139. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Military Supply Pipeline for Pakistan


  • The Secretary
  • Christopher Van Hollen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Peter D. Constable, Senior Political Officer, Pakistan–Afghanistan Affairs
  • Maj. Gen. Inam-ul Haq, Director General, Defense Procurement; Pakistan Ministry of Defense
  • Mr. Z.M. Farooqi, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Pakistan
[Page 378]

The Secretary welcomed General Haq to Washington and expressed his deep appreciation for President Yahyaʼs prompt response to Mr. Siscoʼs suggestion that our two governments look at ways to deal with the remaining military supply pipeline. He also expressed appreciation of President Yahyaʼs understanding of the problems that military supply pipeline presents. The Secretary stated, however, that he wanted to make clear Mr. Siscoʼs suggestion was just that. We are not pressing the Government of Pakistan. We want to take a look at the problem together. We do not want to change our policy toward Pakistan or to do anything that will hurt Pakistan. If it does work out, it would be to our mutual advantage, since it would give us an opportunity to try to play a constructive role in economic assistance. Comparing the military supply pipeline of $2.6 million with the economic assistance pipeline of $80 million, it is apparent which is the more important. While the military supply question is not an important issue in domestic politics, Congressional opposition to military supply has created a potential political problem in U.S.-Pakistan relations. The pipeline question may impair our ability to be helpful with economic assistance. It is in this context that Mr. Sisco asked Ambassador Hilaly if shipments from the remaining small pipeline might be speeded up or items ordered elsewhere. If that were done, then we could make a low-key statement to the effect that shipments from the pipeline had been completed.

Major General Haq replied by expressing President Yahyaʼs deep appreciation for being taken into confidence. He does not want to cause any difficulties for President Nixon and he is aware of the political pressures. President Yahya had instructed him to cooperate fully with us. There is tremendous good will in Pakistan for the United States and there might be some bafflement when the public learns the United States is no longer shipping military items to Pakistan. However, he hoped the announcement can be worded in such a way as to avoid any impression that we have joined hands with India. The General noted that the recent Indo-Soviet treaty had caused an imbalance in the Subcontinent and he alleged that the Indians would be receiving 400 T–60 series tanks from the Soviets as a result of the treaty, while the Soviets had now cut off spares for the inferior tanks they had previously supplied to Pakistan. It was obvious, according to the General, that the new Soviet tanks were for Indian use on the plains of the Punjab. The imbalance of power could be increased by Pakistanʼs difficulties in maintaining U.S. equipment, particularly aircraft. He added, however, that they would try for the time being to find alternate sources for the spares. He concluded by saying they would try to ship out as much as possible in as short a time as possible. He also raised a question as to the feasibility of air cargo shipments out by MATS flights, but also recognized possible problems with this method.

[Page 379]

The Secretary then emphasized our interest in a low-key announcement, perhaps by the State Department spokesman, noting simply that Pakistan had completed its shipments of military supply items, or some similar formulation that we could mutually agree on. The General and Mr. Farooqi expressed their agreement with and appreciation for this kind of formulation.

Mr. Farooqi asked whether the resolution of the military supply question would enable the United States to take the lead with the Consortium countries in economic assistance questions. The Secretary replied that it would make it easier. In response to Farooqiʼs observation that President Yahya also hoped there could be a resumption of arms shipments when conditions settled down, the Secretary noted that while we need not go into that question now, relations between the United States and Pakistan and their leaders were very close and cordial.

(Note: In an earlier conversation with the General, Mr. Van Hollen sketched out briefly the mechanics of the “drying out” exercise as we saw it, pointing out the need for rapid movement, if there were to be advantage in an announcement before the Senate considered the foreign assistance legislation. Subsequently in the technical discussions with General Haq, Mr. Constable pointed out that we were thinking in terms of completion of shipments by the end of September.)

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 626, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. VII, Sep–Oct 1971. Secret; Nodis. Drafted on September 8 by Constable (NEA/PAF).