120. Memorandum of Discussion0


  • Discussion on Pakistan-U.S. Relations


  • Mr. Talbot
  • Mr. Grant
  • Mr. Cameron
  • Mr. Wriggins1
  • Mr. Horgan
  • Mr. Gatch
  • Mr. Naas

The meeting was called to discuss the current unsatisfactory state of U.S.-Pakistan-Indian relations. The attached outline2 prepared earlier in SOA was followed as a guide to the discussion.

[Page 244]

Briefly, the causes of concern to the US. at present are:

The drift apart of the U.S. and Pakistan; there is an absence of communication with Pakistan; Pakistan has not consulted with the U.S. on important actions—closure of Afghan offices, boundary talks with Chicoms.
There are indications of a possible reappraisal by Pakistan of its foreign policies; Pakistan leaders have made it clear that they are dissatisfied with the extent of U.S. support on those issues—Kashmir and relations with Afghanistan—directly affecting Pakistan security
At the same time, U.S.-Indian relations, possibly in the military field, may be entering a new phase as the Chinese Communist threat to India becomes more acute; and the U.S. will need added flexibility. The problem, therefore, is how to gain this freedom.

A. In these circumstances it becomes necessary to examine the following possible lines of action:

Fully support, at whatever costs, the political objectives of one or the other;
Adopt an attitude of “plague on both your houses” and effect a slow withdrawal from the area;
Attempt to treat both countries equally;
Attempt to continue, as we are presently doing, “to straddle.”

These four lines of action were discussed at length; conclusions are briefly given:


The value of our special relationship with Pakistan, particularly in the military field, is such that we cannot contemplate withdrawal. Also, the U.S. cannot yet accept the dissolution of CENTO and SEATO, which might follow if Pakistan withdrew.

On the other hand, India is of such importance that little or no consideration can be given to a major retrogressive change in U.S. policy toward it.

Although isolationist sentiment domestically would be satisfied, there is nothing to be gained by such an extreme policy.
It was concluded after lengthy discussion that equal treatment for India would be interpreted in Pakistan as a U.S. decision to change fundamentally the relative role of Pakistan and could adversely affect our interests in Pakistan.
It was generally agreed that the U.S. approach the current problem by investigating the possibilities of strengthening our relations with Pakistan in order to obtain the additional freedom of action to take the steps necessary to deal with India in the light of our national interests. An improvement in Pak-Indian relations is an essential element in gaining this additional flexibility.

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Basically, it was concluded that the U.S. would gain little or nothing by a major shift of our Pakistan policy and a great deal could be lost:

Such a move would remove irritations in our relations with India but it is unlikely a meaningful basic change in Indian-U.S. relations would follow:
India’s policy of non-alignment probably precludes significantly closer ties with the U.S. Also, for the present, India’s policy has advantages to the U.S., such as in the Congo.
India probably is not overly concerned with the threat of Pakistan to its security.
The Government of Afghanistan would be pleased by a basic change, but in our estimation would not alter its present policies towards the U.S. and U.S.S.R. In addition, we would gain no significant flexibility in our immediate problems of communications through Pakistan.
The area disputes would in our estimation be no closer to resolution. The “Pushtunistan” and Kashmir disputes are deeply rooted and would not disappear if we changed our Pakistan policy. They would continue to threaten area stability.
The U.S. would, however, have somewhat increased flexibility in dealing with India, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, but in view of the limitations on our actions placed by both countries the increased flexibility would not be of appreciable significance in the near future.

B. Having agreed that the advantages do not equal the disadvantages to the U.S. of a major shift, the main issue before us is how to maintain our relations with Pakistan and yet gain the freedom to be more forthcoming in relations with India, e.g., possible provision of military equipment. In the long run a basic improvement in Indo-Pakistan relations is a sina qua non for full freedom in dealing with India. In the short run, however, greater flexibility might be gained if U.S.-Pakistan relations could be strengthened; steps in this direction might include:

A full and frank exchange of views with President Ayub on our relations in order to pinpoint irritations, to identify Pakistan vital interests which we are prepared to support, and to expound to him our views on area and world problems. We believe the breakdown in communications has been a factor in the present drift.
The examination of ways to increase Pakistan’s sense of security.
A greater exchange of views and information on affairs outside the subcontinent.
Take a more positive role in the Kashmir dispute in order to show that an allied relationship does have benefits beyond the military and economic aid spheres.

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/SOA Files: Lot 64 D 571, United States, Jan.-July. Secret. Drafted by Naas on May 19.
  2. W. Howard Wriggins, member of the Policy Planning Council.
  3. Not printed.