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


  • Ambassador Farlandʼs Recommendations on Pakistan

Ambassador Farland has sent in his recommendations on what our posture toward the conflict in Pakistan should be at this point (Tab A).2 These are, of course, integrated into the NEA/IG paper,3 but they are also [worth] reading since they provide a clear picture of the problems involved as seen from Islamabad.

The Ambassador believes that our “first aim” should be “an early end to the violence in East Pakistan and introduction of a working government. In seeking this end he sees three alternative postures the US can adopt: (1) “business as usual,” (2) “sanctions against West Pakistan,” (3) “maintaining options in both East and West Pakistan.”

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Business as Usual would involve:

  • —In public continue to associate ourselves with humanitarian appeals for relief and, perhaps in private, point out the advisability of accepting such relief.
  • —No modifications in our on-going military sales programs and move to implement the one-time exception.
  • —Carry out our economic assistance program making only such changes as are necessitated by the physical impossibility of implementing programs in the East and at about the same proportionate level.

The Ambassador points out that this posture is clearly what the West Pakistanis would like most and it would permit us to at least hold our own and probably register some gains in East Pakistan. At the same time, it would be extremely unpopular in East Pakistan and would create serious residual problems there. It would also be charged that we were financing Pakistanʼs civil war.

Sanctions against the West Pakistanis would involve:

  • U.S. public condemnation of West Pakistani military actions.
  • —Privately telling Yahya we think his present course is tantamount to national suicide and urging him on to an early political settlement.
  • —Suspend all military sales, including implementation of the onetime exception.
  • —Suspend ongoing FY–1970 economic commitments and postpone any discussion of new US aid commitments until the government modifies its policy toward the East Pakistanis.
  • —Limit PL–480 to only that which is strictly humanitarian and feasible under current conditions.

The Ambassador points out that this posture would stand as well in East Pakistan but would reduce to a minimum, if not eliminate entirely, our influence in West Pakistan for the foreseeable future. He is doubtful, moreover, that it would achieve the desired short-term political effect. On the plus side, he notes that such an approach would align us with India.

Maintaining options in both East and West Pakistan would involve:

  • —In our public stance we would take a somewhat firmer line than we have so far, although sticking to “non-interference,” this would include expressing concern for loss of human life and suffering, underscoring our desire to see an early end to the fighting and return to civilian government, and making clear our continuing concern about the use of US arms to suppress the East Pakistanis.
  • —Privately, we would inform the Pakistanis, without threatening or lecturing, that we do not believe force will provide a solution. This dialogue could begin with the Presidentʼs answer to Yahya.
  • —Continue current PL–480, technical assistance, and selected project assistance with substantial overall reduction in our assistance activities and levels as required by difficulties we now face in implementing normal development program. We would maintain activities we can now justify on developmental criteria and ones which would not be seen as directly supporting military action against the Bengalis. We would explain our actions in terms of present inability to carry out many activities, especially those in East Pakistan and hold out hope for full resumption as soon as conditions permit and revised development plans are prepared.
  • —On military supply, take internal actions such as “technical delays” which would have the effect of suspending supply of the most sensitive items such as ammunition. On the one-time exception, enter into a “bureaucratic waltz” without taking any formal action to suspend it.

Ambassador Farland urges the adoption of the last—the posture of keeping our options open to both the East and West Pakistanis. The arguments he advances in favor of it are:

  • —On military supply we would have a defensible position at home without having to justify it to the West Pakistanis.
  • —West Pakistani unhappiness with some aspects of this approach may be mitigated by fact we would be continuing at least some economic aid and military supply and not engaging in public moralizing.
  • —West Pakistanis might choose to slam the door in our face but this would then be their decision defensible both in US and at some later date in West Pakistan.
  • —Provide basis for re-establishing ties and programs with Bengalis when situation so permits.

The only arguments the Ambassador advances against are:

  • —It is the harder alternative to implement and runs risk of offending both West and East Pakistanis and satisfying neither.
  • —Many in East Pakistan will conclude that our half-way house measures [are] inadequate and criticize US for failing to impose total sanctions on “West Pak aggressors.”


Ambassador Farland seems to have come up with about the same general range of options as the IG working group here has arrived at independently.4 The only argument at this point—and it is a crucial [Page 72] one—is what the specific components of each option should be and this revolves mainly on oneʼs judgment of Pakistani tolerance for US pressure. Some would argue, for instance, for the inclusion of formal suspension of military supply in the “options open” posture on the grounds that it contributes very little in the short run to the Pak military machine but to continue such supply would break any link we may have with the Bengalis. Farland believes, on the other hand, that formal suspension of military supply would be the straw that broke our relations with the West Pakistanis no matter what else we might do.

Farlandʼs analysis would appear to be fairly sound as far as it goes. His analysis, of course, is limited to Pakistan. At Tab B5 is a cable from Ambassador Keating with his familiar views on this subject.

  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; Exdis. Sent for information.
  2. Telegrams 3337, 3351, and 3363 from Islamabad, all April 13, were attached at Tab A. Telegram 3337 outlined the Embassyʼs recommended response to the crisis developing in Pakistan. Telegram 3351 offered recommendations concerning economic assistance to Pakistan in light of the crisis. Telegram 3363 dealt with the military sales program. (Also ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK, AID (US) 15 PAK and DEF 2–5 PAK, respectively)
  3. Reference is to a paper entitled “Pakistan-American Relations—A Reassessment” prepared on April 16 by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Near East and South Asia. Sisco, as chairman of the group, sent the paper on that date to Kissinger for consideration by the Senior Review Group at its meeting on April 19. (Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–054, SRG Meeting, Pakistan and Ceylon, 4/19/71) The paper is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 132.
  4. Kissinger added a handwritten note in the margin at this point which reads: “Maybe he was prepositioned.”
  5. Telegram 5311 from New Delhi, April 12, was attached at Tab B. In this telegram Keating called for an accommodation to what he saw as the new realities in South Asia. “Pakistan is probably finished as a unified state; India is clearly the predominant actual and potential power in this area of the world; Bangla Desh with limited power and massive problems is probably emerging.” Keating felt that the United States should condemn the military repression of East Pakistan, suspend economic assistance and cut off military supplies to Pakistan. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK)