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Mr. Kissinger: I agree, and we are quite prepared to do that, but the Indians must not be under any misapprehension. We will do everything we can to ease the refugee problem as long as India understands the consequences of any rash action on their part.
Mr. Irwin: This is the key to the situation. The Indians are suspicious of us-they think we are pro-Pakistan. They will understand pressure if they believe we seriously want to help. But such pressure won't work unless we continue to push the Pakistanis so that the flow of refugees slows or stops, with some possibility of the return of the refugees to East Pakistan or the achievement of some political accommodation.
Mr. Kissinger: I agree; we must make the greatest effort to get the refugee flow to stop. The Indians are not generating any refugees, are they? Or are they just discouraging them from going back?
Mr. Sisco: This will take simultaneous action on both sides. So that, as far as Pakistan is concerned, political accommodation is at the root of the problem. There are, of course, certain limitations on what Yahya can do. In his June 28 speech, he promised a turnover of power in East Pakistan in four months. I may think this is as far as he can go. We must recognize, however, that real progress is unlikely if a turnover of political power is coupled with a banning of the Awami League. The June 28 speech was a step forward but it was inadequate in producing a serious prospect of political accommodation, and we must encourage Yahya to do more in this regard. Yahya has been very good about accepting a UN presence and in declaring amnesty and inviting the refugees back to their villages. But he has not moved the army back to their barracks, primarily because they are still needed to deal with incidents throughout East Pakistan. India is still supporting the liberation movement including assisting border crossings. Any advice we might give Yahya to put his army back in their barracks won't get anywhere as long as the situation prevails. On the other side of the coin, although we gave India $50 million to help with the refugees, they are refusing U Thant's request for a UN presence on the Indian side of the border.
Mr. Kissinger: The Indian Ambassador told me they considered the UN request for observers an unfriendly act.
Mr. Sisco: I agree, we have to support the Secretary General on both sides. India is linking the return of the refugees to some political accommodation. To the degree to which this is likely, that is all to the good. But these actions must be taken in parallel. We also should possibly find a way to begin to engage the Russians.3 We have a common
Kissinger discussed the emerging confrontation between India and Pakistan with Ambassador Dobrynin on July 19. Kissinger said that he had received reports that the
interest here to see that the situation does not explode. There are responsible actions which need to be taken by both sides, accepting the fact that they are operating under some limitations.
Mr. Irwin: I agree basically. But in order to get India in a position to move, it would be helpful to get the UN moving on the Pakistani side. It would be helpful if we could get the flow of refugees down to the point where the UN could say "now we need a UN presence on the Indian side, too." We should continue to push India toward moving the refugees back but we may not be successful until there is broader pressure. One way would be to move the UN into Pakistan first.
Mr. Kissinger: Yahya is not making his acceptance of UN presence dependent on acceptance by India.
Mr. Sisco: That's right; the Pakistanis have already responded favorably.
Mr. Kissinger: There is no question that this is an issue of profound emotion to the Indians. My impression is that the Indians have a tendency to build to hysteria from which they won't know how to escape. They could bring about a major confrontation, and I am not confident that China would not come in in the circumstances.
Mr. Sisco: I agree that the Indian psychology is such that they may well paint themselves into a corner to the point that the only alternative they can see is the use of force. Given this mood, something like a continued supply of arms to Pakistan could build up disproportionately until the Indians lock themselves in.
Mr. Kissinger: But the Indians know that the amount of arms that is moving is rather small. They know we have held in abeyance the one-time exception, and that that was a big step. They also know they have received more U.S. aid than any other nation. However, when I was there, their press was vicious and they made no effort to calm it down. I wonder whether this is the result of the situation or whether it is helping to create it. If we assume that the question of human suffering is a big factor in the Indian outrage (although I have my own views on the Indian attitude toward human suffering), if they knock off East Pakistan, it will produce an upheaval, with untold additional human suffering in West Pakistan. I don't think the Indians have a master plan but they could slide into a major crisis.
Soviet Union might encourage military adventures by India. Dobrynin replied that the Soviet Union was providing political support to India but was actively discouraging military adventures. Kissinger warned that a war between India and Pakistan could not be localized in East Pakistan and might not be confined to the subcontinent. (Memorandum of conversation, July 19; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 492, President's Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7, Part 2)
Mr. Irwin: With regard to military equipment to Pakistan, we might consider my talking to Jha and telling him exactly how much is involved to prove to him that the amounts are very small.
Mr. Kissinger: I have told them that. I have no specific view on your suggestion, but we must strike a balance between excessive reassurance and excessive frightening.
Mr. Irwin: Jha has said that we have helped them economically but never politically. They're really schizophrenic. They appreciate what we have done for them but are distrustful of us. Of course, they have never been with us politically.
Mr. Sisco: When many Americans think of India they think of Krishna Menon, and that's not an inaccurate image.
Mr. Kissinger: On the Pakistani side, it is my impression that Yahya and his group would never win any prizes for high IQs or for the subtlety of their political comprehension. They are loyal, blunt soldiers, but I think they have a real intellectual problem in understanding why East Pakistan should not be part of West Pakistan. You will never get acceptance of the Awami League from the present structure. If India attacks, it will be in the next six months. The Pakistanis will not put the Awami League back in power in the next six months. It seems inevitable that any political process will end with some degree of autonomy for East Bengal. Can we get a program that separates the refugee issue while still leaving a vista for political accommodation? The Pakistanis don't have the political imagination to do this themselves.
