375. Memorandum of a Conversation, Karachi, December 8, 1959, 9 a.m.1



  • United States
    • The President
    • Mr. Murphy
    • General Goodpaster
    • Ambassador Rountree
  • Pakistan
    • President Ayub
    • Foreign Minister Qadir
    • Finance Minister Shoaib
    • Foreign Secretary Ikramullah


  • East-West Relations; Soviet Strategy in Middle East; Pakistan-Indian Relations; CENTO and Pakistan Military Requirements; Afghanistan

President Eisenhower met with President Ayub at 9 A.M. December 8 for substantive talks. President Ayub began by saying that the Pakistani people were generally gratified with President Eisenhower’s visit. The President had shown true courage and wisdom as leader of the Free World and the great trip which had been undertaken was the result of profound foresight. It was, of course, in the interest of the United States for the Free World to remain free, and it took great wisdom on the part of the United States to help its friends resolve their [Page 782] problems so that they could preserve their freedom. He also recognized that the United States must help certain countries that were not its friends since without such help those countries would be taken over by the communists. Once this happened, there was “no hope in hell” that they would again gain their freedom. While there might be a relaxation of tensions between the East and West, we could be certain that the communist nations would do everything in their power to achieve their ambitions.

President Ayub was deeply concerned over Pakistan’s relations with some of its neighbors, and he said that he had gone out of his way to resolve problems with them and would continue to do so. In this, however, he needed our help in many respects.

President Ayub acknowledged the desirability of the United States endeavoring to improve its relationships with the Soviet Union, even though there was slight chance that the basic Soviet attitude had changed or would change appreciably. It was nevertheless important that, while trying new approaches to reduce tensions, at no time should we drop our guard. Tactically, the Soviet Union wishes to relax tensions temporarily in order to gain further opportunities for consolidation, and to meet the growing demand of the Soviet people for “creature comforts.” Whenever it suited their purposes, they would revert to pressures and threats, and it would be fatal if the Free World were not always in a position to meet them. He thought the Chinese undoubtedly opposed the present Soviet “soft tactics.” The Chinese had made tremendous progress and needed international tensions to pursue their programs. Their objective was to become equal with Russia before moving toward a lessening of tensions. Nevertheless, the Chinese would not and could not break with the Soviet Union over this different approach. They might let their views be known, but they could always be quietly persuaded by the USSR to follow the Soviet line.

Turning to the Middle East, President Ayub said USSR strategy was to produce a counterpoise to China in bulk, population and resources. China would be a mighty power in 30 to 60 years, and could pose a substantial threat to the Soviet Union. The Soviets were thus anxious to find means of preventing the predominance of China. Although they would assist China, particularly in the years immediately ahead, their real objective was to establish the counterbalance. Nasser had given them an excellent opening in the Middle East and they were endeavoring to capitalize upon it. Their big problem was NATO. Although the Soviets had tried hard to destroy NATO, they had found that they could not do so. While NATO had great weaknesses, it had not broken up and there were no prospects that it would cease to be a real deterrent. The Soviet long-range strategy therefore took into account alternative means of achieving their objectives through the Middle [Page 783] East and all of Asia. In the recent past, they had devoted far greater attention to Afghanistan. As an alternative to penetration through Iran and Iraq to Suez and then to Africa, they visualized a possible penetration through Afghanistan and had made great investments to enhance this possibility. The Chinese were building air bases in the vicinity of South Asia, and in time would create a substantial threat to India through Burma. The combination of Soviet and Chinese pressure could result in the collapse of India. Afghanistan therefore presented a grave threat to all of us.

President Ayub displayed a map indicating Soviet road-building activities in Afghanistan and explained his view of its military implications. Afghanistan did not need these roads, and the money obviously was being spent to facilitate Soviet designs. In the past, there was a considerable limitation upon the number of forces which the Soviets could use against Pakistan. With these new roads, however, at least eight divisions could be moved quickly, and an even greater military move would later become possible.

