30. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, April 30, 19581


  • Indo-Pakistan Relations


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Syed Amjad Ali, Minister of Finance, Government of Pakistan
  • General Mohammed Ayub, Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
  • Mr. Mohammad Ali, Ambassador of Pakistan
  • Mr. William M. Rountree, NEA
  • Mr. Frederic P. Bartlett, SOA

Upon the request of the Pakistan Embassy, arrangements were made for the Finance Minister to call upon the Secretary.2

Mr. Amjad Ali opened the discussion by stating that, while military representatives of the Pakistan Government were discussing with the Department of Defense questions relating directly to the Pakistan armed forces, he appreciated this opportunity to review with the Secretary general political developments in Pakistan. Speaking broadly, the Finance Minister said, a state of nervousness prevailed throughout Pakistan. It largely flowed from the defense build-up of India, which latter country was purchasing a large number of planes and so forth from outside sources. This state of nervousness was also coupled with India’s recently renewed threat to divert the flow of certain Indus waters from Pakistan to India if Pakistan had not provided water from alternative sources by 1962. This India could physically do since the control works involved were in India or Indian-held territory. This threat had been only reinforced by India’s commencing to build the large Rajasthan canal. Thus the feeling was growing in Pakistan that India’s substantial purchases of military equipment were really designed to permit India’s eventually being in a position to “throttle” Pakistan with impunity.

Some Pakistanis believed that the Government of India actually had overt military aggression in mind, but personally the Finance Minister did not agree with this view. In his opinion, the Government of India would not need to resort to aggressive military action against Pakistan since it was already in occupation of a substantial part of [Page 91] Kashmir and actually controlled the physical facilities required to divert a substantial part of the irrigation waters away from Pakistan. In other words, if India in fact carried out its threat to divert these irrigation waters to its own uses, it could so cripple Pakistan that India would not in practice have to resort to open war.

An indication of India’s concentration upon this issue was, Mr. Amjad Ali felt, provided recently by India’s strong protest against Pakistan’s use of United States and United Kingdom engineers to create a three to four million acre feet storage area in Mangla on the Chenab River. At this point Mr. Rountree explained that the American Embassy in New Delhi had, under Department instructions, already informed the Government of India that it considered the Government of India’s protest unjustified, noting that the question involved relations between the Government of Pakistan and private American engineers.3 Mr. Rountree also noted that the Mangla situation is essentially a territorial rather than a waters question, the Indian objection being based on its contention that legally all of Kashmir was an integral part of India and that, therefore, the Mangla dam, which was being constructed in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir, was technically being constructed on Indian terrority.

The Finance Minister then continued with his survey of general Indo-Pakistan relations. He pointed out that during the last debate in Parliament, opposition leaders had expressed their strong concern regarding: (1) India’s arms build-up, (2) India’s open disregard of Pakistan’s legal rights as evidenced in the Government of India’s position on Indus waters, and (3) the fact that Pakistan’s allies were actually doing little to help Pakistan maintain its position in the face of Indian intransigence. Rather, these opposition leaders maintained, Pakistan’s allies were assisting the Government of India by granting economic aid to that country, which in turn permitted India to use its own resources to buy arms from abroad. Prime Minister Noon, Mr. Amjad Ali stated, had felt it necessary to reply to these critics, but had, unfortunately, done so “off the cuff”. “I would be failing in my duty, however,” the Finance Minister continued, “if I didn’t bring these to your attention.”

In the Finance Minister’s opinion, it was very unfortunate that it was the British who were selling these arms to India. In this connection, he noted that the Government of Pakistan had originally trusted the British implicitly. For instance, the Government had given them carte blanche to build the ordnance factory at Wah. What had the result been? Pakistan had already spent the equivalent of seventy million dollars on this project and to date it had only produced “a few rifles”, each costing about five times the amount which Pakistan [Page 92] would have had to spend to procure these same rifles on the open market. Furthermore, Amjad Ali had now been told by his British advisers that the factory for explosives, which had been planned as part of the Wah complex, would not be ready for another two years. When he had recently been in London, Mr. Amjad Ali explained, he had under these circumstances been forced to inform the British that Pakistan would have to get assistance from other sources in order to expedite the work at Wah. Ambassador Mohammed Ali interjected at this point that the Government of Pakistan had first started discussing United States technical assistance for the Wah complex back in 1955. Mr. Amjad Ali said that he was aware of this. It was his understanding that at present an ICA team was being formed to see if Wah’s surplus capacity could be used for the manufacture of spare parts or other articles which might have the effect of reducing Pakistan’s import requirements.

