5. Memorandum From Harold Saunders and Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Situation in Pakistan

Overnight reports from Pakistan indicate that the situation in East Pakistan is deteriorating. The following are the new developments:

  • Mujibur Rahman seems to have virtually slammed the door on the possibility of East-West accommodation by categorically rejecting President Yahyaʼs plan to hold a conference of the major political leaders on March 10.
  • Mujib has admitted to several foreign correspondents “off the record” that he will announce the equivalent to independence for East Pakistan on Sunday.2 He did, however, go on to say that the East and West wings should write their respective constitutions and thereafter discussions over the form of linkage could take place. [This leaves the door open to some sort of confederal relationship and is the reason we advocate—via your talking points3—not jumping too soon to recognition of East Pakistani independence.]4
  • —At least one Pakistani air force C–130 has been seen flying into Dacca and there are recurrent reports of forces being flown into Dacca via the Pakistani commercial airline and of the movement of troops from the West via ship. These reports can not be confirmed but it is known that there is pressure from some elements in the military to make a quick repressive strike against the East Pakistani leaders in hopes of cowing them and the rest of the province. [The contingency [Page 8] paper5 says intervention is “very unlikely”. This seems less and less true. CIA working level judges that the East would respond with further violence rather than surrender.]
  • —The East Pakistanis in the embassy here have approached State concerning their relations with the Department following a “declaration of independence.” They expect to be expelled from the chancery and the current DCM, who is an East Pakistani, would then become the Chargé of a new embassy.

These developments just heighten my concern—which I know you fully share—of postponement of discussion of this issue. Regrettably, State just has not given this issue the attention it deserves. That is why we wrote the NSSM three weeks ago. Only because of our prodding is there a contingency paper today. As for the notion that this is not a policy issue, I can not believe that the repartition of South Asia after twenty-three years is not a policy issue of major proportions. State has not objected to dealing with this in the NSC framework so far.

  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. Sent for information.
  2. March 7.
  3. Reference is to talking points developed for Kissinger in a March 6 memorandum from Saunders, Hoskinson, and Richard Kennedy to prepare Kissinger for a meeting of the Senior Review Group that day. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–052, SRG Meeting, Pakistan, 3/6/71)
  4. All brackets in the source text.
  5. Reference is to the response to NSSM 118 prepared by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Near East and South Asia. The contingency study on Pakistan was sent to Kissinger on March 2 by Joseph Sisco as chairman of the interdepartmental group. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 PAK-US) It was circulated to members of the Senior Review Group on March 3 (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–052, SRG Meeting, 3/6/71) Regarding NSSM 118, see footnote 5, Document 2.