333. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State 1
Islamabad, December 23, 1971, 1025Z.
12934. Subj: Conversation with Pres. Bhutto Wednesday Evening, Dec 22.
- Summary: Breaking protocol, Pres. Bhutto called upon me at my residence Wednesday evening, December 22. Said his action was strongly to signal new period of relations between GOP and USG. Expressed need for influx of capital, and avowed private capital would be well treated. Indicated desire to establish political government soonest. Further hoped to have Pakistanʼs primary problems settled within six months. Criticized Security Councilʼs ineptitude and indicated he would test Russiaʼs intentions re its position in Security Council since he (Bhutto) now agreeable to dealing with elected representatives East Pak people. Indicated he was not anxious for Yahya to be placed on trial, and hopeful demand therefore might lessen. Convinced that it was not only Indiaʼs desire to break two-wing concept but also Indiaʼs definite intention (till time of ceasefire) to liquidate West Pakistan. Gave personal assurance USG and American personnel would not be subject to untoward instances of public outcry or physical harm. Hoped for early return American personnel convinced that ceasefire would hold. End summary.
- Surprisingly and quite unexpectedly, I received a phone call late afternoon of Wednesday, Dec 22, from the Presidentʼs office asking if I could receive the President at my residence in the evening. Pres Bhutto arrived at 2130 hours local and conversed with me for 35 minutes. He was accompanied by Mustafa Khar, recently announced Governor and Martial Law Administrator of Punjab (Islamabad 12875).2 Khar took virtually no part in the conversation which ensued.
- After exchange of social amenities, and after noting that his call upon me was most unusual from the standpoint of protocol, Bhutto said that he was so acting to signal strongly his reaffirmation of a whole new period of close and effective relations with the United States. He said whatever criticism the United States may have had regarding his past posture, he now hoped that it would be forgotten as our two countries [Page 870] “with mutual interests” came closer together in common cause. He said that he again wished to express his appreciation for the assistance which the United States had extended to Pakistan during its greatest crisis, and added that it would not be forgotten.
- With this as a point of departure, Bhutto declared that, if Pakistan is to rise from its present destitute economic straits, it was necessary that there be a substantial influx of capital into the country, and by capital he meant both private and on a government-to-government basis. He went on to say that he wished to assure the USG that private US capital would be well received in Pakistan and that he intended to do everything necessary to make investment in Pakistan both “convenient and worthwhile to the investor.” In reply, I told him I felt that I had been attempting [garble] of the need for private capital ever since my arrival in Pakistan, and I would, at a convenient time, talk to him about certain ideas for economic development which I felt might be productive and in furtherance of his stated objective.
- Referring to his role as Chief Martial Law Administrator, Bhutto said he wanted to re-establish a thoroughly political government as soon as possible, and made numerous references to the need for the people to become a part of the political climate of Pakistan “otherwise there would be no peace here, ever.” He avowed it was his hope that he would have the pressing problems of Pakistan “cleaned up or on the way to settlement” within six months. This included, he said, agreement on East Pakistan as well as West Pakistan “local problems.” I told him that the program of action which he had taken upon himself would require Herculean effort and that I and my government wished him well.
- Making mention of the Security Councilʼs ineptitude and lack of viability on solutions, he said he was going to try to ascertain whether Russia was sincere in the proposal which it had sponsored in the Security Council. He said he would do this by testing, on the basis of his position of dealing with the “elected representatives of the people” in East Pakistan. He declared that, most certainly, the problem involved was one in which other countries should not interfere. This problem—a problem of staggering magnitude—had to be worked out by the people of the two wings. He added that, since Pakistan had come into being as a Muslim state and since the people involved were Muslims this was the thread upon which negotiations would hang.
- As the conversation moved into other fields, I noted that the local press was giving considerable play to the demand that General Yahya be placed on trial, and wondered aloud whether this was a salutary move at a time when the climate called for reconciliation and a [Page 871] play-down of emotions.3 Bhutto agreed, saying that he most certainly did not want “Yahyaʼs head” nor was he vindictive. This, he said, was proven by the fact that he had not “gone after Ayub.” He added that there was a great deal of public clamor which he was finding it difficult to stifle. He observed, however, that with the passage of time this clamor might be expected to lessen.4
- On the subject of Indiaʼs intentions toward Pakistan since March 25, Bhutto said Indiaʼs posture had been blatantly patent; it desired not only to break up the two wings, but he was convinced that India had, at least up to the ceasefire offer, nurtured the definite intention of liquidating West Pakistan. India, he said, had never truly recognized the 1947 partition nor, in fact, had been reconciled to it. He said that, consequently, the future of Pakistan was closely tied to two great powers: China and the United States. Nevertheless, he said he hoped that his negotiations with India would provide a harmony which would allow Pakistan to exist in peace.
- As the conversation was drawing to a close, I noted my concern regarding outbreaks of lawlessness which had occurred in various cities of West Pakistan and the rumors of planned processions against the USG for alleged failure to meet GOPʼs needs during the crisis. Bhutto assured me that there would be no untoward incidents adversely affecting the US or American personnel, specifically stating that he had given orders that none such would occur, and offered me his personal guarantee to this effect. He said that his confidence in this regard was such that he could ask me, without hesitancy, to plan for an early return of American personnel; this, he said, he would greatly appreciate because it would add to the atmosphere of normalcy which he was trying to generate.
- In concluding the conversation and as he was taking his departure, I asked Bhutto whether or not he felt the ceasefire would hold. His answer was a categorical “yes.” But he noted that there had been a number of minor violations along the line, including an unfortunate one which had occurred the night before at Burki.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated priority to Dacca, Karachi, Lahore, Moscow, and New Delhi.↩
- Telegram 12875 from Islamabad, December 22, reported on the changes in government effected by President Bhutto on December 21. (Ibid.)↩
- On December 22 Kissinger sent a backchannel message to Farland in which he took note of reports that Yahya might be brought to trial. He instructed Farland to inform Bhutto that it would be difficult for the United States to understand a decision to do so. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages 1971, Amb. Farland, Pakistan)↩
- Farland also referred to Bhuttoʼs decision to release Mujibur Rahman from prison and put him under house arrest. The move enhanced the possibility of negotiations with Mujib and Farland applauded the timing of the move as “most propitious.” (Telegram 12938 from Islamabad, December 23; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 PAK)↩