The Polish Resolution

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Trauma induces searching of souls; but, it also warps judgment. It is not pleasant to recall defeat or the feeling of shame in its aftermath. This is true of nations as well as individuals. But truth is a great liberating force. It imparts lessons and provides warnings. However, precisely in those stressful times, the truth proves elusive because judgment is affected by patriotic sentiment.

In India, the Henderson-Brooks Report on the military reverses in the October 1962 war with China still remains a sealed book. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission on the 1971 War was published after long delay.

In December 1989 the Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies declared that the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1939, with its secret protocol on the partition of Poland and on the annexation of the Baltic States, legally null and void. That was in the Gorbachev era. In 2006 the Council of Europe and in 2009 the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) went to town on the past in Communist States in an arrogant manner.

Russia set up a Presidential commission to counter what it called falsification of history. Two books appeared thereafter in defence of the 1939 pact, one by Andrei Dykov and, more importantly, by N.A. Narochnitskaya. Her volume of essays entitled “The Script of the Second World War : Who started the War and When?” has an approving Foreword by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This is the result of the West’s political exploitation of history for political ends. It arouses fierce nationalist reaction.

Political exploitation of  the famous “Polish Resolution” in the U.N. Security Council in December 1971 during the War by critics of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has led a similar reaction by his admirers. There is another school as well. It comprises of an official with a marked bent for scholarship and two diplomats of outstanding calibre who served during that period. Sultan Mohammed Khan, as Foreign Secretary, and Jamsheed Marker as Ambassador to the Soviet Union. Both hold that the Polish Resolution would have been of no help to Pakistan in its hour of need. Tersely put, the Resolution provided for a direct transfer of power from Islamabad to Dhaka; for the withdrawal of Pakistan’s forces as well as India’s forces and a return to the status quo ante bellum. Not a single prisoner of war would have been held by either side nor an inch of the territory of the adversary State. The cease-fire line would have stayed put. There would have been no surrender of Pakistan’s forces to the Indian Command. And there would have been no Simla Agreement, either.

Surely gains like these were not to be sniffed at in December 1971 nor dismissed in 2012. One looks in vain for a careful and detailed study of the text of the Resolution in the context in which it was tabled, whether in Pakistan or in India.

Let us hasten to the record. Sirdar Sherbaz Khan Mazari is one of the most upright politicians in South Asia. Nonetheless, his opinion might be put down to his opposition to Bhutto. He opined, in his most informative memoirs, that “if the Polish resolution had been accepted, the ignominy of 17 December (surrender) would have been avoided. The fact that it demanded the transfer of power to the elected representatives rankled Bhutto. It meant a return of Mujib and the Awami League. Bhutto would then have been reduced in political rank. As a parliamentary minority leader, he would have been relegated to the peripheries of power”. (A Journey to Disillusionment; Oxford University Press; p. 217).

It is sad that the Karachi weekly Outlook edited by the intrepid I. H. Burney folded up. It carried brilliant cartoons by Yusuf Lodi. Its issue of 25 May 1974 was devoted to “The War Commission and the Surrender”. A Staff Study on that subject considered the resolution textually in detail Council. It held “Had this resolution been passed and acted upon, there would have been (i) no ignominous surrender ceremony; (ii) in terms of human suffering the 93,000 soldiers and civilians would not have rotted in Indian jails for two years, (iii) there would have been no occupation of territory in West Pakistan, and (iv) no new control line.” (p. 10) Now, for the formidable diplomats. It is only fair to accept that their dismissal of the resolution appears to represent a virtual national consensus; overwhelmingly the majority view. Hasan Zaheer, a distinguished civil servant summarises the resolution and adds: “It will be seen that the conditions which the Polish resolution had prescribed for Pakistan to fulfill before cease-fire were the most stringent and specific of any of the drafts that had come up so far before the Security Council. It asked Pakistan to transfer power in East Pakistan immediately before the interim cease-fire, and evacuate its armed forces from there before a durable cease-fire. But the Indian forces could stay there without any condition. The argument given in favour of the resolution is that it would have saved the Pakistan army from the humiliation of surrender. It can equally be argued that the Polish terms were no less humiliating. In any case, it was no longer possible to avoid the surrender. By 15 December the Indians had encircled Dhaka and reached its suburbs, and could have walked in without much loss. They had accepted Niazi’s offer of a cease-fire, subject to the surrender of Pakistan forces, and the Pakistan Army Chief of State had permitted Niazi to accept the Indian conditions. There was no question of the Indians at this stage heeding any UN resolution on East Pakistan, or, indeed, of the Soviet Union allowing any such document to be passed by the Security Council. An acceptance of the Polish resolution would only have given legal sanction to the Indian occupation without any relief to the armed forces or West Pakistani civilians in East Pakistan. Compared to this, the second Soviet resolution of 6 December, S/10428, was much better.” (The Separation of East Pakistan; Oxford University Press; pp 414-5).

