204. Letter From the Acting Secretary of State to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Gray)1

Dear Gordon: Your letter to me of September 282 brings up some questions with regard to the MDAP for Pakistan which I should like to discuss briefly.

[Page 447]

I believe that none of us is anxious to see this program expanded beyond the level necessary to meet our commitment nor to an extent which will impose an undesirable burden on the Pakistan economy. On the other hand, we have made, as you are aware, a written commitment to the Pakistanis, which has as we see it three aspects: time, money and force goals. Your letter recognizes the time and money aspects of the commitment but as I understand it, the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have not recognized that we were committed by the aide-mémoire to bring five and a half divisions up to a strength near a level of combat effectiveness. Accordingly, the Defense Department has thought of our commitment to meet deficiencies as being defined in terms of the cost, $171 million, of the material specified in the report of the Joint Military Survey Team.

However, from Karachi’s telegram 4993 and from earlier messages it appears that the Country Team and the Pakistanis also had believed the deficiencies we were undertaking to fill were to the extent of equipment needed to bring the five and a half divisions up to a level of combat effectiveness rather than simply what had been specified in the Survey Team Report. The Pakistani concept of the commitment was originally much more extended than that of the MAAG, but I understand the latter has done a good deal to reduce inflated Pakistani notions as to what these divisions required and that it was eventually agreed between the MAAG and the Pakistani military that Pakistan’s divisions should have tables of organization and equipment no greater than those of United States divisions.

Since the receipt of Karachi’s telegram 499, the Country Team has informed Pakistani leaders that the United States commitment was for $171 million only. This view was received fairly understandingly by the top non-military figures in the Government, but most unfavorably by General Ayub, Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army, who continues to have the loyalty of the 150,000 man Army and who is an extremely powerful figure in the country. In fact, he may be strong enough to bring about, if he chooses, a general feeling of disappointment and frustration towards the United States by asserting that we have failed to keep our promise to Pakistan.

Should the Pakistanis become persuaded that the United States had not kept its word, and certain political and journalistic elements [Page 448] in the country are only too ready to accept this view, we would have suffered a serious setback in terms of our objectives for Middle East Defense and the political stability of Pakistan. In view of the current Soviet efforts to increase their influence in the Middle East, I think it is very important we do everything we can to keep the confidence of countries like Iraq and Pakistan which are committed to our side. In addition, Pakistan, as you know, plays a significant part, through its membership in the Manila Pact, in planning for Southeast Asia defense.

Karachi’s telegram 6304 contains some suggestions by the Country Team on what might be supplied to bring the Pakistani divisions more nearly to a state of combat effectiveness. I understand this problem will be further explored by a three-man team from the Department of Defense now visiting Karachi. For the reasons mentioned above, I hope the Department of Defense will give most careful consideration to supplying some additions to the assistance program for the Pakistan Army. However, replies to Karachi’s 499 and 630 should, I think, be delayed until we have a clearer concept as to what the situation requires. Ambassador Hildreth is hoping to discuss this matter with you again before his return to Karachi.

Sincerely yours,

Herbert Hoover, Jr.5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790D.5–MSP/11–555. Secret. Drafted by Thacher.
  2. In this letter, Gray stated that “it must be recognized that the Pakistani program from the outset was a dollar commitment. If we were to approve an aid program for Pakistan to equip their forces as recommended by the country team,” he warned, “an additional $130 million of assistance would be required.” Any such increase in aid, moreover, “could only be met only by eliminating or reducing other MDA Programs which are considered to be essential to the accomplishment of U.S. objectives on a world-wide basis.” (Department of Defense, OASD/ISA Files, NESA Records, Pakistan)
  3. Document 199.
  4. Document 201.
  5. Printed from a copy which bears this stamped signature.