghanistan in the 80s) has created many a new headache for the US.