Recently declassified 'Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972' contain a wealth of information on what the then American President Richard Nixon and his assistant for NSA Henry Kissinger thought of India, and provide a fascinating insight into how the duo sought to play the Russians and the Chinese in those crucial days of 1971
135. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National
Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, May 26, 1971, 10:38-10:44 a.m.
Kissinger: Indira Gandhi has written you a letter.
Nixon: I know about—
Kissinger: Well, no. We should answer it. Let me say one other thing.
Kissinger: Well you can tell her—you can use it to bring pressure on her not to take military action. Also, I talked to the Pakistan Ambassador. He said that Yahya might appreciate a letter, which would give him an excuse to answer all the things by saying, listing all the things he’s doing because he can’t get any publicity here.
Kissinger: And conversely, Indira Gandhi, I checked with the Indian Ambassador, they’re getting so devious now—
Nixon: She wants—
Kissinger: She would like to be able to say that one result of her letter was—
Kissinger: —that you’ve written to Yahya. So everybody’s happy. The Pakistanis—
Nixon: But we don’t say anything against Yahya?
Kissinger: No, no. You just say you hope the refugees will soon be able to go back to East Pakistan. He will then reply to you that’s exactly what he wants. I’ve got it all arranged with the—
Nixon: Good. Go ahead.
Kissinger: —Embassy. Then you can take credit. You can tell the Indians to pipe down—
Kissinger: And we’ll keep Yahya happy.
Nixon: The Indians need—what they need really is a—
Kissinger: They’re such bastards.
Nixon: A mass famine. But they aren't going to get that. We're going to feed them—a new kind of wheat. But if they're not going to have a famine the last thing they need is another war. Let the goddamn Indians fight a war [unclear].
Kissinger: They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there.
Nixon: The Indians?
136. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National
Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, June 4, 1971, 9:42–9:51 a.m.
Nixon: I told Keating that I would see him—he was there last night at this little party we had—and I told him I would see him when he came back, late and in the middle of June, just before the Foreign Minister came. And I think we’ll just have him for a half hour and then have him—
Kissinger: I saw him leaving.
Nixon: I also told him that, I said the problem here is that we just got to be sure we don’t get involved in an internal conflict, be pulled one way or another, so forth and so on.
Kissinger: He’s almost fanatical on this issue.
Nixon: Well what the hell does he think we should do about it?
Kissinger: Oh he thinks—I tell you, he thinks we should cut off all military aid, all economic aid, and in effect help the Indians to push the Pakistanis out of—
Nixon: Push—I don’t want him to come in with that kind of jackass thing with me.
Kissinger: Mr. President, actually we’ve got to keep Yahya, we have to keep Yahya [unclear] public executions for the next month.
Nixon: Look, even apart from the Chinese thing, I wouldn’t do that to help the Indians, the Indians are no goddamn good. Now Keating, like every Ambassador who goes over there, goes over there and gets sucked in. He now thinks the—
Kissinger: Those sons-of-bitches, who never have lifted a finger for us, why should we get involved in the morass of East Pakistan? All the more so, I quite agree with the point, if East Pakistan becomes independent, it is going to become a cesspool. It’s going be 100 million people, they have the lowest standard of living in Asia—
Kissinger: No resources. They’re going to become a ripe field for Communist infiltration. And then they’re going to bring pressure on India because of West Bengal. So that the Indians in their usual idiotic way are playing for little stakes, unless they have in the back of their minds that they could turn East Pakistan into a sort of protectorate that they could control from Calcutta. That they may have in the back of their mind.
Nixon: Oh, what they had in the back of their mind was to destroy Pakistan.
137. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for
National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the Ambassador to India (Keating),
Washington, June 15, 1971, 5:13-5:40 p.m.
Nixon: Like all of our other Indian ambassadors, he’s been brainwashed. Completely throw in [unclear]. Anti-Pakistan.
Keating: All right, now let me—
Nixon: Where are your sandals?
Keating: Give me—
Keating: Give me 5 minutes.
Nixon: I hope you haven’t turned the Embassy over to those hippies like your predecessor. [unclear exchange]
Keating: Let me have 5 minutes to—
Nixon: Go ahead.
Keating: —just give you a little background. Then you want to ask me some questions about the Foreign Minister.
Nixon: Go ahead. No, I—he should meet with the Foreign Minister, don’t you think so?
Kissinger: Yeah. Are you going to leave—
Keating: Yes, I’ll be—
Nixon: I think he ought to come in with him. [unclear]
Nixon: The point is, the point is it’s best to get you with the Foreign Minister. If he wants to talk to us, talk to the Ambassador. We don’t normally have ambassadors in. I’d get some iced tea? Would you like iced tea?
Keating: No, no.
Keating: No, nothing.
Nixon: Maybe coffee.
Keating: Now in all seriousness—
Nixon: India thinks that they’re [unclear], you’re a good Ambassador, I know.
Keating: They are difficult.
Nixon: I listen to it all the time.
Keating: The Indians are—
Nixon: [unclear exchange]
Keating: Let me say personally, I’m delighted that you’re starting off that way because—
Nixon: I’m not [unclear].
Keating: Don’t let any of these bastards get you down. And you’re not, that’s great. That—I don’t mean any.
Keating: The Indians are difficult, and time after time I’ve had to talk to them, to have stood up to them on Vietnam and many other things. Since this election, and that tremendous majority she got—350 out of 520 members—the next party to her is 27, which is the left-wing Communists. The next party is the right-wing Communists, 25. Because you expect India to—
Keating: But the rightist parties were completely wiped out. And since that time there has been evidence of greater stability and a better relationship with us.
Nixon: That’s good.
