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Ayub's letter Harold MacMillan

The Pakistani concern over the change of the British and American policies towards India reached a peak in December 1962 when the supply of arms and military aid to India continued even after the Indian cease-fire with China. The following letter, written by President Ayub to the British Prime Minister on 2 January 1963 comments on a decision taken by the US and UK on 29 December 1962 at the Nassau Airbase in the Bahamas to continue the supply with up to 120 million dollars' worth of military aid.

Ayub's letter to Harold MacMillan

January 2, 1963

My Dear Prime Minister,

I thank you for your message of December 24th. Sir Morrice James has also explained to me the extent of the military assistance which you and President Kennedy have decided, at your Nassau meeting, to extend to India.

The extent of the military assistance which Britain and the United States have decided to extend to India for the present without making it contingent on a Kashmir settlement, gives us cause for great concern. The Nassau decision based on the assessment of your military experts, may seem, in the context of your global strategy, to be the minimum aid necessary to enable India to defend itself from an attack through NEFA and Ladakh. We on the other hand find it hard to believe that any invasion of the sub-continent is likely to occur from these directions and consequently the quantum of military support to India, quantitative as well as qualitative, which you will be extending is fraught with serious consequences to the maintenance of the present ratio of military strength in the sub-continent and hence to the security of Pakistan.

I have always held the view that the most effective way of safeguarding the security of the sub-continent is through a disengagement of the armed forces of the two countries. A Kashmir settlement will assure to both the substance of disengagement. Without a settlement, sizeable military aid to India is more likely to be deployed against Pakistan than for the defence of the north-east of the western sectors of India's frontier with China.

We have kept the British High Commissioner informed of the talkd that took place a few days ago at the level of ministers in Rawalpindi. This meeting was purely exploratory. The real test of India's intentions regarding Kashmir will come in the next ministerial meeting in New Delhi about the middle of January.

Pakistan's attitude will not be rigid. I have instructed my delegation to be guided by three basic principles in its approach towards possible solutions that may be discussed:

(i) whether the solution is likely to be acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir;

(ii)whether it safeguards the vital interests of Pakistan; and

(iii)whether it meets the legitimate claims of India.

I have no illusions that any formula which satisfies these three requirements will not be beset by difficulties; but if India sincerely desires an end to the dispute, and given goodwill on both sides, there is no reason why the two countries should not be able, with the assistance of Britain and the United States, to reach an equitable and honourable settlement within the next month or two.

Public opinion in Pakistan is such that while I am willing to exercise due patience I will find it extremely difficult to convince the people of the virtue of this quality if one round of discussion after another does not open the way to a solution.

I remain convinced that they key to a just and peaceful settlement lies with you and President Kennedy. If the flow of your arms supply is so regulated as to influence India to be in a more amenable frame of mind, positive results are bound to follow from negotiations now under way.

With best wishes for your health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Ayub Khan

Source: Friends Not Masters by Mohammad Ayub Khan. Published by Oxford University Press (Pakistan) 1967.

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