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these views but I do not think it appropriate for me to sign their statement as long as I am principal officer at this post.
6. My support of their stand takes on another dimension. As I hope to develop in further reporting, I believe the most likely eventual outcome of the struggle underway in East Pakistan is a Bengali victory and the consequent establishment of an independent Bangladesh. At the moment we possess the good will of the Awami League. We would be foolish to forfeit this asset by pursuing a rigid policy of one-sided support to the likely loser.?
The Department responded on April 7 in telegram 58039 to Dacca, drafted by Sisco and approved by Rogers. In addressing the complaint that the United States had failed to denounce the actions taken by Pakistan's army in East Pakistan, Sisco noted that there were conflicting reports about atrocities. He stated that the Department had not been silent about the conflict in East Pakistan and he reviewed a number of statements made by the Department spokesman between March 26 and April 5. One of the statements expressed concern about the "loss of life, damage and hardship suffered by the people of Pakistan," but none of them addressed the atrocities reported from Dacca. (Ibid., POL 27 INDIA-PAK) Telegram 58039 is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 129.
Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of
Washington, April 6, 1971, 9:35 a.m.
R: I wanted to talk about that goddam message from our people in Dacca.2 Did you see it?
R: It's miserable. They bitched about our policy and have given it lots of distribution so it will probably leak. It's inexcusable. K: And it will probably get to Ted Kennedy.
1 Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
2 See Document 19.
R: I am sure it will.
K: Somebody gives him cables. I have had him call me about them. R: It's a terrible telegram. Couldn't be worse-says we failed to defend American lives and are morally bankrupt.
K: Blood did that?
R: Quite a few of them signed it. You know we are doing everything we can about it. Trying to get the telegrams back as many as we can. We are going to get a message back to them.
K: I am going in these [next] two days to keep it from the President until he has given his speech.
R: If you can keep it from him I will appreciate it. In the first place I think we have made a good choice.
K: The Chinese haven't said anything.
R: They talk about condemning atrocities. There are pictures of the East Pakistanis murdering people.
K: Yes. There was one of an East Pakistani holding a head. Do you remember when they said there were 1000 bodies and they had the graves and then we couldn't find 20?
R: To me it is outrageous they would send this.
K: Unless it hits the wires I will hold it. I will not forward it.
R: We should get our answers out at the same time the stories come
K: I will not pass it on.4
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]
3 Reference is to the speech Nixon delivered to the nation on April 7 on the situation in Southeast Asia. For text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 522–527.
* In his memoirs Kissinger writes that the dissent cable from Dacca pointed up a dilemma for the administration. "The United States could not condone a brutal military repression," and there was "no doubt about the strong-arm tactics of the Pakistani military." He explains the administration's decision not to react publicly to the military repression in East Pakistan as necessary to protect "our sole channel to China." As a result of the cable, President Nixon ordered Consul General Archer Blood transferred from Dacca. Kissinger conceded that "there was some merit to the charge of moral insensitivity." (White House Years, p. 854)
Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State1
Islamabad, April 6, 1971, 0838Z.
3164. Subj: Yahya's Letter2 to President Nixon. Ref: State 54514,3 Dacca 10454 and New Delhi 4814.5
1. The main point of Yahya letter, which I presume is similar in content to the one Brits received and possibly also others, is the final section where Yahya seeks help against possibility of Indian intervention. Pak build-up of "Indian threat" is probably a mixture of genuine concern and an effort to divert internal and external attention from Pak army actions in East Pakistan. I know the Paks are worried about India's intentions, and from info available through intelligence channels they have cause for worry. At the same time, India serves, as always, a ready and convenient whipping boy.
2. This mission recommended in Islamabad 30186 that we accommodate to Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan's request for public statement expressing concern about possible internalization of conflict. Department in State 56401, however, came down against our acceding to Sultan's request. I will not press our recommendation further, having modified it as explained hereafter.
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL PAK-US. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 5:25 a.m.
