96. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs (Jones) to Raymond Hare of the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs1


  • Combatting Soviet Penetration into Afghanistan


The Department has become increasingly concerned over Soviet penetration into Afghanistan. The Soviet economic aid program in Afghanistan—which includes the construction of a gasoline pipeline from a Soviet terminal into Afghanistan, construction of grain storage elevators, paving of streets and a number of other projects—is the most comprehensive Soviet program of direct economic development aid in the free world.

The NSC has taken the decision (NSC 5409)2 that one of the most effective measures which the U.S. could adopt to counter Soviet penetration is to encourage the growth of closer economic and political relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. To this end NSC 5409 provides that technical and economic assistance be given to Afghanistan for those projects which would tend to strengthen Afghanistan’s ties with Pakistan. The Secretary stated in a letter to [Page 192] Ambassador Lodge (Tab A)3 that the urgency of the Afghan problem required that the U.S. consider providing assistance to cooperative economic projects which would draw the two neighboring countries together.

Up to the present, it has not been possible for the U.S. to undertake such projects because of the bitter dispute between the two countries arising from the anti-Pakistan riots which took place in Afghanistan at the end of last March. This dispute (in contrast to the chronic “Pushtunistan” difference) has now been settled through the holding of a Pakistan flag raising ceremony in Kabul and an Afghan flag raising ceremony in Peshawar. Relations between the two countries are now such as to present an excellent opportunity to initiate discussions on cooperative projects of the type envisaged in the NSC study.


There is attached (Tab B) a joint State–ICA message to the Under Secretary and Mr. Hollister,4 requesting their approval of a message to Kabul and Karachi authorizing our missions there to initiate negotiations with the respective governments on certain cooperative projects. These projects, estimated to cost $10 million annually over a three-year period, include establishment of a free port and improvement of harbor facilities in Karachi, furnishing additional equipment for Pakistan railways to facilitate transit of Afghanistan goods, improvement of the road between the Pakistan border and Kabul, and development of an international airline linking Kabul with Karachi and other cities in nearby countries. The projects would be financed from the Asian Regional Fund (with the possible exception of the airline).

It is highly desirable that action be initiated as soon as possible to move forward with the projects. While the settlement of the dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan has resulted in creation of an atmosphere propitious for initiation of projects requiring cooperation between the two countries, this atmosphere could quickly deteriorate. Moreover, Communist action in agreeing to provide arms for Egypt, as well as offering arms to other Near Eastern countries (we have reports of a Czech sale of arms to Afghanistan), would appear to indicate increased Soviet efforts to extend its [Page 193] influence in this area of the world. Initiation of these projects would assist in forestalling these efforts.


That you approve the dispatch of the attached telegram to the Under Secretary and Mr. Hollister requesting approval of instructions to Embassies Kabul and Karachi for initiation of negotiations on projects pursuant to NSC 5409.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.89/10–655. Secret. Drafted by Rufus Burr Smith, Officer in Charge of Economic Affairs, SOA, and Jones.
  2. See the editorial note, Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XI, Part 2, p. 1496. A revised version of NSC 5409 is printed ibid., p. 1089.
  3. Printed ibid., p. 1433.
  4. Under Secretary Herbert Hoover, Jr., and ICA Director John B. Hollister were visiting several Asian countries in order to evaluate American aid programs. Additional documentation on the HooverHollister trip is in Department of State, Central File 110.12–HO and in Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95, CF 534–541. Tab B is not printed here, but see footnote 5 below.
  5. This telegram was approved and sent as Tohol 11, October 7. (Ibid., CF 540, Box 106)