« PreviousContinue »
thing symbolic, I really ... feel that something symbolic might have an effect on restraining India." Rogers suggested an announcement on November 26 of a suspension of any further export licenses. Nixon indicated that he wanted to review his policy options before meeting again on November 26. He was wary of economic sanctions that might prove "useless." He said he was looking for an approach that was “very firm.” “In anything that we say,” he added, “there should be a very positive statement that the United States commitment to help refugees, to help hungry people, et cetera remains." He felt that military assistance, on the other hand, should be halted.
The conversation continued with Kissinger's interpretation of India's objectives in the crisis. He saw India as striving to split the two wings of Pakistan, with West Pakistan ultimately reduced to the status of Afghanistan, and East Pakistan similarly reduced to the status of Bhutan. Rogers viewed the conflict as growing out of the deeply ingrained sectarian animosity that had animated the initial division of the subcontinent. There was general agreement with Nixon's assessment of Yahya Khan as a "decent and reasonable man" if “not always smart politically.” All three viewed the prospect of Yahya stepping aside in favor of Bhutto with trepidation. Nixon's assessment of Bhutto was that he was "a total demagogue.” In a concluding admonition to Rogers and Kissinger, Nixon said: “I don't want to get caught in the business where we take the heat for a miserable war that we had nothing to do with." (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation among Nixon, Rogers and Kissinger, November 24, 971, 12:27-1:12 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 624–21) A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 156.
200. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the
Department of State
Moscow, November 24, 1971, 1525Z.
8767. Subj: Indo-Pak Military Escalation. Ref: State 212550.2
1. Summary: In response my presentation, Kuznetsov said Soviet Government has approached Indian and Pak Governments in recent days with appeal that they show wisdom and patience and avoid steps that could worsen situation and lead to war. He acknowledged situation was worsening and said Soviets intended make further approaches in both New Delhi and Islamabad designed to lessen tensions and prevent military clashes. End summary.
2. Gromyko being unavailable until Friday because of Supreme Soviet session, I saw First Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov this afternoon to make presentation specified reftel, emphasizing that I was acting under instructions my government, which was concerned at growing danger of war. Kuznetsov interrupted me once to ask source of our information concerning military actions in East Pakistan. I said I assumed our info represented digest of our current intelligence from that area. I noted we were taking steps to bring our concern to attention of both Indian and Pakistani Governments. We intended remind Indian authorities of the concrete steps we had discussed with Mrs Gandhi in Washington, on which I had briefed Kuznetsov in our last meeting. We felt these ideas needed to be given time to work and we would emphasize this to the Indians in our approach.
3. Kuznetsov thanked me for info and expressed gratification that USG was keeping Soviet Government informed of steps it was taking to facilitate normalization of situation in this region. He said that in recent days Soviet Government had approached Governments in both New Delhi and Islamabad with appeals that they exhibit wisdom and patience and not take steps that could worsen situation and lead to war. Mrs Gandhi had again said that India did not intend to unleash war but she had reiterated need for urgent Pak measures aimed at political settlement. On military situation itself, Kuznetsov noted Soviet info was confusing and incomplete. However, they had received recent reports from New Delhi concerning apparent Pak efforts to provoke military conflict on the Indo-Pak border. While this info less than fully reliable, apparent downing of three Pak planes over Indian airspace and capture of two Pak pilots, if confirmed, suggested that Paks were guilty of violations Indian airspace.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA-PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to Islamabad, New Delhi, Dacca, USUN, Calcutta, London, and Tehran.
2 In telegram 212550 to Moscow, November 23, Ambassador Beam was instructed to see Foreign Minister Gromyko to express U.S. concern about the dangers of escalation in the confrontation between India and Pakistan. The instruction reads in part: “At this critical juncture we hope USSR will make renewed efforts to restrain India and will not further encourage Indian military actions against East Pakistan by further deliveries of military equipment.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 571, IndoPak War, South Asia, Nov 23-Nov 30, 1971)
4. Kuznetsov said situation in general seemed to be worsening and Soviets were preparing to make new approaches in both New Delhi and Islamabad designed to lessen tensions and prevent military clashes. Referring to our previous conversation, he said Pak authorities were still not taking necessary measures for political settlement. For example, release of Mujibur Rahman would improve atmosphere and facilitate negotiations with Awami League. Soviets intended to stress this point in their approach to Yahya Khan.
5. Asked how Paks had responded thus far to Soviet approaches, Kuznetsov said Yahya had announced he would not launch military actions but had tried to place blame on Indian side and had said nothing definite on key question of political settlement.
