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Mr. Kissinger: (to Gen. Cushman) Bob, can you tell us where we stand?
(General Cushman briefed from the text attached at Tab A.)2
Mr. Kissinger: Do you think the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad was acting on his own in his meeting with Yahya?3
Gen. Cushman: That's a very puzzling situation. In a later conversation at a party with Ambassador Farland, he didn't seem to know what messages he had sent to New Delhi or where the game stood. There were indications that he and Kaul did not see eye to eye, but he certainly wasn't transmitting the same message as New Delhi.
Mr. Kissinger: Did I understand that he didn't know the content of the messages he was sending to New Delhi or of the messages he was receiving from New Delhi?
Gen. Cushman: The messages he had sent to New Delhi.
Adm. Moorer: Our intelligence is about the same. We did have a report of a remark by Yahya at a party to the effect that “You won't see me for a day or two—I am going to the border to lead war operations." The logistic situation is such that the Pakistan forces in East Pakistan will run out of supplies—mainly ammunition—in a short time, and Yahya may be forced to move in the West. Certainly the situation is more critical than it was last week.
According to the attached outline for his briefing, General Cushman reported that there had been no dramatic change in the military situation in East Pakistan since he had briefed the WSAG on November 24. India had seven divisions massed along the border with East Pakistan, but Cushman noted that most of the fighting within East Pakistan was being done by the Mukti Bahini supported by Indian artillery, armor, and, on occasion, troops. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H-115, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1971)
3 In telegram 11740 from Islamabad, November 27, Ambassador Farland reported on a conversation with the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, J.K. Atal, in which Atal indicated that he intended to try to promote a rapprochement between India and Pakistan. His idea was to promote a meeting between proscribed members of the Awami League and representatives of Yahya Khan's government. He considered that Mujibur Rahman was no longer important and his release was not a necessary precondition to such a dialogue. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-PAK) Farland passed along Atal's suggestion for a meeting with Awami League leaders to President Yahya later on November 27. Yahya observed that Atal's suggestion was so much at variance with his government's position, particularly with regard to Mujibur Rahman, that it must reflect the fact that he was inadequately briefed before taking up his new position in Pakistan. (Telegram 11759 from Islamabad, November 29, ibid.)
Mr. Irwin: What is your estimate of the time limit for the Pakistani supplies?
Adm. Moorer: Less than 30 days.
Mr. Kissinger: (to Sisco) Will you give us a rundown on the diplomatic moves.
Mr. Sisco: The principal move, of course, was the President's messages to Mrs. Gandhi, Kosygin and Yahya.* The focus of the message to Mrs. Gandhi was to try to get a positive response to the concrete proposals for disengagement-to try to get India and Pakistan to name representatives who could work out some form of withdrawal from the border to get them out of this eyeball-to-eyeball situation in West Pakistan. In East Pakistan, we called attention to the fact that Yahya was willing to position UN observers unilaterally. My preliminary reaction, based on Ambassador Keating's reporting telegram," is to doubt that there will be any positive response. I believe India has every intention of continuing its present military posture to serve its political objectives.
Mr. Kissinger: Do you think this campaign was planned before the Gandhi trip?
Mr. Sisco: Militarily, yes. There had already been some deployments. But the most active military moves were made post-Washington.
Adm. Moorer: They obviously had a contingency plan.
Mr. Kissinger: I'm asking this for my own education. We have been debating all summer whether or not the Indians were being restrained. If they had been planning this all along, would this have been the earliest they could attack, given the time needed for deployment and the advent of the rainy season? If the decision had been made last June, what would have been the earliest time they could have attacked?
Adm. Moorer: Four or five weeks.
Mr. Williams: It was timed to the requirement for the training of the Bengalis.
Mr. Kissinger: I'm not trying to put words in people's mouths. But one could argue that everything the Indians have done since June has been designed to prepare for this, and that the trips by Foreign Secretary Singh and Mrs. Gandhi were smoke-screens. Or, one could say that the Indians have been making a serious effort to solve the problem and that they finally moved out of desperation.
See Documents 205, 207, and 206, respectively.
Ambassador Keating called on Prime Minister Gandhi on November 29 to deliver President Nixon's letter. Gandhi's response to the letter is summarized in Document 211.
Adm. Moorer: I think the readiness of the Bengalis dictated the timing. The Indians could have moved earlier with their regular forces. What is happening is that guerrillas are backing up against the Indians, who then are giving them artillery and other support. The Indian objective is to change the relative strength of the Pakistanis and the guerrillas.
Mr. Kissinger: (to Williams) What do you think?
Mr. Williams: I think the Indians might have moved two or three weeks earlier, allowing for time to train the Bengalis and for the monsoon. They did have a margin of about three weeks before they invaded, which coincided with Mrs. Gandhi's trip. I think they waited for her to return.
Adm. Moorer: They have obviously been training and supplying the guerrillas.
Mr. Williams: I think they had hoped the guerrillas would be more effective in their internal operations than they were. They found, however, that the guerrillas were only effective when stiffened by the Indians, which was their second strategy. They would have preferred that it be done internally, strictly by the Mukti Bahini.
