49. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan 1

84783. Subject: Letter From President Nixon to President Yahya.

We have transmitted separately to you text of May 7 letter2 from President Nixon in reply to President Yahyaʼs letter of March 31.3 It is our conclusion on basis your reports and related interagency discussion that only long term prospect for restoration of normal life in East Pakistan is through re-establishment of representative civilian govt in East Pakistan and greatly enhanced East Pakistani autonomy. This reasoning may not be fully shared in West Pakistan although we note increasing indications of intention on part of MLA to seek some sort of political accommodation (Islamabad 4331,4 43325). We hope President Yahya will reach this conclusion himself and work out transitional arrangements leading to cessation of direct military control and greater East Pakistani cooperation and autonomy. We should be prepared to assist toward this goal in any way possible.
In this delicate interim period, while West Pakistanis coming to terms with situation, adjustments in our programs will be required for developmental reasons and to take account of US Congressional attitudes. However, these will not be used to apply political pressure, and our posture should be one of making serious effort to help President [Page 124] Yahya achieve peaceful settlement of underlying political problems which have caused present situation.
Within foregoing general guidelines you should make following points to President Yahya: (a) the Presidentʼs letter is sent in spirit of friendship and concern for recent developments, (b) President welcomed opportunity he had last October to discuss Pakistanʼs political future with President Yahya, and would be most interested in Yahyaʼs current plans for accommodation with people and politicians of East Pakistan, (c) we recognize that problems have multiplied and grown in complexity in recent weeks, and we hope for a peaceful political accommodation which would permit people of Pakistan to turn their attention to rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic development, and avoid dangers of escalation, (d) we would be willing to be of assistance in facilitating an accommodation.
With respect to economic development, you should indicate our pleasure that M.M. Ahmad is in Washington and that we have opportunity to discuss with him Pakistanʼs political prospects as well as GOPʼs revised development efforts and its plans regarding international humanitarian assistance. President had a good talk with Ahmad on May 10 and was pleased to receive from him Yahyaʼs letter of April 176 (being repeated septel).
With respect to relief and rehabilitation you should stress again our willingness to participate in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts as required and our hope that cyclone rehabilitation work in particular can be fully resumed at an early date. We are pleased to note that GOP will soon be prepared to avail itself of offers of international humanitarian assistance. In this regard, you should emphasize the importance which we attach to such international efforts, and to resolution of internal communications problems in East Pakistan which affect our ability and that of others to meet relief needs. We would anticipate that representatives of the international relief organization and foreign voluntary agencies, would, as has been customary in such circumstances, expect some type of participation in administration and distribution of relief aid. Perhaps some arrangement can be worked out to meet needs of both sides.
Finally should President inquire about status of our military supply policy you should note that this issue has not arisen as a question for policy decision, although we have had to review the subject in the light of current circumstances. In this connection, you may wish to refer to the growing Congressional, press and public concern which is being expressed over this issue. An example is the Case–Mondale resolution.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. IV, 1 Mar 71–15 May 71. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Quainton (NEA/INC); cleared by Van Hollen, Spengler, Schneider, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Rodger P. Davies, and Kissinger; and approved by Acting Secretary Irwin. Repeated to New Delhi and Dacca.
  2. Document 41. The text of the letter was transmitted to Islamabad on May 15 in telegram 84892. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 759, Presidential Correspondence File, Pakistan (1971))
  3. See Document 16.
  4. In telegram 4331 from Islamabad, May 6, Chargé Sober reported on a conversation on that day with M.M. Ahmad The conversation was in anticipation of Ahmadʼs trip to Washington, and he reviewed with Sober issues expected to be discussed in Washington. Ahmad said that Yahyaʼs anticipated that law and order would be reestablished in East Pakistan within a matter of days, and Yahya intended to establish a civil government in the near future based on an understanding he expected to reach with the Awami League and the Peopleʼs Party. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 PAK)
  5. According to information obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Yahya planned to announce that all five provincial assemblies elected in December would be convened shortly. Members of the assembly in East Pakistan were being offered “fantastic” inducements to participate. (Telegram 4332 from Islamabad, May 6; ibid., POL 23–9 PAK)
  6. Document 29.