U.S. Department of State
FRUS, Vol. XIX, 1961-1963, South Asia
Office of the Historian

Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State

Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Vol. XIX, South Asia

This is not an official statement of policy by the Department of State; it is intended only as a guide to the contents of the volume.)

Since 1861, the Department of State's documentary series Foreign Relations of the United States has constituted the official record of the foreign policy and diplomacy of the United States. Historians in the Office of the Historian collect, arrange, and annotate the principal documents comprising the record of American foreign policy. The standards for the preparation of the series and the general deadlines for its publication are established by the Foreign Relations of the United States statute of October 28, 1991. (22 USC 4351, et seq.) U.S. policies in the administration of President John F. Kennedy are the subject of 27 printed volumes and 5 microfiche supplements. Volumes in the Foreign Relations series are published when all the necessary editing, declassification, and printing steps have been completed.

The interrelated issues of U.S. relations with India and Pakistan form the core of this volume, which documents the efforts made by the Kennedy administration to reorient policy toward South Asia. President John F. Kennedy came to office determined to pursue closer relations between the United States and India, a country he viewed as pivotal in the struggle between East and West, without undermining the alliance between the United States and Pakistan. When the border war broke out between China and India in 1962, the United States provided military supplies to India. The Kennedy administration discovered, however, that because of the Kashmir dispute, closer relations with India came at the expense of relations with Pakistan, which responded by seeking a rapprochement with China. Recognizing that the Kashmir problem stood in the way of the success of its policy toward South Asia, the administration tried to no avail to encourage India and Pakistan to find a solution. At the end of 1963, U.S.-Indian relations were somewhat closer than they had been before Kennedy came to office, but U.S.-Pakistan relations had deteriorated significantly. The volume also documents U.S. relations with Afghanistan. The desire to keep Afghanistan out of the Soviet embrace underlay U.S. concern with a border dispute between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This led to another fruitless U.S. effort to resolve a stubborn dispute.

The documents in this volume are drawn largely from Department of State records, including the centralized indexed files, the decentralized lot files of the Department's Executive Secretariat, and Bureau, Office, and Division lot files, and from Presidential and other papers at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, the editors made use of records of the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, material at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, and the papers of General Lyman L. Lemnitzer and General Maxwell D. Taylor at the National Defense University.

Most of the documents were originally classified. The Historical Documents Review Division of the Department of State, in concert with the appropriate offices of other agencies and foreign governments, carried out their declassification.

The following is a summary of the negotiations and policy discussions documented in the volume. Parenthetical citations are to numbered documents in the text.


The Kennedy administration came into office persuaded that the Soviet Union had gained the initiative in the Cold War and convinced that it was essential to pursue new strategies in the Third World with a more tolerant attitude toward neutralism and more generous financial support for the economic development plans of the neutral nations. India, as the world's most populous democracy and a leading member of the non- aligned nations, occupied an important place in the administration's foreign policy goals and held the personal attention of the President. India was viewed in Washington as a potential brake upon Chinese aggression if the Indian Government could be persuaded to lend its efforts to containment. Kennedy's view of India's importance was indicated by the appointment of a personal friend, John Kenneth Galbraith, as Ambassador to India.

The administration hoped to strengthen ties between the United States and India without alienating Pakistan, a valuable strategic ally(committed to CENTO and SEATO, a leading recipient of American military assistance, and host to important communications facilities. The deep-seated animosity between India and Pakistan over Kashmir made the achievement of that policy a difficult balancing act. Pakistan President Mohammed Ayub Khan felt that an ally merited more support in its dispute with India than the neutral Nehru government, which was

Support for economic development was a key component of U.S. efforts to blunt communist in-roads in South Asia, to encourage a pro-Western orientation in India and Afghanistan, and to reassure Pakistan. India, by virtue of its size and economic problems, had the greatest needs of any of the developing nations. The Kennedy administration had scarcely settled into office when India requested that the United States take the lead in organizing international support for its third Five-Year Plan. (3) On April 22, President Kennedy approved in principle a 2-year commitment of up to $1 billion in support of the Indian economic program, pending Congressional approval which hinged on obtaining contributions from other nations and international lending institutions organized by the World Bank as the India Consortium. (14, 16)

