42. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Joseph S. Farland, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • David R. Halperin (notetaker)

After an exchange of pleasantries, Ambassador Farland stated that the State Department had accepted his cover story without question.2 Mr. Kissinger expressed appreciation for the cables sent by Ambassador Farland, and for his loyalty over the past weeks.

Mr. Kissinger then stated that McNamara3 was preparing to submit a devastating report concluding that it would take $250 million to give Pakistan breathing room; he then asked Ambassador Farland whether it is, in fact, possible to provide breathing room, and whether $250 million is a realistic estimate of the support required. Ambassador Farland replied that although he thought it would be possible, there are some real problems to contend with:

  • —Ambassador Keating seems to have gone berserk; he has violated security and appears determined to break Pakistan. For example, he recently called in a New York Times reporter and, although he did [Page 107] not release the text, he did tell him the essence of Bloodʼs report.4 Ambassador Farland is convinced that Keating is determined to make a political issue out of the Pakistani situation, and is attempting to discredit the Administration in the process.
  • —Another problem is the quality of political reporting in Dacca. The reporters there are missionaries without significant practical experience. They have never before seen war and are grossly exaggerating the amount of killing and bloodshed there.

Moving to the primary item of business, Mr. Kissinger explained to Ambassador Farland that for some time, we have been passing messages to the Chinese through the Pakistanis. Because of the communications problem, it had not been possible to inform Ambassador Farland of this previously, and messages have been conveyed directly to Yahya by the President, or through Ambassador Hilaly. Mr. Kissinger then outlined the exchange of messages that has occurred to date:

[Omitted here are Kissingerʼs detailed briefing on the exchanges with the Chinese and discussion of communications and transportation arrangements relating to the contacts.]

Pakistanʼs Economic Situation

Mr. Kissinger stated that he would talk to McNamara on Monday, May 10, and tell him that Yahya must be kept afloat for six more months; one problem will be that McNamara is emotionally against Yahya—as is the entire liberal community. Ambassador Farland pointed out that matters wonʼt be helped by the fact that Keating is now on his way back to conduct a series of conferences, including some with his old Senate confreres. Mr. Kissinger stated that he would tell McNamara that this is the only channel we have, and he must give Yahya at least three months. Ambassador Farland stated that six months should be the goal.

Ambassador Farland stated that he had urged Yahya to tell his staff to make a new presentation to the consortium.5 Ahmad is coming to the United States next week, and Ambassador Farland has stressed this to him. The Ambassador stated that one inherent problem is that the lower echelon in the Pakistani bureaucracy feels they have a commitment from China to support operations in East Pakistan. Although Japan is negative in their position, Ambassador Farland felt that Germany will not let Pakistan go down the drain and the British [Page 108] will probably help as well. Mr. Kissinger asked whether the $250 million will be applied entirely to debt re-scheduling—and whether Yahya could propose a plan applicable to West Pakistan. Ambassador Farland thought some of the $250 million would be a new loan, and that a consortium proposal would be geared to East Pakistan with the West receiving/administering the funds.

Mr. Kissinger next asked what he could do bureaucratically to help. Ambassador Farland said that the most important contribution would be to get McNamara to head up the consortium. Mr. Kissinger replied that he did not think McNamara would agree to this because it would antagonize his liberal friends. Ambassador Farland then pointed out that the IMF was another possibility that should not be overlooked. Assali had previously requested a standby loan from the IMF which was turned down; however, the loan request could be reactivated. Mr. Kissinger indicated that he would take this issue up with Peterson or Shultz, and that he would report on his meeting with McNamara through the Navy channel. [2½ lines of source text not declassified] Mr. Kissinger agreed that this was a good idea.

Political Situation

Mr. Kissinger asked how it was that the election results were so unexpected. Ambassador Farland said that everyone has missed in their predictions. In East Pakistan, Rahman had been able to capitalize on the cyclone. When the western nations began to pour in assistance, the Benghalis realized for the first time that they were part of the world. In the West, everyone had thought the landowners could continue to retain substantial support.

Ambassador Farland voiced some mild complaints about living in Pakistan and expressed the hope that if the China meeting came off successfully, a new post could be offered. Mr. Kissinger replied noncommittally that if this gets done, “we will owe you a great debt of gratitude.”

Mr. Kissinger asked if there is any way West Pakistan can hold on to East Pakistan. Ambassador Farland said no, not in the long run. Mr. Kissinger then said that all we need is six months. East Benghal is bound to become an economic disaster; Chinese influence will grow there, and it will not be possible to win any permanent friends there. Ambassador Farland agreed and pointed out the difficulty of making a financial commitment to the Benghalis.

Ambassador Farland asked if Mr. Kissinger could have Hannah pass the word down through regular channels that we are going to work things out and support the government. Mr. Kissinger said he would insure this gets done. Ambassador Farland then said that our interest in trying to save Pakistan be conveyed to the heads of government in Britain, Germany—and possibly also Japan. Mr. Kissinger [Page 109] replied that he might be going to Britain on other business and would speak to Heath about this. Ambassador Farland pointed out that at this point, the other members of the consortium do not know our position.


Mr. Kissinger indicated, by way of summary, that he would:

Have Hannah told that we want a positive attitude and six months time;
Talk to McNamara along the lines above;
Look into the IMF Loan;
Personally talk to Heath;
Have Rush6 talk to Brandt7 in two weeks time—or, in any event, before the end of the month; and
Possibly get the State Department to get to Japan if there is a convenient way to do this.

Mr. Kissinger then asked Ambassador Farland to check back with him if at any point he received instructions from the Department which were intolerable.

[Omitted here is further discussion of contacts between the United States and China.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 138, Kissinger Office Files, Country Files, Middle East, Farland, Amb. (Pakistan). Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting took place at the home of Theodore Cummings.
  2. According to a May 4 memorandum from Haig to Nixon, the meeting between Kissinger and Farland was arranged as a “covert meeting” on Nixonʼs instructions. Farland accordingly “arranged a personal pretext” for an urgent visit to California. (Ibid.)
  3. Robert McNamara, president of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).
  4. See Document 19.
  5. Reference is to the Pakistan consortium, organized by the World Bank to provide economic assistance to Pakistan. The consortium consisted of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association.
  6. Kenneth Rush, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
  7. Willy Brandt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.