158. Analytical Summary Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


Stateʼs paper2 assumes that, if hostilities break out between India and Pakistan, China will give some support to Pakistan. They might:

Give additional military assistance—this action is all but certain.
Raise the level of tensions on the Sino-Indian border short of provoking incidents—this is highly probable.
Provoke border incidents in Ladakh or the Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA)—this also is highly likely.
Limited invasion of India in Kashmir or NEFA. This is considered unlikely.
Step up clandestine support of insurgents—this is likely.
Invasion on several fronts—this is also considered unlikely given traditional Chinese military caution and the improved Indo-Soviet relationship.

Our Response–Objectives

  • —Limit the Indo-Pakistan conflict in scope and time in an effort to avoid confrontation between US and Chinese policies.
  • —Limit Chinese actions to the first two options and work to avoid Chinese involvement directly in hostilities.
  • —Quick negotiated settlement through the UN or other international mechanism.
  • —Avoid overreaction to limited Chinese actions which could induce India to move toward ceasefire negotiations.

[Comment: Clearly it would be in everyoneʼs interest to see that hostilities are halted as quickly as possible—the sooner the fighting stops, the less likely would be serious Chinese intervention. How we use what leverage we may have with Pakistan or India or with the Soviets [Page 434] or Chinese will depend on how the conflict begins—which side initiated hostilities or whether each bore a measure of responsibility.]3

Possible U.S. Actions


Additional Chinese Military Equipment to Pakistan. If India attacked Pakistan we would:

  • —condemn Indiaʼs attack,
  • —cut off economic aid and military sales to India,
  • —call for Security Council action.

We would not take exception to Chinese military aid, but we would not reopen our own military supply.

[Comment: This begs the question—if Pakistan is attacked, Pakistan may ask for our help. And if it does, some response beyond our good offices to try to halt the fighting will probably be necessary. Whatever we would do would not be decisive but certainly would be symbolic both to Pakistan and India. A reopening of the military pipeline would suggest to some “great power involvement” but the fact would be that China and the USSR would already be involved to some extent and our own interests vis-à-vis the subcontinent and China are such that we too would be involved.]

If Pakistan attacked India. The principal question would be whether we would cut off aid to India. In this case we could use the possible cut off as a lever to get India to press for negotiation while using our own pressure on Pakistan to stop the fighting.


Increase in Border Tension. We would urge restraint on China and inform them of the efforts we were making with the Indians and others to end the conflict.

[Comment: We also could urge the Chinese to use their influence with Pakistan to offer ceasefire/negotiation.]


Provocation of Border Incidents. These incidents would propose no serious threat but might cause an unwanted escalation. We could:

  • —Warn the Chinese that continuation could affect Sino-American relations.4
  • —Make a public statement deploring Chinese actions, calling on them to desist.

[Comment: A public statement would seem to be only a last resort to be avoided if possible. The incidents themselves would likely be ambiguous. A public statement by the U.S. could be counterproductive in [Page 435] hardening Chinese attitudes and making them even less receptive to our good officers.]

If India had attacked Pakistan we would want to make clear that we would not come to Indiaʼs aid in event of Chinese provoked border incidents.


Limited Invasion. The paper states that:

  • —If India had initiated hostilities we should not agree to consult under the Air Defense Agreement5 or provide military equipment.
  • —If the fault for beginning hostilities were unclear, we should consider consulting with India and responding positively to Indian requests for assistance, if the invasion threatened critical supply lines or occupation of major portions of India.
  • —If Pakistan had attacked India we should consult, if asked, under the Air Defense Agreement and be prepared to assist with equipment.
  • —In any event a Chinese invasion of India probably would call for postponement of the Presidentʼs trip.

[Comment: The role of the Soviets in the case of a Chinese attack on India is not discussed. Obviously Soviets are not only a deterrent to such an attack but also would be likely to take some action to help India. It would seem in our interest to avoid getting involved in a military supply relationship with India in these circumstances.]


Increased Insurgent Activity. We might consult with Burma and Nepal on ways in which the flow of material, funds and propaganda might be curtailed and inform India that we have done so. We might also warn China of the danger of stepped-up insurgency.

[Comment: Before taking any steps we would certainly want to be sure of our ground. The Chinese unquestionably would deny any involvement and efforts by us with Nepal and Burma could be counterproductive in our relationships with China.]


Direct Invasion. The paper suggests that we would offer political support to Nepal and Bhutan if Chinese move through them. We would call upon China to withdraw, postpone or cancel the Presidentʼs visit and inform the Chinese that an attack is considered an unfriendly act. The paper also suggests that if India clearly was the aggrieved party vis-à-vis Pakistan, and the Chinese attacked, we would indicate support for India and respond to Indian requests for military equipment.

[Comment: Again the Soviet role is ignored. However unlikely this contingency, if it occurred, the Soviets certainly would be expected to [Page 436] take some steps quickly. Any meaningful scenario on our side would have to take into account the possible Soviet moves.]

[This paper, hurriedly done by State without interagency participation, is simply inadequate. It raises more questions than it answers. It should be redone on a priority basis by a WSAG Working Group, including NSC, DOD, JCS and CIA.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–082, WSAG Meeting, India–Pakistan, 10/7/71. Secret; Exdis. No drafting information appears on the summary. Transmitted to Kissinger on October 7 under cover of a memorandum from Hoskinson and Kennedy that indicated they had prepared it. (Ibid.) The summary is undated; the date used is from the covering memorandum.
  2. Reference is to an undated 9-page paper entitled “Possible US Responses to Chinese Military Actions in South Asia,” that was forwarded to Kissinger on October 6 under cover of a memorandum from Eliot indicating that it had been prepared for the October 7 WSAG meeting. (Ibid.)
  3. All brackets in the source text.
  4. Kissinger wrote in the margin at this point: “No”.
  5. In the margin Kissinger asked: “What is the Air Defense Agreement?” The Air Defense Agreement between the United States and India was signed in New Delhi on July 9, 1963, by Prime Minister Nehru and Ambassador Galbraith. The text of the agreement was transmitted to the Department on July 10 in telegram 143 from New Delhi. ( Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XIX, Document 307)