By developing this potentiality of a move through Afghanistan, the Soviets would have two alternatives, one to move through the Middle East if the situation permitted, and the other through South Asia. They need not decide now which would be chosen but their decision would be based upon their best chance of success.

President Ayub had said several months ago that it would be fatal if India and Pakistan should remain enemies. They had a common interest in the defense of the subcontinent, yet 80% of India’s forces faced Pakistan, in consequence of which most of Pakistan’s forces faced India. He had asked why their problems should not be resolved since if they were settled, both armies could do their proper jobs in area defense. Even now, Nehru was in difficulty finding troops to meet the Chinese problem, since he felt he could not remove the forces facing Pakistan. By the same token, if Pakistan should encounter acute difficulties with Afghanistan, it would have the same problem in reassigning troops. He had therefore urged that conditions be created so that this military picture might improve. Nehru had declined the concept of joint defense. That was less important, however, than an understanding between the two countries, but there could be no assured peace with India without a solution to the Kashmir problem.

President Ayub reviewed the status of the Indus waters negotiations and expressed the view that the talks were going well and would soon result in an agreement. He explained details of the IBRD plan, and expressed gratitude that the United States had indicated its willingness to assist in the financial aspects. Pakistan now had 23 million acres of land artificially cultivated, and this depended upon the use of the waters of the Indus. Those waters must be conserved and this conservation must begin in the hills of Kashmir. The very life of [Page 784] Pakistan thus depended upon Kashmir. However, he felt that it should not be difficult to find a solution to Kashmir if three elements of the questions were taken fully into account: (1) The people of Kashmir had a stake in their future; (2) Pakistan had a stake in Kashmir and (3) India had a stake in the area. Any solution reasonably satisfying these three elements would be accepted by Pakistan. A plebescite would be fine, but if that was not possible, he was prepared to consider any alternative which would satisfy the three points.

President Ayub related this problem and its solution to US aid to India. He felt that the US had tremendous influence in that country, since Indians relied on our aid. He hoped that the United States would use its influence, not by holding a brief for Pakistan but by holding a brief for the interests of the Free World. If this matter were not settled, both countries would be defeated and would go under. The United States might be the last to suffer from this but eventually its interests would be gravely involved.

President Eisenhower observed that the United States might in fact be the first to suffer from any conflict with the Soviet Union, but agreed with President Ayub that this would be true only in a global war. President Ayub felt that there was a great danger of non-communist countries being “nibbled away” short of global war.

President Eisenhower recalled that in 1956 he had had a series of talks with Nehru during which the Kashmir question was discussed.2 Without knowing the details of the dispute, the President had taken the line that there was no problem between Pakistan and India which could not be solved if both countries approached it with reason and good will. He was delighted that President Ayub had taken the initiative in endeavoring to improve relations with India and bring about solutions to outstanding problems. He would find it easy to resume his talks with Nehru along the previous lines, and he would be better prepared to talk on the subject, in light of his conversations with President Ayub. He had emphasized to Nehru that India and Pakistan should both face northward, not each other. At that time Nehru had been particularly disturbed over American military aid to Pakistan, and had raised the specific question of American bombers. President Eisenhower had told Nehru that we were helping Pakistan militarily because we thought it was in our interest to do so, but he had stated that if Pakistan should attack India, the United States would be on India’s side. Continuing, President Eisenhower said passive resistance was no good against communism, and he thought this concept might be a bit clearer today in India than it had been before. He observed that he could talk more satisfactorily with Nehru alone than with others present. Nehru was a contemplative type who liked quiet and [Page 785] relaxed conversations. President Eisenhower would try to see how far he could get with Nehru in this manner.3

(President Ayub handed to President Eisenhower a résumé of the points he had made, which he hoped might be helpful.)

President Ayub said that the United States was of course a free agent to give India anything that the United States wished. He wanted to say, however, that military aid to Nehru, in the absence of an agreement with Pakistan, would be disastrous for the latter. Indian Army forces were already three times greater than Pakistan’s, and India had always made clear that these forces were created vis-à-vis Pakistan. In the past they had bought certain tanks and rifles from the United States. Although they had paid for these weapons, the United States had extended economic aid to India in substantial amounts, and the result had been the same as though the United States granted the equipment. Nehru had objected to military aid to Pakistan, although his objection might now be somewhat less than heretofore. Nehru still wanted Pakistan to remain weak while India builds up its strength.

President Eisenhower inquired whether, assuming India and Pakistan should come to an agreement on the waters dispute protecting Pakistan’s vital interest in the matter of irrigation, and putting aside the question of who had political control of Kashmir, all troops on both sides might be withdrawn from Kashmir. President Ayub replied that this might be feasible if the area were not otherwise menaced, but that was not the case. He pointed out that parts of Kashmir were in dispute with the Chinese. If forces were withdrawn altogether, it was almost certain that the Chinese would simply move in and take over. Other points of Kashmir would fall to the communists. Thus, the area could neither be demilitarized nor made independent. President Eisenhower said he saw merit in this point, and thus could perceive of no answer but an agreement between the two countries.

In reply to President Eisenhower’s question as to whether the people of Kashmir were warlike, President Ayub responded that in general the population of the Vale of Kashmir were not. The inhabitants of other more rugged areas were.

President Eisenhower inquired whether, if the waters agreement were concluded, there might be a permanent division of Kashmir generally along the present armistice lines. President Ayub responded that this would not be possible. Among other things, it would mean that India would be within 15 miles of Pakistan’s vital communications system. [7 lines of source text not declassified]

[Page 786]

President Eisenhower understood that Nehru was born in Kashmir, and wondered which section. President Ayub responded that Nehru was not born in Kashmir, although his family came from there. Nehru had used this in arguing India’s position on Kashmir. It would, however, be like President Ayub saying that because his family was from Afghanistan, which it was, Pakistan should have Afghanistan. Certainly he was not claiming Afghanistan.

[4½ lines of source text not declassified] President Eisenhower replied that it of course was not his intention to negotiate. He could do little more than urge Nehru to get together with Pakistan to try to work out the problem, and he would not indicate what the Pakistani position might be. He saw great value in finding some way of solving the problem [1 line of source text not declassified]. He wondered whether it was necessary for Pakistan physically to possess the land from which the waters of the rivers originated. He mentioned that the economies of many areas of the world depended upon waters coming from other countries. He cited, for example, our arrangements with Canada which provided for the assured flow of waters without our owning the places of origin, and without any fortifications between the two nations. President Ayub said that the big difference was the spirit which prevailed between Canada and the United States on the one hand and between India and Pakistan on the other. If relationships between the latter two countries were not as they were, the problem would never have arisen. It was the lack of confidence between the two countries that led to the necessity of the World Bank’s intervention. In Pakistan’s view, India had taken away rivers that should belong to Pakistan and upon which Pakistan’s life depended.

Reverting to the question of United States aid to India, President Ayub again said that the United States should give India what was reasonable, but that it should insist that they solve their problems with Pakistan. It was a fact that Pakistan had reason not to trust India. In 1951, for example, the Indian Army had been given orders to move against Pakistan. Fortunately, Pakistan learned about this and its forces were in position in 7 days as against the 10 days that India needed. He hoped there would be no repetition of this, but there must be confidence. Pakistan should not be exposed to unnecessary dangers. If it should go down, American influence in all of Asia would diminish or disappear. Pakistan was a strong bulwark against communism; that was in fact the reason why it was the victim of most vicious communist and neutralist propaganda. He referred to the attitude of certain Congressional leaders concerning military aid to Pakistan, and mentioned in particular Senators Kennedy, Cooper and Fulbright, as well as Congressman Bowles. He said that he often wondered what [Page 787] happened to American Ambassadors when they went to New Delhi. On one occasion, one of them had been virtually insulted by Nehru and commented later that Nehru was “wonderful.”

