Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (McGhee)

Participants: His Excellency Mr. Ispahani, Ambassador for Pakistan
Mr. M. Ikramullah, Former Foreign Secretary, Pakistan
Mr. G. C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State
SOA—Mr. T. W. Simons

Action Required: To determine the amount of political support to give Pakistan’s request for military items.

Action Assign to: SOA.

Messrs. Ispahani and Ikramullah called at their request at 2:30 p. m. Thursday, October 18, 1951.

After expressing my shock at the death of Liaquat Ali Khan,1 I inquired as to possible consequences in Pakistan. Mr. Ikramullah remarked that it was a severe loss not yet measurable. He stated frankly that he was not in Washington to talk about Kashmir but to accomplish a much more important assignment. He then permitted me to read a letter from the late Prime Minister to Secretary Acheson, which he had been asked to deliver and which was an appeal for U.S. help, in obtaining military supplies.2

After I had read the letter, Mr. Ikramullah explained that he was here to get as much military equipment as he could. He was ready to receive it as a gift, under a loan arrangement, or by outright purchase. He was prepared to hand over a list of materials wanted and to enter upon detailed discussions. He had with him military and financial assistants who were prepared to decide on the spot about possible procurement.

I explained to Mr. Ikramullah how we had always attempted to help Pakistan. The US was already heavily committed to supply military equipment for several parts of the world, especially for the armies [Page 2221]in Korea. I asked if the military supplies were needed for internal security. He replied promptly “No!” I remarked that it was difficult for the US authorities to give much consideration to supplying a country which did not have a problem of internal security or was not in need of protection from outside aggression.

Mr. Ikramullah stated that the situation in the N.E. was bad. Part of the cause for this condition arose because the area was neglected by the West. The ill effect of this neglect was spreading. I said that his remarks suggested that his Government was thinking of participating in some form of Middle East defense program. It had seemed that Pakistan would not assist in such defense so long as the Kashmir issue remained unsettled.

He stated that the loss of Liaquat Ali Khan would not lead immediately to a change of policy. The new officers would carry out his policy of moderation. His Government was concerned for its safety and was asking for military supplies which would permit Pakistan to protect itself and also contribute to the stability of the Near East. Pakistan had already used its influence toward moderation in the Near East countries. It was prepared, when in a sound position, to take a greater part in promoting moderation throughout the Near East.

I stated that Pakistan made the mistake of not sending troops to Korea. He replied that faced with a hostile neighbor, Pakistan could not do other than it did; but this was no time to dwell upon mistakes. In the last three years both countries have acted politely to each other. Now Pakistan was taking the initiative and putting forth its requirements. It was also ready to hear what the US wanted of Pakistan.

I said that the US Government was aware of the seriousness of Pakistan’s situation. It would receive his request and take a new look to see if it could not be met. When he indicated that he recognized a polite “no” in my manner, Mr. Ispahani assured him that I meant to give new consideration to his request.

Mr. Ikramullah thanked me for my interest and then recalled that immediately after partition Mr. Jinnah,3 then Governor General, had told him that Pakistan would have to fight for Kashmir. When I inquired as to the time the fighting would occur, he reported that Qaid-i-Azam4 said, “In three years.” He concluded by saying, “The three years are up.”

  1. The Prime Minister was assassinated on October 16 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. For texts of messages of condolence from President Truman to the Begum Liaquat Ali Khan and to Khwaja Nazimuddin, Governor General of Pakistan, October 16, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1951 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1965), p. 579.
  2. Reference is presumably to the letter of August 25, not printed, but see the editorial note, supra.
  3. Mohamed Ali Jinnah, Governor General of Pakistan, 1947–1948.
  4. The title Qaid-i Azam (“Great Leader”) was commonly used in referring to Mohamed Ali Jinnah.