34. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland) to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[number not declassified] Ref WH 10389.2

Greatly appreciate Presidential inquiry and this opportunity to express my views. Needless to say, what has occurred is extremely disconcerting and frustrating, a real setback to USG efforts here.
I continue to hold with course three as set forth in Embassyʼs principal paper on U.S. posture toward Pakistan (Islamabad 3337; see also Islamabad 3351 and 3363).3 I continue to believe it necessary for USG to maintain a posture through which it can exert some influence on GOP for a variety of reasons, most of which I expressed in general terms during Chiefs of Mission Conference, Tehran, April 20–21, 1970. (General Haig was given a copy4 by me prior to decision on one-time arms exception for Pakistan.) ChiCom influence in Pakistan was one of the principal concerns.
Because of recent developments, I am persuaded that the ChiCom objectives, set forth therein, remain unchanged. To eliminate what leverage we have with GOP today is tantamount to moving it directly into the Chinese orbit. The implications, military and political, which would then apply for this whole region of the world, are monumental. Aside from the question of a Chinese dominant position in Pakistan, I find it extremely difficult to advocate a course of action which would markedly diminish U.S. influence in Pakistan at such crucial time in Middle East and Indian Ocean area affairs. While presently we have little affirmative influence, we can act, to some extent, as deterrent to movements contrary our interest.
By adopting course three rather than course two,5 the latter being ConGen Daccaʼs suggestion, we are keeping our options open and not becoming either over-committed or under-committed. Further, it allows U.S. position to be changed or reversed at any time, even on short term.
I am fully cognizant of the fact that much of world press has hammered hard at U.S. policy as enunciated by McCloskey, State Department spokesman, i.e., crisis in East Pakistan is internal affair, but U.S. has expressed concern humanitarian grounds and use of U.S.-supplied arms. However, this pressure may ease up in near future, if assumption from latest intelligence is justified. It has been reported from various sources that GOP military will complete offensive phase East Pakistan operation within ten days to two weeks, and thereafter military activity will be primarily “mopping up” operation. End of civil [Page 89] war will reduce the newsworthiness of story. Also, this will lessen public interest on issue of the use of U.S.-supplied arms in conflict. It is believed that interest will then turn from the atrocity reporting to humanitarian needs: aid to victims, food shortages, etc.
In holding to course three, I have taken into consideration the assumption that East Pakistan, having become a garrison state, will eventually bring about the dissolution of Pakistan as it now exists. When this will happen or in what manner it will happen is only a guess; economic stresses will weigh heavily in the balance on both questions. In the interim, India can be expected to develop systematic program of infiltration and arms aid. Guerrilla warfare is virtually assured, but the extent of it is yet uncertain. Internationally, Bangla Desh advocates will make use of all public and private forums. If and when Bangla Desh becomes a reality, it will be one of worldʼs worst headaches, having little economic or bureaucratic infrastructure and virtually no natural resources to build upon. It is unbelievable, but in an area about the size of Louisiana, the population is expected to reach 200–275 million in the year 2000.
You must be aware there is strong advocacy in the State Department seeking to pull rug from under GOP and support the idea of an early Bangla Desh. Further, Embassy has had full-scale revolt on general issue by virtually all officers in Consulate General, Dacca, coupled with forfeiture of leadership for American community there. Daccaʼs reporting has been tendentious to an extreme.
Advocates of aforesaid position argue that an extended guerrilla activity will bring about elimination of U.S.-oriented and moderate Bengalis and the leadership left in East Pakistan will be largely that of extremists, that is to say, Naxalites and Bhashani activists—this to the detriment of U.S. interests. It has been my view, perhaps substantiated by East Pakistan provincial Governor Tikka Khanʼs conciliatory TV broadcast April 19, that GOP is not yet prepared to go much further than it has already gone, unless perhaps goaded into a Sherman-like march prior to complete pull-out. Contrariwise, I think there is strong possibility that, after this initial act of violence, cooler heads may question the worth of hanging on unduly long to a wasting asset. Economic strain, coupled with the fact that there has been no love lost between the two wings almost from the moment of inception, probably will bring about a reevaluation.
Should course two be adopted, USG would take on both political and economic headaches of major magnitude. IBRDʼs David Gordon believes economic development East Pakistan set back 15–20 years. Having helped to bring new government into being, USG certainly would be expected to make early financial commitments far beyond the availability of that which I believe constitutes the resources of our [Page 90] aid program for this region. Awami League leaders during period leading up to March 25 were passing word that USG supported separation movement and was prepared to give copious amounts of economic assistance to Bangla Desh. I fear that we could well become over-involved at a time when over-involvement seems less than politic.
Advocates for a pro-Bangla Desh posture also argue that Bengali good-will will be irreparably lost unless the U.S. immediately changes its policy from that which has been declared to that of support for an independent East Pakistan. This argument certainly would be valid as far as many individual Bengalis are concerned, but given premise that Bangla Desh does come into being some time in the future, I submit that the economic and administrative needs will be so great that USG friendship and aid will be eagerly sought after by the new government. Hence it would seem that degree of disaffection incurred by following course three can be countered and overcome in long term.
Evening April 19 Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan privately advised me that M. Ahmad, presently Economic Advisor to President Yahya and former head of the Planning Commission, has been fully briefed on GOPʼs economic and political plans for East Pakistan with hope for implementation soonest. Ahmad prepared to depart for Washington at once if there is possibility discussing these plans with you and hopefully with the President. Hope for presidential appointment stressed by Foreign Secretary. Ahmad applied for visa April 19. I look on this with favor as it would give USG best opportunity to delve GOP thinking, and I believe that U.S. lack of interest his visit will dampen opportunities here for me to ascertain same. Further, it would add a few days to the time allotted for decision-making which is important during this time of flux both in East Pakistan and in this whole area of the world. This conversation with Foreign Secretary reported to Department with request for its reaction (Islamabad 36016).
If Washington opts for course two rather than course three, which is the Embassyʼs position, our relations with Pakistan would become simply a holding action and the duties of the post could well be turned over to a chargé dʼaffaires. Further, I believe it my duty to inform you that leaks out of New Delhi, Dacca and Washington have been deterrents to Embassyʼs utility.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages 1971, Amb Farland, Pakistan. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. In White House telegram 10389, April 19, from Kissinger to Farland, Kissinger conveyed the Presidentʼs request for Farlandʼs assessment of the situation in Pakistan and his recommendations on the options open to the administration in dealing with it. (Ibid.)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 28. Among the approaches for dealing with the crisis suggested in telegram 3337 from Islamabad, course 3 called for maintaining flexible options in East and West Pakistan. In line with this approach, Farland anticipated continued but somewhat reduced economic assistance, an ongoing military sales program, tempered by “technical delays” which would have the effect of suspending shipments of sensitive items such as ammunition, and an emphasis in private discussions with members of Yahyaʼs government on the U.S. conviction that force would not lead to a solution in East Pakistan.
  4. Not found.
  5. Course 2 outlined possible sanctions that could be applied against West Pakistan.
  6. Dated April 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 PAK)