15. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Pakistan and India1

11865. Subject: US-Pakistan Talks: Indo-Pak Relations. Refs: (A) State 9863;2 (B) State 9606.3

1. (S–Entire text).

2. The following is an expanded account of those portions of the US talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Agha Shahi which dealt with India.4

3. The Pakistani presentation on India demonstrated Pakistan’s continuing concern over India’s superior power and questionable intentions toward Pakistan, although for the first time the Indian threat seemed slightly less pressing to them than the Soviet/Afghan threat.5

4. Shahi made it clear that the GOP will continue to pursue its effort at improved relations with India. He acknowledged that this process had started during Mrs. Gandhi’s previous term as Prime Minister, but nonetheless regarded her return to power6 as a development that could complicate Indo-Pak relations. He described her as being “obsessed with Pakistan” and said Pakistan would be watching to see which of Mrs. Gandhi’s advisors she brought back in. He expressed particular apprehension about T.N. Kaul.

5. Shahi said that Mrs. Gandhi was in his judgement quite capable of reaching some sort of accommodation with the Soviet Union at Pakistan’s expense. He mentioned Pakistan’s continuing concern about the existence of the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty, and cited the recent Indian statement in the UNGA on Afghanistan.7

6. As expected, Shahi made disparaging remarks about our sensitivity to Indian reactions to proposed US-Pak arms deals. He asked rather pointedly whether, if we were unwilling to supply advanced combat aircraft to counter the Indian Jaguars, we would be able to guarantee that India did not use these arms against Pakistan. Expanding on the [Page 52] disparity between Indian and Pakistani military strength, General Arif, Chief of Staff to President Zia, stated that 80–90 percent of the Indian Army was stationed on Pakistan’s borders. He said the Indian Army was four times the size of Pakistan’s, that the Indian Air Force was three to four times as large, and that the Indian Navy was ten times the size of its Pakistani counterpart. He said that the qualitative superiority of the Indian forces was far greater than this numerical comparison would indicate.

7. The Secretary’s opening statement (reftel B) included a reference to the improved Indo-Pak relations of the past few years, “an accomplishment of which both governments can be proud,” and to our own desire to have good relations with India. The Secretary specified that we would not allow India to “veto” our judgements of what was appropriate in US-Pak relations.

8. At the end of the discussions in the Department, the two sides had a brief exchange in which the Pakistanis were trying to obtain a more precise sense of what we would do to implement our 1959 bilateral agreement with Pakistan in various contingencies. In the course of this exchange, Shahi asked what the US role might be if, despite the best efforts of the US and Pakistan, concerted pressure on Pakistan was exerted by India and Afghanistan. The Secretary replied by saying he would want to think further and study the 1959 agreement further on that issue.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870097–0701, N800001–0715. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information Priority to Beijing, London, Moscow, Paris, Bonn, and the White House. Drafted by Schaffer; cleared in S/S–O and S/S, and by Peck, Schaffer, and Raphel; approved by Saunders.
  2. See Document 410.
  3. See Document 409.
  4. Shahi was in Washington on January 12. See also Documents 407 and 408.
  5. See Document 394.
  6. See Document 165.
  7. See footnote 1, Document 166.