Speech by the late senator Edward Kennedy


MAY 18TH 1971

Mr. CHURCH. Mr. President, I speak today in support of Senate Concurrent Resolution 21. What has taken place in East Pakistan since the night of March 25, 1971, when a bloodletting of untold proportions began, is hard to comprehend. We know that the Pakistan Army, equipped mostly with American Arms and led by U.S. trained officers, let loose a massive burst of violence on fellow Muslims. After the first week of the civil strife, the normally calm French newspaper, Le Monde, headlined events in Pakistan as “The Week of the Bloodbath.” The Chicago Sun-Times, after running a series of eye-witness descriptions labeled the affair “The Pakistan Pogrom.” And Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan, the present martial law administrator of East Pakistan admitted on May 6 that there had been “quite a lot of massacre” during the current conflict. On-the spot accounts reaching Washington on a continuing basis from Americans, Europeans, and subcontinentals have confirmed the charge that killings have been widespread and sadistic. Such an account came from Peggy Durdin in the New York Times. After an extensive stay in East Pakistan, she wrote on May 2 of the wholesale slaughter that had taken place in Dacca and other urban centers following the breakdown of talks between Pakistan President Yahya Khan and Sheik Mujibur Rahman, the duly elected leader of the Awami League. This Bengali political party had just won and overwhelming mandate: One hundred and sixty seven out of a possible 169 seats assigned to East Pakistan in the 313-seat National Assembly, on a platform advocating greater political autonomy for the East. Mrs. Durdin observed that The freedom the Bengalis were determined to achieve and the concessions the vested interests of the West and Pakistan’s military dictator-president were prepared to give finally culminated in one of the bloodiest slaughters of modern times, as Pakistan’s armed forces moved with total ruthlessness to reassert Islamabad’s authority.

As more and more facts are collected and analyzed, there is evidence to suggest not only that mass killings took place, but also that the Bengali leadership groups may have been selected out by the central government for annihilation. Thousands of Bengali civilians P professors, elected leaders, businessmen, lawyers, engineers, politicians, civil servants, doctors, workers, students, farmers, women, children P together with many of the men who made up the East Pakistan Rifles and the Pakistan Border Security Forces, plus local policemen, are said to have been exterminated. Reports T.J.S. George in the Far Eastern Economic Review Should East Pakistan be handed over to local political parties tomorrow, there simply will not be many leaders or intellectuals of the Awami League brand to take over responsibility. In one murderous week the army wrought a vacuum which it will take a generation or more to fill. I ask unanimous consent that these and other accounts describing the Pakistan civil war be printed at this point in the Record. There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in the Record as follows:

From the Washington Post, Mar. 30, 1971
Dacca Eyewitnesses: Bloodbath Inferno
By Simon Dring

From the Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 31, 1971
Pakistan Program

From the Le Monde (Weekly English Edition,) April 1-7, 1971
PakistanPthe Week of the Bloodbath
By Gerard Viratelle

Political Developments in Pakistan, March 1969-March 1971
By Larry A. Niksch

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 4 1971
East Pakistan Rebellion Laid to Exploitation
By D. D. Obika

From the Baltimore Sun, Apr. 4 1971
Pakistan is Exterminating the Bengalis
By John E. Woodruff

From the Washington Post, Apr. 7 1971
Refugees From East Pakistan Tell of Mass Executions

From the New York Times, Apr. 14, 1971
Bengalis Form a Cabinet As the Bloodshed Goes On
By Sydney H. Schanberg

From the Far Eastern Economic Review, Apr. 17, 1971
The Bloody Road Leftwards
By T. J. S. George

From the New York Times. Apr. 18, 1971
Pakistan: In This Case “War Is Hell” For One Side Only
By Sydney H. Schanberg

From the Far Eastern Economic Review, Apr. 24, 1971
Putting Up a Front
By Nayan Chanda

From the Far Eastern Economic Review, Apr. 24, 1971
The Cross of Bengal
By T. J. S. George

Shades of Defiance
By Nayan Chanda

From the New York Times Magazine, May 2, 1971
The Political Tidal Wave that Struck East Pakistan
By Peggy Durdin

