352. Telegram 7281 From the Embassy in Afghanistan to the Department of State 1 2


  • Indo-Pak Situation-Views of Afghan King and FonMin
I saw FonMin Shafiq Thursday, December 2 and His Majesty later same day with Shafiq. I summarized for both my conversations in Washington. He stressed again his gratitude for generous US assistance in drought crisis. However, focus of both conversations was on Indo-Pakistani crisis. Other topics reported septels.
Shafiq opened conversation on Indo-Pakistan crisis by stating that Pak Ambassador had earlier brought from Yahya letter to HM complaining about Indian actions and asking King use his influence to restrain Indians. Shafiq said danger of all-out conflict is of grave concern to Afghanistan, more so than to many other countries. Situation made more difficult for Afghanistan by Pak recruitment among tribes on both sides of Pak-Afghan frontier. Shafiq said there is great pressure on government to take some action against Pakistan; and this pressure would increase if war started and refugees entered Afghanistan as result military action in west. Shafiq commented there so little any country can do except Great Powers, and he recognized their actions also limited.
Shafiq said no responsible person in Afghanistan wants see Pakistan dismembered. Earlier, both sides had approached RGA about acting in some sort of “mediating” role and RGA had been considering possible mechanics for this; however, events have now overtaken and sides are too far apart. (Comment: This conversation took place prior to receipt here of news of military actions in West Pakistan.) Shafiq then said RGA open all suggestions how it might help in spite anticipated problem with Parliament over any RGA action which could be interpreted as helpful to Pakistan. Despite pressure, Shafiq said, RGA must and will adhere to pledged policy to make Pakistanis “more nervous than they already are.” FM Shafiq stated that Afghan ability hold this line had been greatly damaged by Pakistani ban on National Awami Party (NAP) and by working of announcement which spoke of “enemies.” While RGA now satisfied reference had been to Indians. Pushtun version seemed to link Afghanistan with enemies, a fighting word in Pushtun society. In [garble] how GOP could have taken this decision. Shafiq offered following possible explanation: Peshawar Governor called Wali Khan to demand from him strong condemnation of Mujib and implied that ban on ANP would follow if Wali refused; when Wali refused, GOP had no choice but suppress party. Returning again to NAP ban, Shafiq said Pushtun working [wording] of declaration “very objectionable”, not only because of possible linking of Afghanistan to enemies but also reference to leader of Pushunistan movement Adbul Ghaffar Khan (Wali Khan’s father) who resides Kabul.
His Majesty confirmed he and his government very preoccupied over Indo-Pak conflict and profound ways in which deterioration would affect Afghanistan. He had tried exert calming influence on both sides, but time now running out, and he astonished by incredible mistakes of Pakistanis. King said he had been expecting from day to day separation of East Pakistan and West Pakistan, whether in context of war or declaration independence. King asked what USG attitude would be if war occurred and destruction West Pakistan seemed imminent. I said our entire efforts had been to prevent tragedy of war and that speaking personally, I was confident, if war broke out, our efforts to help control and limit consequences as much as possible would continue. In response [Page 3] to my query regarding Afghan attitude in such eventuality, King laughed and said Afghanistan as small country could not have much impact on outcome. (Comment: King was obviously less than frank in his response, fact which we both understood.)
King coninued that situation was further complicated for Afghanistan by attitude some Arab countries. He specified Morocco, which he said is helping Pakistan in spirit of Rabat Conference, Algeria which is trying mobilize non-aligned countries to help Pakistan. King said that both countries have made recent efforts to enlist Afghanistan. King also said he had recently seen Indian Ambassador to transmit appeal that India withdraw forces beyond border, but events have now overtaken. (Comment: King saw Indian Ambassador at 11:00 a.m. on December 2.) He had also discussed possibility of some settlement which would leave East Pakistan just short of full independence. Indian Ambassador had replied it too late for that.
King then mentioned internal pressures in Afghanistan which make hands-off policy toward Pakistan difficult. He particularly singled out conservative religious element, whose influence he characterized as controllable, and bringing pressure on RGA to act against Pakistan. (Comment: While some religious leaders fit this mold because of their strong support for Pushtunistan, others support Pakistan against Hindu India.)
His Majesty said he intended on return from UK to stopover in Belgrade for one day to discuss Indo-Pak situation with Tito. Yugoslav Ambassador here has told RGA that Tito “astonished” by Indian attitude and trying influence it. King added that Tito wants hold next Non-Aligned Conference in Kabul and “this will be considered: (Comment: King seemed less than enthusiastic about this eventuality.) In comment which I was not certain was King’s own evaluation or Tito’s, HM said Mrs. Gandhi blowing soft and hard between pressures of those on one hand who want military solution and those on other hand who feel she has weakened Indian policy by her militant attitude. King said Tito had probed through Yugo Ambassador here whether solution might leave East Pakistan short of independence, but that Indian Ambassador had responded [Page 4] same as he had to Afghans, i.e. too late for that. FYI: As of December 4, King’s departure for London now postponed 24 hours, with possibility that outbreak of war in West Pakistan may lead to cancellation. End FYI.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA-PAK. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Belgrade, Islamabad, London, New Delhi, and Tehran.
  2. Ambassador Neumann discussed Afghanistan’s reaction to the crisis occurring in Pakistan with King Zahir and Foreign Minister Shafiq.