Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Pakistan–Afghanistan Affairs (Gatewood)


Subject: Afghan–Pakistan Dispute; Pakistan Position Re Communist China; Pakistan Proposal for SC Action Re Kashmir

Participants: Mr. Mohamad Ali, Secretary-General, Government of Pakistan
Mr. M. A. H. Ispahani, Ambassador of Pakistan
NEA—Mr. McGhee
SOA—Mr. Gatewood


To clarify Pakistan views of US approach re informal talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan; to obtain an indication of how Pakistan will vote on the US resolution to condemn Red China as an aggressor; Kashmir case.

Action Required:

To obtain an answer from Pakistan to the US approach of November 6; to influence Pakistan’s attitude towards Red China; and to make some progress toward solution of the Kashmir issue.

[Page 1935]

Action Assigned to:


Mr. Mohamad Ali called, at his request, for a one-half hour appointment, which was extended to one hour.

Afghan–Pakistan Dispute:

Mr. Mohamad Ali said Mr. Kelser had informed him in London that Mr. McGhee would shortly be visiting Pakistan. Mr. McGhee said that he was looking forward to his trip, which would also include Kabul,1 and that he was disappointed that the GOP (as reported by Ambassador Warren following his conversation of January 4 with Mr. Mohamad Ali) believed that no further action need be taken with regard to the U.S. approach of November 6 unless the Department were prepared to make a statement as to the validity of the Durand Line similar to that issued by the British.

Mr. Mohamad Ali said that, as he had told Mr. Mathews2 earlier, he had not meant the Ambassador to understand that his Government was refusing to accept the US approach; that he had personally hoped Mr. McGhee might convince his colleagues in the Department that there was no harm in making a statement as to the Durand Line, since this was only a question of fact; that to express US views on this subject to the Afghans did not, in his opinion, constitute favoritism to one side or the other; and that if the US were not to make such a statement the proposed conference would almost certainly fail, as “those blackmailers” would insist on raising the question of an independent Pushtoonistan and the GOP could not admit any discussion that might imply willingness to surrender any part of Pakistan territory. Mr. Mohamad Ali repeated the arguments he had used in his earlier conversation with Mr. Mathews and referred, as a fact, to Indian financial support for Afghanistan’s activities in the tribal areas.

Mr. McGhee pointed out that the Department was not an international court; that the validity of the Durand Line was implicitly affirmed by the US recognition of Pakistan in 1947; that (as Sir Zafrulla had been informed in November) the Afghans had accepted the US proposals in principle; and that we still had hopes that the talks would produce some favorable results. He expressed regret that the GOP did not share our view that the timing of such a statement [Page 1936]would cause the Afghans to doubt our good faith, in view of our careful attempt to avoid introducing into our proposal any preconditions that would bind either country. He asked whether he was to understand that Pakistan would refuse our approach.

Mr. Mohamad Ali replied that his Government had not yet refused; that he had seen a draft reply to the US aide-mémoire; and that he would cable the Prime Minister on this subject. He said that, if only the Durand Line were recognized by both countries as the official boundary, he thought they could reach a settlement regarding the control and welfare of the tribes on either side of the border.

Mr. McGhee said he sincerely hoped that the Afghans would not be in a position to make unfavorable propaganda for Pakistan by playing up Pakistan’s unwillingness to hold general, informal talks with its neighbors.

[Here follows discussion of the attitude of Pakistan toward Communist China and the Kashmir dispute. For the portion relating to the Kashmir dispute, see page 1713.]

  1. Mr. McGhee visited a number of countries in South Asia and the Near East in connection with two diplomatic conferences of which he served as chairman: the Second Regional Conference of U.S. Chiefs of Mission in the Near East, held in Istanbul, February 14–21; and the South Asian Regional Conference of U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officers, held at Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon, February 26–March 3.
  2. Elbert G. Mathews, Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs.