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

2657. From Richards. I have following comments re Pakistan:

Pakistan has potential and desire to form Eastern stanchion for defense of ME against overt Communist aggression or Communist subversion comparable to stanchion represented by Turkey in West. However, must overcome serious hurdles.
One major drawback is continuing difficulties with India, and few prospects for improvement appear to exist. Governor West Pakistan2 stated frankly “When Pakistanis speak of ‘defense’ they speak of defense against India”. Danger of explosion is always present. In addition dispute with India causes diversion of resources and attention from internal problems and Soviet enemy. Pakistan now carrying crushing burden of defense expenditures which it considers necessary for protection against India.
Second drawback posed by difficulties of organizing and conducting government qualified personnel in depth.
In addition Pakistan confronted by staggering economic problems. If country is to have prospect of improving present low standards, substantial US aid will be required for period of years.
I was deeply impressed by positive attitude present Pakistani leaders. They appear determined to make success of their nation despite obstacles mentioned above. Sense of activity and drive for sake of Pakistan as nation especially striking in contrast to Iran. I consider this vitality one of Pakistan’s greatest assets.
Pakistanis opened our discussions on premise of full acceptance ME proposal. Concluding remarks of President were “We shall be with you in fair weather or foul; we hope you will be with us”. Prime Minister stated “You are taking us for granted as we are taking you for granted”. Pakistan’s effort directed at interpreting ME proposals in widest sense possible. They pressed hard to determine whether proposals designed to cope with internal Communist subversion. I replied US ready to strengthen area governments against possibility of subversion but provision of joint resolution re US Armed Forces would not come into play if Communist government attained power as result internal causes. To use troops in such circumstances would violate concept of sovereignty and right of peoples to choose freely their own form of government. We also made clear resolution directed only at attack or subversion by international communism. (Pakistanis tried several times to interpret it to cover possible attack from India.)
Large portion of meetings with President and Prime Minister taken up with discussions area situation (Embassy’s 26423). Talk was most frank and helpful. As in case other Baghdad Pact members, Pakistanis urged we join Pact and stressed evils neutralism. I thought Pakistanis went quite far in offering try to reach understanding with Afghanistan. They were hopeful of being able to work with Saud, but considered Nasser force for evil. Prime Minister [Page 478] believed Syrian situation would crystallize within next two weeks. He requested US to strengthen Lebanon against Syria describing Lebanon as a key position in Middle East. Although Pakistanis did not ask for any specific action by Mission, their problems with India continually cropped up.

I took occasion express concern at favorable impression made by Chou En-Lai in Pakistan and warmth reception accorded him. (Prime Minister has autographed picture of Chou prominently displayed in his drawing room.) I said Chou under his mask of charm was most dangerous Communist of all and in past fooled American representatives in China badly.

Prime Minister declared at our first meeting that Pakistan would not use opportunity of visit by Mission to plead for more aid. This position characterized attitude throughout. Pakistanis were not waiting in line with long list of demands. In discussion their economic needs they placed particular emphasis on annual shortfall in food production which is reflected in annual severe drain on US aid funds and Pakistan’s exchange reserves. In addition fertilizer factories, Minister of Finance stressed need for food reserve and hope that US would approve three year surplus agricultural program (Ambassador Hildreth strongly endorsed this request). Minister also brought up need for shipping for trade to Persian Gulf and between East and West Pakistan. Prime Minister stressed requirement for housing; steel and concrete for strategic roads; and flood control in East Pakistan. (Data on number projects given Mission March 29.)

Finance Minister raised question private investment, pointing to Pakistan’s unsuccessful efforts to secure private US capital in view US domestic investment opportunities. He also referred to Pakistan’s dependence on US consultants and need to obtain top quality teams.

[Here follow Richards’ specific and detailed recommendations regarding a United States aid program for Pakistan.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1580/3–3057. Secret. Repeated to Paris, London, Baghdad, Ankara, New Delhi, Rome, Amman, Jidda, Cairo, Damascus, Tunis, Addis Ababa, Rabat, Khartoum, Tripoli, Behran, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Kabul, and Athens.

    On March 12, Ambassador James P. Richards left for a 57-day mission to the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Richards visited 15 countries as part of an effort to explain the President’s January proposals (the American Doctrine or Eisenhower Doctrine) on economic and military assistance to countries in the area. He visited Pakistan March 27–31.

  2. M.A. Gurmani.
  3. Dated March 29, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 120.1580/3–2957)