469. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan1

61581. For Ambassador. Ref: Rawalpindi 1269.2 Subject: Military Supply.

FYI: The temptation to try to “buy” an assured future for the Peshawar facility with one or two hundred tanks is very real. However, we concur with para 9 reftel that to recognize linkage military supply [Page 915] policy with Peshawar would probably result in intolerable pressures from GOP for more and more hardware. Furthermore, we convinced such recognition would destroy the foundation of that policy which has its justification in its own separate objectives. Therefore, we believe it best during your October 31 conversation with Ayub for you to make no mention of Peshawar. From standpoint our interests we feel it still too early begin negotiations on this question. When we are ready these will have to be played out against background of totality US-Pak relations, of which our military supply policy is only part—although we hope in Pakistan’s eyes a valuable part which it will wish preserve. End FYI.
We believe it would be useful, therefore, for you in your meeting with Ayub to review our whole military supply policy in order (A) prevent any misunderstanding by GOP on this important aspect our relationship, and (B) to impress on him value to Pakistan of this policy.
You should point out that since new policy began in April, 1967, we have approved for purchase $23 million in ammunition and spare parts. Air Force and Navy spare parts already being received in Pakistan. Despite Pirzada complaint to President, GOP has only within present month begun to submit specific purchase requests for Army spares, which we assume will also begin reach Pakistan soon. During same period, we have also approved $5 million jeep sale on very favorable three per cent-ten year credit terms and sales of assorted other non-lethal items. Military training program, for which we paying cost, has already been reestablished with 17 officers expected to take courses in US this year.
You may add that, while there will inevitably be delays resulting from our Vietnam priorities and manufacturers’ lead times, as long as spare parts and other materiel requirements remain within framework our policy, we as interested as GOP in working out speedy and effective handling, including possible arrangements for filling all spares needs on yearly basis. This high priority business for General Geary.
On tank question, you should say that original request for 100 tanks has been actively considered. GOP had first indicated West Germany would be source and we understand from ForMin Pirzada this possibility still remains despite public FRG denials. For Ayub’s information only, we also believe it possible some excess M–47s may be generated in Italy or France. However, we have never received formal request from any of these countries for sale to Pakistan. You may tell Ayub that we will understand it if the GOP decides to consult discreetly with possible sources of tanks to determine whether or not and what kind of a deal it can make with one of them.
You should remind Ayub again that Congressional and public concern makes the whole subject of military supply an extremely sensitive [Page 916] one. You can tell him that we would be prepared examine carefully any request for approval of 100 tank sale we might receive from Germans, French, or Italians. However, you should make clear that we would have to consult at the appropriate time with the Senate and House Committees concerned and that we cannot guarantee either concurrence or that a leak which might cause difficulties would not take place. Even for such consultation we would have to make sure that any request served the objectives of our military supply policy. To do this, we would have to have a clear understanding that: (a) number of tanks received or on order from Red China has not resulted in net increase Pak armour and that no further deliveries from this source expected; (b) GOP not planning purchases of tanks from other sources (e.g., France or Soviet Union); (c) for each US-controlled tank acquired one obsolete tank would be scrapped from Pak tank inventory; and, (d) Pakistan advise us of what, if any, major arms acquisitions of other kinds it foresees in reasonable future and justification therefor.3
FYI: We believe frank understanding on above conditions essential as we cannot afford be caught in another equivocation as with India on the Hawker Hunter/SU–7 deal and because, as we see it, main justification for tank sale, should it be approved, would be prevention excessive defense spending and/or introduction new weapons system which would follow from Pak acquisition expensive French AMX tanks or greater numbers Chinese or Soviet tanks. If possible therefore you should obtain from Ayub (1) total number of Chinese tanks held or expected; (2) which other major items military material Pakistan has acquired or is seeking from non-US sources; and, (3) some indication whether or not he prepared accept above conditions. End FYI.
We believe action should be completed on original request for 100 tanks before moving on to decisions on other lethal end items. However, should subject come up, you may tell Ayub we remain prepared consider on case-by-case basis any third country requests for sale to Pakistan of US-controlled equipment provided such sale meets objectives our military supply policy. Request for second hundred tanks is in this category and we willing to discuss it when question of first hundred has been satisfactorily disposed of. Direct US sales of artillery or any other lethal end-item are out of question at this time.
On replacement aircraft (Rawalpindi 332,4 9685) you may indicate our understanding that most of aircraft requested (four F–57Bs and two F–104As) were lost during 1965 war. We cannot consider replacement for these aircraft. Only real accidental loss would appear to be one RB–57A which reportedly lost in landing washout at Risalpir in May, 1967. You may tell Ayub that while we have not yet investigated availabilities we willing in principle give consideration to request for purchase replacement this aircraft.
You should indicate to Ayub our gratification at relatively moderate approach he has taken thus far in seeking acquire military hardware. Without this approach, including modest reduction this year’s Defense Budget, we doubt that we would have been able sustain our current military supply policy even this far. We consider it of the greatest importance that he maintain this moderation and that Pakistan and the US have completely frank understanding on military supply problems. Should he be interested, we would be prepared at appropriate time have some of our experts discuss with his officers our own “cost effectiveness” approach to problem of getting maximum capability from minimum expenditure.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12–5 PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Spain and Prescott. Cleared by Battle, Handley, Heck, Wolf, Schwartz (DOD), Williams (AID/NESA), and Hamilton at the White House and approved by Katzenbach. Repeated to New Delhi and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Document 464.
  3. Oehlert and Ayub discussed the tank issue when they met in Karachi on November 1. Oehlert asked for the assurances concerning alternate sources of supply outlined in telegram 61581. Ayub, “after some sparring,” agreed that if his minimal requirements could be met with U.S.-originated equipment, he would undertake to scrap one obsolete tank for each new one acquired, and he would not seek or accept additional equipment from other sources. (Telegram 807 from Karachi, November 1; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET)
  4. Telegram 332 from Rawalpindi, August 5, reported on a request from Defense Minister Khan for “replacement” of 4 F–57B, 1 RB–57A, and 2 F–104A aircraft. (Ibid., DEF 12–5 PAK)
  5. In telegram 968 from Rawalpindi, September 23, the Embassy reported on a letter from Defense Minister Khan in which he reiterated Pakistan’s desire for 200 M–47 tanks, 4 F–57B, 1 RB–57A, and 2 F–104A aircraft. (Ibid.)