151. Editorial Note

The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan created a new urgency in the Carter administration to finalize a military and economic assistance program for Pakistan. This required a balancing act to satisfy several interrelated objectives of U.S. foreign policy in the region: enhance Pakistan’s defense capabilities in the event that the insurgency in Afghanistan spilled into Pakistan; bolster Pakistan’s economic capacity to manage the swelling Afghan refugee population in Pakistan as a result of the fighting; find a workaround to the Symington Amendment’s prohibition on military aid to Pakistan so long as it continued its nuclear enrichment program; and finally, provide military assistance in a way that did not further aggravate tensions with India. A series of memoranda, culminating in a memorandum from the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski, to President Carter, January 8, 1980, put the final touches on the assistance package. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office File, Meetings File, Box 78, Sensitive X: 1/80; scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XIX, South Asia)

In the memorandum, Brzezinski noted to Carter that, with the upcoming visit of Agha Shahi, “we need your guidance on a range of issues so we speak with one voice.” He listed three items for Carter’s [Page 440] decision. The first sought Carter’s approval to take legislative steps to exempt Pakistan from the Symington Amendment. Carter approved, and wrote in the right margin: “I would still prefer some mention of non-prolif. assurance—not exceeding those we have already gotten.” The second item, with several sub-items, summarized an attached memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding the military and economic assistance package to Pakistan. The issue for Carter’s decision included $100 million in Foreign Military Sales credit, about which Brzezinski noted: “All agencies agree that this is required.” Carter approved the sub-item. Next was $100 million in Economic Support Funds. Brzezinski noted: “All agencies agree in this sum,” and the only question was if the aid should be conditional. Brzezinski concurred with the Department of State that the aid package would not be as effective if it was tied to ongoing Pakistani financial reform measures, and that the United States should pledge to rejoin the international aid consortium for Pakistan but not “attach additional strings” to the economic package. At the end of the sub-item, Brzezinski handwrote: “This is really important.” Carter neither approved nor disapproved the sub-item, but wrote in the right margin: “$100 mil ok—I prefer auth. to waive reform requirement if necessary Paks must be under constraint to behave economically.”

The next sub-item offered a choice on the level of specificity for the aid package. Brzezinski noted the Department of State “argues strongly” that the United States should present a $400 million aid package, composed of $100 million in both economic and military aid per annum over two years. OMB, Brzezinski noted, advocated a looser approach “both for reasons of impact and to concretely demonstrate the enduring nature of our commitment.” Brzezinski concurred with the Department of State, and handwrote: “because it indicates a longer-term political commitment.” Carter approved the OMB approach, but wrote in the right margin: “I may change. Let me see what Agha Shahi says.” Carter also approved the following sub-items: 1) a $10–20 million increase in P.L.–480 aid; 2) $600,000 for military training; 3) $6 million in additional aid for Afghan refugees; and 4) whether humanitarian aid should be sent through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Brzezinski wrote: “it should be bilateral with Pakistan” to which Carter responded: “bilateral, at least as option.”

The third item laid out what Brzezinski identified as a “key issue”: the kind of military hardware the United States should sell to Pakistan. Brzezinski noted that $100 million “will not go far,” and that a “critical question” was whether or not Carter was prepared to sell Pakistan advanced aircraft such as the F–16. Brzezinski did not recommend one or the other, but counseled that if Carter disapproved of selling the F–16 to Pakistan “we should let the Paks know soon so that India does [Page 441] not mount a campaign against it and Pakistan does not make it a litmus test of our relationship.” Carter rejected selling the F–16 to Pakistan. He expounded on his decision in a handwritten note on an undated memorandum from the Department of Defense with an attached itemized list of military hardware for possible transfer to Pakistan. Both the list and the memorandum were attached at Tab C to Brzezinski’s January 8 memorandum. The Department of Defense stated: “we need to keep India in mind as we make military supply decisions for Pakistan. India will be concerned in principle about the resumption of a U.S.-Pakistan supply relationship, and in this sense whatever we supply will be troublesome for India; none of the items proposed for FMS funding, however, would in themselves pose a significant threat to India.” In the left margin, Carter wrote: “I agree,” and at the bottom of the page he wrote: “we should approve quickly: weapons which can be used to defend both Afghan & Paks as soon as possible—in general, however, not to attack India. J.”

On the evening of January 8, Carter briefed Members of Congress on Iran and on the actions his administration had taken and planned to take after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, including his decision to strengthen Pakistan. See Public Papers: Carter, 1980–81, Book I, pp. 38–42.

Agha Shahi met with Carter on January 12. For the memorandum of conversation, see Document 163.