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


Subject: US Attitude Towards Indian Food Request; Unavailability of Admiral Nimitz1 for UN Duties in Kashmir

Participants: Mr. M. A. H. Ispahani, Ambassador of Pakistan
NEA—Mr. McGhee
SOA—Mr. Gatewood

Problem: To forestall Pakistan objections to proposed US food gift to India and to soften Pakistan disappointment over unavailability of Admiral Nimitz for UN duties in Kashmir.

Action Required: To inform the Pakistan Ambassador of our attitude towards the Indian food request and to express hope that a suitable internatonal figure may be found to replace Admiral Nimitz.

Action Assigned to: NEA

The Ambassador called at our request for an interview of half an [Page 2114] hour before Mr. McGhee left this afternoon for the Istanbul Foreign Service Conference.2

Mr. McGhee opened the conversation by saying that the serious threat of famine in India had aroused American humanitarian concern in the US, the reasons for which the Ambassador could well appreciate, and that we would ask Congress, subject to the President’s concurrence, to extend the US aid requested. He emphasized that, as the American press had reported, we did not feel that political considerations (such as the Indian attitude on Korea) should prevent our most generous consideration of the Indian request and that we had no intention of displaying any favoritism towards India or of taking action that would be detrimental to Pakistan’s interests. He pointed out that we expected bipartisan legislation to be introduced into Congress next Monday (February 12), authorizing the gift of 2 million tons of food grains and that, once authorization is available, appropriations will be made to provide one-half of the Indian request in this fiscal year. He assured the Ambassador that we will satisfy ourselves that India is unable to obtain elsewhere the remaining 1 million tons before appropriations are made for that amount.

The Ambassador wholeheartedly agreed that no people should be allowed to starve (a principle forming an integral part of Islamic doctrine) and said that he would expect the US to extend the same sort of aid to Communist China under similar circumstances. He referred, however to the fact that, though entirely sympathetic to the motives of the US, his Government had foreseen certain practical difficulties that might arise as a result of US generosity. He reminded Mr. McGhee that India had not purchased several hundred thousand tons of wheat in 1949–50 because of the Indian desire to force down the rate of the Pakistan rupee; that India had converted land from food grains to jute and cotton, thereby losing almost 1 million tons of food production; and that Pakistan would be willing to sell India its surplus grains totaling about 360,000 tons of rice, now available, and 150,000 tons of wheat expected to become available in May after fulfilling all Pakistan commitments (both firm and tentative, i.e. both the pending Japanese and German orders and all possible orders under existing Pakistan trade agreements).

The Ambassador described the composition of the present rice surplus as follows: 95,000 tons carry over; 200,000 tons from the new crop in West Pakistan, and 65,000 tons available in East Pakistan. He went on to urge strongly that our humanitarian aid should not simply result in providing India with more ammunition for its economic warfare with Pakistan, pointing out that, if India did not receive US [Page 2115] aid, it would have to find some means of obtaining the necessary food, whereas otherwise funds might be diverted from the Indian budget to additional machine tools and even military equipment. He expressed the earnest hope that the US would use its influence to stop the present trade war between the two countries.

Mr. McGhee remarked that Pakistan could provide only a small part of the total Indian food deficit, which we believed would exceed 5.5 million tons; that we had hopes of some progress being made toward a restoration of Indo-Pakistan trade; that we were convinced of the immediate Indian need for 1 million tons of food grains; and that we would satisfy ourselves as to a need for the remaining million tons, probably sending a special mission to India to supervise the program and to ensure the wise spending of US funds.

At the close of the conversation, Mr. McGhee briefly expressed great regret that Admiral Nimitz would not be available for UN duties in the Kashmir case and said he believed that someone else, possibly from the Commonwealth, could be found to carry on the necessary negotiations. The Ambassador was much depressed by this news.

  1. Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz had been appointed by the President as Chairman of the President’s Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights and was therefore unavailable for duties in Kashmir. For further documentation, see pp. 1699 ff.
  2. The Second Regional Conference of the Chiefs of Mission in the Near East, held in Istanbul from February 14 through 21, of which Mr. McGhee served as chairman.