309. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting, Washington, April 29, 1958, 3 p.m.1


  • Meeting of Pakistani Representatives with Mr. Sprague at 1500, 29 April 1958


  • General Mohammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
  • Air Vice Marshal Mohammad Asghar Khan, Commander-in Chief, Pakistan Air Force
  • Major General M. Hayaud-Din, Military and Naval Attaché, Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, D.C.
  • Air Commodore Haider Raza, Air Attaché, Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, D.C.
  • Honorable Mansfield D. Sprague, Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)
  • Mr. Charles H. Shuff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)
  • Rear Admiral Charles K. Bergin, USN, Director, Near East, South Asia and Africa Region, OASD(ISA)

The Pakistani military representatives headed by Gen. Ayub Khan are on a visit to this country for the purpose of accelerating military aid to Pakistan, specifically the delivery of a light bomber squadron to Pakistan under the terms of the Pakistan-United States Aide-Mémoire Agreement of 1954.

Gen. Ayub Khan with Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan called on Mr. Sprague, Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA). After an exchange of pleasantries, Gen. Ayub Khan came directly to the point that the special purpose of his call, and those of the Pakistani military men along with him, was to request the expedited delivery of a light-bomber squadron for Pakistan under the terms of the 1954 bilateral agreement initiating military aid for Pakistan.

Mr. Sprague pointed out he understood that the Pakistan Government had initiated a bid from a British commercial company to sell light bombers to the Pakistani Armed Forces. He requested confirmation [Page 642] as to whether or not this was true. Gen. Ayub Khan replied that it was true and that discussions had taken place and might have to continue in terms of purchasing light bombers should they (the Pakistanis) be unable to effect the promised delivery of light bombers from the United States. Mr. Sprague asked if the Pakistan Government is ready to offer to buy light bombers from the United States. Although this question was not directly answered, it may well be inferred from the laughter that no such intention of purchasing from the United States exists. Mr. Sprague then asked Gen. Ayub Khan whether or not the desire for light bombers expressed at this time was associated with a serious need felt because of any threat by international communism or for other reasons. Gen. Ayub Khan again forthrightly answered that his request in the name of the Pakistan Government was more related to the threat from India than threats from other sources. He added that the recent economic aid given by the United States to India left his country in a serious security position. He further pointed out that economic aid given by this country to India permitted the Indians to use their own funds for military purposes and that they were so doing to the threat of Pakistan’s security. He pointed out that in addition to the fact that India had built up and was continuing to build up a large armed force, they had added to the threat of Pakistan’s security by proceeding with a plan to cut off the waters of the Indus from Pakistan. In the interest of survival, Gen. Ayub Khan stated that Pakistan must increase her military strength, particularly their air force, in terms of light bombers.

Mr. Sprague cited that he understood the special problems of Pakistan and India relationships and pointed out that our military aid program was not for the specific purpose of solving such problems. It was intended more to support the common effort against the aggression of international communism. He added that since the United States had made this commitment to furnish a light bomber squadron (UE–20) to Pakistan under the terms of the Aide-Mémoire of 1954, it was the United States intention to live up to this commitment. For practical reasons it has been unable to furnish these promised bombers before this time. It now appears that some light bombers might be furnished to Pakistan in the third or fourth quarter of calendar year 1959, if the Pakistanis were prepared to operate and maintain such equipment. Specifically, he considered a number in the order of 4 to 6 as a possibility if the Pakistani pilot training and maintenance crew training warranted deliveries at such a time. He indicated that pilot training and maintenance training for Pakistan’s air force could start in the United States this summer. It was pointed out that a normal pilot training course to operate light bombers could be expected to cover a period of about 9 months.

[Page 643]

Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan inquired as to the specific type of light bombers the U.S. might have in mind to provide the Pakistanis under the commitment. In reply, Mr. Sprague stated that they were the B–57 type. Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan replied that as a technician, he was not enthusiastic over such an offer—that this was an antiquated airplane and not worthy of the expenditure of Pakistani manpower to utilize such poor equipment; that he expected better equipment than that proposed by the United States. He added that the B–66 was more of the type that they might expect and might accept from the United States. He was assured of the high quality of the American B–57. Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan responded that he knew the quality and was not convinced of its value, and that he might be called upon to advise his country not to accept such an offer from the United States. He followed with the proposal that perhaps they could wait for light bombers for several years provided, in the interim, we added to their air force F–100 type fighter bombers. Mr. Sprague and Mr. Shuff hastened to inform him that no such commitments could be made to Pakistan, that the B–57 was a good plane and recommended that he (Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan) should visit a squadron operating B–57’s to assure himself of their quality and even fly one himself should the rules of his country so permit. He remained adamant in his attitude toward the B–57 citing that Canberra 8’s could be purchased in England and were much better airplanes in his opinion. Gen. Ayub Khan who first seemed shocked at the attitude of Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan recovered to concur with Mr. Sprague and Mr. Shuff in Mr. Shuff’s proposal for the Air Vice Marshal to look over the American planes and not prejudge them.

The conference ended in this vein and arrangements have been made for Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan to visit a U.S. operating B–57 squadron.

Gen. Ayub Khan requested a private conversation with Mr. Shuff where he continued to raise questions related to

U.S. willingness to provide equipment in accordance with Baghdad Pact goals.
The readiness of the United States to provide full U.S. equipment for Army divisions now under military aid support. He cited that these divisions now were partially U.S. and partially U.K. equipped.
He raised the question of whether we could provide assistance in the form of married officer quarters at the cantonment now being built under the military aid program for the Pakistani Army.
He inquired as to the availability of prefabricated houses to be given to the Pakistan Government for housing their armed forces.

In all of these requests he was not given encouragement by Mr. Shuff. Gen. Ayub Khan then in private conversation with Admiral Bergin raised the same questions and received the general reply that [Page 644] we were unable to make any specific commitments in the areas requested and it was pointed out that military aid programs are developed in a normal manner through standard procedures initially through the Chief of the Military [Assistance] Advisory Group in the country concerned.

[1 paragraph (11½ lines of source text) not declassified]

The meeting ended upon an appointment at 1630 of the Pakistani group with General Twining, Chairman, JCS.2

C. K. Bergin3
Rear Admiral, USN
  1. Source: Department of State, SOA Files: Lot 62 D 43, Bombers for Pakistan 1958. Secret. Drafted by Rear Admiral Bergin on April 30.

    On April 26, Murphy, Rountree, and Bartlett of the Department of State and Irwin and Bergin of the Department of Defense met to prepare a U.S. position on various matters in view of this scheduled meeting with Ayub and his party. A memorandum of this conversation, drafted by Colonel E. V. Sutherland of ISA on April 28, is ibid.

  2. No record of the meeting with Twining has been found.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.