142. Memorandum From Robert Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson1

Postponement on Pak Consortium, which McConaughy personally told Ayub about on 3 July, was quite a shock. Ayub apparently took the Congressional argument quite well but asked about the “other problems” mentioned. McConaughy mentioned the general foreign policy area, at which Ayub launched into a defense of Pakistan’s “independent” foreign policy. His ChiCom policy was aimed solely at avoiding provocation of China. As for Vietnam, Ayub looked on this as essentially an example of “big-power rivalries.” He said that the US wanted its associates to be “only satellites—non-thinking followers who blindly acquiesce to US policy.” Ayub opined that the postponement clearly represented the beginning of a new US policy toward Pakistan. He said that anyone could see that this amounted to more than a mere delay. His immediate reaction was that Pakistan would have to look elsewhere for development aid; if this proved impossible the Paks would simply have to retrench. He did not register any interest in sending someone to the US.

Ayub’s foreign policy explanations were so thin that even McConaughy went back at him sharply. To characterize Vietnam as “big power rivalry” was far from the mark. The issue was the freedom of Asian countries to exist free from Communist intrusion. This was more important to the free Asian countries than it was to the US. He made a strong plea for Pakistan to declare itself on Vietnam. As to the allegation that we were only looking for satellites, McConaughy invited Ayub to look at some of the Asian countries that were standing four-square behind us—such as Turkey, Iran, Thailand or the Philippines. Would he brand these countries as satellites?

McConaughy’s judgment is that Ayub considers the US is taking a fundamental decision to force him to make a clear-cut choice between the US and an “independent” policy.2 Ayub almost certainly sees our position as creating a tough problem for him either way he turns, succumbing to US pressure or sustaining loss of US aid. Either could undermine confidence in his leadership and provide a major issue for his opponents. As McConaughy points out, Ayub has been riding high and undoubtedly considers consortium postponement as a US effort [Page 293] to whittle him down. So “a fundamental showdown with Pakistan is thus abruptly looming for us.”

McConaughy comments that he noted a distressing contrast to Ayub’s previous line of thinking; Ayub sounded at some points like an appeaser, an opportunist, an Afro-Asian extremist, and an advocate of full non-alignment. Our Ambassador sees this change as in part a result of Ayub’s adverse reactions to our policy, but notes that the “malign and near-hypnotic influence of Bhutto is probably the chief contributing factor.”

McConaughy’s best guess is that Ayub will make a cautious probe to explore our position more fully, but may not be disposed to send any emissary lest this be interpreted as a first step in surrendering to US pressures. He sees the most dangerous risk as a public crisis, which could be precipitated quickly by premature leaks leading to an outraged emotional reaction against US attachment of political strings to aid. He pleads that we avoid any Washington leaks suggesting pressure tactics, since the Paks would then feel compelled to come back with anti-US blasts.

Our best bet is to sit tight and wait for Ayub’s next move. Meanwhile we are working up contingency guidance to forestall any public spat. When the consortium postponement gets out, we can simply say that we want to wait until Congress appropriates the money and certain technical issues are resolved. All this will take delicate handling, but my hunch is that Ayub is too smart to jeopardize his meal ticket by lashing back too hard just yet.

R. W. Komer 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 12, July 1965. Secret.
  2. McConaughy conveyed this assessment in telegram 19 from Karachi, July 5. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, AID 9 PAK)
  3. McGeorge Bundy initialed below Komer’s signature.