83. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan1

1661. Department concerned over possibility Pakistanis may decide close Afghan border and attempt depose Royal Family. (Kabul’s 452, 453,2 Karachi’s 14673).

Accordingly, unless you perceive objections suggest you express to GOP views US Govt along following lines:

US understands and sympathizes deeply with feelings Pakistanis aroused by indignities recently suffered its citizens, property and prestige in Afghanistan. Our attitude clearly reflected Ambassador Ward’s statements to Nairn and Daud. (Deptels to Kabul 3574 and 3505) To latter he stressed need arranging just restitution to Pakistan and desirability Afghan restraint. Ambassador Ward has been authorized make approach to King, possibly in concert other [Page 174] powers. We are gratified by continuing reasonable attitude GOP (reflected penultimate paragraph Karachi’s 14996).
At same time we are disturbed by information GOP considering complete closure Pak-Afghan border. In our view this would result very shortly in near strangulation Afghan economic life and in causing Afghans turn inevitably to Soviets. Moreover, it would result in general internal deterioration Afghanistan, perhaps providing Soviets further excuse interfere extend their influence southward.
While understanding deep Pakistani concern re situation, we suggest that ouster present Royal Family without alternative regime available to maintain stability and pursue reasonable policies in relations with Afghanistan’s neighbors would probably result in reversion period uncertainty and chaos similar those characterizing political interregnums of past. Moreover situation today even more dangerous than past because of more aggressive character neighbor to north who may be eager for opportunity end Afghanistan’s historical buffer status. End suggested statement to Pakistanis.

Embassy no doubt recognizes delicate problem posed by need for maintaining Pak confidence our friendship while also not encouraging Pak intransigence or understandable impulse attempt overpower Afghans. While Daud’s rash pursuit Pushtunistan should be checked, we have constantly to remember same rashness might impel him welcome in Soviets.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 689.90D/4–1355. Secret. Drafted by Thacher and Jones and approved by Allen. Repeated to Kabul, Ankara, London, Lahore, and New Delhi.
  2. In telegrams 452 and 453, April 14, Ambassador Ward reported that Pakistani officials had informed him that they were considering a complete trade embargo against Afghanistan, including goods for American aid projects in that country. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 1467, April 12, the Embassy stated that although it believed that Pakistan would continue to show restraint toward Afghanistan, the “line now being taken by Pakistan officials is that entire present Afghan ruling group must go including Royal Family.” (Ibid., 601.90D89/4–1255)
  4. Document 80.
  5. Document 78.
  6. In telegram 1499, April 14, Ambassador Hildreth reported that, without knowledge of Ambassador Ward’s similar recommendation, Jalaluddin Abdur Rahim, Pakistani Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, had suggested that the United States make a direct approach to the Afghan King concerning the Kabul incidents. Pakistan had reason to believe, Rahim stressed, that the King was a “more reasonable individual, enjoying some popular support in country and definitely annoyed Daud’s action.” Hildreth suggested that this conversation indicated that Pakistan was taking a “temperate attitude toward situation” and was “earnest in seeking peaceful way out.” (Department of State, Central Files, 289.1122/4–1455)
  7. In telegram 1533 from Karachi, April 18, Ambassador Hildreth stated that in spite of the personal beliefs of various Pakistani officials, the government did not desire to depose the Afghan Royal family but had suggested instead an approach to the King seeking only the removal of Daud. He also reported that Rahim had informed the Embassy that Pakistan had no intention of closing the border in the immediate future. In view of the above, Hildreth explained that the Embassy did “not believe it necessary make further approach to GOP along lines Deptel 1661. Should attitude and circumstances change we can again make these points forcefully to GOP.” (Ibid., 689.90D/4–1855)