Keating: Let me give you chapter and verse of two things. Remington Rand and Union Carbide have big interests there. Union Carbide very big. They’ve been trying for several years to get a license to extend their activities. All bureaucrat stuff from one ministry to another. Three weeks after the election they were called in and said we’re going to approve your license. Get going. We need employment. Have as much of your product as possible, export oriented, but get going and there will be no delay. And the presidents of the Indian companies of those two concerns came in to see me. And we’ve been trying to help. Just delightful, and they are. I went to call on the new Minister of Industrial Development, Choudhury [Moinul Haq], who succeeded my friend Mr. Dinesh Singh, the son-of-a-bitch, and he is a top notch. Just top notch. And I had a conversation with him that I have never had since I’ve been in India. He said, now Mr. Ambassador, we have a list, as you know, of things in the public sector. We have things in the private sector. We have a big list of things that can be either public or private sector. And, by the way, he said with a smile, "I might point out to you that the percentage of our gross national product in the public sector is about half of what yours is in America." I said, "I’m aware of that." And he said, "in this 146 items, which are in the private sector, there are some that we can’t possibly fix, where we need foreign investment. The impression has gotten abroad that we don’t want foreign investment. I want to disabuse your mind of that. We want, and let me say something else to you, if you have a business group from America come in there and they want to, there is something that isn’t on that list, you come and see me and we’ll work it out." Now, I have never had a conversation like that with any Indian since I’ve been there. He’s top notch. He wants to work with us.
Next, Mrs. Gandhi. Our relations have always been pleasant. She has never turned me down when I wanted an appointment. But since then, they’re more cordial since her election. Now part of it is because she’s got this weight off her mind. She was trying to run a government with a minority party. And now she can, if she has the will, can do the things that she thinks ought to be done. I escorted her to a concert that Mahalia Jackson gave her; if I had the time I’d tell you about it, it was the most fantastic performance and she just loved it. And she couldn’t be nicer in her dealings with me. So that I consider that there is a change in the situation. And I sent two cables to the Department. Henry, the numbers are 5311—New Delhi 5311—and 6031.
Keating: One was sent shortly after the Army went in and started the killing in East Pakistan.
Kissinger: Yeah, I’ve read it.
Keating: You know, it was the result of a lot of talk. It represents my—
Kissinger: The basic principle is that [unclear].
Keating: Yes. [unclear exchange] The main thing is to... I’m convinced there is a change in the subcontinent. And that India should not be equated with Pakistan. India is a strong, stable power now while Pakistan is having all this difficulty. The other one, the second one, had to do with the aid program and my recommendations as to what should be done about aid. And both of those I stand on as my recommendations, which—
Kissinger: No, I didn’t see that.
Nixon: Is it something to act on now?
Keating: No, no. They represent in further form my views, and they're the consensus of my staff that is super. I have a wonderful staff, I think, and they’re so loyal, and they’re just great.
Nixon: That’s good.
Keating: Now, I presume you’re interested in knowing what the Foreign Minister is going to say to you. And I can only guess, but I have talked—
Nixon: What does he want? Does he want to talk about—I suppose he wants to talk about Pakistan.
Keating: Yes, that’s it. Because—
Nixon: What do they want us to do?
Keating: Well this—
Nixon: Break up Pakistan?
Keating: No. No. In the beginning they were, just as we were, for a single Pakistan after that election, because this sheik, Mujibur Rahman, was Pro-Indian and Pro-American. He was—they envisioned a different picture in that they were going to be friends with Pakistan. And then when the army walked in and knocked out the elections of course they were upset. There were two reasons they were upset. That was one. The other was that there are Bengalis on both sides of the border and they have family ties and all that. Now I went to see him to tell him about the aid we’re to give him. And it’s greater now. And I think he’ll express his appreciation for that, he should. I believe he will.
Nixon: What are we up to now?
Keating: Seventeen and a half million.
Nixon: The first one was two and a half million.
Keating: Yes, it was two and a half million when I went in.
Kissinger: The C–130s.
Keating: And the C–130s. That’s all a new—we’re doing quite a little. And he should be, I believe will be grateful. He’s a very nice fellow; I don’t know that you’ve met him.
Keating: Very kind fellow. Now, beyond that, he will say, as he did to me: "This aid is great. We appreciate it very much." But he said the basic problem is to try to get these refugees back into Pakistan. We cannot stand this drain on India, which, if it lasted for a year with the present numbers would cost $400 million—
Nixon: What is it, 300,000?
Kissinger: No, it’s about—
Keating: Five million. And add that it’s in a crowded part of India.
Nixon: Sorry, it was 300,000 we were feeding.
Keating: That’s right. That’s correct. About five million, and of that about three of them—
Nixon: Why don’t they shoot them?
Keating: About three of them are in Calcutta. Calcutta is the size of New York. It’d be like dumping three million people into New York, except that Calcutta is in much worse shape than New York. Not too much, but it’s worse. And it’s a horrible problem. Now, he said they’re still coming at that time at 100,000 a day—the latest I heard was 150,000 a day—because they’re killing the Hindus. And the thing that, in the beginning, these refugees were about in the proportion to the population—85 percent Muslim, 15 percent Hindus. Because when they started the killing it was indiscriminate. Now, having gotten control of the large centers, it is almost entirely a matter of genocide killing the Hindus. And the intellectual leaders, the leaders in the country that they want to get rid of, primarily these Awami League people, they’ve killed them. They’ve outlawed the Awami League that got 98 percent of the polls, elected 167 out of the 169 members of Parliament. And they arrested him as a traitor, Mujib, and they have outlawed the Awami League. Now what he is going to plead for, I have heard that even since I have left, they have come to the conclusion that because of this horrible refugee problem, this is since I’ve talked to you, they are for a political settlement of any kind in East Pakistan which will get the people back. Now the Hindus, I don’t think, will go back. But a lot of the Muslims would go back if there was some kind of a political settlement. And I think he will probably urge a political settlement there. The thing that—two things: he wants to stop the refugees coming, which means stop the killing. And two, get the refugees flowing the other way back into Pakistan.
Nixon: What does he think, Ken, we should do? What would we recommend?
Keating: He thinks—I think he thinks—
Nixon: We should pressure Yahya?
