80. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Selden) to Secretary of Defense Laird1


  • Military Supplies for Pakistan

As I reported to you, the President has provided us with an interim decision on the future of our military sales shipments to Pakistan. The decision as written approves a policy option “to continue present policy as it is”, outlined in a State memorandum to the President to which we were not privy (see my memo, same subject dated 24 June 71, Tab A).2

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The NSC staff has clarified the somewhat laconic decision statement (Tab B).3 While the old sales policy—the provision of spare parts for both lethal and nonlethal equipment—remains technically in effect, we are to continue the informal hold on matériel directly controlled by Defense. The President understands that under these procedures a considerable flow of material will continue under export licenses for commercial shipments (both FMS and direct government-to-industry) validated before 25 March. Public statements on the matter are to indicate (a) that no embargo has been imposed and (b) that the intensive review of the military supply policy continues.

The White House decision memorandum also directs that we prepare “the most complete lists possible” of items being held and scheduled for release during the remainder of this calendar year. To this end we are subjecting our files to renewed scrutiny assisted now by detailed reports from both Stateʼs Office of Munitions Control and the Customs Service. We are also tasking the Services to provide necessary additional data. Suppliers operating under FMS contracts will also be queried though no instructions are being issued that would curtail direct shipments to Pakistanʼs agents.

We continue to differ strongly with State over modus operandi with respect to our relationship with Pakistan. State has recommended a limited term total ban on military shipments. I strongly believe that an announced embargo, however temporary in nature, will transmit a signal so damaging to our relations with Islamabad as to render them irretrievable for the indefinite future. Similarly, I believe that a policy modification that would limit Pakistan to procurement of spare parts only for its nonlethal equipment would have an almost equally negative effect.

It has been argued that our economic aid program, which I presume would be continued, is far larger and more important to Pakistanʼs development and well-being than is our small military sales program. While in extrinsic terms this is indisputable, it fails to address the fact that Pakistanʼs restoration of anything approaching normalcy depends entirely on the stability of a martial law regime. Its success, in turn, depends on a reasonable maintenance of morale and discipline in the armed forces. The vision of the almost half of its inventory of equipment still of U.S. origin becoming useless would almost certainly destroy what morale and discipline now remains. As a concomitant Pakistan might fall entirely within Chinaʼs orbit.

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A secondary consideration behind the basic foreign policy issues in importance, nevertheless an important one for Defense is the monetary cost of suspension or cancellation of any significant portion of the current program. We have in process as much as $40 million in undelivered matériel under contracts going back over the last several years (including 300 APCs covered by the one-time exception). Cancellation or diversion of this large a program would have considerable impact on the Defense budget.

Armistead I. Selden, Jr.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC 330 76 0197, Box 74, Pakistan 091.3 1971. Secret. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates Laird saw it.
  2. In this memorandum to Laird, Selden summarized the June 23 memorandum to Nixon in which Rogers recommended a temporary embargo on military shipments to Pakistan; See footnote 2, Document 78.
  3. On June 25 Haig sent a memorandum to Brigadier General Robert Pursley, Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, in which Haig conveyed the decision made by President Nixon on June 25 on military supplies for Pakistan; See Document 78.