87. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


A New Look at Pakistani Tie

The offensive Pakistani demarche to Rusk on 3 January (State to Karachi 1294)1 and presumably Ayub’s letter to the President,2 which in effect lecture us on how we ought to conduct our policy toward India, crystallize my latent feelings that we ought to consider a new tack in our relations with Pakistan. Our basically different views on how to deal with the Afghan, Kashmir, and Indian problems have been apparent in the series of exchanges the New Administration has had with Ayub.

Ayub’s main concerns are Pakistan’s position versus Afghanistan and especially India—he isn’t really much interested in the larger conflict in which we are involved. He patently views his alliance with the US primarily as insurance against Indian and Afghan threats, and as a means of leverage vis-à-vis Nehru and Daud.

One can understand and sympathize with Ayub’s preoccupations. As the weaker power on the subcontinent, fearful of eventual Indian attempts to reunify it, he sees a need both for an aggressive stance and for an outside counterweight to India. One can also sympathize with the Pakistan case on Kashmir and Pushtunistan. But to the extent Ayub uses his alliance tie to push us into supporting his forward policies vis-à-vis India and Afghanistan, he forces us into a position which runs contrary to our larger strategic interests in the area.

And this is what he is trying to do. His “post-Goa” letter makes this abundantly clear. I am well aware that we always try not to fall into this trap, but in our very forthcoming policy toward Pakistan, and in our concern lest we offend a staunch ally, do we lean over too far? I fear that in the Ayub visit last July, and the many exchanges since, we have failed to get across to him the limitations on, as well as the benefits from our support. Instead he seems to have gotten the feeling that we are so attached to him [Page 180] as an ally that he can pursue his own aims with renewed vigor, and drag us along with him. Whatever the merits of the Pak case on Pushtunistan and Kashmir, it is Ayub who has taken the tactical initiative on both issues. Now he wants us to lower the boom on India. Meanwhile, we continue to shower him with favors (the latest a forthcoming $500 million commitment to the consortium supporting his new development plan).

What do we get from our Pak alliance? True, we get some highly important facilities, and I am the last to deprecate their value. However, I’m not sure that we’ve gotten a lot else from it so far, except a paper commitment to SEATO and CENTO on which it is hard to see how Ayub could effectively pay off in more than peanuts.

I would presume that, broadly speaking, our strategic interest lies in having a strong and stable subcontinent as a counterweight and counter-influence to the Communists in Asia. Essentially, this goal requires us to ameliorate and eventually dissipate the tensions between the countries within the subcontinent, not only in our long-range interest but in the interest of their own survival against a much larger threat. Thus, our aim must be to resolve such disputes as Kashmir and Pushtunistan which essentially distract and divert these countries from the goal we have in mind.

But if we must choose among these countries, there is little question that India (because of its sheer size and resources) is where we must put our chief reliance. True, the Ayub regime is far more “pro-Western” than the Indians (though it is questionable whether most Pakistanis are really less neutralist than Indians). In any event, are we more interested in a Western-oriented weak ally or a strong neutralist India able to defend its own national interests (which happen to broadly coincide with ours).

What has moved India toward us in the last few years? Essentially it isn’t our policy or our increasing generosity in supporting India’s ambitious five-year plans. It is the Chinese pressures on the northeast frontier. Over time, the conflict of interest between Peiping and Delhi will almost certainly grow rather than decrease. And sooner or later the Indians will come to realize that the arena of conflict is not only along the Himalayas but in Southeast Asia as well.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s chief preoccupation will long remain India. Ayub’s whole policy is built around this central theme (as his post-Goa letter makes abundantly clear). I question whether it is in our strategic interest to cater even indirectly to his concerns, beyond reinsuring him against Indian attack.

Would Ayub go neutralist if we were tougher with him? I wonder. As the weaker power on the subcontinent he needs external support. And where can he get it? The Russians, no more than we, are going to give Pakistan priority over India. Could the Chinese help much? In the last analysis, Pakistan needs the U.S. connection more than we need it.

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What I am leading up to is my growing conviction that we had better take a new tack in our approach to Ayub. Instead of showering him with consortium aid, instead of using kid gloves on the Pak/Afghan transit issue, instead of letting ourselves be dragged along on Kashmir, and instead of allowing him to think that he can continually get more military aid from us to use against India, perhaps we had better give him a clear idea of the limitations on our ability to come to his support. Otherwise, we are simply storing up more and more trouble. If the objective of our policy is to achieve compromise solutions on Pushtunistan, Kashmir and related intra-SOA disputes, we are going to have to start leaning a bit more on one side or the other. Whatever the merits of either side in the dispute, it is pretty clear where we’ll have to lean.

We should guard against regarding such disputes as Pushtunistan and Kashmir as intractable quarrels which only time will solve. History suggests that more often they flare up eventually into serious crises, especially when agitated by an activist like Ayub.

In sum, so many problems are piling up in our relations with Pakistan that before we approve a new consortium which will involve some $500 million in U.S. cash, perhaps we had better take a new look at our Pakistan relationship and ask whether we are giving too much and not getting enough in return. I urge we do this before we have played a hole card in firmly committing ourselves to massive development aid.

R.W. Komer3
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memoranda, Robert Komer, 1/62. Secret. Copies were sent to Kaysen and Rostow.
  2. Telegram 1294 to Karachi, January 3, summarized the conversation on that day between Rusk and Ahmed and the aide-memoire presented to Rusk by Ahmed. (Department of State, Central Files, 753D.00/1-362) For a memorandum of the conversation, see Document 84.
  3. Document 83.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.