123. Memorandum From the Staff Secretary of the National Security Council (Davis) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard)1 2


  • Response to NSSM 118 on Pakistan

Attached is the contingency study on Pakistan which has been prepared in response to NSSM 118. A preliminary discussion of this paper is planned at the Senior Review Group meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 at 3:00 p.m.

Jeanne W. Davis
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Part I of this study traces the immediate background of the current political crisis in Pakistan, discusses U.S. interests in Pakistan’s unity and current limitations on U.S. policy, and assesses the outlook for East and West Pakistan if they become two independent states. Part II considers alternative U.S. postures toward a possible move by East Pakistan to secede. Part III outlines decisions and actions we might have to take in the event such. a separation occurs. Longer range implications of this problem will be considered in NSSM-109, “Policy Study on South Asia”.




The possibility of imminent separation of the two wings of Pakistan stems from the outcome of the December 1970 elections to choose a National Assembly to frame a constitution. The elections resulted in a nearly complete polarization of political forces in Pakistan. In the east wing, the Awami League, campaigning on a Six Point Program calling for full provincial autonomy, won virtually all the seats and secured a small but absolute majority in the National Assembly. The Awami League favors a policy of reconciliation with India. In the west wing, a substantial majority of the seats was won by the leftist People’s Party, which advocates a Central Government with substantial powers and a policy of continuing confrontation toward India. The leaders of the two parties have conferred but have in effect agreed only to oppose each other’s constitutional program.

President Yahya, whose power to arbitrate was greatly diminished by the decisive outcome of the elections, had summoned the National Assembly to convene in Dacca on March 3. However, confronted with the political impasse, he announced on March 1 that he was postponing the Assembly indefinitely to give political leaders more time to resolve their differences. Awami League leader Mujibur Rahman had asserted that he intended to use his absolute majority to enact a constitution based on his party’s autonomist program. People’s Party leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had declared his intention to absent himself and his party from the session unless Mujib modified his constitutional proposals on at least some of the Awami League’s Six Points. A number of other West Pakistan members from smaller parties joined Bhutto in boycotting the Assembly session.

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Because of his landslide mandate Mujib has little flexibility in modifying his program, although he and his party are believed to prefer to remain in a unified federal state of Pakistan with maximum provincial autonomy rather than secede. Bhutto and his followers, on the other hand, may have tacitly concluded that they would be prepared to let the East Pakistanis secede—leaving themselves to govern a residual state in West Pakistan—rather than accept a weak federal system based on the Awami League program.

As a result of Yahya’s postponement of the Assembly, the crisis has reached a critical juncture. Unless a compromise formula can be devised, secession by the Bengalis or separation of the two wings of Pakistan by mutual consent have become real possibilities.

U.S. Interests and U.S. Policy Limitations

Our consistent position has been that U.S. interests are better served by a unified Pakistan than by its separation into two independent states—West Pakistan with a population of about 61 million and East Pakistan with about 76 million. We have concluded that an independent East Pakistan would be more vulnerable to internal instability, economic stagnation and external subversion than an East Pakistan affiliated with West Pakistan. We have also concluded that the East Pakistanis provide a moderating influence over West Pakistani hostility toward India. Finally, we have recognized hostility that we have had no realistic alternative but to support Pakistan’s unity if we were to maintain satisfactory relations with the government in Islamabad.

We also recognize that as a practical matter our ability to influence the course of these events is very limited. The special relationship which we maintained with the Government of Pakistan until the late 1960’s has ended, and with it the sort of leverage, as well as interest, we might once have had in influencing political developments in Pakistan. In the present circumstances, we could perhaps affect the timetable or modalities of East Pakistani secession through our posture toward Mujib and his followers, or perhaps influence the West Pakistani response to it. However, we could not deter a move for independence if the East Pakistanis should make the ultimate decision to establish their own country. Nor could we dissuade dominant political forces in West Pakistan, notably Bhutto and his followers, from pursuing a course of obstruction which would result in driving East Pakistan into secession if they should choose to do so.