He proceeds, quite gratuitously but very revealingly, to defend the Foreign Office and put the blame exclusively on General A. M. Yahya Khan, President, Chief Martial Law Administrator and C-in-C Army.

He concludes “Of the four resolutions tabled on 15 December, government instructions were given only in respect of the Anglo-French resolution …The Polish resolution was so much at variance with the Pakistani position that apparently no notice of it was taken by the Foreign Office. The question of Bhutto accepting or rejecting it, therefore, did not arise. There was no way to save the honour of the country through the United Nations. But, ironically, the humiliation of surrender could have been avoided if Farman Ali’s proposals of 10 December to the UN had been allowed to be acted upon. These proposals were more dignified than the Polish resolution. They were acceptable to the Soviet Union, whose delegate had appreciatively referred to them on 13 December in the 1613th meeting of the Security Council. Such are the vagaries of the vocal classes of Pakistan that, to this day, what Farman Ali is severely criticized for, Poland is applauded for.” A pronounced bias in favour of Bhutto is apparent throughout the book for which Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto conferred on him the Sitara-i-Imtiaz. He was given access to official and unpublished records. The barbarities let loose by the troops are ignored and so, of course, is Bhutto’s role in the failure of the talks in Dhaka in March 1971, his conduct subsequent to that especially in November-December 1971, and particularly Bhutto’s brusque rejection of the Polish resolution. That is no reason why his specific criticisms of the resolution should be brushed aside.

His preference for the Soviet resolution of 6 December, 05/10428; makes it necessary to recall the earlier part of his narrative.  “The Soviet Union then immediately circulated its own draft resolution, S/10428, which was an improvement over its previous resolution S/10418.  It recognized the hostilities as a threat to international peace and security, called upon the parties for an immediate cease-fire as a first step, and asked the government of Pakistan to give simultaneous effect to the will of people of East Pakistan as expressed in the elections of December 1970. … At this point it may be noted that its acceptance would have avoided the surrender in Dhaka, though the withdrawal of the army from East Pakistan required by it would have been just as humiliating within and outside Pakistan” “stringent” than in any other resolution. Pakistan had to transfer power before the interim cease-fire and withdraw its troops before a “durable” cease-fire. 2. This was as humiliating as surrender; an obvious absurdity which reveals his approach, 3. “In any case it was not possible to avoid the surrender”. 4. India would not have heeded any U.N. resolution. 4. The Soviet Union would not have allowed any “such” (read : Polish) resolution to be passed – another palpable absurdity. Poland’s initiative was approved, if not, indeed, inspired by the USSR. He contradicts himself for only on the previous page 414, he writes that (a) it represented “the Indo-Soviet stand”; an obvious falsehood; for, as will be pointed out, the Polish resolution had alarm bells ringing in New Delhi. “Poland had voted with the soviet Union on all the resolutions”. Why, then, would it disapprove of this particular resolution?

