189. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan1

1251. Embtels 11322 and 1181.3 Appreciate thoroughness your analysis present GOP constitutional crisis. Department realizes existence number major uncertainties current situation such as Governor General’s ill health, Suhrawardy’s4 maneuvering et cetera. At same time our objectives in Pakistan including maintenance stability seem favored by present basic pattern, i.e. control of country by able group determined establish workable political structure for Pakistan and anxious cooperate US. In view foregoing would not seem likely our advice could contribute significantly to improvement fundamentals of situation.

Moreover in developments taking place at the moment we believe it desirable avoid giving advice or exerting pressure since problems involve appraising motives and intentions principal Pakistani participants. Department would hesitate put US on record as [Page 422] favoring possible compromise whose nature still uncertain and which might depend for success on sincerity Consembly elements who may still be desirous embarrassing and obstructing leaders present regime.

However in discussing possible evolution of events with Pakistani leaders believe you might say we would be happy see any progress which could be made toward solution present difficulties in amicable manner provided it did not threaten stability of regime. US and world opinion would react favorably to any developments pointing toward return democratic constitutional structure.

While Governor General’s death before establishment new constitution might create threat to continued unity of ruling group would hope situation could be met by Queen’s prompt appointment of successor. Assuming as seems probable cooperative attitude toward US on part of new incumbent believe we should be prepared move quickly to show US support and recognition.

Suggest London attempt obtain Foreign Office appreciation current internal situation Pakistan. Would also be helpful if Embassy could discover British reaction possible Pakistan request appointment new Governor General following Ghulam Mohammed’s death.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790D.13/3–555. Secret. Drafted by Thacher and Jones and approved by Jernegan. Also sent to London and repeated to New Delhi.
  2. In telegram 1132, February 25, Ambassador Hildreth recapitulated the main elements of Pakistan’s present constitutional crisis which began in September 1954 when the Pakistani Constituent Assembly passed a bill designed to curtail the powers of the Governor-General. Ghulam Mohammed then proclaimed a state of emergency, dismissing the Constituent Assembly. A Pakistani Federal Court was subsequently empowered to decide whether Ghulam Mohammed’s action was legal. Regardless of the decision made by the court, the Embassy was convinced that the present government would take whatever action was necessary in order to confirm its hold on power. In concluding this lengthy analysis of the crisis, the Ambassador offered the following assessment:

    “In sum, Embassy convinced of following points: 1) Present regime has will and strength to stay in power, regardless outcome of Federal Court decisions; 2) promulgation of new constitution desirable, in any event, and will probably occur regardless of court decision; 3) precarious state Governor General’s health makes early action to clarify succession imperative; 4) desirable for Pakistan and United States stake in Pakistan that regime maintain itself by methods which have at least appearance of legitimacy, and that new constitution be adopted by method which does not set Pakistan off too sharply from community of democratic nations; 5) this last condition can be most effectively met if government secures favorable decision from court; difficulties in event of unfavorable decision such that if government warned in advance, it might be justified in forestalling action by promulgating constitution at once.” (Ibid., 790D.13/2–2555)

  3. In telegram 1181, March 4, Ambassador Hildreth reported that the Pakistani Federal Court ruled that the dispute was political and suggested that the parties settle the issues themselves. In the Embassy’s view, Hildreth pointed out, a solution which permitted the continuation of the present government while retaining constitutional forms would be the most desirable outcome of the present imbroglio. (Ibid., 790D.00/3–455)
  4. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a prominent Pakistani political leader.
  5. In telegram 3962 from London, March 10, the Embassy reported that the Commonwealth Relations Office was satisfied that the Pakistani Government was in capable and friendly hands and had considerable popular support. There was little that the U.K. Government could appropriately do to aid Pakistan in its present difficulties, the Embassy noted. Moreover, it would be an unprecedented step for the United Kingdom to volunteer advice since that would constitute interference in the internal affairs of a Commonwealth government. (Department of State, Central Files, 790D.13/3–1055)