21. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, May 1, 19561


  • India and Pakistan


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Merchant
  • Mr. MacArthur
  • Sir Roger Makins, British Ambassador
  • Sir Hubert Graves, British Minister

Sir Roger has said that the main purpose of his visit this morning had been to discuss the problem of India and Pakistan. Nehru and the Indian Government were suffering from grave misapprehensions about the U.S. arming Pakistan. They took the position that it would upset the balance of power between the two countries and perhaps lead the Pakistanis to engage in some sort of “Holy War”…. When Lord Mountbatten had recently visited India, he had been armed with a brief to allay Indian fears. But he had not been successful in allaying Indian apprehensions. In part, Mountbatten felt that his failure in this respect had been due to information from American sources, perhaps attributed to something the Secretary or Ambassador Cooper had said to the Indians, during the Secretary’s recent visit to New Delhi.

The Secretary asked Sir Roger what he was supposed to have said and Sir Roger replied that he did not know and that it was all rather vague. The Secretary pointed out that in his recent visit to India, he had pointed out to Nehru that we were not embarked on any new arms program for Pakistan, but were simply trying to catch up on deliveries which had fallen far short under our original program. In essence, we were supplying additional equipment to fully equip the 5½ Pakistani Divisions. The Secretary said that he had also pointed out to Nehru that we had no intention of establishing military bases in Pakistan. Furthermore, there were triple provisions that none of the armament which we supplied would be used for aggressive purposes under the UN Charter, the provisions of the SEATO Treaty, and the U.S. bilateral aid agreement with Pakistan. The Secretary further pointed out that the U.S. in signing the SEATO Treaty had entered a reservation that it would only come into force in the event of Communist aggression since we did not wish to be brought into disputes between countries in the area with which we had friendly relations. Finally, the Secretary pointed out to [Page 75] Sir Roger that in his press conference in New Delhi he had made it quite clear that if contrary to all expectations Pakistan committed aggression against India, the U.S. would be on the side of the country against which the aggression had been committed. This had not gone down well in Pakistan but had been specifically designed to make clear to the Indians the position of the U.S.

. . . . . . .

The Secretary said that we had contemplated giving the Indians directly information regarding our arms shipments to Pakistan but we had dropped this idea as a result of the strong recommendation against it by our Embassy in Pakistan which feared that the Pakistanis would react badly if we did so. The Secretary added that there seemed to be a split on this question in the Pakistan Government and that while some people in the Foreign Office favored informing the Indians on the scope of the Pakistan defense program on a reciprocal basis, the Pakistan Government as a whole seemed to be against it…. The Secretary said that any discussions the British had with the Indians looking to allaying their fears should be bilateral rather than in the forum of the Commonwealth Conference so as to avoid creating additional problems with the Pakistanis….

Douglas MacArthur II2
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/8–156. Secret. Drafted by MacArthur.
  2. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.