182. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan1

205540. Subj: Indo-Pak Military Confrontation.

Assistant Secretary Sisco called in Pakistan and Indian Ambassadors November 10 to express our concern over continuing clashes along East Pakistan/Indian borders, including cross border shelling and report of Indian attack at Kamalpur to silence Pakistani artillery action. Representations made in view of evidence we have that Indian troops involved in latter attack may still be on Pak side of border and that Pakistanis may be seriously considering retaliatory attack.
Sisco told Raza that representations we wanted to make were against background of appreciation for Yahyaʼs expressed willingness to begin withdrawal process including his willingness to consider unilateral effort to lessen tensions. Said we also appreciative of Yahyaʼs willingness to cooperate in any way with UN to prevent outbreak of hostilities and of Yahyaʼs repeated assurances that Pakistan would not initiate hostilities. Nonetheless we were increasingly concerned over reports of clashes along East Pakistan/Indian borders and particularly [Page 504] over current situation Kamalpur, and we were therefore making representations today to both Raza and Indian Ambassador to caution against any action that would increase tensions or provoke incidents between Pakistan and Indian armed forces. Sisco said we would hope Pakistanis would continue to demonstrate their awareness of fact that any military initiatives or retaliatory actions on their part could be seized upon by Indians as excuse for strong countermeasures.
Raza responded that GOP was acutely conscious of current situation and had every intention to avoid beginning hostilities. Indian tactics were clear, however; i.e. to provoke Pakistan into steps that could be seized upon by GOI as excuse to commence broader hostilities. He thought GOP would be patient and careful but wanted also to say there was a limit to what GOP could tolerate.
In conversation with Indian Ambassador Jha, who accompanied by Rasgotra and Verma, Sisco led off with appreciation for positive way in which visit of PriMin Gandhi had gone. He noted we had tried to go beyond established positions in order to put forward some concrete ideas which would begin to reverse trends. He said he was impressed with PMʼs expression of her commitment to peace and her desire to avoid war. He felt that she had got this idea across. In addition, he noted that there was parallelism of views on importance of political settlement. USG has agreed with point Indians have made that we should not merely take steps to defuse the crisis but should also move ahead on the political front.
Sisco then went on to note that we are concerned at reports we have received since PriMinʼs visit that Indian army had crossed into East Pakistan. We are fearful that this kind of crossing would tempt and invite Pakistani retaliatory action, and we therefore hope India would take some step to deescalate situation.
Sisco informed Jha that we had already called in Pak Ambassador and conveyed to him our equally strong concern about situation and risks of any retaliatory action. We wished to reiterate our hope that India and Pakistan will not take any steps to undermine efforts we are making toward getting a political dialogue going, a dialogue in which GOI has expressed cautious interest.
Jha asked if we had independent conformation of reports which he has seen in press re action near Kamalpur. Sisco replied that we are satisfied there is substance to reports. Van Hollen noted that we understood regular forces had crossed border in some strength last week in order to silence shelling from Pakistani side. Rasgotra noted that official spokesman had twice denied report appearing in press, but indicated that Embassy had no further information.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Laingen and Quainton on November 10, cleared by Schneider and Van Hollen, and approved by Sisco. Also sent to New Delhi and repeated to USUN, Moscow, Tehran, Calcutta, and Dacca.