29. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 32 – 61

PROSPECTS FOR PAKISTAN

The Problem

To estimate the prospects for Pakistan and the Ayub regime over the next year or so.

The Estimate

1. Field Marshal Ayub, President of Pakistan, took power by a bloodless military coup in October 1958. During the more than thirty [Page 61]months since that time he has grappled energetically with three fundamental problems: (a) how to give his government constitutional legitimacy and to make it more representative in character, and at the same time to infuse a spirit of national unity into his regionally-minded people; (b) how to encourage economic development in his resource-poor country; and (c) how to promote Pakistan’s foreign policy interests in a complex and changing international scene.

The Political Problem

2. Ayub’s personal authority in Pakistan is not under effective challenge. Despite some jealousies and dissensions among his top military and civilian advisers, he has managed to keep close control over them, to make them work effectively, and to retain their personal loyalty. The prestige of the army, on which Ayub’s base of power rests, remains high. (The army withdrew from the day-to-day affairs of government after the first few months.) Ayub continues to enjoy wide support among the civil and military services generally. The old line politicians whom he displaced have been intimidated, their party organizations shattered, and many of them have been personally discredited by disclosure of their dishonest and inefficient conduct while in office. Some important politicians, however, may have won a degree of sympathy due to the government’s moves against them; the Islamic zealots (Jamaat-i-Islami), the “Red Shirts” (Pushtun nationalists), and the underground Communist Party have retained at least a potential for organized opposition to the regime.

3. Ayub has attempted to bring to Pakistan a greater sense of cohesion and national entity than it has had since its very early days. He himself and most of his advisers are less affected by regional biases than many of their politician predecessors. By removing regional issues from the forefront of politics, Ayub has brought a period of stability and increasing centralization in which more effective national planning has been possible. He has not, of course, been able to eliminate the fundamental political and economic problems which arise out of the country’s division into two parts or the very deep cultural and linguistic divisions between East and West Pakistan and within the latter. Indeed, in some cases his firm policy of centralization may have enhanced regional loyalties—especially in the North-West Frontier area. As far as the bulk of the people are concerned, Ayub’s benevolent authoritarianism has not been particularly repressive. Although he still has fairly wide, albeit mostly passive, support in the country at large, significant elements still resent the fact that he is not a constitutionally legitimate and representative leader.

4. Ayub’s greatest weakness has been his lack of confidence and support from many of the politically-conscious elements in the country. These range all the way from impoverished students and petty trade unionists [Page 62]to successful professional people and influential intellectuals. Most of these groups resent their virtual exclusion from the governing process by Ayub. Many believe deeply in the ideal of the rule of law and have been associated with the parliamentary system. They are unlikely to be satisfied with any limited representative forms, such as the “Basic Democracies” scheme, which Ayub is now implementing.1 Though unorganized, their discontent has recently been manifested in student disturbances in Karachi and the locally famous “Snelson Case” in which the judiciary strongly repudiated what it construed as an effort by the executive to interfere in the traditional responsibilities of the courts.

5. We believe Ayub will continue to dominate the Pakistani scene for the next few years at least—although promulgation of a new constitution and full implementation of the “Basic Democracies” will change the forms through which his power is exercised and probably limit its extent. We anticipate that his regime will continue to be relatively honest and efficient, that he will be able to handle any dissension that develops among his advisers, and that his rule will not become unduly repressive. The period of constitution-making and elections (vaguely promised for 1962) will be a troublesome one, the more so the longer it is. In any event, Ayub is unlikely to win the trust and cooperation of most of the politically-conscious elements or to do more than make a start at weakening basic provincial antagonisms. However, he will probably continue to have a fairly broad base of primarily passive support.

6. The longerterm outlook is less clear. If Ayub is to consolidate his reforms and sustain their momentum, he will sooner or later have to broaden participation in the government and probably also provide some form of legitimate expression for regional feelings. We believe there is about an even chance that a workable form of limited representative government will evolve out of his constitutional experimenting.