From the Times Magazine, May 3, 1971
Pakistan, Dacca, City of the Dead

From the Washington Post, May 7, 1971
Aide Admits Massacre in East Pakistan

From the New York Times, May 8, 1971
Copter View of East Pakistan: Vast Destruction but No Fighting
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the New York Times, May 9, 1971
Bengalis Depict How a Priest Died
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the Washington Sunday Star, May 9, 1971
Cities of East Pakistan Show Wide Devastation

From the Baltimore Sun, May 1971
Army, Rebels Fight Over Ruined Pakistan
By Mort Rosenblum

From the New York Times, May 10, 1971
All Serious Armed Opposition Seems Ended in East Pakistan
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the New York Times, May 16, 1971
That Shadow in the Sky Is a Vulture P a Fat One
By Malcolm W. Brown


Mr. CHURCH, Mr. President, what has been America’s involvement in these startling events? When did it begin? How should it be altered? For its savage crackdown on the Bengalis, the Pakistan Army used imported guns, automatic weapons, mortars, artillery trucks, armored personnel carriers, tanks, airplanes, and ammunition. The officers in charge were men trained in the United States or Great Britain. Most of the ordnance and supplies came from the United States, acquired over the years through our lavish grants of military assistance and subsidized arms sales programs. The Bengalis, on the other hand, have literally used bows and arrows, knives, rocks, homemade bombs and captured hand weapons to resist.

Starting in 1954, when Secretary of State John Foster Dulles negotiated a large arms agreement with Pakistan the U.S. Government developed a special relationship with the ruling feudal oligarchy of West Pakistan P the generals, the handful of landowning families who control 80 percent of the wealth and the civil servants. We furnished immense quantities of arms, and more than $4 billion worth of economic and food assistance the bulk of which was channeled into West Pakistan.

The military largesse, costing the United States nearly $2 billion in arms, was perennially justified to Congress and the American people as a shield to protect the Pakistanis P and the United States P against Communist aggression. Pakistan joined Seato and Cento; in turn, the United States built a communications and air base complex at Peshawar to gather intelligence data from Central Asia. Far from containing the Russian bear or the Chinese dragon, however, Pakistan has used its American-furnished military equipment first against India in 1965 and now against its own people. Indeed, in 1968, Pakistan unabashedly closed down our electronic listening post in Peshawar in order to placate Russian and Chinese feelings. By all standards, then, our military assistance policy has proved a failure P but it has been kept alive by the persistence of our arms bureaucracy and the insistence of the Pakistan junta. In October 1970, the United States lifted its embargo on lethal arms to Pakistan that had been imposed after the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. When this policy turnabout was announced, I warned in the senate, as I had in the early 1960’s against fueling the Pakistan-Indian rivalry, that trouble and violence would be the end-product. “It could be,” I said on October 14 of last year, “only a matter of time before recent history repeats itself and the United States is burned again.” This has happened but in another, unforeseen way.

When a policy goes sour but is not changed the results are sordid. New public information reveals this about the Pakistan case. In April, 1967, the United States altered its embargo to ease military transactions. We permitted commercial sales of what could be termed “nonlethal end-items,” and this was interpreted here and internationally as communications and transportation equipment. Now it has come to light that our sales to Pakistan were averaging $10 million per year and of that amount, the State Department confessed a month ago, 2.5 million went for ammunition. Our arms purveyors reasoned that ammunition thought lethal was not an “end-item.”

After hedging for more than a month, the State Department acknowledged on May 5 1971, that the Pakistan Government was using U.S. supplied tanks and jet fighters on imposing military rule upon the majority of its population which lives in East Pakistan. IN a recent letter that I have received from Dacca, an American observer writes that the success of the Pakistan Army to date in occupying key towns “is heavily related to the use of C-130’s to move” men and materiel. Before he and other foreign correspondents were expelled at gun point from East Pakistan Selig S. Harrison of the Washington Post noted the disturbing fact that:

The universal attitude expressed in Dacca by representative Bengalis from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman down to the street vendor is that the United States has wittingly or otherwise made it possible for West Pakistan to ride roughshod over the East through the military assistance to the Punjabi dominated army and an economic aid approach reflecting the bias of the largely West Pakistani bureaucracy. In regard to our military involvement, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch concluded that “the United States must share the guilt in this atrocity.” In sum, our military ties with Pakistan has implemented and made possible the carnage. I ask unanimous consent that news-paper articles dealing with our military aid to Pakistan be printed at this point in the Record. There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