Keating: Yes. I think he feels that—what he said is Russia and the United States are the only ones that can influence Yahya to stop the killing. And he said in my judgment the United States has more leverage with him than Russia has. And the only way is an economic way. Of course, I understand that there’s no plan to just go on as business as usual in economics. After this consortium meeting, the Bank and the—this informal meeting that takes place next week—the [World] Bank and the International Monetary Fund sent this Peter Cargill [Director of the South Asia Division of the World Bank] up there. And he is going to make a report to them on what he has found and what he feels should be done. And the next thing they’re going to consider it back here and take it up at that time. No commitments, I believe, are going to be made at this Paris meeting. But I suspect he will find that the situation in East Pakistan, which Yahya says is normal, or practically normal, is far from normal and won’t be normal in a year. And what the political settlement is that he can bring about, that I’m not able to get in my head because this Amin was the biggest leader next to Mujib, he got one or two members of Parliament, and they tried to get, Yahya tried to get him to head it up and he wouldn’t touch it because he’d get his throat slit. Now they had a few, I’m told, a few members of the Awami League, about nine, who are ready to help form a government. But the bitterness is so great that I believe, and indeed Joe Farland does, that the old Pakistan is through. There will be—they cannot catch this together. Joe has said that in his cable, and I feel it very strongly. And there’s got to be a new pressure.
Now, I am conscious of the special relationship that you have with Yahya. And I respect it and I don’t to want to—
Keating: Personal relationship.
Nixon: Not only just that, but there are some other major considerations.
Nixon: Well, let me say this, when do we see Singh? Tomorrow?
Kissinger: Thursday, Mr. President.
Nixon: Thursday, fine. [Thursday was June 17. The meeting took place on June 16.]
Keating: There has been some suggestion that it will be possible for you to, I don’t think this has come to you yet, but it’s something we’ve talked about in the Department—
Keating: It will be so long before aid to Pakistan, in the way of developmental aid, will be possible that a diversion, a certain amount of that, to help India with its refugee problem. It might be possible for you to suggest that to him in this meeting. That paper I don’t know whether that’s reached you yet or not. But—
Kissinger: No, no. I know about the—Connally told me about it.
Kissinger: That’s a scheme they thought up of taking $25 million out of—
Nixon: The Pakistan aid—
Kissinger: The Pakistan aid and give it to India.
Nixon: I think we just better find the money to give to India.
Keating: I don’t think any, I don’t think any—I think they had about $80 million for Pakistan. And it will be some time before they—
Kissinger: Well they want to take—there’s $70 million for Pakistan—well, there are two issues here. One is whether they could use it, whether the Pakistanis could use it if we gave it to them. The second is how Pakistan will react if we take money from their budget for India.
[Omitted here is a discussion unrelated to South Asia]
Nixon: Let me say this, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression about India. There are 400 million Indians.
Nixon: 550? [unclear]
Keating: There are.
Nixon: I don’t know why the hell anybody would reproduce in that damn country but they do. But nevertheless, I know that country is trying to make it [unclear] basically with some semblance of democracy—private enterprise, call it whatever you want. And I know that looming over from the north are the Chinese [unclear]. It’s, therefore, very much in our interest to see that India, we want them to succeed. Because there are 550 million people, we want them to do well. And they always hate us [unclear] internationally, we know that.
Keating: Not always.
Nixon: Not always. But that’s irrelevant. I mean [unclear] but what I’m getting at is here, right now, you can be sure that we will play a friendly game with the Indians. Particularly in view of the fact that the Government is more stable, that is good, and you can take a more rational line on things like Kashmir. But the other thing is that, I think we have to realize too, that it would not be in our interest, maybe there is going to be a Pakistan collapse, depends on what happens in the next 6 months. It may never be in our interest. But it certainly is not now for reasons we can’t go into. Under those circumstances, what we have to do, Ken, is to find a way to be just as generous as we can to the Indians, but also we do not want to do something that is an open breech with Yahya—an open breech, an embarrassing situation. And that’s really the problem. You can reassure Mrs. Gandhi, [unclear] we want to help here in every way we can [unclear].
Nixon: And let me say, the openness as far as the Congress is concerned, there really isn’t anything in it. [unclear] Not one goddamn bit. It’s not a popular country in this Congress.
Keating: No, I know that. I served there. I know that.
Nixon: But that is even less popular today because foreign aid is less popular.
Keating: That’s right.
Nixon: But nevertheless—
Keating: But in the Congress there’s a strong feeling on this Pakistan—India—
Nixon: I understand that, I understand that. [unclear] Hell, they had us involved in a civil war in Biafra, and now they want us out of Pakistan. But nevertheless, we’ve got to take up here for reasons that go far beyond India-Pakistan relations another position. So we will be very, very conciliatory with the Foreign Minister. But we must not do it in a way, I hope our Embassy has our position on this [unclear] refugees in both Pakistan and India wherever they are. But, on the other hand, not to allow the refugee problem to get us involved in the internal political problems. You see that’s our policy too. He might, if he asks me about it [unclear].
Keating: And we also must avoid—if possible—any conflict, armed conflict, between the two.
Nixon: Oh, God.
Keating: And the Indians, they’re pressing Mrs. Gandhi so hard, and Parliament is now in session, the politicians are—
Keating: And up to date I must say she’s been a [unclear]. They’re pressing her very hard that we can’t stand this refugee thing. We’ll just go in and take a little piece out of Pakistan where you can put these refugees. We can’t hold them here, so that means war. And he will probably bring that up.
[Omitted here is a discussion unrelated to South Asia. Nixon and Kissinger continued their discussion after Keating left.]
Nixon: I don’t know what the Christ we are up to.
Kissinger: The most insulting way we can—
Nixon: You have to go now?
Kissinger: I have an appointment with Rush but he can wait.
Nixon: [unclear] My God, does Farland, is he sending memoranda that he thinks Pakistan is finished also?
Kissinger: Baloney. He’s got this maniac in Dacca, the Consul General who is in rebellion; the point is, Mr. President, first of all, I’ve talked to the Indian Ambassador as I’ve said to you, I said you want to have a direct communication through him with Mrs. Gandhi. That we need 3 or 4 months to work it out. We will find them some money, we will gradually move into a position to be helpful, but we’ve got to do it our way. Just to shut them up.
Nixon: Right. Right. You told him that?
Kissinger: I told him all of that.
Nixon: We don’t tell the Foreign Minister that?
Kissinger: No, you can tell the Foreign Minister that above all. But in front of Keating he’ll blab it all over. Yeah, I’d say we have great sympathy, but they must be restrained. And we’ll try to find some money but we cannot take it out of the Pakistan budget.