7. However, it is going to be difficult for Ayub to share power. He is inclined by training and tradition to have little patience with civilian politicians and parliamentary government. He is still vigorous and relatively young (54); if he chose, he could probably go on for some time resting his power on his influence over the military forces and the lack of any satisfactory alternative to his own rule. In such a case, discontent would grow, narrowing the base of his support, and he would probably become more vulnerable to a coup by some other military leader or group—perhaps in alliance with particular civilian or regional interests. Should Ayub be killed or incapacitated, he would probably be succeeded by one of his senior military colleagues (perhaps General Azam, theGovernor [Page 63]of East Pakistan). In these circumstances, the problem of maintaining governmental stability would become still more complicated.

The Development Problem

8. At the core of Pakistan’s development problem are the country’s limited resources. Much of the land is desert, mountains, and jungle. Some useful minerals have been discovered, but with the exception of natural gas, their exploitation has lagged. The large population (93 million) is generally unskilled with a high percentage of illiteracy. The living standard is as low as that in any major country in Asia. Until recently, economic development has had a low priority and relatively little has been done to mobilize such resources as are available. The military force imposes a substantial burden on the country. Pakistan does, however, have two valuable, if not always dependable, cash crops (cotton and jute) and the potential at least for a substantial increase in agricultural production.

9. The President has selected honest and competent advisers in the economic field. He has restricted unnecessary imports, encouraged exports, and remedied the worst inequities of the land tenure and taxation systems without changing their basic structure. Fiscal policies have been reasonably successful in stimulating industrial production while restraining excessive inflationary pressures. Sympathetic economic policies and political stability have encouraged the private sector of the economy, and private as well as public industrial investment has risen significantly in the past two years. These developments have provided a tenable, though by no means solid, base for Pakistan’s Second Five-Year Plan (1960-1965).

10. In general, the new plan appears to be sound, although in its present form it may tend to emphasize unduly long-term basic development programs at the expense of useful short-term projects with more direct impact on the economy. The plan calls for total investment in the neighborhood of $5 billion and is intended to achieve an increase of about 20 percent in national income and about 10 percent in per capita income. Recent indications that the rate of population growth may be somewhat greater (about 2.2 percent annually) than was previously believed may shave the latter figure somewhat. Nevertheless, successful implementation of the plan would make possible a modest increase in the standard of living, though mainly in West Pakistan. This may prevent for the next few years at least the economic pressures on the political structure from becoming significantly stronger. It would also provide a broadened base for future economic development and encourage greater public interest and participation in the development process.

11. Execution of the plan, however, is dependent not only on the mobilization of domestic resources but on the receipt of large-scale foreign aid; an estimated $2.3 billion in aid (not including PL 480 surplus [Page 64]food grain imports) will be required for the 1960-1965 period, or about double the annual rate of recent years.2 This foreign aid is more likely to be forthcoming if domestic planning and mobilization of resources are handled effectively. If the pace of development is to be maintained beyond the plan period, substantial aid will need to continue, as it will be many years before the Pakistani economy is self-generating even under the best of domestic conditions. Thus President Ayub will continue almost indefinitely to be in the unpleasant position of being responsible for an economic development program the success or failure of which will be determined by external factors over which he can at best exert only limited influence.

International Position

12. The need for external assistance looms large in Ayub’s approach to foreign policy. He has made it clear that Pakistan relies for a major portion of its required aid, economic as well as military, on the US, that as an ally it should have a special right to such aid, and that the aid it has received to date has not fulfilled its expectations. At the same time, he has permitted his aggressive Minister of Fuel, Power, and Natural Resources, Z.A. Bhutto, to arrange for a $30 million oil exploration assistance project with the USSR and is now investigating the possibility of Soviet help in dealing with Pakistan’s serious water-logging and salinity problem.

