Ready for Negotiations
Press Conference, Karachi,
March 2, 1971

The Pakistan People's Party has all along championed the cause of the oppressed people in both wings of Pakistan, and it has been the only party in West Pakistan, to expose forcefully and unambiguously; the nature of the exploitation under which the people have been suffering these many years, particularly in East Pakistan.

The new capitalist class that has come into being in Pakistan has ruthlessly robbed the common people, misusing foreign aid and internal and external resources of Pakistan. Wealth is monopolised within their limited groups, who happen to be mainly in West Pakistan.

The claims of great economic progress are based on dubious figures. It is established that the average Pakistani whether in West or East Pakistan, has grown poorer since the "wonderful" planning under capitalist auspices began. Acutely conscious of the fundamental problems of Pakistan, the People's Party has been demanding a revolutionary change in the whole economic and social structure of the country East Wing or West Wing, to remove the root cause of the misery of the oppressed masses.

Pakistan was established in both wings by the common consent of the people and established as one nation, a homeland for the Muslims of this subcontinent and a protection for the Muslims who remained behind in the other country.

The fundamental basis upon which the state exists is unalterable. The Muslim people of Bengal suffered greatly for the ideal of Pakistan and con­tributed to its creation with their very blood. Many of them were slaughtered in Calcutta and other places in Bengal.

In the sort of partition that the British, with the connivance of the Indian Hindus, imposed upon Pakistan several historic areas of Muslim Bengal were lost to this country. Lost were the contiguous areas of East Pakistan, where Muslims were in a majority. Abandoned also were the Muslim people of Assam.

And since partition, we were the first in West Pakistan to have candidly admitted in our foundation papers that the people of East Pakistan were unjustly treated and did not get their due share in the national economy.

God is our witness that all our efforts since the election have been directed to finding a solution to the constitutional problem which would not only right the injustices done to the people of East Pakistan in the past but also enable all the people of the nation to live in harmony.

We took the initiative of going to East Pakistan in search of an under­standing with the Awami League so that a viable constitution could be framed. It has not been our attitude to reject the Six Points.

On the other hand, we have consistently endeavored to move as close to the Six Points as was logically and reasonably possible on the assumption that Pakistan would still remain a single nation.

There we did not demand a strong Centre, but only a federal Centre that would have the character of keeping the country a united federal state. We further manifested our bona fides by mass mobilisation of public opinion in West Pakistan in favour of a constitution as close to the Six Points formula as possible.

In the press conference of 15th February at Peshawar, we had only asked for an assurance that there was room for negotiation and settlement. This stand we have reiterated time and again.

It is absurd that we have been charged with attempting 10 sabotage the transfer of power to the people by entering into a conspiracy with the supposed dark forces. The Pakistan People's Party represents the aspira­tions of the toiling masses of West Pakistan who were not a party to the exploitation of East Pakistan.

Indeed, we are the people of West Pakistan who cannot imaginably conspire to frustrate the transfer of power in which they will have their share. Let it not be forgotten that only recently the people of West Pakistan reposed this confidence in us by a democratic verdict.

It is most unfortunate that a necessary postponement of the National Assembly session should have incited a disproportionate reaction in East Pakistan Awami League. Surely, nothing is lost if the premise of a united Pakistan is accepted, by the delay of a few days to enable the major parties of the whole of Pakistan to come to an agreement on the nature of the constitution that ought to last for years and years to come.

The constitution should not be made an excuse to break up Pakistan. The very idea of a constitution is to preserve the state of Pakistan and to keep intact the machinery, namely the Assembly that is to undertake this momentous task. We demanded postponement of the National Assembly session only to provide the two major parties with an opportunity to have another dialogue. We are willing to have this dialogue anywhere at any time that the Awami League would like. If the Awami League fails to reciprocate the onus for the consequences will not be on us.

 

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