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2. According Qaiyum, AL leaders think there is a good chance of war breaking out, perhaps in the next 15-20 days, which would be an enormous disaster for everyone on subcontinent. Qaiyum said there rumors that India may soon recognize the Bangladesh Government; he thought this would sharpen Indo-Pak confrontation, reduce prospects for political settlement and make war more likely. If war comes, USSR rather than USA is likely to take lead in negotiating peace settlement, and this will be to disadvantage of AL.
3. Qaiyum said there was little time left and urged USG to take action soonest. He thought USG best able judge exactly how to initiate negotiations, but recommended that first we convey to GOP the AL's desire for compromise. He thought this might be done in Washington through Pak Ambassador and/or by US Embassy in Islamabad. He specifically authorized disclosure to GOP of any details of his conversation with us. He said he personally would be willing to go to West Pakistan for talks with the GOP, and Foreign Minister Ahmed also would undertake such a trip, provided the ground has been prepared and they had assurances of safe conduct. Ahmed also wants confer with USG officials, but does not know how best to arrange such talks.
4. Qaiyum said that Mukti Bahini3 was becoming an increasingly powerful military force. He said they have developed two-prong strategy. They plan to build MB "conventional" force to two divisions. (They now have one division consisting of 10 battalions of 1200 men each.) When second division is trained and equipped, they will use their "conventional" forces to seize and hold portion of East Bengal. In meantime, MB guerrilla fighters will continue guerrilla warfare tactics throughout entire province. Qaiyum said GOI has 500 East Pakistanis [garble-in?] officer schools at Dehra Dun and in Rajasthan who will be assigned to "conventional" forces upon completion of their training. GOI is in process of providing "conventional" divisions with modern equipment including anti-aircraft guns. Guerrilla fighters are given shorter training at camps near border.
5. In long run, AL is confident that it can achieve military victory. East Bengal, however, is being devastated (situation would be many times worse if there were an Indo-Pak war), which makes it increasingly important that all efforts be made to achieve political settlement. Under any circumstances an enormous reconstruction job will be re
The Mukti Bahini, which translated as People's Brotherhood, was the guerrilla force operating against the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan.
quired. Qaiyum thought that US was only country capable of providing necessary assistance.
6. Comment. We still have no reason to doubt Qaiyum's bona fides. To best Qaiyum's knowledge, his is only such AL contact with USG. From military standpoint, he seemed more confident this week of eventual MB victory; but nevertheless he equally firmly convinced of necessity to strive for political settlement.
* The Consulate General in Dacca did an assessment of Qaiyum's role in the Awami League and concluded that he was not prominent in the leadership but was probably a confidant of Khondkar Mushtaq Ahmad, the "Foreign Minister" of the Bangladesh independence movement, and a bona fide representative of Mushtaq. (Telegram 3057 from Dacca, August 8; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23–9 PAK) On August 9 the Embassy in Pakistan weighed Qaiyum's approach and concluded that even if the initiative was legitimate and represented the views of the Bangladesh leadership, it was unlikely that it would be acceptable to Yahya Khan's government. The Embassy saw a risk to relations between the United States and Pakistan in becoming involved as a conduit for proposals such as that put forward by Qaiyum. In the interest of longer-term relations with the Bangladesh leadership, however, the Embassy judged that the risk was manageable and worth taking. (Telegram 8052 from Islamabad; ibid.)
116. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Irwin to President Nixon1
Washington, August 9, 1971.
Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation
In New Delhi on August 9, Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko and Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh signed a twenty-year Treaty of
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 21 INDIA-USSR. Confidential. Drafted by Quainton; cleared by Schneider, Van Hollen, Igor N. Belousovitch (INR/RSE); and in draft by Laingen, Douglas M. Cochran, Chief of the South Asia Division (INR/RNA), and Wayne S. Smith (EUR/SOV).
Peace, Friendship and Cooperation.2 The Treaty is a dramatic demonstration of the closeness of current Indo-Soviet relations. It is an important Soviet initiative to gain greater influence over the course of events in South Asia.
The essence of the Treaty is its provision that in the event of attack or the threat of attack there will be immediate mutual consultations. Each side also undertakes to refrain from giving assistance to any third party taking part in armed conflict with the other party. These clauses not only assure Soviet neutrality in the event of hostilities in South Asia but also the prospect of Soviet assistance and support in the event of war.
The Indian decision to depart from its formal posture of nonalliance, the disclaimer of Soviet respect for India's policy of nonalignment as stated in the Treaty notwithstanding, reflects India's perceptions of changing international power realities, notably the détente in Sino-American relations. In addition, recent U.S. policies toward Pakistan have reinforced the Indian view that it could not count on U.S. support for Indian interests in the area or on U.S. assistance in the event of hostilities.
From the Soviet point of view the rising level of tension in South Asia and the prospect that India might extend formal diplomatic recognition to the Government of Bangla Desh, thereby precipitating hostilities, seem to have prompted the Soviet offer of a Treaty at this time. The gains from the Treaty for the Soviets are formal Indian assurances that it will not enter any hostile alliance system, permit the establishment of foreign bases in India or allow the use of India for purposes militarily harmful to the USSR.
