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

SUBJECT

  • Destruction of US Aircraft in Pakistan

The following are the facts that you requested concerning the reported Indian attack on a US aircraft in Pakistan.

Ambassador Farland reported on December 5 that our Defense Representativesʼ plane and a UN aircraft were destroyed at the Islamabad international airport that morning during an Indian air attack. Both planes were clearly marked and parked at a separate area of the field away from any Pak military aircraft. Our Defense Representative was convinced that there was no case of misidentification and that both planes were deliberately attacked.

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As soon as the facts were established, Secretary Rogers called in Ambassador Jha and protested this “indiscriminate strafing.”2 There has been no formal Indian response. Jha agreed that it was unfortunate and said that although India did not want to damage the property of neutral countries, it was not possible to insure selectivity in strafing airports. The Secretary retorted that the military planes had been on one side of the field and non-military on the other.

While it is obvious that a more strenuous protest could have been undertaken at the time, events have now overtaken this issue and I recommend no further action.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 572, Indo-Pak War, South Asia, 12/12/71–12/13/71. Confidential. Sent for information. A note on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Rogers told Jha that it would have been hard to mistake the UN plane in that it was painted white. (Telegram 220235 to New Delhi, December 7; ibid.)