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calls for the two sides to "concert" their positions. India's concern about nuclear disarmament gets a nod in one of the articles. Even though it has been seriously undercut by the treaty, India's non-alignment is specifically endorsed by the Soviets.
The most important operative clauses (article 9) call for the two sides to refrain from giving assistance to any party taking part in an armed conflict with the other. This is the same article that then goes on to commit each side to consult immediately with a view toward taking effective measures in case either party is attacked or threatened with attack.
This does not add up to the language of a traditional mutual defense or security pact, since there is no specific obligation to assist militarily in case of conflict with a third party. Nevertheless, the impression is left that the Soviets would, if necessary, join in on India's side in a conflict involving Pakistan and/or Communist China. At a minimum the operative clauses insure Soviet neutrality toward an IndoPakistani conflict and hold out the strong prospect of Soviet assistance or support to India against both Pakistan and the Chinese. Also, in practice, the treaty creates a stronger obligation for India to follow the Soviet policy lead on developments elsewhere in the world. Soviet Motivations
The idea of a treaty was first broached by the Soviets over two years ago in a clearly anti-Chinese context when the Sino-Soviet border tension was at its height. Talks concerning the treaty apparently continued from March 1969 well into 1970 but by then both sides seem to have lost interest. The Soviets had broken their logjam with the Chinese and the Indians had raised the ante by attempting to include several directly anti-Pakistan measures. The Indians at that time were also engaged in their own hesitant moves to perhaps improve their relationship with the Chinese.
From all indications, the Soviets only recently and hastily took up the treaty again, primarily to meet short term objectives. They seem to have thought that the Indians were on the brink of taking some precipitate move, such as formally recognizing “Bangla Desh”, that could have led to an early outbreak of hostilities between India and Pakistan and perhaps result in Chinese intervention. They seem to have calculated that the treaty will provide both reassurances to India and, at the same time, give them the influence to restrain India. In short, the Soviets seem to have gambled that, by simultaneously strengthening India's position and making New Delhi more beholden to Soviet counsel, they can best restrain India and also deter Pakistan from taking steps likely to lead to war.
he judged that the report was open to serious doubt with regard to the nuclear weapons. He found it more credible that the Soviet Union would agree to provide India with a medium-range bomber to offset China's capability to launch air strikes into India. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 597, Country Files, Middle East, India, Vol. IV, 1 Jul-30 Nov 71)
6 During their conversation on August 17 Ambassador Dobrynin had assured Kissinger that the Soviet treaty with India had not been negotiated in response to recent events; see Document 124.
However, the Soviets must also have seen the treaty as a way of solidifying their position in South Asia at the expense of the US and China. One of Moscow's recurrent concerns is the possibility, over the longer term, of a Sino-Indian rapprochement, and the new treaty would seem to put the brakes on Indian receptivity to recent tentative moves by Peking in that direction. As far as the US is concerned, by seeming to spring to India's side in her hour of need—while in Indian
the US stands aloof or worse—the Soviets have secured a position as India's “first friend” from which they will not be easily dislodged. In the wake of new movement in Sino-American relations, the Soviets also probably believed that a formal treaty relationship would constitute a
a warning to Peking and a setback for US diplomacy. Indian Motivations
By concluding the treaty, the Indians probably feel that they have bought both time and insurance as they confront the problem of war with Pakistan. Pressure had been mounting rapidly on Mrs. Gandhi to "do something" positive about the East Pakistan and refugee situation and the treaty, which has met with almost universal acclaim in India, has relieved this some. Moreover, the Indians seem to feel that the treaty puts both the Pakistanis and Chinese on notice that India does not stand alone. If Indo-Pak hostilities do break out, the Indians are probably hoping that the treaty will at least serve to limit Chinese intervention and perhaps even bring the Soviets in directly on their side. Finally, the Indians may hope that the treaty will instill in the West Pakistanis a greater sense of urgency to halt the refugee flow and reach a political accommodation in East Pakistan.
This consolidation of the Indo-Soviet relationship, at the expense of India's cherished non-alignment, is indicative of the fact that they think their vital interests are at stake in the present situation. However, the Indians do not seem at all prepared to write off the US. They have been at pains to make clear that the treaty is not directed at the US. Two days before the signing of the treaty, Mrs. Gandhi suddenly informed us that she would be pleased to accept your invitation for an official visit here in November thereby signaling her interest in maintaining a significant relationship with us.
Having made a lurch toward the Soviets it would now be in character for the Indians to begin balancing this off by moving to improve relations with the US and West in general. In fact, if we do not roll over too quickly, the Indians may think of compensating moves towards us. The Indians may also attempt to balance off their relationship with the Soviets by minor gestures toward the Chinese. The Treaty-On Balance
The treaty seems to reduce the danger that Indo-Pakistani hostilities will break out in the next several weeks, but not necessarily over the longer run.
It is very possible that over the slightly longer run the treaty could be manipulated by Mrs. Gandhi's opponents in such a way as to defeat the short-term purposes for which it was signed and make it more difficult for the Soviets both to restrain the Indians and to avoid becoming overinvolved. It is only a short step from (a) Mrs. Gandhi's boasting of having secured Soviet support to (b) her opposition, once the euphoria wears off, pressing her to take advantage of that support by taking more direct action against Pakistan. In short, the Soviets may, by inserting themselves into this situation, bring about a situation similar to that of the Middle East in 1967 where contrary to their intentions they contributed to the outbreak of war.
On the other hand, the treaty should have given the Pakistanis pause for reflection if they had, for instance, been thinking of punitive raids against guerrillas in India. Previously they might have hoped that China would fully support Pakistan in a war with India, but they must have somewhat less confidence that China would attack India now that it would mean risking hostilities with the Soviets on their behalf. However, the Pakistanis may have a better idea from the Chinese as to precisely what the latter may do than can be determined from our intelligence.