13. Pakistan’s foreign policy problems are not just a question of obtaining external assistance, however. Ayub’s government is under considerable pressure from the Communist Bloc. The USSR has long been frank about its hostility toward Pakistan’s alliance with the West, and since the U-2 incident Pakistanis have been acutely aware of the threat of Soviet power. (The plane took off from Peshawar.) Soviet pressure has also been manifested in the growing Soviet presence in Afghanistan with which Pakistan is prone to connect the increasing unrest on its border with Afghanistan. In addition, the USSR has openly supported India and Afghanistan against Pakistan on the Kashmir and “Pushtoonistan” issues.

14. These issues are of themselves of immediate and highly emotional concern to Pakistan and there is a growing sense of concern over failure to cope with them adequately. The “strong” policy toward Afghanistan which the Ayub government adopted when it came to office has in fact increased Afghan intransigence and intensified unrest on the North-West Frontier. The cooperative policy toward India did facilitate a settlement of the Indus waters question, but it did not lead India to take [Page 65]up Ayub’s offer for a joint defense effort in South Asia, and most importantly, it failed to achieve any progress on Kashmir. Pakistan’s membership in CENTO and SEATO has not brought from the US the support on regional issues for which Pakistan hoped, nor have Ayub’s several trips abroad won any new support from the neutrals. Indeed, many Pakistanis fear that the US desire to maintain amicable relations with Afghanistan and to support strongly a major economic development effort in India are manifestations of an increasing partiality toward the “uncommitted” nations. A resulting frustration has tended to increase the existing neutralist sentiment within the country. On the other hand, a sense of growing crisis over external issues tends to increase national unity.

15. In this situation, more complex than any Pakistan has faced in the international field for some years, Ayub’s foreign policy is likely to seek greater independence within the framework of its pro-Western orientation. Additional technical and economic agreements with the USSR are possible, as are more comprehensive negotiations with Communist China on Himalayan border questions. Pakistan has already indicated its intention to favor Communist China’s membership in the UN; other shifts on emotional Afro-Asian issues and the establishment of closer ties with Tito and Nasser may follow. Ayub’s vigorous policy on the “Pushtoonistan” issue will probably continue. In addition, he will try to focus international attention on the Kashmir problem again, perhaps even by provocations or agitation in the disputed area.

16. Pakistan’s relations with the US will probably continue to be judged to a considerable degree in the light of US relations with India and Afghanistan. There are likely to be fairly persistent expressions of dissatisfaction with US aid and repeated requests for demonstrations of US confidence and support. In this atmosphere, the possibility will remain that foreign policy problems, especially if they are coupled with unfavorable internal developments, could seriously erode Pakistan’s close association with the US.

17. We believe this to be unlikely, however, at least for some time to come. Pakistan is firmly committed to the pro-Western alignment implicit in its SEATO and CENTO memberships, and short of a radical change in government it would be difficult for it to find a congenial place among the neutralist nations. In addition, Ayub and many Pakistanis have a genuine fear of communism. Moreover, Pakistan is heavily dependent on the US for both military and economic aid, and, despite occasional recriminations and manifestations of greater independence, Pakistan will probably continue to place its basic reliance on the West and to cooperate actively with it within the established framework of the alliance. Indeed, a major effort to demonstrate Pakistan’s loyalty and to win increased US support and commitments will almost certainly be made during Ayub’s visit to the US in July 1961.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79 R 01012A, ODDI Registry of NIE and SNIE Files, Box 184. Secret. A note on the cover sheet reads: “Submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence. The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.” All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on July 5, except the Atomic Energy Commission representative and the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who abstained on the grounds that the subject was outside their jurisdiction.
  2. The “Basic Democracies” are a series of representative bodies beginning at the village level. Except at the village level, election is indirect and some members are appointed by the government. No party organizations are involved. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. Approximately $1.8 billion is required for specific projects in the plan and $500 million for imports necessary to keep the economy operating at a reasonably high level. [Footnote in the source text.]