The Probable Repercussions of a US Decision To Grant or Deny Military Aid To Pakistan
To estimate the repercussions, particularly in India and Pakistan, of (a) a US decision to grant a modest amount of military aid to Pakistan and (b) a US decision not to grant such aid.[Page 1840]
- That a military aid program for Pakistan would be of modest proportions and from a realistic military view point would not threaten India’s present military preponderance in the subcontinent.
- That the military aid agreement would not involve establishment of US military bases or a formal US–Pakistani mutual assistance commitment.
- That the US would (a) make every effort to reassure India that aid to Pakistan was not directed against it; and (b) undertake to discourage Pakistani military aggression against Indian-held territory.
- That a decision on military aid to Pakistan would not be announced before 23 January, when the Korean POW’s will presumably be released from the custody of India in Korea, but would be announced shortly thereafter.
- A US decision to extend military aid to Pakistan would have
the following effects:
- It would increase the Pakistan Government’s prestige at home and tend to consolidate the government’s present friendly relations with the US.
- It would arouse grave concern and indignation in India and lead to increased tensions in the subcontinent. US efforts to mitigate these reactions are unlikely to have any significant effect.
- It would lead to an intensification of existing differences in US–Indian relations and possibly to more friendly Indian relations with the Bloc, but would probably not lead to any major change in India’s foreign policies.
- Over the course of time the violence of Indian feeling would, in the absence of exacerbating circumstances, tend to subside. However, there is a danger that frictions and disagreements between the US and India might be aggravated as a result of continuing resentment. Such a development would make it easier for India to drift into an eventual position of isolation from Western friendship and support, in which it would be more susceptible to Communist pressures.
- A US decision not to grant military aid
to Pakistan would have the following effects:
- It would mean a loss of US prestige, since India has protested violently against such aid and the USSR and Communist China have registered objections.
- It would cause grave disappointment to the Pakistan Government, weaken the position of pro-Western moderate elements now in control, and possibly lead to cabinet changes even including the Prime Minister. It would probably not, however, result in the present ruling group losing control of the government. The Pakistan Government would feel strong resentment toward India, since Pakistani leaders would ascribe a negative US decision to Indian pressure.
- The US would not bank any enduring credit with India, nor would there be any improvement in present Indian-Pakistani relationships. Moreover, Indian leaders might be encouraged to use pressure tactics against the US on other occasions.
- The reactions of other governments to a US decision concerning military aid to Pakistan would probably not be such as to involve any major changes in present policies.
I. Probable Repercussions of a US Decision to Extend Military Aid
- A US decision to grant military aid to Pakistan would be welcomed by the Pakistan Government, would bolster the government’s prestige with the Pakistani public, and would tend to consolidate the government’s friendly relations with the US. These effects might, however, be somewhat reduced by disappointment over the small amount of aid contemplated. The governments of Turkey, Ceylon, and Thailand have indicated that they would favor such a decision, and that of Iran would probably also approve. The UK has expressed certain anxieties but has indicated that it would go along with such a decision and is attempting to overcome India’s fears and objections.
- The USSR and Communist China have already protested to Pakistan against the granting of any US military aid. They would view such a US decision with concern, considering it as one more step in the US policy of “encirclement” and as a prelude to the establishment of US bases in Pakistan. However, we believe that they would confine their reaction to violent propaganda attacks on the US, efforts to exploit neutralist and anticolonial sentiments in the area, and attempts to cultivate closer relations with India.
- Afghanistan has expressed its concern, but indications are that this is largely for public consumption. It has indicated that it too would like military aid, and no change in the traditional Afghan policy is likely to result from aid to Pakistan. Reactions of the Arab States would vary. The governments of Iraq and probably Saudi Arabia would approve. Egypt probably would feel slighted unless it received comparable military aid. Furthermore, it would feel that Pakistan would eventually be unable to support the Arabs on such issues as Palestine and Morocco. In none of the other countries of the Free World is the reaction of their present government likely to have any adverse effect on relations with the US or Pakistan, and in some cases the reaction is likely to be favorable.
