298. Letter From Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon1

My Dear President Nixon,

You must have been informed of the massive supply of tanks of various types including amphibious tanks, heavy guns, anti-aircraft guns and other equipment which the Russians have already slipped through to India in December in addition to the enormous quantities of arms and ammunition that had already reached India during the month of November, by air and by sea.

The Russian proposal about the cease-fire, withdrawal and negotiations has by now clearly been demonstrated to have been only a hoax. They are pursuing filibustering tactics in the Security Council. This does not leave any doubt about their aim of making the military conquest of East Pakistan a fait accompli. The passage of time is clearly playing into the hands of the Russians. We are convinced that, after acquiring East Pakistan, they would let the Indians turn their might single-mindedly against West Pakistan for which they have already begun to equip the Indians.

As you know Pakistan has the will to defend itself but for this determination on our part to have any meaning, our supply lines must be kept open and adequate equipment to withstand the increasing Indian power should flow through them while there may still be time.

The American assistance has to assume, without any further loss of time, meaningful dimensions. I am most grateful to you for what you are doing in getting some help reach us through third parties, but the volume of this assistance cannot possibly match the arms build-up by Russia in India. The American intervention in the situation does not only have to be credible but also tangible and meaningful. Time has come for the United States to go beyond warnings and démarches if its determination to punish aggression across international borders is to have any effect on the Soviet Union and India. The Seventh Fleet does not only have to come to our shores but also to relieve certain pressures which we by ourselves are not in a position to cope with. In this connection, I have sent a specific proposal through General Raza [Page 807] about the role the Seventh Fleet could play at Karachi which, I hope, is receiving your attention.2

Now that the Russians have been exposed and India stands isolated in the world community, I am sure that American public opinion will readily understand the measures that you take as intended to preserve the fabric of international law and order and to enable a sovereign state to survive against the aggressive onslaught of a neighbour several times its size and backed by a super power like the Soviet Union. I am convinced that the public opinion in Pakistan is ready and waiting for the adoption of such measures by the United States. The understanding we have reached is ready to develop immediately into an alliance.

The perfidy in the sub-continent may not be the only move by the Soviet Union to counter. There are already reports that the Soviet Union is telling the Arabs about the futility of a United Nations with the sound implication that, in order to achieve their objectives, they too may have to resort to arms. This eventuality causes us considerable concern, because it is bound to erode the solid Arab support that we have enjoyed so far, apart from pre-empting the growth of favourable public opinion in Arab countries as a result of your timely support to Pakistan.

I am sure you will agree that time is of essence. We are paying a heavy price for each hour and I shall be anxiously waiting for your response.

With warm personal regards,

Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan
H.P.K., H.J.,
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 643, Country Files, Middle East, India/Pakistan. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusive; Eyes Only. The text of this letter was transmitted in message 1091 from Islamabad at 0926Z on December 14, which is the source text, with instructions to deliver it to Kissinger for Nixon, and to deliver a copy to Ambassador Raza.
  2. On December 13 Haig sent a telegram to Kissinger in the Azores that transmitted the text of a letter to Kissinger from Raza which had just been delivered to the White House. The letter requested that the Seventh Fleet be used to keep the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea open to Pakistan and to deter the Indian Navy from attacking Pakistanʼs harbors. (Telegram WH 11146 to Lajes Air Field, the Azores; ibid., Box 432, Backchannel Files, Backchannels To/From HAK)