27. Telegram From the Embassy Office in Pakistan to the Department of State1

47. Dept to determine distribution if any to other posts. Ref: Deptels 1182 and 1174.2

Assistant Secretary Talbot and I met with President Ayub March 11 at Lahore for one hour and 35 minutes.3 Discussion covered fundamental aspects US-Pak relations with Talbot setting forth in clear terms deep US Govt. concern over current GOP policies toward Communist China and India as set forth Deptel 1182. Ayub was cordial, gave Talbot full hearing but responded in firm terms expounding familiar Pak position on these issues.
In preliminary discussion Ayub expressed his admiration for President Johnson and asked particularly that his personal regards be sent to President and Mrs. Johnson and to Mrs. Kennedy. He questioned Talbot on impressions gained at previous stops during Talbot’s current trip and was particularly interested in Talbot’s appraisal of Nehru’s health. Talbot told Ayub Nehru not at all well although others in Delhi say he much improved. Talbot said he found in Delhi a mood on impending change in leadership but it quite uncertain how long it will take for change to take place and could be weeks, months or even year or two. He found Shastri impressive, quiet, serious and as man willing reach beyond set patterns. He mentioned Shastri prepared start talks on communal, refugee and eviction problems at whatever level desired. Ayub pointed out that he had offered such talks and GOI had avoided reply.
Following preliminaries, Talbot stated he wished to discuss with President Ayub basic state US-Pak relationship and how relationship can be reaffirmed and strengthened. US understood quite fully Pak concern over US policy toward India and we think Paks likewise recognize both strong efforts assure military aid to India will not have adverse effects feared by Pakistan as well as role played by aid to India in our basic anti-Communist posture in Asia. Naturally in this part of world our anti-Communist efforts directed against Communist China. Although we are also concerned by Soviet maneuvering, as we making clear in India. We are determined to help threatened countries in Asia to protect their security until they are strong enough protect themselves. US policy is to contain the Chinese Communist threat and do what is necessary to keep ChiComs from breaking out.
Talbot said that while US did not regard Chou En-lai visit by itself as necessarily damaging to US-Pak relations, Washington is increasingly anxious over indications that US and Pakistan approaches to Communist China issue are growing further and further apart. While we try to confine ChiComs in Southeast Asia, Pak actions seem to enable them to make hay in South Asia. He could report that USG as whole profoundly disturbed by this situation.
Talbot said US obviously has stake in stability and security of subcontinent. We would still like to pursue an overall subcontinental policy but until this possible in future we are working with India and Pakistan individually. However, US fearful that current differences in US-Pakistan tactical and strategic actions will cause at minimum confusion and doubt and at maximum much more serious problems. Talbot went on to point out that US assumes there are several things GOP desires from us: (a) credible assurances—which have been given, and are subject to refinement to assist Pakistan if attacked; (b) US continued commitment to its obligations under regional pacts; (c) continuation of US military and economic assistance; and (d) assistance in seeking resolution of Kashmir issue. US has met all of these requirements of Pakistan.
Talbot pointed out that in return US has certain requirements from Pakistan: (a) maintenance of its commitments to CENTO and SEATO which Ayub has recently reaffirmed; (b) assurances that Pak-ChiCom relations will not be permitted to develop in such way as to affect adversely US-Pak relations or disrupt US efforts to support and prop up countries in Asia resisting ChiComs (Talbot noted for example we would take amiss any Pak support for ChiCom initiatives with Afro-Asian nations against US security interests); (c) rejection of use of force against India. On substance of Kashmir issue, US stand is clear as restated recently by Secretary Rusk. We wish to be helpful. However, when we differ on tactics to gain this end, US must reserve to itself [Page 58] choice of means whose pursuit it will support. US is persuaded that unremitting pressure against India over Kashmir at this stage will have more adverse than favorable effects, for several reasons. First, political transition from Nehru is now at hand in India and pressure now on Kashmir would give leg up to anti-Pakistan extremists in resulting struggle for power. Secondly, within Kashmir current ferment could in itself produce real change but chances of this desired end far better if process allowed to develop without external pressures. US recognizes it differs with Pak on this issue but feels there is firm basis for its judgment.
In summing up, Talbot emphasized US anxious that it and Pakistan enjoy full, solid relationship which to benefit of both. We disturbed that Pak actions undermining our efforts to be helpful. As one example, we would like to see Pak restraint on criticism of US actions particularly since we feel we have exercised restraint towards Pakistan. With respect to China we know that Ayub perceives long-range ChiCom threat, but unhappily we differ on how to deal with Communist China. Concluding, Talbot said that President Johnson, who feels he knows Ayub well and who admires what Ayub has done for Pakistan, had felt that Ayub would appreciate candid statement of what is troubling us. Certainly President looks to strengthening of our relationship in spirit of mutual confidence.
Ayub then responded with restatement basic Pak position. First he stressed that Pakistan considers us its “natural friend” and, in fact, the “natural friend” of all small countries of Asia. In every instance where trouble arises from powerful neighbors—Soviet Union, Communist China and India—Asian countries look for friendship. Country most interested in their future is US. He reaffirmed Paks intended to continue membership in pacts. CENTO he especially considered vital for GOP protection; GOP also will remain in SEATO, which it joined mainly for sake of friendship with US, since it has no basic national interest of its own in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, Pakistan will not interfere with US actions to protect Asia and, in fact, Pakistan wants to promote strength and prestige of US.
Ayub said, however, that while GOP understands and appreciates reasons for US aid to India, it differs from US on this issue. Neither India nor Pakistan can be defended by itself and all invasions into subcontinent have succeeded when people in area divided. Therefore, defense of subcontinent needs some sort of Indo-Pak settlement, but US does not further this objective by its aid to India.
Ayub then set forth his concerns over Indian military buildup, over US failure point out to India danger of internecine war with Pakistan, and over US unwillingness to press India for Indo-Pak settlement. He said GOP had examined time and again Indian military [Page 59] requirements for defense against Communist China. At most ChiComs could use 16 brigades in northern area with one or two more in reserve. Therefore, he questioned where India could use 16, let alone 21, divisions and 45 Air Force squadrons. Ayub pointed out even Chinese railroad to Lhasa will not drastically improve Chinese logic position since railroad will not be open during winter months and at best will have capacity for maintaining two or three divisions. GOP has concluded India intends to revert to its initial focus on Pakistan as no. 1 enemy and there will be no further hostilities between China and India. Indian military build-up is constant threat to Pakistan and while GOP has US guarantee it feels in last resort it will have to depend on own resources. Furthermore, Indian military build-up has hardened Indian stance generally. This has had upsetting effect on Pak public and has contributed to difficulties such as eviction of Muslims and border firings. Therefore, while US is helping India as part of its worldwide involvements, Pakistan is more anxious about effect on it of India’s military build-up.
Ayub then went on to defend Pak-ChiCom border agreement stating Paks merely wished to avoid very situation India faced. He felt that, given difficult terrain in north and untenable military situation from Pak viewpoint vis-à-vis, Communist China, there was legitimate basis for border demarcation.
Ayub recognized it tragic that US-Pak relationship had become strained but what could we expect except that Pakistanis would be unhappy over US aid to India. He reiterated GOP has no intention of interfering with US actions in Asia and in fact wants to see US influence stay in area. He had made this point repeatedly in his trips to Burma, Ceylon and Malaysia. However, US-Pak relations had eroded due to US and Indian actions and Pakistan must decrease its military and political commitments in order to be free to deal with trouble from India.
On Chou En-lai’s visit, Ayub said Chinese had asked to come several times before Paks agreed. During visit he had spent half of discussion time urging settlement with US and pressing ChiComs not to do anything which would aggravate situation in Asia since Paks feel any turmoil in Asia will affect US interests.
Ayub thought basic difference between US and Paks is attitude toward India and assessment Indian intentions. GOP, having tried conciliatory policy without success, feels moderate approach will not achieve results. Ayub said there no statesmanship in India today and Pak people feel US siding with India against Pakistan. This is deplorable situation and prospect is, while US policy in India continues on present course, US-Pak relations will encounter difficulties. Ayub said he will continue endeavor to keep things in check and not let events be taken [Page 60] out of context. This will not be simple task since he under great amount of pressure. He is one who must defend established policy, and our present course in India throws added load on him here.
Talbot and Ayub then engaged in spirited exchange with Talbot continually pressing Ayub particularly on questions of Pak-ChiCom relations and Pak views regarding India.
In discussing Indo-Pak relations Talbot raised further points:
US feels its involvement in military assistance to India helpful and useful to Pakistan in part because of restraining influence it enables us to exert on Indian program. Ayub acknowledged US role is not entirely fruitless.
US feels Pak tactics of harassment of India are troublesome and against Paks’ own long-range interests, and complaints against our aid to India not helpful. Ayub responded that Paks should at least have right to complain even if they could not change the course of US policy. GOP feels it has been restrained in view of public reaction to US military aid to India.
US feels Pak-ChiCom relationship as means of leaning of US on India is making our task of seeking settlement in subcontinent more complicated. Ayub responded that US asking too much if it wishes reduction of pressure on India. India for years has been maintaining overwhelming pressures on Pakistan seeking its isolation, neutralization and surrender. In response Paks must “keep India engaged.” GOP is not asking ChiComs to support it in this venture. GOP continues to exclude ChiCom influence from Pakistan, and has no capability to affect ChiCom efforts elsewhere. If India wants Pak-ChiCom relationship ended, it can achieve this by agreeing to Indo-Pak settlement. GOP is prepared to search for “honorable peace,” but it will not surrender or in current circumstances give up its right to keep India “engaged.” Pakistan today has no alternative but steady counter-pressure on India. It considers India aggressor and sees no basis for Indian fears of Pakistan since India is five times as strong as Pakistan.
Talbot stressed US can be helpful only if there is reduction in Indo-Pak tensions. Ayub responded that reduction of tension can only take place at “power house” where generated. Pakistan only reflects emissions beamed on it by India. India continuing pressure on Pakistan as indicated by evictions, integration of Kashmir, etc. However, if India takes half step toward reduction of tensions GOP prepared to take full step. Ayub said he would give his personal guarantee in writing on this point. Talbot pointed out GOP actions however have effect of cancelling out efforts to decrease pressures.
Ayub urged that we discuss first with Pakistan any initiatives we wish to take in India to reduce tensions and promised to give his [Page 61] best advice and lend full assistance. Talbot said all our efforts directed toward peace, security and progress in subcontinent.
Talbot returned to Pak-ChiCom relations, reiterating that these of major concern to us. He pointed out Pak-ChiCom relationship not only troubles us, but makes it more difficult for those Indians interested in Indo-Pak reconciliation to be helpful. Ayub responded “Let them be troubled.” However, he again assured Talbot that GOP will do nothing that will jeopardize US interests. Talbot responded that ChiComs gaining opening in South Asia through Pak relationship which in fact cuts sharply across US policy.

