260. Telegram From the Department of State to the the Embassy in Pakistan 1

221794. Subject: Pak Appeal for U.S. Assistance.

Pak Ambassador Raza called on Asst Secy Sisco December 8 to deliver urgent appeal for U.S. assistance. Depy Asst Secy Van Hollen [Page 730] and Butcher, NEA/PAF sat in. Raza raised following points: (a) Pakistan facing grave difficulties in East Pakistan, especially lack of air cover and ammo; (b) Soviets heavily committed on side of Indians (according info available to Paks Soviets are manning missile sites in India and in one instance Soviet pilot seen flying Indian plane in India); (c) activity at UN proves other “Western Communist” nations also siding with Indians and Russians against Paks and additionally there indications a “Bangla Desh” would be Communist influenced; and (d) having formally recognized fact of Indian aggression, and in light of links between Soviets and Indians, U.S. “obliged” come to Pakistanʼs assistance in this case.
Raza referred to 1959 bilateral2 but said main point was willingness U.S. help Pakistan in hour of need, not specific treaty commitments which might be subject to differing interpretations. Noting that “We depend on you entirely,” Raza said he understood U.S. unable provide manpower but that U.S. could provide armaments, either directly or indirectly via third countries. Raza referred to Yahyaʼs letter of December second3 to President Nixon and expressed hope U.S. could respond promptly to Pakistanʼs appeal for assistance (at several points he reiterated urgency of request).4
Sisco expressed understanding of the difficulties facing Pakistan and assured Raza that we will give this matter our active consideration. Although noting that his remarks should not be taken to prejudge matter, Sisco commented that this difficult problem for US as well and hoped Paks realized USG faced difficulties posed by some who criticize our policy as being “pro-Pakistan.” Raza replied that Paks understood, but this was life and death matter.
Raza referred to overwhelming majority voting in favor of ceasefire/withdrawal in UNGA and stated “by and large world is with us—that gives you a lever.” Any action U.S. would take to aid Paks would have UN backing.

Following is full text of aide mémoire Raza submitted during call:

“I have been instructed by my government to approach the U.S. Government and point out that different interpretations could always [Page 731] be given to treaty commitments should a contracting party desire to avoid involvement. The main question at the moment is whether or not U.S.A. is willing to help Pakistan at this most critical juncture. Pakistan fully appreciates the political support given to her by President Nixon and the administration. But because of deep and open Soviet involvement, mere political support is not enough.

U.S.A. has now recognized formally that aggression has been committed against Pakistan. It has also been established that Soviet Union has abetted and assisted Indian aggression. Mr. Jacob Malik, the Soviet representative, admitted in the Security Council that Soviet security interests were linked with those of India. Further, authoritative sources have stated that Soviet personnel were flying Soviet supplied Indian aircrafts inside Indian territory and were manning Indian missile sites.

Pakistan supported the U.N. General Assembly resolution5 adopted by an overwhelming majority early this morning for immediate ceasefire, withdrawal of troops etc. The U.N. General Assembly action demonstrates that the world public opinion, except for a few Communist countries, is totally against Indian aggression.

The government of Pakistan is grateful to the Government of the United States for the incessant efforts of the U.S. representative both in the Security Council and in the U.N. General Assembly to bring about immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops. It is apparent from the negative Soviet attitude and Indian representativeʼs statements in the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly refusing to stop hostilities and withdraw Indian troops, that the United Nations is unable to stop aggression. U.S. had gone to the United Nations with the avowed objective of restoring peace in the sub-continent, but, since the United Nations has failed, the U.S. Government should do all it possibly can for the realisation of its objective for which it took the matter to the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly. It may be noted that time factor is of greatest importance.

The bilateral US–Pakistan agreement calls upon the United States to take necessary steps for the preservation of territorial integrity and independence of Pakistan. The Indian aggression abetted and supported by the Soviet Union posed the gravest threat to Pakistanʼs territorial integrity and sovereignty.

[Page 732]

It is requested that the U.S. Government may please quickly decide in what manner the U.S. can extend material assistance to Pakistan.6

December 8, 1971.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 575, Indo-Pak War, South Asia Military Supply, 11/23/71–12/31/71. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by W. Scott Butcher (NEA/PAF) on December 8, cleared by Laingen and Van Hollen, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to New Delhi.
  2. See footnote 9, Document 218.
  3. See Document 219.
  4. Raza reiterated his appeal in a meeting with Under Secretary Johnson on December 10. Using undiplomatically blunt language, Raza said that the U.S. had let Pakistan down in the past by trying to adopt a neutral stance between Pakistan and India. He expressed the hope that the U.S. would not do so again. (Telegram 223548 to Islamabad, December 11; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 627, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. VIII, Nov–Dec 71)
  5. See footnote 11, Document 248.
  6. Ambassador Farland urged that in framing a response to Pakistanʼs appeal policymakers in Washington obtain as accurate a reading as possible of Indian intentions beyond the conflict in East Pakistan. He noted that there was a strongly held conviction in West Pakistan that the ultimate Indian objective was to inflict a decisive military defeat on Pakistanʼs forces throughout Pakistan. (Telegram 12278 from Islamabad, December 9; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK)