95. Memorandum From Robert Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson1

Foreign Minister Bhutto’s latest effusion on Pakistan/Chicom relations is a harbinger of the line you’ll get from Ayub on 26 April (see attached).2 Bhutto had the gall to say publicly there’s no inconsistency in Pakistan being friends with both the US and Chicoms, since both are “peace-loving” states. Nor do we like Bhutto’s remark that US aid to India after the 1962 Chicom attack “shattered” the whole concept of alliances with the US (SEATO and CENTO). These alliances were never at any time aimed against India (as the Paks well know, because they’ve been trying for the last 10 years to get them changed).

In essence, the Paks seem to have arrived at the conclusion they can have their cake and eat it too. Actually, Pakistan is being a lot more friendly to Peiping than to Washington, despite the fact that we still pay all the bills (about $450 million in FY 64).

We’re getting back quiet word that this casual equating of the US and Chicoms goes down like a lead balloon here. We’re also making known our slight annoyance that when Rusk goes all the way to Tehran for the CENTO ministerial meeting next week Ayub and Bhutto go to Moscow instead of meeting with their allies. This, of course, after Ayub’s recent well-publicized trip to Peiping.

I’m still convinced that Ayub knows at heart he can’t do without us, but is going to play the Chicoms off against India (and us) so long as he thinks he can get away with it. Our best Pak friend, Finance [Page 203] Minister Shoaib, says flatly that Aziz Ahmed (ex-Ambassador here) keeps telling Ayub that the Pak accommodation with Peiping can be carried much further without jeopardizing the flow of US aid.

So the real problem is how to get across to Ayub that he can’t cozy up to our Chicom enemies and pursue an anti-US line on most issues of concern to us (Vietnam, Malaysia), while still getting the second largest chunk of US aid. Unless he pulls back, present trends will carry Pakistan beyond the point of no return, and then Congress may not even allow us to provide $400–500 million per year. At that point we’ll lose our crucial intelligence facility at Peshawar to boot.

We’ve failed so far to get through to Ayub along these lines, partly because he’s surrounded by people who tell him we’re only bluffing. Thus his visit here provides our best opportunity (and perhaps our last). And only the President of the US can say such things to Ayub in a credible way.3

R. W. Komer
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Pakistan, Ayub Khan Visit, 4/65. Secret.
  2. The attachment was telegram 1840 from Karachi, March 29, which reported on a press conference held by Foreign Minister Bhutto. (Ibid.)
  3. McGeorge Bundy passed Komer’s memorandum to the President under cover of a memorandum in which he stated that he agreed with Komer. He added that “we ought to begin to blow the whistle on him” and agreed that the best time to do so would be during Ayub’s scheduled visit to Washington. (Ibid., Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 9, March–April 14, 1965)