27. Memorandum From Harold Saunders and Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • SNIE on Prospects for Pakistan

Attached is a Special National Intelligence Estimate on “Prospects for Pakistan”2 produced at the request of the State Department in connection with the current review of our posture toward Pakistan. In case you do not have time to read through the document yourself, the main points are summarized below:

The following judgments are made concerning the outcome of the conflict in East Pakistan:

  • —The prospects are “poor” that the army can substantially improve its position, much less reassert control over the Bengalis.
  • —Whether the army is to face widespread non-cooperation or continued active resistance will depend in part on how much help India gives the Bengalis. The estimate is that India “will continue and increase” its arms aid to the Bengalis and that this will enable them to develop at a minimum the kind of insurgency capability that the army cannot entirely suppress.
  • —Whatever the extent of Indian support to the Bengalis, the West Pakistanis will face “increasingly serious difficulties” in East Pakistan. [Page 68] The armyʼs will to continue the campaign will over time come to depend “a good deal” on outside pressures, particularly by the great powers, and on developments in the west wing itself where popular support “is likely to dwindle.”

The Soviet and Chinese attitudes are:

  • —The Soviets have put themselves firmly on the record in opposition to West Pakistani military suppression of East Pakistan. The decision was “no doubt” heavily influenced by the Indian attitude but probably also involved a calculation that the odds favor a separatist solution and that Soviet interests would not be served by a prolongation of the conflict.
  • —The Communist Chinese have come down heavily on the West Pakistani side but Chinese military intervention in support of the West Pakistani course does “not now seem likely” although they may increase deliveries of military equipment. The Chinese however, may in time face a dilemma should an extremist group come to the fore and seek Pekingʼs support.

The following judgments are made concerning the political prospects for East Pakistan:

  • —In the unlikely event that the West Pakistanis did succeed in reasserting military control over the Bengalis, they would almost certainly find it impossible to develop a new political system based on anything approaching a consensus of opinion in the two wings. The army would remain the final arbiter of power and a substantial majority of the population would continue to be strongly disaffected, probably to the point of launching sporadic uprisings.
  • —If an independent Bangla Desh were to come into being “rather soon” there would seem to be a good chance of its having a relatively moderate leadership. However, the longer the fighting goes on, the more the prospects for a takeover by an extremist and radical leadership are enhanced. Over a longer term even if the moderates initially took over their inability to solve Bangla Deshʼs serious problems would lead to increased susceptibility to radical and extremist ideas and groups.
  • —Bangla Desh would remain an object of continuing concern to India and in the name of national security, would be an object of manipulation and even of open interference on New Delhiʼs part. Indeed, an independent Bangla Desh is likely to remain very much in Indiaʼs orbit so long as that country has a government strong and decisive enough to seek to exercise its influence.

The following are the prospects for a separate West Pakistan.

  • —The army is likely to remain the principal political factor in West Pakistan, though it might eventually turn over formal political power to some civilian groups whose views are compatible.
  • —A separate West Pakistani regime, even if Yahya goes, would be likely to pursue the same foreign policies it now does in balancing off China, the USSR and the US.
  • —West Pakistan might experience a crisis in the wake of the loss of the East wing that could lead to its breakup but this contingency “now appears unlikely.”
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–054, SRG Meeting, Pakistan and Ceylon, 4/19/71. Secret. Sent for information.
  2. Special National Intelligence Estimate 32–71, April 12; published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 131.