from Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon/1/
National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 27 INDIA-PAK. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by
Constable and cleared by Laingen, Schneider, and Van Hollen.
potential for an outbreak of hostilities between India and Pakistan remains high; but we
have no information that either side intends to take the initiative at this
time. A possible indicator of the level of tensions will be whether Mrs. Gandhi
begins her three-week international tour on October 24.
urged maximum restraint on both India and Pakistan. Specifically we have
suggested to both that they pull their troops back from the border. President Yahya has reacted positively in private. The Indians have
said they would consider withdrawals only if Pakistan withdrew first. They
indicated that India would have to withdraw
much farther than Pakistan. Both President Yahya and Mrs. Gandhi have publicly discussed the
circumstances under which they might withdraw in contexts which are probably
mutually unacceptable at this point. We are now planning, if Ambassador Farland concurs, to suggest that President Yahya consider a unilateral and limited withdrawal as a
signal to the Indians of his desire to de-escalate and reduce tensions. We
believe he might be willing to do this without jeopardizing his military
position, in order to put the onus on the Indians to take reciprocal action.
that the lack of a viable political settlement in East Pakistan continues to fuel the
tensions between India and Pakistan, we are also suggesting
that Ambassador Farland, if he agrees, discuss ways
in which Yahya might move more rapidly toward such a
settlement. We are particularly focusing on ways in which Yahya
might begin a dialogue with the previously elected representatives of East Pakistan. Because President Yahya has already indicated willingness to establish
contact with Bangla Desh
leaders, we are asking Ambassador Farland to suggest
that they be included in any such dialogue. To date, however, the Bangla Desh representatives have
refused, insisting that nothing can be negotiated except independence and only Mujib can speak for the Bangla Desh group. Given the apparent importance of the arrested Awami League President Sheikh Mujib
to a negotiated settlement, we are asking Ambassador Farland
to raise again with President Yahya
whether he believes there are possibilities for Mujib
to play a part in a settlement.
19 Secretary General U Thant offered his good offices
to President Yahya and Mrs. Gandhi./2/ We support this initiative. For the moment, however, we hope
to keep the Indo-Pakistan dispute from surfacing in open debate in the Security
Council. Between now and the time of Mrs. Gandhi's visit on November 4 and 5,
we prefer to work privately with both the Indians and the Pakistanis. During
Mrs. Gandhi's visit, we hope you will be able to dispel some of the suspicions
which have entered our relationship with the Indians. At the same time, we will
want again to urge maximum restraint on Mrs. Gandhi, get her to support direct
negotiations between Bangla Desh
leaders and President Yahya, and seek her cooperation
in trying to stabilize the situation in East Pakistan. We believe that India must bear a share of
the responsibility for bringing stability back to East Pakistan, in part by exercising
greater control over India-based guerrilla activity.
Secretary-General U Thant held separate meetings on
October 19 with the Indian and Pakistani permanent representatives to the
United Nations and gave them identical letters for Prime Minister Gandhi and
President Yahya. In his letters, the Secretary
General expressed concern about the deteriorating situation along the borders
between the two countries and offered his good offices to seek a peaceful
solution. (Telegram 3705 from USUN, October 21; ibid.,
POL INDIA-PAK) The text of the letters, as conveyed to members of the Security
Council on October 21, was transmitted to the Department in telegram 3766 from
USUN, October 22. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 570,
Indo-Pak War, South Asia, Oct 25-Nov 22 1971)
Following Mrs. Gandhi's visit, if it is necessary at that time, we may want to
see the Indo-Pakistan situation aired in the Security Council and publicly in
other ways in order to increase international pressure on both sides for
restraint and de-escalation.
Secretary Irwin signed for Rogers.
Source: Document 171, volume XI, South Asia crisis 1971, Department of State.