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the East. But our approach for the time being would be to support emergency help for the Pakistani economy to tide them over while we work with them in restructuring their development program in both West and East. We would not withhold aid now for the sake of applying pressure. We would face that question only after giving the West Pakistanis every chance to negotiate a settlement in the face of the costs of not doing so. Specifically:
-On economic assistance, we would state our willingness to help in the context of a West Pakistani effort to negotiate a viable settlement. We would have to point out that it will be beyond US or World Bank or IMF-financial capacity to help Pakistan if the situation drags on and Pakistan faces a financial crisis. We would also have to point out that US assistance legislation requires that economic aid be reduced to the extent that there is a possibility of its diversion to military purposes. We would back World Bank and IMF efforts to provide shortterm emergency assistance while helping West Pakistan to reshape the rationale for the development lending program-but with the intent of providing a framework to move ahead, not of seeking a facade for cutting aid. To justify this approach, Yahya would have to produce an administration in East Pakistan that would have enough Bengali acceptance to win popular cooperation in restoring essential services and preventing a further constitutional crisis soon. In the meantime, we would continue to process any loans whose development purposes have not been disrupted by the war.
-On food assistance, we would allow shipments to resume as soon as food could be unloaded and move into the distribution system. We would not stipulate destination, except perhaps for that amount committed to the cyclone disaster area. It would be implicit in our overall approach, however, that our objective would be the broad distribution that would come with restoring essential services.
-On military assistance, we would take a line similar to that on economic aid. In practical terms, this would amount to allowing enough shipments of non-lethal spares and equipment to continue to avoid giving Yahya the impression we are cutting off military assistance but holding shipment of more controversial items in order not to provoke the Congress to force cutting off all aid.
Comment on the Options. My own recommendation is to try to work within the range described by Option 3 above.
-Option 1 would have the advantage of preserving our relationship with West Pakistan. It would have the disadvantage of encouraging the West Pakistanis in actions that would drag out the present situation and increase the political and economic costs to them and to us.
-Option 2 would have the advantage of creating a posture that would be publicly defensible. The disadvantage would be that the
necessary cutback in military and economic assistance would tend to favor East Pakistan. We would be doing enough to disrupt our relationship with West Pakistan but not enough to help the East or promote a political settlement.
-Option 3 would have the advantage of making the most of the relationship with Yahya while engaging in a serious effort to move the situation toward conditions less damaging to US and Pakistani interests. Its disadvantage is that it might lead to a situation in which progress toward a political settlement had broken down, the US had alienated itself from the 600 million people in India and East Pakistan and the US was unable to influence the West Pakistani government to make the concessions necessary for a political settlement.
If I may have your guidance on the general approach you wish taken, I shall calibrate our posture accordingly on other decisions as they come up.
Prefer Option 1-unqualified backing for West Pakistan
Prefer Option 2-neutrality which in effect leans toward the East Prefer Option 3—an effort to help Yahya achieve a negotiated settlement?
2 Nixon approved this option and added a handwritten note that reads: "To all hands. Don't squeeze Yahya at this time." He underlined "Don't" three times. A note sent on April 28 from Haig to Nixon, which is attached to another copy of this memorandum, indicates that Kissinger suggested that in approving an option in the memorandum, it would be helpful if Nixon included a note to the effect that he did not want any actions taken which would have the effect of squeezing West Pakistan. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 210, Geopolitical File, South Asia, Chronological File, Nov 69-July 1971)
Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President
Washington, April 29, 1971, ca. 9:30 a.m.
[Omitted here is discussion on Vietnam.]
P: And on the situation with regard to... I note one thing in here with regard to aid to India. Someone is saying we are contemplating sending aid to help the Pakistani refugees. I hope to hell we're not, but what about this?
H: No, we've not been planning that. There's been some talk about our assistance to East Pakistan...
P: For the refugees?
P: But through East Pakistan?
P: What about the reaction from India? Have we had one?
H: Not that I'm aware of.
P: But we can say our attitude toward the refugees is separate...
P: One question, whether the U.S. is helping to end the fighting in Pakistan as the Russians are. What about that?
H: The fighting is about over-there is considerable stability
P: But what have the Russians done?
H: Nothing positive in substantive support. There's been a lot of propaganda noises, but then they back off.
[Omitted here is discussion on the Middle East and Southeast
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 998, Haig Chronological File, Haig Telcons 1971. No classification marking.
Memorandum From the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon1
Washington, April 29, 1971.
Relief Assistance for East Pakistani Refugees in India
Pursuant to your question this morning about the Indian request for U.S. assistance in behalf of East Pakistani refugees who have moved into India,2 you should be aware that we have received a request from Secretary Rogers recommending a modest program of relief assistance to be extended through international and U.S. voluntary agencies for East Pakistani refugees in India.3 State has in mind an initial grant of some $1.4 million in food and another $1 million worth of other assistance if needs are established which other donors cannot meet. OMB has no budgetary problems with such a program.
The flow of refugees from East Pakistan into India has increased sharply in the last week. According to the Indians, there are now over 500,000 East Pakistani refugees and they expect their numbers could eventually total one to two million.
The magnitude of this problem-coming suddenly as it does-is beyond India's limited resources. We have already told them that we would support Indian efforts to obtain assistance through international relief agencies. At the request of the West Bengal state government— the Indian state most heavily affected-U.S. voluntary agencies traditionally operating there are already involved in a very limited relief effort.
It is believed that the Pakistanis would take strong exception to relief efforts which were channeled through the Indian government. To minimize this criticism, we plan to channel our assistance through international agencies like the Red Cross and U.S. voluntary agencies. By utilizing international agencies we can insist on an objective assessment of the needs and a reasonable inspection of the use of relief supplies in the border areas and be sure the supplies are not used to support the insurgency in East Pakistan.
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 575, IndoPak Crisis, South Asian Relief, 3/25/71-8/1/71. Confidential. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
2 See Document 37.
3 See footnote 4, Document 35.
Attached at Tab A* is a question and answer which you might wish to draw upon tonight if the question arises.
It is recommended that you approve this $2.5 million modest program of assistance to East Pakistani refugees to be administered through appropriate international and voluntary agencies.5
Attached but not printed.
5 President Nixon initialed his approval of the recommendation on April 29. The Embassy in India was informed of the President's decision in telegram 75479 to New Delhi, May 1. Ambassador Keating was instructed to emphasize that it was important for the refugee relief program to be an international undertaking in both appearance and substance. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, REF PAK)
Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of
New Delhi, May 4, 1971, 0541Z.
6741. Subj: Alleged Indian Support to Freedom Fighters and Other Observations.
1. During my meeting with Foreign Minister Swaran Singh May 3 on refugees reported septel,2 I told him that a number of my colleagues in the diplomatic corps had come to me with what they claimed to be first-hand information regarding the training and equipping of freedom fighters on Indian territory.3 I told him that I, of course, recognized the sensitivity of this matter. On a personal basis I asked him to give me the justification for Indian activities in support of the Bangla Desh forces.
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23–9 PAK. Secret; Exdis.
2 Ambassador Keating told the Foreign Minister that the United States would support the refugee relief efforts the UN High Commissioner for Refugees planned to undertake in India. He also indicated that he had authorized the release to various U.S. volunteer agencies in India of sufficient food to feed 175,000 refugees for a period of up to 3 months. (Telegram 6720 from New Delhi, May 3; ibid., REF PAK)
3 In telegram 75390 to New Delhi, April 30, the Department referred to press stories speculating that India intended to train refugees for guerrilla operations in East Pakistan. The Department felt that such training would call into question humanitarian support for the refugees. (Ibid.)