330. Telegram From the Embassy in Portugal to the Department of State 0
Lisbon, September 6, 1963, 7 p.m.
239. Eyes Only for President and Secretaries of State and Defense. From Under Secretary. Following constitutes my summary of the Pakistan situation as I found it during visit and should be regarded as basis for my report to President on Monday.
- There is no doubt that the GOP from Ayub down are filled with deep fear of potential Indian military action to destroy Pakistan. This has its roots in the frightful blood bath of the partition period. It is reinforced by recollections of Indian moves to seize Janagadh, Hyderabad, and Kashmir and the more recent cynical Indian absorption of Goa. It is the reaction of a small nation living next door to a nation four times as large which it hates and distrusts. It is pervasive throughout Pak society. It is the central obsessive basis of GOP policy.
- In providing military aid to India we have in Pakistan’s view upset military balance under which, in opinion of Ayub and military commanders, West Pakistan, at least, was defensible. The Paks cannot be reassured merely by emphasizing the preponderately defensive character of our aid to India. A key aspect of Pakistani strategy has depended on their ability to strike into India in the event that India attacked either the East or West wing, since the dimensions of Pakistan do not permit [Page 672] defense in depth. This element of strategy is frustrated as we help increase India’s defensive strength.
- There is no substantial difference between the Pak estimate and our own USIB estimate of Chinese offensive capabilities against India from the north although we put a somewhat higher estimate on Chinese logistic capabilities. We also agree with Paks that Chinese would not attempt to launch a major offensive against India. Where we do not agree is in the area of lesser objectives, in which Chinese might seek political, psychological, or territorial gains through limited military operations.
- Paks therefore see our efforts to help India, plus UK and USSR efforts to help GOI, to obtain a force level of 9 effective divisions as in effect providing India with the possibility of two armies. One army would be used to deter potential Chinese attack from north and the other army could be deployed and utilized in quick thrusts deep into Pakistani territories. Paks see, for example, that the new radar installations planned for Calcutta would have a range permitting full surveillance of the very limited Pak disposition of air strength in East Pakistan, while the increase in Indian armor and tactical air would permit an easy over-running of East Pakistan land defenses. Meanwhile the present Indian army reinforced in defensive strength could contain or attack West Pakistan.
- Believing as they do that China will not attack India from north, they see even less danger to Pakistan from any direct Chinese aggression. The one area of contiguous border which they regarded as indefensible was, they hoped, taken out of the play by their action in reaching an agreed demarcation line with the Chinese last March.
- They do see a Chinese capability for mounting an offensive against India through Burma as making far more military sense than an attack from the north. But this is an area of SEATO planning where US defensive power would be brought into play—and anyway they do not really think Chinese will mount such an attack.
- Pak’s profound fear and hatred of an aggressive India has led to a deep frustration approaching panic as they have seen their ability to defend themselves jeopardized by our aid to India. This frustration and despair translate into a sense of bitterness and betrayal when they are reminded that the shift in military balance has come about through the act of the US which they had regarded as their “best friend.” During my visit, the Paks tried, not altogether successfully, to express this feeling in terms of sorrow rather than anger, lamenting the fact that the US was making a tragic mistake in helping and trusting India. In their view Nehru is playing a devious Indian game that consists of milking the US for all possible aid with the intention, at the end of the day, of eradicating US influence from Asia. This is not merely Ayub’s personal view. It was expressed by Paks at all levels.
- Against this background the Paks are
unwilling to accept, as meeting their security requirements, any
military guarantee that the US is presently willing to propose. They see
the following deficiencies in any such guarantee:
- The Indians would almost certainly fuzz up the issue of aggression, particularly since action would most likely be started with a confused incident in Kashmir.
- The Americans—who have in the Pak view been consistently soft on Nehru—would be extremely reluctant to take military action against the Indians.
- US reluctance would be intensified by the probability that American intervention would invite a counter-threat of Soviet intervention, evoking the spectre of an escalating great power conflict.
- An Indian slash through Pakistan could occur very quickly in view of the lack of geographic depth, leaving the Americans confronted with a fait accompli which they would be loath to upset.
- The refusal of US to undertake joint planning against the Indian threat is taken as further confirmation of their prediction that an American response to Indian aggression against Pakistan would be slow and inadequate.
