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


  • Information Items

India-Pakistan Situation: The Indian forces are continuing their all-out offensive into East Pakistan and heavier fighting is developing in the West where the Paks seem to be taking the initiative. In more detail the military situation looks as follows:

  • —In East Pakistan the Indian forces are making gradual progress on several fronts. They are pressing the outnumbered Pak forces on several strategic fronts and the Indian gains so far may be laying the basis for more dramatic successes in the near future. The Indian objective is to force a Pak surrender in East Pakistan within the next week, if at all possible.
  • —Ground action on the Indian-West Pakistan front has been increasing, but it is not yet as widespread as in the East and neither side appears to be making clear-cut major gains. The Indian strategy is to maintain an essentially defensive posture in the West until the battle is won in the East, but there are indications that the Paks may be preparing a major offensive thrust in Kashmir that would undoubtedly force an Indian counter.
  • —In the air war, India has apparently achieved complete air superiority in the East and is using its air force to support the ground offensive. The Indians continue to bomb and strafe military targets in major cities in both East and West Pakistan. Fuel storage tanks in the Dacca and Chittagong areas of East Pakistan and in the West Pakistan part [port] of Karachi have been especially hard hit.
  • —The navies of both countries are also active. The Indian Navy is blockading ports in both East and West Pakistan and claim to have sunk two Pak destroyers and to have shelled the port of Karachi. Indiaʼs aircraft carrier is operating against East Pakistan. The numerical superiority of Indiaʼs fleet should give it a decided advantage in any future naval combat.

On the political front, Mrs. Gandhi has announced Indiaʼs long-anticipated recognition of Bangla Desh as an independent nation. Even though the significance of this move has been lessened by the hostilities, the Paks responded by breaking diplomatic relations with India. The Swiss will look after Pakistanʼs interests in New Delhi.

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Last nightʼs Security Council meeting on the Indo-Pak crisis underlined both the isolation of the Soviet/Indian position and the determination of the USSR to prevent any resolution not to its liking. The Soviet draft resolution (calling for an East Pakistan political settlement which would “inevitably result in a cessation of hostilities” and for Pakistan to cease acts of violence in East Pakistan which “led to the deterioration of the situation”) was defeated; 2 in favor (USSR and Poland), 1 against (China) and 12 abstaining (including the U.S.). Another resolution co-sponsored by eight non-permanent members (calling for a cease-fire, withdrawal, efforts to bring about conditions necessary for the return of refugees) lost to a Soviet veto; 11 in favor (including the U.S.), 2 against (USSR, Poland) and 2 abstaining (UK, France), just as the U.S. draft had yesterday. The Pak representative had found this resolution acceptable. The Chinese resolution (condemning Indian aggression) was not put to a vote but the Chinese continued to sharply attack India. Sino-Soviet name-calling continued throughout the debate.

Most speakers deplored the inability of the Council to act, with the British and the French lamenting the Councilʼs proceeding to vote on resolutions which would fail. Following the vote the Italian representative tabled a resolution limited to a call for an immediate cease-fire as a first step. However, he was stopped from pressing the resolution to a vote by a movement to adjourn until this afternoon supported by the USSR, U.S., UK and France which was accepted by the Council. There were suggestions during the corridor consultations that the issue be taken to the General Assembly if the Council proved unable to act. The more likely immediate pressure, however, will operate in the direction of the Italian proposal for a simple cease-fire resolution.

[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 the President saw it.