161. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan 1

Tosec 101/185011. Eyes Only Chargé. Ref: 185010.2 Subject: Letter from President Yahya.

Following is text of letter from President Yahya to President Nixon, and accompanying aide mémoire, delivered to Dr. Kissinger October 6 by Pakistan MFA Additional Secretary Alvie:

Begin text of letter.

Mr. President,

Persistent intervention in my countryʼs internal affairs by India, its refusal to resolve the humanitarian problem of the displaced persons with the help and assistance of the United Nations as originally proposed by Dr. Kissinger during his talks with me last July, later formally proposed by U Thant, and promptly accepted by us, and the increasing violations of Pakistanʼs borders by the Indian Armed Forces, have created a warlike situation between Pakistan and India.

Moreover, all available evidence indicates that Indian Armed Forces have been put in a state of readiness and moved to forward positions for offensive action at short notice against our frontiers in both the wings.3

In these circumstances, and because India has rejected the United Nations observers and good offices, the present situation in the India– Pakistan sub-continent constitutes a threat to international peace and security and an armed conflict between the two countries is likely to erupt if it is not brought under control immediately. It, therefore, appears appropriate that the United Nations Security Council should consider this matter in order to avert in time the impending blood-shed and destruction.

[Page 451]

In our discussions with the Russians in Moscow last month, they conveyed assurances that India would not start a conflict and added that they were exercising restraining influence on India. Unfortunately, the facts are quite different. The bulk of Indian Forces have moved in operational positions against our borders after the signing of Indo-Soviet Treaty and there has also been a marked increase in shelling and raids on our territory since then. Apparently, the Indians are either not amenable to Soviet advice or are deliberately misleading them.

Confident of the friendship between our two countries and your personal concern for peace in the region, I would request that the United States Government extend the necessary help and assistance to my country in this grave hour with a view to facilitating an urgent consideration of the situation by the Security Council and for a constructive decision and positive action by it.

In case, Mr. President, you deem that some other course of international action at this stage would be more helpful, I shall be grateful to be apprised of it. It only remains for me to assure you that we repose the utmost confidence in your judgement.

With warm personal regards. End text.

Begin text of aide mémoire.

Pakistan is considering to call a meeting of the Security Council to consider serious threat to peace in the sub-continent arising from Indiaʼs open and mounting interference in Pakistanʼs internal affairs and ever-increasing Indian military activities on Pakistanʼs borders. In view of special relations existing with the United States and particularly with President Nixon President Yahya Khan wishes to apprise President Nixon of his intention so as to seek American support and influence in the Security Council.

India continues to refuse to resolve the humanitarian problem of the displaced persons with the help and assistance of the United Nations as originally proposed by Dr. Kissinger himself and later formally proposed by U Thant and accepted by Pakistan. A war-like situation has thus developed between Pakistan and India. Despite assurances of restraining influence on India, the Indo-Soviet Treaty seems to have further emboldened India in her aggressive and bellicose designs against Pakistan. In fact Indian forces have moved into operational position after the signing of the Indo-Soviet treaty. President Yahya Khan wishes to request President Nixon for full American support and assistance to Pakistan in the urgent consideration of the situation by the Security Council and for a constructive decision and positive action by it. President Yahya Khan would be grateful to know any other course of international action which President Nixon may consider helpful. President Yahya Khan has the utmost confidence in President Nixonʼs [Page 452] judgement. Since the matter is of utmost urgency, President Yahya Khan will appreciate a reply to his enclosed message. End text.

2. In carrying out instructions reftel you should also inform Yahya that his letter has been delivered to President Nixon and that reply will be forthcoming shortly.4 FYI. In preliminary comment Kissinger suggested there might be problems in unilateral Pakistan call for Security Council meeting but noted (per last para aide mémoire) that other courses of action might be helpful. See also Secretaryʼs conversation with Mahmood Ali reported septel.5 End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by Van Hollen on October 7, cleared by Saunders and Acting Secretary Johnson, and approved for transmission by Van Hollen. Also sent to USUN for Sisco.
  2. Document 160.
  3. An intelligence appreciation prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, based upon military intelligence, and sent by Eliot to Kissinger under a covering memorandum on October 6, concluded: “(a) military preparations are approaching a stage at which a major clash could occur through miscalculations or misinterpretations, (b) tensions have reached a point at which a major clash, however sparked, might prove uncontainable, and (c) present Indian and Pakistani intentions to avoid war could be suddenly overridden by new developments.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA–PAK)
  4. When Sober met with President Yahya in Karachi on October 11, he told Yahya that his letter suggesting the possibility of calling the UN Security Council into session had been delivered to President Nixon and was being carefully studied. Sober said there was a concern in Washington that a discussion in the Security Council might generate a good deal of emotion, fail to achieve anything constructive, and thus serve to further polarize the situation. There was the additional concern that India would broaden the discussion to include the entire range of problems affecting relations between India and Pakistan. Yahya expressed appreciation for the advance indication of the U.S. response to his suggestion and indicated that he would be governed accordingly. (Telegram 2030 from Karachi, October 11; ibid., POL 27 INDIA–PAK)
  5. Telegram 3369 from USUN, October 9, reported on Secretary Rogersʼ conversation on October 7 with Mahmud Ali, head of Pakistanʼs delegation to the UN General Assembly. Ali gave Rogers a copy of the letter delivered to President Nixon the day before. Rogers promised to study the letter but warned against the risk of an unproductive Security Council debate. Ali outlined what his country viewed as the Indian threat to Pakistan, and Rogers indicated the efforts the United States had made with India and the USSR to caution restraint. (Ibid., POL 27–14 INDIA–PAK/UN)