379. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1


  • Pending Decision on Military Supply for Pakistan: A Message from Gene Locke

Gene Locke cables you and Secretaries Rusk and McNamara asking that he be authorized to explore with Ayub the returns we might gain, however limited, if we sold him military spares for equipment originally procured from the United States.

In this cable, the text of which is attached,2 Gene says we are losing our chips in Pakistan by our indecision. He reports that the sale of spares is the number one issue with the Pakistan government and he believes it could be used to promote Indo-Pakistan arms limitation discussions and limited Pakistan arms purchases from China. Further waiting (a) encourages Ayub’s domestic opponents, (b) promotes the belief that the US does not care about Pakistan’s security and (c) permits both the Government of Pakistan and India to conclude that India can dictate our policy toward Pakistan. He reminds us that further waiting is in itself a decision.

As background, you will recall that before Gene left for Pakistan in July, staff papers were prepared on this subject. They would have authorized him to explore with Ayub how the sale of spares might be used to define more precisely Ayub’s relations with China and encourage him to enter serious discussions with the Indians on arms limitation.

Ambassador Bowles’ reaction was so strong that Secretary Rusk held the recommendation for further thought. Newspaper leaks led Indian officials to protest publicly in the Indian Parliament.

You requested Ellsworth Bunker and Arthur Dean to look into the matter. They reported to you in mid-August, recommending we go ahead, but with somewhat more caution than the earlier proposal.

Since then, no decision has been reached. Secretary Rusk has been reluctant to proceed until he talked with Ambassador Bowles. Secretary McNamara has not yet focused on the problem but his Deputy for International Security Affairs, opposes the idea.

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I agree that further delay in a decision is eroding our position, and we should face this one shortly, perhaps toward the end of Chet Bowles’ visit.

I agree, ask Secretary Rusk to review the bidding and give me DOD/State recommendation—agreed or split—by October 53

Meet Gene Locke’s difficulty and approve the Dean/Bunker recommendation

Tell Gene now we can’t sell spares to Pakistan

See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Pakistan, Vol. VII, Cables, 10/66–7/67. Secret.
  2. Telegram 1148 from Rawalpindi, September 27. A copy is also in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 19–8 US–PAK.
  3. Johnson checked this option and amended it with a notation indicating that he wanted recommendations on the issue from Bunker, Katzenbach, Eugene Rostow, and Arthur Dean. He added a further handwritten notation that reads: “Let’s discuss this weekend—Take to David.” Reference is to Camp David, the Presidential retreat in Maryland where, according to the President’s Diary, President Johnson spent the weekend of October 1–2 with Rusk, McNamara, Katzenbach, Walt Rostow, and Eugene Rostow. (Johnson Library) A list of decisions taken by the President during the weekend, apparently drafted by Walt Rostow, indicates that Johnson authorized Rusk to draft instructions to the two Ambassadors to try to get India and Pakistan to agree on arms limitations. A decision on the spare parts issue was postponed. (Ibid., National Security File, Files of Walt W. Rostow, Meetings with the President, April–Dec 1966)