331. Memorandum for the Record0

Meeting with the President on Ball Mission to Pakistan


  • The President
  • State
  • Secretary Rusk
  • Under Secretary Ball
  • Under Secretary Harriman
  • Dep. Under Secretary Johnson
  • Asst. Secretary Talbot
  • Defense
  • Secretary McNamara
  • Paul Nitze
  • General Quinn
  • CIA
  • John McCone
  • White House
  • McG. Bundy
  • R. W. Komer

Under Secretary Ball summed up his impressions of Pakistani visit. He thought central thrust of Pak policy was deep, obsessive fear of India. We were mistaken if we thought this merely tactical. Rusk asked for a look at whether this fear had grown in last few years—he thought it had. Harriman commented that when he saw Ayub in ’55 latter was optimistic over Indo-Pak settlement, but no longer. Ball continued that what touched off the current outburst of Pak fears was US military aid; they feel they’ll be overrun—East Pakistan manifestly was indefensible. But they want the old 3-1 ratio maintained at least. Their main pitch to Ball was to stop US aid to India; but now they’ve conceded to McConaughy they can’t get this, so they want more balancing MAP from us.1

Ball went on to say that Ayub’s own domestic position is not as secure as it was; strong popular sentiment exists for a deal with China. The rationale is that, after all, Americans condone Indian-Russian relationship. But this line was not to Ayub’s personal taste or Bhutto’s. When Ball pressed Ayub about precise meaning of Pak intent to go on “normalizing relations,” Ayub was extremely fuzzy. He was categorical that alliance with Peking was not what they had in mind. Nor would they pull out of CENTO and SEATO. So what it seemed to come down to was increased trade relations, perhaps cultural relations too. Ayub felt he had to go this far for domestic political reasons, but would not go any further. So Ball saw this as an empty threat. He had no real fear they’ll go very far down road toward China and USSR, unless “pushed to the wall” as Ayub put it.

The President asked about Peshawar. Ball replied that when he taxed Ayub privately, the latter admitted he’d made “2/3 of a commitment” to McCone. He needed more time since Assembly was in session but intended to go ahead with expansion.

Rusk asked if Ayub knew how little we were actually doing with the Indians. Ball said this never really came up. Quinn thought the Paks [Page 677] really knew; their intelligence was excellent. Ball said it must be understood that the Paks were not wholly rational on this issue. They were reacting to the very fact we were helping, not so much to the amount of help.

Ayub had dismissed Ball’s suggestions for closer military relations with us, because he feared we’d take this as carte blanche to go ahead with MAP for India. Ball summed up by saying we should re-examine the Pak-Indian military balance. Perhaps we should give supersonics to neither. In the meantime, “let’s be cagy with Bhutto when he comes.” We could go ahead with some economic aid before Bhutto comes, but not the airport loan. We were not at any point of immediate crisis; “Ayub said they wouldn’t do anything stupid.” The visit gave him a chance to blow off steam. We also need to do enough for Ayub to permit him to hold his position, because he’s a lot better than anyone else in Pakistan.

The President asked why Ayub had no interest in pre-positioning, etc. Ball said he feared we would take this as putting us in a position to go ahead with India. Quinn further elaborated on their position as being that CENTO planning took care of the Communist threat, so there was no use in bilateral planning unless we were ready for planning against India.

The President left the room at this point. Mr. Ball, continuing the discussion, suggested that we not resist too much any little gestures of the Paks toward Peking because then they have less incentive to try them. Perhaps we shouldn’t have objected to the civil air agreement.

Rusk asked how about pre-stocking equipment for India in Pakistan, to be released only in event of Chicom attack. Perhaps this was grasping for straws. Talbot felt the Indians wouldn’t be very happy over this.

McNamara was certain that over the next six months the Paks would become interested in the dual-purpose moves we proposed. If General Taylor stopped in Pakistan in early November on his way back from CENTO and re-raised these matters, he might get a pretty good response.

Ball interjected that the Paks feared India, with our help, would create two armies, one to block the Chinese and the other to take on Pakistan. McNamara agreed with the Pak feeling that they had a serious military problem. Indians could reach a level when they could lick the Paks soon. It wasn’t US military aid that created this problem, but India’s increase in its own military budget from around a $750 million level before the Chicom attack to $1.8-$2 billion later. Our aid to India was marginal so far. But we couldn’t build up Pakistan to the point where it matched far larger India. The only useful counter for the Paks was not US military aid, but the promise of US military support if they were attacked. Since the Paks couldn’t possibly match Indians, they’d increasingly [Page 678] look to us for the military guarantee China couldn’t really give them. It was too far away. So let’s pursue this line when Bhutto is here, and then when Taylor goes out.

Rusk asked whether the real problem was fear of India or Pak fear that an Indian buildup would prevent Pak military pressure on India over Kashmir.

The President returned to the room, and Secretary Rusk summarized the sense of the meeting: (1) We had reasonable assurance the Paks won’t withdraw from CENTO or SEATO; (2) We had reasonable assurance on continued use of Peshawar and a fair prospect they will go ahead with expansion; (3) We were not so sure there wouldn’t be further flirtations with the Chinese. However, Ball commented that these were unlikely to go very far and we should not make too much noise about them. Ball couldn’t believe that they’d go as far as defense relations with the Chinese. Rusk was not so sure, so felt we should look at the alternative possibilities.

The President wondered if there wasn’t danger of an informal understanding that the Paks would attack India if the Chicoms did. Ball and Quinn both thought this highly unlikely. The Paks didn’t want to get overcommitted to Peiping. Ball’s visit would also produce some Pak second thoughts, as was already evident from Ayub’s subsequent talk with McConaughy.

The President asked about Joe Alsop’s thesis that the Chicoms just might attack again. Bundy said CIA doesn’t think so; Joe was just sniffing the fearful air of New Delhi.

After Mr. Ball described how General Quinn had beaten Ayub at golf, despite Ball’s orders, Quinn briefly described the difference in Pak and US estimates of the Chicom threat. In essence there was only minor disagreement over capabilities, but a larger one on intentions. The Paks just didn’t think the Chicoms would attack again, but we saw this as a possibility.

(The meeting then turned to the Lisbon visit.)

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings with the President, 8/63-11/63. Secret. Drafted by Komer. The time of the meeting, which was held at the White House, is taken from the President’s Appointment Book. (Ibid.)
  2. McConaughy reported on September 9 that he had reviewed the Ball visit with Ayub the previous evening. Ayub indicated that he was prepared to try to live with the repercussions of some limited continuation of the U.S. military assistance program to India, provided that there was a balancing increase in U.S. military assistance to Pakistan. (Telegram 526 from Karachi; Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/BALL)