All evidence points to the fact that President Yahya is doing his utmost to effect an accommodation between the two contending forces in his [Page 4] country in order to preserve a unified state, and we see little we could effectively do to help him except to maintain our general posture of cooperation with his government and to encourage him in his efforts as long as they stand a reasonable chance of success. The alternative U.S. postures in Part II, below, have been framed in the context of these judgments regarding the limitations on our policy options.

We should also recognize that, while we have regarded our interests as better served by a unified Pakistan, we should be able to adjust to the emergence of two separate states and to maintain satisfactory relations with them without serious damage to our interests. It is unlikely that either state will in the foreseeable future significantly change its external orientation from the dominant attitudes toward foreign affairs now prevailing in East and West Pakistan, respectively. Both will want to maintain viable ties with the U.S. as an offset to their relations with other major external powers: India, the U.S.S.R. and Communist China. Both will keenly desire continuation of U.S. economic assistance and will seek our support on various political issues. Both may also desire military and public safety assistance from us, at least in training and the sale of equipment. In short, both states will want friendly and cooperative relations with the U.S.—a desire which it will be in our interest to reciprocate, and to support within the capability of our resource and in the light of our interests in the South Asian region as a whole.

Outlook for Separate States

An independent state in East Pakistan would undoubtedly face formidable problems, especially in the economic sphere and eventually in the political. However, these are problems which would inevitably arise whether East Pakistan were independent or merely autonomous within a federated Pakistan. Politically, the Awami League under Mujibur Rahman would restore democratic government in the new state and enjoy wide popular support from the start, judging from the overwhelming size of its mandate in the recent elections. It would move to establish cooperative relations with its major neighbor, India, for reasons of external security as well as trade. At the same time it would cultivate good relations with many other countries in order to avoid excessive dependence on any one power and to tap the resources of as many aid donors as possible.

The Awami League emerged from the recent elections as more of a nationalist mass movement than a tight political organization. As time passes, it will be hard pressed to fulfill its program and satisfy the aspirations of the impoverished masses of East Pakistan. It is likely [Page 5] to face defections from its own ranks and mounting opposition from radical leftist elements outside. The long-term outlook therefore suggests increasing radicalization and political instability in East Pakistan.

Economically, an independent East Pakistan might be able to maintain its present low rate of economic growth for some years after separation, assuming improved mobilization of local resources (e.g., it would enjoy exclusive benefit of the foreign exchange earnings from its jute industry which have been shared in the past with West Pakistan), development of trade with India to supplement or supplant its present inter-wing commerce with West Pakistan, and infusion of substantial levels of foreign aid. Its economy is bound to suffer in the long run, however, as the result of its burdensome population increase—by about 50% in the next 15 years, from the present 76 million to around 118 million according to official U.S. estimates. It is difficult to see how the state can in the long run meet its basic needs, let alone improve its economy, even with sizeable external aid.

A new state in West Pakistan would most likely be organized around a left-trending populist type of government dominated by Bhutto and his People’s Party, supported by the military which will remain an important element in the political equation. An authoritarian regime headed by Bhutto and backed by the armed forces, with or without martial law, is a conceivable variant if the disparate and loosely structured People’s Party should disintegrate. Given the influence of the military and the more favorable economic outlook in West Pakistan, the chances for stability would appear somewhat better in the western state than in the eastern one. However, even though the military may provide short-term stability, its ability to exercise power over the long run, either directly or indirectly, may be subject to rising political and public challenges. Externally a new state in West Pakistan would continue a policy of confrontation with India which could spell trouble for its security as well as its economic progress due to excessive defense expenditures. The state might draw closer to China while trying to maintain viable relations with the U.S., correct ones with the U.S.S.R. and close ties with Iran and Turkey.

