« PreviousContinue »
Mr. Helms: The Indian military seems to be taking a serious, responsible view.
Mr. Kissinger: And the rainy season is approaching. This is not a good time for any military operation.
Mr. Van Hollen: Fifty percent of East Pakistan is under water during the monsoon season.
Gen. Westmoreland: General Manekshaw, the Indian Army Chief of Staff, is in the U.S. and was in to see me the other day. Also, you know, I visited there not too long ago. The Indian politicians seem eager to intervene in East Pakistan, but their position has apparently been modified and they now seem to have a somewhat more sober perspective. General Manekshaw gave the credit to the military for this sobering influence.
Mr. Kissinger: (to Gen. Westmoreland) What do you think of India's capability?
Gen. Westmoreland: In a showdown they could defeat the Pakistani Army.
Mr. Kissinger: In the East and the West?
Gen. Westmoreland: I don't think Pakistan would attack in the West because they wouldn't want to take on India on two fronts. Pakistan's logistic and supply support are marginal and their staying power is only about three or four weeks. Also, India would be fighting with interior lines of communication. India could mount a lightning attack, seize an area and resettle the refugees there. They would have the manpower to sustain that kind of operation but, of course, this would lead to direct confrontation.
Mr. Kissinger: What would be the advantage to India in seizing a limited area in East Pakistan?
Mr. Van Hollen: The only point would be in the context of the refugee problem. An attempt to obtain liebensraum for the refugees would relieve the domestic pressures and would be a little more acceptable to international opinion.
Mr. Kissinger: But they would get in a scrap with 55,000 Pakistani troops. They couldn't achieve their objective until they had defeated them. By that time the issue would have been settled. I know nothing about Pakistan, but if India should attack, the practical outcome would be India's defeat (if Chinese Communist or other forces should come in) or, more probably, an independent Bangla Desh. Those 55,000 Pakistani troops wouldn't let India seize part of their territory on which to settle refugees.
Gen. Westmoreland: The only feasible Indian objective would be seizure of an enclave to assist them in resettling the refugees.
Mr. Kissinger: But there's no viable area of East Pakistan where they could settle three million refugees. It's already overcrowded. Suppose that were their objective? How would they do it?
Mr. Van Hollen: The Indians could say that the influx of refugees constitutes intervention in internal Indian affairs. In order to relieve this situation, the refugees must return to East Pakistan.
Mr. Kissinger: The Indians are not that unsubtle. Suppose that were their objective; what part of East Pakistan could they seize? Suppose you had the staff assignment to select an area; what area would you choose where you could resettle three and a half million refugees, even assuming Pakistan did not resist? India can't achieve this objective; they would have to proceed to something else. Whatever their justification might be, it would inevitably become a full-scale conflagration. Mr. Van Hollen: The area is not as important as the politicalmilitary gesture. I agree, it would result in an all-out conflagration. Mr. Johnson: We recognize that.
Mr. Kissinger: Suppose Yahya wrote the President a letter saying he was willing to take the refugees back and guarantee their safe passage. Would this ease the situation?
Mr. Johnson: Yahya's public statement yesterday sounded more forthcoming. He indicated he was willing to take the refugees back if they were bonafide citizens of Pakistan and had not committed crimes.
Mr. Helms: The way the Pakistanis have been beating up on the Hindus, the refugees would have to be convinced they wouldn't be shot in the head.
Mr. Johnson: Eighty percent of the refugees are Hindus. (Ambassador) Farland raised this with Yahya and got an emotional reaction. He denied the Hindus were being persecuted but said he would look into it.
Mr. Kissinger: Before (Indian) Ambassador Jha went back he indicated that it would help India if we could write to Mrs. Gandhi to tell her that we were receiving some assurances from the Pakistanis. Would it be possible to elicit something from the Pakistanis based on the President's personal relationship with Yahya?
Mr. Van Hollen: Yahya's public statement was helpful, but the refugees won't return until there is some political accommodation and they are sure the Hindus won't again be the target. We shouldn't think of their return in the short run.
Mr. Kissinger: We have two questions: (1) what can we do to avoid military action, and (2) what should we do if there is military action?
Mr. Johnson: With regard to the first, the refugees are the immediate incitement to military action. The only cure for the flow of refugees is some political accommodation in East Pakistan with the
West Pakistan Government to calm the situation. We have a good dialogue going with Yahya-he seems quite responsive to Ambassador Farland. His public statement yesterday reflects his talks with Farland. We can assume Yahya's objective is the same as ours—to calm things down politically. He is moving in this direction as much as he thinks he can, but it is important to keep our dialogue going.
We also have the problem of relief to East Pakistan. We now have a letter to U Thant which provides an international umbrella. As soon as the letter is published and U Thant issues his appeal, we are ready to respond within the hour. The same thing is true on the Indian side. We are encouraging an international umbrella over the relief problem in India and are prepared to respond quickly. We have already provided some aircraft to airlift some of the refugees.
