35. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, December 19, 19561


  • Anti-Indian Propaganda in Pakistan


  • The Secretary
  • Assistant Secretary Rountree, NEA
  • Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker
  • Charles D. Withers, SOA
  • Prime Minister Nehru of India2
  • Ambassador G.L. Mehta of India
  • N.R. Pillai, Secretary General, Indian Ministry of External Affairs

The Prime Minister said he had mentioned to the President his concern over the recent spate of anti-Indian propaganda in Pakistan. The newspapers in Pakistan are full of inflammatory material including calls for a jehad (holy war) against India. In response to the Secretary’s question Mr. Nehru said that this propaganda was not limited to the press but had also come from some of Pakistan’s high officials. He was worried over the situation because of Pakistan’s internal political instability and the possibility that, to divert attention from the domestic political and economic situation, Pakistan might undertake some foolish adventure. The Secretary said that Mr. Nehru’s remarks were comparable to his estimate that the Soviet Union might undertake some reckless foreign adventure as a result of its internal troubles.

The Secretary asked if it were true that the economic situation in East Pakistan was particularly bad and the Prime Minister said he believed so. He said India’s great worry in that area was the refugee problem. Some 4 million refugees have crossed into West Bengal from East Bengal in the past few years. Even today 25 to 30 thousand refugees come into West Bengal each month. The principal difficulty was India’s inability to resettle these refugees in parts of India other than Bengal. Due to their language and for other reasons these refugees when sent to places provided for them would invariably return to Bengal.

The Prime Minister said that there were some Muslims among the refugees but that most of them were Hindu. He attributed the exodus to lack of confidence and economic problems. He said he would not say that the Government of Pakistan was behind the [Page 101] exodus but he believed that petty officials were saying things about the position of the minority that destroyed the Hindus’ confidence. He remarked that the Government of India has recently discovered that about 90 percent of the migration certificates required of the refugees had been forged.

The Secretary recalled his press conference in New Delhi last Spring in which he said that the United States would be on the side of India in case of aggression by Pakistan. That position is still held. He added that his statement had not been received with universal satisfaction. The U.S. was trying to live by principle. This always led to unpopularity in a nation or an individual. Another person or country wants you to be on its side, as a matter of sentimental attachment, whatever it does. In this connection the Secretary referred to a passage in George Washington’s farewell address. The Prime Minister agreed and remarked that this was a human failing. The Secretary said that we have emphasized in the past and will continue to stress to the Pakistanis that the arms we are furnishing them are under our agreements to be used only for defense.

  1. Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 66 D 487, India. Secret. Drafted by Withers.
  2. Prime Minister Nehru was in Washington for a 5-day official visit, December 16–20.