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This Day In History: 1971-09-18

Secret talks report planted by Pindi

Hindustan Standard 18.9.1971
NEW DELHI, Sept. 17-The reported Indo-Pakistan “secret talks” on Bangladesh turned out to be a short-lived mystery as a high Government source here categorically stated there had been no contact– secret or open between India and Pakistan on the subject, whether in Teheran or elsewhere. Mr. K. M. Shehabuddin, chief of the Bangla Desh mission here also maintained that no Bangla Desh representative had had any negotiation with Pakistani representatives in Teheran of at any other place. No Bangla Desh representative, he said, had visited Teheran in recent weeks.
The “secret talks” report originally appeared in the New York Times from its correspondent in Karachi. Indian sources as also Mr. Shehabuddin were of the view that the report had been promoted by officials in Karachi with the evident purpose of blunting the sharp edge of criticism the world over against Pakistani army brutalities in Bangladesh. Pakistan, according to the Bangla Desh mission chief, needed to resort to such “propaganda tricks” as delegations from different parts of the world were gathering at the UN headquarters for the General Assembly session and Pakistan was faced with a very real prospect of being hauled over the coals for its actions in Bangla Desh Indian official sources explained that Pakistan’s desire to involve India in its political problems in Bangla Desh was a long-standing one. Islamabad had tried talks with India, or alternatively, to involve third parties for mediation in a bid to convey the impression that Bangla Desh was in essence an Indo-Pakistan dispute.
But the Government of India, according to these sources, regarded these Pakistani moves as traps and stood out firmly against any more for talks with Pakistan, directly or through the good offices of third parties, whether Iran, Ceylon or the Soviet Union. On political settlement in Bangla Desh, the Government’s position had been stated in Parliament by Foreign Minister Swaran Sing on several occasions. Talks, in any, the Foreign Minister had stated, should be between Islamabad and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other elected representatives of Bangla Desh’s 75 million people. India would welcome any political settlement acceptable to Sheikh Mujib and his colleagues who had since established the Bangla Desh Government, it is stated.
Mr Shehabuddin did not set any prospect of a negotiated settlement between Bangladesh and Pakistan. The army junta in Islamabad, he said, was “clearly trying to bypass the political issue by its present manoeuvres to establish a fake civilian government in Dacca with discredited politicians.” Evidently. Gen. Yahya Khan was not convinced the world could be deceived by such devices this that Pakistan was desperately trying to involve third partie… in its troubles.