- The most significant reaction from the standpoint of US interests would be in India. India regards Pakistan as the country most immediately threatening India’s interests and ambitions and believes that Pakistan’s primary purpose in seeking US military assistance is to strengthen its position vis-à-vis India. India would, therefore, view [Page 1842] the granting of such assistance to Pakistan with grave concern and indignation. The Indian Government would consider the granting of military aid to Pakistan as the first in a series of steps leading to a significant increase in the military power of Pakistan and an unwelcome involvement of South Asia in the cold war. India would regard the US action as an opening wedge in the return of colonial powers to the area and as a challenge to India’s concept of “a third area” of neutral nations in which India would exercise leadership. It would fear that initiation of US–Pakistan military cooperation would: (a) usher in a policy of even greater US “favoritism” toward Pakistan vis-à-vis India on such issues as Kashmir; (b) lead to a dangerous increase in Pakistan’s military strength; and (c) sooner or later involve establishment of US bases in Pakistan.
- US efforts to mitigate India’s fear and resentment are unlikely to have any effect on Prime Minister Nehru or Indian opinion generally. Since the Indians object in principle to any military aid to Pakistan, they are unlikely to be much influenced by such measures as direct US reassurances to India, the exaction of non-aggression pledges from Pakistan, or the provision of the aid within the context of Pakistan defense arrangements with Turkey and other Middle East states. Over the course of time the violence of Indian feeling would, in the absence of exacerbating circumstances, tend to subside. However, Indian apprehension regarding a Pakistan military build-up and the establishment of US military bases in Pakistan would probably continue, and Indian resentment toward the whole concept of US–Pakistan military cooperation would almost certainly persist.
Effect on Indian Policies
- India’s resentment over a US military aid program for Pakistan would lead at least temporarily to a worsening of US-Indian relations. Indian leaders and the Indian press would be more critical of the US and of US policies. In its diplomatic activities, both in and out of the UN, India would probably be more disposed to undercut and embarrass the US. India would probably increase its efforts to develop a strong neutralist bloc in the UN and might be more difficult to deal with on Korea and other Far East issues. In addition it might curb US information activities and refuse to go ahead with negotiation of a Treaty of Friendship and Establishment. American activities in India, both official and private, would encounter increased difficulties with government officials and the general public.
- India would tend to become confirmed in its attitude that the greatest immediate problem in South Asia comes, not from Communist imperialism, but from the “unreasonable” policies of the apparently military-minded West and Pakistan’s identification with it; India might become convinced that its aims as an independent state are incompatible with those of the US. The possibility of eventual [Page 1843] cooperation between India and the US in establishing a common front against Communist pressures in Asia would become even more remote. There is also a danger that intensified frictions between the US and India, if allowed to persist, would make it easier for India to drift into an eventual position of isolation from Western friendship and support, in which it would be more susceptible to Communist internal and external pressures.
- While India would probably be inclined to harass the US, it would almost certainly seek to avoid a clear-cut break with the US and its allies, to whom India looks for markets and for economic aid. Except possibly as a result of a cumulative series of frictions and disagreements, India would be unlikely to refuse US economic aid. However, there is a continuing possibility that India might be faced with possible loss of US aid through failure to comply with the Battle Act, and there is some slight chance that it might further risk loss of US aid by cutting off export of strategic materials to the US. Despite possible irritation over British failure to oppose US military aid to Pakistan, India would remain in the Commonwealth, at least for some time to come, if only to avoid further loss of influence there.
- Resentment against the US would probably increase Indian interest in trade with the Communist Bloc and strengthen India’s conciliatory attitude toward Communist China on such questions as Korea. However, it is extremely unlikely that India would make significant political concessions to the Communists, enter into arms agreements with them, or otherwise go further than it is now prepared to go toward associating itself with the Bloc. Such moves would strike at the very foundations of India’s policy of non-involvement.