The consortium agreed on a program of economic assistance for fiscal years 1961-62 and 1962-63 in excess of $2 billion. The U.S. commitment was just over $1 billion. (18, 24) Kennedy's foreign aid request to Congress in the spring of 1961 called for $500 million in economic support for India for fiscal year 1962 and only $400 million for the rest of the world. Prime Minister Nehru expressed his gratitude in a letter to President Kennedy and personally to Vice President Johnson,

In an effort to reassure Pakistan, the Kennedy administration organized a parallel consortium to support Pakistan's economic development. In the wake of the generous support provided to India, however, the results of the Pakistan Consortium were deeply disappointing to the Ayub government. The consortium agreed only to support Pakistan's second Five-Year Plan through fiscal year 1961-62. President Kennedy had been prepared to authorize an American commitment of up to $250 million, but limited contributions from the other members dictated a figure of $150 million as the maximum likely to be approved by Congress. (14, 26) Although administration officials assured Pakistan that additional U.S. funds would be made available when the consortium met again, from Karachi's perspective, U.S. policy toward South Asia had begun to evince

President Ayub took every available opportunity to emphasize the mutual importance and benefits of Pakistan's ties with the United States. In a July visit to Washington, Ayub vigorously advanced his objectives and he touched the right chord with the gift of a spirited stallion for Mrs. Kennedy. In his meetings with Kennedy, he laid out his deep concerns about the deployment of India's army toward Pakistan and the long simmering dispute over Kashmir. He pressed Kennedy to use U.S. economic assistance to India as leverage to compel India to move in the direction of compromise. Unless Nehru showed some willingness to compromise on Kashmir, Ayub suggested that his government would raise the matter in the United Nations and seek support for an internationally supervised plebiscite to resolve the dispute.

Kennedy downplayed the military threat posed by India and asked Ayub to delay his U.N. plan until Kennedy could discuss Kashmir with Nehru during his November visit to Washington. If nothing came of that discussion and Ayub decided to bring the matter to U.N. attention, Kennedy promised that the United States would vote with Pakistan. Ayub reiterated his concerns about India's threat to Pakistan's security and commented that if military aid were ever extended to India, the people of Pakistan would force his government out of its Western-oriented alliances. Kennedy replied that if a situation developed to cause the Indians to request military assistance, he would consult with Ayub. (30)

In August 1961, the United States delivered 12 F-104 jet fighters to Pakistan in accordance with an agreement signed in 1960. The delivery prompted banner headlines in India, and Ambassador Galbraith protested from New Delhi that no issue caused such anxiety in India, or called for more sensitive handling than the supply of advanced weapons to Pakistan. (34) The negative Indian reaction disturbed Washington officials who feared that Defense Minister V.K. Krishna Menon, a frequent critic of U.S. policies, would establish a closer relationship between India and the Soviet Union. In a letter to Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric expressed concern over Menon's efforts to offset Pakistan's F-104s with the acquisition of Soviet MIG fighters and urged that military equipment be offered to India on terms as favorable as those offered by the Soviet Union. (42)

Nehru's 4-day visit to Washington in November 1961 proved to be a disappointment to Kennedy and his advisers, who had hoped it would be a building block to a closer relationship with India. Nehru appeared tired and uninterested. Galbraith, who attended the meetings, recalled that Kennedy did most of the talking since "Nehru simply did not respond." (Galbraith, Ambassador's Journal, p. 216) Their exchanges revealed their differences on Berlin, Vietnam, and nuclear disarmament. When Kennedy asked Nehru if he could envision a Kashmir settlement acceptable to both parties, Nehru responded that he could see no solution other than the one based on the existing cease-fire line, with minor modifications. India, he said, could not accept the Pakistani argument that Kashmir should adhere to Pakistan because the majority of the population was Muslim. (60)