The economic prospects of an independent West Pakistan are brighter than those of East Pakistan. With a larger territory and stronger resource base, lower population and respectable level of economic growth in recent years, the new state should be able with continuing foreign assistance to maintain its forward movement for some years to come, assuming stable and effective government, rational planning and a peaceful environment. But it, too, faces a potentially serious population problem which could badly retard its economic progress in the long run.

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A. U.S. Posture Toward Pakistan Unity While East Pakistan Separation is Uncertain

This is essentially the current situation. Awami League leaders have already sounded out American officials on the posture we would take should East Pakistan separate from West Pakistan. Even if separation is not certain, they can be expected to approach us with increasing frequency and directness asking for political support, assistance against possible West Pakistani forceful resistance, and assurances of continued economic assistance if East Pakistan should become independent. At the same time, West Pakistani leaders, including President Yahya, can be expected to continue to probe our position with respect to unity and to watch for any indication of a shift in it toward support for East Pakistan separation. Under these present circumstances, we see three alternative postures:

Alternative U.S. Postures:

We can maintain our present official position in response to Pakistani inquires along the following line: “Our policy has been and continues to be to support the independence, unity and integrity of Pakistan. However, this is your country and how you organize and deal with its problems is your business”.
We could be more forthcoming toward the Bengalis by indicating to them that, while the U.S. continues to favor Pakistani unity, we recognize that there is a rising sense of nationalism in East Pakistan, and that we would be prepared to adjust our policies to the evolving situation and to work out a satisfactory modus vivendi with whatever new governmental arrangements result.
We could, while maintaining our present public position, privately urge President Yahya to make every effort to reach an accommodation with Mujibur Rahman which would enable a single Pakistan to continue, even though its federal power were limited to defense and foreign affairs, and even though Bhutto’s party refused to cooperate in the process of government.

Proposed U.S. Posture:

Unless and until separation is certain, any shift in our [Page 7] position, would be against our continuing interest in seeing Pakistan remain unified. Any softening on our part, as in Alternative Posture 2, would contribute to the process of disintegration. Furthermore, it is likely that any suggestion of U.S. encouragement of East Pakistan separatism would quickly get back to West Pakistan. This would reinforce existing suspicions among some West Pakistanis that the U.S. is working to split the country. It would thereby prejudice our relations with the present West Pakistanis as well as our future relations with a possible independent state in West Pakistan.

We therefore prefer at this stage to continue to maintain a balanced posture between West and East Pakistanis along lines of Alternative 1. It serves to reassure those with whom we have to continue to deal in West Pakistan while leaving the impression with East Pakistanis that we are not inflexible, although we would prefer (as Mujib presently seems to) a mutually agreeable constitutional system within a unified state.

We do not consider Alternative 3 to be necessary or desirable, President Yahya knows well our position favoring unity and is already doing all he can on his own initiative to bring about an acceptable compromise between Mujib and Bhutto which is his stated reason for postponing the Assembly session. He does not need any urging from us in this matter and we can realistically offer little or nothing that will materially affect the situation. Moreover, an effort by us to urge compromise could be resented as unwarranted interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

CIA disagrees with the approach to Alternative Posture 3 in the preceding paragraph and advocates adopting that posture for the following reasons:

As a consequence of the clear cut election results Pakistan must move rapidly toward: (i) repressive military rule, (ii) a split into two nations with the smaller but stronger dominated by an anti-west demagogue, or (iii) a constitutional government founded on the Awami League’s loose confederation platform; the third choice is most clearly consistent [Page 8] with our interests in South Asia and we should support it.
In a confederation reserving foreign policy and defense to the central government, Bhutto’s strongly pro-Chinese and anti-Indian policies would be checked and he would not control the Pakistan Army and Air Force as he has an excellent chance of doing if the country splits.
There is evidence that some leaders of the Pakistan military establishment are increasingly apprehensive about the prospects of left-wing rule in a separate West Pakistan and see new virtue in a united country, even with maximum regional autonomy; the Bengali leadership is openly seeking reassurance from the United States; in this situation our counsel and assurance can have substantial influence and we should weigh in on the side of the only possible course giving some hope of leading to a constitutional government with a moderate foreign policy.