The Chinese, for their part, will not miss the point that their growing role in South Asia has, at least for the moment, been countered by the Soviets, both by nailing down the Indians and raising the risks of military intervention. Whether or not the treaty would deter the Chinese in a crunch, however, is another matter. At stake would not only be the Chinese and Soviet positions in South Asia, but, perhaps more importantly, in all of Asia. Moreover, neither the Soviets or Chinese are easily bluffed and they could rapidly move toward the brink of a confrontation should India and Pakistan go to war.
We have been considering in the WSAG and SRG the operational implications for US policy of this complicated situation. If we play our cards right, there might be a small opening for us to play a crucial moderating role if the situation does polarize along Soviet-India and China-Pakistan lines. Above all we must avoid being forced to choose between our policy toward the government of 700 million Chinese and over 600 million Indians and Bengalis.
133. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department
Islamabad, August 24, 1971, 1255Z.
8631. For Asst. Secretary Sisco. Subj: Contacts With Bangla Desh Reps—Pres. Yahya's Reaction. Ref: State 154078.2
1. Summary. Pres. Yahya indicated his approval quiet USG contacts with individuals formerly associated with Awami League and indicated appreciation for receipt present and future info obtained through said contacts. Looked with favor upon an unpublicized meeting between GOP and Bangla Desh group for purpose seeking political rapprochement. Embassy disinclined to issue visa to “Foreign Minister." End summary.
2. Immediately following Aug. 24 call by Ambassador David Popper and me upon Pres. Yahya to discuss narcotic drug problems and purposes of Popper's mission as related thereto, I requested a private conversation with Yahya in order to discuss matters suggested reftel.
3. In accordance reftel I stated that the U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta had been picking up “signals" from various Bangla Desh sympathizers, particularly Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan," a former attorney in Comilla. These signals seemed to indicate that a substantial number of MPA's and MNA's presently in Calcutta and elsewhere were seriously amenable to the acceptance of an agreement which would maintain the integrity and unity of Pakistan, within the general concept of the so-called "six points," if such an agreement could be somehow
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Calcutta, Dacca, London, and New Delhi.
2 Telegram 154078 to Islamabad, August 22, which was cleared by Sisco, Irwin, and Kissinger, authorized the Embassy to inform Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan about the contacts with Qaiyum in Calcutta "on off chance that Qaiyum proposals might provide glimmer of hope for negotiated political settlement between GOP and Awami League.” The Embassy was instructed to stress that U.S. officials had listened to Qaiyum but had formed no judgment on the value of his proposals. The United States was not seeking to play a role as a mediator but was willing to help “as a friend." (Ibid.)
Ambassador to Cyprus David H. Popper visited India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in August and September 1971 to press for measures to limit the illicit production of opium in the area and to encourage planning to control the production and distribution of a wide range of narcotics. Popper's mission was coordinated by Nelson G. Gross, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for International Narcotics Matters. Documentation on Popper's mission is ibid., SOC 11–5 INDIA, SOC 11–5 PAK, and SOC 11-5 AFG.
4 The Consulate General in Calcutta pointed out on August 25 that this reference to Qaiyum was in error. The contact in Calcutta was with Qazi Zahirul Qaiyum, an industrialist rather than an attorney. (Telegram 2389 from Calcutta; ibid., POL 23–9 PAK)
reached between Mujibur and Yahya, given the circumstances of Mujibur's ongoing trial. I told Yahya that in making mention of this I wanted him fully to understand that USG had taken no initiative whatsoever in gathering this information nor was the USG seeking to play a mediatory role between the GOP and the outlawed Awami League. Conversely, I stated that USG had consistently maintained a diplomatic stance of non-involvement and had in no way sought out or solicited contacts with "Bangla Desh Govt" reps. However, I noted Yahya's many conversations with me during which he emphasized his hope for a return to normalcy and his additional hope that with such a climate he could turn power back to the people. Since USG was now privy to this information, I thought that in the interests of the much sought for peace I should bring it to his attention.
4. Yahya's reaction was favorable and positive. He said that he was most happy that I had provided him with this type of intelligence and he felt that the U.S. had been correct in its political and diplomatic posture, adding that he hoped our officials “with their customary care and exercise of discretion” would maintain appropriate contacts. Yahya noted that his overriding desire was to bring harmony back into the body politic of Pakistan with such adjustments therein as would be for the greatest possible good of both wings. That included, he said, widespread economic and political adjustments in the east wing which he stood prepared to make. He opined, however, that he could not understand why those MPA's and MNA's who had been fully cleared did not come forward and take over the organization of a GOEP so that he could transfer power soonest.
5. Following the general discussion on the aforesaid aspect, I asked Yahya if he saw any major obstacle to a select group of GOP members, unpublicized and on neutral ground in a foreign country, meeting with a few of the key people for whom Qaiyum indicated he spoke. I said the purpose of such a hypothetical meeting could be to ascertain jointly whether or not there existed areas in which political rapprochement could be effected. This would serve its own purpose, and in addition the related matters of refugees, food distribution and rehabilitation could get under way meaningfully and with full purpose. Yahya replied he would favor such a development wholeheartedly, asking that in case such a contingency developed, I keep closely
I in touch with him on this matter generally.
6. It would seem that several forces are at play in this present situation. (A) At least some of the Bangla Deshers are realizing that their independence would be sorely limited by the interests of India; as such independence may be an illusion. And (B) Yahya may be coming to the conclusion that his appetite wasn't commensurate with the bite he took. In any event the foregoing represents a glimmer of light amidst the