14. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Embassy in Pakistan 1

162. For Secretary of State. I am sending this message to call attention to subjects which I assume will arise during the SEATO Conference,2 and which directly affect U.S.—Government of India relations.

1. U.S. military aid to Pakistan.

The U.S.—Pakistan military agreement is unquestionably the chief cause of friction between the U.S.—Government of India. Aside from the merits of U.S. reasons for the pact, which this message does not argue, India considers the agreement:

An unfriendly act toward Government of India considering the Government of India—Pakistan dispute regarding Kashmir.
Made it necessary for Government of India to divert resources from productive to military purposes.

Perhaps most important, the Government of India does not believe that Pakistan wants arms for defense against Russia. It fears that with less responsible leadership than Pakistan enjoys at present and in event of internal crisis, Pakistan might be tempted to undertake military adventure against India.

It is believed that Indian feeling against the original U.S.—Pakistan pact3 has moderated since 1953, but the creation of [Page 64] the SEATO and Baghdad Pacts, and recent statements and rumors concerning the establishment of air bases, improvement of naval bases, and the supply of arms to Pakistan have aroused new fears and resentments in India.

The U.S. can argue that India should know the balance of armed strength is favorable to India and its fears are unreasonable. Nevertheless, Government of India officials express these considerations which influence their thinking.

The Government of India does not know the scope of the original arms agreement and whether its implementation would give Pakistan a favorable arms position.
It does not know whether new agreements for the supply of additional arms or for the construction of air bases are contemplated.
In any case, it believes the supply of modern arms may provide a favorable arms ratio to Pakistan, in view of the fact that Indian arms are chiefly of World War Two types.

I have been informed that because of these uncertainties and fears, some Government of India officials including the military, are arguing, that the Government of India should [take?] modern arms, even from Russia, to properly provide for its defense.

The Government of India does not accept the U.S. argument that it could similarly secure arms from the U.S. This is so, because it does not want to enter a military agreement contradicting its general policy, or in the absence of an agreement, it does not want to enter an arms race.

The supply of Indian arms by the United Kingdom is also being questioned as the Government of India believes that in event of war between India and Pakistan, the United Kingdom would deny supplies to both, while the question of U.S. supply to Pakistan would be unknown.

On other side, Indian press is currently playing up border incidents presumably with view to conveying impression Pakistan is becoming more obstreperous as result receiving U.S. arms. India not inclined admit that as the more powerful nation they may have it in their power to reduce the very tension which stimulates their alleged fears of Pakistan, by moving toward settlement Kashmir question.

The fear of India regarding potential military action may be unreasonable. Nevertheless the fear is a reality, and cannot be safely ignored. Actually, (a) it is a source of tension between the U.S.—Government of India as well as Government of India—Pakistan, (b) it may engender a new arms race, and offer an opportunity for Russia to enter this area with arms, as it has the Middle East.

I make no argument against fulfillment of our original commitments, but I suggest that the knowledge of these factors and the precedent of the situation in the Middle East dictates prudence.

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I suggest:

That no new commitments be made during this SEATO meeting. The most potentially explosive commitment would be the establishment of air bases.
That any arrangements to implement the original agreement, if necessary, be explained as such, and played in lowest possible key.

It is reported that Pakistan will urge SEATO or U.S. separately to support its position on Kashmir. I can only point out that if this is done, it will confirm Indian fears that SEATO is not wholly a defensive organization against Russia [but] for political use against India also.

If it is urged by Pakistan that statements should be made because of Soviet speeches and tactics in India and Burma, and SEATO or U.S. accedes, it will be interpreted by Government of India that SEATO and U.S. have taken sides against India on both Kashmir and Goa, and of course emphasized if either is mentioned specifically. It does not appear that such statements can be of value to Pakistan and they will do the U.S. incalculable harm in India, repeating the experience of the Goa affair. I believe it would play directly into Russian plans, and of course make it impossible to discuss these matters with any value with Nehru.

I believe strongly, and urge that the U.S. take no step respecting the matters discussed herein that is not necessary to its own security. It will have the undoubted effect of further straining U.S.—Government of India relations and pushing India toward Russia in respect of arms.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1—KA/3—556. Secret. Repeated to the Department of State which is the source text. Dulles was in Karachi for the second Council meeting of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization, March 6—8.
  2. Pakistan was an original member of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization. The pact forming SEATO was signed in Manila on September 8, 1954, and entered into force on February 19, 1955. (6 UST 81)
  3. Apparent reference to the agreement relating to the transfer of U.S. military supplies and equipment to Pakistan which entered into force on December 15, 1950. (1 UST 884)