B. U.S. Posture if East Pakistan Separation Appears Imminent

The point at which East Pakistan separation seems imminent could rapidly be reached and we should be prepared to adjust our posture quickly to take account of this eventuality. Much will hinge on East Pakistani reactions to Yahya’s decision to postpone the convening of the Assembly.

If we judge separation to be imminent, but East Pakistan has not declared its independence, the following U.S. postures could be considered:

Alternative U.S. Postures:

We could continue to adhere to the formulation set forth in Posture A-1, above, reaffirming that while we support the independence, unity and integrity of Pakistan, we recognize that Pakistanis must decide their future for themselves.
We could let East Pakistan leaders know that we would be prepared to recognize an independent state in East Pakistan and to [Page 9] conduct normal diplomatic relations with its government. At the same time, we would keep in close touch with West Pakistani leaders and, as appropriate, inform them that we were watching the evolving situation closely and were prepared to adapt to it.
Depending upon circumstances, we could also acknowledge that we would consider sympathetically requests for economic assistance from the new government in East Pakistan.

Proposed U.S. Posture:

If separation becomes imminent, but before it is announced, we should adopt Posture 2 and let East Pakistani leaders know privately that, should East Pakistan become independent, we would recognize the new state and be prepared to conduct normal relations with its government. To adhere to Alternative Posture 1 at this stage would unnecessarily alienate Bengali leaders with whom we would want to be on good terms in the future. Adopting Posture 2 should afford us substantial psychological gains with East Pakistanis, with limited risk in West Pakistan if separation were imminent. Posture 3 would be premature until we can better determine the character of the new government and our relationship with it.

If East Pakistan leaders, prior to a formal declaration of independence, should request U.S. intercession or intervention to forestall anticipated West Pakistan military action, we should decline on the grounds that we do not consider West Pakistani military intervention likely (assuming this to be the case at the time). We should firmly reject any suggestion of U.S. military involvement.

If East Pakistan publicly declares its independence and requests our recognition, we should grant it in the context of the contingencies set forth in Part III-A below.

C. U.S. Posture if East Pakistan Declares Independence and West Pakistan Intervenes Militarily

We think it very unlikely that West Pakistan would intervene militarily to attempt to preserve the unity of Pakistan by force. Given the anticipated vehemence of the Bengali response, the limited strength of West Pakistani forces now in the East (one Army division and a few aircraft), and the [Page 10] difficulties of reinforcement from the West, the risks of military intervention would appear to be excessively high. Moreover, there would probably be a general lack of public and political interest in West Pakistan in preventing Bengali secession. Rather than undertake military action, most of them would prefer to let East Pakistan go its way.

The West Pakistanis would also have to weigh the possibility that the Indians would take measures to assist East Pakistan. (We believe India considers that a unified Pakistan is in its interest, but if separation appears imminent, India would prefer an independent state in the East to a united Pakistan dominated by the West Wing.) Should the Pakistanis intervene, India would probably continue the ban on Pakistani overflights or reimpose it if it had been lifted. It might also take steps such as: attempting to interdict West Pakistani supplies and reinforcements coming by sea and air via other routes than over India; providing emergency supplies to East Pakistan; and mounting a psychological diversion, perhaps in Kashmir, against West Pakistan. It is doubtful that India would send troops into East Pakistan since West Pakistan forces there are so weak as to make it unnecessary to take that rather great risk of escalation.