Soon after Nehru's visit, Washington policymakers were confronted with evidence that India was preparing to invade Portuguese Goa. After years of fruitless efforts to persuade Portugal to give up its colonial possessions in India, the Nehru government finally opted to incorporate Goa and the associated territories of Diu and Daman by force. The Indian decision posed a dilemma for the Kennedy administration. Portugal was a NATO ally and the United States had an important base in the Portuguese Azores. When Portugal turned to the United States for support, it was difficult to ignore the appeal in light of earlier assurances that the United States would use its diplomatic and political resources to oppose attempts to annex Portuguese territories. (66) Galbraith saw Nehru and argued against the use of force, and Kennedy sent a direct appeal, but Indian troops moved into the Portuguese territories on December 18 and Portuguese forces surrendered the next day. U.S. Permanent Representative Adlai Stevenson condemned the Indian action in the U.N. Security Council as a violation of the United Nations Charter. (76) Stevenson's condemnation rankled in New Delhi, and Nehru sent Kennedy a long letter justifying India's action. (77)

The end of 1961 found the administration attempting to repair a break in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan growing out of a border dispute. The effect of the break was to effectively isolate land-locked Afghanistan. Washington policymakers feared was that if the border with Pakistan remained closed, Afghanistan would become economically dependent on the Soviet Union. U.S. efforts to counter Soviet influence in Kabul relied heavily on the economic assistance program, which included a variety of development projects. Supplies for the projects were sent through Pakistan, and closure of the border threatened to bring the aid program to a halt. (37-39)

In an effort to facilitate a solution, Kennedy sent messages to King Zahir and Ayub proposing mediation, and Zahir and Ayub agreed to welcome a presidential emissary. (45-47, 49-51) Kennedy's chosen mediator, Ambassador to Canada Livingston Merchant, shuttled between the Afghan and Pakistani capitals for several weeks in a vain attempt to promote a settlement. (52-56, 58, 59) On his return to Washington, he reported that a gulf of hostility would have to be bridged before a settlement could emerge. Nonetheless, the administration's anxiety to keep Afghanistan out of the arms of the Soviets dictated continuing efforts to promote a solution. (61, 62) Eventually the dispute was resolved through efforts of the Shah of Iran with U.S. support. (150)

When President Kennedy reviewed South Asian issues with his advisers on January 11, 1962, he approved reinstating aid to India, which had been briefly suspended after the Goa invasion. A decision on military sales was put on hold, however. Kennedy wanted to emphasize to both India and Pakistan that their "arms race" was undercutting the U.S. economic aid program by diverting assets from economic development. (90)

The principal issue on the agenda was the Kashmir dispute. In a January 2 letter to Kennedy, Ayub had expressed his concern that India might seek to resolve the Kashmir issue by force as it had done with Goa and indicated that he intended to lay the problem before the United Nations. (83) While Kennedy and his advisers were considering South Asian issues in Washington, the Security Council was meeting in New York to hear Pakistan's complaint. (89) Kennedy felt that in view of his commitment to Ayub, the United States would have to support Pakistan's position at the United Nations, but since nothing would be achieved by a rancorous debate and another U.N. resolution on Kashmir, he endorsed a State Department suggestion of proposing a high-level mediator to seek a solution to the dispute. (90) On January 15, he sent personal letters to Nehru and Ayub proposing that World Bank President Eugene Black mediate the Kashmir dispute. (93) Ayub accepted the proposal. (97) Nehru did not.