Mr. Van Hollen: The President had already agreed to $2.5 million for refugee relief. We are proposing an increase of $15 million in the draft letter to Mrs. Gandhi. We're now feeding 300,000 refugees.
Mr. Kissinger: The President has approved the letter to Mrs. Gandhi.
Mr. Kissinger: The President wants the whole question of possible Indian military action looked at, including ways in which we might discourage any such action, including some penalties. How might we do this?
Mr. Johnson: We have already said it to (Ambassador) Jha, and (Ambassador) Keating will repeat it to the Foreign Minister. As Dick (Helms) has reported, the Indians are under no illusions as to our attitude. We will continue to follow up on this.
Mr. Kissinger: Can we review the bidding? What can we do both positively and negatively to avoid the outbreak of hostilities, and what can and should we do if hostilities begin?
Mr. Johnson: We have circulated a paper, but I would like to substitute some revised pages for the present draft.
Mr. Kissinger: Your paper indicates we might formally suspend all military programs with India and Pakistan. We don't have a program with India, do we?
Mr. Van Hollen: We have a small military sales program.
Mr. Johnson: Our paper wasn't clear on the question of who would be initiating military action. There would be no question if military action were initiated by Pakistan.
5 On May 22 Agha Shahi, Pakistani Permanent Representative to the United Nations, sent a letter to Secretary-General U Thant requesting humanitarian relief assistance for East Pakistan through the United Nations. (Telegram 1394 from USUN, May 26; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, SOC 10 PAK)
6 Document 62.
Gen. Westmoreland: Sometimes you can't tell who initiates military action.
Mr. Johnson: But it needs to be spelled out. I want us to do some more work on this paper.
Mr. Kissinger: Yes, let's rework the paper, and then we will tack a discussion of this on the end of another subject in an early meeting.
Mr. Packard: I suggest we just sit tight on military sales to Pakistan. We have nothing of consequence going to them any time soon except for some spare parts for MK-14 torpedoes which are going out this month.
Mr. Kissinger: I have talked to the President about this. He believes we should go ahead with spare parts for ongoing programs, but should try to delay any larger shipments. I understand we have some openended spare parts items which would take some positive, affirmative action to stop. Most of these are not relevant to the present situation. Stopping these could be construed as a positive hostile act. On anything bigger, though, the President would like to delay and to have another crack at it before shipment.
Mr. Van Hollen: You know Congress has asked to be consulted if any shipments are made, and we agreed. When I testified on this on the Hill recently, Senator Javits asked that we keep in touch with them on this and we agreed.
Mr. Kissinger: None of us knew about that commitment.
Mr. Van Hollen: We sent a memorandum? to you.
Mr. Packard: I'll double-check the current status of the shipment of any items.
Mr. Kissinger: The President is eager to avoid any break with Yahya. Gen. Westmoreland: What about the C-130 aircraft (for refugee airlift)?
Mr. Johnson: We're going ahead with those. The telegram3 went out last night.
Mr. Kissinger: The President approved this.
Gen. Westmoreland: I'm skeptical about this operation. They can only handle 1200-1400 a day.
Mr. Johnson: This involves only the refugees in Tripura—a total of about 500,000.
Mr. Van Hollen: And we've made it clear that other countries, including India, are involved.
7 Not found.
8 See Document 45.
Mr. Kissinger: Is this being done under the UN?
Mr. Johnson: Yes.
Mr. Kissinger: We don't have much going to Pakistan in the way of spare parts, do we?
Mr. Packard: The torpedo spares are the only things I remember. Mr. Van Hollen: I think there are also some aircraft engines for training aircraft.
Mr. Packard: I'll double-check the list.
Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the
Department of State (Eliot) to the President's Assistant for
Washington, May 27, 1971.
Planning for Food Relief in East Pakistan
We have already taken initial steps to ensure that food is available in India for refugees from Pakistan. Beyond this, however, looms the potentially much greater problem of food shortages in East Pakistan itself, which normally must import two million tons of food annually. There is now sufficient food either in stock or awaiting shipment to East Pakistan, but the critical problem is distribution. We believe that about 1.5 million people in the area hit by cyclones last November are now in dire need of food, and there is likely to be a food shortage throughout the province unless the Government of Pakistan mounts a large-scale relief program within the next few months. An Interdepartmental Working Group has been set up to coordinate all aspects of our contribution to relief work in Bengal but we recognize that neither we nor any outside donor can be of more than marginal help in meeting the problem.
This memorandum outlines in broad terms the likely dimensions of the food problem in the East; the steps that we are considering to
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, SOC 10 PAK. Confidential. Drafted by T.P. Thornton (S/PC) on May 26 and cleared by Weiss (S/PC), Van Hollen, Spengler, Damsgaard (AID), and Cochran (INR).