187. Telegram From the Office in Pakistan to the Department of State1

38. I met one hour this morning with Pres Ayub and FornMin Bhutto. I asked Pres if report of large scale Indian attack true.2 His reply affirmative; at map he pointed out four areas current Indian activities: 1) Dara Nanak against Jassar; 2) Lahore-Macbulpura enclave; 3) south east of Lahore against Bedian Link Canal where Pak/[Page 361]Indian forces currently engaged east of canal; 4) north east of Lahore, air action against rail line. Said Indians have considerable concentrations of troops in Jammu and Pathankot areas with total 75 battalions near Kharian. Maintained this concentration was what forced Pakistan undertake Bhimber-Chhamb operation. Said Indians have offensive capabilities north from Akhnar which “we are watching,” and around Jammu. Estimated Indians want to go for Lahore, acted in hurry pushed by politicians. Rest of Indian armed forces closing in on area and probably expected be committed later. Said main military access route current Indian movements is along Patti, Harike and Mabul road. Responding my observation this appeared by major military undertaking Pres said, “Yes sir, it is catastrophic and we are getting ready for desperate fight.”

I observed both sides had sown wind and now reaping whirlwind of disaster. What with Mujahideen operations since August 5, Paks not clear of responsibility. Pres agreed but pointed to constant Indian harassments in area, and Bhutto interjected GOI since death Nehru has treated Kashmir as closed question refusing even discuss it. I stressed it nonetheless difficult for us understand Pak resort force, even granted it was on smaller scale than that which appears to have just overtaken them. Pres acknowledged point but commented events boiling this direction for some time. Ayub replied it quite clear Indians have now invaded Pak proper. There nothing else to do but prepare for fight to finish. Said friends have obligations to Pak. U.S. has obligations and GOP going to ask fulfillment. We also going ask other friends, “or so-called friends.” Added GOP must now ask you what U.S. proposes do. Said U.S. has great responsibility. Quite clear India got American arms only to fight against Pak. GOP warned United States, now it has come to pass. Ayub pointed to record of unilateral Indian action against the original U.N. resolution and against people of Kashmir.

I pointed to evidently clear Pak use of U.S. military equipment in Kashmir. Pres asked how could he deny those people arms. I pointed out bluntly that U.S. arms made available against Communist aggression not for local wars. Said I cannot predict how American government and people will react their use now. I stressed need Pak acceptance in principle UNSYG’s appeal and underlined this very pressing matter. Pointed out if GOP could accept appeal in principle, it should have greatest importance now as move toward cessation of hostilities. Ayub replied Pak had accepted original (1948) cease fire with understanding other things to follow leading toward settlement, but through all the years nothing had happened. I replied simple cease fire now essential first step any solution. Ayub said if there a package deal, GOP be prepared to consider. I stressed it first necessary put out conflagration and hardly possible discuss permanent settlement while house burning [Page 362] down. Ayub said GOP response Sec Gen’s appeal delivered today but now there new situation. Said let there be cease fire by all means but some sense must come of it too. I reiterated unlikely substance of matter could be fruitfully discussed in heat conflict and stressed first requirement now is stop shooting. Pres said, “First you honor your commitment to us. As to cease fire, if India ready talk, we can have cease fire in place, call it armistice if you like.” Bhutto interjected, would be possible have mutual Indian/Pak complete military withdrawal from all Kashmir. Ayub agreed. When I observed India likely to reject such a proposal, Pres agreed and maintained then it would be question of bringing pressure to bear. UN forces could maintain law and order in interim period if necessary.

I drew Pres’s attention to fact American people would now feel pulled squarely forward [toward?] middle destructive sub-continental conflict and tremendous pressures would arise not to contribute to internecine warfare and to suspend military assistance both sides. Bhutto declared no country outside sub-continent has such stake as U.S. this matter. Neither India nor Pak are Communist. U.S. has heavy investment both countries. U.S. occupies special position sub-continent. These fundamental considerations. I told Pres I wished he could meet face to face with Pres Johnson. I realized obstacles which new situation placed before any such meeting. I had intended renew suggestion two chiefs of state meet for discussion. Pres Johnson had wanted mutually beneficial discussion so things could be worked out by two leaders. Ayub responded would like take first opportunity such a meeting. Personally, believed there very little differences between us, only petty misunderstandings, but nothing real. Understood U.S. under pressure Vietnam and Pak under pressure also. Said differences will arise but basically impossible change geography and basic need both sides for understanding. I noted need for understanding higher now than ever. Ayub said “Whether you believe us or not, wherever we go we plead for U.S., because we are allies and you have helped us. I am chiefly responsible and very interested in U.S. alliance. It based not on whim but on sound factors.”

