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


  • India’s Military Objectives


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Syed Amjad Ali, Minister of Finance, Government of Pakistan
  • General Mohammed Ayub, Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army
  • Mr. Mohammed Ali, Ambassador of Pakistan
  • Mr. William M. Rountree, NEA
  • Mr. Frederic P. Bartlett, SOA
[Page 96]

In an hour’s discussion with the Secretary devoted for the most part to a general review of Indo-Pakistan relations, the Pakistan representatives raised in some detail the question of India’s basic military objectives.

General Ayub opened this part of the conversation by stating that Pakistan’s best intelligence estimate was that the Government of India’s military strength approximated three times that of Pakistan and that India must be aware of this since possibly we had informed India of the extent of our aid to Pakistan. Both the Secretary and Mr. Rountree corrected the latter part of the General’s statement, explaining that we had been most careful not to divulge to any third party the details of our military arrangements with Pakistan. It was probable, the Secretary said, that India knew in general terms, however, the total number of divisions with which the American military aid program had concerned itself.

General Ayub then continued that Pakistan intelligence saw the position as follows. India appeared determined to disregard the Security Council’s resolutions in connection with Kashmir. This might eventually force the Government of Pakistan to take some overt action against India and thereby give India an excuse before the world to take counter action. General Ayub also noted that, although the Government of India had agreed in principle to the early proposals of the IBRD for the partition of the Indus waters, India had been forced to abandon its initial position when it became clear that the total cost of the Bank’s plan might approximate 1.2 billion dollars. Now they are asking for United States aid and are “crying wolf”, maintaining that if they do not get aid, India may go communist. Actually, General Ayub continued, India’s basic intention is not to attack, but to be in a position to intimidate Pakistan and to break its will.

It had been mentioned, General Ayub noted, that the Government of India’s arms build-up might be in part attributable to its desire to strengthen its position against Red China, but Pakistan’s military maps showed that all the main concentrations of Indian forces and facilities were directed toward the West and not toward the East, from which latter direction alone would it be feasible for Red China to approach India. General Ayub was surprised that American intelligence had not disclosed these facts.

In reply, Mr. Rountree pointed out that these facts were well known to the United States, but that by themselves the disposition of India’s forces could neither prove nor disprove the intent for which these forces were being built up. Even if there were no Pakistan, the Government of India, in common prudence, would wish to maintain reasonable defense forces in the face of its greatest potential rival. India, for instance, actually must know Pakistan’s position regarding bombers. Mr. Rountree, therefore, believed that the Government of [Page 97] India would not be spending the large sums of money which it was now spending on bombers, and for that matter on its Navy too, just against a potential Pakistan threat. On the other hand, it might be logical for India to allege that Pakistan’s military build-up was the principal reason for its own in order to excuse this evident departure from India’s publicized position in international relations. Since the United States was assisting Pakistan militarily, India might also logically use this fact as an excuse for its own arms build-up in an attempt to make the United States feel responsible for giving counter-balancing economic aid to India. Mr. Rountree concluded that this was, of course, speculation on his part since it was impossible to accurately determine India’s real motives.

In reply, the Finance Minister stated that, even if India’s real concern was to protect itself from Red China, it could only achieve this by first resolving its differences with Pakistan. General Ayub added that the Pakistanis knew the Hindus and particularly the Brahmins, who ruled India, and that the Pakistanis believed that what they were saying regarding India’s intentions was really the truth.

The Secretary noted that there was really no inconsistency between the two approaches to India’s arms build-up. A strong military establishment in India could serve both purposes. He recalled that General Ayub himself had said that the Government of India was not planning any overt attack against Pakistan, but is attempting to put itself in a position of strength from where it could intimidate Pakistan. India’s motivations could, therefore, be mixed.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 791.5/4–3058. Confidential. Drafted by Bartlett.