While Indian and Pakistani representatives exchanged verbal blows in the Security Council, U.S. officials worked behind the scenes to ensure that the eventual resolution was not worded too strongly and sought to encourage direct negotiations. (105, 111, 114, 144) Kennedy sought to alleviate Ayub's concerns and establish a basis for negotiations by offering a private assurance of U.S. support in the event of Indian aggression. (100) Nehru extended an offer of face-to-face negotiations, but Ayub felt that until Nehru altered his position, such talks would be fruitless. (115) On June 22, the United States voted in favor of Pakistan's position in the Security Council, but the resolution was killed by a Soviet veto. (145) Ayub was pleased by the U.S. vote, but Nehru, in a statement to the Indian Parliament, declared that the debate had "hurt and injured" India and had created "doubt in our minds about the goodwill" of the United States. (145, 154)

Meanwhile, there was mounting concern in Washington about the growth of Soviet influence in India. On May 8, the Indian Government confirmed that it was close to an agreement with the Soviet Union to equip the Indian Air Force with two squadrons of MIG fighters, but it agreed to review the decision after vigorous protests by Ambassador Galbraith, who noted U.S. provision of $500 million per year in economic assistance. (118, 121) Galbraith urged a similar review in Washington to take into account India's security concerns. Menon was arguing within the Indian cabinet that it was essential to upgrade its obsolete air force to meet the threat posed by Pakistan's F-104s and that posed by China. The Sino-Indian border dispute flared in the spring of 1962 with repeated clashes between Chinese and Indian patrols. As the danger of a larger conflict loomed, Galbraith pressed for a decision to match the Soviet offer. (122) Since a matching offer of F-104s would have brought a predictable Pakistani reaction, the Kennedy administration turned to Great Britain, India's traditional supplier, to meet Indian needs. (125, 126)

An intense U.S.-British effort to persuade India to purchase British Mark II Lightning fighters instead of Soviet MIGs failed because Indian military leaders believed that the Lightning was too expensive and did not measure up to the MIG's performance. (129-131, 133, 137, 140, 151- 152, 156-159) Galbraith warned Nehru that a Soviet arms agreement would play into the hands of U.S. Congressmen seeking to cut aid to India, but Nehru objected to any U.S. attempt to tie strings to its aid. (147)

On October 20 border tensions between India and China erupted into full- scale hostilities. Chinese forces launched heavy attacks against Indian positions in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line, which marked the disputed border between Tibet and India's Northeast Frontier Agency. The shock of the offensive and the stunning ease with which Chinese forces overran Indian positions and drove Indian troops into retreat produced an air of panic in New Delhi. On October 26, Nehru appealed to the West for support. (182)

Nehru's appeal reached Washington in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis. Policymakers recognized that India had little recourse but to turn to the West for support and that, if they handled the situation properly, the conflict could lead to India's alignment with the West. The Chinese attack put the Soviet Union in a dilemma. Soviet leaders did not want to lose their Indian gains, but they needed Chinese support in the missile crisis, and did not want to exacerbate their rift with China. Consequently, the Soviet Union adopted a posture of neutrality, urged India to negotiate a settlement with China, and put the agreement to supply MIGs to India on hold. By contrast, Kennedy responded to Nehru's appeal by offering "support as well as sympathy." (187) Nehru built on that offer by tendering a formal request for military assistance. (188)

On November 3, the United States began supplying military assistance to India. The limited supplies did little, however, to shore up the overmatched Indian Army, and Chinese forces continued to drive toward the plains of Assam. On November 14, a joint working group reached preliminary agreement in London on a program calling for the United States and members of the British Commonwealth to fund essential improvements in the Indian Armed Forces. (198) Under the press of war, the basis for a closer alignment of India with the West was beginning to take shape.

