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Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National
Washington, July 9, 1971.
Talks in Pakistan have begun in cordial, low-key businesslike atmosphere with straightforward and unemotional discussion of what measures might help decrease tension between India and Pakistan generated by almost seven million refugees now in India. All those with whom I have spoken here seem to recognize the need to do something to defuse the issue. I have told them that all press accounts of my
talks in India must have been based on Indian sources since no one on the American side talked to the press there, and the Pakistanis seem unconcerned.
Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan stressed the need for Indian cooperation in encouraging the return of refugees to East Pakistan. He expressed concern, echoing that in Yahya's last message to the President, that India step by step is building a momentum that could lead to war. I told him that, after being in India, I would not consider it impossible that India might take military action.
I told him of the bitterness, hostility and hawkishness I had found there. When he asked what would be the objective of such military action, I said that the action might be taken just for the sake of taking action in response to heavy pressure on the government to do something. Also, the Indians seem confident they would win in any confrontation.
Against the background, I emphasized the importance of attempting to defuse this issue over the next few months. One way to do this, I suggested, might be to try to separate as much as possible, at least in international eyes, the refugee issue from the issue of rebuilding the political structure of East Pakistan. If this were to be tried, it would seem important for Pakistan to put together a collection of major steps in one package designed to have important impact both on the refugees and on the world community and perhaps to internationalize the effort. Pakistan had tended to make public in bits and pieces the constructive steps it had taken. It might now wish consider packaging those steps so they would appear as a comprehensive approach toward solution.
Source: Library of Congress, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical File, Box TS 58, Trips, HAK, Chron File, July 1971. Secret; Sensitive. Kissinger sent his report to Haig for the President's information. On July 10 Haig sent the memorandum to Nixon under cover of a memorandum summarizing the report. (Ibid.)
The Foreign Secretary questioned whether India would permit separation of the refugee issue from that of political settlement with East Pakistan itself. However, he seemed very receptive to the idea of pulling together a comprehensive package. He emphasized again that Indian cooperation would be essential in the return of the refugees because Indian stories about conditions in East Pakistan and threats of military intervention discourage refugees from returning.
In my conversation with President Yahya, I described mood in India along much the same lines as above, and we discussed possible approaches to the present problem, including the possibility appointing new civil authority in East Pakistan to coordinate an energetic program for the return of refugees. I urged this and he said he would consider it and would discuss it further with me in our next talk.
The most interesting point to emerge from a talk with M.M. Ahmad, Senior Economic Adviser to President Yahya, was a new sense of the time framework for future economic assistance decisions. Ahmad no longer sees a foreign exchange crisis as imposing that framework by itself but rather the fact that Pakistan's unilateral six-month debt moratorium expires at the end of October and, if there is no new aid by then, would have to be extended. If it were, he felt it would cause a complete breakdown of Pakistan's relationship with aid consortium countries. He discussed interim aid measures which might help avert that contingency, and I shall weave them into our policy review when I return.
In response, I urged the importance of his providing the aid consortium with a serious development framework and said we would do what we could to help if Pakistan could help us by making the best possible economic case for assistance.
Memorandum From the President's Deputy Assistant for
Washington, July 9, 1971.
Soviet Attitude on South Asia
Recent [less than 1 line of source text not declassified) reports provide some insight into Soviet attitudes toward India and Pakistan.
As you know, Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh visited Moscow on this way to Washington. [1 line of source text not declassified], his discussions there, especially with Kosygin, concerned Soviet assistance on the issue of East Pakistan. According to one report, Kosygin agreed immediately to provide small arms for the Indian-supported guerrillas operating in East Pakistan Singh also asked for a guarantee of Soviet military protection if the Chinese made any threatening gestures to dissuade India from intervention in East Pakistan. Kosygin seemed favorably inclined, although he reportedly asked that Mrs. Gandhi make a formal written request.
These reports are a bit surprising since the Soviets have traditionally seen their interests in South Asia best served by stability, or at least they have not encouraged dramatic instabilities. They may well, however, have concluded that a divided Pakistan is no longer viable and that they may as well be on the side of “new realities." Soviet policy in South Asia has always been to support India, and since 1965 to gain a foothold in Pakistan. They may calculate that this balance is no longer tenable, and that in a crisis Moscow would have to oppose Pakistan. Assurances on the Chinese threat could be viewed as mainly psychological, if the Soviets share our judgment that the Chinese probably would not go beyond threatening noises and border incidents in support of the West Pakistanis.
