125. Telegram Depto 101 From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State and the Embassy in Pakistan1 2


  • DepSec’s Conversation With President Bhutto

1. Summary: During DepSec’s meeting with President Bhutto April 26, latter expressed concern over Mujib’s continued rigidity, but thought dent had been made in South Asian problems with recent Indo/Bangladesh declaration. Reaffirmed GOP readiness begin talks with Indians, expressed apprehensions re Soviet ambitions, noted mutuality of interests with Iran in this respect and urged US to consider its interest in Pakistan in same context its interests in Iran. DepSec reaffirmed backing for Simla process which US would be sympathetic observer. Assured Bhutto that in its pursuit of peace and detente, US would remain close and strong friend of Pakistan.

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End summary

DepSec’s meeting with President Bhutto included Minister of State Ahmed, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Islam, Finance Minister Hasan, Presidential Assistant Raza, and FonSec Alvie, on Pak side. Assistant Secretary Sisco, Charge Sober and Laingen present on US side.
DepSec opened conversation with reference to July visit by Bhutto to Washington (septel). Noted good discussion he had had with Minister Ahmed that morning but said he would also value review from President Bhutto of situation in area.
President Bhutto responded with detailed description of evolution his relationship with Mujib since assuming the presidency in December 1971. Gist was that Bhutto had made repeated efforts throughout period since that time to achieve meeting or at least some flexibility from Mujib. Results had been nil, however, Bhutto would continue pressing for some response from Mujib because it was obviously important for Pakistan to face reality and find way to defuse problems in area. Bhutto thought that some dent had been made in problem; he would continue these efforts but if they were to be successful Mujib must assist and India too. Recognition was no victory for Pakistan; it would be for Mujib and it would be satisfaction for India. Pakistan, however must consider the long term impact of such action, including implications for resolution other problems with India and particularly Kashmir. On latter, it was “not in the cards” that India would walk out of Kashmir so that again Pakistan would have to bear the brunt of a settlement.
Thus, some flexibility from Mujib was essential. Instead, Mujib continued to harp on such things as war crimes, trials, which if pursued, [Page 3] would amount to “palm tree justice” and would bring point of no return with all the adverse impact this would have in Pakistan. Only a month ago he had had to quell an officers’ plot; it was unreasonable to expect that after long military rule in Pakistan, concept of civilian supremacy would be easily established. However, major need now was to preserve democracy and prevent arbitrary military rule since if military took over, there would be civil war and splits within military itself all resulting in situation that Soviets, Indians and even Afghans would exploit to their advantage, thus, his reference to point of no return was no idle talk.
It was because of Pakistan’s desire for reconciliation that it had responded deliberately and positively to recent Indo-Bangladesh declaration. Bhutto reviewed at some length Pakistan’s response, including particularly GOP position that it was important to meet with Indians to talk and at least identify the nature of problems that now presented themselves. Pakistan would not be “bowled over” by Indian/Bangladesh pressures. Pak position should be seen against the major principles Pakistan espoused; i.e., a readiness to accept reality of Bangladesh, a desire to close the unfortunate chapter of past confrontation, and a willingness to build bridges of reconciliation with both India and Bangladesh. Under no condition, however, could Pakistan accept Indian dominance or great power pretensions; India did not have the makings of a great power. If India wanted to be great it must be modest; that was the way great nations were made. But Pakistan did not yet see this kind of approach from India.
DepSec responded with reaffirmation strong friendship felt by President Nixon and people US for Pakistan and their desire to see Pakistan make progress as free and economically viable state. DepSec emphasized that President Nixon’s global efforts to achieve peace, including his major initiatives with both Chinese and Russians, did not suggest in any way that we were under any illusions about objectives of these powers, particularly Russians. What it meant was that we believed that in a period of negotiation and detente, US as free society had major advantages over closed societies of communist state’s and would be strengthened in process. These efforts at detente would also not be taken to detriment our close relations with friends like Pakistan. He had told both Mujib and Mrs. Gandhi that US sought good relations with them, at same time as it remained [Page 5] good friend of Pakistan. US had no intention to step into middle of subcontinental problems but would maintain strong interest because of its humanitarian concern and because trouble in South Asia had potential of undercuting broad progress to peace which President Nixon sought. Pakistan had advantage in strong leadership of President Bhutto, both in his extraordinary skill in guiding his country internally and his farsighted approach in Simla process. Pakistan also had asset in friendship of good neighbor and strong leader like Shah of Iran who had emphasized to DepSec during his visit to Tehran that he would do all in his power to assist in maintenance Pakistan’s integrity.
President Bhutto responded with expression of appreciation for constant USG support, particularly assistance of past year which had done much to keep Pakistan out of the woods. Pakistan would need continuing help in future, including supply of wheat where it hoped to build up effective buffer stocks. It also hoped that there would be greater assistance than in past in project aid category. US had been large-hearted and Pakistan appreciated that.
Bhutto concurred in DepSec’s remarks about strength and vitality of Shah’s leadership in Iran and potential of that country for area stability. Pakistan had mutuality of interests with Iran in its approach to problems of area. Said he understood why US was inclined to “draw a line” at edge of Iran in terms its vital interests in area but out of regard for its broader interests in area, he hoped that US would consider drawing that line a bit deeper. He did not think to stop short of Pakistan whether was helpful to US interests; particularly since Pakistan was determined to move ahead economically and would be source of great strength to US. Bhutto commented “in all humility” that he felt period of bad relations in past between US and Pakistan particularly between 1962 and 1966, had not come as result actions of Pakistan but perhaps more from misreading by US of situation area at the time, particularly Indian intentions toward [Page 6] China. Whatever the past, however, there was no reason why US and Pakistan should not have closest of ties; not a special relationship, since that era was gone, but rather one based on mutual interest in peace and common apprehensions regarding Soviet ambitions.
Pakistan’s apprehensions regarding Soviet ambitions persisted despite what it had communicated to Soviets about Pakistan’s genuine desire to have a good relationship. He had told Soviets that he wanted such relationship so long as Soviets did not seek to press Pakistan into deleterious arrangements. Unfortunately, however, Soviets had ambitions in the area which Bhutto feared amounted to desire to exercise hegemony. Therefore, Pakistan would remain chary. Pakistan could talk and reason with Americans, as well as with Chinese, but Russians had manner of bullying and browbeating and no self-respecting nation could accept this. They had also indulged in various actions that contributed to political instability inside Pakistan and Bhutto had warned Soviet Ambassador about these activities. He hoped that worst of this was now over.
DepSec responded that US obviously could not and would not “draw a line” of kinds referred to by Bhutto. US was global power and did not intend to withdraw its interests from any part of the world. US under President Nixon had adjusted its approach to world problems, reflecting changed world situation, but as it went into era of negotiation it was not doing so without careful eye on Soviet ambitions and certainly not without regard to our interests in close and cooperative relationship with country like Pakistan. US would continue doing everything it could to contribute to Pakistan’s own efforts to keep its freedom and build for a strong future. For the same reason, US was deeply interested in and sympathetic with Pakistan’s efforts to achieve reconciliation and peace in South Asia. President Nixon would remain fully mindful of these interests and particularly of need to maintain US military strength in dealings with Russians. Our friends like Pakistan could [Page 7] rest assured that US would remain strong and would remain close friend. President Bhutto responded that this was source of much satisfaction to Pakistan, now as it had been in the past. Pakistan knew that the US had never used its great strength against peace and that it would not do so in future.
Other subjects septels.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL PAK–US. Secret; Priority. It was repeated priority to New Delhi, Dhaka, Moscow, Tehran, and Kabul.
  2. Deputy Secretary Rush reported on his meeting with Prime Minister Bhutto on April 26. Bhutto expressed concerns about Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh and India following those countries’ recent joint declaration and about Soviet ambitions in South Asia. Rush clarified U.S. policy toward the Simla negotiations and reassured Bhutto of U.S. desire for close relations with Pakistan.