Islamabad, June 4, 1973, 1101Z.[Page 1]
- Bhutto’s Appeal for Help on Domestic Political Problem
- Islamabad 4532
- Bhutto’s particular reason in wanting to talk to me very shortly after my return from brief leave in India became apparent early in our conversation at Nathiagali June 3 (reftel). He came right out and said he would like my help in finding solution to the troubled political problem in Baluchistan. In short, he wanted me to approach ex-Governor Bizenjo with a proposal Bhutto had to offer.
- After recounting his negotiation with Bizenjo and Mengal last May and developments since then (reftel), Bhutto said he was not anxious to work back toward the understanding discussed in may but that he was inhibited in resuming direct roles again at this moment. Basically, his inhibition came from sensitivity of certain of his own supporters, particularly Baluch Governor Bugti and Chief Minister Jam Sahib [Page 2] of Lasbela. They were dead set against further presidential negotiations (which could not be kept secret) prior to or during forthcoming Provincial Assembly session now scheduled to begin June 22. Bhutto felt similarly inhibited from calling on his special assistant, Rafi Raza, to do the job for him because that too would be easily traced to the President.
- Bhutto then referred to what he termed my help in getting unanimous adoption of constitution last April, especially my talk with Bizenjo at that time. (See my letter of May 16 to Ambassador Meyer on this subject.) He added that he knew me as a good friend of Pakistan and also a good friend of Bizenjo. That was why he was asking me to help on this particular occasion. He then spelled out the message he hoped I would pass to Bizenjo (see para 7 below).
- I said I was taken aback by Bhutto’s suggestion. I was pleased that he felt such confidence in me and my ability to carry out what would be a delicate exercise. However, this was not the type of thing in which diplomats—even friendly diplomats—ran into as a normal part of their duties. Bhutto acknowledged that he had made an extraordinary request. He had done so because our relationship had always been frank as well as friendly, he recalled that in 1971 I had come to him with a request for help and he had immediately obliged (reference was to my appeal that Bhutto use his influence to call off PPP spokesmen and press who had been attacking Ambassador Farland).
- You will appreciate that I felt very much on the spot. I felt I should make a decision there and then rather than fudge. To say “no, thanks” would have been diplomatically impeccable but would surely have reduced very sharply whatever value I still have here as senior US rep. More than that, it seemed to me that Bhutto’s proposal was reasonably honorable (although it has its faults) and, if it proves to be acceptable to NAP, could [Page 3] lead to an important abatement of what is perhaps Pakistan’s most urgent political problem of today. I therefore told Bhutto that I would undertake to reach Bizenjo and convey Bhutto’s message to him. We agreed categorically that I should undertake nothing more than to pass the message to Bizenjo and to relay to Bhutto any message which Bizenjo might wish to send through me. I said I would make it as clear as I could to Bizenjo that my agreement to playing this role reflected nothing more than my interest and hope that the various concerned elements would find a way to resolve a troublesome problem; also that I was acting in a purely, personal capacity as a friend, and nothing more; I would not voice any stand pro or con.
- I thereupon added that I was willing to take on this extraordinary assignment because of my respect for President Bhutto and for his efforts to evolve a reasonable consensus on one of the most urgent problems facing his country. He thanked me.
- After dinner I came back to this subject and said I wanted to jot
down the points Bhutto wanted
me to pass to Bizenjo so
that there would be no danger of error. The points are these:
- President had referred, during recent private conversation with me, to talks he had had with Bizenjo and Mengal about establishment of an NAP/JUI/PPP coalition [Page 4] in Baluchistan. (If queried, I would say understanding did not relate to NWFP because of different situation prevailing there.)
- Since those talks, situation had become complicated by killing of Dir Scouts and increase in Mengal violent activity in Jha Lawan area; sensitivity by Governor Bugti and Chief Minister Jam Sahib of Lasbela to further direct meetings by President in period around Provincial Assembly session; and increase by certain NAP elements of anti-Iran and anti-Shah statements.
- President is prepared to carry through on understanding reached last May, shortly after forthcoming budget session of Provincial Assembly. This includes establishment of coalition government, of which NAP representative could be Chief Minister; departure of Bugti from governorship—perhaps he could take another position such as Chairman of the Senate which is to be elected approximately by mid-July.
- President desires to discuss above proposal with Bugti and get his agreement; discussion to take place sometime during period June 12–17 when President [Page 5] expects to be in Quetta.
- After end of forthcoming Provincial Assembly session, during July, President would get in touch directly with Bizenjo (or Mengal) to confirm understanding.
- President would then appoint governor of President’s own choice, but someone with whom NAP would be happy. (Bhutto told me he was thinking of naming Khan of Kalat, of traditional Baluch leading family.)
- President must maintain some central government military forces in Baluchistan for the time being; but it is negotiable as to whether civil armed forces rather than army might suit purpose.
- As President has already made clear, it is his intention to support significant increase in economic development activity in Baluchistan.
- President would like NAP not to oppose maintenance of present government in Quetta until above arrangement has been worked out. This could be done, for example, by abstention of NAP members from vote of confidence on current government when Provincial Assembly meets later this month or it could be done in any other way that NAP would prefer, such as arranging that NAP members of Provincial Assembly would not be present when confidence vote taken.
- Bhutto said, for my information but not to mention to Bizenjo, that he would be willing to work out a post for a NAP rep in his central cabinet, once above arrangement has been concluded.
- Final item in para 7 above may present toughest problem for NAP, if it is willing to accept other points of Bhutto’s proposal. Without being able to divulge arrangement, it will be very hard for them to explain abstention or anything other than straight vote against existing government when confidence motion is called.
- I felt I should give you this rather detailed account of what I have accepted to try to do. I am aware of pitfalls and will try to aviod them. Will keep you informed.
- Have arranged for meeting with Bizenjo at my house this afternoon (June 4) lay out proposed scenario.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 PAK. Confidential; Stadis; Exdis; Eyes Only for Sisco and Meyer. Telegram Islamabad 4532 outlined the particulars of the problem in greater detail, including anti-government violence, to which Bhutto had responded with limited military force to keep order. Sober summarized his subsequent meeting with Bizenjo in Telegram Islamabad 4659 on June 7. (Ibid.)↩
- Chargé Sydney Sober reported that Prime Minister Bhutto requested that he act as an intermediary with Baluchistan Governor Bizenjo in order to quell political tensions between the provincial and central governments.↩