Nixon: Well the Ambassador will tell the Foreign Minister that.
Kissinger: Oh, yeah.
Nixon: But Keating will go blab it over to the State Department. What Keating had [unclear] Pakistan—they’re out of their goddamn minds. Of course we’re not going to take it out. That would bring down the Pakistan Government.
Kissinger: Well it would be considered such an insult by Yahya that the whole deal would be off.
Nixon: I don’t know what the Christ he’s talking about.
Kissinger: I will, when I’m talking to the Chinese, set up a separate channel so that we’re not so vulnerable. I mean we can’t be that—
Nixon: Of course, I don’t know, Henry, it just may be that the poor son-of-a-bitch can’t survive. Five million? Is it that bad really or are they exaggerating?
Kissinger: Of course, I don’t know how many of them they generate?
138. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), the Indian Foreign Minister (Singh), and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco), Washington, June 16, 1971, 2:58-3:41 p.m.
Kissinger: Now on the Indian who’s waiting; the basic problem is to give
him a combination of both sympathy, so that he can go home with—to Mrs. Gandhi
Nixon: That’s right.
Kissinger: —and great firmness. Now I have, in addition to what you will say, but with Sisco there you won’t have much of a chance to. I’ve told Yahya that he had a personal channel through me to you. I’m just trying to keep them [the Indians] from attacking for 3 months. Now, if you could say that you are directing, that $60 million be made available for refugee support after July 1.
Nixon: Do they know that yet?
Kissinger: No. This is why it would be very helpful.
Nixon: Does Sisco know?
Kissinger: No, but it’s based on a recommendation from the State Department.
Nixon: That’s all right.
Kissinger: Out from the Embassy there. They’ll be delighted.
Nixon: Fifty thousand?
Kissinger: Yeah, and $20 million. You will see whether you can get $20 million from other programs this month. Now, they wanted to take it out of Pakistan. I stopped that.
Nixon: I know.
Kissinger: But we can take a little from Turkey and a little from Indonesia and pay it back to them after July 1st. But if you could give those two figures, then you’ll get the credit for it and—
Nixon: And that we are concerned.
Kissinger: Well, he’ll have a story. And that we cannot—that you think that overt pressure on Pakistan would have a counter-productive effect, and that you are working with Yahya in your own way. It’s a little duplicitous, but these bastards understand that.
Nixon: I must say I am not too damned impressed with Keating. I think he’s just gone overboard. Now I must say maybe there’s a hell of a problem on which the TV is starting to pick it up now.
Kissinger: Oh, it is a hell of a problem.
[Omitted here is a portion of the conversation unrelated to South Asia.]
Nixon: I don’t want to see [unclear, them start war?] just now.
Kissinger: Because you saw harm on it from Pakistan.
Nixon: I know, but I don’t want to see it more. You see? I just, they’re wasting my time. I just [unclear].
Kissinger: That really depends what we have to do. We have to keep them from attacking for our own reasons.
[Pleasantries were exchanged as Foreign Minister Swaran Singh, Ambassadors Jha and Keating, and Assistant Secretary of State Sisco entered the Oval Office. The White House photographer was present at the beginning of the meeting.]
Singh:Our Prime Minister asked me to convey her warmth and greetings. She greatly appreciates your letter, the United States [unclear] conveyed in that and she asks me to convey her greetings to you [unclear].
Nixon: Sure. I appreciate that. Tell her that we were all very impressed by her great political victory out there. It gave her the stability that she, that she needs now. It’s much, much better to look after a very successful election like that. [unclear] There’s a lot more to this. She has more confidence than previously.
Nixon: Things are going well from what Ambassador Keating tells me.
Singh:Yes, she has always had confidence, but now she also has strength to—
Nixon: That’s right.
Singh:—put them on [unclear]—
Nixon: Oh, I know. I know.
Singh:And, in fact, she was looking for a period when, as a result of this victory—
Singh:—she’d have both peace and opportunity to implement the socio-economic content of the program on the basis of which she won.
Singh:But suddenly she’s confronted with a—
Singh:—type of situation not of her making.
Nixon: Oh. Yes.
Singh:Not to place blame here. . .
Singh:. . . [unclear] being subjected at this present moment.
Singh:[unclear] and she wanted to, wanted me to convey, Your Excellency, the latest situation, as the present one has no [unclear] and we are coming and that every second [unclear, refugees they come?]
Nixon: Every second?
Singh:Every second. So this is the type of situation that we face. And this has caused a tremendous problem to us, because they come in an area that traditionally is very dependent, both politically and economically.
Nixon: Would you like some tea or coffee?
Singh:Thank you very much.
Nixon: [aside] Ken?
Singh:I’m all right.
Nixon: [aside; whispering] Some tea perhaps, please. Thank you.
Nixon: No, I can’t.
Singh:Politically, economically adept. And if another six million people are ready to come in a state of anger, frustration, and destitute, that adds to the [unclear] ability and the social-economic tension that all of them have created. [unclear] We’ve reduced any financial [unclear]. In this situation, that we seek your advice how we should achieve that objective. But perhaps most important thing in that situation [unclear] will use this movement of refugees which always [unclear]. Technically, on this issue, we gave a clear [unclear, signal?]. We [unclear] the objective will be [unclear]. In this situation where we [unclear] many field commanders that we called feel it’s their own problem. It ceases to be an internal problem and it should affect [unclear] tension [unclear]. And it’s the best end right now that we’ve got. Support for this approach of ours and help with [unclear]. How to meet this objective, we believe that if the building of the [unclear] can be seen [unclear] make up their minds. [unclear] can be sure as he can be [unclear] security take [unclear].
Singh:And secondly, then, the condition that they are to be restored should enable you to return that. In the statements we are prepared to take, we must perhaps create this. [unclear] And for this, obviously some political settlement is needed. You mentioned in your letter to the Prime Minister you are engaged in this task in your quiet manner and tried to impress on them what you have done. We believe that the return from [unclear] is possibility if the military actions of trying to solve a situation [unclear]. Apparently those people who have now demonstrated [unclear] that they enjoy the confidence of the people [unclear]. In the long range there are really two guys [unclear]. This will be a situation in which [unclear].
Nixon: What do you think is the, what do you think is the benefit of [unclear] being able to—East Pakistan will to have to become independent, or what happens in the long run? This does not mean that your personal view, I know—that’s not what I meant. How do you see the historical process working down there?
Singh:I have a feeling, Mr. President, that showing, telling the United Nations that there’s a very good chance of saving Pakistan and [unclear]. [unclear] maintain central authority in an area of confrontation of the [unclear] can they handle central authority?
Singh:[unclear] There’s a very good chance to have. Even the course of the negotiations, with all that we know, would even the Awami [unclear] more than contained in their six-point program in the direction. [unclear] without direction of this nature, and we have authority to create [unclear], so it could be saved. The Council has become most angered because they [unclear]. The confidence has been very rudely shaken. When the military rulers in Pakistan can still bring back the country themselves, those for the present moment who find themselves in the [unclear].
Singh:[unclear] Then it appears that they’re pushing them more and more into the point of, the position of the point of no return. And it appears [unclear]. They must. We have an opposition quite clearly; it’s developed between the central authority of Pakistan and the leaders. So that [unclear] anything that we want to. They do not realize that from our point of view is when they separate from [unclear]. But we are bothered by the continuance of conditions of instability. Continuation of the conditions there you will find [unclear]; continuation of conditions where the military rule is pitted against almost united will of [unclear] people. [unclear] We’ll do that to maintain control of the situation. And that is something [unclear] from our [unclear]. [unclear] from our point of view; certainly from our point of view and maybe even from your point of view. Because it is a holy land, trying to resort to that. That your country and ours, we can work together, work in a [unclear] manner. To that extent [unclear] stability, so much in common. We should not.
Nixon: You don’t, you don’t have a feeling that the situation would be to your interest to have a, to have an independent country? What would be in India’s best interest? To have it independent or under the central government, for example—
Singh:No, we have—we have no fixed position on that.
Nixon: That’s up to them, isn’t it?
Singh:On this matter we leave it up to the Pakistanis and the leaders of the Awami League to decide about their future in any manner they like. We will not press one or the other solution, or [unclear] to it. We are interested in observing the neutrality in [unclear] considering the situation.
Singh:That being our fixed position.
Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.
Singh:[unclear] silent spectators all [unclear] agreeing with what, to our arrangement to [unclear] the people and until then, it seems to me, there will be unstable conditions, at least.
Singh:And we are conscious of our responsibility and even when we were facing this big trouble in the end with these people when we [unclear] did our best. [unclear] All provisions are to be clear which were settled by [unclear] extra-constitutional means. [unclear]
Nixon: Sure. First let me say that we, that you couldn’t have a man more [unclear] in so far as bringing this matter to our attention, than your own Ambassador here. He’s talked to our people and he’s a very persuasive man and has let us know what the position is. And, of course, he has—we have great respect for him. And on our part we couldn’t have a person who is more vigorous in presenting this point of view which you have described. Of course, you would describe it in a more precise way than, which you naturally can in your position. It’s obvious that Ambassador Keating, of course you know an old friend of mine in the House and Senate. He lives here. We had a long talk yesterday. We went over all these matters.
Nixon: He is, he is just—he is concerned as your Ambassador, and of course we’re aware of this. So I am keenly aware of the problem. I’m aware, too, of the enormous agony that must be caused—I have not been, Rogers has been only once. [unclear] I have not been to Dacca, but I know that part of the subcontinent, that the problems of poverty are serious, very serious. And added to it is this instability. However simple their homes may be, they are their homes. And pouring into an already overcrowded city. This must be a terrible agony for a country to go through. We’re aware of this thing. Also imposed upon your country, big as it is, 600 million people. Nevertheless, five million people is a lot of people, because. . .
Singh:We count six, Mr. President.
Nixon: Six million. Yeah, that’s right.
Nixon: One every second, that’s 60 every minute.
Nixon: [unclear] That’s over 600 an hour.
Nixon: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Now the, the—I am sure you realize, too, that what we can do, you know, what we feel is one thing; what we can do is another. We have the deepest sympathy and we will try to do as much as we can. We don’t want to do anything that would be, that has the opposite results from what we want, you know. Naturally, our—with regard to the Government of Pakistan, we of course have our contacts with them, our relations with them, with the President, of course. It’s terrible. The question is how we can discuss this matter with them in a way that will maybe, may bring about action that would lead to amelioration of the situation. Or how we, or—and avoiding [unclear, the woodshed?] might set up, as often is the case when such things are done too publicly, which would set up an antagonistic attitude. I’m not speaking personally from the standpoint of those who would look for something to be antagonistic about. That might just upset it all. We, I would like to say this: that we, I think that under best course of action—I’d like to talk first of all what would we need your advice with regard to what we can do with the meeting situation—the best course of action we think as a Government is for us to, is for you to have confidence, and I want you to convey this to the Prime Minister, on a completely off-the-record basis. Discussions that are publicly talked about would have exactly the opposite effect on that. You’ve got to, you must have confidence that one, I am acutely aware of the problem. I am deeply concerned about the problem for humanitarian [unclear, reasons?] and I am concerned about it for its foreign policy implications, for all this could erupt into some armed conflict. We know that. Now—therefore, we, I will use all the persuasive methods that I can, but I must use them in the way that I think is the most effective, in a way perhaps that, say, she might never use, in a way that any nation would want used when we talk with their leader and so forth. But I am aware of the problem, I shall try to use my influence as effectively as possible at least if effectively means not using it in a public, blunt way. And I [unclear] such and such is, had been. Not only has our concern been expressed but that you will have this in mind in future discussions that we have that we have to do it this way. And that has to be answered. The second thing is, of course, looking at the immediate problem that you need more funds; the Ambassador has discussed with us the various options that we have. We have an immediate problem between now and July 1st, and it’s just for here [unclear, ’til then?] And, but on the other hand, but because, you know, we’ve run out of money because it’s all been spent with only 15 days left. On the other hand we have out of other aid programs that won’t need any [unclear] because that would cause problems for where they came from. But we have been able to acquire $20 million that we will, we will find immediately available. And then in addition to that, on the July, on July 1st, we will be able to apply $50 million, so which will give you a total of $70 million to relieve them, the aid problem. We’d give you more, but that’s, that’s as much as we can find. You see, we have to take from various other commitments that have been made. So you get $20 million between now and the first of July, $50 million more on the first of July or just as soon as the fiscal year begins.
Nixon: And that your Government can count on. Is that correct, roughly speaking, or is the 20—?
Kissinger: The difference is that we had to piece together the $20 million, Mr. President, out of other programs.
Nixon: Right. The point is we’ll find the $20 million. You can count on it. The $50 million—
Kissinger: That’s right.
Sisco: We’ve got that.
Kissinger: Including the lowest parts of your supplemental appropriations
Nixon: Right. And we’ve got to look down towards that, but on the other hand, I’m aware of the fact that this will take care of how many? Six million people. For how long? Not long. It’ll help. On the other hand, I realize that that does not get at the long-range problem. The long-range problem is how do we stop this inflow of people? How—maybe you’d start having them turn around, start outflowing them. That’s what we’re getting at. I think you, you first, you brought it to my attention when you met me. The Prime Minister and you heard this conversation with our Ambassador, Ambassador Keating. All brought it to my attention and I’m convinced of the seriousness of the problem. I will, I will try to find the methods that I think will be effective. I think it will protect [unclear] can’t do that. [unclear] effective. There may be other ways for this to be effective. But I think we have to, I think it must not be in a way that appears that we’re, that what has happened here is that the United States is inserting itself into basically an internal situation in an open way. That is we have to—we can be most effective by persuading the parties involved to come to a decision of theirs rather than one that’s imposed upon them. That’s at least my [unclear, instinct?] telling the individual players and so forth. That’s the way I see it at this time. And we will—the results will tell us whether we’re right or not. And also after trying that method for a while we’ll have to see the situation, but in the meantime, I think, and to the extent that we can, to keep as cool as possible, in terms of charges and counter-charges and all that sort of thing. We’ll—You can count on our financial assistance to the extent that we are able. And this—we will find this money. [unclear] Second, you will have the, on other side which is far more [unclear, important?] the governmental side. Let us, if you will, let us do that in our way, in the way we think will be more effective. That’s the way I would like to do it. You’re, do you approve or do you think there’s a better way to do it?
Singh:We greatly appreciate your sentiment and [unclear] in coming to a concrete conclusion in a short time. [unclear] This is an international responsibility. [unclear] We appreciate it, yes. [unclear]. You yourself mentioned it. [unclear] The question, one, how to stop it, and how to create conditions [unclear].
Nixon: This is the fundamental question now.
Singh:This is the fundamental question. [unclear]
Nixon: I know. I am aware of that. I am aware of the, I am aware of the fact that the funds, while essential, [deal] with a temporary problem do not handle—I am not suggesting at all, or have any illusions, that if we found $700 million to put into this thing that would simply buy the problem away. The problem is going to go away only as the deeper causes are resolved. And I am aware of that. How we get at those deeper causes is a very sensitive problem as you well know, and the Foreign Minister has to be highly sensitive to how people feel and approach us and so forth. And how other governments may feel about this, how they react. One way the public pressure, another way the private, shall we say persuasion. I have always believed in the latter myself as the most effective way, particularly when I know the individuals fairly well.
Singh:That we are agreed. Perhaps the whole problem can be divided into two parts. There are some aspects, which could [unclear]. France has agreed to make a statement to that effect. [unclear] in Moscow. And also the necessity of their returning. I agree that that’s a question to how [unclear]. We know what is actually happening. [unclear]
Nixon: We will then proceed on that basis . I don’t think anything, however, certainly at this point, would be served by any indication of the United States putting public pressure on Pakistan. That I know would be wrong if we want to accomplish our goal. On the other hand, something might be, something might very well be accomplished in other directions. I am aware of that. I would like to try it this way. We will, you can be sure that we’re as totally concerned about it as we can be, not being there. Incidentally, how much did the Germans provide? How much are they providing?
Singh:The German money, I honestly—
Nixon: How about the French?
Sisco: I looked at a figure today, Mr. President, I think the Germans are somewhere around two million, and the French are something a little less than that.
Nixon: That’s not enough.
Sisco: That’s not enough.
Nixon: All right, that’s not enough. The French and Germans have just as great an interest as we have. Here they are making all sorts of big statements and doing very little. Now, you head over to the French and Germans and their colleagues formally, that clear? The same with the low countries that talk big and don’t help much. I have no sympathy for them. [unclear] made a statement when he was here. The Germans can afford—if we can afford $70 million, the Germans can afford 10, easy—or 15.
Kissinger: We’ve already given 17.5.
Nixon: That’s right. We’ll, we’ve put in 100 so the Germans should put in 25. That’s the way it ought to be. Because you know, we don’t believe in this office of talking big and doing little.
141. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), and the Ambassador to Pakistan (Farland), Washington, July 28, 1971, 4:21-4:54 p.m.
Nixon: You know, the thing that really concerns us, naturally, as we all
know, the miserable campaign, I don’t know what you can do about it while you
are here, against Pakistan. Do you think he’s doing—Keating was over here
lobbying for the Indians when he was here—do you think he ought to try to say
anything good about the Paks while you are here? Could you?
Farland: I can..
Nixon: Would it be useful?
Kissinger: I think it would be useful to put out [unclear].
Farland: I agree, although I was trying to maintain a relatively low profile because I didn’t want to get questions about particulars to the China trip.
Nixon: On that you have a perfect thing, you just say I’m not saying anything. [unclear]
Farland: I saw Chuck Percy today at a luncheon that Frank Kellogg gave at the State Department. And several Congressmen, and they all wondered why my presence wasn’t known, why could I appear before a committee and I had no comment to make. I said I don’t know. I had a conversation with [unclear] this morning and he was quite hopeful that I could appear before one of the committees. I agreed with Charles Bray over at the State Department to give a backgrounder to the press on Friday afternoon.
Kissinger: That’s better than testimony [unclear].
Nixon: Good. The press likes backgrounders much better. That’s where it counts. The hell with the damn Congress.
Farland: There is another side to this picture, and I can say with complete candor that if we push Yahya to the point where he reacts, the reaction will be such that the entire subcontinent will be [unclear]. I mean he’ll fight. He’ll fight, and he may go [unclear]. If he goes out, and he may go [unclear] it’s going to be [unclear] that ever mankind has seen, in our lifetime. The Chinese will come right down through Assam. [unclear] Furthermore, the Chinese will come across the Mintoka Pass and start guerrilla warfare in Kashmir. And they’ll have everything surrounded. And the vociferous forces in India today [unclear]. That’s a very stark picture but it’s one that’s not overdrawn.
Nixon: What do you think our position should be?
Farland: I think we are doing what we should. This is a policy that I joined in. I don’t think we can overplay our hand, but I don’t think we are looking for vociferous, positive action. Mr. President, as I was telling you this morning, that as a matter of actual fact this problem goes back to about the year AD 712, when the Muslims first invaded the Sind. There’s been no peace on the subcontinent since that time because the Hindus and the Muslims have nothing in common whatsoever. Every point of their lives is diametrically opposed—economic, political, social, emotional, despite their beliefs. One prays to idols, the other prays to one God. One worships the cow; the other eats it. Simple as that. And last year there were 521 communal riots in India, acknowledged.
Nixon: Miserable damn place.
Kissinger: And what the Indians are really after, that became clear to me on my trip [unclear]. Their thoughts are about East Pakistan because they think that [unclear] West Pakistan. They think that by, well, if they can undermine East Pakistan then in West Pakistan so many forces would be, will unloosen, will be turned loose that the whole Pakistan issue will disappear. The Indians and West Pakistanis they hate each other–
Nixon: Oh sure, that’s what they fear. East Pakistan [unclear]. The thing, the bad thing is you are convinced, though, that Yahya will fight?
Farland: Oh, he will.
Nixon: He will commit suicide.
Kissinger: I agree completely. He will fight. Just as Lincoln would have fought. To him East Pakistan is part of Pakistan. [unclear]
Farland: Because of their sense of defeat, the possibility of defeat is a minor consideration as opposed to their sense of national unity. Remember, almost every [unclear] over there recalls the time of partition, back when they had–
Nixon: Horrible slaughters?
Farland: The acknowledged figure is over half a million. The figure that most people believe is way in excess of a million people. Fifteen million refugees were on the road.
Nixon: What is the situation, I really, of course there are always two sides to everything, but with the Indians [unclear]? Terrible stories [unclear] and so forth.
Farland. They are past masters of propaganda. The Pakistanis don’t—
Nixon: How can you, can you perhaps put a little of that [unclear]. Well anyway, I think if you could, if you could–
Nixon: Yeah. Okay.
Farland: This matter of arms to Pakistan.
Nixon: Uh, huh.
Farland: Since March 25 we have sent over 2,200 rounds of .22 ammunition for survival rifles for down there, that’s all. This part of our arms deal is just, in guns and the story hasn’t properly–
Nixon: You tell them that’s good. That’s good.
Farland: Forty to fifty percent of what’s in the pipeline is for spare parts for trucks and for communication equipment without which the starving refugees could not be fed.
Nixon: Good. Good. Good.
Farland: So these are—
Nixon: You ought to lay it right out. And also, I guess everybody’s concerned about [unclear]. Let’s not aggravate the problem; let’s try to help on the problem—East Pakistan. And the main thing let’s not stir it up. It’s stirred up too much. Inevitably it will be a bloodbath down there.
Farland: It will be. It will be all over the subcontinent.
Nixon: We warned the Indians very strongly that if they start anything—and believe me it would be a hell of a pleasure as far as I am concerned—if we just cut off every damn bit of aid we give them, at least for whatever it’s worth.
Farland: Yahya told me that they had pinpointed 29 camps within India where guerrillas were being trained. Now I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but the guerrilla threat is growing by leaps and bounds. They’re averaging 18 Pakistanis a day now; they are averaging two bridges a day. Killing that many. And this is [unclear]. And once the refugees get there, they are being prohibited, are prevented from coming back by Indira’s own statement. Political accommodation in her book means Bangladesh. This is bad.
Nixon: Well, I think we just continue on our line. We, as you know, we’re having a hell of a time keeping the State Department bureaucracies hitched on this thing. They’re basically pro-Indian. When I say “they,” not all. But a lot of them. And they want to believe what the American press is writing. And the Indian press, of course, the American press is the same as the Indian press, follows everything they say.
Farland: Well, my Consul General over in Dacca—
Nixon: He’s no good.
Farland: blew the whistle on the whole thing.
Nixon: He’s bad, isn’t he?
Farland: Well he’s gone. He’s here in the Department now. And the head of the USIS was just as tendentious in his reporting. Got rid of him. Shakespeare got him out.
Farland: The one remaining, who is a very critical situation, this fellow Eric Griffel, who is the head of AID [Griffel was the associate director in charge of AID operations in Dacca], he will be out in September. I wish he were out now. I don’t think you could pull him out without—
Farland: –repercussions on the Hill. And my guess is that he has been instrumental in leaking some of this information.
Nixon: Sick bastards. You just keep right after it on this thing.
146. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), the British Foreign Secretary (Douglas-Home), and the British Ambassador (Cromer), Washington, September 30, 1971, 4:10-5:31 p.m.
Douglas-Home: This India thing we have here is really very serious, indeed.
The guerrilla warfare we have now is really operating in a very wide area of the
countryside in East Pakistan, and it is [unclear] refugees out of East Pakistan,
which is still not prepared for 4,000 a week, or even more than that. They’ll
take [unclear] to run through there. In the last 3 weeks or so, 11 trips taking
food and supplies to East Pakistan have helped a lot so far. And one of our
shipping lines is now refusing to take any more stuff to East Pakistan and
Chittagong. And, third, this is all going through that particular situation
where I don’t know [unclear] however much the United Nations wants to rebuild
communications to help all that. It’s not going to be possible with this
guerrilla stuff going on.
