109. Editorial Note
Ambassador Farland returned to Washington for consultations at the end of July. President Nixon and Henry Kissinger met with him at the White House on July 28, 1971. The discussion began with a brief summary of the initiative undertaken with the Peopleʼs Republic of China. Turning to developments on the subcontinent, Farland said: “There is another side to this picture, and I can say with complete candor that if we push Yahya to the point where he reacts, the reaction will be such that the entire subcontinent will be [unclear] I mean heʼll fight.” He anticipated that conflict between India and Pakistan would draw in China as well.
Nixon asked: “What do you think our position should be?” Farland responded: “I think we are doing what we should.” He went on to paint a stark picture of prospects for the subcontinent. Hindus and Muslims had been at each otherʼs throats for centuries and in his view were likely to remain so. Nixon interjected: “Miserable damn place.” Kissinger said that his appreciation of Indiaʼs involvement in the crisis building in East Pakistan was that “if they can undermine East Pakistan then in West Pakistan so many forces would be, will unloosen, will be turned loose that the whole Pakistan issue will disappear.” Nixon turned to Farland and said: “You are convinced that Yahya will fight.” Farland responded: “Oh, he will.” Nixon said: “He will commit suicide.” Kissinger agreed that Yahya would fight: “Just as Lincoln would have fought.” Farland added: “The possibility of defeat is a minor consideration as opposed to their sense of national unity.”
Nixon asked for Farlandʼs assessment of the “terrible stories” being circulated by the Indians about the horrors endured by the refugees at the hands of the Pakistani Army. Farland responded that the Indians were “past masters at propaganda.” Nixon and Farland turned to [Page 290] the question of arms supply for Pakistan. Farland noted that “since March 25 we have sent over 2,200 rounds of 22 ammunition for survival rifles for down there, thatʼs all.” He went on to observe that “40–50 percent of what is in the pipeline is for spare parts for trucks and for communication equipment without which the starving refugees could not be fed.”
Nixon encouraged Farland to “lay it right out” in discussing the issue and in talking about the situation in East Pakistan. Nixon felt that it was important to “try to help on the problem.” His concern was too that a “bloodbath” would develop in East Pakistan. “We warned the Indians very strongly,” he said, “that if they start anything—and believe me it would be a hell of a pleasure as far as I am concerned—if we just cut off every damn bit of aid we give them, at least whatever it is worth.”
Farland said that Yahya had told him that his intelligence had pinpointed 29 refugee camps in India where guerrillas were being trained. “I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but the guerrilla threat is growing by leaps and bounds. They are averaging 18 Pakistanis a day now, they are averaging two bridges a day, killing that many.” He added that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that refugees were prohibited from coming back to East Pakistan.
Nixon said that his problems in dealing with the situation in East Pakistan were magnified by the Department of State bureaucracy. “We are having a hell of a time keeping the State Department bureaucracies hitched on this thing.” The Departmentʼs South Asia specialists were, in Nixonʼs view, pro-Indian. Farland noted the political fallout that had resulted in the United States from the issue made about Pakistani brutality by the Consul General in Dacca, and by the head of USIS. Both officers had been transferred out of the area and Farland indicated that he was trying to prevent any further negative reporting on the situation in East Pakistan. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation among Nixon, Kissinger, and Farland, July 28, 1971, 4:21–4:54 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 549–25) The editors transcribed the portions of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume. A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 141.