296. Telegram From the Presidentʼs Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) in the Azores1

WH 11161. Deliver urgently as soon as addressee is awake.

At Enclosure 12 is report of near collapse of Pak forces defending Dacca. U.S. Counsel Spivack is obviously strong proponent of prompt surrender and is apparently focal point for elements sharing this view. (His reporting during final days has been especially noteworthy.)

At Enclosure 23 is confirmation that Pak Governor Malik, with evident endorsement of U.S. Counsel, is reporting collapse of Pakistani defenses in East Pakistan. This time apparent strength of Pak General Niazi and weakness of Pak General Farman have been adjudicated by Islamabad in favor of early surrender. Ambassador Farland has not reported action to Washington but according to Spivack, Farland is engaged in final negotiations in Islamabad.

All this sets the stage for a magnanimous reply from Soviets who had been apparently waiting for this precise moment some 40 hours after their initial commitment to a prompt reply.

At Enclosure 34 is Soviet proposal received at 3:00 a.m. today and which includes the following essentials:

Adoption of a calm, weighed approach.
Agreement to a ceasefire between India and Pakistan with a simultaneous solution of the political settlement “…based on the recognition of the will expressed by the East Pakistani population.” And reference to suggestions made by General Farman to the UN [Page 804] representative in Dacca which according to the Soviet note were referred to in the Presidentʼs letter5 and were compatible with the Soviet view. (This is obviously an erroneous presumption on the part of the Soviets since no references were made to General Farmanʼs suggestions.)
Reiteration that India has no intention of taking military action in West Pakistan and emphasizing that India has no plans for seizing West Pakistani territory.
Assurance that India is willing to accept the ceasefire and withdraw its forces if Pakistan withdraws its forces from East Pakistan and if a peaceful settlement is reached in East Pakistan with the “… lawful representatives of the East Pakistani population to whom the power will be transferred and conditions will be created for return from India of all East Pakistani refugees.”
India will not impose its will on the East Pakistani people who themselves will determine their fate.
Necessity that the foregoing confidential agreement does not vary from the U.S. public position with specific reference to the unilateral movement of U.S. Naval forces.
Requirement that the Government of Pakistan now agree to political settlement in East Pakistan on the basis outlined.
Willingness to maintain close contact with the President through the established confidential channels.

From the foregoing it is apparent that the Soviets have delayed just long enough to ensure the collapse of Pakistani forces in the East which in turn will ensure that the will of the East Pakistani population will be expressed in favor of total independence. Thus while the Soviets have avoided any reference to Bangla Desh Government or independence they have established criteria which will have that effect. I see no reference in the official Soviet response to the unofficial language used by Vorontsov with you on Sunday which referred to a one-Pakistan solution when he confirmed that India had no designs on West Pakistan.6 Under the formula underlined by the Soviets therefore we have the advantage of a guarantee of preserving West Pakistan but at the same time it is apparent that the Soviets will insist on conditions in the East which will be tantamount to the creation of an independent East Pakistan which is the likely outcome of the [Page 805] expression of the will of the victorious Bangla Desh. At best we can assume that we have an arrangement which will preserve West Pakistan intact, but it will unquestionably fall short of what will be an acceptable arrangement in the East to either the Government of Pakistan or the PRC.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 432, Backchannel Files, Backchannels To/From HAK. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. The text of telegram 5627 from Dacca, December 14, was transmitted as enclosure 1. Consul General Spivak reported in this cable that Governor Malik and General Farman Ali had reached the conclusion that the military situation in East Pakistan had become hopeless and that it was time to take the necessary steps to avoid indiscriminate killing. Spivak agreed and urged that the effort to do so be made before street-to-street fighting began in Dacca. (Telegram 5627 from Dacca is also ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 INDIA–PAK and published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 184)
  3. The text of telegram 5628 from Dacca, December 14, was transmitted as enclosure 2. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 INDIA–PAK and published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 185)
  4. See Document 295.
  5. Document 269.
  6. Reference is to the 10:05 a.m. telephone conversation on December 12 during which Vorontsov read to Kissinger the text of the message from the Soviet leadership (Document 284) he was preparing to deliver to the White House. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)