Pres said Pak only could assure security by alliance with U.S. He pleaded for understanding that given state Pak relations India, Pak cannot take risk of opposing massive ChiCom/Soviet power. Said, “If you wish us do anything which concerns us only, we will go the limit. But if it impinges on our relationships with others, we must weigh limits our possibilities. As long as you understand these two fundamentals, I cannot see serious difficulties arising between us. When I have opportunity see President Johnson, will explain this in detail.” Pres said GOP “has cause complain over U.S. support to India. We have right as friends and allies to complain to you. We do not complain to Indians. [Page 363] That would be pointless. you must understand we in difficult situation.”

Bhutto said it now necessary go back to basics. If one thinks only of cease fire, fundamental problem only gets worse and tangled upon charges and counter charges, actions and counter actions. Said now is time for honorable settlement. Said this is time when we “can use not pressure but realities of situation to press for honorable settlement.” Ayub said U.S. hopes not to come into middle of current Indo-Pak crisis and stressed in chorus with Bhutto, that nonetheless U.S. is in middle. President said U.N. weakened and won’t work. Said, however despite U.N., there are bilateral obligations. Said “You can warn us and India too, but you cannot avoid responsibility. You are on trial. You cannot hedge or hide from this obligation. Otherwise, dispute will go on interminably.”

I said we must try for solution through U.N. President replied, “All right, try but you have a bilateral obligation and we are going demand fulfillment.” I stressed case hardly clear, certainly not black and white. President said, “All right, all right.” I referred to provocations and counter-provocations on mounting scale by each side alternately. President responded Kashmir disputed territory, and GOP has not aggressed against Indian territory. I stressed dispute cannot be settled by force. President agreed.

I asked President whether I might with confidence report to Washington, GOP has no arrangement or understanding with Chinese Communists or Soviet Union. Ayub replied, “I can say, how will Soviets assist us, how can they? ChiComs will only do what suits them. If they could assist us, India could not have withdrawn troops from that northern border and thrown them against us. We have no obligation with USSR and they have none with us. We have not approached Chinese. We do not want them, for Russians and U.S. forces would come in. We do not want that.” I asked whether he expected ChiCom diversionary action. Ayub replied, “What Chinese or Soviets will do in future, I do not know. We have not heard anything of such intention. Naturally, they won’t waste any advantage.” I asked President whether he anticipated current crisis would stimulate communal disturbances. He said did not know, GOP had taken all reasonable precautions but in India that possibility endemic. I asked whether President anticipated GOP would be able maintain internal law and order. President replied, “Yes, it our duty and will do very best.”

Ayub said “You have role to play. You must and can play it. If sub-continent goes up in flames, as it will, what then? There are irresponsible men in Indian Cabinet.” I reiterated plea for positive GOP response SecGen appeal. I pointed out GOP would then be in strong moral and legal position in contrast previously defensive position re [Page 364] garding infiltrators. GOP could put itself on side of peace and put India on moral defensive if India failed to respond and GOP did. It historic decision and GOP stands at crossroads.

President said, “We will give them damn good battle. We not over optimistic, but we not pessimistic. As to cease fire, where does it get us?” Bhutto interjected, that resolution basic question would subsume question U.S. arms to both sides.

I pointed out consortium meeting question seemed overtaken although it remains for later consideration. At moment house on fire. I noted that with war, all bets off concerning consortium meeting. We naturally hope won’t be war when that date comes but who can say now.

Bhutto handed me aide-mémoire invoking our defense agreement reported Embtel 37 to Dept.3 Full text my discussion with President follows separate tel.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Flash. Received at 11:45 a.m., and passed to the White House at 11:47 a.m. Repeated to Karachi, London, New Delhi, DOD, CINCMEAFSA, and USUN. The telegram was also passed to USIB agencies.
  2. On the morning of September 6 Indian forces launched a four-pronged attack across the border between India and Pakistan in the vicinity of Lahore in the Punjab. (Telegram 409 to USUN, September 6; ibid., POL 27 INDIA–PAK)
  3. Telegram 37 from Rawalpindi, September 6, transmitted the text of the aide-mémoire. The aide-mémoire alleged that India had unleashed a war of aggression against Pakistan, and called upon the United States to fulfill the terms of the agreement entered into in 1959. Under the terms of that agreement, the United States would view any threat to the security, independence, and territorial integrity of Pakistan with the utmost gravity, and would take effective action to assist Pakistan to suppress aggression. (Ibid., POL 32–1 INDIA–PAK)
  4. Telegram 41 from Rawalpindi, September 6. (Ibid.) McConaughy reported his impressions of the conversation in telegram 43 from Rawalpindi, September 6. He noted that Ayub showed signs of strain but gave the impression of determination, and Bhutto made “occasional emotional and provocative interjections.” McConaughy quoted one such comment by Bhutto: “India commits aggression and Pak aid consortium is postponed.” McConaughy felt that while Ayub leaned on Bhutto’s counsel to some extent, he was master of his own house. And he noted that Ayub had given every indication of being anxious to improve his relations with the United States. (Ibid.)