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

1894. Re: Deptel 1072.2 Conversation with President Ayub.

I met for one hour with Ayub early evening April 1 in Karachi. Appointment made as result brief private chat I had with him at morning [Page 204] ceremony, after FonOff had attempted to frustrate projected appointment, apparently without President’s knowledge. Meeting took place on veranda President’s house in outwardly relaxed and personally friendly atmosphere, with no other person present.
I spelled out our views on current Soviet foreign policy orientation and tactics in line reftel. President manifested unusual interest in our assessment and jotted down principal points. Said he would find it useful in making his own estimate after his Moscow visit. Promised to give us his corresponding evaluation after his return. He spoke as an ally working in close concert with US. He stated his belief that “Soviet menace far greater than Chinese” and reiterated his conviction that Soviet aspiration was undiminished to reach warm water at Arabian Sea at Karachi as well as through Caspian to Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf.
I had a plausible opening at this point to seek reassurance on continuation our facilities at Peshawar (a matter which Soviets are certain to press) but they [he?] made no mention of subject, and I decided not to broach it either.
I turned conversation to Sino-Pak affairs, expressing concern at rapidly developing course of relations. I said it was my estimate that the downhill momentum was getting close to roller coaster velocity and that I would be lacking in candor if I did not tell him that the many gestures of Pakistan in the direction of Communist China at this juncture were coming under the serious scrutiny of USG. I cited various indications of a relationship of special closeness between GOP and CPR which have been played out before a national and world audience here in recent weeks following his visit to Communist China with its various unfortunate implications and repercussions. I told him that I had received a circumstantial but not entirely adequate explanation from FonOff Addl Sec Agha Shahi of the joint communiqué.
Ayub said earnestly that I was magnifying unduly the extent and significance of Pak gestures toward Communist China. His only purpose in his limited dealings with CPR was to pursue policy of good neighborly relations, and to preserve peace in Asia. Present explosive situation might lead to outbreak of hostilities involving Communist China, which would create a situation very dangerous for security of Pakistan as well as other countries. His object was merely to seek to abate tensions, which was in interest of all. He then gave me following points on his own talks with Chou En-lai, Chen Yi and other top Chinese leaders.

Joint communiqué:

Joint communiqués were the bane of his existence when he made foreign visits. They consumed an inordinate amount of time and energy, resulted in endless haggling, created trouble and misunderstanding. [Page 205] He said they were not binding and therefore they did not really mean anything anyway and we should not take the verbiage too seriously. He wished they could be abolished. He said certain gestures of accommodation had to be made by a visitor to the host government, especially when the reception was so stirring as in his case. He said that Vietnam was the most significant item that had come up in the joint communique discussions and he reminded me that he had held a firm line against the Chinese on this, resulting in an impasse and a conspicuous omission of any reference to Vietnam.



Ayub said the Chinese gave him their standard version of the situation and issues in Vietnam, arguing that the US had prevented a plebiscite in Vietnam, and in many ways had violated the letter and spirit of 1954 Geneva Accords. They described US as direct successor of French as colonialist exploiters of Vietnam and portrayed insurgency of Viet Cong as essentially a nationalist, internally-based, patriotic uprising of South Vietnamese people against neo-colonialists and their puppets. Asserted war was continuation of “liberation struggle” which had begun against the French. Ayub said he did obtain an important admission from the ChiComs as a result of his probing questions, that they had “formerly” supplied arms and other military weapons to North Vietnam for use of Viet Cong. But ChiComs denied that they were currently extending support, alleging that it was now unnecessary in view of increased capability of Viet Cong themselves. In response to further Ayub questions about role of North Vietnam, ChiComs said they “supposed” North Vietnamese were “helping” Viet Cong to some extent. Ayub said that ChiComs were absolutely adamant in resisting his urging that they agree to third party recommendations for a conference on Vietnam without pre-conditions. They were uncompromising in their demands for full US withdrawal before any consideration given to conference possibility. Ayub said he told them that of course Americans could never agree to this and he could not associate himself with any such extreme ChiCom demand. Ayub also told me that ChiComs were explicit in their threat to enter the fray openly and directly if widened US participation made it necessary. Ayub saw no prospect for narrowing the gulf and expressed deep pessimism as to the prospects. He did not believe the ChiComs would even consider accepting a US requirement for prior withdrawal of outside Communist support of Viet Cong and he said the dilemma appeared insoluble.


