Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Thomas W. Simons of the Office of South Asian Affairs

Participants: Mr. M. A. H. Ispahani, Ambassador of Pakistan
Mr. M. Ikramullah, Former Foreign Secretary, Pakistan
SOA—Mr. Donald D. Kennedy1
SOA—Mr. T. E. Weil2
SOA—Mr. T. W. Simons

Messrs. Ispahani and Ikramullah requested this call for 3:30 on Thursday, October 18, 1951, to discuss military supplies for Pakistan.

Mr. Kennedy expressed his deep sympathy for Pakistan’s loss of its late Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. Mr. Ikramullah acknowledged this manifestation and explained his mission to acquire military supplies for Pakistan. He then let Mr. Kennedy read the late Prime Minister’s letter to Secretary Acheson.

Mr. Kennedy explained the US position as being encumbered by requests from all the world, urgent needs of the Korean forces, and subject to priority considerations. Mr. Ikramullah stated that he recognized the import of the remarks, had anticipated them and had already booked his passage back to Karachi.

Mr. Kennedy said that we were willing to do all that we could to help Pakistan, and reminded Mr. Ikramullah that we had already obtained assurances that Pakistan would receive 70 tanks. Mr. Kennedy asked what types of military supplies were wanted.

Mr. Ikramullah reported that he was after almost all types of supplies. He then went over a list (see attachments)3 which indicated Pakistan’s requirements. He said that he had been trying to get these supplies in Europe. Replying to Mr. Kennedy’s question, he stated that he had not obtained much; some from England and very little or nothing from France, Switzerland or Holland. The items from England were either surplus or in stock. New equipment was unobtainable. His greatest difficulty was to get complete units of items that were usable. From the United States he wanted 320 tanks, which included the 70 already on order.

He reported that he was prepared to carry on technical discussions about completing any transaction for armaments. He had a military [Page 2223]supply officer who could discuss the technical aspects of the equipment and determine at once its practicality for Pakistan. He was prepared also to examine any stocks which the US considered outmoded to ascertain whether it would be useful for Pakistan’s army. A financial officer was traveling with him and could arrange for payments. The Prime Minister has assured him that money would be available to make any purchases that were desirable.

Mr. Kennedy inquired if Pakistan officials were thinking of taking part in a Middle East defense program. Mr. Ikramullah said that Pakistan can play a part in such a program. Mr. Kennedy pointed out that it was important not only to learn that Pakistan could participate but that it also would participate. Mr. Ikramullah replied that the US knows what it can do and so does Pakistan. Each country knows what it wants. The time was past for words; Pakistan wanted action. Pakistan was taking the initiative in specifying what it wanted. If the United States wanted Pakistan to make a commitment, he was prepared to have the US request considered by his Government. For the present he was unable to make any commitment. The answer would have to be determined in Karachi.

Mr. Kennedy asked if Pakistan would be able to bear the cost of maintaining the equipment if it was forthcoming. Mr. Ikramullah replied that it was.

Mr. Ikramullah, with a strong show of emotion, went on as follows: you must make up your mind about Pakistan. The Kashmir problem grows worse. There are people in Pakistan who are dissatisfied with the Government’s position on Kashmir. Since the establishment of the Embassy of the USSR, Russia has been encouraging dissatisfaction. The unrest in the Middle East is spreading. There is no peace from India to Morocco. If Pakistan does not get assistance from the West, the Government’s position will be grave. Pakistan may turn away from the West. It is of the greatest importance to Pakistan that it get these supplies.

Mr. Kennedy asked why Mr. Ikramullah thought the Kashmir problem was growing worse. He stated as follows: The UN is not helping in its mediation. It is only taking one mediatory step after the other. None accomplishes anything. Meanwhile the people are becoming more difficult to restrain. What is the meaning of Liaquat’s death? Only this, that others of us will be killed. Pakistan will have to fight.

Mr. Kennedy asked what would happen to Pakistan? Mr. Ikramullah answered what does it matter.” Mr. Kennedy asked “If you don’t care, why should anyone else”? Mr. Ikramullah replied that there [Page 2224]would remain a Pakistan but those who had tried to work with the West would be gone.

Mr. Ikramullah concluded by saying that he would be available for any technical discussions that may be required.

  1. Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs.
  2. T. Eliot Weil, Deputy Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs.
  3. Neither printed.