President Eisenhower referred to President Ayub’s recent visit to New Delhi and wondered whether Nehru had indicated any desire to return the visit. President Ayub responded that the Foreign Minister had asked Nehru to stop in Pakistan en route to or from Afghanistan, but Nehru had declined. He felt Nehru was suspicious and hard-headed, and was loathing every minute of the present situation in his relations with China. Nehru much preferred to bask in the shade of communism and wanted and expected to have the USSR intervene to ease the current tenseness with China. [1½ lines of source text not declassified]

Concluding this part of the discussion on India, the President said that he would do his best in his talks with Nehru to contribute to a greater willingness on the latter’s part to solve the problems between the two countries.

President Ayub reported on his recent visit to Iran and Turkey. He said the CENTO alliance was responsive to the aspirations of the people of the three countries. They were all prepared to fight against communism. CENTO was a shield for the Middle East and Africa and for South Asia. The three regional members had no means to equip themselves for the defense of the area, and no one but the United States could come to their assistance. President Ayub knew of the great problems of the United States. He also realized that European countries should help meet the burden of assistance to free world nations. European nations now needed no assistance and should shoulder their own burden, so that the United States could help those who could not help themselves.

President Eisenhower agreed that Europe was, in general, in a good position. The principal exceptions were Italy, which has acute budgetary problems and diminishing reserves, and the Dutch who had taken on more than they could handle. Other European nations should do more. In any event, these problems were very much in his mind. He observed that he had no question that in Pakistan and Turkey we had sturdy allies.

President Ayub responded that the two countries were certainly sturdy. It was important that none of the regional CENTO nations be permitted to become frustrated. The situation in the area would become highly dangerous in that event. If Pakistan, for example, did not receive American support it was inevitable that the Chinese sooner or later would get it, as well as India.

President Eisenhower observed that the Chinese were threatening us. They had made particularly strong threats about Formosa, and were told off. They had done nothing about it, because they were not [Page 788] ready. There was great need, of course, to review the long term situation and danger, as well as the short term. This again underlined the importance of solving problems between India and Pakistan.

President Ayub said the Shah of Iran needed to be “bucked up.” He was the only man on the surface in Iran able to run the country. One of his great problems was that he tried to centralize too much, and did not delegate authority to able people who could help him. Iran must be strengthened, since there was a danger of collapse, and if this should occur it would be similar to what happened in Iraq. Since it was contiguous to the Soviet Union the results would be far graver.

President Eisenhower observed that the Shah no doubt was a fine man, although he had many difficulties and dilemmas. Under his system, he must rely for support upon notables and wealthy people, and this made the population unhappy. It was a situation upon which the communists could capitalize. President Eisenhower said that he liked the Shah very much. He had had four meetings with him and was greatly impressed with him. He feared, however, that unless the Shah could undertake effective reforms his position would be weakened. The President wanted to help him in any way he could.

President Ayub commented that the CENTO force goals were extremely low. He understood the United States attitude of not wanting to increase these forces; however, he felt they must be modernized. They now had a mixture of American, British and other equipment and it was difficult to operate an army in these conditions. He wanted a greater degree of uniformity, and felt that Pakistan should go on a completely American basis. There was a real problem, for example, as to who would supply UK caliber ammunition if Pakistan forces were called upon to fight together with their allies. Pakistan should also have missiles. The Air Force had inadequate equipment for its present role. He referred to overflights of Pakistani territory by USSR and Chinese planes, and the inability of the Pakistan Air Force to do anything about them. It should have some F-104 aircraft. President Eisenhower said that he was not sure about the situation with respect to F-104’s, and asked whether F-100’s might not be adequate. General Goodpaster commented that it was a good plane and some had recently been provided to the Germans. President Ayub commented, however, that the F-100 was obsolescent and it would be a mistake for Pakistan to have anything that would soon be out of date. The change now should be for planes in the F–104 class.

President Eisenhower inquired about Pakistani radar, and President Ayub responded that it was being established, but that more was needed. He discussed this requirement also in the context of over-flights. Continuing, he said that he needed the Nike-Ajax missiles, as well as sidewinders.