GRC, Taiwan and two Chinas:

Ayub said Chinese took soft tactical line in response to his statement of US position as to GRC and Taiwan as he understood it. Apparently he stated the position in terms fairly sympathetic to US, putting it to ChiComs that US had assumed solemn defense obligations to GRC [Page 206] which no one could expect us to abrogate. He said the ChiComs replied that they understood difficulty for US which was inherent in its mutual defense obligations and that they were in no hurry about taking control of Taiwan. They intimated to Ayub that a long transition period probably of indefinite duration could be arranged if US would only accept general principle that Taiwan was part of China and that established Chinese Government on Mainland was entitled to exercise sovereignty over Taiwan. On this principle they would never yield. Ayub said ChiComs assured him that they had nothing against us other than Vietnam and Taiwan issues.



Ayub told me that he had informed ChiComs at outset that GOP could not let down its allies with whom it was aligned and that his government expected to remain in both SEATO and CENTO. He said he told Chinese that since these pacts were entirely defensive and could not be invoked (“would be non-fructifying” was the phrase he used) in the absense of aggression, the Chinese had nothing to worry about. Ayub said that the Chinese, while perhaps not liking this too much, did not argue the point and tacitly accepted his position.


US presence in Asia:

Ayub told me that while he thought he had acted consistently with his obligations in presenting the foregoing points, the most significant act he had performed in US behalf was his statement in his speech in Shanghai that while China had a role in Asia which the US should recognize and accept, the US also had a role and responsibilities in Asia which China should recognize and accept. Ayub said that it was most difficult to take this position before a vast throng of Chinese, especially after the massive welcome he had received. But he thought it needed to be done and he had done it. He did not think any other visiting Chief of State could or would have done it under similar circumstances. The Chinese did not like this statement but it is now on the record and personally heard by a great Chinese audience. He hoped it would do some good.


Essential character of ChiCom revolution:

Ayub stated it was Pak firm conviction that ChiCom revolution is primarily nationalistic and internal. He was impressed with the profound absorption of the ChiComs with their own domestic problems and progress. He thought they were primarily interested in social and economic reforms at home and the prosecution of their economic development programs. He felt they had accomplished a lot already but they obviously had much more to do in the welfare and development field and he was inclined to credit the view that their ambitious goals at home consume most of their energies leaving little interest in foreign adventurism. He said the Chinese posture seems to him to be increasingly [Page 207] nationalistic. They are deeply aware of their national history before the advent of Communism and they frequently cite it. He said the Chinese told him that as part of their self-examination process they are continually reminding and admonishing themselves against the danger of the CPR itself falling into the error of “big nation chauvinism.” They said their self-discipline saves them from this error. He quoted the Chinese leaders as saying that China throughout her history had suffered heavily from every involvement in foreign wars, and their leaders did not intend to be drawn into any more foreign wars which could be avoided.


ChiCom attitude toward Communist insurgency in other countries:

Ayub told me of a very significant and flagrantly contradictory position stated by ChiComs on above topic. Full import apparently not realized by Ayub. This enunciation by ChiComs was to effect they “were committed to assist, and would assist, ‘national liberation’ movements or uprising against oppressive governments all over the world—whether in Asia, Africa, or Latin America.”


ChiCom attitude toward Ayub’s US visit:

Ayub said he had told ChiComs that he had not any authorization to speak for US in Peiping and he, of course, would not presume to speak for the Chinese in Washington. He had then told them that his objective was to further the prospects for peace between the two countries and that if he could “lower the temperature” even [garble—a little?] in both Peiping and Washington he would have served in some modest way the cause of peace. He said the Chinese endorsed this point of view, telling him that they wanted the temperature lowered in both countries and wishing him well on his Washington visit.

