41. Letter From President Nixon to Pakistani President Yahya1

Dear Mr. President:

I have given most serious thought to your message2 on the tragic situation which has developed in East Pakistan in the past few weeks. This situation has been of great concern to me.

Having labored so hard to carry out free national elections and to achieve an early and orderly transition, you must also be deeply disappointed not to have been able to transfer power to a civilian government according to the plan you had adopted and which you explained to me during your visit here last fall.

First, I should like to emphasize the sympathy which we in the United States feel for all the people of Pakistan who have been affected by these events and our concern over the loss of life and human suffering. I understand the anguish you must have felt in making the difficult decisions you have faced.

We also share your distress over the economic losses which have occurred and the serious resulting problems with which your Government has been faced. As you know, some of the Americans who were affected by the cessation of economic activity have had to leave East Pakistan because they were no longer able to perform their usual work. Because of the uncertainties, some of our programs are in abeyance.

We look forward to an early renewal of your national development effort and of normal economic activity throughout Pakistan. We especially hope for the restoration of internal communications in East Pakistan to forestall food shortages, and we are prepared to support international humanitarian relief there.

As you are probably aware, some opposition has been expressed among our public and in our Congress to continuing economic and military assistance to Pakistan under present circumstances. This was due largely to the circumstances of civil strife which will hopefully continue to subside. Further, it is to no oneʼs advantage to permit the situation in East Pakistan to lead to an internationalization of the situation. Foreign involvement could create new problems and compound the difficulty of securing an ultimate settlement. We have been in touch with the Government of India and have discussed the implications of the present situation. We have stressed the need for restraint.

[Page 106]

Please let me know if there are any ways in which you believe that we can be helpful to the achievement of a satisfactory settlement. I would hope Ambassador Farland may have an early opportunity to discuss these matters with you and your colleagues.

With warm personal regards,


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 759, Presidential Correspondence File, Pakistan (1971). No classification marking.
  2. Document 29.