12. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State1

1456. Bhutto Nov 29 meeting with President.2

After dinner which I gave in Rawalpindi evening Jan 25, FonMin Bhutto in relaxed and confiding mood told me in strict secrecy of what he termed hitherto unrevealed aspect of his Nov 29 conversation with Pres in Washington.
He said that he had been given highly important oral message by Pres Ayub to convey directly and personally to Pres Johnson. This was distinct from the routine written communication which he delivered.3 Bhutto said he had planned to convey this oral message near end of the meeting. Bhutto said that before he got around to delivering the message, Pres Johnson tackled him on the matter of the invitation to Chou En-lai to visit Pakistan. He said that frankly he had not expected to be reproached on this subject at that time considering the circumstances of his visit to the US and he was taken aback.
Although his instructions from Pres Ayub were unequivocal that the message should be delivered, he made a quick decision not to convey the message feeling that the atmosphere was not right for the conveyance of his message in the wake of the President’s remarks about the GOP invitation to the Chinese Communists. He thought the delivery of the message would seem inappropriate under the circumstances, and its impact would be lost. He said he even felt that it might seem like a weak, unauthorized and improvised defense against the criticism levelled at the GOP action.
He said he had told Pres Ayub of his non-delivery of the message, and the reason therefor, as soon as he returned to Pakistan. He did not state Pres Ayub’s reaction, but the inference was that Ayub had at least tacitly approved his action, since no further effort has been made to deliver the message.
He then said he would summarize the message to me. Message in words as close to those actually used by Bhutto as I can recall them, was as follows:

“My President (Pres Ayub) has instructed me to inform you (Pres Johnson) that you can consider yourself relieved of one worry, for my government will not under any circumstances reverse its present foreign policy. No government headed by me (Ayub) will enter into an alignment with the Communists or otherwise undermine the existing alliance relationships.”

Bhutto said that this assurance was to be categorical. It did not have any escape clause. It was unqualified so long as Ayub remained at the head of the GOP.
I agreed that message was of great significance and told Bhutto that I considered it most unfortunate that a means had not been found to transmit the message as an actual statement of prevailing policy.
It was quite clear that Bhutto did not consider that he was giving the assurance to me now as current Pakistan policy approved by the Pres. He considers that the matter is back in the hands of Pres Ayub and if the Pres wishes to state this to the US as a binding commitment, it will be up to him to decide on the means of transmitting it to the US Government.
Comment: Following my return from Rawalpindi, I with my senior staff have given serious consideration to authenticity and implications of this purported message of assurance. In general, we have some very serious reservations and are not prepared to accept Bhutto’s version at face value. More specifically our tentative conclusions are:
Ayub probably gave Bhutto instructions to give some sort of assurances to Pres Johnson but Bhutto, who probably had doubts as to wisdom of this action, seized on circumstances in meeting to justify not delivering message. We doubt Bhutto would tell me of message if none actually existed since I could check directly with Ayub. Furthermore, there is Bhutto’s request for meeting with Pres on grounds he had very important message from Ayub which was not in fact forthcoming. Our review of memcon also leads to conclusion Bhutto had more than adequate opportunity deliver message, but hesitated and then seized on exchange regarding Chou En-lai visit to rationalize its non-delivery.
Assurances quoted to me have no binding force and we suspect that Bhutto may be seeking get best of both worlds, trying to ease our concern by this backhanded quotation of intended message and yet avoiding putting assurances in form of actual commitment. Such action would be consistent with Bhutto’s posture in recent months.
In any event, Ayub had subsequent opportunities during Taylor and Shriver visits and during my Jan 14 meeting to give us those assurances and did not choose to do so.
There may well be element of threat in implication by Bhutto he not certain same assurances will be reauthorized by Ayub.
It is highly important that we probe in some discreet manner to ascertain what is back of this recital, and to see if Ayub now willing to give us assurance in categorical terms quoted by Bhutto. But this needs to be done without destroying my relationship with Bhutto. I will make recommendations after short further reflection.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 PAK. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Bhutto’s meeting with President Johnson on November 29 was summarized in telegram 755 to Karachi, December 2, 1963; see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XIX, Document 341.
  3. The written message cited by Bhutto expressed Ayub’s friendship and best wishes to the new President. The text of the message was transmitted to Karachi in telegram 756, December 2. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 US/Johnson)