6. In general, Kuznetsov said situation was extremely complicated. It was difficult to find out what was going on and which side was initiating military acts. He asked if USG had any new suggestions. I said we had no formula for solution but felt Indians were providing support to insurgents in East Pakistan, which amounted to hostile act against Pakistan. Kuznetsov reiterated his earlier view that responsibility lay on Pakistan for present situation. He expressed hope that US side would use its good offices to convince Pak authorities to see that main step leading to normalization of situation in East Pakistan and would be speediest possible implementation of political arrangements taking into account will of East Pak population as expressed in Dec 1970 elections.
7. In closing, Kuznetsov urged that we keep in contact and emphasized that Soviets were also working with both sides to keep situation from getting out of control.
201. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
Washington, November 25, 1971, 0303Z.
214136. Subject: Secretary's Meeting with Ambassador Raza.
1. Secretary Rogers called in Ambassador Raza of Pakistan November 24 to discuss current crisis and inform him of steps just taken with India. Minister Farooqi, Sisco, Laingen and Holmes also present.
2. Secy Rogers said USG deeply concerned with recent developments in South Asia. Secretary said he had just finished talking with Indian Chargé? and had (a) urged maximum Indian restraint, (b) pointed out consequences of escalation which were "almost beyond comprehension," (c) noted Yahya's earlier offer of unilateral withdrawal from borders if followed by an appropriate Indian response, and (d) expressed our difficulty in understanding why India had not responded more favorably. Secretary said he had just returned from long meeting with Pres. Nixon and stated that President feels strongly on need for maximum restraint. Secretary said "You know and Yahya knows how strongly we feel about need to resolve this problem." Told Raza we had also been in touch again with Soviets on need to achieve restraint. Secretary expressed hope all would act with restraint.
3. Raza mentioned alleged U.S. press statements quoting Dept as saying it has no evidence to substantiate Pakistani claims of Indian attack. Secretary replied that we have simply said "we have no independent information to confirm or deny" the Pakistani charges or the Indian denials. The USG does not want to be put in position of being asked to judge reports of a conflicting nature. Again referring to press report Raza said he had heard that USG had requested urgent meeting UNSC. Secy said this obviously erroneous report; said we understood GOP has recourse to UN under consideration and would be ready to discuss this with GOP whenever it wished do so.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-PAK. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by James H. Holmes (NEA/PAF) on November 24; cleared by Laingen, Quainton, and Van Hollen; and approved by Sisco. Repeated to New Delhi, London, Moscow, Tehran, USUN, Kabul, Dacca, and Calcutta.
2 See Document 202.
202. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
Washington, November 25, 1971, 0314Z.
214138. Subj: South Asia Situation.
1. Secretary called in Indian Chargé Rasgotra November 25  to discuss South Asia situation. Sisco and Quainton present from NEA. Rasgotra accompanied by First Secretary Verma.
2. Secretary began by stating that basic US position was to urge both sides to exercise maximum restraint. Nothing can come out of hostilities except greater tragedy for people in immediate vicinity and for millions of others. Secretary noted that he had just had long conversation with President Nixon and that President had expressed appreciation for his discussion with Prime Minister Gandhi and for assurance he had received that India would not initiate hostilities. Secretary noted that we had taken various positive steps. We have dried up military pipeline. We have continued to give maximum assistance for refugee relief. We have passed on President Yahya's willingness to take first step in withdrawing troops if other side reciprocated. We very much hope that proposal could be reconsidered. We have also put forward ideas in order to get political negotiations started looking towards a political settlement. We agree a political settlement is essential. Secretary said he could not emphasize too much the attitude which the US Government and people would have to take if war breaks out. He stated it is very difficult to get at facts, since both sides engaged in combat. We would like impartial observers to find out what was happening. Secretary asked whether Rasgotra had any ideas how this might be done.
3. Rasgotra said he had no suggestions. He admitted Pakistanis saying one thing and GOI another. It was GOI duty keep USG informed of situation as it saw it. Rasgotra denied facts of Schanberg article in November 25 New York Times reporting that Schanberg had seen Indian forces crossing borders. He acknowledged that skirmishes had taken place but insisted that India had no interest in precipitating a war.
4. Secretary said he wished to stress President's deep personal concern at recent turn of events. We have friendly relations with India and Pakistan. In this situation if forces could be withdrawn and separated a distance, so that neither side could take advantage of situation,
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-PAK. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted on November 24 by Quainton, cleared in S/S by Eliot, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to Islamabad, London, Moscow, Dacca, and USUN.