111. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation1


  • President Carter
  • President Zia of Pakistan

The President opened the call with an exchange of holiday greetings.

President Carter expressed concern about the latest development in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of strengthening U.S.-Pakistani relations. We should consult at various levels and the U.S. should expedite delivery of the military equipment that Pakistan has ordered. We should put aside differences that have caused concern in the past and move expeditiously to strengthen our mutual resolve against further Soviet intrusions into Southern Asia.

President Carter reported that European leaders had said this is one of the most serious Soviet actions since the take-over of Czechoslovakia. He solicited President Zia’s reaction and asked what the U.S. could do to help Pakistan.

President Zia expressed his gratitude for U.S. concern for Pakistan which is now about to face the Soviet onslaught. He confirmed President Carter’s assessment of the situation. President Zia had recently completed a detailed discussion of the situation which concluded that, beyond the intrusion of Soviet troops, the overthrow of the Amin regime is a direct involvement of the Soviet Union in a country bordering Pakistan.

President Carter reassured Zia that he has a friend here and we are eager to help in any way possible.2 The U.S. wants to continue detente and progress on SALT. But we cannot afford to stand mute and let the Soviets take this very serious action with impunity and without political consequences. We will take our case concerning the hostages in Iran to the UNSC tomorrow. Other countries—Pakistan or others—should raise this issue of Soviet intrusion publicly or even, later on, in the UN. [Page 313] We will probably meet this weekend with our NATO allies to discuss the Afghan situation.

President Zia said it is right to think on those lines. Pakistan considers itself an ally and a great friend of the United States. Our past association contains many instances of mutual respect and assistance according to our capabilities. It is encouraging that the U.S. is still the torchbearer of the free world. We consider ourselves members of the free world and look to the U.S. as a beacon. What has happened in Afghanistan is delicate, tragic and most significant in this part of the world. Tomorrow it could be Pakistan.

President Carter suggested that Warren Christopher could come to Pakistan in the next few days to talk with Zia, if that were desirable.

President Zia recalled the pleasure of meeting Christopher, an old friend, and promised to give his reaction to the idea tomorrow through Ambassador Hummel.3

President Carter invited President Zia to come to visit to discuss matters of mutual concern. When Zia decides that would be advantageous our foreign ministers could work out arrangements.

President Zia expressed his appreciation and said it would be a great honor to meet the President of the U.S. He promised to arrange mutually convenient dates.

President Carter said he would have Secretary Vance tell Hummel to expect an answer on the Christopher trip.

The conversation concluded with best wishes on both sides.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 37, Memcons: President: 10–12/79. Confidential.
  2. In an undated memorandum to Brzezinski regarding the United States–Pakistan Defense Agreement of 1959, Thornton noted that Carter “implicitly affirmed” the agreement during his phone conversation with Zia. (Carter Library, National Security Council Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 57, NSC–026, 01/02/80, Afghanistan Invasion, Christopher/Brown, Pakistan/Afghanistan/China)
  3. In telegram 15326 from Islamabad, December 30, the Embassy relayed the content of a conversation between Hummel and Shahi during which Shahi stated that Pakistan wanted to delay a visit by Christopher for long enough to determine if the Muslim world, following the lead of Iran and Pakistan, would coalesce to condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. According to the telegram, Shahi believed “a visit by Christopher would undermine prospects for Islamic condemnation of Soviets and would provide ammunition to Soviets and pro-Soviet Muslim countries to accuse Pakistan and others of acting at behest of USG in collusion with NATO powers.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850040–2170, N800001–0154)