102. Editorial Note

At a meeting of the National Security Council on December 1, Allen Dulles began his survey of key world developments affecting United States security with a discussion of the Pushtunistan crisis:

“The Director of Central Intelligence mentioned first the dangerous situation in Afghanistan, to which the entire intelligence community was alerted. He explained that the quarrel between Afghanistan and Pakistan had resulted in Afghanistan’s being cut off from communications by sea. Accordingly, Afghanistan was now largely dependent on routes through the Soviet Union for exports and imports. The Morrison-Knudsen people were experiencing great difficulty in getting in the materials needed for their dam project. The Afghans were attempting to force Morrison-Knudsen to import their necessary materials through the USSR.

“Mr. Dulles said that the situation in Afghanistan was now reminiscent of that which had prevailed in Iran not so long ago. In each case there was a strong-minded Prime Minister who for the moment had been playing the Soviet game. The Afghan King seems either unable or unwilling to control Prime Minister Daud. Most recently Daud had thrown out the Minister of Defense, who was strongly anti-Communist.

“The President inquired whether what was going on was the work of a single individual or of a junta. Mr. Dulles replied that it was the work of a single individual, Prime Minister Daud. Secretary Dulles commented that the present situation had developed out of the violent feud between Afghanistan and Pakistan over the Pushtu tribes. Pakistan was firmly on the side of the West so, in the all-too [Page 203] familiar pattern, Afghanistan was looking to the Soviet Union. Secretary Dulles thought that the only solution was to achieve a settlement of the Pushtunistan problem.

“After further questions and answers, Governor Stassen suggested that the United States should try to mediate the quarrel between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also provide a little more economic assistance to Afghanistan. Secretary Dulles, however, expressed doubt as to the wisdom of offering our good offices to settle this dispute, on grounds that the Afghan Government did not really appear to welcome our mediation. The President, referring to a recent letter from the King of Afghanistan, said that he presumed that if mediation were undertaken we would have to be prepared to give to Afghanistan part of the territories in Pakistan which they claim. Governor Stassen said that in his view if the United States did not mediate promptly, Afghanistan was likely to slip behind the Iron Curtain. The President said that he assumed that the Pakistanis were not disposed to yield an inch of their territory. Mr. Allen Dulles confirmed the correctness of this assumption, but Governor Stassen pointed out that Pakistan was in desperate need of U.S. assistance and was in no position to carry on without it.” (Memorandum of discussion at the 268th meeting of the National Security Council, by Gleason, December 2; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)