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Toronto declaration wants military aid suspension to East Pakistan

By Asraful Huq and Mahmudul Hasan Raju

DHAKA, Dec 02, 2017 (BSS) - The Toronto Declaration on August 21, 1971 expressed grave concern over four months of horrifying atrocities and military operations in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the Liberation War in 1971 and urged all states across the globe for immediate suspension of military deliveries to West Pakistan.

"We are horrified by the events of recent months in East Pakistan which have resulted in one of the major disasters in man's history. Millions of refugees have fled in the wake of atrocities and military operations. We appeal with the utmost urgency to all people in all countries to prevail upon their governments to act while there is still time," the Toronto Declaration said.

It also urged them to suspend all economic aid to Pakistan, to channel all possible resources into a massive emergency program for famine relief in East Pakistan, directed and administered by the United Nations.

The declaration was made in an international conference (the South Asia Conference) of people meeting in Toronto from August 19 through August 21, 1971 at Toronto, focused on the serious crisis in East Pakistan. Noted South Asian experts including parliamentarians, scholars, administrators, and editors from different parts of the world took part in the conference.

More than 20 eminent personalities in the world adopted the "Toronto Declaration" requesting all the governments to stop military and economic aid to Pakistan.

The signatories of the declaration were: Rev. E. Johnson, N.C. Dahl, G. Papanek, J.T. Thorson, Gen. J.N. Chaudhuri, Patrick P. McDermatt, Niall Macdermot, Chester Ronning, James Barrington, Hanna Papanek, Bernard Braine, M.P, John Holmes, Ajit Bhattachajea, Nurul Hossain, John E. Rodhe, M.D.,

Rev. Eoin A. Mackay, Gerard Lachene, Thomas A. Dine, Hugh L. Keensleyside, Rev. Earnest Long, Judith Hart, M.P., Cornelia Rhode, Stanley Wolpert and Robert Drofman, Horner A. Jack.

Describing the situation in East Pakistan as threat for the entire world, the declaration said, "The Present situation is a threat to peace both in the subcontinent of South Asia and throughout the world, with danger of great power involvement in a familiar pattern of escalation."

The conference, sponsored by the private relief agency, Oxfam, was chaired by Mr. Hugh Keenleyside, former director general of UN Technical assistance and former Canadian ambassador to Indonesia and vice chaired by Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith, of Harvard, former US ambassador to India.

"Stressing the need for political settlement to end the crisis in East Pakistan, the conference called for an immediate end to all killings, saying, "This can be achieved only in the context of a political settlement. There can be no lasting political solution without the democratic consent of the people of East Pakistan."

From the assembly, they forwarded five-point demand before the globe to create pressure on the Pakistani government to put an end to their atrocities in East Pakistan.

They requested all the governments across the globe to terminate immediately all military deliveries to Pakistan, to suspend all economic aid to Pakistan, to channel all possible resources into a massive emergency program for famine relief in East Pakistan, directed and administered by the United Nations.

Two other demands of the declaration were to make firm continuing commitments to share fairly the economic burden of supporting the refugees in India and to intervene to save the life of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.