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

191555. Subject: Yahya Letter to President Nixon.2

Following is text of letter from Pres Yahya to President Nixon dtd Oct 9, delivered to White House Oct 19 by Pakistani DCM Farooqi:

Begin text.

Your Excellency

I write to express the sense of gratitude of the Government and the people of Pakistan for your sympathetic understanding of our difficulties during the recent crisis. We also appreciate your governmentʼs continuing interest in the affairs of the sub-continent, particularly, its concern for the well-being of the people and for the preservation of stability and peace in the area. In this context, may I state briefly, Mr. President, the latest position on the state of affairs in the sub-continent. In an already tense situation Indiaʼs land, sea and air forces have been brought to a state of confrontation against Pakistanʼs frontiers in both the wings.

There are 7 divisions of the Indian army which are deployed against West Pakistan and additional forces have been put in a state of readiness to move to forward positions at short notice.3

A total of nearly 8 divisions have encircled East Pakistan.

Substantial forward moves have taken place from the rear to the forward operational positions in the last few weeks. In addition, the deployment of Indian forces on the Sino-Indian borders have been rearranged in a manner that these could be simultaneously utilized in an offensive against Pakistanʼs frontiers as well.

The Indian air force has activated and occupied forward airfields and special facilities and stockpiling have been carried out. Tactical air-centres have also been established near Pakistanʼs frontier.

[Page 472]

A total of nearly 26 squadrons, inclusive of supersonic aircrafts, are today positioned against Pakistan. There is a virtual combat air ring around East Pakistan for offensive purposes.

The Indian navy has been put to a state of war-preparedness with sixty percent of its forces deployed against the coasts of West Pakistan. The remaining strength of the Indian navy is positioned to move against the shores of East Pakistan.

Mr. President, the inevitable conclusion that one can draw from this offensive posture of the Indian armed forces is that it is pointed in the direction of conflict and not of peace. Our concern is all the more grave since India has shown no inclination to give up its policy of instigating and assisting armed infiltration into East Pakistan. It continues to support, train, and launch rebels and insurgents who seek the dismemberment and destruction of Pakistan. I am constrained to say that if this state of affairs continues it may lead to dangerous consequences: a situation which we in Pakistan—and I am sure all the friends of Pakistan and India, particularly, the United States—would wish to avoid.

It is most unfortunate that to justify its aggressive posture, India continues to exploit the humanitarian question of displaced persons. As you perhaps know, Mr. President, my government has taken several constructive steps for the return and speedy rehabilitation of these persons who are our own kith and kin. This contrasts sharply with Indiaʼs totally negative attitude and leaves us with no doubt that India does not wish an amicable settlement of this problem.

I would wish to add that the political situation in Pakistan is rapidly progressing towards the objective I have set out for transfering power to the elected representatives of the people. I have already taken some decisive steps, including the appointment of a civilian governor in East Pakistan, fixing a time schedule for holding by-elections in December this year, declaration of general amnesty and release of detained persons. These efforts towards the civilianisation of provincial government in East Pakistan have evoked a highly favourable response from the people. In addition, the food situation in the province is fully under control and the industrial and economic life is rapidly returning to normal. A very healthy improvement in the atmosphere in East Pakistan is thus discernible.

Mr. President, since you have always taken a keen personal interest in the preservation of peace in the sub-continent, I do hope that you would share my belief that whether it be for the creation of a climate conducive to the return of the displaced persons, or for the normalisation of situation, it is essential that India and Pakistan should work out necessary ways and means to reduce tension and allow normalcy to return at the earliest. Having this in mind, may I urge you to impress [Page 473] upon the Government of India the need for urgent constructive steps with a view to arresting further deterioration of the situation in the sub-continent. As I have always maintained, war will solve nothing. I, therefore, earnestly hope that wise counsels would prevail in India and the Indian leaders would exercise restraint and caution in this highly surcharged atmosphere. I would request you, Mr. President, personally to take up this matter in your talks with the Indian Prime Minister during her forthcoming visit to Washington. On my part, I shall welcome any constructive suggestion that you may wish to offer in this regard.

With warm personal regards,

A.M. Yahya Khan

End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 578, Indo-Pak War, Pakistan Chronology, Dr. Kissinger. Secret; Exdis. Drafted and approved by Van Hollen and cleared by Laingen and Jeanne Davis, Director of the NSC Staff Secretariat. Repeated to New Delhi and Dacca.
  2. A signed copy of the letter delivered by Zahir M. Farooqi is in the Library of Congress, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 210, Geopolitical File, South Asia, Chronological File, Nov–Dec 1971.
  3. An intelligence report sent by the CIA to the White House on October 19 indicated that all Indian armed forces had been placed on full alert status. (CIA telegram TDCSDB–315/06207–71, October 19; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 597, Country Files, Middle East, India, Vol. IV, 1 Jul–30 Nov 71)