Memorandum of Conversation, by Messrs. R. S. Leach and E. F. Fox of the Division of South Asian Affairs

Participants: H. E. Abdol Hosayn Aziz, Minister of Afghanistan
Mr. Loy W. Henderson
Mr. Joseph C. Satterthwaite1
Mr. Ernest F. Fox
Mr. Richard S. Leach

This conversation took place at Mr. Henderson’s house between 8:00 and 10:00 p. m. this evening at the urgent request of Minister Aziz upon his return to this country under instructions from his government. Mr. Aziz stated that his government had noted the terms of reference of the UN-Kashmir commission, which included consideration of issues between the GOI, GOP and others. Since the last category might involve the tribes of the Northwest Frontier Province (Pathans) and the tribal areas, Aziz had received urgent instruction from his government to serve notice to the Security Council as follows: If, in the course of Kashmir discussions, any question involving the future status of the tribal areas should emerge, Afghanistan must be represented and participate therein from the outset on a basis coequal with the GOI, GOP and other parties. If consideration of problems in this area should take place without such representation by Afghanistan, that country would not recognize any decisions arrived [Page 288] at, would not be responsible for any regime set up there or for relations between the tribal elements and Pakistan, nor for the consequences of procedures adopted in dealing with them.

In answer to a question by Mr. Henderson, Mr. Aziz stated that he intended to bring this Afghan position to the attention of the Security Council in the immediate future. Mr. Henderson stated the interest of the United States in a permanent and equitable solution, as to issues between the two countries, which would not jeopardize peace and which would promote stability in the area. Minister Aziz indicated he was aware that the peace of the area and the stability of Pakistan might be involved in any position taken by Afghanistan, but that principles involved in relations between Afghanistan and related peoples to the eastward did not allow Afghanistan to remain silent at this point. Since the Afghan stand might involve a serious train of developments, Mr. Henderson cautioned Minister Aziz that his historical and legal grounds for injecting Afghan interests into the question should be carefully prepared. Aziz indicated he would not wait to prepare a case but would state the position as soon as possible, and support it in due course.

The major portion of the interview followed the general lines of Public Works Minister Ludin’s exposition of Afghan views as set forth in previous memoranda on this subject. Of his general remarks, the following are of principal interest: (1) Seemingly, Ludin’s observations were based upon a briefing and instructions from Aziz. (2) Anti-Pakistan feelings on the part of the Afghan representatives were again in evidence. (3) In addition, Aziz’s remarks indicated a strongly anti-British attitude. He said that British military control has not been withdrawn in the frontier area as advertised; that the British in effect guide Pakistan’s policy to the northwest; that British political agents, including Sir George Cunningham,2 were responsible for involvement of tribesmen in the Kashmir disturbances; and that British money and British arms had been supplied to the tribes for this purpose. (4) Afghanistan had nothing to do with this movement, was not interested in the Kashmir question, nor in political issues between Pakistan and India, except as they bear upon the future status of the Pushtu-speaking peoples. (5) If an agreement results between Pakistan and India calculated to suppress and control the tribesmen according to former methods, Afghanistan will resist. (6) Aziz stated his personal view that any consideration of establishing diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan must be preceded by settlement of the Northwest Frontier Province question, and that he, personally, was ready to abrogate the British-Afghan treaty of 1921.

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The interview tended to confirm our impression that the Afghans are maintaining an intransigent attitude toward Pakistan in the belief that they have a strong hand. Factors upon which such assurance may rest include the following; (1) Ability to initiate Jihad through the Northwest Frontier Province. (2) Possibility of a coalition with the Abdul Ghaffar Khan3 faction. (3) Coordination of Afghan activities with possible efforts of GOI to bring about the collapse of Pakistan.

The question how Afghanistan would survive in the event of chaos in Pakistan is unanswered. The implication, of which we are repeatedly reminded, is that this would necessarily involve resort to cooperation with USSR.

Mr. Henderson directed that a careful analysis of the situation be communicated to our representatives at the United Nations at once.

  1. Deputy Director, Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.
  2. Governor of the North-West Frontier Province, 1937–1946, 1947–1948.
  3. Leader of the Khudai Khaidmatgars, popularly known as the “Red Shirts,” in a movement for autonomy of the Pathan peoples of the Northwest Frontier Province.