265. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Visit of President Ayub Khan; Official Call by Acting Secretary Ball on H.E. President Ayub Khan


  • Americans
    • Acting Secretary Ball
    • Assistant Secretary Raymond A. Hare
    • Ambassador Walter P. McConaughy
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary William J. Handley
  • Pakistanis
    • H.E. President Ayub Khan
    • H.E. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Minister for Foreign Affairs
    • H.E. Ghulam Faruque, Minister for Commerce
    • The Honorable Aziz Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    • Ambassador Ghulam Ahmed, Pakistan Embassy
    • Min. Aftab Ahmed Khan, Pakistan Embassy

Mr. Ball said that he had talked to President Johnson about the conversation between the two Presidents earlier in the day. The President said that he hoped to have another talk with President Ayub that night.

Mr. Ball said that Ayub certainly must have received the strongest impression that Viet-Nam is a major preoccupation for us. It plays a significant role in our attitude toward China. President Ayub should also know that our Viet-Nam policy has very strong support in the United States. Some people have wrongly inferred from anti-Viet-Nam demonstrations in the United States that our policy does not have full American support. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We understand Pakistan’s geographic position vis-à-vis India, Communist China, and the Soviet Union. Yet Pakistan’s policies have created anxieties here. We must realistically face the differences between the policies of our two countries which are based on the facts available to both countries. We have already gained a better understanding in the brief time that Ayub has been here of Pakistan’s problems. Now we must see if we can find ways to identify our areas of common interest, welfare, and security.

[Page 507]

Mr. Ball went on to say that President Ayub should appreciate the high sensitivity of American public opinion about Communist China. Even though the press may have exaggerated matters we have indeed been concerned and disturbed about Pakistan’s relations with Communist China and particularly about the possibility of a military alliance. During the moments that Mr. Ball had been speaking about Pakistan’s relations with Communist China, President Ayub who had been listening intently, began to say softly and then in a rising crescendo, “No Sir, no Sir, no Sir.”

President Ayub then went on to say that there was absolutely no military alliance between Pakistan and Communist China and that he had told the President the same thing that day. He said that Pakistan could only exist with the protection of a larger country. “We are in an alliance with the United States”, he said. He hoped that this alliance would act as a deterrent to other countries seeking to dominate Pakistan. Pakistan’s objective is to see that no one aggresses against it and her alliance with the United States is not intended to be a threat against any country but simply a deterrent to possible aggression.

Continuing, President Ayub said that Pakistan had never given a thought to a military alliance with China and that in any event Pakistan has always thought that Communist China “couldn’t bring much against India.” He said that he did not know the situation along the vast borders between India and Communist China but had difficulty reconciling India’s military buildup with the dangers of Chinese aggression.

Mr. Ball said that he had talked to the President and that they had discussed the Tashkent meeting. We hope that something productive can come out of the meeting between President Ayub and Prime Minister Shastri. In our view the Soviets have a certain influence with India and he noted that the Soviets appear to be trying to increase their influence in Pakistan. There was, therefore, the possibility that the Soviets were beginning to use their influence to bring about an understanding between India and Pakistan. We welcomed an initiative of this kind and wished it well.2

At this point, Ayub commented that he had already understood this from a conversation between Ambassador Goldberg and Foreign [Page 508] Minister Bhutto. He said that Pakistan was quite prepared to go along with this initiative of the Soviet Union since it was a member of the Security Council, but he hoped that the United States and Britain would also take an initiative. He hoped that we would judge our relationship with Pakistan on the basis of a fundamental common interest, i.e., peace on the subcontinent, and that we should consider using our influence to bring this about. Pakistan was not irrevocably attached to the plebiscite. Arbitration might be acceptable. He said that even if there were a Kashmir settlement but no general reduction in weapons there would be a waste of effort in both India and Pakistan and both countries would be impoverished. Should there be war, both societies would be shattered and internal Communism would have its day. He then went back to his earlier point that there was nothing to stop the United States from taking the initiative and that the United States has more of a stake in the subcontinent than the Soviet Union.

Mr. Ball said that if there were progress at Tashkent we might be able to help in improving relations between India and Pakistan. He said that even if it was only a modest step like disengagement it would be easier for other nations to do something constructive, hopefully through the United Nations and the Security Council but, if not, through other arrangements. We felt that Pakistan should approach Tashkent with the hope of achieving something. The signs were encouraging. In the past, the Soviets had blocked the Four Power Commission idea and their past attitude on Kashmir had been extremely one-sided. We were, therefore, most pleased that they were now taking the initiative. Mr. Ball said that we are pragmatic about this kind of problem and that we are not concerned with winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Ayub then laughingly said, “But you should want to win the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Mr. Ball said that he had also been deeply concerned about the mounting spiral of military expenditures in the subcontinent and we hoped that a military buildup could be kept at a reasonable level. We had taken heart from Pakistan’s economic performance and had been most pleased with the way Pakistan had used United States aid.3

Mr. Ball then raised the question of a communiqué. Ayub looked quite blank and turned to Ambassador G. Ahmed, who said he had had no instructions about working on a communiqué. Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmed and later Foreign Minister Bhutto then spoke up against the idea of a communiqué, saying that this type of meeting was intended “to reduce the humps in the relations between Pakistan and [Page 509] the United States” and that they saw the meeting as an opportunity for the two Presidents to develop better understanding about the other’s problems and point of view. Under these circumstances they thought that a communiqué was unnecessary. Ambassador McConaughy and Assistant Secretary Hare spoke up in favor of a communiqué pointing out that at the very least the American press would speculate as to why none had been issued. At this point, Aziz Ahmed said that there would be no problems from the Pakistan standpoint since he had told a number of Pakistan editors that it was unlikely there would be a communiqué. The matter was left for further discussion the next day.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S Conference Files: Lot 66 D 347, CF 2569. Secret. Drafted by Handley on December 20. The meeting was held at Blair House.
  2. On December 16 Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson told Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin that President Johnson had indicated to President Ayub that the United States welcomed the Soviet initiative in arranging talks between Pakistan and India at Tashkent. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PAK) In a conversation with Walt Rostow on December 22, Dobrynin asked if the United States favored a particular Kashmir formula. Rostow indicated that it did not. Dobrynin said: “Be clear, we don’t have a Kashmir formula either; and we don’t propose to suggest a Kashmir formula at Tashkent.” (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., POL US–USSR)
  3. Ball covered a broader range of issues affecting U.S. relations with Pakistan in a conversation earlier in the day with Foreign Minister Bhutto. A memorandum of that conversation is ibid., POL 7 PAK.
  4. A joint communiqué was issued at the conclusion of the talks on December 15. Both Presidents indicated the importance they attached to a close and cooperative relationship and agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution of the outstanding differences between India and Pakistan. (Department of State Bulletin, January 3, 1966, p. 7)