97. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Presidentʼs Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1
Talks in Pakistan have begun in cordial, low-key businesslike atmosphere with straightforward and unemotional discussion of what measures might help decrease tension between India and Pakistan generated by almost seven million refugees now in India. All those with whom I have spoken here seem to recognize the need to do something to defuse the issue. I have told them that all press accounts of my talks in India must have been based on Indian sources since no one on the American side talked to the press there, and the Pakistanis seem unconcerned.
Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan stressed the need for Indian cooperation in encouraging the return of refugees to East Pakistan. He expressed concern, echoing that in Yahyaʼs last message to the President, that India step by step is building a momentum that could lead to war. I told him that, after being in India, I would not consider it impossible that India might take military action.
I told him of the bitterness, hostility and hawkishness I had found there. When he asked what would be the objective of such military action, I said that the action might be taken just for the sake of taking action in response to heavy pressure on the government to do something. Also, the Indians seem confident they would win in any confrontation.
Against the background, I emphasized the importance of attempting to defuse this issue over the next few months. One way to do this, I suggested, might be to try to separate as much as possible, at least in international eyes, the refugee issue from the issue of rebuilding the political structure of East Pakistan. If this were to be tried, it would seem important for Pakistan to put together a collection of major steps in one package designed to have important impact both on the refugees and on the world community and perhaps to internationalize the effort. Pakistan had tended to make public in bits and pieces the constructive steps it had taken. It might now wish consider packaging those steps so they would appear as a comprehensive approach toward solution.[Page 243]
The Foreign Secretary questioned whether India would permit separation of the refugee issue from that of political settlement with East Pakistan itself. However, he seemed very receptive to the idea of pulling together a comprehensive package. He emphasized again that Indian cooperation would be essential in the return of the refugees because Indian stories about conditions in East Pakistan and threats of military intervention discourage refugees from returning.
In my conversation with President Yahya, I described mood in India along much the same lines as above, and we discussed possible approaches to the present problem, including the possibility appointing new civil authority in East Pakistan to coordinate an energetic program for the return of refugees. I urged this and he said he would consider it and would discuss it further with me in our next talk.
The most interesting point to emerge from a talk with M.M. Ahmad, Senior Economic Adviser to President Yahya, was a new sense of the time framework for future economic assistance decisions. Ahmad no longer sees a foreign exchange crisis as imposing that framework by itself but rather the fact that Pakistanʼs unilateral six-month debt moratorium expires at the end of October and, if there is no new aid by then, would have to be extended. If it were, he felt it would cause a complete breakdown of Pakistanʼs relationship with aid consortium countries. He discussed interim aid measures which might help avert that contingency, and I shall weave them into our policy review when I return.
In response, I urged the importance of his providing the aid consortium with a serious development framework and said we would do what we could to help if Pakistan could help us by making the best possible economic case for assistance.
- Source: Library of Congress, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical File, Box TS 58, Trips, HAK, Chron File, July 1971. Secret; Sensitive. Kissinger sent his report to Haig for the Presidentʼs information. On July 10 Haig sent the memorandum to Nixon under cover of a memorandum summarizing the report. (Ibid.)↩