- Accompanying this fear bordering on despair, is a growing doubt in Pak minds whether their policy of alliance with the US is viable for the future. They see India getting benefits both from the US and Soviets by playing one country off against the other without incurring the additional exposure (in Ayub’s terminology “the political liability”) that comes from maintaining an alliance relationship. (Ayub cited, for example, Khrushchev’s recent threat of missiles against Pakistan if Paks continue to permit the US to maintain the Peshawar base as well as similar threats at the time of the U-2 incident.)
- While Paks are bedeviled by feeling that the logic of their situation might suggest adopting a course of conduct similar to that of the Indians—i.e. playing one against the other—they have no stomach for such business. Their hatred and contempt for the Indians make them averse to neutralism or neutrality which they regard as a typical Indian posture. (Note, for example, Ayub’s shying away from the full implications of “normalization” of relationships with Communist Bloc.) Moreover, as a Muslim people with a fierce “mountain tribal” sense of independence, they hate the Communists.
- As a test of American intentions, apart from our willingness to curtail aid to India, the Paks put greatest emphasis on our utilization of threat of curtailment as a lever to bring about Kashmir settlement. Kashmir remains the symbol of Pak-Indian difficulties. When pressed as to how Kashmir settlement could resolve the danger from potential Indian aggression, Pak answer is that if India ever brought itself to settle Kashmir on fair basis this would represent such a revolution in Indian policy as to make possible peaceful coexistence.
- At no time during my conversation with GOP did Paks raise question of additional military aid nor did I offer it. Silence on this point reflected conscious decision on Pak’s part that they must concentrate their efforts on trying to dry up flow of our MAP to India and thus maintain status quo in military ratio. This course apparently seems far better to GOP than pressure on US for additional military help that would enable them to maintain military balance at increasingly higher level, since Paks presumably could not win this race in the long run in view of the vast numerical superiority of Indian population and India’s greater resources. Moreover, Paks recognize the inadequacy of their economy to support matching acceleration of military build-up.
- This concentration on trying to bring about curtailment our MAP to India is also at least a contributing reason for their rejection of our offer of measures to give greater reality to assurances and the failure on their part to propose alternative measures, since they presumably feel that the acceptance of such measures might be interpreted by US as a license of US to continue military assistance effort to India.
- Against background of foregoing we must also take into account Pak deep conviction that India—neither under present leadership nor in future—can be expected to act as useful agent in South Asia on behalf of free world, or even as an effective counterbalance to Chinese theme of “Asia for Asians.” Thus Paks see our policy as threatening their very existence but producing no strengthening of free world.
- Yet in spite of all the foregoing it seems clear to me that in the last analysis, the GOP is not finally committed to any well-defined line of future policy. The impression was clear in Rawalpindi that GOP was groping for an effective new orientation while at the same time profoundly hoping US could be persuaded to return to former policy that would not include Indian military aid.
- Thus, we can assume that there is still a large element of indecision in Pak attitude. They will not, in Ayub’s words, do anything “stupid” nor act precipitously. At the same time it is my firm view that if matters are permitted to continue on their present course, we shall over a period of time see a gradual erosion of our influence with Paks, with mounting pressures for Pak move in general direction of neutralism. This could mean possible slow progression by small steps toward removal of “political liabilities” with Soviets and Chicoms leading to possible ultimate withdrawal of GOP from alliance. This last move would be taken only very reluctantly and only in response to sense of accumulating frustration.
- During this period of agonizing reappraisal on part of GOP, Ayub and his ministers all desire a continuance of close conversations with US. Thus Ayub quickly seized my suggestion that my visit be [Page 675] regarded as only the beginning of a series of close talks of which Bhutto’s forthcoming trip to the US could form a part.
- During this crucial period of rethinking in Pakistan, I urge that we
engage in a serious fresh look at our own South Asian policy to see if
formula can be found for sustaining effective relations with Pakistan.
Such a re-examination should, I think, be directed at at least three
general areas of policy:
- Critical study of potential character and dimensions of our MAP for India within framework of comprehensive policy for all of South Asia, including consideration of possible phasing out of Indian MAP at earlier point than heretofore contemplated.
- Additional measures to give realism to our assurances of military support for Paks, as for example, Indian Ocean task force.
- Additional MAP for GOP.
General Quinn has helped me prepare this telegram and he concurs. I am asking Ambassador McConaughy to cable his comments.1
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/BALL. Secret; Immediate. Received in the Department of State at 5:54 p.m. Repeated to Karachi eyes only Ambassador. Relayed to the White House.↩
- In telegram 523 from Karachi, September 8, McConaughy concurred entirely with Ball’s assessment of the situation in Pakistan. (Ibid.)↩