Mr. Helms: I agree Yahya simply does not see any political solution.
Mr. Sisco: If the Indians come to the conclusion that there is no hope of any accommodation, this continued frustration could lead to what we would consider irrational Indian action.
Mr. Kissinger: The Indians have a right to want to get the refugees off their territory but they have no right to insist on any particular political formula to do so.
Mr. Irwin: I know the Prime Minister told you they would not insist on any formula but Jha is insisting on reinstitution of the Awami League.
Mr. Kissinger: That's true. They are at the same time supporting a liberation movement and saying that the Awami League has to come back. If we can get a planned program geared to the refugees coming back we might have a chance to pressure Yahya. He has been pretty good about the refugees.
Mr. Irwin: He has been good in what he says but we have some [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] indications that this is just a front. (to Mr. Helms) Does Yahya really intend to get many Hindu refugees back?
Mr. Helms: We just don't know with any certainty.
Mr. Sisco: There were two factors in the use of force against the Hindus: (1) the fact that the primitive Punjabi peasants really took it out on the Hindus, and (2) the basic Pakistan policy of getting rid of the Hindus. If Yahya does what he says he will do, I think he will get 90-95 percent of the Moslems back and maybe 50 percent of the Hindus. Our posture has to be that all refugees come back.
Mr. Kissinger: We could press Yahya on that, but not on accepting the Awami League. If we press him on the Awami League and he refused, that could be the basis for an Indian attack.
Mr. Sisco: We will have to nudge Yahya toward the Awami League. We will also have to do what we can to see that he does not try Mujib.* I will weigh in with Hilaly on that.
Mr. Helms: But as long as the liberation forces are shooting up East Pakistan, nothing will really help.
Mr. Irwin: Are there any Awami Leaguers left in East Pakistan that Yahya could deal with?
Mr. Kissinger: Yahya claims he could get 45 to 60 out of the 167 Awami Leaguers.
Mr. Van Hollen: That estimate is high.
Mr. Irwin: It would help if he could find a few Awami Leaguers who still had some respect in East Pakistan with whom he could deal.
Mr. Kissinger: He says he could get 45 to 60 of them and hold byelections for the seats of all the others. We could either see him disenfranchise 167 out of 169 Assembly members or ask him to do something he might not be able to do. I talked with the Army Chief of Staff and he was harder than Yahya.
Mr. Sisco: I agree that Yahya does not have complete freedom of movement.
Mr. Kissinger: I am no expert but I think the situation could be building toward war. India is torn between wanting the refugees to go back and wanting to use them as a pretext for a move against Pakistan. Pakistan is most flexible about wanting the refugees back but is least flexible about the possibility of restoring the Awami League.
Mr. Williams: I think that's too sharp a dichotomy. In the first place, I don't think Yahya can be talked out of his attitude toward Mujib. And the refugees can't be talked into going back unless there is some political accommodation.
* The Embassy in Islamabad reported on July 22 that rumors were circulating that the Martial Law Administration was preparing for an in-camera trial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. (Telegram 7430 from Islamabad; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 29 PAK)
Mr. Helms: But first we have to get the Indians to stop screwing around in East Pakistan.
Mr. Williams: And when the famine conditions increase, we will have even more refugees.
Mr. Kissinger: Dick's (Helms) question is crucial. If the Indians are serious, they should stop screwing around with the liberation forces.
Mr. Irwin: Jha takes the position that the overall fighting has stopped but that the refugees continue. He claims this is the result of selective pressure by Pakistan which is forcing out additional refugees. Until this stops, he claims, there wasn't much India could do but help the guerrillas. If the refugee flow could be reduced to a trickle the Indians wouldn't have that excuse. It's a chicken-and-egg situation.
Mr. Helms: It's a see-saw.
Mr. Sisco: It is the result of Pakistan's use of force in the early days. Also, of the continuation of guerrilla action and of the general dislocation in East Pakistan. We can't tell Yahya to put his army back in their barracks when India has training camps on the border, is engaged in border crossings and is actively supporting the liberation movement.
Mr. Helms: (to Mr. Sisco) You mentioned a possible Russian role. I never like to see us get involved with the Russians any more than we have to, but the Russians did a rather good job at Tashkent and they do have some swot with India. This may be one way of getting at them.
Mr. Sisco: In any question of a UN presence, we will certainly want the support of every Security Council member. Also, Russia can influence the Indians. We can't afford another Palestine refugee operation with the Russians standing on the sidelines. We would need them both politically and financially. That makes it more important that the question of the refugees be depoliticized and that the humanitarian aspect is emphasized. If India won't accept even a limited UN presence, there will be political problems all across the board. Absolutely nothing will move and the situation will continue to deteriorate.
Mr. Kissinger: Where does that leave us?
Mr. Sisco: With what we are doing now-trying to hit all things simultaneously.
Mr. Irwin: I think we can and should talk again to the Indian Ambassador here and possibly to the Russians.
Mr. Kissinger: I would like to get a better conception of exactly what it is we are trying to accomplish. If we are going to talk to the Russians, we had better be goddam sure we know what we are going to say.
Mr. Irwin: We will get together a scenario on exactly what we
would say to the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Russians.
Mr. Helms: That's very important.