104. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Agha Hilaly, Ambassador of Pakistan
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President
  • Harold H. Saunders, NSC Staff

Ambassador Hilaly began the conversation by saying that in his talk with Secretary Rogers2 the previous day the Secretary had said that he had given Indian Foreign Minister Singh a further warning against letting increasing incidents on the Pakistan–India border get out of hand. This had indicated to him that the US was maintaining its pressure on India. Dr. Kissinger said that when he had seen Ambassador Jha in San Clemente, he had made clear that any Indian move to begin hostilities would be looked on by the US with extreme disfavor.

Ambassador Hilaly noted that President Yahya had announced Pakistanʼs acceptance of UN personnel in East Pakistan to facilitate the return of refugees. In response to Dr. Kissingerʼs question, the Ambassador affirmed that President Yahya had appointed a civil administrator—Dr. Malik—to oversee the refugee repatriation program in East Pakistan.

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Dr. Kissinger said that Pakistan has not been good at its public relations. What Pakistan needs is a comprehensive refugee program. Instead of dribbling out its actions one by one, Pakistan needed to draw them all together into a program to which we could point. He said that he had talked to Mr. McNamara of the World Bank, and he had said that he could support a maximum food and relief effort.

Ambassador Hilaly said that Pakistan is getting that kind of help from AID. What Pakistan needs from the World Bank is straight economic assistance. The Bank has given a wrong lead to the other consortium members. He then mentioned some of the comments made by members of the recent World Bank team which had visited Pakistan. One member had said that East Pakistan looked like “Arnheim after the Nazi blitz” and another said that it looked like “a country after a nuclear attack.” Hilaly commented that these were not the comments of a dispassionate group.

Dr. Kissinger said that he had talked with the British again, here and through “the direct channel.” The Ambassador said that he had talked to a number of members of Parliament when he had passed through London on his return from Pakistan.

Dr. Kissinger returned to the question of a comprehensive refugee package. He recalled that when he had talked to Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan in Islamabad he had suggested the idea of a comprehensive package which included UN personnel, a civil administrator in East Pakistan and so on.

Ambassador Hilaly noted the trouble that Pakistan is having with the US Senate and House. He wondered whether a package arrangement of the kind Dr. Kissinger was discussing would help there. He felt that many of the members were so strong in their feeling that their views would remain unchanged.

Dr. Kissinger repeated that what would help us most in our approaches to the Congress would be a comprehensive Pakistani program which we could point to. We could then argue that we had been able to achieve more with friendship and working with the Pakistan government than with the kind of pressure a number of members of the Congress were proposing. He went on to suggest that if Pakistan had a three-point or a five-point Pakistani refugee program pooling everything together and going as far on each point as possible, then the US would have a framework within which to argue for continued support for Pakistan.

Ambassador Hilaly—seeming to miss the overall import of Dr. Kissingerʼs comments—said that he hoped the Administration would use influence with some of the Republicans in the Congress. He had had an invitation from Congressman Frelinghuysen to talk informally to a group of 20 or so of his colleagues. He also had been advised that [Page 269] Senator Kennedy wants to go to India and Pakistan. Dr. Kissinger replied, “Let him go.”

Ambassador Hilaly replied that a couple of Senator Kennedyʼs aides had been very difficult. One of them had even said that he was going to India and would try to enter Pakistan across the Indian border. The Ambassador said that he had pointed out to Senator Kennedy that this would be illegal.

The Ambassador then returned to an earlier subject: “So Jha came to the West Coast. Did he ask about Chinaʼs intentions?”

Dr. Kissinger, speaking slowly and avoiding precise response, said that Jha had just wanted to get a general fill-in. He said that he had told Jha that we are violently opposed to any moves that could lead to war. He had told him that a complete political solution would take longer than working out a plan for the refugees, so the Indians should not condition refugee return on political settlement.

Dr. Kissinger reiterated that any ammunition that Pakistan could give us would help us. He said he would talk to Senator Scott. Ambassador Hilaly said he would send Dr. Kissinger a note, implying that the note would contain the elements of the package Dr. Kissinger was talking about. [Comment: When that note arrived, it turned out to be simply a recapitulation of the things that Pakistan had said and done on the refugee question since the spring. It was not a new package such as Dr. Kissinger was talking about.]3 Dr. Kissinger said that maybe the Foreign Secretary could incorporate other ideas, in addition to those that Dr. Kissinger had mentioned.

Dr. Kissinger, changing the subject back to China, repeated that “our gratitude is very great.” Ambassador Hilaly said that he had recalled in his conversation with Secretary Rogers the evolution of the China contacts. He recalled that there had been Secretary Rogersʼ 1969 visit in which the Secretary had mentioned the Presidentʼs interest in improving relations with China. Then there had been the Presidentʼs visit to Lahore, in which the President himself had mentioned this to President Yahya. After that, there had been two schools of thought:

  • —One school, following the thinking of former President Ayub, felt that Pakistan should continue to be neutral between the major world powers.
  • —Another school, however, felt that here were two friends of Pakistan, the US and China. Why should Pakistan not make an effort to bring the two together? The argument was that Pakistan would contribute to world peace and help itself as well as others.

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The Ambassador continued, saying that he remembered arguing that it was one of the worldʼs curses that the US and China had not talked for 20 years. It was an ill that had to be cured. International relations would be artificial until a normal relationship was established. President Yahya had accepted the Ambassadorʼs argument. He had rejected the idea that Pakistan should not offend the Russians or the Indians. He concluded that the Russians are “upset” and may withdraw some bits of their aid to Pakistan.

As the conversation concluded, Dr. Kissinger reiterated that he hoped that Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan would review the conversation they had had in Islamabad and would put his mind to assembling a comprehensive Pakistani package on the refugee question.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 643, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan, July 1971. Secret;Nodis. Drafted by Saunders on July 24. The meeting was held in Kissingerʼs office at the White House. The time of the meeting is from Kissingerʼs appointment book. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule)
  2. Ambassador Hilalyʼs meeting with Secretary Rogers was reported to Islamabad in telegrams 134599 and 134643, both July 24. Telegram 134599 is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 17 PAKUS. Telegram 134643 is Document 107.
  3. Brackets in the source text. The note was not found.