5. (a) “Our acceptance of the Polish resolution would only have given legal sanction to the Indian occupation without any relief to the armed forces or West Pakistani civilians in East Pakistan” (b)  “Compared to this the second Soviet resolution of 6 December, S/10428, was much better”.

He proceeds immediately thereafter to argue that “the Pakistani delegation to the U.N., however high-powered it might be” – significantly, he does not mention its powerful leader’s name, Z. A. Bhutto – “acts entirely on the instructions of the home government”. This is factually untrue. Bhnutto called the shots at the Security Council. That Hasan Zaheer goes out of his way to offer his apologia only confirms impression of bias. Yet, to repeat, his criticisms must be considered on their merits.

Foreign Secretary Sultan Muhammad Khan is as dismissive in his memoirs: Memoirs & Reflections of a Pakistani Diplomat (Permanent Publishing Enterprise, Karachi; pp. 382-385). He writes “It is true that acceptance of either of these resolutions would have spared the humiliation of the Pakistani armed forces and a large number of civilian personnel being taken prisoners of war, but it would have amounted to surrender nevertheless. If that has been considered by some in retrospect as a better alternative, then it is fair to ask why was it not possible for the government to accept the offer made by General Farman Ali to the U.N. Representative in Dhaka, which the Soviet Ambassador called very promising?” (p. 385). This is an oddly self-contradictory view.

This brings us to the magisterial authority of Jamsheed Marker’s memoirs:  Quiet  Diplomacy  (Oxford  University  Press).  His  views merit quotation in extenso: “In the cool and collected light provided by hindsight, a great utilitarian device for historians, it is possible to make a realistic assessment of the issue. In the first place, the Pakistan delegation had decided to reject the Polish draft, even before entering the Security Council chamber. I believe this decision to be correct on two counts, even though it could not have been an easy one to take in the tense and surcharged atmosphere of uncertainty that prevailed at the time. First, only someone like Bhutto could have had the combination of statesmanship and courage to push it through. Secondly, the paper that Bhutto tore up and threw on his table was not, in fact, the draft resolution document, but a piece of paper containing his rough notes and some doodling. But that too is alright, because it helped create the requisite drama. As for the substance of the draft resolution (United Nations Security Council Document S/10453/Rev. 1, Poland : revised draft resolution, Original : English, Security Council 1614th Session, 15 December 1971), it envisaged a ceasefire and the immediate installation of an Awami League government in East Pakistan, to be followed by troop withdrawals and the repatriation of West Pakistanis, without specifying the timing and modalities for implementation. This meant, in reality, that the Government of Pakistan would formally accept and legally endorse, in an international forum, the forcible occupation of a large part of its territory, a commitment unprecedented in history. In my view, such a formal abdication of national sovereignty is as demeaning as it is unthinkable and unacceptable. Finally, we need to look at the sequence of events connected with the introduction of the Polish resolution. Viewed with the benefit of hindsight, it emerges as one of the quirks that one finds dotted about in the history of all nations. The ceasefire in Dacca had commenced at 1700 hrs local time on 15 December 1971, and the surrender was signed the next morning (16 December). The UN Security Council took up consideration of Draft Resolution S/10453/Rev. 1 at its meeting that commenced at 1210 hours EST (New York time) on 15 December 1971. By this time the ceasefire had already gone into effect in East Pakistan, and the members of the UN Security Council, as they took their seats and assumed consideration of the ‘Polish Resolution’, were blissfully unaware that the break-up of Pakistan, one of the United Nations’ member states, was already a fait accompli.” (p. 141). His rejections centre on national dignity and the futility of a belated resolution.

Contrast all this with an Indian perception; and that by none other than Lt. Gen. J. F. R. Jacob. In 1971 he was Chief of Staff Eastern Army and played a crucial role in arranging Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi’s surrender on 17 December 1971. In his assessment : “A Polish resolution, presumably backed by the Soviet Union, called for an immediate cease fire and troop withdrawals. Such a resolution, if adopted would have been disastrous for India. Fortunately for us Bhutto, on 15 December, tore up his copy of the resolution, denounced the United Nations and stormed out of the session. This ended the consideration of the resolution. These pressures at the United Nations and the indications given by the Soviets that they would be unable in the future to veto other resolutions, resulted in great pressure being put on us to capture as many towns as possible.” (pp. 131-132).

