116. Telegram 44799 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan1 2

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  • Secretary’s Meeting With President Bhutto’s Special Emissary
Begin summary: Governor Khar, Special Emissary for President Bhutto, and Minister of State, Aziz Ahmed called on Secretary March 8. Assistant Secretary Sisco and Laingen present as well as Pak Ambassador Khan. Khar took virtually no part in conversation. Presentation by Ahmed emphasized 2 themes: a) hopes for peace in South Asia were being frustrated by Indian procrastination and delays; b) Pakistan concerned over Soviet strategic designs for South Asia in which Indians appeared to acquiesce. Pakistan hoped US would use its influence toward peace and also hoped us would not turn its back on Pakistan’s need for assistance maintain its security. Secretary noted that President had expressed views of USG during earlier meeting; said our policy under review, no decisions yet, but confident there would be soon. End summary
Minister Ahmed reviewed in detail evolution of Simla process, focusing particularly on 3 1/2 month delay in working out Kashmir line of control and troop withdrawals. Said delay was end result of “exercise in Indian semantics”. Delay had unfortunate impact on Simla process; Pak people were somewhat disenchanted and there had been a lot of harm to expectations on both sides.
After troop withdrawal complete, there had been exchange of letters between Bhutto and Mrs. Gandhi followed by yet another letter from Bhutto in which he had proposed that they proceed in one of two ways: either agree mutually to POW repatriation immediately, which would ease recognition problem and make tremendous impact on Pak people, or if not prepared to do this, then Bhutto prepared have summit meeting. Mrs. Gandhi had not replied to that letter and had made it publicly known that there was no purpose in summit until recognition. Result was current deadlock and peace was in “cold storage”.
In response Secretary’s query whether this could change, Ahmed referred to UNSYG’s visit and modest expectations this had produced. Bhutto had told SYG there must be package deal including agreement that there be no war crimes trials, that Biharees be assured of chance to live in peace in Bangladesh and that there be agreements in principle on division of assets and liabilities in Bangladesh before there could be recognition. Bhutto had also, however, made it clear to SYG that he prepared again take this issue to the people, including National Assembly, and he intended to do this after elections complete in Bangladesh.
SYG had suggested idea of getting enabling resolution from National Assembly on recognition, leaving timing of formal act recognition to be decided later. Bhutto had said he amenable to this and had authorized SYG to pass this along to Mujib. Apparently Mujib’s response to SYG was disappointing; however, Ahmed said he hoped get further details when he saw SYG in New York during current trip. Ahmed concluded that though outlook uncertain GOP thought some movement might be made, by either India or Bangladesh or both, later this month. Meanwhile, GOP could do nothing except perhaps to hope that US and others would use whatever influence they had.
At Secretary’s request Ahmed described some of the problems that recognition created for GOP, emphasizing throughout that GOP felt Pakistan must accept reality and get on with recognition as soon as possible and provided there cooperation from Mujib along lines he had indicated. However, Bhutto had to deal with [Page 3] strong oppoition sentiment which would see recognition as putting seal of approval on India’s use of force to dismember Pakistan in 1971. Khar interjected supporting comment at this point to effect that Pak people still bitter about events 1971 and that this particularly the case in Punjab.
Secretary queried whether too much significance may not have become associated with simple act of recognition in this case, noting US experience in several cases where simple statement of recognition had no practical follow on. Moreover, there were other cases where we had not extended recognition and yet maintained considerable relationship. During lengthy exchange Minister Ahmed’s position boiled down to assertion that because of experience they had had with Mujib to date, they could not place trust and confidence in what Mujib might do or not do once Bhutto extended recognition. Pakistan therefore needed some concrete assurance that at least with respect to POWs there would be response by Mujib that would permit process of reconciliation to get underway. Secretary asked if his assumption was therefore correct that GOP would be prepared to indicate agreement in principle, quietly transmitted in some way to BDG, that formal recognition would be implemented when agreement on POWs reached. Ahmed responded affirmatively. Nonetheless both Ahmed and Khar stressed difficulties Bhutto faced dealing with Mujib, particularly risk he faced that Mujib might back out of assurances on POWs after Bhutto had extended some kind of assurance on recognition. Ahmed noted also fact that Indians being unhelpful, citing one Indian statement to effect that recognition would “facilitate discussion” but nothing more.
