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


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India–Pakistan: At the end of a long session last night, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution on the Indo-Pak war essentially the same as that vetoed in the Security Council by the Soviets. The vote was 104 in favor (including the U.S.), 11 against (Soviet bloc minus Romania, plus Bhutan and India) and 10 abstentions, most notable of which were the UK, France and Denmark. The resolution specifically calls for a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops, creation of necessary conditions for a voluntary return of refugees and urges protection of civilians in the area.

Despite the impressive margin of the UN vote, it is unlikely to deter the Indians who had already indicated that they would ignore this kind of resolution. In fact, according to a CIA report,2 Mrs. Gandhi told her cabinet on December 6 that India would not accept such a resolution until Bangla Desh is “liberated,” the southern part of Pak-held Kashmir is incorporated into India and Pakistanʼs military striking power is destroyed.

The Paks continue to bitterly contest Indian gains in East Pakistan, but the consensus among veteran military observers and reporters is that the end of the Pak Armyʼs effective resistance may come sooner than expected. CIA estimates that the Indians and guerrillas now probably control about half of the province and are progressively isolating the Pak Army as they gain control of strategic points. Our Consul General in Dacca comments that the “noose is obviously getting tighter.”

Fighting in the West has also reportedly intensified, although the Indians still seem to be essentially on the defensive and have not yet launched a major counter-offensive. The Paks have mounted two substantial drives into Kashmir and seem to have made some progress. There is fighting also to the south on the Punjab plain, but the results so far are inconclusive. The Indians have, however, penetrated at least 15 miles into West Pakistan in the direction of Karachi. Both sides continue [Page 689] to make air strikes on the western front, but neither has yet gained the upper hand.

CIA has reviewed Chinaʼs military position along the Indian border and concludes that the Chinese are not militarily prepared for major and sustained involvement in the Indo-Pak war. It seems clear that involvement on the scale of the 1962 invasion of India is probably beyond Chinaʼs present capabilities. China does, however, retain the option of a smaller scale effort, ranging from overt troop movements and publicized preparations to aggressive patrolling and harassment of Indian border outposts on a limited diversionary attack. In this connection, it is also worth noting that Mrs. Gandhi recently told her cabinet that if the Chinese “rattled the sword” the Soviets have promised to “counter-balance” any such action.

On the political front, Yahya moved ahead yesterday with his plan to establish a civilian coalition government. It was announced that Nurul Amin, a Bengali friendly to Yahya, will be Prime Minister and that Z.A. Bhutto has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

The major evacuation problem at the moment is Dacca. As you know, the UN has been attempting for several days to make arrangements for the evacuation of foreign nationals in Dacca, but has failed because of Indian military operations in the area. At this point the Dacca airfield is “unusable” and will probably require repairs during a cease-fire period before it can handle evacuation flights. The UN is gearing up for another airlift attempt, which would include some 100 Americans, but it may well turn out that evacuation by helicopters operating off an aircraft carrier is the only answer.

[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.
  2. Document 246.