Douglas-Home: We’ve done what we can, and then what you’ll do what you can to get Yahya Khan to move that quickly, on a visible front . And I just don’t know if he can make contact with the Bangladesh people in Bengal. And if he could, I think he will get more substantial people to cooperate than he is able to get now because the Indians have them, and the people he’s talking to in the civil administration now are people of no consequence. And they will all still be. Now this entire notion—but I suspect—
Kissinger: Speaking here in this room with the [unclear] for you [unclear]. We have been in touch with Bangladesh people in Calcutta. And we were trying to set up a meeting between the Bangladesh people and the West Pakistanis outside of India. And we had Yahya’s agreement to that. And the Indians have now totally thwarted it. They made it impossible for these people to deal with us; they’re forcing them to check everything with them, they are padding demands, which are totally incapable of fulfillment.
Nixon: We’ve really got a crisis. [unclear] They’re so—smug is the word, and—
Kissinger: It’s really hard to believe. Even I could get relief in there.
Douglas-Home: That’s very bad news.
Kissinger: They’ve cut, they’ve cut the supply lines into the food deficit areas you pointed out. We have offered them guarantees that the convoys or ships that go in there will not carry troops out, which is really a tremendous invasion of sovereignty, just to make sure there will be no additional refugees produced by another [unclear]. They refuse to cooperate with that.
Nixon: The Indians did insist there’s this, and, you know, they’re hypocrites and sanctimonious about this. Now there’s no question that Yahya has handled it really in a stupid way. I mean, and the only way you would expect in [with?] all the military backing. He’s a very decent man, but it’s just been handled badly. And in any case that the country is inevitable, as it’s inevitable this country will tear part, come apart. But the Indians, the Indians are playing—I'm afraid from all reports, they’re playing a game here that I think is wrong. I think they’re deliberately trying to make it insoluble. And if it becomes insoluble what happens? Well, what happens is you have India, which can’t even digest what they already have, probably—how the hell are they going to run that place? The other thing is that there is the danger, and there is the danger that a West Pakistani with a suicidal attitude will decide to have a fight.
Douglas-Home: Through Kashmir?
Kissinger: We’ve had an intelligence report today—I don’t know that [unclear]—Well, that they’re thinking of going into Kashmir because this situation, as the Foreign Secretary is pointing out, is getting unmanageable.
Nixon: What can we do? What can be done?
Kissinger: Well, we haven’t totally failed with the Indians because the Bangladesh people, as you correctly point out, are actually quite eager to talk.
Nixon: They are?
Kissinger: Yeah, but they—At first, they were willing to settle for autonomy, and as we all know autonomy would produce independence, there is no other way it can go.
Kissinger: Now the Indians have escalated their demand into total independence immediately. Well, that Yahya will never agree to. There has to be a face-saving formula and a transition period.
Douglas-Home: That’s right, and I think it will. I think two [unclear] with regard to everything. You’ve got to have it.
Kissinger: We told the Indians that if they could separate the political process and if they could give a little more time to that and to the relief process we think everyone could achieve this objective.
Douglas-Home: Mrs. Gandhi is coming to see us quite soon, and if you could—
Nixon: She’s seeing you?
Douglas-Home: She did stop by in London. She’s coming back.
Nixon: [unclear] and after that comes here, doesn’t she?
Kissinger: She’s coming in November [unclear]—
Douglas-Home: Well, if you could tell us, if you could, you know, keep us informed before she comes, we can all [unclear]—
Nixon: So that she doesn’t come in here and, frankly, pull our legs. I mean, let’s be sure we’re in contact on this thing. Can you tell us too?
Douglas-Home: And we’ll tell you [unclear]
Nixon: Now I raised this subject with Gromyko. And I was very tough with him. I said, “Now if there’s a war”—I said “We just can’t have a war. You can’t encourage the Indians because then Pakistan might—” He said, “Oh, we don’t want a war, and it’s what we’re, we have—” And he said they had told her that in Moscow. Right?
Kissinger: Yeah, but–
Nixon: I don’t know whether he was telling the truth or not.
Kissinger: But what the Indians are doing now is the, are equipping these guerrillas with really very advanced weapons and wanting them to [unclear–advance to this area?]
Douglas-Home: The only thing apparent in my mind as a part of this thing, is he is ranting about this thing. He can’t see any sense—
Nixon: You remember when he came in to see us. I told you that I didn’t like the way he handled himself.
Douglas-Home: [unclear] what can we do?
Kissinger: Well, I think that if we could shock the Indians we would—because our judgment is that Chinese almost certainly come in at the Indians—
Nixon: That’s the other thing.
Kissinger: And whether the Soviets then will forgo the opportunity to settle scores with the Chinese is ultimately—I think if the Indians could be shocked into being reasonable, if that’s possible the problem is soluble. But if they’re really concerned about East Bengal that problem is soluble. If they’re concerned with using East Bengal to disintegrate all of Pakistan, to say it never should have existed then that, I think, is in the back of this complicated Indian mind.
Douglas-Home: What I wanted to say, to maintain [unclear] above all things, is that they ought to be encouraging Yahya Khan in his political moves. [unclear]
Kissinger: That’s right.
Douglas-Home: Political realism.
Kissinger: And my judgment, I had a long talk with Yahya when I was on the way to China. And he’s really [unclear]. He’s not very bright, but he has tried.
Nixon: He’s a decent man, an honorable man.
Kissinger: He needs some face-saving formula to go to autonomy.
Douglas-Home: That’s right.
Kissinger: Given the difference in culture and in public leaning, autonomy must be the answer. There’s no other way it can go.
Nixon: Now let’s—this could be one, this could be a parable. This could be [unclear]. Wouldn’t that be something to have a [unclear] in that visible place? All that I can say is that I think the British got out too soon. Really, you know?
Nixon: I’ve been down that area, you know, the—I was there, I forget the last—but, and I know it’s inevitable. But when you think of India and Pakistan they just aren’t ready. They just aren’t ready, that’s all.
[Omitted here is concluding conversation unrelated to South Asia.]
For more declassified documents and originals of telegrams and background papers, please visit the Office of the Historian, the US Department of State.