From the Washington Post, Mar. 30, 1971
Bengalis See U.S. Role in Rawalpindi Effort
By Selig S. Harrison

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 4, 1971
U.S. Arms in Dacca

From the New York Times, Apr. 10, 1971
United States Continues Aid to Pakistan Army P Ammunition and Parts Sent P
American-Supplied Arms May Be in Use in East
By Benjamin Welles

From the New York Times, Apr. 14, 1971
U.S. Acknowledges Sales of Ammunition to Pakistan
By Benjamin Welles

From the Wall Street Journal, Apr. 5 1971
A Dubious Honor

From the New York Times, Apr. 18, 1971
Keating Report Stirs Pakistanis P Westerners Assail Remarks on the Conflict in
By Eric Pace

From the New York Times, Apr. 18, 1971
Pakistan’s Made-in-U.S.A. Arms
By Chester Bowles

From the Wall Street Journal, Apr. 5 1971
Pakistan’s Plight Bodes Ill for Nixon’s New Higher Foreign Aid Request

From the New York Times, Apr. 25, 1971
Pakistan: Big Powers in a Diplomatic Minuet
By Sydney H. Schanberg

From the Washington Post, May 6 1971
U.S.-Aid Tanks used in Pakistan

From the New York Times, May 7, 1971
Senate Unit Asks Pakistan Arms Cutoff
By Benjamin Welles

India Appeals on Refugees
By Sydney H. Schanberg

Bangla Desh: Situation and Options
By Prof. Rahman Sobhan

From the Wall Street Journal, May 12, 1971
Bangla Desh: a Pragmatic Silence
By Peter R. Kann

From the Washington Post, May 12, 1971
The Requirements in Pakistan

From the New York Times, May 12, 1971
The Vultures of Bengal

From the (Washington D.C.) Evening Star, May 12, 1971
Aid for East Pakistan

From the Baltimore Sun, May 13, 1971
U.S. Asked Not to Aid Pakistan
By Adam Clymer

From the Washington Daily News, May 13, 1971
Aid to Pakistan?

From the New York Times, May 14, 1971
Fulbright Is Said To Rebuff Rogers P Secretary Reportedly Asked Hearing for
By Benjamin Welles


Mr. CHURCH. Mr. President, how can we change the present course? The lessons learned here are obvious or should be. First, we should admit that to take a truly “neutral position” in the civil conflict, we must stop favoring West Pakistan over the east with military weapons and economic aid. This process can begin by altering our arms arrangement as the Case-Mondale resolution proposes. We should stop pretending that Pakistan must be treated as an “ally” because of its SEATO and CENTO membership; Pakistan’s participation over the last 10 years has been no more than ritualistic. The fact of the matter is that, diplomatically Pakistan has clasped hands with Peking. The Chinese currently are providing Islamabad with millions of dollars of arms including AK-47 automatic rifles and MIG-17 aircraft, and have promised $20 million in grant aid.

Second, we should reject the Pakistani military governments contention that the slaughter of elected leaders and repression of the majority of its population in the east is not a proper matter of concern for the international community. Close to 3 million refugees are now in India. As the killing or threat of violence continues, there will be more. Victims of the fighting still in East Pakistan plus refugees need care; the food crisis worsens; disease and epidemics spread, even across borders into India. International action is essential in rehabilitating and reconstructing the devastated area of Bengal one of the most densely populated regions of the world.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on refugees has spoken on this subject, and I ask unanimous consent that his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific be printed at this point in the Record

There being no objection, the statement was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Statement of Senator Kennedy

Mr. CHURCH. Then, too, the Pakistan Government, in constantly blaming India for its troubles, has internationalized the issue, thus aggravating the danger of spreading the war. A New York Times editorial on April 21 stated this danger well:

There is ample evidence to justify a strong plea by the world community for an immediate end to the bloodshed and for the admission of international relief agencies into East Pakistan.

The Pakistani Government itself has made this conflict an international issue by attempting to place the blame for Bengali resistance on neighboring India. If deep-rootedP and now profoundly aggravated P Bengali grievances are allowed to fester, mounting tensions between India and Pakistan could explode into a war that might quickly involve one or more of the major powers. The United Nations Security Council and its member states have not only the right but the responsibility to do all that is in their power to try to forestall such a development.

