75. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom2

3998. Embtel 3209.3 January 26 UK Embassy delivered aide-mémoire4 expressing view Afghan acceptance Soviet aid motivated largely by desire secure Soviet support for Pushtunistan campaign and also extort all possible economic aid from West. Memo cites Russian experts now in Kabul, Soviet agents reported visiting Afghan agent in Pakistan tribal areas and suggests GOA be advised not to count on Western powers intervening at last moment rescue them from ill-considered policy vis-à-vis Soviets. Memo suggests US warn GOA not to expect US aid until its attitude as reflected in press and radio shows greater restraint toward Western nations. UK would give fullest support to such representations. Afghans should be told Pushtunistan campaign unjustified and damaging Afghan interests.

[Page 164]

Department discussed orally with UK Embassy officer February 15 describing approach we have recently undertaken to draw Afghans closer to Western powers (Deptel Kabul 210).6 UK representative informed we believe Afghans motivated principally by economic need in accepting Soviet assistance. Although initial Kabul reaction negative US continuing study possibilities this approach and thus not inclined for moment British suggestion for joint warning to Afghans, although not foreclosing eventual use such tactic. Department spokesman expressed also some doubts advisability warning Afghans not to expect Western powers intervene at last moment rescue Afghans from dangers involvement with Soviets since Afghans might interpret such warning as final gesture disinterest part of Western powers with result Afghans might turn resignedly towards Soviets to make best possible deal.

UK representative indicated British initiative this matter stimulated partly by interest Australian High Commissioner Karachi7 and by Pakistanis who urged on Menzies desirability some discussion Soviet penetration Afghanistan and Afghan attitudes towards Pakistan at London PMs conference8 where matter will in fact be considered. However for present UK asks we not inform Pakistanis of UK approach to Department. Agreed Department would stay in touch with British this question.

Australians sought Department’s views situation Afghanistan but made no suggestions for démarche to Afghans. Australians informed in general terms our impression extent Soviet penetration and course action we considering to counter Soviet penetration.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 689.90D/1–2155. Secret. Drafted by Thacher and approved by Jernegan. Also sent to Kabul and repeated to Karachi and Canberra.
  2. In telegram 3209 from London, January 21, the Embassy informed the Department of State that British officials, upon instruction from the Foreign Office, would meet with Department representatives shortly to discuss the “continued intransigence of Afghanistan” in regard to the Pushtunistan problem.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. A memorandum of this conversation is in Department of State, Central Files, 689.90D/2–155.
  5. Telegram 210 to Kabul, December 31, 1954, transmitted to Ambassador Ward the substance of a conversation between Secretary Dulles and Ludin. (Ibid., 689.90D/12–3154) A memorandum of this conversation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. VI, Part 2, p. 1442.
  6. Major General W.J. Cawthorn.
  7. A meeting of the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth was held in London January 31–February 8, 1955. The final communiqué of the conference made no mention of Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan. (Commonwealth Relations Office List, 1956 (London, H.M. Stationery Office), p. 34)