Page images

nent. Nixon agreed with Keating that it was important to try to prevent armed conflict between India and Pakistan.

After Keating left the Oval Office, Nixon and Kissinger discussed their conversation with him. They reacted in particular to Keating's suggestion that economic assistance earmarked for Pakistan be diverted to India. Nixon said: "I don't know what the Christ we are up to." Kissinger suggested that the question of additional assistance for the refugees could be managed without involving Keating or the State Department: "I've talked to the Indian ambassador... I said you want to have a direct communication through him with Mrs. Gandhi. That we need three or four months to work it out. We will find them some money, we will gradually move into a position to be helpful, but we've got to do it our way. Just to shut them up." Kissinger advised Nixon to tell Foreign Minister Singh that "we have great sympathy, but they must be restrained. And we'll try to find some money but we cannot take it out of the Pakistan budget.” Nixon agreed that assistance to Pakistan could not be diverted to India: "They must be out of their goddamn minds." Kissinger added: "It would be considered such an insult to Yahya that the whole deal would be off.” He was referring to Pakistan's role as intermediary in the contacts that were developing with China. Nixon's concluding reference to Yahya was "it just may be that the poor son of a bitch can't survive." (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation among Nixon, Kissinger, and Keating, June 15, 1971, 5:13–5:40 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 521-13) A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972, Document 137.

73. Editorial Note

President Nixon met at the White House on June 16, 1971, with Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh. Ambassadors Jha and Keating were also present, as were Henry Kissinger and Joseph Sisco. Before the arrival of Singh and Jha, Kissinger briefed Nixon on the upcoming meeting. He recommended a combination of sympathy and firmness in dealing with Singh. Kissinger said: "I've told Yahya that he had a personal channel through me to you. I am just trying to keep them [the Indians] from attacking for 3 months." Returning to his advice on how to deal with Singh, Kissinger said: “You could say that you are directing that $60 million be made available for refugee support after July 1." He anticipated that Foreign Minister Singh would be delighted. He

added: "You will see whether you can get $20 million from other programs this month." Kissinger further advised Nixon to tell Singh that "overt pressure on Pakistan would have a counter-productive effect, and that you are working with Yahya in your own way."

President Nixon's meeting with Foreign Minister Singh began at 3:08 p.m. After an initial exchange of greetings, during which Nixon conveyed his congratulations to Prime Minister Gandhi on her electoral victory, Singh outlined the "tremendous problem" created for India by the influx of often destitute refugees from East Pakistan. He said that problems growing out of the influx impacted on India politically as well as economically. "In this situation, we seek your advice." He expanded at length on the building crisis and observed "obviously some political settlement is needed." Singh warned that unless something was done, and done quickly, dangerous instability would develop on the subcontinent.

Nixon asked Singh how he saw "the historical process working. Singh observed that it appeared that Pakistan was reaching "the point of no return." Nixon asked Singh to outline an outcome that "would be in India's best interest." He asked if India envisioned "an independent country” in East Pakistan. Singh replied: "We have no fixed position on that.”

Nixon assured Singh that India's position was being well represented by Ambassador Jha and sympathetically reported from India by Ambassador Keating. Hence, Nixon said, "I am keenly aware of the problem." He indicated his familiarity with the problems of poverty and instability that plagued the subcontinent, as well as the problems posed by population pressures. He said: "What we feel is one thing, what we can do is another." Nixon noted that his administration was in regular contact with the Government of Pakistan, but added "the question is how we can discuss this matter with them... in a way that will maybe, may bring about action that would lead to amelioration of the situation." He suggested to Singh that "the best course of action we think as a government is for us to, is for you to have confidence, and I want you to convey this to the Prime Minister on a completely off-the-record basis, you must have confidence that one, I am acutely aware of the problem. . . . Therefore, I will use all the persuasive methods that I can, but I must use them in the way that I think is the most effective." He reiterated: "I am aware of the problem, I shall try to use my influence as effectively as possible."

Turning to the specific problem of the refugees, Nixon said that he was considering various options in attempting to help deal with the situation. He noted that there were only 15 days left in the fiscal year and added that it would be possible to provide $20 million to India before July 1. He said that after July 1 the United States would be able

to provide an additional $50 million for refugee assistance, subject to Congressional approval. “I realize that that does not get at the longrange problem. The long-range problem is how do you stop this inflow of people. How maybe you'd start having them turn around and start outflowing them." ... "You brought to my attention when you met me. The Prime Minister, and Ambassador Keating all brought to my attention, and I am convinced of the seriousness of the problem. I will try to find methods that I think will be effective. . . . It must not be in a way that appears that we're, that what has happened here is that the United States is inserting itself into basically an internal situation." Nixon emphasized that the parties involved must arrive at their own solution, rather than have one imposed on them. "In the meantime," he said, it was important "to keep as cool as possible, in terms of charges and counter-charges. . . . You can count on our financial assistance to the extent that we are able."

