141. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland)1 2
Nixon: You know, the thing that really concerns us, naturally, as we all know, the miserable campaign, I don’t know what you can do about it while you are here, against Pakistan. Do you think he’s doing—Keating was over here lobbying for the Indians when he was here—do you think he ought to try to say anything good about the Paks while you are here? Could you?
Farland: I can...
Nixon: Would it be useful?
Kissinger: I think it would be useful to put out [unclear].
Farland: I agree, although I was trying to maintain a relatively low profile because I didn’t want to get questions about particulars to the China trip.
Nixon: On that you have a perfect thing, you just say I’m not saying anything. [unclear]
Farland: I saw Chuck Percy today at a luncheon that Frank Kellogg gave at the State Department. And several Congressmen, and they all wondered why my presence wasn’t known, why could I appear before a committee and I had no comment to make. I said I don’t know. I had a conversation with [unclear] this morning and he was quite hopeful that I could appear before one of the committees. I agreed with Charles Bray over at the State Department to give a backgrounder to the press on Friday afternoon.
Kissinger: That’s better than testimony [unclear].
Nixon: Good. The press likes backgrounders much better. That’s where it counts. The hell with the damn Congress.
Farland: There is another side to this picture, and I can say with complete candor that if we push Yahya to the point where he reacts, the reaction will be such that the entire subcontinent will be [unclear]. I mean he’ll fight. He’ll fight, and he may go [unclear]. If he goes out, and he may go [unclear] it’s going to be [unclear] that ever mankind has seen, in our lifetime. The Chinese will come right down through Assam. [unclear] Furthermore, the Chinese will come across the Mintoka Pass and start guerrilla warfare in Kashmir. And they’ll have everything surrounded. And the vociferous forces in India today [unclear]. That’s a very stark picture but it’s one that’s not overdrawn.
Nixon: What do you think our position should be?
Farland: I think we are doing what we should. This is a policy that I joined in. I don’t think we can overplay our hand, but I don’t think we are looking for vociferous, positive action. Mr. President, as I was telling you this morning, that as a matter of actual fact this problem goes back to about the year AD 712, when the Muslims first invaded the Sind. There’s been no peace on the subcontinent since that time because the Hindus and the Muslims have nothing in common whatsoever. Every point of their lives is diametrically opposed—economic, political, social, emotional, despite their beliefs. One prays to idols, the other prays to one God. One worships the cow; the other eats it. Simple as that. And last year there were 521 communal riots in India, acknowledged.
Nixon: Miserable damn place.
Kissinger: And what the Indians are really after, that became clear to me on my trip [unclear]. Their thoughts are about East Pakistan because they think that [unclear] West Pakistan. They think that by, well, if they can undermine East Pakistan then in West Pakistan so many forces would be, will unloosen, will be turned loose that the whole Pakistan issue will disappear. The Indians and West Pakistanis they hate each other—
Nixon: Oh sure, that’s what they fear. East Pakistan [unclear]. The thing, the bad thing is you are convinced, though, that Yahya will fight?
Farland: Oh, he will.
Nixon: He will commit suicide.
Kissinger: I agree completely. He will fight. Just as Lincoln would have fought. To him East Pakistan is part of Pakistan. [unclear]
Farland: Because of their sense of defeat, the possibility of defeat is a minor consideration as opposed to their sense of national unity. Remember, almost every [unclear] over there recalls the time of partition, back when they had—
Nixon: Horrible slaughters?
Farland: The acknowledged figure is over half a million. The figure that most people believe is way in excess of a million people. Fifteen million refugees were on the road.
Nixon: What is the situation, I really, of course there are always two sides to everything, but with the Indians [unclear]? Terrible stories [unclear] and so forth.
Farland: They are past masters of propaganda. The Pakistanis don’t—
Nixon: How can you, can you perhaps put a little of that [unclear]. Well anyway, I think if you could, if you could—
Nixon: Yeah. Okay.
Farland: This matter of arms to Pakistan.
Nixon: Uh, huh.
Farland: Since March 25 we have sent over 2,200 rounds of .22 ammunition for survival rifles for down there, that’s all. This part of our arms deal is just, in guns and the story hasn’t properly—
Nixon: You tell them that’s good. That’s good.
Farland: Forty to fifty percent of what’s in the pipeline is for spare parts for trucks and for communication equipment without which the starving refugees could not be fed.
Nixon: Good. Good. Good.
Farland: So these are—
Nixon: You ought to lay it right out. And also, I guess everybody’s concerned about [unclear]. Let’s not aggravate the problem; let’s try to help on the problem—East Pakistan. And the main thing let’s not stir it up. It’s stirred up too much. Inevitably it will be a bloodbath down there.
Farland: It will be. It will be all over the subcontinent.
Nixon: We warned the Indians very strongly that if they start anything—and believe me it would be a hell of a pleasure as far as I am concerned—if we just cut off every damn bit of aid we give them, at least for whatever it’s worth.
Farland: Yahya told me that they had pinpointed 29 camps within India where guerrillas were being trained. Now I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but the guerrilla threat is growing by leaps and bounds. They’re averaging 18 Pakistanis a day now; they are averaging two bridges a day. Killing that many. And this is [unclear]. And once the refugees get there, they are being prohibited, are prevented from coming back by Indira’s own statement. Political accommodation in her book means Bangladesh. This is bad.
Nixon: Well, I think we just continue on our line. We, as you know, we’re having a hell of a time keeping the State Department bureaucracies hitched on this thing. They’re basically pro-Indian. When I say “they,” not all. But a lot of them. And they want to believe what the American press is writing. And the Indian press, of course, the American press is the same as the Indian press, follows everything they say.
Farland: Well, my Consul General over in Dacca—
Nixon: He’s no good.
Farland: blew the whistle on the whole thing.
Nixon: He’s bad, isn’t he?
Farland: Well he’s gone. He’s here in the Department now. And the head of the USIS was just as tendentious in his reporting. Got rid of him. Shakespeare got him out.
Farland: The one remaining, who is a very critical situation, this fellow Eric Griffel, who is the head of AID [Griffel was the associate director in charge of AID operations in Dacca], he will be out in September. I wish he were out now. I don’t think you could pull him out without—
Farland:—repercussions on the Hill. And my guess is that he has been instrumental in leaking some of this information.
Nixon: Sick bastards. You just keep right after it on this thing.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation among Nixon, Kissinger, and Farland, Oval Office, Conversation No. 549–25. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the conversation published here specifically for this volume.↩
- Farland briefed Nixon and Kissinger on the developing crisis in Pakistan.↩