6. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan 1

931. Embtel 1281.2 We agree that meeting between President and Ayub could be important for future course US-Pakistan relations. For meeting to have this impact, believe we must be sure Ayub will come prepared for constructive discussions of common policies for future, not to rehash old concerns and grievances. Therefore we would see meeting not as culmination past series high level discussions but as occasion for writing new chapter in US-Pakistan relations.

During past year we have repeatedly put to Ayub and his principal lieutenants our analysis of situation in South Asia and requirements for action which this analysis imposes. Likewise Pakistanis have explained their position to us in detail and have supplemented these official expositions with public statements such as Foreign Affairs article.3

At conclusion of these exchanges we have impression that Ayub is beginning to move more realistically to accommodate himself to minimum requirements on subcontinent as we see them. We on our side are also moving to accommodate him in two principal ways. First, we are close to decisions on longer term military aid for his forces. Second, we recognize that we can live with some improvement of Pakistan-Chinese Communist relations and we understand that this is important element in Ayub’s increasing domestic strength. We have thrown up danger signals from time to time, but over longer run we believe Ayub’s continued need for US military and economic assistance will place acceptable limits to his “normalization” policy.

Months ahead will give us opportunities to test these assumptions and to see just how far Ayub is adjusting to new relationship. By his [Page 13] handling of Chou En-lai visit Ayub can signal to us that he indeed understands dangers of going too far in his relations with Communist China. His reaction to our military assistance package can be a signal that he is indeed swallowing, though with difficulty, our continued military assistance to India. His reactions to suggested joint military exercise plan will be another signal. His reactions to a weakened Nehru will add another dimension to our assessment of how he sees future role of Pakistan in subcontinent.

When we have made these and other readings we will be in a better position to say that a meeting of two Presidents will advance our common understandings and US national interests. Therefore we do not believe that you should follow up Bhutto’s feeler in your next meeting with Ayub. We do agree that you and we should remain closely in touch on this subject.

Because he made it clear that his feeler was without authorization, we assume that Bhutto may not want a negative indication from you which might involve his or Ayub’s prestige. If, however, he does return to question, you should try to deflect him from his notion of an early meeting with President. You might say that you have taken informal soundings in Washington which indicate that while a friend like Ayub is of course welcome, reading of Washington scene is that it would be better to postpone consideration of specific date until later.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PAK. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Turner C. Cameron, Jr., on January 13; cleared by Phillips Talbot, David Dean (FE), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Politico-Military Affairs Jeffrey C. Kitchen, Solbert, Harriman, and McGeorge Bundy; and approved and initialed by Secretary Rusk.
  2. In telegram 1281 from Karachi, January 9, Ambassador McConaughy reported that Foreign Minister Bhutto had informally broached the possibility of a meeting between President Ayub and President Johnson, and he indicated that Ayub would be receptive to an invitation to visit Washington. McConaughy judged that Bhutto’s feeler intimated that Ayub was preparing himself to accept the implications of a continued program of U.S. arms assistance to India. Given Ayub’s predilection for president-to-president dealing, McConaughy recommended extending an invitation to Ayub “because of important favorable bearing it might well have on our relations at this troublous juncture.” (Ibid.)
  3. Reference is to Mohammad Ayub Khan, “Pakistan-American Alliance,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 42, pp. 195–203.