37. Letter From Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon, Rawalpindi, October 1, 19691 2

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Dear Mr. President,

I am writing you on a matter of great economic and political urgency to me, my government is getting extremely worried about the deteriorating food and price situation in the province of East Pakistan. The province is threatened with a major food deficit and rice, which is the staple diet of 70 million East Pakistanis, is selling at unprecedently high prices, almost 60 per cent higher than normal. This is causing wide-spread distress and misery. We are making all-out efforts to rush 1.7 million tons of foodgrains to East Pakistan to avoid a serious situation from arising there. On our own, we have already despatched a quarter million tons of wheat from West Pakistan_ and 350,000 tons of rice is also earmarked for despatch from the Western to Eastern wing. However, to meet the full gap, we need one million tons of wheat but we do not have the. cash foreign exchange resources to purchase this, quantity. We have, therefore, already made a formal request to your Government for import of one million tons of wheat under US Public Law 480. Mr. M.M. Ahmed, Deputy Chairman of our Planning Commission, will be discussing this request with your officials in Washington next week.

We require imports under PL 480 on a priority basis. The timely introduction of PL 480 wheat into East Pakistan. (in the next 6 to 8 weeks) can help avoid large scale human misery and hardship and earn a tremendous amount of goodwill for the U.S.

I would request you, Mr. President, to give this matter your personal attention-so that an act of high statesmanship can replace normal administrative procedures.

With best personal regards,

Yours Very Sincerely,


(A.M. Yahya Khan)
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, AID (US) 15–8 PAK. No classification marking. The Consulate General in Dacca underlined the problem of food shortages in East Pakistan on October 10 in telegram 2855 from Dacca. (Ibid., POL 18 PAK )
  2. Yahya requested urgent approval of the sale of 1.7 million tons of wheat under PL–480 to offset a serious food shortage in East Pakistan.