Department of State

 

AIRGRAM

CONFIDENTIAL A-334

 

TO       : DEPARTMENT OF STATE

INFO   : DACCA, HONG KONG, KARACHI, LAHORE, MOSCOW, NEW DELHI, TAIPEI, USUN

FROM : AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD

LIMIT DISTRIBUTION

SUB     : FOOTNOTES ON YAHYA'S VISIT TO CHINA

REF     : HONG KONG 4580, 4632, 4800

ISLAMABAD 8821, 8887, 8932

 

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY.

In an hour-long session December 12 at the MFA, Director-General (Socialist Countries) Tabarak Husain, who accompanied President Yahya on the November 10-14 visit to China, confided inter alia the following information.

 

1. Pakistan had reason to hope for more Chinese economic assistance than the 500 million yuan credit now committed.

2. The Chinese leaders seemed relatively relaxed about the USSR and the U.S.

3. Normalization of Sino-Indian relations must await New Delhi's respect for China's vital interests.

4. The Chinese, who do not aspire to superpower status, evinced keener interest than previously in UN membership.

5. Cessation of the supply of Soviet tanks, and the U.S. refusal to supply tanks, left Pakistan with no alternative but to procure more tanks from China. Pro-China sentiment in the officer corps was increasing.

 

***

 

Husain's information was consonant with that reported in reftel, and with Yahya's December 12 statements to the Ambassador, being reported separately. A November 24 session with Husain was interrupted due to the pressure of other duties from both sides. Some of Husain's comments to the reporting officer were made in "strict confidence". Please protect source.

 

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I. BILATERAL

 

A. Developmental and Economic

The 500 million yuan interest-free loan for use during the Fourth 5 year Plan was regarded by the GOP as less than China could and should afford Pakistan. According to Husain, the Paks have reason to hope for more Chinese economic aid as the Plan matures. In response to other questions, Husain: (I) stressed that the Chinese had agreed only to study the possibilities of a bridge over the Brahmaputra; (2) acknowledged that the Chinese water studies would include possible flood control works in the upper reaches of the river system under Chinese control; (3) said the Paks were not interested in labor intensive projects of the Chinese type, and (4) confirmed that the expansion of bilateral trade and commerce was very unlikely to be significant, in terms of volume.

 

Husain did not respond to a query on China's utilization of the Trident aircraft sold by the Paks, and suggested that such questions as content of Chinese economic aid (project, commodity) be addressed to Economic Adviser M.M. Ahmed. When the reporting officer noted the World Bank's extensive involvement in East Pakistan water control and development, Husain opined that the Paks would guard against duplication of effort in this field.

 

B. Military Supply

In the context of an exchange on Pakistan's military supply problems (see Section III below), Husain tated that China would provide additional end items including tanks..

 

II. INTERNATIONAL

 

A. Nuclear Summit Conference

Husain emphasized that the Paks had only noted this proposal with positive interest; they had not agreed to "broker" it with the Arabs or other friends.

 

B. Sino-Soviet

This time the Chinese leaders did not evince so much concern about the border situation. They appeared more confident of their defensive capabilities. They noted that the Soviet military buildup in the border areas was continuing, but in private sessions refrained from attacking the Moscow leadership.

 

Chou observed that the PRC did not attach much importance to exchanges of ambassadors. What counted was a country's "respect for China's vital interests", especially with regard to territorial rights.

 

C. Sino-American

The Chinese leaders refrained from any serious or sustained criticism of the U.S., though they reiterated the centrality of the Taiwan issue.

 

D. Sino-Indian

The Chinese indicated they were prepared to normalize relations with India when the latter showed respect for China's vital interests. Given India's (1) stance on border disputes, (2) "trouble making" in Tibet, and (3) reception of visitors from Taiwan, normalization did not appear imminent.

 

E. United Nations

Chou and the Vice President this time showed keener interest in UN membership. They profusely thanked Pakistan for its support. Chou was critical of the UN's failure to resolve the Arab/Israel and Kashmir problems, and opined that the medium powers had a key responsibility vis-a-vis the two superpowers. In this context Chou said the dictates of economic realism would prevent China from becoming a superpower during the foreseeable future.

 

 

III. PAKISTAN'S MILITARY SUPPLY PROBLEMS

When the no. noted that President Yahya's party had included some military officers, Husain rendered a spirited declamation on Pakistan's difficulties in maintaining a minimum deterrent capability vis-a-vis India. After the usual enumeration of pertinent factors as perceived by Islamabad, he was critical of our current sales offer on three counts. First, we had excluded tanks, which every self-respecting Army must have. Second, we were offering "ancient" aircraft. (The r.o. interjected that our offer was based on Pakistan's stated requirements.) Third, we had informed the Indians who were certain to leak everything, with the aim of queering any significant deal.

 

Asked about the status of Soviet military supply to Pakistan, Husain even more caustically acknowledged that deliveries under previous commitments had been cut off some time ago. When prodded by the Paks, Soviet representatives here claimed that no assurance to stop supplies had been made to India, and that Soviet arms policy in the Subcontinent had not changed. But the fact was that the Soviets were not fulfilling their commitments. This had caused severe bitterness against the USSR on the part of the Army officer and the GOP generally.

 

Given the Soviet cut-off and the U.S. refusal to supply tanks, Husain continued, there was no alternative but to obtain more, and some other equipment, from the Chinese. Speaking personally, he claimed this situation was intensifying pro-Chinese sentiment in the officer corps, and noted Bhutto's election success in West Pakistan.

 

When asked to review Pakistan's strategic rationale for maintaining a strong deterrent capability vis-a-vis India, Husain responded along the following line. Acknowledging that India was not likely to attempt to occupy Azad Kashmir by force, he maintained that outstanding problems including Kashmir would never be resolved if Pakistan let down its defenses. Moreover, India would "stirup the border areas and keep us off balance". Husain concluded by stressing Pakistan's need to shift resources from defense to economic development, especially in the East Wing.

 

 

Farland

 

Source: The American Papers- Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan.Bangladesh Documents 1965-1973, The University Press Limited, p.437-439