Returning once again to his main theme, Mr. Amjad Ali stated that the Government of Pakistan had consistently and sincerely tried to be a good and true friend of the West in time of need. This was amply demonstrated, he believed, during the Suez crisis when Pakistan staunchly supported the British in spite of strong public sentiment against this course within Pakistan. The Pakistan Government had wanted, however, to save the Baghdad Pact, which it considered and considers to have great importance, not only for the four Muslim countries directly associated with it, but for the area generally. It was, in Mr. Amjad Ali’s mind, a kind of umbrella sheltering these countries from hostile elements threatening from the north. In addition, it actually also protects the Arab States, though the latter, if they do realize it, don’t appreciate it.

Mr. Amjad Ali said that he had seen this situation, the Indian arms build-up, developing when he was in Washington last September. At that time he had talked with Mr. Rountree regarding it.4 He had said that Pakistan did not wish to stand in the way of aid to India, but Pakistan believed that such economic aid could best be utilized if the Governments of India and Pakistan could first iron out the differences existing between them. At that time Mr. Rountree had replied, according to Mr. Amjad Ali, that the United States Government could not place itself in a position which would open it to the accusation that it was attaching strings to its aid. Mr. Amjad Ali had replied to Mr. Rountree at that time that Pakistan was not suggesting that the Government of India abandon its position of “neutrality”. Actually, Mr. Amjad Ali stated, he had argued that the United States Government was trying to help both the Governments of India and Pakistan, so [Page 93] that they might be strong enough to prevent communist penetration. This last objective, Mr. Amjad Ali had noted, would be defeated if the basic tensions existing between Pakistan and India were allowed to deepen. For example, if the Indus waters were diverted, there could be no alternative to disastrous war. The Finance Minister concluded that he could not emphasize too strongly the immense advantages which would come to both Pakistan and India if their differences could be resolved.

Even though it was sometimes difficult to talk to Nehru, Mr. Amjad Ali said, he had had a long discussion with the Indian Prime Minister last January. Mr. Amjad Ali had told Nehru that the ten years of tension which had existed between India and Pakistan had been completely unhelpful to either. He had further told Nehru that in his opinion there could be no real solution to the Indus waters issue unless the Kashmir issue were also resolved, since it was only through an agreed solution to Kashmir that the development of the entire Indus river basin on a businesslike basis would be practicable. Given good will on both sides, Mr. Amjad Ali had said to the Indian Prime Minister, the Kashmir problem was not insoluble. More difficult problems between countries had been peacefully settled over a period of time in the past. Mr. Nehru, according to Mr. Amjad Ali, had listened to the latter politely, but indicated no reaction whatsoever to what the Finance Minister had said.

Mr. Amjad Ali concluded his presentation by stating that it was the Government of Pakistan’s intention to take the Rajasthan canal issue to the Security Council. It would do this, however, without divesting the IBRD of its jurisdiction over it. Pakistan’s public purpose would be to attempt to persuade the Security Council that it should request India to desist from diverting any of Pakistan’s historical uses of water until alternative arrangements were actually available. Pakistan, however, wanted basically to put on public record its disapproval of India’s threatened action, so that India could not later allege that Pakistan had ignored India’s warnings and had thereby given tacit approval to India’s plans.