Surely both versions cannot be right, Pakistan’s diplomats’ and the Indian soldier’s! If Jacob is right, Pakistan impetuously missed a great opportunity. On two points the record supports him. Marker’s account contains an important disclosure. Nikolai Firyubin, the Deputy Foreign Minister, “mentioned the ‘Polish Report Resolution’ that was before the Security Council and commended its acceptance” (p. 440).

Indian hawks are welcome to call it duplicity or even treachery. Serious students must refrain from jumping to this conclusion and, addressing the facts, accept one crucial factor in Soviet policy on South Asia – an ambiguity born out of the compulsion to keep India on its side while trying as best as it could to maintain links with Pakistan and avert its breakup.

Pakistan had a strong ally in China, whose adversary, the Soviet Union, did its best to keep India on its side, but without breaking its ties with Pakistan altogether. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov candidly told Marker “The game is being played for high international stakes. It has nothing to do with you. You are the victims of an objective situation” (S.M. Khan, p. 380).

Jacob accurately reflected the near panic that gripped New Delhi. He was at the front and could hardly have had first hand information about the diplomatic game in the Security Council. New Delhi pressed him to complete the job because of the proceedings in the Council. In this it received insistent demands from the Soviet Union which Jacob cites – it could no longer keep vetoing resolutions. The Army Chief General Sam Maneckshaw was informed of the Soviet pressures and began breathing down Jacob’s neck.

There is documentary evidence in support of this version. Jack Anderson records “On December 13, the CIA reported that Nikolay M. Pegov, the Russian ambassador to India, stated that India should try to occupy Bangladesh in the quickest possible time and that it should then accept a cease-fire . . . that India has achieved a marvelous military victory, Pakistan is no longer a military force, and it is therefore unnecessary for India to launch an offensive into West Pakistan to crush a military machine that no longer exists.” (The Anderson Papers; Ballantine Books; p. 288).  Pegov was urging speed in the East and – restraint in the West. The Soviet Union would have opposed any Indian attack on West Pakistan.

The record in the Security Council must be perused in the context of Soviet-Pak relations since 1964. On 14 February the Soviet Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Federenko suddenly adopted an even- handed stand on Kashmir: “territorial disputes and boundaries are the most prevalent causes of friction”. Consideration of the Kashmir dispute was justified. Around this time Moscow also shifted to a more pro-Turkey stand on Cyprus. President Ayub Khan’s visit to Moscow in April 1965 marked a watershed. It was a prelude to Tashkent. The Soviet Union began to speak of “the two countries of Hindustan”. In 1968, Kosygin went so far as to write to Indira Gandhi urging her to settle Kashmir and the Farakka Barrage disputes. After Kosygin’s highly successful visit to Pakistan in April, Russia announced in July 1968 its decision to supply arms to Pakistan, an ally of its estranged neighbour China. Both India and Pakistan vied with each other in proclaiming their dissociation, in the United Nations Security Council, on August 23, 1968, from Western censures of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The bon homie continued in 1970. Meanwhile Sino-Soviet relations were deteriorating by the day. Moscow floated the Brezhnev Plan for Collective Security and the Kosygin Plan for an overland route. Yahya Khan’s brutal crackdown in East Pakistan posed a challenge for the friends of, both, India and Pakistan. Russia had proposed in 1969 for a Treaty with India. In 1971 it was revised. However, it fell far short of what people imagine. The Soviet Ambassador to the U.S., the legendary Anatoly Dobrynin, held that it was “not the mutual assistance pact Indira Gandhi was seeking. As long as India stayed outside the nuclear club, the Soviet leader considered granting it protection against a nuclear threat to India, but caution prevailed” (In Confidence; page 236).

