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

Please deliver as soon as possible to President Yahya the following message from President Nixon.

“Mr. President,

Thank you for your December 7 message2 which underlines the grave situation which your nation faces. I want you to know that you have the understanding and support of the United States at this critical hour. We will continue our strong efforts to bring peace to the subcontinent, effect the withdrawal of Indian forces from your country, restore the territorial integrity of Pakistan, and see to it that political, not military, solutions are found for regional problems.

I would like to supplement the full reports I know you have been getting from Ambassador Raza in Washington and Ambassador Farland by reviewing the various steps my government has been taking to work toward our mutual objectives.

The United States has made a series of strong démarches to India in New Delhi and in Washington, including my recent meetings with Prime Minister Gandhi, which made clear that the American people and government would not understand a resort to war. Since India began its incursions, we have taken the actions that we warned the Indian government would occur. Thus on December 1 and 3 we cut off all arms shipments to India. Since late November we have used administrative techniques to delay economic assistance to New Delhi. On December 6 we suspended certain categories of economic assistance to India totaling $87.6 million. We are now reviewing all our remaining economic assistance programs for India.

Since the outbreak of full hostilities, the White House and the State Department have issued a series of statements deploring Indian actions and fixing major responsibility on New Delhi for the present crisis. Today Dr. Kissinger is holding a background session with the press at which he will make clear our concerns and policies in South Asia and will point out the dangerous implications of Indian and Soviet actions.

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In the United Nations, the United States, in close consultation with your country and other interested parties, worked for passage of Security Council resolutions that would call for withdrawal of forces in addition to a ceasefire in the subcontinent. We are now making efforts to have the UN General Assembly take action on the subcontinent situation and will continue to insist that any resolution must include a call for withdrawal of outside forces.

With respect to the Soviet Union, the United States has repeatedly underlined the dangerous implications of the Indian resort to war and the Soviet responsibility to exercise restraint. The latest U.S. representation is an urgent personal letter3 which I sent to Secretary Brezhnev on December 6, 1971, which makes unequivocally clear that Indiaʼs aggression, with Soviet support, is unacceptable to the United States. I pointed out that the Indian forces, with Soviet backing, are attempting to impose political demands and dismember Pakistan, and that such actions run counter to the recent trend in Moscow–Washington relations. I called on the Soviet Union to use its influence in New Delhi to restore the territorial integrity of Pakistan and to halt military action. I stated that ‘it would be illusory to think that if India can somehow achieve its objectives by military action the issue will be closed.’ I said that, on the contrary, this ‘would long complicate the international situation and undermine the confidence’ of US-Soviet relations, having ‘an adverse effect on a whole range of other issues.’ I declared that such a turn of events would be a ‘painful disappointment’ and that the spirit in which the May meeting in Moscow was arranged requires ‘the utmost restraint and the most urgent action to end the conflict and restore territorial integrity in the Subcontinent.’

We shall continue to underline to both New Delhi and Moscow that their current actions cannot but have a seriously harmful impact on our relations with them.

We are keeping the Peopleʼs Republic of China fully informed about the various measures we are taking in your support and have made clear that we welcome the strong efforts it is making in your behalf.

In my December 6 meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau I emphasized the grave implications of Indian actions and the need for peace, withdrawal of forces, territorial integrity, and political solutions in the subcontinent. I shall make equally strong representations in my upcoming meetings with the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Japan.

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Mr. President, I, of course, recognize that all these steps and those taken by your other friends have to date failed to deter India or the Soviet Union. I want you to be assured that we shall continue to make our own efforts, to encourage the efforts of others, and to search for new means to make clear that aggression across international borders cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

My thoughts are with you in this difficult hour for your nation.”4



  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 643, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan, December 1–10. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Document 242.
  3. Document 236.
  4. Farland sent a backchannel message to Kissinger on December 8 in which he reported that President Yahya was visibly touched by President Nixonʼs letter and expressed his appreciation. In the course of their conversation, Yahya described the situation in East Pakistan as “beyond hope,” and told Farland that he anticipated that the death total among Biharis and supporters of his government in East Pakistan could run into the millions. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 134, Kissinger Office Files, Country Files, Middle East, India–Pakistan)