505. Letter From President Ayub to President Johnson 1

Dear Mr. President,

I thank you for your message of July the 16th,2 delivered by your Ambassador in Pakistan and appreciate very much the directness and candour with which you have referred to the issue of the US communications facility near Peshawar.

In a spirit of equal honesty and frankness I would like to explain to you the position as we see it.
To the best of our knowledge, the Peshawar facility monitors a variety of activities and operations. Or to put it in your own words, it provides “accurate technical and scientific information on the intentions and capabilities of others”. I concede that this facility is valuable to your country but by its very nature it lays us open to the hostility and retaliation of powerful neighbours.
The close relationship between our two countries in the security field, to which you have alluded in your letter, Mr. President, has progressively been whittled away. Only last year when your Ambassador communicated to us the new United States arms supply policy, he said that “a fundamental and historical change” had come about in our relationship. Your Secretary of State told our Foreign Minister last October in Washington that there was now “no special relationship” between Pakistan and the United States.
We in Pakistan cannot remain unmindful of the swift changes which are taking place in the world and especially around us today. We cannot ignore the threats which are developing to our existence, particularly from the feverish arms build-up in India. The arms supply policy of your country provides us with no comfort. If anything, it aggravates the imbalance between India and Pakistan.
The Peshawar facility on our soil in no way contributes to our security useful though it may be to your country. For us it constitutes a danger.
Changes in world politics make it imperative for Pakistan to improve its relations with neighbouring countries and for this purpose to remove irritants and obstacles to the development of friendly relations. I believe this is an objective to which your own Administration [Page 999] is dedicated and I recall with satisfaction the many significant steps which you have taken for achieving détente and a lessening of tension around the world. The Peshawar facility negates the attainment of this objective. It would have been logical in the light of circumstances to which I have referred above for Pakistan to request that it be given up a long time ago. But on the contrary we decided to carry out our commitments under the agreement fully in an honourable manner even though thereby we have run the risk of damage to our political interests and national security.
You, Mr. President, have referred to the aid which your country has been generous enough to give to Pakistan over the years. We have always gratefully acknowledged the valuable role which this assistance has played on our economic development. Pakistan-United States amity and co-operation has in no small measure contributed to the maintenance of stability in this important region of Asia and there is no doubt in my mind that the removal of the Badaber facility will not come in the way of our close co-operation in the field. It is, therefore, with faith in your statesmanship and far-reaching vision that I ask you to appreciate the problems of a small country which is hemmed in by powerful neighbours.
I have directed my officers to start immediate discussions with your representatives on the mechanics of dismantling the Peshawar facility so that the operation may be carried out in a smooth and orderly manner.3

With best regards and good wishes for your continued health,

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Ayub Khan
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence File, Pakistan, Vol. 3, President Ayub Correspondence, 12/31/67–[sic]. No classification marking. Delivered to the White House by the Pakistani Embassy on July 31.
  2. See Document 503.
  3. Ambassador Hilaly called on Rusk on August 2 to follow up on the delivery of Ayub’s letter. He said the decision not to renew the agreement concerning the Peshawar facility had been a “heart-rending” one, and he attributed it in part to Ayub’s need to protect his domestic political position. (Telegram 214843 to Rawalpindi, August 3; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15 PAK-US)