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


  • Situation Report on South Asia

When Ambassador Farland asked for President Yahyaʼs views on a ceasefire at midnight (EST) last night, Yahya said that he was prepared to do “anything reasonable under the circumstances.”2 In response to Farlandʼs question why Pakistanʼs first ceasefire proposal of Friday had been replaced later in the day by a less comprehensive one omitting political settlement, Yahya looked hard at Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan and said there had been a breakdown of communication and apparently some “general misunderstandings.” He added that the Foreign Secretary was rectifying the situation. According to a press report from Rawalpindi, a Pakistani government spokesman said that major diplomatic moves outside the UN and in keeping with the protection of Pakistanʼs interests are underway to end the conflict.

Soviet First Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov flew into Delhi today at the head of a five-man delegation. Former Indian Ambassador to Moscow, D.P. Dhar, who negotiated the Indo-Soviet treaty, has flown to Moscow. Both moves are billed as made under the consultation provision of the treaty. [2 lines of source text not declassified]

From the United Nations, Ambassador Bush reports3 that there are two main routes events there could take:

  • —One would be to do as Bhutto is presently inclined to do, i.e. return to the Security Council to seek a resolution identical to the one adopted in the General Assembly. Bush feels that some members of the eleven who voted with us in the Security Council previously, including China, would not have much enthusiasm for simply provoking another Soviet veto. Bhutto regards one advantage of this course as further discrediting the USSR in the eyes of the 104 nations who voted for [Page 785] the Assembly resolution. Bush points out that the Paks could start down this track even if they are prepared (perhaps not overtly), to have a resolution amended to include the last paragraph of the Soviet resolution4 providing for following through the results of the December 1970 election in East Pakistan.
  • —The alternative course would be to try through an intermediary to put together the essentials of a resolution which both parties would be able to live with prior to calling for a Security Council meeting. Bush reports5 that Bhuttoʼs expressed dislike for Pakistanʼs first Friday proposal including political settlement suggests that Bhutto is more interested in mounting a public campaign against India and the Soviets. Yahyaʼs comments to Farland, however, suggest that Bhutto may receive instructions to accept a ceasefire resolution with at least implication of a negotiated withdrawal and political settlement to follow.

There is, of course, a third approach. This would be (1) to launch Security Council debate calling for endorsement of the General Assembly resolution, as described in the first approach above but (2) to be prepared by pre-arrangement with key parties to divert the debate part-way through to a compromise resolution.

Bush also reports6 Foreign Minister Singhʼs view that the UN cannot take useful action at this time. If the UN does meet, he will insist that Bangla Desh representatives be present. He maintained that Indiaʼs recognition of Bangla Desh had two purposes: (1) to make clear that India had no territorial ambitions in East Pakistan and (2) to establish the moderate, elected democratic group in an effort to control the Mukti Bahini.

Singh and [said] India has no territorial aims in West Pakistan but cautioned that this commitment is not open-ended if Pakistan continues the war and tries to make gains in the west to compensate for losses in the east. Under questioning, Singh would not make the same unequivocal commitment on Azad Kashmir. Foreign Secretary Kaul said, “we have no major ambitions.” Even in peacetime, Kaul said, India and Pakistan had talked about minor rectifications in the border. Both Singh and Kaul repeatedly said that they do not wish to prolong the war.

The evacuation of 300 foreign nationals from Dacca was completed this morning, including more than 100 Americans. Four British C–130ʼs with UN markings completed the job.

[Page 786]

Yesterday there was a clandestine report from Islamabad7 that Yahya had told his prime minister designate that the Chinese ambassador in Islamabad had assured him that within 72 hours the Chinese army would move toward the Northeast Frontier Agency border of India.8 CIA and DIA report this morning that no information has yet been received on unusual activity by Chinese forces in Tibet.

In East Pakistan, Pakistani forces continue to regroup for the defense of Dacca. In contrast to the 30,000 or more Pakistanis that could be mustered there, the Indians have roughly 60,000 men in three divisions moving toward the city with at least as many more in reserve near East Pakistanʼs borders. The guerrillas are also poised outside the city. In the west, fighting in the Kashmir and Punjab areas continues with little significant movement by either side. In the southern sector on the western front, the Indians claim now to be some 30 miles inside Pakistanʼs Sind Province. If the Indians press toward Hyderabad, Pakistan might have to divert forces from the north to prevent Karachi from being cut off from the rest of the country.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 642, Country Files, Middle East, South Asia, Nov–Dec 1971. Top Secret; Codeword. Sent for information. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. Telegram 12414 from Islamabad, December 12. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK) Telegram 12414 is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 176.
  3. Telegram 4960 from USUN, December 12. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK)
  4. See footnote 10, Document 263.
  5. Telegram 12414 cited in footnote 2 above.
  6. See Document 289.
  7. Distributed on December 11 as CIA Intelligence Information Cable TDCS DB–315/07532–71. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages 1971, Amb. Farland, Pakistan)
  8. Apparently in response to this report, Kissinger told Helms on December 11 that “the President wants you to get out the word that a Chinese move may be imminent.” (Transcript of a telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)