The most disturbing aspect of this report is that, if Kosygin does come through with some guarantee against China, the Indians will feel much less inhibited about military intervention in East Pakistan.*
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 715, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XIV, 1 Jun-31 Jul 71. Secret; Limdis. Sent for information. A stamp on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
See Document 87.
3 Nixon underlined this sentence from the word “provide" to the end and wrote in the margin: “K If this is true-Keating is to be ordered to protest strongly (privately at first)."
* Nixon highlighted the first sentence of this paragraph and wrote in the margin: "Warn them that if they intervene RN will personally cut off all aid to India."
Despite all their brave talk about being able to defend against the Chinese and fighting on two other fronts against Pakistan, the Indians are still haunted by the 1962 humiliation. This could be why Foreign Minister Singh is reported to regard his Moscow visit as "a major political development" and Mrs. Gandhi is said to also be pleased.
We must bear in mind that these reports may be intended as psychological pressure to persuade us and Pakistan of Soviet support for New Delhi. It would be a major and radical break in Soviet policy to issue the Indians a blank check.
The developing confrontation between India and Pakistan was one of the subjects discussed by Henry Kissinger and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai during Kissinger's trip to Peking July 9–11, 1971. South Asia was discussed extensively on July 10, the second day of conversations between Kissinger and Chou. The United States and China shared a mutual concern about developments in East Pakistan, and Kissinger and Chou both saw India's hand behind the Bengali resistance that threatened the control of Yahya Khan's government over the eastern wing of the country. Chou implied that China would intervene if India acted to undermine Pakistan's control over East Pakistan: “In our opinion, if India continues on its present course in disregard of world opinion, it will continue to go on recklessly. We, however, support the stand of Pakistan. This is known to the world. If they (the Indians) are bent on provoking such a situation, then we cannot sit idly by." Kissinger observed in response that, while the United States maintained what he referred to as "friendly relations" with India, the sympathies of the Nixon administration also lay with Yahya Khan's government. He was more restrained in projecting a U.S. response to military action by India in East Pakistan: "You know from President Yahya Khan the strong friendship we feel for him and his country. We strongly oppose any military action to solve the problems of East Pakistan. And if India takes military action in East Pakistan, we would strongly and publicly disapprove of it.” (Memorandum of conversation, July 10; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1032, Files for the President, China Materials, Polo I Record) The full text of the memorandum is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.
100. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National
Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for
Rawalpindi, July 11, 1971.
Your Talk with President Yahya
In Your Absence
Following the postponement of your departure Saturday, there was an increase in general skepticism in Islamabad about your illness. . Prior to the news of postponement, Saturday morning's papers had focused in low-key front-page box on your indisposition and in larger story on my talks with Sufi and Ahmad. Sunday morning Pakistani papers simply print another box saying that you will be going on to Paris today.
The papers have carried the following on your appointments in Nathiagali: Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan has been with you the whole time. General Hamid flew up for lunch with you (Deputy Chief of Martial Law Administration and Chief of Staff who was also at dinner Thursday evening) Friday. Saturday, Defense Minister Ghiasuddin Ahmad is reported to have flown up for lunch. In Islamabad, I was reported to have called on Mr. Sufi," who explained the food situation in the East (he is Presidential adviser on food and agriculture), and on M.M. Ahmad," who explained plans for rehabilitation and development in East Pakistan.
The main speculation among the skeptics on your change of plans is that you have been playing some sort of mediation role between India and Pakistan.
What Yahya Will Say This Afternoon
The result of your first day's talks was an apparent Pakistani decision to produce a comprehensive package on the refugee question.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. V, 16 May-31 Jul 71. Secret; Sensitive.
2 July 10
3 Saunders' conversation on July 10 with M.H. Sufi, Presidential Adviser on Food, Agriculture and Kashmir Affairs, was reported to the Department in telegram 6984 from Islamabad, July 10. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 10 PAK)
+ Saunders' conversation with Ahmad on July 10 was reported to the Department in telegram 6985 from Islamabad, July 10. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. V, 16 May-31 Jul 71)