Page images

(Telegram 84775 to New Delhi, May 14; ibid.) After the UN High Commissioner had agreed to take responsibility for the airlift, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Warren Nutter recommended on May 18 that Defense approve a request for four C-130 transports for a period of up to 30 days. Secretary Laird approved the recommendation. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC 330 76 0197, Box 65, India 1971)

The Department of State announced on June 12 that the United States would participate in the airlift. (Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1971, page 823) The airlift exercise, which was code-named Bonny Jack, was terminated on July 14. (Telegram 127295 to New Delhi, July 14; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, REF PAK)

46. Letter From Indian Prime Minister Gandhi to President Nixon1

New Delhi, May 13, 1971.

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for your warm message of congratulations on our recent elections. You know how much I value your good wishes.

I trust you have been following closely the sequence of events in East Bengal. I do not wish to write about the barbarities which have been committed across our eastern border. These have been vividly described in the world press. My concern is to draw your attention to the gigantic problems which Pakistan's actions in East Bengal have created for India.

The carnage in East Bengal has naturally disturbed the Indian people deeply. There has been a surge of emotion which we have tried to contain but we find it increasingly difficult to do so in view of the systematic effort on the part of Pakistan to force millions of people to take refuge in our territory. The two problems-Pakistan's war on the people of East Bengal and its impact on us in the form of millions of refugees cannot be separated.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-US. No classification marking. Sent to the President under a covering letter from Ambassador Jha on May 19. (Ibid.)

2 See Document 7.

Soon after it was returned to office in March, my government started mobilising all its energies in order to make up for the tardy growth of our economy in recent years. In the best of circumstances this would have been a formidable task but the situation with which Pakistan has confronted us makes it almost impossible. As things are at present, our economy faces disruption. This is not a prospect which we can contemplate with equanimity. As we see it, the rulers of Pakistan would wish the refugee problem in India to result in an aggravation of social tension and religious strife. They probably have a vested interest in this.

Until the 12th May, 1971, the number of fugitives who were registered on their crossing the border into India was 2,328,507. We believe that there is a fair number who have avoided registration. Refugees still continue to pour in at the rate of about fifty thousand a day. We are doing our utmost to look after them. But there is a limit to our capacity and resources. Even the attempt to provide minimum facilities of shelter, food and medical care is imposing an enormous burden on us. The rains have begun in the Eastern region and soon the fury of the monsoon will be unleashed and vastly complicate the problem of providing shelter to the evacuees. Apparently, Pakistan is trying to solve its internal problems by cutting down the size of its population in East Bengal and changing its communal composition through an organised and selective programme of eviction; but it is India that has to take the brunt of this.

In this grim situation, I feel I am entitled to seek the advice of all friendly Governments on how they would wish us to deal with the problem. As far as we are concerned, Pakistan's claim that normalcy has been restored in East Bengal cannot carry conviction until it is able to stop this daily flow of its citizens across the border and the nearly three million refugees who are already here begin to go back with some assurance of their future safety.

The regions which the refugees are entering are over-crowded and politically the most sensitive parts of India. The situation in these areas can very easily become explosive. The influx of refugees thus constitutes a grave security risk which no responsible government can allow to develop.

We are convinced that the loyalty of a people to a State cannot be enforced at gun-point. Through their recent elections the overwhelming majority of the people of East Bengal expressed their adherence to the concepts of nationalism and democracy. Since the expressed will of the people is being stifled, extremist political elements will inevitably gain ground. With our own difficulties in West Bengal the dangers of a link-up between the extremists in the two Bengals are real. If your assessment is different, I should be glad to have the benefit of your views.

I believe that the Government of the United States of America is interested in the peace and stability of the sub-continent and its evolution along democratic lines. I have no doubt that you are giving thought to the long-term consequences of the events in East Bengal. In the meantime, it is our earnest hope that the Government of the United States of America will impress upon the rulers of Pakistan that they owe a duty towards their own citizens whom they have treated so callously and forced to seek refuge in a foreign country.

It is also our earnest hope that the power and prestige of the United States will be used to persuade the military rulers of Pakistan to recognize that the solution they have chosen for their problem in East Pakistan is unwise and untenable.

The people of India, including all political parties, are deeply concerned with the personal safety of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who is in the custody of the Government of Pakistan according to their own announcement. If you consider sending any message to the President of Pakistan, we would appreciate your taking up this matter with him.

We are all delighted to hear of your daughter's engagement and wish her and her fiancé the very best.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,


Indira Gandhi

Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State1

Islamabad, May 14, 1971, 1045Z.

