On 30 July 1971, a member of the [Bangladesh] Awami League showed up at the US consulate in Calcutta seeking an appointment for Kazi Zahirul Qaiyum, a national assembly member from the Awami League, to meet with the consul-general. Instead, the consulate arranged for Qaiyum to see a political officer the following day. Qaiyum said that he had come at the behest of Foreign Minister Khandakar Moshtaque Ahmad, who wished to reestablish the Awami League's contacts with the United States [with a view to the U.S. facilitating negotiations between Gen. Yahya Khan, ruler of Pakistan, and the Awami League].... The US embassy in Islamabad observed that even if Qaiyum's proposals represented those of the Bangladesh government, Yahya was unlikely to accept them. In serving as a conduit for these messages, the United States risked upsetting its relations with Pakistan. Nonetheless, in the interest of long-term relations with the Bangladesh leadership, the risk seemed worth running. The White House had a rather different view. Kissinger insisted that asking Yahya to parley with the Awami Leaguers in Calcutta was "like asking Abraham Lincoln to deal with Jefferson Davis." Nixon agreed that "we can't ask Yayha to do that." Yet, he asked the State Department to sound out Ambassador Farland [the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan] on this issue.To say that Kissinger's remark was an inapt analogy would be an understatement.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Quote of the day
From S. Raghavan, 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh (2013), pp.218-19 (notes omitted; italics added):