Despite the unlikelihood of military intervention, we nonetheless should plan for it on a contingency basis on the theory that an irrational action is always possible. If the West Pakistan military should intervene, the following alternative U.S. postures could be considered:

Alternative U.S. Postures:

We could take no action (other than to protect American personnel and interests) on the grounds that no U.S. interest demands our doing so, that we could not significantly influence the situation, and that our attempted involvement would only antagonize West Pakistan.
We could urge West Pakistani leaders to cease military action on the grounds that a military solution is futile in the face of East Pakistan’s determination to go its own way, that West Pakistani action could provoke Indian intervention and thus lead to Indo-Pakistan hostilities, and that needless loss of life should-be avoided.
We could consult with the Indian Government regarding our mutual interests concerning the situation in East Pakistan. We would say that those interests indicate that we should avoid any sort of military intervention in East Pakistan, even in response to an East Pakistan request, since it would be unlikely that West Pakistan’s [Page 11] military forces could prevail in any case. In the unlikely event that India nonetheless appeared to be on the point of intervening with ground forces in East Pakistan, we should urge the Government of India to avoid such action on the additional grounds that it could provoke an India-West Pakistan conflict and could be exploited by the Chinese.
If West Pakistani—and possibly Indian—military intervention should occur, we would not make any military moves ourselves. However, in concert with the British and other interested external powers we should be prepared to use the threat of sanctions, including cessation of economic aid and military supply, if hostile actions should occur or continue.
We believe Chinese military intervention would be even more unlikely than a West Pakistan request for it. Apart from their strong disinclination to indulge in high risk, low benefit adventures across their borders, the Chinese realize that their forces would have to cross undisputed Indian territory, which would provoke a major Sino-Indian conflict. (A seaborne effort or a 400-mile march through Burma would have the advantage of avoiding Indian territory. However, the PRC’s capabilities for such efforts are so limited as to appear to exclude these possibilities.) In the extremely unlikely event that the Chinese intervene militarily across Indian (and/or Burmese) territory, we should render the Indians (and/or the Burmese) political and possibly material support in seeking to vacate the aggression. However, we should avoid direct military involvement, recognizing that the area is not a vital security interest to the U.S.
If any type of hostilities involving outside forces should occur, we should support all appropriate international efforts, including actions within the United Nations, to bring about an early ceasefire.

Proposed U.S. Posture:

If West Pakistan intervention becomes imminent or actually occurs, we would have an interest in doing what we could to avoid bloodshed and restore peace, and to prevent the conflict from escalating beyond a purely East-West Pakistan clash. We should be willing to risk irritating the West Pakistanis in the face of such a rash act on their part, and the threat of stopping aid should give us considerable leverage.

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We would therefore rule out Alternative Posture 1. Instead, we should initially follow Alternatives 2 and 3, urging the West Pakistanis to desist from military action and consulting appropriately with the Indians. If these efforts should fail, we should then consider Alternatives 4, 5, and 6 as the situation would demand.




The resultant state in the West Wing would be expected to be considered the “successor state” for most purposes (e.g., except for certain legal relationships relating solely to the East Wing), retaining the name, capital and, at least provisionally, President Yahya as chief of state/ head of government. It will herein be designated Pakistan, the word itself being an acronym for areas now contained in, or claimed by, the West Wing. The resultant new state in the East Wing will be called Bangla Desh, the term proposed by Bengali political leaders for renaming their present province which presumably would be utilized as well for an independent state.

A. Recognition

Requests to the international community for diplomatic recognition could take one of several forms depending upon the nature of the separation of East and West Pakistan, and our response would vary, as follows:

Contingency 1: Bangla Desh makes a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) which is accepted by Pakistan. Pakistan itself recognizes Bangla Desh and agrees to establish diplomatic relations with its government.

Proposed U.S. Action:

We should recognize Bangla Desh promptly. Pakistan (i.e., the West Wing) as the successor state would not require new recognition, and diplomatic relations would continue.

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Contingency 2: Pakistan rejects Bangla Desh’s UDI but does not attempt to resist it by force.

Proposed U.S. Action:

We should delay slightly in deference to our continuing relations with Pakistan, but should be among the earlier states to recognize Bangla Desh. We should coordinate timing and form of recognition with the United Kingdom. India may well jump in ahead to recognize Bangla Desh. We would not want to appear to Pakistan to be acting in concert with India, and would not coordinate our action with India, although we could inform the Indians just before we recognize.