[Page 789]

President Eisenhower discussed the characteristics of these weapons, and indicated that he would give the matter further thought.

President Ayub said while he was not pressing for American membership in CENTO he understood that the Turks had urged that the United States join. President Eisenhower responded that we had felt that our views on this question had been sound. We had, from time to time, reviewed our policies to see if they should be changed, and would continue to do so.

Responding to President Eisenhower’s query as to why the Pakistanis did not look more to the British, in view of their historic relations, for assistance in military matters, President Ayub said the problem was that the British had no resources. Moreover, he commented that there were perhaps too many “historic relations” to make this feasible.

President Ayub stated that the regional members of CENTO had been pressing for a command set-up, since they felt the organization would be a “paper tiger” without one. He thought that it should have an American commander who would undertake to see what should be done to put teeth in the organization. It was in the interests of the United States for the organization and the local forces to become effective, since, if they could not protect themselves, it might become necessary for United States forces to protect them. When military aid had been attacked, he had asked whether it would not be necessary for the United States to make a greater military effort of its own if it were not for Pakistani and Turkish forces.

President Eisenhower said, in connection with President Ayub’s comments about the Commander-in-Chief, that it had been his understanding that the Shah desired that position. President Ayub confirmed this, but said if he were designated it would be on paper only. There would obviously be constitutional reasons why he could not serve in fact as Commander-in-Chief, and this role would have to be assumed by someone else, preferably an American.

At this point the meeting was adjourned to proceed to other items on the schedule, but arrangements were made to resume after lunch.

(At the beginning of the session, President Ayub described the armed forces strength of Pakistan and India, and handed President Eisenhower summaries of the figures.)4

[2 paragraphs (7 lines of source text) not declassified].

President Ayub stated that he needed anti-aircraft artillery. He would not mind if we did not feel that we could furnish the Hercules, but would be satisfied with the Nike-Ajax. President Eisenhower responded to the effect that he would consider the matter.

[Page 790]

President Ayub observed that Pakistan had had F-86’s for nearly two years. In a year or two they would have to be replaced, and the replacement should be on the basis of modern aircraft. There was an urgent need for modern tactical air weapons.

President Eisenhower again underlined the importance of making peace with India so that problems of this sort could be discussed without concern for the Indian reaction. President Ayub responded that peace with India would “save us.”

Turning to Afghanistan, President Ayub said that that country had no intrinisic strength [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. It had no economic resources and no military power. The country was created as a buffer because of a clash in Russian-British interests. Today Afghanistan maintained itself by playing off the Soviet Union and the United States. The population loathed the Royal Family, which had virtually no power and was torn by internal squabbles. The Royal Family had come to the conclusion that in any clash of interests between the USSR and the United States the Soviets would prevail, and reasoned that Afghanistan should be a friend of the Soviet Union. That view was held more strongly by Daud than by other members of the Royal Family, but was also shared to some extent by Naim. Perhaps other members of the Royal Family were not beyond recovery. The King was pro-Western [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Daud was forceful and ambitious, but dumb, and had visions of some sort of Aryan empire with the Royal Family at its head. Afghanistan was getting enormous quantities of aid from the Soviet Union. Pakistan calculated that Soviet aid totaled $610 million, of which $441 million was for military purposes. It was possible to draw the conclusion that, in order to maintain the installations and facilities created by these expenditures, assuming only 15 to 20 percent for repairs, re-placement and servicing, Afghanistan would require $100 million per year. The total budget was only about $60 million. He asked where Afghanistan could get even this amount, and said that the annual requirement was even greater since perhaps $45 million per year would be required for servicing loans and paying for Soviet transport. It thus seemed clear that Afghanistan was completely sold to the Soviet Union.

President Eisenhower thought that, on the basis of this logic, Afghanistan would appear already “down the road” to the Soviet Union. President Ayub responded that they probably were. Daud might not believe this, but in any event he reasoned that, if the USSR should prevail and the communists should take over Afghanistan, they would have no alternative but to use him. They would, however, endeavor to obtain continued American support. They expected the United States to aid them so that they could “stay in the field.” The [Page 791] only possibility of recovering the situation might be for the United States to tell them bluntly that “we believe you have gone past the point of no return and unless you recover our support will be ended.”