Kennedy also wrote Ayub to assure him that any aid provided to India would be used only against the Chinese. He called upon Ayub to play an important part in the defense of the subcontinent by assuring Nehru that India could shift its forces from its border with Pakistan to the border war in the Himalayas without concern that Pakistan would take advantage of the situation. (186) In reply Ayub complained that he had not been consulted before the offer of military assistance to India, argued that Chinese objectives were limited to the territory in dispute, and predicted that any arms acquired by India for use against China would eventually be used against Pakistan. He thus refused to offer the requested assurance. (195)

Anti-American protests throughout Pakistan greeted the disclosure that the United States had agreed to provide military assistance to India. To calm Pakistan's anxieties, diplomatic notes exchanged by India and the United States on November 14 stipulated that the purpose of the military assistance was limited to defense against Chinese aggression and provided that U.S. representatives would be permitted to observe the use of the military supplies. (197)

In mid-November, Indian forces were routed in a battle that left the Chinese poised to sweep across the Assam plain and occupy vast portions of Indian territory. Nehru wrote Kennedy on November 19 describing India's predicament as desperate and requesting the dispatch of U.S. fighter aircraft and a supporting radar network, with U.S. pilots and technicians to operate them. (Sarvepalli Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. 3, pp. 228-229) The message, Rusk commented, was virtually a request for a military partnership between the United States and India against China. (206)

Before Kennedy had time to respond to Nehru's requests, the crisis suddenly eased. On November 21, China declared a unilateral cease-fire, pulled its front-line troops back 20 kilometers, and announced that it was prepared to enter into negotiations. Neither Indian nor U.S. officials were certain how to interpret the unexpected Chinese move, as the threat of renewed conflict remained. In Kennedy's reply to Nehru, he noted that the United States, in association with the British Commonwealth countries, was ready to be as responsive as possible to India's needs. To assess those needs, he was dispatching a small group of officials to New Delhi. (208)

W. Averell Harriman, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, and Duncan Sandys, British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, led a small group of diplomatic and military experts to India on November 22. While the experts assessed India's military needs, Harriman, Sandys, and Galbraith discussed the implications of the border war with Nehru. Harriman and Sandys made clear their governments' willingness to provide military assistance to India but pointed out the related need for negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute. In a private meeting with Nehru, Harriman stated that unless tensions over Kashmir eased, the United States could not continue to provide military assistance to both parties to the conflict. Nehru reluctantly agreed to negotiations but warned that in the wake of the humiliation suffered by India at the hands of China, Indian public opinion would not stand for significant concessions to Pakistan over Kashmir. (214)

Harriman and Sandys then took Nehru's agreement on negotiations to Ayub. Kennedy instructed Harriman to impress upon Ayub that the Sino-Indian confrontation could open a one-time opportunity to bring about a reconciliation between India and Pakistan. (211) Ayub accepted the proposal for negotiations and acknowledged that under the circumstances, limited U.S. military assistance to India was understandable, but he stressed that tangible progress toward a Kashmir settlement was essential and urged that military aid to India be made contingent upon such progress. (212, 213, 217)

With the agreement to open negotiations on Kashmir and Ayub's acceptance of military assistance to India in his pocket, Kennedy approved an emergency military assistance program for India of up to $60 million, contingent upon a matching commitment from the British Commonwealth nations. He also approved in principle a commitment to provide India with air defense support. (223) In a December 20 meeting in Nassau, Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan jointly endorsed the program agreeing to a U.S.-U.K. emergency military aid package amounting to $120 million. (230, 231) Kennedy wrote Ayub that although the military assistance would not be tied to a settlement of the Kashmir dispute, one-sided intransigence would be a factor in determining the extent and pace of the assistance. (232) With that assurance, Ayub accepted the news of the Nassau agreement without a protest. (234)

Much of the time and effort devoted to South Asia by the Kennedy administration during the following months was spent in a fruitless attempt to resolve the Kashmir dispute. With steady encouragement and prodding from Washington and London, Indian Minister for Railways Swaran Singh and Pakistani Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met six times between December 26, 1962, and May 16, 1963, to explore the basis for a settlement. On February 21, with the talks apparently stalemated, Kennedy instructed his advisers, in Rusk's words, "to wade into the effort from their ankles up to their knees." (258) Rusk traveled to India and Pakistan in May to try to find an approach that might produce a solution. He and Sandys met with Nehru and Ayub and managed to convince them to explore the possibility of mediation rather than accept the failure of the ministerial negotiations. (286, 288) Again, however, the effort got nowhere.

