222. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland) to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[number not declassified] In conversation with me at 2000 hrs. local December 3, (Islamabad 12007)2 Yahya said that, with India having precipitated an all-out war, his military forces were in desperate need of U.S. military supplies and earnestly sought my governmentʼs assistance in obtaining same.3 He added that, assuming the Nixon administration found this to be an impossibility, “for Godʼs sake donʼt hinder or impede the delivery of equipment from friendly third countries.”4 I told Yahya that I would pass the message to you. However, I admonished him that the requests carried with them difficulties of which he should be all too well aware given the history of U.S. military supplies to Pakistan.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1971, Amb. Farland, Pakistan. Top Secret. Received at 8:22 a.m.
  2. Document 220.
  3. In a telephone conversation with President Nixon at 10:50 a.m. on December 4, Kissinger reported this request as follows: “We have had an urgent appeal from Yahya. Says his military supplies have been cut off—in very bad shape. Would we help through Iran.” Nixon asked: “Can we help?” Kissinger replied: “I think if we tell the Iranians we will make it up to them we can do it.” Nixon concurred: “If it is leaking we can have it denied. Have it done one step away.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) Nixon confirmed this decision in a conversation with Kissinger on December 6. He authorized Kissinger to proceed on the understanding that any “back channel” military assistance provided to Pakistan by Iran would be offset by comparable assistance provided to Iran by the United States. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, December 6, 1971, 12:02–12:06 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 630–2)
  4. On instructions from Washington, [text not declassified] in Tehran met with the Shah on December 5 and encouraged Iran to transfer military equipment and munitions to Pakistan. The Shah indicated that he would be glad to help but stipulated that the U.S. replace what was transferred as quickly as possible. ([telegram number not declassified], December 5; ibid., NSC Files, Box 642, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan) On the same day in Amman, King Hussein showed Ambassador Dean Brown a telegram from Pakistani President Yahya Khan asking for military assistance. Hussein said that what Pakistan wanted was 8–10 Jordanian F–104 fighters. Since the United States had provided the aircraft, Hussein turned to the Embassy for advice. (Telegram 5439 from Amman, December 5; ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–083, WSAG Meeting, South Asia, 12/6/71)