President Eisenhower observed that if they were abruptly cut off they would appear to have no recourse but to become even closer to the Soviet Union. President Ayub said that he did not have in mind that they would be cut off at this point, but only threatened. He thought that if there were any way to bring Nairn into power he might be made to behave himself. Naim was inclined to be jittery and perhaps would be much better in present circumstances. He commented that Nairn’s visit to China and later to the United States was to get the best from both sides. He had information to the effect that the Soviets were very upset when Naim went to Washington.5

President Eisenhower stated that our estimate of the situation was not as gloomy as that set forth by President Ayub. The problem was one about which we were anxious to try to do something. He hoped that this would be possible. He did not see how the Royal Family could seriously believe that they could survive a communist take-over. Daud would indeed have to be very stupid to believe that.

President Ayub replied that Daud was very stupid, and that that was the key to the situation. The Afghans were not Muslims nearly as much as they were opportunists.

Responding to President Eisenhower’s query as to the real nature of the Afghan claim against Pakistan, President Ayub said that it went back to the 18th century when an Afghan dynasty controlled parts of Pakistan. The British took over the area and later relinquished it to independent Pakistan, and the Afghans claimed that it should revert to them. Answering Mr. Murphy’s question, President Ayub said that the Russians were strengthening a hostile feeling among the Afghans against Pakistan, and were making trouble in every way possible between the two countries. President Eisenhower inquired as to what value Afghanistan would be if Turkey, Iran and Pakistan continued to strengthen their ties, and peace with India should be established. President Ayub responded that it was the space in Afghanistan which was important; if the Soviets should get that, they would be 500 to 600 miles nearer Pakistan. The natural defense line for the Subcontinent was the Hindu Kush. In time of emergency the USSR would simply move into Afghanistan and tell the Afghans to move out of the way. They would then pose a direct and immediate threat to Pakistan.

President Eisenhower observed that if the situation in Afghanistan was so far gone, it was difficult to understand why the Afghans [Page 792] were so anxious for him to come to Kabul.6 President Ayub thought that the Afghans no doubt earnestly wanted the visit. They wished to receive continued American support, and would bargain for it. They intended to deceive President Eisenhower into believing that continued American aid was in the interests of the United States.

President Eisenhower observed that his time there would be very short and all he could do would be to show his interest in Afghanistan and express his concern over the situation. President Ayub said that it would be very helpful if President Eisenhower should tell the King and Daud that he was fearful of where the present situation would lead Afghanistan.

[1 paragraph (6 lines of source text) not declassified]

President Ayub gave President Eisenhower a paper indicating typical radio broadcasts from Afghanistan against Pakistan. He also provided a paper showing why the Afghan claims were fallacious. He commented that Pakistan had shown tremendous restraint in matters of this sort. The difficulty had gone beyond mere propaganda, and Afghans had sniped and killed Pakistanis, blown up bridges and undertaken various other acts of this sort to foment trouble. He observed with a smile that a group came in to raid Pakistan territory and were immediately met by Pakistan forces which killed 300 Afghans.

Since then there had been little action of this nature since the Afghans knew that the Pakistanis could beat them at any time.

[1 paragraph (6½ lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1521. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Rountree. The source text indicates that the conversation took place at President Ayub’s residence.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. VIII, pp. 319 ff.
  3. Eisenhower was scheduled to arrive in India on December 9 for a 5-day visit. See Documents 247 and 248.
  4. Copies of the charts which Ayub handed to Eisenhower are in the Eisenhower Library, Staff Secretary Records, International Series.
  5. Afghan Foreign Minister Naim visited the United States in October 1959; see Documents 138144.
  6. Eisenhower was scheduled to fly from Karachi to Kabul on December 9 for a 1-day visit; see Documents 150 and 151.