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that direction, Yahya might just succeed in spinning out this process and averting for the time being the worst of a continued war of independence.
I would not tell Yahya that he must do anything. I am simply saying that it might be useful for us to see what we want in this light. Our approach to Yahya would emphasize the worst of what might come especially in the economic field where he is already nearing desperation—and base our approach on wishing to share in his planning so that we might be as helpful as possible.
This would be quite different from trying to force him to take a position by cutting off aid. It would be quite different from rushing to get on the Bengali bandwagon. It would be an effort to help a friend find a practical and face-saving way out of a bind. It would capitalize on some of the goodwill we have built. It would be based on our recognition that we cannot keep hands off this problem without being forced to choices later when options for preserving our position in South Asia will be more limited.
This approach would not buy us favor in India or East Pakistan now. We would be sacrificing a near-term gain with the thought that evolution of East Pakistani autonomy would permit improvement in our position over the longer run. The near-term disadvantage might be somewhat lessened by a general dialogue with the Indians on what we are trying to achieve.
Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Pakistan
Islamabad, April 21, 1971, 0730Z.
[number not declassified] Ref WH 10389.2
1. Greatly appreciate Presidential inquiry and this opportunity to express my views. Needless to say, what has occurred is extremely disconcerting and frustrating, a real setback to USG efforts here.
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages 1971, Amb Farland, Pakistan. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
2 In White House telegram 10389, April 19, from Kissinger to Farland, Kissinger conveyed the President's request for Farland's assessment of the situation in Pakistan and his recommendations on the options open to the administration in dealing with it. (Ibid.)
2. I continue to hold with course three as set forth in Embassy's principal paper on U.S. posture toward Pakistan (Islamabad 3337; see also Islamabad 3351 and 3363).3 I continue to believe it necessary for USG to maintain a posture through which it can exert some influence on GOP for a variety of reasons, most of which I expressed in general terms during Chiefs of Mission Conference, Tehran, April 20-21, 1970. (General Haig was given a copy* by me prior to decision on one-time arms exception for Pakistan.) ChiCom influence in Pakistan was one of the principal concerns.
3. Because of recent developments, I am persuaded that the ChiCom objectives, set forth therein, remain unchanged. To eliminate what leverage we have with GOP today is tantamount to moving it directly into the Chinese orbit. The implications, military and political, which would then apply for this whole region of the world, are monumental. Aside from the question of a Chinese dominant position in Pakistan, I find it extremely difficult to advocate a course of action which would markedly diminish U.S. influence in Pakistan at such crucial time in Middle East and Indian Ocean area affairs. While presently we have little affirmative influence, we can act, to some extent, as deterrent to movements contrary our interest.
4. By adopting course three rather than course two,5 the latter being ConGen Dacca's suggestion, we are keeping our options open and not becoming either over-committed or under-committed. Further, it allows U.S. position to be changed or reversed at any time, even on short term.
5. I am fully cognizant of the fact that much of world press has hammered hard at U.S. policy as enunciated by McCloskey, State Department spokesman, i.e., crisis in East Pakistan is internal affair, but U.S. has expressed concern humanitarian grounds and use of U.S.supplied arms. However, this pressure may ease up in near future, if assumption from latest intelligence is justified. It has been reported from various sources that GOP military will complete offensive phase East Pakistan operation within ten days to two weeks, and thereafter military activity will be primarily "mopping up" operation. End of civil
3 See footnote 2, Document 28. Among the approaches for dealing with the crisis suggested in telegram 3337 from Islamabad, course 3 called for maintaining flexible options in East and West Pakistan. In line with this approach, Farland anticipated continued but somewhat reduced economic assistance, an ongoing military sales program, tempered by "technical delays" which would have the effect of suspending shipments of sensitive items such as ammunition, and an emphasis in private discussions with members of Yahya's government on the U.S. conviction that force would not lead to a solution in East Pakistan.
4 Not found.
5 Course 2 outlined possible sanctions that could be applied against West Pakistan.
war will reduce the newsworthiness of story. Also, this will lessen. public interest on issue of the use of U.S.-supplied arms in conflict. It is believed that interest will then turn from the atrocity reporting to humanitarian needs: aid to victims, food shortages, etc.
6. In holding to course three, I have taken into consideration the assumption that East Pakistan, having become a garrison state, will eventually bring about the dissolution of Pakistan as it now exists. When this will happen or in what manner it will happen is only a guess; economic stresses will weigh heavily in the balance on both questions. In the interim, India can be expected to develop systematic program of infiltration and arms aid. Guerrilla warfare is virtually assured, but the extent of it is yet uncertain. Internationally, Bangla Desh advocates will make use of all public and private forums. If and when Bangla Desh becomes a reality, it will be one of world's worst headaches, having little economic or bureaucratic infrastructure and virtually no natural resources to build upon. It is unbelievable, but in an area about the size of Louisiana, the population is expected to reach 200-275 million in the year 2000.
7. You must be aware there is strong advocacy in the State Department seeking to pull rug from under GOP and support the idea of an early Bangla Desh. Further, Embassy has had full-scale revolt on general issue by virtually all officers in Consulate General, Dacca, coupled with forfeiture of leadership for American community there. Dacca's reporting has been tendentious to an extreme.
8. Advocates of aforesaid position argue that an extended guerrilla activity will bring about elimination of U.S.-oriented and moderate Bengalis and the leadership left in East Pakistan will be largely that of extremists, that is to say, Naxalites and Bhashani activists-this to the detriment of U.S. interests. It has been my view, perhaps substantiated by East Pakistan provincial Governor Tikka Khan's conciliatory TV broadcast April 19, that GOP is not yet prepared to go much further than it has already gone, unless perhaps goaded into a Shermanlike march prior to complete pull-out. Contrariwise, I think there is strong possibility that, after this initial act of violence, cooler heads may question the worth of hanging on unduly long to a wasting asset. Economic strain, coupled with the fact that there has been no love lost between the two wings almost from the moment of inception, probably will bring about a reevaluation.
9. Should course two be adopted, USG would take on both political and economic headaches of major magnitude. IBRD's David Gordon believes economic development East Pakistan set back 15-20 years. Having helped to bring new government into being, USG certainly would be expected to make early financial commitments far beyond the availability of that which I believe constitutes the resources of our
aid program for this region. Awami League leaders during period leading up to March 25 were passing word that USG supported separation movement and was prepared to give copious amounts of economic assistance to Bangla Desh. I fear that we could well become over-involved at a time when over-involvement seems less than politic.
10. Advocates for a pro-Bangla Desh posture also argue that Bengali good-will will be irreparably lost unless the U.S. immediately changes its policy from that which has been declared to that of support for an independent East Pakistan. This argument certainly would be valid as far as many individual Bengalis are concerned, but given premise that Bangla Desh does come into being some time in the future, I submit that the economic and administrative needs will be so great that USG friendship and aid will be eagerly sought after by the new government. Hence it would seem that degree of disaffection incurred by following course three can be countered and overcome in long term.
11. Evening April 19 Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan privately advised me that M. Ahmad, presently Economic Advisor to President Yahya and former head of the Planning Commission, has been fully briefed on GOP's economic and political plans for East Pakistan with hope for implementation soonest. Ahmad prepared to depart for Washington at once if there is possibility discussing these plans with you and hopefully with the President. Hope for presidential appointment stressed by Foreign Secretary. Ahmad applied for visa April 19. I look on this with favor as it would give USG best opportunity to delve GOP thinking, and I believe that U.S. lack of interest his visit will dampen opportunities here for me to ascertain same. Further, it would add a few days to the time allotted for decision-making which is important during this time of flux both in East Pakistan and in this whole area of the world. This conversation with Foreign Secretary reported to Department with request for its reaction (Islamabad 36016).
12. If Washington opts for course two rather than course three, which is the Embassy's position, our relations with Pakistan would become simply a holding action and the duties of the post could well be turned over to a chargé d'affaires. Further, I believe it my duty to inform you that leaks out of New Delhi, Dacca and Washington have been deterrents to Embassy's utility.
6 Dated April 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 7 PAK)
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
Washington, April 24, 1971, 1220Z.
70700. Subject: Review East Pakistan Situation and USG Position.
1. Prior Asst Secy Sisco's departure for Middle East and as balancing action to Sisco conversation with Indian Amb Jha April 22,2 Sisco called in Pak Amb Hilaly April 23. Dep Asst Secy Van Hollen and Fuller, NEA/PAF, participated.
2. Sisco first summarized points made previous recent conversations with Hilaly, as follows:
A. We have said both publicly and privately we regard East Pak situation as internal matter.
B. Nonetheless, as friend of Pakistan, we have expressed concern re extensive loss of life, suffering and damage.
C. We have also conveyed concern about use American arms.
D. We have suggested GOP should consider availing itself of international offers of humanitarian assistance. We prepared to participate in such international effort if GOP desires.
E. We have also expressed hope every effort can be made to improve situation in ports East Pak and to restore normal food distribution channels.
3. Sisco then said we consider that East Pakistan situation has entered new phase, in light following developments:
A. Military have consolidated their position and extended control in many cases to Indian borders.
B. There have been increasing reports of incidents between Indian and Pak military forces—both regular and irregular.
C. Large number refugees have moved into adjacent areas of India. D. Problems have arisen re status Pak Deputy High Commission Calcutta and evacuation members Indian Deputy High Commission Dacca.
E. Heated rhetoric and charges and counter-charges continue between India and Pakistan.
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23–9 PAK. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Drafted by Alexander S.C. Fuller (NEA/PAF) and approved by Van Hollen. Repeated to Calcutta, Dacca, US Mission Geneva, Karachi, Lahore, New Delhi, USUN, and London.
2 Sisco's conversation with Jha was reported to New Delhi on April 23 in telegram 69364. Sisco used the conversation to urge India to exercise restraint in the delicate situation developing on the subcontinent. (Ibid.)