91. Telegram 13362 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2

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  • US Arms for Pakistan
Persistently critical Indian press and other comment on arms decision reached new heights of volume and intensity in recent days stimulated by headlined reports from New York October 25–26 that Mrs. Gandhi had told Secretary Rogers privately, and US people on “Meet the Press,” that US arms will harden Pakistan’s attitude toward India. Ambassador’s inadvertent non-appearance at airport and non-acceptance by Mrs. Gandhi of President’s dinner invitation were also exploited to symbolize deep chill in Indo-American relations evoked by arms decision. As consequence, average attentive Indian’s interest on arms issue was heightened and public manifestation of popular displeasure increased.
Major themes in criticism/commentary on arms decision in large number editorials and “analyses” October 24–26 (texts USINFO) were: (A) US shoring up pro-American elements in West Pakistan establishment prior to election, although these elements have always had vested interest in being anti-Indian [Page 2] (National Herald (NH) October 26.) (B) It apparent to all, including us, that Pakistan arming self against India. In lengthy article October 26, “US Arms supply to Pakistan—the why and what of it,” NH noted, “unlike the fifties, there is no pretense in America this time that Pakistan requires American arms for defense against communists. American officials know full well why Pakistan wants these ... Pakistan has openly said its arms build-up is aimed against India.” Edit in October 26 Patriot also played this theme. (C) With each promise of arms Pakistan becomes more bellicose toward India. Hindustan Times, in reporting October 25–26, Mrs. Gandhi’s talks in New York, cited Yahya Khan’s comments on Kashmir during UN speech as evidence Pak intransigence growing. NH edit October 24 hit same chord: “Every time there is fresh spurt of US military aid to Pakistan her leaders have assumed aggressive attitudes, and their first step is to raise matter at UN.” (D) US decision contributes to arms race which will bleed India economically and perhaps drive country toward acquisition of nuclear weapons. Statesman of October 24, and NH October 26 wrote that most recent discussions of India’s numerical military superiority over Pakistan failed take into account length of India’s borders, country threatened by two putative enemies, and Pakistan’s military better-equipped than India’s (sic). According to analysis, “spurt given to armament race in subcontinent by US is bound generate pressures in this country ... for more arms and larger defense allocations creating new strains on our finances. Second, extremist elements in country will step up activities to undermine democratic institutions and orderly way of life ... One development, not taken into consideration by American administration, is that public opinion in India may now compel government to go nuclear and make dreaded ‘bomb’. This will not only escalate armament race between various countries of world, but will also encourage proliferation of nuclear armament.” (E) Ironic that US has decided try wean Pakistan from China through arms supply at time when USSR has concluded it cannot or should not do so. (In reporting GOI talks with Secretary Rogers, Hindu wrote, “there have been reports Soviet Union has actually slowed down its arms deliveries to Pakistan.) NH edit on “Indo-US Relations,” October 26, said, “... Soviet arms supply, also meant to wean her (Pakistan) from US and China, disturbed Indian people [Page 3] much, and it was made known. While Soviet Union has withdrawn from race, US has resumed Dulles policy, and this has disturbed even traditional Indian friends of US. Soviet Union has, besides, had the achievement of the Tashkent declaration ... when India wants nothing but peace at home and abroad and when her main attention devoted to development, no big power which disturbs political and economic progress in region can be considered friendly ... US administration doing grave harm and American people not yet returning to normalcies of peaceful society. Till that normalcy achieved, Indo-US relations cannot be normal.”
Indian press reports on Yahya Khan’s comings and goings in US have alleged that if Yahya were to see President in private session as rumored, Yahya would ask that arms package include tanks and more planes.
In report from New York October 24, Indian Express’ Parasuram reported that only unequivocal statement from President Nixon that there will not be further exceptions to restrictive arms policy in favor Pakistan likely allay Indian fears of long-term US intentions. This same comment frequently made privately to EmbOffs by working level GOI officials, media leaders and other intelligentsia.
L.N. Mishra, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and previously Minister of State Defense Production, reportedly told newsmen in Patna October 23, that present US decision “discriminates” against India. Mishra said that although America had promised in wake of 1962 Indo-China war to modernize Indian ordnance factories, US, consistent with its decision suspend arms aid to India and Pakistan at time Indo-Pak war, had, in September, 1965, understandably ordered six ships carrying materiel to turn around, though near Indian shores. [Page 5] US had explained it did not wish contribute to tension. According Mishra, India cannot feel safe with new prospect of American “bombers” arriving soon in Pakistan. (All major papers except Patriot reported Mishra’s remarks as above. According Patriot, Mishra also said that US and Soviet arms to Pakistan cannot be equated, since Soviets and socialist bloc have stood by India at times of stress and helped with arms, whereas US and UK always let India down in hour of need. Patriot alleges Mishra said Soviet Union and other socialist countries have always made military supply deliveries ahead of schedule, while US and UK never supplied on time.)
Weekend brought further demonstrations and visitors to USIS and Embassy. New Delhi 13279 reported forward bloc demonstration at USIS. M.L. Sondhi, Jana Sangh MP, brought few of Delhi’s “common people” to see DCM October 24 to protest arms decision. Ruling Congress representatives from party committee in Delhi suburb left at Embassy October 25 memorandum to President calling arms decision “unfriendly ... fatal to peace in Asia,” and certain to lead to greater Indian arms expenditures. October 26 at Kanpur, Ambassador’s car surrounded and his convocation speech interrupted by jeering students.
October 26, K.L. Gupta, Jana Sangh MP, told EmbOff arms supply will be main issue in next session parliament. He alleged ruling Congress already in touch with Jana Sangh to work out common line. Gupta lamented that Mrs. Gandhi has played issue so cleverly (including declining President’s dinner) that Jana Sangh will have to toe her line. He said most Jana Sangh (and, by implication, Mrs. Gandhi’s other opponents) can do is contrast GOI reaction to American arms with its reaction to Soviet arms to Pakistan. As footnote, he said that in long run Jana Sangh (ultra nationalist) will benefit from “anti-Indian” decision of US, an estimate which many thinking Indians have made to EmbOffs past three weeks.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 PAK. Confidential. Repeated to London, Rawalpindi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, CINCSTRIKE, and CINCMEAFSA.
  2. The Embassy reported on the growing public alarm in India over the prospect of increased shipments of U.S. arms to Pakistan.