Singh expressed his appreciation for the financial assistance offered by Nixon. He reverted, however, to the question posed for India by the continuing flow of refugees. The fundamental question he said was how to stop it. Nixon replied that he was aware that “the funds, while essential, [deal] with a temporary problem." He recognized that it was not possible to "buy the problem away.” “The problem is going to go away only as the deeper causes are resolved. And I am aware of that. How we get at those deeper causes is very sensitive problem." Nixon went on to say: "I don't think anything, however, certainly at this point, would be served by any indication of the United States putting public pressure on Pakistan. That I know would be wrong if we want to accomplish our goal." He suggested that quiet diplomacy would be much more effective. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation between President Nixon and Indian Foreign Minister Singh, June 16, 1971, 2:58-3:41 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 523–2) A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972, Document 138.

Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in



Washington, June 17, 1971, 0029Z.

107733. Subject: India-Pakistan; Indian Foreign Minister's Meeting with Secretary. Following is Noforn, FYI only, uncleared and subject to revision on review.

Summary: During meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh and Secretary on June 16, there emerged substantial consensus on estimate of situation in East Pakistan and in regard to objectives which should be sought in order to resolve problem of East Pakistan refugees. There were some differences, however, in regard to specific actions which might be taken in pursuit of these objectives, particularly in regard use of economic assistance.

1. Meeting between Secretary and FonMin Swaran Singh was attended by Indian Ambassador Jha, Minister Rasgotra, and External Publicity Director, S.K. Singh, on Indian side; and Ambassador Keating, Assistant Secretary Sisco, Van Hollen and Schneider on U.S. side. Secretary led off substantive discussion, stating with emphasis how much USG appreciates and in fact congratulates GOI for manner in which it is currently dealing with an immensely difficult problem. Said India was doing well, was acting with restraint. U.S. will do whatever it can to cooperate with India. We were doing our best to keep India informed in complete confidence regarding everything we were doing because we wished to help India at a difficult time.

2. Swaran Singh replied that India wishes to cooperate with U.S. on exactly this basis of confidence. Said U.S. has as much information about situation in East Pakistan as GOI, therefore no need for lengthy presentation on his part. Secretary interrupted Swaran Singh saying, to the contrary, he would appreciate FonMin's own account of situation.

3. Thereafter Swaran Singh presented reasoned and restrained analysis of situation and presentation of GOI view. Started with description of Yahya's deliberate decision to hold elections as part of process forming constitution. Mujib was elected within context of his six-point proposal for East Pakistan autonomy. Thus, Awami League activities were entirely within context of constitutional process started by Yahya himself. Swaran Singh observed many foreign governments

1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, REF PAK. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Schneider on June 16, cleared by Deputy Executive Secretary Robert C. Brewster, and approved by Van Hollen. Repeated to Islamabad, USUN, Dacca, Calcutta, Kathmandu, Colombo, US Mission Geneva for Kellogg, London, and Paris OECD for MacDonald.

seemed to be bothered by "secessionist" aspect of East Pakistan situation. He observed that it was only after Pakistan military became engaged that new situation, outside of context legitimate constitution formation process, was created.

4. Briefly and unemotionally Swaran Singh described "disaster" which had resulted from military action. Explained death totals were in six figures. Refugee flow was now touching six million. Said this easy to write on paper but must be seen to be believed.

5. FonMin stated Pak army had considered it could clean up situation in East Pakistan in 72 hours, but in fact East Pakistan has not yet returned to normal. Although Yahya made statement 22 May that refugees could come back, in three weeks since an additional two million have crossed into India. GOI therefore questions sincerity Yahya's statement.

6. Presenting Indian assessment of situation, Swaran Singh said it clear military action cannot resolve East Pakistan problem. It will simply harden attitudes. Therefore, first requirement is that military action come to end. Next requirement is that movement of refugees to India must stop. Even Pak military have capability of stopping flow. Next, all of refugees in India must return to Pakistan. If this is to take place, there must be restoration of peace and confidence in East Pakistan. India feels Pakistan military must be instructed it their responsibility to see that citizens do not leave East Pakistan. Thereafter more basic problem of restoration of peaceful conditions remains. Bland statement as refugees welcomed back is not enough. Something more must be done on the ground.

7. Swaran Singh explained that India believes a political approach to East Pakistan problem is required if confidence is to be restored. This approach should involve establishment of system which reflects will of people. Civilian regime which derived its authority from Pak military would not suffice, nor would one consisting of break-away elements of Awami League not representative of Mujib. GOI considered it important to influence GOP to see that it is in its own interest create such government which reflects aspirations of people. GOI believes there is some prospect that if GOP selects proper course, unity of Pakistan can be maintained.2 Does not believe six points are inconsistent

2 On June 21 David Schneider, Country Director for India, sent a letter to Galen Stone, the Chargé in New Delhi, in which he assessed the impact of Foreign Minister Singh's visit to Washington. Overall, he felt the Foreign Minister had made a positive impression, and that people in the Department of State were surprised by Singh's moderate approach to the crisis in East Pakistan. "What particularly impressed the Secretary, Joe Sisco and others was that, according to Swaran Singh, the Government of India had not hit on any one exclusive solution for solving the East Pakistan problem. It admitted of the possibility of a political accommodation within a united Pakistan. We welcomed this here because it meant that the U.S. and India could operate within the same basic strategy." (Ibid., NEA/INC Files: Lot 77 D 51, 1971 New Delhi Correspondence)

« PreviousContinue »