689.90D/2–2351

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

secret

Subject: Afghan–Pakistan Dispute; Health of Afghan Prime Minister

Participants: Abdul Hamid Aziz, Minister Counselor, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Embassy of Afghanistan
SOA—Mr. Mathews
Mr. Gatewood

Minister Aziz called at his request to inquire concerning developments relating to the Pakistan attitude toward our November approach. Mr. Mathews informed him that, since their conversation of February 13 the Pakistan Prime Minister had returned briefly to Karachi, but was now in the Punjab again; that we had been informed that the Pakistan reply to our approach would have to be decided by the full Cabinet and not by Liaquat alone; that it was unlikely that the Pakistan Cabinet could meet much before March 1; and that we therefore believed the Pakistan reply could not now be expected before early March.1 Mr. Mathews also told the Minister that we deplored this delay as much as he did; that we had informed Pakistan officials here of our regret in this matter; and that it appeared the Pakistan Government attached considerable importance to their reply, which would have to be considered by the full Cabinet.

The Minister said he would cable this news to his Government, and inquired whether we had any indication as to the reasons for this additional delay, i.e., either Pakistan’s dissatisfaction with the original proposals, inability to reach a decision, or preoccupation with other matters, such as Kashmir. Mr. Mathews said he personally thought that all three factors might be involved. The Minister then asked whether Mr. Mathews was in a position to tell him, on a purely personal basis, why the Pakistan Government had been unable so far to [Page 1946]accept the eminently reasonable US proposal, and he was informed that, in all probability, it appeared that Pakistan feared that the extremists in Afghanistan would take an unyielding position on the Pushtoonistan question during the proposed talks.

The Minister pointed out that he would be much embarrassed to report such an opinion to his Government and Mr. Mathews agreed; reminding him that he had merely answered the Minister’s question. Mr. Aziz then suggested that it might be possible, should the Pakistan reply be favorable, for this opinion to be expressed by the Secretary of State to the Afghan Prime Minister, at the time when the latter would visit Washington. He said that he made this suggestion on a purely personal and informal basis and would not communicate it to his Government. Mr. Mathews agreed that this possibility might well be kept in mind as a possible contribution to the favorable outcome of the proposed talks.

In later conversation with Sir. Gatewood, Mr. Aziz inquired somewhat querulously why the British had not been of any assistance in persuading Pakistan to accept the US approach, and he was informed that the British Foreign Office had, in fact, attempted to exert some favorable influence on the Pakistan Government in this regard.

[Here follows a brief discussion of the health of the Afghan Prime Minister.]

  1. This information had been conveyed to the Department in telegram 749, February 17, from Karachi, not printed (690D.91/2–1751).