114. Memorandum of Conversation1 2

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  • Ghulan Mustafa Khar, Governor of the Punjab and Special Emissary of Pakistani President Bhutto
  • Aziz Ahmad, Minister of state for Foreign Affairs and Defense
  • Sultan Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan
  • Iqbal Riza, Counselor, Pakistani Embassy
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President
  • Harold H. Saunders, NSC Staff

Dr. Kissinger said he could not add a great deal to what had been discussed earlier with the President. He cautioned the Pakistanis not to discuss those matters with the US bureaucracy. Time was required to put the President’s decisions into effect. But the President had outlined the direction in which he intends to move.

Dr. Kissinger continued that our major problem is to establish the principle that it is not logical that one country like India can continue to build up its arms capacity while its neighbor is not permitted to do the same.

He concluded his initial comment by saying that to go beyond what the President had indicated earlier in the day would be “totally suicidal” and would invite a sharp Congressional reaction.

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Ambassador Khan asked when Pakistan might expect further developments.

Dr. Kissinger replied that it should be possible to begin moving the blocked equipment out of the warehouses in about a week. He said that we would be talking to third parties about possible help in the next month.

Mr. Ahmad noted that some of the supplies held up here had been partly paid for. These are the only ones that had been discussed so far. “What we need is aid not just purchases.”

Dr. Kissinger said that we would have to talk to third countries but we would have to get “trusted people” there before we can do so.

Mr. Ahmad noted that the “Russian embrace” has brought Iran and Pakistan closer.

Ambassador Khan asked about the $87 million for India.

Dr. Kissinger indicated that this was past economic aid which had been suspended at the time of the war in the beginning of December 1971. He indicated that one way or another India would get this aid. If we did not provide it they could get it by defaulting on repayments. It is not new aid.

Mr. Ahmad noted that there would probably be a large demand from India for food under PL 480.

Dr. Kissinger indicated that we would try to use our influence on the prisoner of war issue. Ambassador Khan said that that would be a substantial contribution to progress toward peace in South Asia.

Mr. Ahmad noted the continued flow of Russian supplies to India and handed Dr. Kissinger a list of Soviet shipments [attached]. Dr. Kissinger noted that these were about the same as our own figures. He continued that there is no logical basis for their opposing Pakistanis acquisition of some equipment. He said we know what India is doing.

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Mr. Ahmad asked Dr. Kissinger to let the Pakistanis know about our observations on Indian troop concentrations in India. The Pakistanis felt that all but six Indian divisions were facing Pakistan.

Dr. Kissinger asked Mr. Ahmad what he felt would happen over the long term in Bangladesh.

Mr. Ahmad indicated that in the near term Mujib would win the election hands down. Then Pakistan will have to recognize Bangladesh when it is assured that it will get its prisoners back and that there will be no war crimes trials and the status of the Baharis is settled. Once these “irritants” are out of the way, Pakistan will make a strong effort at reconciliation with Bangladesh. Through non-official channels Pakistan has reason to hope that it will get a sympathetic response. However, Mujib is unpredictable and unreliable. He will “promise you the moon if he feels that will make you happy” and then he does not follow through on his promises. Mr. Ahmad noted that the promises he made to Bhutto before he was released from prison in Pakistan were voluntary; Bhutto had made his release unconditional. But Mujib had not followed through on anything that he had promised.

Dr. Kissinger asked how Mr. Ahmad felt the relationship between Bangladesh and India would evolve.

Mr. Ahmad replied that the relationship would not be too happy. The opposition in Bangladesh led Bashani openly to attack Mujib with charges that he has sold out to India. He felt that once relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh had been established they could become reasonably good—partly because of this tension with India.

Dr. Kissinger asked whether Pakistan’s relations with the Peoples Republic of China remain good, and Mr. Ahmad replied that they were. Dr. Kissinger said that the US has encouraged the Chinese to concentrate on military assistance to Pakistan while we concentrate on economic assistance. He noted, however, that China suffers from shortages of sophisticated equipment. Mr. Ahmad nodded his agreement with this last point.

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Dr. Kissinger noted that US relationships with the PRC have evolved very quickly. He said that the Chinese feel very strongly about their friendship with Pakistan.

Dr. Kissinger then noted that we have a very difficult problem with the Congress, the press and our own bureaucracy. Once the decisions the President had informed the Pakistanis of that morning on arms supply were known, there would be an onslaught of criticism in the press about how the White House is interfering in the process of rebuilding a closer relationship with India.

Dr. Kissinger noted that he was going on vacation on March 16 and there would be decisions before that time. He added, on another subject, that we would aim for a visit by President Bhutto in July.

Mr. Ahmad noted that the Iranians and Pakistanis would coordinate their intelligence efforts on greater Baluchistan.

Dr. Kissinger asked that anything they get on Soviet grand strategy in this area would be of interest to the US .

Mr. Ahmad said that the Pakistanis would appreciate getting from “your chaps” what might be of interest to Pakistan on Soviet intentions towards South Asia.

Dr. Kissinger concluded the meeting by assuring his visitors that he understood what the President wants. The President feels warmly toward Pakistan but, aside from his warm feelings, he understands Soviet strategy and will act accordingly.

Harold H. Saunders
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 612, Pakistan, Vol. X, Sept. 72–Oct. 73, Country Files, Middle East. Secret. It was drafted by Saunders. The meeting took place in Kissinger’s office.
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger met with Khar for a brief discussion of military aid and other issues of bilateral concern after Khar’s meeting with President Nixon earlier that day.