I expressed appreciation for comprehensive rundown given me by the President, giving him full credit for not yielding to ChiComs on Vietnam question, and implying I considered his dismissal of joint communiqué as meaningless, to signify that visit had not actually changed established Pak position on any of questions mentioned in communiqué. I then said that while there was some reassurance in what he had told me as to posture he had assumed with ChiComs during his visit, other aspects of Pak relationship with ChiComs remained deeply disquieting. I did not see how he could be so charitable in his interpretation of ChiCom motivations and I assumed he could see the inconsistency and the irreconcilability of various postures assumed by ChiComs. I asked him to postulate for a moment the contingency of a strengthened pro-Chinese Communist organization in East Pakistan which GOP had taken steps to curb. I asked him if he did not agree with me that by the ChiComs’ own declaration of policy, they would find it necessary to support and incite such a movement [Page 208] against the GOP? Ayub conceded ChiCom support of such a subversive group would probably have been assumed.
Responding to my expressions of foreboding at the general trend of Pak-ChiCom relations, Ayub said with some fervor that relationship was strictly limited and did not undermine Pak internal security or Pak-US relationship. He said that if he had any desire or intention to enter into an entangling relationship with ChiComs he could easily have negotiated either open or secret agreements with them. He had done neither and there had been no agreements other than the innocuous cultural and economic ones which we knew about. He took issue with my anxiety that the Chinese already had a useful opening wedge for expanding their influence in this country. He thought that the strong Islamic faith of Pakistan was a certain bulwark against the penetration of Communist ideology. When I told him of the first hand evidence I saw on all hands that the press and people of Pakistan are assuming and accepting a more intimate association between Pakistan and Communist China as “the wave of the future,” and are inferring that the US presence in Pakistan is in gradual retreat, he discounted such evidence by saying “a lot of our prominent people who should know better get wrong ideas” and by branding the entire Pakistan press and journalistic fraternity as unprincipled and irresponsible.
I wondered out loud if he exempted from the foregoing journalistic indictment Mr. Altaf Husain, the rabidly anti-American editor of Dawn, and outspoken advocate of a close Pakistani alignment with Communist China, whom he had just taken into his Cabinet as Minister of Industry. Ayub’s reply was that he had taken Altaf Husain into his Cabinet only because of the acute lack of qualified Bengalis and the necessity for equal representation from East Pakistan in the Cabinet. He said that he would be able to control Altaf Husain as a member of his government whereas he could not control him as a newspaper editor. He had exacted an understanding from Altaf Husain and he thought I would see revised behavior from him as a Minister. He also thought that Dawn’s editorial policy would be less objectionable to US with Altaf Husain out of the picture.
Ayub said that unavoidably the American position in Pakistan and Pak-US relations had suffered some damage. “That is not your fault and it is not my fault.” He seemed to feel that intermediate level policy makers in Washington had persuaded the American leadership of the merits of a policy of US military assistance to India. This policy was responsible for all the mischief. He spoke with the deepest rancor of unalterable Hindu rejection of Pakistan’s right to exist. He predicted with fatalism the eventual outbreak of a clash between Pakistan and India. Pakistanis could not then accept the [Page 209] assistance of US ground forces, even if offered, because Pakistanis would lose their self-respect (which was essential for national survival) if they did not fight their own battles. The Pakistanis would be overwhelmed and they would die, he said with mounting bitterness, but “every Pakistani would account for four Indians before he died.” I endeavored to calm down such talk but he insisted that our support of India had emboldened the GOI to provocations beyond the danger point. He had been certain all along that there was no prospect of either China or India initiating a renewal of late 1962, and his recent talks in Peiping with the Chinese leaders had fully confirmed this estimate. The danger was between India and Pakistan, not between China and India. He knew the Indians had no intention of fighting, even if he was wrong about Chinese intentions. He accused the Indians of mounting a series of provocative incidents, citing the Indian pressure against the Dahagram enclave and “the increasing killings along the Kashmir cease fire line every day and every night.” He said the Indian philosophy called for the expulsion of American presence and influence from the Sub-continent as soon as India could take care of Pakistan, and the US would see that its tooling up of the Indians would accelerate its own departure from this part of Asia. He pointed out that of the four large countries which come together in the northern part of the Sub-continent, Pakistan was the only one which naturally and logically welcomes American presence and American influence. Yet by taking the plunge in India, the US has deliberately alienated Pakistan and would in the end have nothing or less than nothing in return. He defined Indian known expansionist ambitions as extending from the Hindukush mountains in the west to Indo-China and Malaysia in the east. He predicted that the US would pay a heavy price in terms of its regional and global interests for feeding indirect expansionist ambitions. It was an American policy error of great magnitude, the full extent of which would be revealed only with the passage of time.

