214. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


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India–Pakistan Situation: The latest reports seem to indicate that the Indian and guerrilla offensive along the East Pakistan border is gaining some momentum. The disparity in manpower and supplies apparently is taking its toll on the Pak forces and they reportedly have abandoned a number of contested locations in the face of relentless pressure in the direction of several major provincial cities. Meanwhile, there are indications that the situation is starting to deteriorate in the interior where the guerrilla forces are operating more freely now that most of the Pak forces have been drawn off to defend the frontiers. Some towns as close as 17 miles from Dacca reportedly have been abandoned to the guerrillas and there are reports of the Bangla Desh flag flying in a number of towns elsewhere in the interior. The Indians have also set up a “Mukti Bahini navy” with their own forces with the priority objective of blocking shipping into East Pakistan.

At the UN the situation is relatively static for the moment. The Japanese and Belgians are standing down their efforts to create interest in a Security Council meeting after having received no encouragement from the permanent representatives. For the moment the Soviets and Indians are getting their way—inaction—but the Pak ambassador at the UN thinks that it is possible that he could have instructions to move for a Security Council meeting as early as Friday.2 He also reports that the Chinese have promised to use their veto if the Paks ask them. It is assumed that the Soviets are prepared to do the same for India.

Our China watchers in Hong Kong report that the attention of Chinese media to the Indo-Pak crisis has risen sharply in the last ten days. The coverage has featured descriptions of Indiaʼs actions as an “invasion” and as military “provocations” and there has been one high level reference to “armed aggression.” Direct charges of Soviet involvement have also rather abruptly become a significant feature. At the same time [Page 592] the Chinese have not tried to play up any threat to their own security. Chinese public pledges of support to the Pakistanis have remained generalized and at least once they have indirectly implied that the Paks do not need assistance. They have also continued to call for peaceful “consultations” between India and Pakistan.

We have an initial reaction from the Indian Government on our cutoff of military supplies. Foreign Secretary Kaul took the announcement of our new military supply policy toward India in reasonably good grace, indicating that the U.S. had the right to do whatever it thought best. In a friendly and earnest way he warned Ambassador Keating that no country should think they could persuade India to alter the path on which it was embarked through pressure tactics. Kaul urged that the U.S. not forget the common values and common ideals we both share.

[Omitted here are summary reports on foreign policy issues unrelated to South Asia.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 37, Presidentʼs Daily Briefs, Dec 1–Dec 16, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. A stamp on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. December 3.