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206. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
214925. For Ambassador Farland. Subj: Presidential Message to President Yahya. Ref: State 212620.2
1. This cable contains Presidential letter to Yahya for delivery soonest.
2. As you will see from septelso President has written to Mrs. Gandhi and PM Kosygin to urge that India agree promptly to talks with Pakistan looking towards mutual withdrawal of forces. In presenting President's letter to Yahya, you should stress that we have urged GOI to name a representative promptly who could talk to a representative named by Yahya on how to achieve mutual withdrawals. You should also tell Yahya that we have also indicated to GOI willingness of Yahya to take first step in this regard, provided there is assurance of an Indian response. You will also want to tell President Yahya that we are informing Mrs. Gandhi of willingness expressed to you by Yahya in your conversation November 26 (Islamabad 11710)4 to consider UN observers on Pak side of East Pak borders.
3. For your information we believe GOI and GOP high level military representatives are best way to proceed; we do not want to get into middle of trying to work out details of disengagement. This has to be done on ground by military reps of two governments.
4. Text of letter to Yahya follows:
Thank you for your letter of November 22 in which you describe the deepening conflict along your country's eastern borders with India. I am grateful to you for the continued friendship and candor in our relationship which your letter represents. You know the importance I attach to this.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA-PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Laingen on November 25; cleared by Van Hollen, Sisco, and Kissinger; and approved by Acting Secretary Irwin. Repeated to New Delhi, Moscow, London, USUN, Tehran, Calcutta, and Dacca.
2 Telegram 212620 to Islamabad, November 23, transmitted the text of the letter from President Yahya to President Nixon, which was received at the White House on November 23; see footnote 4, Document 196.
3 Documents 205 and 207.
4 Dated November 26. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-PAK)
I am especially gratified to have reaffirmation of your strong desire to avoid what you so wisely say would be a senseless and destructive war with India. I have asked Ambassador Farland to convey to you directly what we have been trying to do recently, as friends of both Pakistan and India, to counsel restraint, to accomplish a withdrawal of forces, and to contribute to a lessening of tensions. I have made clear to the Government of India that the people and government of this country would not understand it if Indian actions led to broad scale hostilities. We are also continuing to make our views known on this to the Soviets, at the highest level.
Mr. President, my government intends to continue as a concerned friend of Pakistan to act in ways that hopefully might help prevent war between your country and India.
I have asked Ambassador Farland to keep in closest touch with you and your associates in the days ahead. We will welcome any suggestion your government may wish to discuss with us that will help reduce the risk of further conflict in South Asia.
With warm regards,
207. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
the Soviet Union
Washington, November 27, 1971, 0103Z.
214926. For Ambassador. Subject: South Asian Crisis.
1. We are increasingly concerned at deteriorating military situation in South Asia and at prospect of full-scale hostilities between India and Pakistan in near future. You should seek earliest possible opportunity to present following letter from President to Chairman Kosygin.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA-PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Quainton and Sisco on November 25; cleared by Davies, Van Hollen, and Kissinger; and approved by Acting Secretary Irwin. Repeated to Islamabad, New Delhi, Dacca, and USUN.
2. “Dear Mr. Chairman:
I have been following extremely closely developments on the South Asian sub-continent. The recent border incidents which have involved engagements between Indian and Pakistani aircraft, tanks, and artillery in the Jessore sector of East Pakistan have been of particular concern to me, as I am sure they have been to you. The situation has reached a point at which there appears to be an imminent danger of full-scale hostilities between India and Pakistan.
As Ambassador Beam has made clear to Foreign Minister Gromyko and Mr. Kuznetsov, the United States Government is doing all in its power to assist in deescalating the crisis. It is neither in the interests of the United States nor of the Soviet Union that there be war in South Asia. I welcome the assurances that your Government is using its influence to promote a peaceful resolution of this crisis.
a In order to deescalate the crisis, we have proposed to the Governments of India and Pakistan that they withdraw their forces a limited distance from the frontiers. President Yahya has indicated his willingness to take the first step of withdrawal on the West PakistanIndian frontier if he could be assured that the Indians would reciprocate subsequently. On the frontier of East Pakistan he has agreed to permit the stationing of UN observers even if India does not reciprocate. I believe that these measures would directly contribute to a lowering of tension and would make possible the pursuit of the political settlement. I hope that your Government would give support to these ideas and, in connection with the pullback proposal, encourage India and Pakistan to designate promptly high level representatives who could work out the details.
Finally, I agree fully that our governments should continue to consult closely on this matter.
208. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National
Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon
Washington, November 29, 1971.
India-Pakistan: Active fighting continues in the border areas of East Pakistan. Indian officials seem increasingly open about the fact that Indian troops have gone across the border, but they continue to maintain that the crossings are to quell Pakistani shelling or in some other act of self-defense. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified) the Pakistani army in East Pakistan expects to be able to defend the province for a month or more and to limit Indian penetrations to 10 or 15 miles if the Indians do not use air power.
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan Sunday2 sent a message to U Thant through the Pakistani ambassador at the UN asking that UN observers be stationed on the East Pakistan borders as soon as possible. He said a public announcement would be made today.
During a two-hour talk with Ambassador Farland Saturday3 evening, President Yahya said in response to an indication of interest from Farland that he would arrange a meeting for Farland tomorrow with A. K. Brohi, the distinguished Pakistani lawyer who has been defending Mujibur Rahman. Yahya said the prosecution in Mujib's trial had completed its case and the trial had adjourned for a few days while Brohi prepares the defense. Farland says he had been aware from confidential sources that Brohi had been hopeful of contacting him. Several competent newsmen have reported being told that Brohi has been serving as a go-between in political negotiations between Yahya and Mujib.
Ambassador Keating's report on his meeting with Mrs. Gandhi is just coming in and will be reported in a supplementary note.“
(Omitted here are summary reports on foreign policy issues unrelated to South Asia.]
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 37, President's Daily Briefs, November 17–30, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. A stamp on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
2 November 28.
209. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting
Washington, November 29, 1971, 2:36–3:36 p.m.
It was agreed that:
1. the question of the extent of the cutoff of military assistance to India (whether to suspend issuance of new licenses or to cut off provision of material in the pipeline for which licenses had already been granted) would be presented to the President for decision (1 line of source text not declassified);
2. we will not take the initiative or encourage others to take the initiative to call a Security Council meeting; however, if the issue moves into the SC, we will take a position along the lines of the draft resolution prepared by State and the draft speech prepared for Ambassador Bush, once it has been reviewed and amended, as required.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H-115, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1971. Top Secret; Codeword. No drafting information appears on the minutes. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. A briefer record of the meeting, prepared by James Noyes (OASD/ISA), is in the Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC 330 76 0197, Box 74, Pakistan 381 (Jan-Nov) 1971.