63. Letter From President Nixon to Pakistani President Yahya1

Dear Mr. President:

Your letter of May 242 was of very great interest to me. The situation in the Subcontinent has been much on my mind and it is most useful to have your views. Ambassador Farland has also sent me a full report of his recent conversation with you and this, along with our discussions with Mr. M. M. Ahmad, has given us a better understanding of the problems you are facing.

I am pleased to know that you found my letter3 satisfactory and that you have responded so positively to suggestions we have made in an effort to be helpful in these difficult circumstances. In that same spirit of friendship and understanding, I wish to inform you of our present views and concerns.

Let me say first that I was gratified to learn of your statesmanlike decision to accept formally the assistance of the United Nations in organizing an international humanitarian relief effort for the people of East Pakistan and of your letter to Secretary General U Thant confirming that decision. I have also noted with satisfaction your public declaration of amnesty for the refugees and commitment to transfer power to elected representatives. I am confident that you will turn these statements into reality.

I feel sure you will agree with me that the first essential step is to bring an end to the civil strife and restore peaceful conditions in East Pakistan. Then full-scale efforts can go forward within an international framework to help your government provide relief assistance to the people who need it. In this respect, we are particularly concerned about the people of the coastal area who were affected by the cyclonic disaster last November. The people of the United States and other friendly countries, and international organizations, have endeavored to assist these people in the past, and I can assure you that my government and countrymen are already prepared not only to resume humanitarian relief efforts in this special area but to extend them to the rest of East Pakistan under the aegis of the United Nations in accordance with arrangements now under discussion.

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While this is being done, it will, of course, be essential to ensure that tensions in the region as a whole do not increase to the point of international conflict. I would be less than candid if I did not express my deep concern over the possibility that the situation there might escalate to that danger point. I believe, therefore, that it is absolutely vital for the maintenance of peace in the Subcontinent to restore conditions in East Pakistan conducive to the return of refugees from Indian territory as quickly as possible. I urge you to continue to exercise restraint both along your borders with India and in your general relations with that country. We are counseling the Government of India to do the same.

It is only in a peaceful atmosphere that you and your administration can make effective progress toward the political accommodation you seek in East Pakistan. You have my heartfelt wishes for success in achieving that much desired objective.

With warm personal regards,


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 755, Presidential Correspondence File, Pakistan (1971). No classification marking. Transmitted to Islamabad on May 28 in telegram 95111 for delivery to President Yahya. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 US/NIXON)
  2. Document 56.
  3. Document 41.