- Thus, we do not believe that Indian resentment and increased US-Indian tensions would, by themselves, cause any major alteration of Indian foreign policies. As long as India continues to pursue its basic policy of independence and non-alignment in the cold war, it has little additional room for maneuver. Since India has already felt obliged to express itself on the numerous international issues on which it dissents from US policy, there is virtually no major act of reprisal India could undertake against the US without jeopardizing its own interests. This we believe the Indians would be unwilling to do.
Effects on Stability in the Subcontinent
- India’s reaction to a US decision to extend military aid to Pakistan would also lead to increased tensions in the subcontinent. Leadership elements in India are almost unanimous in opposing US military aid for Pakistan. Within India, agitation against the US decision would lead to an increase in popular bad feeling toward the US and Pakistan and to an increase, possibly of dangerous proportions, in Hindu-Moslem communal tension and in anti-Christian agitation. However, widespread violence is unlikely to break out unless [Page 1844] the Indian Government makes a serious miscalculation in its efforts to demonstrate that it has public support. The Communists would, by associating themselves with the opposition to US military aid to Pakistan, have an opportunity to gain prestige and to pursue their united front tactics.
- Existing strains in Indian-Pakistani official relations would once again be intensified. India would remain unwilling to accept any compromise on Kashmir, and its reluctance to cooperate with Pakistan on such other issues as that of joint development of the Punjab watershed would be reinforced. There might also be a new round of minor reprisals between the two countries, but we do not believe that increased tensions would lead to a deliberate resumption of hostilities.
II. Probable Repercussions of a US Decision not to Extend Military Aid
- It is widely known that the US has been considering military aid to Pakistan. Since India has protested violently against such aid and the USSR and Communist China have registered objections, a US decision not to extend such aid would mean a loss of US prestige. It would be a grave disappointment to the Pakistan Government, which has almost certainly come to believe that the US is committed to giving it military assistance. Moreover, Pakistan’s leaders would conclude that the US had decided that India’s good will was more important than that of Pakistan and that it would be unwilling to offend India on other matters involving South Asia. These leaders might later try to reopen the aid question, but they would be bitter at what they would consider relegation to second-class status in South Asia and in the future would have less confidence in the US and possibly also the UK. The Pakistan Government would feel strong resentment toward India since Pakistani leaders would ascribe a negative US decision to Indian pressure. However, we believe that Pakistan would not abandon its fundamentally anti-Communist and pro-Western outlook.
- Within Pakistan, the effect of the decision would be to weaken the position of the pro-Western moderate elements now in control. Failure to obtain military aid would deprive the Government of a major political asset and would expose it to more severe attack on other issues. A negative US decision would strengthen the reactionary religious elements which oppose close ties with the West and favor a more militant policy regarding Kashmir, and might lead to cabinet changes, including even the Prime Minister. However, the pro-Western moderate elements probably would not lose control of the government.
- US denial of military aid to Pakistan would be looked on in India as a reluctant concession to India pressure. While it would remove a source of friction, the beneficial effect on US—Indian relations would probably be negligible. India would be pleased by the decision. [Page 1845] However, it is unlikely to be significantly more cooperative, and might actually be less so, regarding the various issues on which it now dissents from US policy. In fact, India would probably be encouraged to use similar pressure tactics against the US on other occasions. India’s attitude toward a Kashmir settlement would not change and its reluctance to bargain with Pakistan on other issues would increase.
- A negative decision with respect to military aid for Pakistan would probably encourage those Middle Eastern political elements which oppose close ties with the West. By the same token, a negative US decision would discourage political elements in the Middle East which are now inclined toward closer ties with the West, and the government of Ceylon, which apparently wishes to avoid Indian hegemony in South Asia. However, the reaction in most South Asian and Middle Eastern countries, in the longer run, would depend largely on the other aspects of US policy toward the area.
- According to a note on the cover sheet, “The Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimate on 12 January 1954. The FBI abstained, the subject being outside of its jurisdiction. The following member organizations of the Intelligence Advisory Committee participated with the Central Intelligence Agency in the preparation of this estimate: The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.”↩
- This paper was later designated SNIE (Special National Intelligence Estimate) 50–54.↩