A particularly heavy burden of responsibility falls on the United States Government since Washington’s arms provide the principal muscle of West Pakistan’s military power and American economic aid will become increasingly crucial for the Pakistani Government’s survival. Washington has the leverage to support democratic and peaceful development in Pakistan. Continued blind backing for the military regime in Islamabad can only lead to disaster for this country’s substantial interests on the Indian subcontinent.

Third, our military assistance program has exacerbated troublesome situations before. The pages of recent history are full of the well known role American Arms have played in fueling existing tensions between Greece and Turkey, Jordan and Israel, Honduras and El Salvador, Iran and Iraq, India and Pakistan, France and Algeria, Portugal and its African colonies, to mention a few. “Guns provided others,” editorialized the Baltimore Sun, “will in all probability be discharged against the target of your prescriptions.” This is the reason Congress needs to alter drastically the export of American arms in the future. Certainly the Pakistan example is a flagrant case in point. I plan to offer such legislation later this year, in the hope that the United States will end its addiction to arsenal diplomacy and stop pressing armaments on other nations through grants.

For now however, adoption of the pending resolution is a place to start. I ask unanimous consent that a series of news reports on the current economic, refugee and food crisis in East Bengal be printed at this point in the Record. There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

From the Washington Post, Apr. 10 1971
Pakistan Seeks U.S. Aid to Avert Bankruptcy
By Ronald Koven

From the Washington Post, Apr. 13 1971
India’s Stability Allows Moderation on Pakistan
By Selig S. Harrison

Indian Officers Expect to Aid East Pakistani Guerrillas
By Lee Lescaze

From The Washington Evening Star, Apr. 28, 1971
Army Havoc in East Pakistan Can Be Exploited by Reds
By Henry S. Bradshier

From the New York Times, Apr. 29, 1971
A Diplomatic Tightrope for India
By Sidney Schanberg

From the New York Times, May 3, 1971
Pakistan Accuses Indian Air Force P Says Fighter Planes Twice Flew Over
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the New York Times, May 6, 1971
War With India Possible, Pakistan General Asserts
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the New York Times, May 7, 1971
Pakistani General Disputes Reports on Casualties
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the New York Times, May 8, 1971
India’s Position Is Wait and See on Recognition of Bangla Desh
By Sydney H. Schanberg

From The Washington Evening Star, May 9, 1971
India’s Concern Grows Over Bengal Problem
By Kuldip Nayar

From the New York Times, May 10, 1971
Pakistan Weights Devaluing Rupee P Top Economists Due in the United States for
New Appeal on Aid
By Benjamin Welles

From the Washington Post, May 11, 1971
Pakistan Envoy, Seeking Aid, Meets with President
By Ronald Koven

From the New York Times, May 14, 1971
Pakistani Tell of Chinese offer P Say Peking Would Make a Loan of $ 20-Million
By Malcolm W. Brown

From the Boston Globe, May 16, 1971
“Jai Bangla” P A Bengali Cry of National Pride Now Muted
By Richard D. Tabors and Patton O. Tabors

From the New York Times, Apr. 4, 1971
More Refugees Fleeing Pakistan P Hundreds of Families Cross From East Into India
By James P. Sterba

Pakistan Again Protests to India

Britons Tell of Killings

From CBS Evening News, Station WTOP-TV, Washington, D.C., Apr. 15, 1971
East Pakistani Refugees Fleeing to India

From the Today Show, Station WRC-TV, Washington, D.C., Apr. 13, 1971
East Pakistani Revolt Near End, Says AP Reporter

From the Washington Post, Apr. 26, 1971
Bengali Refugees Fill Indian Camps
By Lee Leseaze

Pakistan Troops Seal Border With India

From the Wall Street Journal, Apr 28, 1971
Grieving Multitudes Flee East Pakistan, Add to Area’s Turmoil P Some Afraid to
Return Home, Others Eager For Fighting, Whole Families Massacred
By Peter R. Kann

From the New York Times, Apr. 29, 1971
Pakistan Review Set by Aid Group P 11-Nation Consortium Meets on Food Crisis
By Benjamin Welles

From the Washington Post, May 1, 1971
Bengalis Reported Facing Starvation

From the New York Times, May 2, 1971
Bengal: A Threat of Famine

From the Washington Post, May 17, 1971
India Asks Help for Refugees

From the New York Times, May 17, 1971
Pakistani Refugees Competition Angers Indian Poor
By Sydney H. Schanberg