It was signed in Delhi by the Foreign Ministers. The Times (London) correspondent in Moscow, David Bonavia, reported the impression in Moscow that the Russian Foreign Minister had “doubtless emphasised to his hosts that the Soviet Union will expect India to behave responsibly and avoid all possible causes of an armed conflict with Pakistan” (August 10).

The American impression, also, was that the Soviet Union had by signing the treaty with India dissuaded it from recognizing Bangladesh; an act which would have provoked a war between India and Pakistan.

“According to intelligence reports reaching here,” The New York Times correspondent in Washington, Tad Szulc, reported, “the message of India’s planned Monday (August 9) recognition of Bangladesh was delivered in Moscow by Durga Prasad Dhar, former Indian Ambassador to the Soviet Union, apparently acting as a special envoy for Prime Minister  Indira  Gandhi.  Mr.  Dhar  flew to  Moscow  on  August  2.

Gromyko was reported to have warned that recognition of Bangladesh could provoke a war and he himself proposed to visit New Delhi to use ‘whatever pressure was necessary’ to dissuade Indira Gandhi from recognizing Bangladesh at this time. Szulc added, “American officials surmised that Gromyko was successful in persuading India to defer its recognition of Bangladesh when he agreed to sign a friendship treaty immediately.” (p. 89).

The CIA had leaked the information to Tad Szulc and had reported as much to Nixon. Its source was “an agent in the Indian Cabinet” who kept informing it till December 1971 when “he told us to go to hell” because it had revealed the source. His information was explicit. “The Soviet Union had signed a friendship treaty with India to forestall Indian recognition of Bangladesh” (Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept The Secrets : Richard Helms and the CIA; Alfred A. Knopf; p. 206).

Samar Sen, who was opposed to Indian intervention in East Pakistan, edited Frontier, a radical weekly published from Calcutta. Its issue of 30 October 1971 carried a report of the proceedings of a meeting of Pakistan’s ambassadors in Geneva on 24-25, 1971 over which Sultan Mohammed Khan presided. Lt. Gen. M. Umar and Information Secretary Roedad Khan were present. Two of the Ambassadors came out in flying colours for their truthful reporting : “USSR : Ambassador Jamshed Marker believes that the Russians have no intention for severing ties with Pakistan and that the Indo-Soviet Treaty was mainly aimed at extending Russian influence in South-East Asia. He regarded the Treaty as more anti-Chinese than anti-Pakistan. The Soviet Union has given no indication that economic aid to Pakistan would be reduced.

“China: Ambassador K. M. Kaiser said that China wanted non- intervention. He stated that China had advised a political settlement maintaining the integrity of Pakistan. China suspects the Indian motives in supporting Bangladesh. China is ready to give aid for rehabilitation of E. Pakistan economy. The Chinese press did not publicize the Indo- Soviet Treaty and China believed that it is directed against China. China intends to strengthen her relations with Afghanistan, Ceylon, Nepal and Burma. China would like to see Pakistan active in the politics of Indo-arms shipment to Pakistan since March 25 was almost nil. Most of the Chinese weapons Pakistan is using were received during the years after 1965”.

Even after the Treaty, Izvestia and Pravda carried report from both sides. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s visit to Moscow on 27-29 September 1971 compelled a shift. Alain Jacob of Le Monde called it “a puzzling policy switch”. The Communist Party of India now discovered a national liberation movement in October.

It is against this background that the Soviet resolutions in the Security Council must be appraised. First came the one of 4 December (S/10418). It simply called “for a political settlement in east Pakistan which would inevitably result in a cessation of hostilities”. Pakistan was asked to ensure that its forces ceased “all acts of violence”. The procedures and modalities of troop-withdrawals and the rest were not laid down.

