Sadruddin Aga Khan and the 1971 East Pakistani crisis: refugees and mediation in light of the records of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees

This study examines UNHCR’s perception of a conflict where refugees were particularly at stake, analyzes the Agency’s organizational choices for meeting progressively the highest standards of humanitarian efficiency, and describes the Prince’s strategies and original methods of negotiation implemented during personal trips or international conferences in Persepolis or Islamabad. What strikes most is the extreme personalization of the Prince’s ‘good offices’ attempts which came up against three difficulties. First, strong concerns about the High Commissioner’s neutrality were immediately voiced by India, as his efforts were running counter to New Delhi’s plans for East Pakistan. Officially, fostering voluntary repatriation in Dacca under a regime dismissing the poll results was not acceptable to Indira Ghandi, Indian Prime Minister. Second, the inflexibility of the Pakistani regime ruled by Yaha Khanin the face of this major challenge to the territorial continuity of the country let the army unable to agree with the political way-outs delicately crafted by the Prince. Third, the latter had to play with international equilibriums, when Pakistan, India, China and the USSR were acting on the basis of flexible alliances which could vary according to circumstances.

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Geneva, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, 2010
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53 p.
Global Migration Research Paper ; 1

 Record created 2011-08-05, last modified 2019-09-03

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