Page images


Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President
Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs

San Clemente, California, March 30, 1971, 9:35 a.m.

P: What's new today?

[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to South Asia.]

K: In Pakistan it continues, but there isn't a whole lot we can do about it.

P: No. Are we pressing?

K: No, we may remove the American civilians.

P: That's okay.

K: But even that we won't do before Thursday.2

P: But we should just stay out-like in Biafra, what the hell can we do?

K: Good point.

P: I don't like it, but I didn't like shooting starving Biafrans either. What do they think we are going to do but help the Indians.

K: They have been ambivalent about it anyway.

P: They are ambivalent about everything.

K: That Consul in Dacca doesn't have the strongest nerves.

P: Neither does Keating. They are all in the middle of it; it's just like Biafra. The main thing to do is to keep cool and not do anything. There's nothing in it for us either way.

K: It would infuriate the West Pakistanis; it wouldn't gain anything with the East Pakistanis, who wouldn't know about it anyway and the Indians are not noted for their gratitude.

[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to South Asia.]


1 Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.

2 April 1.


Letter From the Pakistani Ambassador (Hilaly) to Secretary of State Rogers1

Washington, March 31, 1971.

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I have just been requested by the President of Pakistan to convey the following message from him to President Richard M. Nixon. I will be grateful if you transmit it to its high destination urgently.


"Your Excellency.

I am taking earliest opportunity to inform you of the political developments which have taken place in Pakistan since general elections were held last December. It has been my constant endeavour to lead the country towards a restoration of democratic processes through elected representatives of the people. For this purpose, I have been holding talks with leaders of political parties. I had hoped that these discussions would lead to a broad political agreement regarding convening of the National Assembly and framing of a constitution. Unfortunately however the political leadership in East Pakistan and especially Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took a progressively rigid stand which made such an agreement impossible. Meanwhile murder, arson and widespread disorder in defiance of governmental authority were let loose in the province.

In the larger interest of the country I exercised utmost restraint and patience and tried to evolve a generally acceptable formula to resolve constitutional difficulties. In pursuit of the same objective, I went personally to East Pakistan to hold consultations with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Even while I was there, the Awami League leaders continued to make statements and to indulge in practices which clearly showed that they were not prepared for pursuing a compromise. The last round of talks in Dacca left me in no doubt that they had no intention of accepting any constitutional formula which would ensure integrity and unity of the country. Eventually a point was reached where the Awami League put forward final proposals which virtually amounted to dismemberment of the country. Since they had no such mandate from the people and as unity of the country was at stake, firm action had to be

1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 759, Presidential Correspondence File, Pakistan (1971). Most Immediate. The letter was conveyed to the White House on March 31 under cover of a transmittal memorandum from Executive Secretary Eliot to Kissinger. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL PAK-US)

taken to assert government's authority and to safeguard the integrity of Pakistan. There was no option but to take that decision.

The situation in East Pakistan is well under control and normal life is being restored. Accounts to the contrary circulated by some outside sources especially from news media, do not reflect the correct position and are designed to mislead world public opinion.

While we are engaged in a national effort to safeguard our integrity, the Indian attitude is causing us grave concern. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and other important leaders of India have made public statements regarding developments in East Pakistan which constitute a clear interference in our internal affairs. A dangerous precedent is thus being set by India which is of direct concern to the international community.

Far more serious is the deployment of nearly six divisions of the Indian Army not too far from the borders of East Pakistan. The composition of these forces which include artillery regiments and parachute brigades has no relevance to the needs of internal security in West Bengal or to the requirements of Indian elections which ended three weeks ago. This concentration of Indian forces on our borders constitutes a direct threat to our security.

In view of Your Excellency's dedication to the cause of international peace and security and to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of other states, I hope Your Excellency would consider the desirability of expressing your support for the forces of peace and stability in this region and of impressing upon Indian leaders the paramount need for refraining from any action that might aggravate the situation and lead to irretrievable consequences.

I remain

Very sincerely yours

A.M. Yahya Khan"


With my warm personal regards.

Yours sincerely,

A. Hilaly

17. Minutes of Senior Review Group Meeting1

San Clemente, California, March 31, 1971, 11:55 a.m.-12:15 p.m.


Greece and Pakistan


Chairman-Henry A. Kissinger


Mr. U. Alexis Johnson


Mr. David Packard

Mr. James S. Noyes


Lt. Gen. Richard T. Knowles


Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman

Mr. David Blee

VP Office

Mr. Kent Crane

NSC Staff

Col. Richard T. Kennedy

Mr. Keith Guthrie


[Omitted here are conclusions relating to Greece.]


1. The SRG briefly reviewed current developments in East Pakistan. [Omitted here is discussion relating to Greece.]


Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Johnson) Can you give us a two-minute rundown on Pakistan?

Mr. Johnson: You probably know more than I do. We are approaching the Pakistanis about getting planes in to evacuate our people. As the story [of what is happening in East Pakistan]2 comes out,

1 1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H-112, SRG Minutes, Originals, 1971. Secret; Nodis. No drafting information is indicated on the source text. The meeting was held in the Conference Room at the Western White House in San Clemente, California.

2 Brackets in the source text.

we are going to face a sort of Biafra situation. You might be interested in the Secretary's [Rogers']3 comment: "Sentiment in India may force the Indians to be the first to recognize unless Ambassador Keating beats them to the punch."

Lt. Gen. Cushman: That [what Mr. Johnson reported]3 is about all we have. The Pakistani situation is posing a problem for India by raising the question of whether they should try to help the Bengalis.

Dr. Kissinger: India is the one country that would suffer from the establishment of an independent East Pakistan.

Mr. Packard: How much fighting is there?

Lt. Gen. Cushman: Dacca is quiet.

Mr. Blee: Chittagong has been hit badly. The Indians are having a problem with East Pakistani refugees.

Dr. Kissinger: What is our judgment on the countryside generally? Can 30,000 troops do anything against 75 million people?

Lt. Gen. Cushman: It could be very bloody.

Dr. Kissinger: Unless it turns out that with the cities under control of the government, the countryside will be indifferent.

Mr. Blee: The Bengalis may be pretty indifferent if they think they really aren't in a position to fight.

Dr. Kissinger: Is the countryside politically conscious?

Mr. Blee: The Bengalis are extremely politically conscious, but they are not fighters.

Mr. Johnson: In the long run, it will be difficult for 35,000 troops to maintain control over 75 million people.

Mr. Blee: In the long run there will be pressure. The Bengalis may seek help from the Indians.

Dr. Kissinger: Will the Indians provide it?

Mr. Blee: Four hundred Indian parliamentarians signed a statement in favor of recognizing East Pakistan.

Lt. Gen. Cushman: If India doesn't provide support, the Communist Chinese will.

Mr. Blee: The Communist Chinese are on the other [West Pakistani]3 side right now, but they could change.

Dr. Kissinger: Does the government have Mujibur Rahman?

Mr. Blee: They captured him. Presumably he is in West Pakistan, perhaps in Quetta.

3 Brackets in the source text.

« PreviousContinue »