When we pressed him, Ayub said that GOP seeking only “very limited relationship” with ChiComs based on three main requirements:

(A) A neighborly relationship with ChiComs but not developing beyond this point; (B) a window on Peking; and (C) Chinese markets for Pak exports since restrictive import policies of ECM and US hamper exports of manufactured goods to these areas. Ayub indicated Paks not prepared to cut back this relationship as thus defined, since GOP has other enemies besides Communists, e.g. India. When Talbot observed extension of Pak-ChiCom relationship would be of grave concern to us, Ayub replied that when Chou En-lai in Pakistan, Paks refused to discuss even innocuous cultural agreements because US is “touchy.” Pressed further about intentions Ayub said that while relationship strictly limited today no absolute guarantee can be given about future. Ayub said Pakistan wants no changed policy and sees no need to shift from present limited relationships unless US should further compromise Pakistan’s position, which would be great tragedy. Ayub also felt it against US interests not to have tentacles in Communist China while at same time viewing ChiCom policy toward US as “very foolish.”


In somewhat repetitious final go-around on our concerns and Pak reactions, Talbot emphasized that US shaping its policies in South Asia with great care to assure minimum provocation and maximum helpfulness to both Pakistan and India. On military aid to India, for example, he could imagine no other country directly attacked by ChiComs which would have received so little US aid as it braced itself against possible invasion. We had limited our response to Indian requests primarily out of deference to Pak anxieties arising out of unresolved Pak-Indian disputes. Ayub described himself as grateful for this. Talbot continued with hope GOP in turn would understand US anxieties, foremost among them ChiComs breaking out through South Asia thanks to Paks. He wanted be sure Ayub understood depth of US feeling on this point. Ayub did not budge in his response. He said Paks do not wish to dictate US policy toward ChiComs but must have right to reduce tensions with other neighbors while India’s power expanding. For good measure he added that while US has given assurances of [Page 62] support to GOP, Paks feel US might have difficulty delivering on these assurances. If it did Soviets might threaten to join in on India’s side, thus escalating the struggle. Pakistan would prefer to fight its own battles.

As conversation shifted to general topics and meeting came to close, Ayub again asked that his highest respects be conveyed to the President.

Comments will follow in separate message.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL PAK-US. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Passed to the White House at 7:11 a.m. The telegram is a joint telegram from CUSASEC MAAG and the Embassy Office in Rawalpindi.
  2. See Document 25 and footnote 2 thereto.
  3. Talbot visited Pakistan March 10–13. On March 11 he met briefly with Foreign Minister Bhutto in Lahore where they discussed the Kashmir issue and U.S. concerns about Pakistan’s relationship with China. In discussing Kashmir, Bhutto said that Pakistan would be prepared to accept a consensus statement as the result of the Security Council debate if the statement did not dilute Pakistan’s position under prior UN resolutions. (Telegram 46 from Rawalpindi, March 11; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDIA–PAK) On March 13 Talbot and Mc- Conaughy met with Finance Minister Shoaib. McConaughy had to leave the meeting before it was concluded and reported on the conversation in telegram 1724 from Karachi, March 13. (Ibid., ORG 7 NEA) Talbot reported on the conclusion of the conversation in telegram 51 from Rawalpindi, March 13. (Ibid., POL 2 PAK) Talbot and McConaughy repeated the concerns they had earlier expressed to Ayub in their conversation with Shoaib. Shoaib told them that Ayub’s government intended to make a strong effort to reduce the dangerously high level of tension between Pakistan and India. Shoaib also said that he felt that Pakistan had “turned the corner” in its attitude toward the United States and he anticipated that relations would improve.
  4. Document 28.