Washington Post

June 29 1971


Pakistani Civilian Rule In 4 Months Yahya Says

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KARACHI, June 28.--Pakistan's President Yahya Khan announced today that he had appointed a "committee of experts" to draft a new constitution that would return his country to civilian rule "in a matter of four months or so."

However, he said in a nationwide broadcast in English, "The precise timing will naturally depend on the internal and external situation at the time."

It was the process of devising a constitution to restore civilian rule that brought to the surface deep conflicts in East and West Pakistani views of regional-federal relations including what Yahya has described as secessionist tendencies in East Pakistan. In late March, of the eve of the convening of the constitutional assembly, Yahya ordered the Pakistani army into East Pakistan to prevent what he claimed was a move toward secession. This action resulted in bloody clashes and the flight of more than 5 million East Pakistanis to India.

Yahya said that the "cover of martial law" would be at the disposal of the national and provincial governments "for a time," adding that actual practice, Martial law would not be operative in its present form. He did not elaborate on what he meant by this.


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