The crisis showed no sign of abatement. On March 15, President Yahya Khan arrived in Dhaka from Rawalpindi for talks with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was escorted from Tejgaon airport to the President’s House at Ramna under heavy guard by soldiers of the Pakistan army. The authority of the Pakistan government was conspicuous by its absence. It was only in the cantonment and at the President’s House as well as the Governor’s House that the flag of Pakistan could be observed. Everywhere else, it was the Bangladesh flag that had been raised by a people clearly unwilling to remain part of Pakistan any longer.

In Peshawar, Air Marshal Asghar Khan maintained that only Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could keep the country together despite great odds and therefore it was essential, he asserted, that power be handed over to him immediately. He condemned the PPP chairman’s call for a transfer of power to his party in West Pakistan and to the Awami League in East Pakistan.

Not to be deterred, Z.A. Bhutto repeated in Karachi his earlier position that the rule of the majority did not apply to Pakistan. He noted that the on-going deadlock in constitution-making could not be resolved ‘by ignoring the wishes of the people of West Pakistan as represented by the majority party in the West Wing.’ All across the western part of the country, he drew flak from politicians over his demand for a transfer of power on his terms. Some even criticized him for advocating what they considered a new two-nation theory.

In Dhaka, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced a new series of measures aimed at continuing the non-cooperation movement in East Pakistan. In a statement, the Awami League chief said: ‘The heroic struggle of the people marches forward. All those who cherish freedom and are struggling for it the world over should regard our cause as their own. Our people have proved how a determined and united people can be a bulwark of freedom against those who conspire to rule by force. The people of Bangladesh, civil servants, office and factory workers, peasants and students have demonstrated in no uncertain terms that they will rather die than surrender.’

Syed Badrul Ahsanis a columnist.

One Response to “Yahya Khan in Dhaka”

  1. Anwar A. Khan

    Mr. Syed Badrul Ahsan :

    Our glorious Liberation War was then going to be further intensified. To the general mass people, Yahya’s so-called talks were of no use then. People wanted nothing but complete independence from the Pakistani military junta. Agitation was so high that people seemed as if they were ready to snatch away Bangladesh from the Pakistani rulers in no time.

    Being a teen aged college student then, I felt I was no bird; and no net ensnared me; I was a free human being with an independent will and Bangladesh belonged to us only, nothing else.

    I thank you very much for your above inspiring piece.

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