267. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


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India-Pakistan Situation: The war in the East has reached its final stages. The Indian forces are encircling Dacca and preparing for the [Page 744] final assault if the Pak forces in the capital area refuse to surrender. Pak resistance elsewhere in the province appears on the verge of total collapse, although they continue to hold some isolated areas. Faced with this desperate situation, the top Pak military official in Dacca has called on the UN to arrange (a) peaceful transfer of power to the “elected representatives of East Pakistan,” (b) an immediate cease-fire, (c) repatriation of the Pak forces to West Pakistan, (d) repatriation of all other West Pak personnel who desire to leave, (e) the safety of the others settled in East Pakistan since 1947 and (f) a guarantee of no reprisals.

In the West, the Indians seem to be successfully repulsing Pak attacks in Kashmir, but show no signs yet of initiating a major offensive of their own. Repeated Indian air strikes and shellings from naval forces on Karachi have dealt a major blow to Pakistanʼs POL supply. One experienced observer on the spot judges that under optimum conditions West Pakistan may run out of key POL items in about two weeks and, under the most likely combination of circumstances, supplies will dry up even sooner. In the Lahore and other areas to the north, the Indian air attacks are concentrating more heavily on communications, the power infrastructure and more direct military targets. Some observers think that the purpose of these heavy air attacks is to soften up West Pakistan for an all-out Indian ground offensive as soon as the situation is under control in the East. There are some unconfirmed reports that the Indians may already be beginning the process of shifting aircraft and troops to the Western front.

On the sea, the Paks have apparently given up trying to contest the approaches to their ports in both the East and West. The Paks, from Yahya on down, are charging that Soviet technicians2 are aboard the OSA missile boats which have sunk a Pak destroyer and attacked the Karachi port area.

According to a reliable clandestine source, Mrs. Gandhi has said that there are “some indications” that the Chinese intend to intervene militarily. She did not reveal her evidence, but reportedly said that the Chinese may create border incidents in the East before the fall of Dacca and later take some action in the contested Ladakh area near Kashmir. So far, we have no evidence that the Chinese are actually planning such actions.

The UN could soon be seized with the Pak cease-fire request. Pakistan has also formally accepted the General Assembly resolution and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Bhutto is arriving in New York to lead the Pak delegation. Before he left Islamabad, Bhutto said he would like to see you while he is in the U.S. and Yahya has expressed his hope that you can do this. Mrs. Gandhi, at a mass student [Page 745] rally today, said that India “neither accepted nor rejected” the General Assembly resolution,3 but was giving it “serious consideration.” Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh and Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul are on their way to New York.

The Indians have announced a bombing pause over both Dacca and Karachi for evacuation purposes. Evacuation planes will be given safe conduct into Karachi for four-hour periods today and tomorrow and the Dacca airport is to be free from attacks for 24 hours so that it can be repaired. Foreign evacuation planes bound for Dacca will then be given safe conduct for 10 hours on Saturday on the condition that they land at Calcutta before and after going to Dacca. UN personnel reportedly will remain behind in Dacca for possible assistance in arranging a cease-fire or surrender.

[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. President Nixon circled Soviet technicians and added a handwritten marginal comment at this point which reads: “K—This must get out.”
  3. The President underlined the portion of this sentence that begins with neither and concludes with resolution and added a handwritten marginal comment which reads: “K—Keep the ‘world opinion’ heat on India.”