32. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) and the Indian Ambassador (Mehta), Department of State, Washington, May 1, 19581
- Military Aid to Pakistan
During the course of his farewell call, Ambassador Mehta said that he wished to take the opportunity of expressing his personal opinion to Mr. Rountree concerning one aspect of Indo-U.S. relations which was of great concern to him, namely the effect upon those [Page 98] relations of continued U.S. military aid to Pakistan. The Ambassador emphasized that he was speaking on behalf of no one and was expressing only his own personal opinion.
Ambassador Mehta said that no intelligent Indian questioned the motives of the United States in extending military aid to Pakistan. Mr. Rountree commented that he believed there was now in India more understanding of the reason why we were giving this assistance to Pakistan than there had been previously. The Ambassador agreed, but went on to say that a great many Indians, including himself, did question the motives of Pakistan in accepting the aid. He said it was obvious that Pakistan accepted the aid not to counter Communism but to build up its military capacity vis-à-vis India. He said that he would favor the extension by the United States of economic aid to Pakistan and that if only the dreadful arms race between India and Pakistan could be halted, the two countries, working together, could accomplish a great deal in the economic development of the subcontinent.
Mr. Rountree replied that differences with India concerning our military aid to Pakistan, as the Ambassador well knew, arose from a fundamental policy disagreement between India and the United States over the desirability of maintaining collective security arrangements, in connection with which we assisted Pakistan. The United States was firmly convinced of the desirability of maintaining such arrangements.
In regard to Pakistan’s motivation in accepting our aid, and the fear expressed by some that Pakistan had aggressive ideas as against India, Mr. Rountree stated that the Ambassador was of course aware that India was a much stronger country than Pakistan. India maintained military forces considerably larger than those of Pakistan, a navy of greater size, and a larger air force, which possessed bombers, in contrast to the Pakistan air force.
At this point, the Ambassador interrupted Mr. Rountree to say that he had been greatly gratified, upon his return from his latest visit to India, to be told by the Secretary and the Under Secretary that the United States had not given any bombers to Pakistan. He had also been very pleased, he said, that the Secretary had repeated this to Dr. Radhakrishnan during the Indian Vice President’s recent visit to Washington.2 In fact, continued the Ambassador, he had been indiscreet enough to “leak” to the press portions of the Secretary’s remarks to Dr. Radhakrishnan.
Mr. Rountree expressed the view that in the light of the military and economic superiority of India to Pakistan, it appeared illogical for the Indians to fear Pakistan. He observed that while the Indians complained [Page 99] about our military aid to Pakistan, the Pakistanis complained that our economic aid to India enabled the latter to spend large amounts of its own resources on the purchase of military equipment.
Mr. Rountree again referred to our basic policy concerning collective security and said that India and the United States had learned to live with our differences over this question in a satisfactory manner. The Ambassador replied that in spite of certain matters on which the two countries disagreed, he had always felt a very great friendship for the United States and those American officials with whom he had dealt.