326. Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State1

2568. Department repeat as desired. Subject: (U) Foreign Advisor Agha Shahi on CENTO.

1. (Secret) Entire text: Protect FGI.

2. During course of two-hour discussion with Foreign Advisor Agha Shahi morning 2 March, Deputy Secretary asked what is current Pakistani attitude toward CENTO.2 Shahi replied by noting that key in Pakistan’s eyes is Iran, with which Pakistan desires to establish close contact. As a result of the fast moving situation there, GOP had held up its own statement on CENTO. However, “the question is settled.” Khomeini and Bazargan will move Iran toward the Non-Aligned Movement, and Pakistan will “want to keep in step with Iran,” lest the field there be left open to others, like Arafat and Qaddafi. Pakistan, moreover, must not appear to be an instrument of US power; “what is past is past,” he said. In making public announcement, Pakistan will not oppose US interests and will consult, he said, but it cannot act in concert with the US or with any one outside the region in any joint announcement.

3. Asked if Pakistan is thinking of some other form of association for the region, Shahi replied, Pakistan is thinking about other possibilities in light of what has happened in Iran, perhaps something like ASEAN—a notion DepSec said US would endorse. Shahi said we will “need to proceed extremely warily,” however. He indicated he plans to visit Iran shortly and will urge that Iran take no precipitous action.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790095–0222. Secret; Immediate. Sent for information to Ankara, Dacca, Kabul, Karachi, London, New Delhi, CINCPAC, Jidda, and CINCEUR.
  2. In telegram 2575 from Islamabad, March 2, the Embassy reported that, besides CENTO, Christopher and Shahi discussed Indo-Pakistani relations, which Shahi characterized as almost “tension free” before he listed the ways in which Pakistan is comparatively weak. Christopher and Shahi then discussed the Pakistani nuclear program issue without coming to any resolution of the impasse. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850036–2157, P850027–2666)