The Secretary complimented the Finance Minister for his good presentation, agreeing with Mr. Amjad Ali that it did not seem at all probable that India would resort to any overt military aggression. The Secretary continued that he was aware of India’s arms build-up, but believed that India’s real reasons for it were at least partially associated with Red China. Actually, although India consistently and publicly alleged that it was strengthening its military position for the sole reason of countering that of Pakistan, this was so incorrect that it simply did not constitute a valid explanation. For example, Mr. Aneurin Bevan had apparently been convinced by Mr. Nehru that India was being forced to purchase bombers from the United Kingdom [Page 94] because the United States had furnished bombers to Pakistan. The Secretary said he had attempted to disabuse Mr. Bevan of his misinformation when Mr. Bevan called upon him some time ago, but was not sure whether he had succeeded.5

The Secretary continued that, although there was always, given the degree of tension existing between the two countries, a danger of some flare-up, he did not believe that the latter would be the result of any planned aggression upon the part of India. On the other hand, in view of Pakistan’s heavy dependence upon waters whose sources were under the control of India, he was not entirely surprised by the state of nervousness which Mr. Amjad Ali had indicated was prevailing in Pakistan. Mr. Rountree at this point noted that in fact the Governments of Pakistan and India had been discussing these basic waters problems for a long time with the IBRD and that these talks were presently going on in Rome. Mr. Rountree said that he had suggested to Mr. Amjad Ali yesterday that it might be prudent to await the results of the Rome talks before seeking any action in the Security Council and that all alternatives be thoroughly studied prior to such action.6 He realized, however, that the ultimate decision regarding Security Council action was the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan, to be taken in the light of the circumstances existing at the time.

The Secretary stated that it should be possible to bring the Indus waters issue to the Security Council in such a fashion as not to be incompatible with continuing IBRD interest in the problem, particularly if the principal purpose of the Government of Pakistan were to place the Indus issue and its reaction to India’s publicized plans connected therewith on the public record. Mr. Amjad Ali commented in this connection that, since so many nations faced similar riparian rights problems, airing the issue in the Security Council might enlist international support which could be helpful to the IBRD in persuading the Government of India to take a reasonable attitude toward the resolution of the problem. To this the Secretary agreed, noting in particular the situation which Egypt faced in connection with the countries and territories controlling the upper reaches of the Nile. Ambassador Mohammed Ali believed the United States had also had some problems in relation to Canada along the same lines.

The Secretary concluded the interview by saying that he was impressed at what the Pakistan representatives had said about the basic differences between Pakistan and India. Their comments had not fallen on barren ground. There should be no feeling on the part of [Page 95] well-informed Pakistanis that the United States was not friendly and loyal to Pakistan. [5 lines of source text not declassified] The Secretary recalled that in Manila he had told the Pakistan representative that what the United States did for India hurt the United States more than it hurt Pakistan, for after all, it was United States funds which were being spent for economic aid to India. [1½ lines of source text not declassified] it was necessary for the United States to look at the whole picture and to take into consideration the welfare of the entire free world. The United States does not like to give aid to neutrals, but actually it is forced to do so and it is in the interest of Pakistan itself that the United States do so. The Secretary did not wish to imply that the United States was always right, but he did believe that what this country was doing in India was needed to prevent India from going the way of China. [4 lines of source text not declassified]

In reply, the Finance Minister remarked that India should, in its own interest, use American aid for economic development rather than, at least indirectly, for military purchases. He said he hoped to see Senators Cooper and Kennedy, as well as other leaders in Washington, about this matter.

General Ayub’s final remark was that: “We are pegged to you; India is not pegged to any Pact. She is a free-wheeler and under no compulsion to reduce tension in our part of the world.”7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/4–3058. Confidential. Drafted by Bartlett. Dulles and Amjad Ali also discussed India’s military objectives; see infra.
  2. Amjad Ali and several Pakistani military representatives were in the United States on an official visit for the purpose of discussing additional U.S. financial and military assistance to Pakistan. For additional documentation on their visit, see Documents 307309. Rountree briefed Dulles for this meeting in a memorandum of April 29. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.90D11/4–2958)
  3. Documentation is ibid., 890D.2614.
  4. Amjad Ali met with Rountree on September 28, 1957. Their conversation is summarized in telegram 845 to Karachi, October 3. (Ibid., 791.5–MSP/10–357)
  5. See footnote 3, Document 10.
  6. A memorandum of that conversation, drafted by Rufus Burr Smith, is in Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91322/4–2958.
  7. The Department summarized this conversation in telegram 2797 to Karachi, May 6. (Ibid., 690D.91/5–658)