Christian Science Monitor

June 30 1971


A Step Toward Conciliation

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The President maintained his ban on the popular Awami League of East Bengal which won a majority of seats in the National As-sembly on a platform demanding virtual autonomy for the province, He said that league members elected to the federal and provincial assemblies would be allowed to take their seats except for those who have committed "antistate or antisocial activities or criminal acts." There is no knowing how many of the league supporters would want to come forward and accept this offer after the repression exercised against their province and the imprisonment of their leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The President said under the new constitution the provinces would have "maximum autonomy" but this is likely to fall far short of the goal set by Sheikh Mujib.

President Yahya denied that his promise of a return to civilian government was the result of pressure from the consortium of Western powers who coordinate financial aid for Pakistan But the consortium's decision 10 days ago to postpone a discussion of fresh aid until the President defined his terms for a political settlement must have had some influence on his deliberations. The East Pakistani crisis has put heavy strains on the Pakistan economy, and President Yahya badly needs the aid that flows through the consortium's pipeline both to shore up the economy and go ahead with his development projects. It remains to be seen whether the program he announced will be sufficient to reassure the Western aid donors.


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