Contingency 3: Pakistan rejects Bangla Desh’s UDI and attempts to put down secession by force. As explained in Part II-C, above, we do not consider this a likely possibility, but if it should occur we would not expect Pakistan to be able to maintain its armed intervention for long.

Proposed U.S. Action:

We would recognize Bangla Desh as soon as it becomes clear that the new government is in effective control and that its independence is an established fact. To do so earlier would complicate our relations with Pakistan while we are endeavoring to persuade it to stop its intervention. To wait too long would get our new relationship with Bangla Desh off to a bad start.

Contingency 4: Pakistan and Bangla Desh separate by mutual agreement.

Proposed U.S. Action:

We should recognize Bangla Desh promptly. Pakistan, as the successor state, would not need to be recognized anew.

B. Form of Recognition

Contingency 1: In case of agreed separation.

Proposed U.S. Action:

The President should send personal messages to the chiefs of state of the two states extending his best wishes to the new [Page 14] regimes and their people. The messages should be substantially the same and phrased according to the then prevailing circumstances, except that the message to Bangla Desh could express our agreement to establish diplomatic relations. A message should not be sent to one and not the other.

Contingency 2: In case of contested separation.

Proposed U.S. Action:

Presidential communications should not be sent at the time of the separation. Recognition of Bangla Desh would be accorded by a public announcement or act of establishing diplomatic relations. Our relations with Pakistan would continue.

C. U.S. Representation in Pakistan and Bangla Desh

Proposed U.S. Action:

Our Ambassador in present Pakistan would become Ambassador to the successor state of Pakistan. As soon as we recognize the state of Bangla Desh, we would propose to the new government that our Consul General in Dacca be designated Charge d’Affaires pending the appointment of an Ambassador; an Ambassador should be appointed as soon as possible, although recognition will be more important to Bengalis than the physical presence of an accredited Ambassador.

D. Pakistan and Bangla Desh Representation in the U.S.

Contingency 1: In case of an agreed separation. We can assume that Ambassador Hilaly would continue to represent Pakistan in the United States. However, we cannot assume that the Bangla Desh regime would ask the present DCM, a Bengali, to look after its interests; it would, however, name or send someone.

Proposed U.S. Action:

We should continue to conduct business with the Ambassador of Pakistan relating to that successor state, and should begin to do so with the designated representative of Bangla Desh as soon as we recognize it. In the interim, we should deal informally with whomever, if anyone, is designated by Bangla Desh.

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Contingency 2: In case of a contested separation.

Proposed U.S. Action:

Our actions would have to be more cautious. We should continue to deal with Ambassador Hilaly as the representative of (united) Pakistan until we recognize Bangla Desh as a sovereign state. At the same time, we should keep channels of communication informally open with any designated representative of Bangla Desh. We should stay clear of any disputes concerning the use and ownership of (united) Pakistani property here, emphasizing that this would be a question for settlement between the two states.

E. United Nations and Other International Bodies

Bangla Desh would probably move quickly to attain membership in the United Nations and other international bodies.

Contingency 1: Agreed separation. It is possible that Pakistan would sponsor the application of Bangla Desh.

Proposed U.S. Action:

Following U.S. recognition of Bangla Desh’s sovereignty, we should promptly support its membership in the UN, and such other international bodies as it wishes to join.

Contingency 2: Contested separation. Under contested conditions, Pakistan might oppose Bangla Desh’s application for UN membership.

Proposed U.S. Action:

As soon as we accord recognition to Bangla Desh, we should also support its membership in the UN and such other international bodies as it wishes to join.

F. Emergency and Evacuation

Law and order situations in either or both of the resultant states could be such that we would want to consider evacuation of dependents and some or all staff.

Contingency 1: In Pakistan—if separation is contested, but possibly even if agreed. Some political parties and other public elements are [Page 16] likely to accuse the United States of having engineered the separation, provoking demonstrations and acts of violence against American installations. Under what is likely to be a confused situation, with the principal political party in Pakistan already anti-American, the authorities might not be able to maintain control.

