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active policy. This probably means that we would not undertake to warn Yahya against a civil war.
Mr. Johnson: I agree. If we do so, he can blame us for the breakup of his country.
Dr. Kissinger: What about recognition?
Mr. Van Hollen: We can defer a decision and lay low. A public request would make things more difficult. We should certainly not be the first to recognize.
Mr. Johnson: Our principal concern is the Americans who are there. Thus far, the disturbances have not taken any anti-American tone. The best thing for Americans to do right now is to stay home. We have a warden system, with radio communications. Our evacuation people have been in touch with Pan American and TWA to tell them that we might want some planes. They have also contacted the Pentagon, JCS, and CINCPAC about the possible use of military aircraft. If the airport is available, we can get our people out. We are going to ask Islamabad this afternoon about the possibility of getting West Pakistani troop support to get our people moved out.
Dr. Kissinger: What happens to the aid shipments that were diverted to West Pakistan? Are they on the way now?
Mr. Van Hollen: They have almost certainly reached Karachi.
Dr. Kissinger: The problem is that West Pakistan now owes East Pakistan for these shipments. This question will have to be settled later.
Mr. Van Hollen: We will probably have to make it up.
Dr. Kissinger: Are you sure we can't get into any problems domestically?
Mr. Van Hollen: No, we made arrangements (for compensation to East Pakistan].
Dr. Kissinger: Our judgment on representations to Yahya (against trying to suppress the secession) is that they would serve to make a record for international and domestic opinion and that they would be money in the bank in East Pakistan. However, we don't need to make
5 In response to a request from the Government of Pakistan, a decision was reached in Washington on March 1 to divert to West Pakistan 150,000 tons of wheat intended for disaster relief in East Pakistan. The request was triggered by grain shortages and rising prices in West Pakistan, and U.S. agreement to the request was conditioned upon the understanding that Pakistan would make commercial purchases before the end of 1971 to replace the grain that was diverted. (Memorandum from Saunders to Kissinger, March 1; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. IV, 1 Mar 71-15 May 71)
6 All brackets from this point are in the source text.
a gesture to domestic opinion, and we can't judge what international opinion is like. It might, however, help us in East Pakistan.
Mr. Van Hollen: In the present situation I don't think it would put much money in the bank. If we get a public appeal for recognition, we will have a problem.
Dr. Kissinger: What should we do in that case?
a with Yahya.
Dr. Kissinger: I talked to the Indian Ambassador the other day. He said that the Indians preferred Pakistan to remain united because of the pressure an independent Bengal would create.
Mr. Van Hollen: I think all the principal countries (the Soviet Union, India, and the U.S.) feel that the integrity of Pakistan is in their interest.
Dr. Kissinger: China would be different.
Mr. Van Hollen: No, it wouldn't. The Indians have a problem because of the Bengali sentiment in India.
Dr. Kissinger: Secession might encourage communal separatism.
Dr. Kissinger: I take it we are not competing with India in East Pakistan. It doesn't matter if they steal a march on us.
Mr. Van Hollen: No, sit doesn't matter).
Dr. Kissinger: This seems to be a straightforward operational problem. We can let Alex [Johnson) handle it. There are no major interdepartmental differences. (to Johnson) I will keep in close touch with you.
Mr. Van Hollen: The situation in West Pakistan may possibly be worse from our standpoint than in East Pakistan because of the suspicion in the West that the U.S. is behind separatism.
Mr. Johnson: Certainly Bhutto won't discourage that impression.
Mr. Van Hollen: He has been told enough times that we are not supporting separatism.
Dr. Kissinger: Is there more suspicion of us than of the British?
Dr. Kissinger: What would we stand to gain from the break-up of Pakistan?
Mr. Van Hollen: In the eyes of the Pakistanis we somehow want to weaken Pakistan.
Mr. Saunders: This is a case of smear politics being exploited for personal gain.
Dr. Kissinger: Should we send a message to Yahya on this?
Mr. Van Hollen: We have made this point to him again and again.
Mr. Johnson: It would not be a good idea at this time. Yahya would think we were encouraging separatism.
Lt. Gen. Zais: We have looked into the possible availability of military planes in case commercial aircraft cannot be used because the East Pakistanis took their people out of the control tower.
Dr. Kissinger: That would make it difficult to evacuate by commercial aircraft. Lt. Gen. Zais: It would certainly be a problem.
a Dr. Kissinger: Can anyone land now?
Lt. Gen. Zais: It would be possible to land. We could get four C-141s with seats in Westpac. They could be launched out of Uttapau. From there it is a two-hour flight to Dacca. We would have control personnel on the first plane. After they got there, we could bring the evacuees out fast. We could get everyone in two roundtrips.
Dr. Kissinger: Doesn't this make it probable that evacuation will have to be by military aircraft?
Mr. Johnson: No commercial plane would go in under these conditions.