2 See Document 16.
3 Telegram 54514 to Islamabad, April 1, transmitted the text of President Yahya's March 31 letter to President Nixon. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL PAK-US)
*Consul General Blood commented on Yahya's letter in telegram 1045 from Dacca, April 2. He noted that 75 percent of East Pakistan was still under the control of the Awami League. He argued that if the U.S. Government were to make a public statement in support of the army's actions in East Pakistan, as Yahya had requested, the effect would be to put U.S. citizens in much of East Pakistan in danger. (Ibid., POL 27 INDIA-PAK)
5 Ambassador Keating commented on Yahya's letter in telegram 4814 from New Delhi, April 2. Foreign Secretary Kaul assured him on April 1 that India did not intend to interfere in Pakistan's internal affairs. Keating had also reviewed Indian military dispositions and concluded that the Indian army was not oriented against East Pakistan. Keating recommended against the initiative proposed by Yahya: "Given Indian military dispositions and positive statements of responsible Indian officials I believe there should be no question of démarche to GOI along lines suggested by President Yahya in his last paragraph." (Ibid., POL PAK-US)
* Dated April 1. (Ibid., POL 23–9 PAK)
3. In discussions in Washington and Delhi between USG and GOI, latter has stated that India will not intervene against Pakistan. Since our position against intervention has been made clear to GOI in these discussions, we have in effect already, albeit privately, responded to Yahya's request. Nonetheless, given what intelligence sources have reported about covert Indian activity, this mission believes the Department, on an early occasion and at an appropriately high level, should underscore our strong feeling that no outside power should take any steps that would tend to broaden and escalate the conflict.
4. With regard to Yahya's letter, I see the President's response primarily as providing a vehicle for USG to note our disquietude over course which GOP has chosen. As we have previously reported, we do not believe army over long run can hold East by bayonet against overwhelming opposition of Bengalis. I think Yahya's action against Awami League is a self-defeating step which in time will land Pak army into a hopeless morass. I share ConGen Dacca's view that Yahya's shortterm action has probably made inevitable the thing he is ostensibly seeking to prevent in the long term; the disintegration of Pakistan.
5. The President has an excellent relationship with Yahya. Without reproaching or lecturing Paks, I think we have an opportunity to put across our point with Yahya, and not, coincidently, raise too many hackles. In combination with President Podgorny's outspokenly partisan and public message, which goes far beyond what we have in mind, President Nixon's private message would hopefully give Pak military some pause about course on which they are embarked.
6. In terms of specifics, I suggest that the President pass lightly over, without much comment, Yahya's justification for military intervention and suppression of Awami League as well as his questionable assertion that East Pakistan was again becoming "normal." I see no particular gain in arguing merits of Yahya's claims and believe these portions of his letter require little in the way of response.
7. I believe that the following would be appropriate points for the President to make, roughly in order outlined below:
A. US sympathy with people of Pakistan and our humanitarian concern about the suffering and loss of life in East Pakistan. Our feeling that all friends of Pakistan, of which the US is one, share hope that peace can shortly return to the province. Our willingness to participate in an international relief effort to help the people of East Pakistan if requested by the Government of Pakistan.
B. Our belief that events in East Pakistan are an internal affair of Pakistan and should remain so. Our agreement with Yahya that in
8 See footnote 2, Document 19.
volvement by foreign powers would serve only to escalate the crisis, introduce new dangers, and render an ultimate settlement more difficult. The letter could (perhaps should) appropriately mention that we have been in touch with GOI and made clear the US position on the matter.
C. The principal substantive paragraph to air concerns noted aforegoing could be made as follows: "I would be less than candid, Mr. President, were I not to mention the disquietude [we] feel about the grave human and economic loss which is occurring in East Pakistan as a result of the current troubles. As you know, many of our people had to leave East Pakistan because they were no longer able to engage in their usual work activities. Under conditions currently prevailing, we face serious difficulties in carrying on in East Pakistan the reconstruction and development programs with which I had hoped and continue to hope the United States could assist your people. I look forward to an early end of turmoil in the East so that economic activity, including our participation, can again resume. I believe that conditions of tranquility would provide a more favorable atmosphere for attaining a satisfactory solution to Pakistan's political problems than those of violence. I know how long and hard you have toiled for an early and peaceful transfer of power to civilian government. I know how distressed you must be that this has not so far proven possible. I continue to hope that you will find a way in the near future to achieve this admirable goal."
8. Department has consistently taken the position that USG should not become involved in Pak situation-either in the pre-March 26 period of political negotiation when we rejected the Awami League's request for US help, or more recently since Yahya sent the army into action against East Paks on March 26. This mission has, on the whole, agreed with this position. We have been skeptical that US intervention, either with Yahya or Mujib, would have been effective. We were also concerned that a more active US role, especially before March 26, would have endangered our relationship with GOP (or with West Paks). In addition, we have shared the disinclination, felt by many Americans today, over a USG involvement in a situation where US interests are not clearly and directly at stake.
9. This mission still subscribes to the view that East Pak developments are an internal Pak affair. I note that Department spokesman has enunciated such a position to the press (State 56154). The Department also provided this view as the principal element in the instructions to Embassy Colombo for Ambassador's call on the Ceylonese Prime
9 Telegram 56154 to Islamabad, April 2, transmitted excerpts from a press briefing by the Department of State spokesman on April 2. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, PR 11-3)