I told the President he knew the reasons we could not agree with him on the effects of our policy, and I did not go over that ground again. The President said the immediate bilateral and regional interests of Pakistan which the GOP considered vital to its national security and very existence would have to be reconciled with or worked into US global policy and global interests if the US wanted to preserve its position here. Pakistan could not accept a US position that the US global struggle against Communism must override everything else, if this meant making Pakistan a satellite of India. When I demurred at any suggestion that the US had any such thing in mind he said that he had been told by American official visitors that Pakistan’s own security from India must be subordinated to global US interests, since “the US was in the business of fighting Communism.”

[Page 210]

Ayub said, “We would be willing if necessary to be a satellite of the US if we remained secure from India, but we can never accept a relationship which would expose us to being a satellite of India.”

After regretting the use of the term satellite in any such context, I returned to the topic of fraternization with Red China. I recalled the President’s speech in Urdu to the Pakistan Armed Forces he reviewed on March 23. I told him that standing before Pakistan Army and Air Force entirely equipped with American arms and equipment intended for defense against the Communist threat, he had gone out of his way to extol Communist China. He had expressed confidence on the basis of his recent visit that China was peace loving and that the Pak forces had nothing to fear from that quarter. That speech had been made on the [garble—very day?] that the Chinese Communists had openly threatened to start another Korea-type of intervention in Vietnam. I asked him what he expected the American people to make of such a speech. I recalled that almost every newspaper, in both news columns and editorials, is frequently full of adulation to Chinese Communist policy and acts. There is equally enthusiastic abuse of the US, including excoriation of US employment of routine police gasses which do no organic harm and which are identical with what the police of Pakistan are using every week. A point had been reached where even the chairman of the Pakistan Red Cross, Mr. Wajid Ali, that very morning in the presence of both of us had found it necessary to insert praise of Communist China in his speech at the annual meeting. I said some of his assurances sounded soothing but the American people do not know how to take them when they look at the events. I mentioned a rapid fire succession of visits to Pakistan by ChiCom VIP’s and growing exploitation of Pakistan contacts by ChiCom leaders for propaganda, tactical and prestige purposes. I mentioned the return of Chen Yi for a 5-day visit and the hurriedly arranged and seemingly triumphal re-visit of Chou En-lai, scheduled to arrive the next day with great fanfare.
I said that even if the Executive branch of the USG should be willing to set aside some of its misgivings for the time being and try to defend before the US Congress the appropriations request necessary to carry forward US programs in Pakistan. I didn’t know how effective explanation or rationalization of current GOP foreign policy could be made, especially in the shadow of the deepening crisis fomented by Communist China in Southeast Asia.
President Ayub paused before he replied he could see that things looked worse than they really were. He recognized that the problem would need to be discussed when he went to Washington.
We had a pleasant exchange on President’s preferences as to use of his free time while in US. This will follow in separate message.
Comments and assessment of conversation will follow by telegram near future.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 PAK. Secret; Limdis.
  2. Telegram 1072 to Karachi, March 30, contained an overview of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for McConaughy’s use in his discussion with Ayub prior to Ayub’s trip to Moscow. Ayub was scheduled to make a State visit to the Soviet Union April 3–11. The Department instructed McConaughy to express the surprise felt in Washington at the timing of Ayub’s trip, which coincided with the CENTO Ministerial Meeting in Tehran April 7–8. Since Bhutto was planning to accompany Ayub to Moscow, Pakistan would not be represented at the CENTO meeting at the Foreign Minister level. (Ibid.)