195. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State1

2082. Joint State–FOAMAAGUSIS. For some months now we have conducted holding action here, trying to stem mounting tide of Pakistan dissatisfaction with slowness of progress in implementation MDAP. On basis our understanding US commitment to Pakistanis, which agreed in all respects with statement p. 15 OCB outline plan of operations on NSC 5409, May 18,2 and delivery schedules furnished MAAG Pakistan we were confident that program would shortly begin to move convincingly. Strong and widespread as criticism was, we felt it would evaporate and be forgotten as soon as equipment began to arrive in significant quantities and reasonable progress in implementation of program was registered.

We are now seriously disturbed at indications of deliberate slow-down in whole program of deliveries. National intelligence estimate number 52–55 dated March 15, 19553 stated (paragraph 54) “it is estimated that the present MDA program for Pakistan Army will take 5 years or more to complete.” Slowdown of FY 1954 [Page 431] deliveries reported DA 9835704 seems to indicate that program now proceeding on this calendar.

We do not know what considerations of availability or policy have prompted this apparent departure from commitment which US Government saw fit to provide Pakistanis in writing in October 1954 that every effort would be made to attain program in less than 3½ years originally planned, but we feel we must warn of serious political consequences such decision will have in addition to unfortunate military results described MAAG Pakistan 90701.5

As Embassy has repeatedly pointed out, group who have held power in Pakistan for past 2 years are more favorable to US and free world interest than any possible alternative in sight. They took Pakistan boldly into free world camp, and have cooperated effectively with US in international sphere. They are publicly identified with this policy, and their position in Pakistan depends in considerable measure on its success.

Political skirmishing prior to elections to new Constituent Assembly graphically demonstrated this proposition and importance it may have in future developments here. Most powerful organs opposed to ruling group singled out public disappointment over US performance under military and economic aid programs as their most vulnerable spot. Criticism of poor performance under these programs was sharp and fairly general through opposition press, and slanted more against government than against US. Some articles implied GOP had sold Pakistan for mess of porridge; others took line that US deliberately holding back because of dissatisfaction within stability of country’s political situation and undemocratic character present government. Government felt necessary defend itself against these attacks, and statements were made by General Ayub, Minister of Defense, and Said Hasan, Secretary Economic Affairs, general tenor of both being that though programs had moved somewhat slowly so far, substantial deliveries would soon arrive.

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Elections to Constituent Assembly have left ruling group in central position,6 with reasonable prospects of retaining power, though this will certainly be diluted by need to strike bargain with non-Muslim League elements and to broaden base of Cabinet. Their position by no means as strong as it was, and any vulnerabilities will be vigorously exploited by opposition.

Under these circumstances, we consider obvious slow-down in delivery schedule reported DA 983570, and protraction of total army program over 5 years or more as predicted NIE study bound to have unfortunate consequences. It is too early yet to assess long-term prospects following Assembly elections, but it seems entirely possible that if these facts become generally known this might seriously impair ability of group to influence Assembly. At the least it is certain to be serious embarrassment to them and will probably disillusion them with US. If they ride out opposition attacks and retain control in spite of them, their disposition to cooperate with US will probably diminish considerably.

These developments appear particularly untimely at juncture when Ayub has just been persuaded to agree Pakistan adherence to Turk-Iraq-UK pact.7 As Washington well aware, he has been far from happy with program as described October aide-mémoire. His reactions when informed that in recognition pact adherence US has decided stretch out program to 5 years or more will be difficult to cope with.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790d.5–MSP/6–3055. Secret.
  2. Page 15 of the OCB outline plan included a summary of the specific terms of the U.S. commitment to provide Pakistan with $171 million in military assistance, as set forth in the aide-mémoire of October 21, 1954. The outline plan, not printed, is ibid., OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Box 1376, Pakistan. NSC 5409, “United States Policy Toward South Asia,” approved by the President on March 6, 1954, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XI, Part 2, p. 1089.
  3. Document 190.
  4. This telegram from the Department of the Army to MAAG Pakistan, June 1955, reported that the fiscal year 1955 MDAP program for Pakistan had not yet been appropriated. (Department of Defense Files)
  5. In this telegram to the Department of the Army, July 13, General Brown suggested that the slowdown in the delivery of end items to Pakistan which had been included in the 1950–1954 MDAP “may have serious repercussions.” He pointed out that the extension of the program, which was to have been completed by June 30, 1955, to June 30, 1956, “will seriously interfere with the implementation of the phased mil buildup of the Pak Army.” The equipment which had been received so far, he pointed out, was inadequate for equipping a single unit of any type to be raised under the appropriated force goals. Brown recommended that a program expediting to the greatest extent possible the delivery of military equipment be placed in effect without delay. (Ibid.)
  6. On June 21, a new Pakistan Constituent Assembly was elected.
  7. Reference is to the Baghdad Pact, a Pact of Mutual Cooperation signed by Iraq and Turkey on February 24, 1955. The United Kingdom joined shortly thereafter, and Pakistan became a member on September 23, 1955. For text, see United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 233, p. 199.
  8. In joint State–Defense telegram 113 to Karachi, July 16, drafted by Thacher and approved by Allen, the Departments of State and Defense emphasized that the present schedule for shipments of military equipment to Pakistan involved no change in the U.S. commitment. “Pakistan retains same priority it has enjoyed,” the telegram continued. “No slowdown being carried out or contemplated. Responsible Washington agencies continuing base planning on adherence program outlined October 21 Aide-Mémoire and will strive effect deliveries within 3½ year period.” (Department of State, Central Files, 790D.5–MSP/6–3055)