Minister Ahmed then proceeded to describe Pak concern over Soviet activities and intentions in area, noting accumulation of disturbing evidence of increased Soviet interference in Pak affairs. As examples cited, Soviet involvement in Karachi language riots and Karachi labor unrest. Soviet Ambassador had been confronted with evidence, including fact money had been passed. Soviet response was to say that USSR recognized only one government in Pakistan and only one party, but Ahmed [Page 4] said GOP saw this as camouflage covering real Soviet designs.
This further apparent in Iraqi arms discovery, an operation apparently directed at heart of country; Soviet Ambassador had been called in on this and asked for comment and for statement publicly disassociating Soviets from affair. Soviet Ambassador’s response had been defensive at time and there had been no formal response at any time thereafter. Ahmed noted also Soviet trawlers off Baluchistan coast and fact that Soviet Navy units also in area. Meanwhile, Soviet arms deliveries to India continuing at high levels, Ahmed reading from long list of deliveries. Indian military budget projected at all time record for coming year. Indians also massing troops on Pak borders; with exception of 6 divisions in Nefa/Assam area and one armored division, the whole of their armed forces were focused on Pak borders. Interestingly enough, the whole of Afghanistan’s army also was on Pakistan’s borders.
Clearly all this was not directed at China; Pakistan must therefore ask what its purpose might be. There was also what amounted to “iron pincers concept” on part Soviets; one arm apparent in Soviet activity in Iraq and Syria and the other in Soviet presence in India and Afghanistan. In between lay important area of Iran, Pakistan and Persian Gulf. Ahmed said he had described these concerns to congressional committees previous day, emphasizing Pakistan’s desire for peace with India and strong concern as to Soviet as well as Indian intentions. GOP might be wrong but it appeared to it that Soviet design was to either wean Pakistan from Chinese influence, dismember the country further, or perhaps simply to bring Pakistan under overall Soviet security umbrella.
Ahmed recalled that he had told Secretary in March 1972 that he would not be surprised if Soviets asked Pakistan to join in some kind of Asian security scheme. Sure enough, 6 weeks ago, this idea had been “formally put” to President Bhutto, Soviets apparently noting that if Paks not interested in multilateral arrangement [Page 5] of this kind they would be happy to proceed on bilateral basis.
Ahmed said he had told congressional committes that under 1959 bilateral with US Pakistan felt it had commitment from US to provide military assistance; yet there had been none for past 7 years. Response on House side had been sympathetic but had emphasized that this was executive decision and that opposition lay in Senate. Response, Ahmed said, from Senate committee had been mixed, noting inter alia McGovern’s concern over arms race. Ahmed said he had responded that arms race would not be stopped if only one side, Indians, continued to be supplied.
Secretary said he thought we had some idea of Soviet purposes in area but asked again what Ahmed felt Indian intentions were. Ahmed said GOP could only conclude, unhappily, that there had been no basic change; GOP suspected India wanted Pakistan as satellite, with explicit recognition of India as predominant power in area.
Conversation concluded with Secretary noting that President had already expressed views of USG on concerns and problems cited by Ahmed. He was sure they had had good hearing by President. Secretary noted that there were no decisions as yet on requests put by GOP but he was sure that decisions would be taken soon.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Dhaka Embassy Files: Lot 76 F 62. Confidential; Priority. It was repeated priority to New Delhi and to Dhaka, Tehran, London, Moscow, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
  2. Secretary of State Rogers summarized his meeting with Special Emissary Khar of Pakistan. Pakistani officials complained that the Indian Government was delaying the Simla peace process and expressed concerns about Soviet ambitions in South Asia. Rogers replied that U.S. policy was under currently under review.