Frustrated by the lack of any progress on Kashmir, Kennedy decided to go forward with a program of substantial military assistance to India despite the possible impact on U.S.-Pakistan relations. At an April 25 White House meeting, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara noted that India was lobbying for $1.6 billion in military assistance over the next 3 years, but he thought that a total of $300 million across that time period would meet India's needs if matched by a like amount from Great Britain and the Commonwealth. "Let's not be penny wise about India," Kennedy responded; "let's not let them get into a position where they feel that they can't cope with the Chicoms and Paks on top of their other problems." (283)

At a May 9 meeting of the National Security Council, Kennedy approved a plan to provide radar facilities to strengthen India's air defenses, and indicated that he was prepared to consider a guarantee of the territorial integrity of India. To advertise the intent to ward off another Chinese attack, he suggested that intermittent air defense exercises be conducted in India in tandem with the British. (293)

The collapse of the Kashmir negotiations and the avowed intent of the Kennedy administration to increase military assistance to India seriously strained relations between Washington and Karachi. The Ayub government insisted that military assistance to India be tied to a Kashmir settlement and warned that anything more than the limited assistance previously contemplated would have an adverse effect on the alliance. (245, 281) Pakistan openly began to court closer ties with China. A spring agreement settling a border problem between the two countries was followed in the summer by the announcement of the proposed establishment of an air link between them. The Ayub government justified these moves as logical protection of Pakistan's flank. But in Washington, where China had begun to supplant the Soviet Union as the principal Communist menace, Pakistan's flirtation with China was seen as tantamount to consorting with the enemy.

In an effort to clear the air, Kennedy instructed Under Secretary of State George Ball to visit Pakistan to meet with Ayub. In a August 12 White House meeting, Kennedy expressed his doubts about prospects for improved relations. He recognized that Pakistan's fear of India was real. But he doubted that a U.S. assurance of protection against Indian aggression would reduce that fear, even if backed, as suggested, by the deployment of a naval task force in the Indian Ocean. (316)

In Ball's discussions with Ayub, September 3-5, Ayub emphasized his concern that U.S. military assistance to India jeopardized Pakistan's security. Ball noted that such assistance was essential to contain Chinese aggression and he reiterated assurances that Pakistan could reply upon U.S. help in the event of an attack from India or any other nation. He warned, however, that further steps toward normalization of relations with China would require "an adjustment of policies on both sides" and a "very close reexamination" of current U.S.-Pakistani relations. (328) Shortly after Ball returned from Pakistan, Ayub invited Chinese Premier Chou En-lai for a state visit. In an October 4 conversation in Washington with Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Kennedy expressed deep concern about the tenor of U.S.-Pakistan relations, but the conversation left Kennedy no closer to his objective of building closer ties with India without undermining the alliance with Pakistan. (332)

In early December, Rusk and McNamara sent President Lyndon B. Johnson a proposal to negotiate long-term military assistance agreements with both India and Pakistan. (342) Soon afterward, JCS Chairman General Maxwell D. Taylor returned from a visit to India and Pakistan supporting their proposal. Taylor recommended providing India with $50-$60 million per year in military assistance over a 5-year period if the Indians agreed to: "(a) limit their force goals; (b) hold down procurement from the Soviet Bloc; (c) hold to a minimum diversion of foreign exchange from economic development; (d) exercise restraint in relations with Pakistan; and (e) cooperate with us in the containment of Communist China." (348) After his meeting with Ayub, Taylor concluded that in spite of Ayub's strong objections to U.S. help to India, "I have the feeling that while he is swallowing hard, it is going down." Offering Pakistan a 5-year military assistance program under essentially the same conditions as those for India would, Taylor thought, ease Pakistan's fears while boosting its confidence in the United States. He added that the offer should be made contingent on Pakistan's continued fulfillment of its alliance obligations. (348) At the end of 1963, Taylor's recommendations were awaiting President Johnson's decision.


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