30. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in India1

65665. Subj: East Pakistan Situation.

NEA Deputy Assistant Secretary Van Hollen in discussion with Indian Embassy DCM Rasgotra April 16 expressed USG concern about any escalation recent incidents between India and Pakistan along East Pak frontier. Van Hollen noted that reported advance toward frontier check posts and border towns by Pakistan Army could be new factor which might heighten chance of clashes. He hoped India would continue to exercise restraint it had shown thus far. Rasgotra said he was sure it would but he noted that Pakistani firing across border did cause problems.
In response to Van Hollen inquiry, Rasgotra said refugee flow from East Pakistan into India had definitely increased and India feared it might increase further.2 He said India was not [sic] presently planning an approach to international organizations for assistance in dealing with situation and would be in touch with USG before doing so. Van Hollen noted when we last consulted on refugee problem (in Delhi) [Page 75] it had not reached stage where international assistance required. He hoped GOI would keep in touch on this. If serious problem developed we would be prepared to consider what might be possible in terms of assistance on our part.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK. Confidential. Drafted by R. Grant Smith (NEA/INC) on April 16, cleared by Schneider (NEA/INC) and Alexander S.C. Fuller (NEA/PAF), and approved by Van Hollen. Repeated to Islamabad and Dacca.
  2. In a conversation with Ambassador Keating on April 19, Indian officials put the number of refugees who had fled from East Pakistan into India at 150,000. (Telegram 5828 from New Delhi, April 19; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 578, Indo-Pak War, India Chronology, Dr Kissinger)