Next came its Resolution S/10426 of 6 December which was an amendment to Resolution S/10425 by Belgium and some others calling “for an immediate ceasefire”. The Soviet Union’s amendment added a stipulation for “a political settlement giving immediate recognition to the Will of the east Pakistan population as expressed in the elections of December 1970.” This was integral to the cease-fire. In short, Pakistan had to declare its acceptance of the independence of Bangladesh for the ceasefire to take effect. Another amendment made verbal changes.

There came Resolution S/10428 also on 6 December. It asked “as a first step for an immediate cease-fire”. Next, effective action by Pakistan “towards” a political settlement “simultaneously” with a cease-fire. There was no mention of troop withdrawals or relinquishment of territorial gains. This is the one Hasan Zaheer prefers to the Polish move.

Resolution A/L648 in the General assembly on 7 December 1971 was along these lines. After a week came the Polish resolution S/10453 in the Security Council on 14 December followed by its Revision the next day (S/10453/Res. 1). The text is set out in full : THE SECURITY COUNCIL, GRAVELY CONCERNED over the military conflict on the Indian sub-continent, which constitutes an immediate threat to international peace and security,

HAVING HEARD the statements by the Foreign Minister of India and the Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan, DECIDES that :

  1. In the eastern theatre of conflict, the power will be peacefully transferred to the lawfully elected representatives of the people headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who would immediately be released;
  1. Immediately after the beginning of the process of power transfer, the military actions in all the areas will be ceased and an initial cease-fire will start for a period of 72 hours;
  2. After the immediate commencement of the initial period of cease- fire, the Pakistan armed forces will start withdrawal to the pre-set locations in the eastern theatre of conflict with a view to evacuation from the eastern theatre of conflict;
  3. Similarly, the entire West Pakistan civilian personnel and other persons willing to return to West Pakistan, as well as the entire East Pakistan civilian personnel and other persons in West Pakistan willing to return home, will be given an opportunity to do so under the supervision of the United Nations, with the guarantees on the part of all appropriate authorities concerned that nobody will be subjected to repressions;
  4. As soon as within the period of 72 hours the withdrawal of the Pakistan troops and their concentration for that purpose will have started, the cease-fire will become permanent. As soon as the evacuation of the West Pakistan armed forces will have started, actually upon consultations with the newly established authorities organized as a result of the transfer of power to the lawfully elected representatives of the people headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman;
  5. Recognizing the principle according to which territorial acquisitions made through the use of force will not be retained by either party to the conflict, the Governments of India and Pakistan will immediately begin negotiations through appropriate representatives of their armed forces with a view to the speediest possible implementation of this principle in the western theatre of military operations.”

The Resolution envisaged an “initial” cease fire for 72 hours once the process of transfer of power began. Thereafter Pakistan’s troops will “start withdrawal to the pre-set locations” en route to their evacuation. As soon as that process had “started” – not completed – the cease fire becomes permanent and “the Indian armed forces will start their withdrawal from East Pakistan”. Much was made of the fact that this “will begin actually upon consultations with the newly established authorities”. Three points bear notice. The basic principle was recorded unambiguously; Indian troops’ withdrawal simultaneously with that of Pakistani troops would have led to a vacuum. Their continuing presence depended on the wishes of the new sovereign power, anyway. Secondly, the fundamental that “territorial acquisitions made through the use of force was recognized”. Lastly negotiations were to be held for “the speediest implementation of this principle in the western theatre”, and they were to begin “immediately”.

The Revised version of the next day, 15 December, was substantially identical except for one significant change. References to the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and to the government headed by him were dropped. This could not have been done to please India. It was done to persuade Pakistan. If it had shown any interest at all, more concessions might have followed. It was preeminently a formula for negotiations and was eminently negotiable. The text had play at the joints. From 4 December to 21 December over twenty resolutions were moved in the Security Council and the General Assembly. None came anywhere near the Polish resolution in its enunciation of the fundamentals or precision on procedure. On 21 December the Council adopted Resolution 307 (1971). Pakistan’s Acceptance of the Polish resolution would have enlisted the Soviet Union on its side, in a reversion to Tashkent, as a virtual guarantor of the deal. Military defeat would not have prevented its implementation.  If accepted, the process it laid down could have been enforced with UN and Soviet support. As for national honour, the Polish resolution was silent on the issue of sovereignty. It only took note of the actual state of things. Was it more inconsistent with national honour than the surrender on 17 December?

The Soviet Union’s interest did not cease after the cease fire. P. N. Dhar, Indira Gandhi’s Principal Secretary, aroused her wrath when he opposed “the immediate return of the territories we had won …. Before I could finish she grew impatient and flew in to a rage. I was puzzled by her loss of temper. My lurch is that she was under pressure – this could only have been from the Soviets – to return the occupied territories”. (P. N. Dhar, Indira Gandhi, the Emergency and Indian Democracy; Oxford University Press; p. 209). More likely than not, Soviet Union was an unseen participant at Simla.

Two American academics Profs. Richard Sisson and Leo E Rose conducted extensive interviews, consulted the documents and wrote a detailed account of the entire episode. (War and Secession : Pakistan, India, and the creation of Bangladesh; University of California Press, Berkeley). They report : “For the Government of India the most controversial and potentially embarrassing of the resolutions presented to the Security Council was that submitted by Poland, since it was the only resolution that had a high probability of adoption. The Polish resolution like the earlier soviet resolutions, called for the transfer of power in East Pakistan to the representatives elected in December 1970 – that is, the Awami league – and this was, of course, Indian policy as well. But unlike the Soviet resolutions, the Polish proposal also called for an immediate cease-fire and troop withdrawals by both sides, as well as the renunciation of claims to any territories acquired by force during the war. These provisions aroused considerable distress in New Delhi.…  “New Delhi also disliked the ‘renunciation of occupied territory’ clause in the Polish resolution, which would have obligated India to once again restore the strategic points on the Pakistani side of the cease- fire line in Kashmir that had been seized at some cost.  India did not doubt that the Polish resolution was really Soviet in origin, and New Delhi reluctantly conceded that it would have no option but to accept a Security Council resolution that was approved unanimously, which the Polish resolution would have been. Fortunately for New Delhi, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the head of the Pakistani delegation to the United Nations, came to its rescue.” (pp. 219-220). They add: “Two days later Dhaka fell.”

Two disclosures in related footnotes fortify this view. One is that “several key figures in India could not understand why Pakistan did not readily agree to the proposal, since it would have left India in a most difficult and compromising position (interviews, India, 1978).”

The other explanation explains a lot: “In our interviews with him in 1979, Yahya Khan related a rather curious account of his experience with Bhutto on the Polish resolution. Yahya had been talking to Bhutto who was at the U.N. meetings in New York – by telephone about several matters. At one point Yahya said that he was far away, of course, but that the Polish resolution looked good, and ‘we should accept it.’ Bhutto replied, ‘I can’t hear you.’ Yahya repeated himself several times, and Bhutto kept saying, ‘What? What?’ The operator in New York finally intervened and said, ‘I can hear him fine,’ to which Bhutto replied ‘Shut up.’ Yahya seemed still bemused and bewildered by all this in 1979. The Polish resolution and Bhutto’s action that ended its consideration, though a matter of concern to the general officers still in power in 1971, never became a political issue in Pakistan until the spring of 1986, when Bhutto’s daughter Benazir returned to Pakistan to assume leadership of the People’s party’s campaign against President Zia-ul-Haq. Pro-government sources raised the question of Bhutto’s motivations in sabotaging the Polish resolution. Benazir Bhutto replied that it had not been the Polish resolution her father tore up but some other papers. She may be right, but Bhutto’s walkout from the Security Council did halt all consideration of the Polish resolution”.

Politics has impaired dispassionate debate. The record however clearly establishes that the Polish Resolution would have averted surrender and the Simla Conference as well. But orderly transfer of power to Bangladesh by a political settlement would have confirmed Yahya Khan in power. Bhutto loathed that prospect.