Mr. Kissinger: Does this put an end to relief operations? Will there be famine?
Mr. Williams: Relief operations are at an end. The UN personnel have been withdrawn and the situation is deteriorating. The crops are in and a good deal of the supplies are there, but the imports are not moving, the things aren't being distributed, and there will be pockets of famine.
Mr. Irwin: There will also be some hoarding.
Mr. Williams: Yes. They have dismantled in a few days what it took weeks to put together. There are twenty-two people left in Chittagong, but all ships have been withdrawn and the trucks are immobilized. Mr. Kissinger: Dave (Packard), what do you
think? Mr. Packard: I don't have much to add. India has done nothing that could be considered constructive. There's been no evidence that they had any intention of going anywhere except where we (they?] are.
Mr. Kissinger: In her talks with the President, Mrs. Gandhi wrote off East Pakistan altogether. Her complaints were about Baluchistan and the northwest frontier.
Mr. Packard: Yahya has indicated his flexibility. We have transmitted his willingness to withdraw to the Indians with no response. It looks as though India has been moving right ahead, taking advantage of the situation as it develops.
Mr. Kissinger: India didn't exploit the possible opening of talks between Yahya and the Bangla Desh which Joe Sisco worked on last summer. That could have been the beginning. If the Bangla Desh had asked for the release of Mujib in those talks there might have been some movement and the situation might have been stabilized.
We have three problems we need to discuss: (1) military assistance; (2) an approach to the UN; and (3) a cutoff in economic assistance. All of you have seen the State and Defense papers on a military aid cutoff, haven't you? The President and the Secretary decided last Wednesday that the military aid suspension would be announced on Friday.S State suggested we await a reply to our overtures to Yahya, Kosygin and Mrs. Gandhi before the announcement, and that was accepted. We now have the replies, and the President wants to go ahead. I have talked to the Secretary and he agrees. So, unless someone makes a strong reclama, the question of the suspension of military assistance is pretty well decided. There remains the question of what should be cut off. There are two ways to do it: (1) to suspend the issuance of new licenses, or (2) to suspend new licenses and revoke all existing licenses.
Mr. Irwin: You have the questions of the timing of going to the cutoff and the amount of the cutoff.
Mr. Kissinger: What is the difference between the two choices in terms of amounts?
Mr. Irwin: I'm not sure of the totals.
Mr. Schneider: Licensed items, for which there are contracts, total $5.3 million. Additional licensed terms without contracts total $8.2 million.
Adm. Moorer: Are there any contracts without licenses?
Mr. Schneider: There are contracts for $4 million for C-119 spares, but no licenses have been granted.
Mr. Irwin: They are without licenses but are under contract. I understand they are pretty far advanced on the manufacturing—the manufacturers just haven't asked for the licenses.
Mr. Noyes: That's correct.
Mr. Packard: This creates problems. We have firm contracts on some of these things. If they are cut off, we'll have some liability.
Adm. Moorer: Of course other people are using C-119s. We might buy them and slip them into some other program.
Mr. Irwin: We have two categories: items licensed for export and those licensed and under contract. Those licensed and under contract total $5 million and those licensed, $8 million. We also have unlicensed contracts for C-119 spares—$4 million; radar communications equipment from the FMS $17 million line of credit—$12.8 million; and FMS cash sales—$70,000. The total of it all is about $30 million.
Dr. Kissinger: What is the definition of "unlicensed"? Do you mean a contract which requires a license but the license has not been requested, or are there contracts which don't require licenses?
Mr. Irwin: We mean a contract which requires a license but the license has not yet been obtained.
Dr. Kissinger: If we cut off future licenses, we will hit the full amount.
Mr. Irwin: If you cut off the $4 million for C-119 spares you will ground the C-119s. I understand India needs those spares fairly quickly and they are almost available.
Dr. Kissinger: If we grant no new licenses, with a possible exception for the C-119 spares, we will hit $16 million. If we dry up the pipeline, we will hit $30 million.
Mr. Irwin: Sometimes manufacturers get a license before a sale, and then use the license to help make the sale. Sometimes they get an order and sign a contract before they have the license. This accounts for some of the unknowns.
Dr. Kissinger: So we have contracts without licenses and licenses without contracts. The choice we have to put to the President is whether to stop only items which have not been licensed or to stop both licensed and unlicensed items. The argument for stopping only unlicensed items is to hold something in reserve for future pressure. The argument for cutting off both licensed and unlicensed items is that we would have to take the heat for a first step and would have twice as much heat if we did it in two steps. We don't reduce the heat by reducing the amount of the cut-off.
Mr. Sisco: Also, from a domestic point of view, the question will be why we left the pipeline untouched. On the other hand, if we act on only new licenses it could be equated with what we did with regard to Pakistan where we moved on a step by step basis.
Mr. Packard: There are some special problems here. For example, there is the $17 million line of credit to buy communications equipment to make our radar in Nepal more effective.