Dr. Kissinger: We will have to make our plans on that basis (i.e., using military aircraft).
Lt. Gen. Zais: The field is under the control of the West Pakistanis.
Col. Rhea: The last communication we had was three or four days ago.
Mr. Johnson: Can't the tower at Bangkok determine whether there is anyone at Dacca?
Col. Rhea: The Pakistani Air Force has people operating the tower. They said they might be able to handle six flights per day.
Mr. Johnson: All this suggests we might be able to use commercial aircraft if their communicators could give us some help.
Mr. Packard: That would be all right with me.
Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of
New Delhi, March 27, 1971, 1400Z.
4416. Subj: GOI Reaction to East Pakistan Developments.
1. At Foreign Secretary Kaul's request, I called on him afternoon March 27. DCM and Joint Secretary Ray, Pakistan Division, MEA, also present.
2. Foreign Secretary began by handing me copy of Foreign Minister's statement made in Lok Sabha earlier in day. (Text and subsequent developments in Lok Sabha reported septel.)? Kaul said Foreign Minister had been criticized by members of all parties on the basis his statement was too cold. Foreign Minister had had to intervene and state there was no doubt that the Government of India's sympathy was with the people of East Pakistan who were being suppressed. Kaul said GOI was deeply concerned at developments. It now appeared that Yahya's attempt at a settlement had been a facade in order to allow time for the transport of additional troops to East Pakistan.
3. Kaul said GOI information was that (garble) meeting that Yahya had had was with Bhutto who had objected to acceptance of Mujib's six points. Latest information, to which Kaul said he did not know whether to give credence or not, was that casualties ran into the tens of thousands.
4. Kaul said GOI was concerned about its own borders. There could be a threat to India's security. It had to be expected that they
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Islamabad, London, CINCSTRIKE for POLAD, and USCINCMEAFSA.
2 In his statement in parliament, Foreign Minister Singh described developments in East Pakistan and accused the Pakistan army of suppressing the people of East Pakistan. (Telegram 4414 from New Delhi, March 27; ibid.) On March 31 Prime Minister Gandhi introduced a more strongly worded resolution in the Lok Sabha. The resolution, adopted by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, expressed "deep anguish and grave concern at recent developments in East Bengal" and alleged that “a massive attack by armed forces, despatched from West Pakistan, has been unleashed against the entire people of East Bengal with a view to suppressing their urges and aspirations." (Telegram 4677 from New Delhi, March 31; ibid.)
3 The six-point program of the Awami League, drafted by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, called for virtual autonomy for East Pakistan within a confederated state with the central government exercising control over only defense, foreign policy, and currency, with limited powers of taxation. The six-point program is included in the Awami League's 1970 election manifesto. (Sheelendra K. Singh, et al., eds., Bangla Desh Documents, Vol. I, Madras: B. N. K. Press, 1971, pp. 66–82)
would have an unusually large influx of refugees. GOI, he said, were prepared to make their contribution toward the care and feeding of such refugees. However, they were deeply concerned that the magnitude of the problem would considerably exceed their ability to cope with it.
5. Kaul said he would be grateful if I could get in touch with my government and ask what its ideas were about coping with this problem.* Already some refugees had started coming into India. When he was asked where this had happened, Kaul said it was in the Tripura area.
6. I told Kaul that I had understood that at least until recently the magnitude of the refugee influx had been trickling down. He confirmed this had been the case, but said that this time the problem would be of quite a different magnitude and he anticipated a need for medicines, blankets, food and shelter. He asked that we join with the GOI and other members of the international community in order to bring relief to the victims of the conflict.
7. The Foreign Secretary then said he hoped there would not be outside intervention by any country. He added that perhaps even at this late hour it may still not be too late for US to express to the Pakistan Government our hope that a political solution can be reached. Kaul said he would be grateful if we could exchange any information we may get on the situation with the GOI.
8. Kaul then said that there had been rumours of possible Chinese intervention. He could appreciate that the Chinese would feel that it was in their interest to support West Pakistan. There was some evidence that China may have authorized Pak overflights by way of Kashmir, Tibet and Burma to East Pakistan. DCM said we understood that Indian radar had not picked up any evidence of such overflights. Ray replied that was correct, but that the GOI still did not rule out possibility that such overflights had in fact taken place.
9. Foreign Secretary said that Chinese had at least, an understanding with the martial law administration. They did not like Mujib because he was considered to be pro-Western and pro-Indian. There were extremist elements in East Pakistan headed by Bhashani.” At the
In telegram 53097 to New Delhi, March 31, the Department instructed the Embassy to inform the Indian Government that since a serious refugee problem had not yet developed, it was too soon to anticipate what the United States response to such a development would be. If an emergency situation did develop, the United States would probably participate in a disaster relief effort, but would want to reserve judgment on specifics in light of Pakistan's concerns. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK)
5 Maulana Abdul Hamid Bhashani, leader of the National Awami League.