131. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Military Supply Pipeline in Pakistan


  • His Excellency Agha Hilaly, Ambassador of Pakistan
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Peter D. Constable, Pakistani Desk Officer

Ambassador Hilaly called at Mr. Siscoʼs request. Mr. Sisco said he wanted to raise a difficult problem in an unorthodox and personal way and to seek Ambassador Hilalyʼs advice as to whether any further steps should be taken at this time. Mr. Sisco then referred to the problem of the military supply pipeline to Pakistan, which has now declined to about $2.6 million. Mr. Sisco reviewed the political price that the United States Government is paying for the continuation of the pipeline, even though the actual military supplies are not now of any great significance to Pakistan. Mr. Sisco referred particularly to the actions in Congress to impose an embargo on military shipments and to terminate economic assistance to Pakistan. He said that our efforts to preserve our flexibility on economic assistance, on debt rescheduling, and other problems were being jeopardized by the continuing pressure against our military supply pipeline.

Mr. Sisco then asked Ambassador Hilaly if the USG and the GOP could work out together a mutually satisfactory way to dry up the existing pipeline over the next few weeks. Pointing out that we had no intention of imposing an embargo against the military supply pipeline, nevertheless we thought it possible that it might be dried up by some joint steps that would satisfy Pakistanʼs minimal needs but at the same time end the political liability that the pipeline represents. Mr. Sisco described to the Ambassador the three categories of items in the pipeline (Foreign Military Sales, commercial sales to the Government of Pakistan, and commercial sales to commercial importers in Pakistan), and suggested possible ways that particular licensed items might be dealt with. Some examples cited included: speeding up shipment of FMS items of which Pakistani commercial agents have already taken possession of; examination of commercial contracts to see which ones [Page 360] might yield quick deliveries; careful scrutiny of the outstanding licenses to see if there are items that Pakistan no longer needs, or if some items might be purchased elsewhere; voluntary withdrawal of some licenses in the interests of terminating the pipeline quickly.

Mr. Sisco assured the Ambassador that any movement in this direction would be given only minimal low-key publicity to point out that the pipeline had “run-out”. There would be no suggestion that the USG or the GOP had responded to any untoward pressure in phasing down the pipeline. Mr. Sisco also reiterated that there has been no policy change on military supply, that it remains under review and that a mutually worked out program to terminate the present pipeline would not prejudice future consideration of military supply for Pakistan.

Ambassador Hilaly responded that he fully recognized the political problems in the United States which our military supply policy posed. He felt, nevertheless, that a great deal of the adverse publicity was based on a misunderstanding of the facts, that this misunderstanding was in some cases deliberate, and that the enemies of Pakistan would continue to hammer against American policies favorable to Pakistan even if the pipeline issue were removed. Mr. Sisco noted that there was, however, great psychological importance in the military supply issue and that if it could be removed, then much of the other argumentation against American policies toward Pakistan would lose their force. Ambassador Hilaly acknowledged this to be so.

After some thought and choosing his words with care, the Ambassador suggested that he put the case to President Yahya directly— not as an official suggestion from the USG but simply as a proposal informally discussed. Hilaly used much the same phraseology as Mr. Sisco had earlier in describing the way he would put the matter to the President, e.g., a mutual effort to find a way to preserve the flexibility of the American Government in dealing with problems of economic assistance to Pakistan. He then said that he would recommend that President Yahya send the Director of Military Supply on a secret visit to Washington to review with USG officials just what specifically might be involved in drying up the pipeline. Emphasizing that he was in no position to speak at this point for the Government of Pakistan, the Ambassador nevertheless made it clear that he thought the exercise could be put to President Yahya in the framework of a friendly suggestion informally put forward.

Ambassador Hilaly and Mr. Sisco agreed that the matter would be extremely closely held since any premature disclosure could jeopardize consideration of the question.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 626, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. VII, Sep–Oct 1971. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Constable; Sisco initialed the memorandum indicating that he had reviewed it.