Press Release

Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State

December 21, 2007

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume E–8, Documents on South Asia, 1973–1976, as an electronic-only publication. This volume is the latest publication in the subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important foreign policy decisions and actions of the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Volume E–8 is the eighth Foreign Relations volume to be published in the electronic only format, available to all free of charge on the Internet. Approximately 25 percent of the volumes scheduled for publication for the 1969–1976 subseries, covering the Nixon and Nixon-Ford administrations, will be in this format.

This e-volume documents the foreign policy of the Nixon and Ford administrations toward South Asia, 1973–1976, and should be read in conjunction with Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, also available online. In addition to coverage of U.S. policy toward India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, Volume E–8 provides documents on U.S. relations with the smaller South Asian states of Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, and the Indian Ocean region, including the Republic of the Maldives.

The documents on India and Pakistan for this e-volume are combined into two chapters covering U.S. relations with both countries, with the landmark Indian nuclear weapons test of May 1974 as a point of division. The India-Pakistan War of 1971 cast a long shadow and defined the relationship of the United States to both countries for the Nixon and Ford administrations. The chief concerns of the United States were the enforcement of the 1972 Simla Agreement and the re-establishment of normal relations between India and Pakistan. Bilateral relations with India improved considerably from their 1971 nadir, until the 1974 Indian nuclear test. Nixon’s appointment of Daniel Patrick Moynihan as Ambassador to India in 1973 led to the resolution of several long-standing economic and political tensions, although New Delhi continued to object to U.S. support for Pakistan and alleged a U.S. role in its domestic instability. India’s successful nuclear test was a setback for bilateral relations, amplifying U.S. concerns about Indira Gandhi’s close relationship with the Soviet Union, her declaration of martial law in 1975, and her decision to develop nuclear technology while dependent on U.S. food aid.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan were generally good, with President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visiting Washington in February 1975. Nevertheless, U.S. policymakers remained anxious about Pakistani instability following the 1971 war, and about Bhutto’s viability as a national leader. Washington was also concerned about Bhutto’s attempts to quell domestic regional disturbances, particularly in Pakistan’s northwestern frontier provinces, and to establish his legitimacy as a nationalist and populist reformer. Nevertheless, President Nixon’s policy of providing military and economic support to Pakistan was continued during the Ford administration.

The themes of the Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Indian Ocean chapters expand on those developed in previous volumes on South Asia. In Afghanistan, the major event was the dissolution of the monarchy and its replacement by the republican government of Mohammad Daoud. The change in regime did not cause an alteration in U.S. policy, which, as in the past, attempted to offset Soviet influence in Afghanistan with diplomatic support and development assistance. The Nixon administration quickly recognized the new Afghan government and continued to provide it with development aid and opium eradication assistance, while mediating the continual Afghan dispute with Pakistan over both countries’ Pushtun borderlands.

In Bangladesh, the United States also sought to establish solid diplomatic relations with a new government, that of Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman (frequently referred to in the documentation as Mujib), while seeking to limit the influence of other regional powers over the desperately impoverished country by providing food and development aid. The U.S. relationship with Dhaka was complicated by Bangladeshi suspicion of U.S. motives, as well as by the 1975 overthrow and murder of Mujib, followed by the establishment of a military regime.

In dealing with Sri Lanka, the Nixon and Ford administrations found the U.S. relationship with Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike complicated by the latter’s presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as her continued attempts to establish an Indian Ocean Peace Zone and her criticism of the U.S. expansion of the British base at Diego Garcia. At the same time, U.S. policymakers attempted to assess and contain the expanding Soviet naval presence and influence in the Indian Ocean.

Finally, volume E–8 provides detailed coverage of the Nixon and Ford administrations’ relations with Nepal and Bhutan, the first such coverage in the Foreign Relations series since the volumes covering the Eisenhower administration.

The text of the volume and this press release are available on the Department of State’s website ( For further information, contact Edward C. Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1131, or by email at