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


Please arrange a meeting with President Yahya on an urgent basis and convey to him the following operative paragraphs of a note received from the Soviet Union today.2 No one in our bureaucracy is aware of the note and you should not leave it with him.

“The thing to do now is to stop the war already underway. This requires a cease-fire. But the question arises—what is the best way to achieve it? It seems to us that, proceeding from the situation which developed from the very start, effective can be such a cease-fire which would be connected with a simultaneous decision for a political settlement, based on the recognition of the will of the East Pakistani population. Otherwise it is impossible to ensure the respect for the lawful rights and interests of the people of East Pakistan and to create conditions for the return of the millions of refugees. Without it a cease-fire will not be stable.

“You already know about this proposal of ours, i.e. to solve together and simultaneously both questions—of cease-fire and of immediate resumption of negotiations between the Government of Pakistan and the East Pakistani leaders concerning a political settlement in East Pakistan. Those negotiations should, naturally, be started from the stage at which they were discontinued. We feel that this proposal provides a way out for all, including Pakistan. On the other hand, all would [Page 729] lose—and Pakistan maybe even more than others—on the way of continuing the war and rejecting a political settlement.”


You should also tell President Yahya that we are under no delusions concerning Soviet aims. On the other hand, it would seem that their proposal has the following advantages:

  • —It would gain time and preclude the possibility of destruction of the Pakistani army. The proposal would give Pakistan time. If hostilities resumed India would be in a much worse international position and Pakistan forces would have had a breathing spell.
  • —It commits the Soviet Union not to recognize the Bangla Desh.
  • —It indicates a measure of disassociation of the Soviet Union from India.

It is conceivable that the Soviet proposal could serve as the basis for negotiations, provided that:

  • —it is understood that they are being conducted in the framework of a united Pakistan which is implied by the Soviet note;
  • —the Soviet Union agrees that India commit itself to immediate withdrawal after negotiations;
  • —the Soviets give convincing demonstrations that they are urging restraint on the Indians;
  • —the wishes of Pakistan are taken into consideration in determining which individuals will negotiate as “East Pakistani leaders.”

You should emphasize that the above message is conveyed by the United States as a friend who wants to help preserve Pakistan and should not in any way be construed as pressure from the United States.
You may also tell President Yahya that we are actively talking about moving military supplies from other sources.
  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. No time of transmission appears on the message; received in the White House Situation Room at 6:46 p.m.
  2. Document 253.