4655. Subj: Flow of Hindu Refugees to India. Ref: State 83656.2 1. We share Department's concern that continued massive outflow of East Pak refugees may have serious consequences, both in terms of

1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK. Secret; Immediate. Repeated to Calcutta, Dacca, London, New Delhi, USUN, and to the US Mission Geneva.

2 In telegram 83656 to Islamabad, May 13, the Department expressed concern that a continuation of the massive flow of Hindu refugees into India could generate pressure on India to cut off the flow. The upshot would be a serious escalation of the crisis. The Embassy was instructed to assess whether the Government of Pakistan was encouraging the Hindu migration and what its intentions were with regard to the Hindus in East Pakistan. (Ibid., REF PAK)

human suffering and increased danger of Indo/Pak conflict. Action of sort mentioned by FonSec Kaul para 5 New Delhi 70223 for example would almost certainly lead to war. As practical matter, only way to "force" GOP to put aside area for Hindus would be for Indian army to seize territory. Kaul's approach to US can only be read as a "threat” despite his denial.

2. As to GOP intentions re Hindus in East Pakistan, we think Kaul overstates position. We doubt that GOP has specific plan of action to drive out Hindu minority from East Pakistan. Nonetheless, thinking of West Paks, especially Punjab is colored by an emotional anti-Hindu bias. This has been buttressed in recent weeks by thrust of GOP propaganda line about East Pak situation which has stressed alleged role of Hindus (and Indians) in creating crisis. One aspect propaganda has been to play up supposedly important behind-scenes role of Hindus in Awami League.

3. While we do not think army policy as such is to expel Hindus, army has clearly been singling out Hindus for especially harsh treatment. Coupled with official anti-Hindu propaganda, army brutality has effect of spurring Hindu exodus. Faced with choice of uncertain and possibly physically unsafe future in East Pakistan, flight to India surely must be seen as lesser evil by many Hindus.

4. Even though GOP may not be officially encouraging mass exodus, we doubt it sorry Hindus are leaving. Pak military probably view Hindu departure as blessing which reduces element [garble—they?] regard as untrustworthy and subversive. In this regard we would not be surprised if GOP developed future policy that removed those Hindus remaining in sensitive jobs such as teaching profession. It frequently charged that Hindu teachers have actively propagandized Bengali nationalism as way undermine belief of young in Pakistan. Another aspect of such policy might be re-institution of separate Hindu-Muslim electorates as means reducing importance of Hindu vote in any future balloting.

3 Foreign Secretary Kaul called in Chargé Stone on May 7 to discuss India's mounting concern over the refugee problem and to ask for U.S. support when India raised the issue of East Pakistan in the United Nations. Kaul said that at least 1.8 million refugees had entered India, and India feared that the number could mount as high as 8–10 million. In paragraph 5 of the telegram reporting on the conversation, Stone stated that Kaul said that if Pakistan did not create conditions to encourage the return of the refugees, it should be forced to set aside a portion of East Pakistan where refugees could be resettled. Kaul assured Stone that India was not threatening to take territory for the refugees by force, but he stressed that Pakistan had to do something soon to fulfill its "duty and obligation" to the refugees. (Telegram 7022 from New Delhi, May 8; ibid.)

* The Consulate General in Dacca reported on May 14 that it had received numerous reports that the Pakistani army was systematically searching out Hindus and killing them. (Telegram 1722 from Dacca; ibid., POL 23–9 PAK)

5. We think M.M. Ahmad visit provides useful opportunity voice USG anxiety about implications continued Hindu exodus and would welcome Department discussing problem with him. We have already expressed our concern regarding the refugee situation in general terms here and believe Department could underscore line we have taken, i.e.: that it essential GOP stop the shooting and begin the rebuilding in East. While public statement by GOP could have beneficial effect, principal determinant of whether refugee flow is stemmed will be actions of Pak army, not GOP's words.

6. One aspect of problem, which not suitable for discussion with M.M. Ahmad but could usefully be raised with GOI, is India's role in situation. Continued Indian support to East Pakistan resistance threatens itself to escalate Indo-Pak tensions and, together with Pak military action, tends encourage further population migration as people seek leave areas where fighting continues.



Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National
Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

Washington, May 14, 1971.


Humanitarian Relief for Pakistan

The Pakistani relief problem is attracting increasing attention in the Congress and press and you will want to know how the problem is being handled.

There are two aspects to the human problem:

1. There are now almost 2 million refugees from East Pakistan in India, and the figure could go substantially higher. You approved $2.5 million for US participation in an international effort, and this is operating through the UN High Commission for Refugees and private voluntary agencies. More food will be required, but basically this seems in hand for now, though there are the makings of a long-term problem.

1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 575, IndoPak War, South Asian Relief, 3/25/71-8/1/71. Confidential. Sent for information. A stamp on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.

« PreviousContinue »