It remains to be seen whether the impact of the Treaty will be a moderating one, although that was probably the Soviet intent. This assurance of Soviet support has probably also diminished pressures on the Indian Government and restored a degree of self-confidence and restraint. On the other hand, the Treaty in itself provides no basis for
2 The text of the treaty was transmitted to the Department on August 9 in telegram 12695 from New Delhi. (Ibid.) For text, see Vneshnyaya politica Sovetskogo Soyuza, 1971 (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 1972), pp. 93–96. The Embassy in Moscow analyzed the treaty and concluded that it represented a move by the Soviet Union to consolidate its position in India by accepting increased involvement in an explosive situation on the subcontinent. (Telegram 5788 from Moscow, August 10; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 21 INDIA-USSR) Kissinger uses similar imagery in assessing the impact of the treaty in his memoirs. In his view the treaty removed an important restraint on India in its confrontation with Pakistan by ensuring continuing Soviet military supplies and by factoring in the Soviet Union to offset a possible intervention in the conflict by China. "With the treaty, Moscow threw a lighted match into a powder keg." (White House Years, p. 867)
the resolution of the fundamental issues at stake in the East Pakistan situation and may therefore offer only a temporary breathing space. Indeed it is possible that by implicitly giving India a deterrent against Pakistani and/or Chinese attack, it may encourage the Indians to step up their covert activities in East Pakistan with less fear that these activities will escalate into war.
While the Treaty represents no substantial change in Indo-Soviet relations, it reinforces the increasing closeness of view between the Indians and the Soviets which has developed in recent years. It reflects a Soviet recognition of the preeminence of its interests in India and India's recognition of the geo-political necessity of close relations with Moscow. The Treaty does not, however, imply any change in India's desire for close relations with the United States. The Indian Foreign Secretary called in our Acting DCM shortly after the signing of the Treaty to reassure him that it was not directly against the United States. In addition on August 7, two days before the signing of the Treaty, Prime Minister Gandhi's office informed us that she would be pleased to accept an invitation for an official visit to Washington this November, thereby clearly demonstrating her interest in maintaining a significant relationship with us.
John N. Irwin II
117. Memorandum of Conversation1
Washington, August 9, 1971, 1:15–2:30 p.m.
Ambassador Lakshmi Kant Jha of India
Mr. Henry A. Kissinger
The lunch took place at the Ambassador's request.
Mr. Kissinger opened the conversation by saying that the Ambassador had picked a rather difficult occasion—the signing of the Soviet
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 643, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan, July 1971. Secret. The meeting took place in Kissinger's office at the White House. The time of the meeting is from Kissinger's appointment book. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule)
Indian friendship treaty [treaty text at Tab A].2 In itself, the treaty was a matter of secondary concern to us, though it was hard to reconcile with the non-alignment policy of India. What did concern us, however, was the possibility that India might draw the conclusion from it of an unlimited freedom of action vis-à-vis Pakistan. Mr. Kissinger said he could not be more categorical in pointing out that a war between India and Pakistan would set back Indian-American relations for half a decade. No matter what the Ambassador was told around town, Mr. Kissinger wanted him to understand that an attack on East Pakistan would involve the high probability of a cut-off of aid. Also, if India wound up as a result of this treaty as a diplomatic appendage to the Soviet Union, there would be a much lessened interest in India. As he had pointed out to all the people he spoke with in India, the American interest was a strong, self-reliant independent India.
The Ambassador said that, of course, India was not going to be anybody's diplomatic satellite. Mr. Kissinger called his attention to Article 9 of the treaty3 which, if read literally, meant that India would have to support the Soviet Union diplomatically in a new crisis over Berlin. The Ambassador said that, obviously, this was not the intention of the treaty. India was looking for a counter-weight to Pakistan's repeated claims to the effect that in a new war China would be on its side. Mr. Kissinger said that anything that exacerbated conditions in the subcontinent was against our policy. He hoped the Ambassador understood that we were deadly serious about it.
Mr. Kissinger also said that it seemed a pity for the United States and India, which have no conflicting interests, to quarrel over a problem whose solution was preordained by history. The Ambassador asked Mr. Kissinger what he meant. Mr. Kissinger said that it seemed to him that over a historical period, East Bengal would be gaining autonomy even without Indian intervention. We, in turn, had no interest in the subcontinent except to see a strong and developing India and an independent Pakistan. Indeed, there was a difference in our approach to India and in our approach to Pakistan. India was a potential world power; Pakistan would always be a regional power. For all these reasons, the problem would sort itself out if we separated the issue of relief from that of refugees and the issue of refugees from that of po
2 All brackets in the source text. The attached text of the treaty was released in Moscow on August 9 by TASS and circulated in Washington by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service.
3 Article 9 stipulated that each country would refrain from giving assistance to a third country engaged in conflict with the other country. It further stipulated that if either country was attacked or threatened with attack, the two countries would consult "with a view to eliminate this threat."