Proposed U.S. Action:

If there is any prospect of disturbances, we should affirm to the Government our expectation that it will provide full protection for U.S. citizens and U.S. property. We would also be prepared to put into operation emergency and evacuation plans at whatever time required. Our posts in Pakistan have just reviewed their E&E plans and updated them where necessary.

Contingency 2: In Bangla Desh. In the event of an agreed separation, law and order in Bangla Desh should not break down, particularly in the city of Dacca. The Awami League Government would enjoy wide popularity and cooperation. Conceivably, if it appeared that the U.S. was opposed to separation, the situation could become tense for us, but appropriate timing of recognition should forestall any serious problem. However, if Pakistan attempted to resist secession by military force, the situation throughout the province, and especially in the cities, could go out of control. Clashes would be between Bengali nationalists and the army, but Americans could easily become caught in the middle.

Proposed U.S. Action:

We would notify the local Bangla Desh (or Pakistan) authorities that we expect them to protect U.S. citizens and property, but we would be ready to evacuate families and reduce staff as necessary.

G. Negotiations in Progress

Contingency: At the time of separation, we will probably have under negotiation or discussion with the Government of Pakistan such actions as a PL–480 agreement, program and project loan agreements, local currency utilization, military sales and a Fulbright educational exchange agreement which would apply to the East Wing as well as the West.

Proposed U.S. Action:

On separation of the two wings, we should temporarily discontinue such negotiations and consider revisions necessitated by the changed circumstances. In order to avoid [Page 17] causing hardship or ill will in either Pakistan or Bangla Desh, we should be prepared to move quickly to adapt such proposals to the needs of, and our interests in, the resultant states and to resume negotiations promptly with both on revised bases. Negotiations with Pakistan could be resumed as soon as practicable and initiated with Bangla Desh as soon as diplomatic relations are established.

H. Programs in Progress

Contingency: There are also a number of official U.S. Government economic, military and other programs and projects in progress in West and East Pakistan which we would have to decide whether to continue or suspend in the event of separation of the two wings. We should be able to continue most ongoing economic aid programs and projects in both Pakistan and Bangla Desh, although some programs will have to be renegotiated. We would also want to reconsider military shipments and orders carefully.

Proposed U.S. Actions:

Economic aid programs and projects with both new states should either be continued without interruption, pending our determination of whether they should be retained for the longer term in the context of our relations with the two new states, or renegotiated. Ongoing technical assistance programs and loan projects would not be substantially affected since these activities are already clearly divided between the two regions because of their physical separation. Existing agreements would eventually have to be renegotiated with Bangla Desh because all agreements are now with the Government of Pakistan. Current AID program loans, however, are less clearly defined geographically; and in the event of a separation of the two, wings, such loans would have to be divided between the two new states. Commodities shipped under PL–480 are usually designated for either East or West Pakistan, and if the two wings separated, existing agreements should be cancelled and new agreements made, honoring the intent of the original agreements. We would have to consider urgently the disposition of shipments in transit. We would also have to extend a moratorium on Debt repayments until the two wings and the U.S. could work out a mutually satisfactory redistribution of the debt. Other U.S. programs should be reviewed immediately and decisions made on a case by case basis as to whether to continue, suspend or terminate,

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–053, SRG Meeting, Pakistan, 3/6/71. Secret; Exdis. Keith Guthrie signed for Davis. Also sent to Irwin, JCS Chairman Moorer, and CIA Director Helms. A copy of the contingency study in the Department of State files indicates that it was prepared by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Near East and South Asia and forwarded to Kissinger on March 2 by Sisco, who was serving as chairman of the group. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 PAKUS) The Senior Review Group meeting scheduled for March 3 was held on March 6.
  2. Davis circulated to members of the Senior Review Group the response to NSSM 118, a contingency study that examined the policy options available to the United States in the event of a move by East Pakistan to secede.