Introductory passage is provided by this website and may not represent the views of the archived document's author.

Search the Republic of Rumi

Ayub's letter to Kennedy

In 1962 much alarm was caused in Pakistan when the US started supplying arms to India in view of the latter's conflict with the communist China. On 28 October the US President John F. Kennedy wrote a letter to President Ayub Khan assuring him that India will be obliged not to use the arms supplied by America against Pakistan but also suggesting that Pakistan should take an initiative at this point and provide some kind of moral support to India in its war against China. The following is President Ayub's reply President Kennedy, dated 5 November 1962.

Ayub's letter to Kennedy

November 5, 1962

Dear Mr. President,

I am grateful to you for your kind message of October 28, 1962, which was delivered by your Ambassador.

For the last fifteen years, India has posed a major military threat to Pakistan. She has built up her forces, may I say, mainly with American and British equipment three to four times our strength and has openly declared that Pakistan is her enemy number one.

Eighty per cent or more of her Armed Forces have already been earmarked against us and the bulk of them remain concentrated on our borders on ten days' state of readiness. We have been exposed to these aggressive designs all these years simply because the Indian Prime Minister himself is not prepared to honour his pledge in regard to so many agreements and especially in regard to the solution of Kashmir in which Pakistan is vitally interested for profound economic and security reasons. Therefore, by and large, we have spent these fifteen years in a state of mobilization which has been forced upon us by India. On top of all this, the recent conflict between India and China has led to developments of grave concern to us.

However, our own information, although meager, leads us to believe that the Chinese intention seems to be to occupy the territory which they believe belongs to them and over which there has been a dispute between her and India. Even if Mr. Nehru thought it fit in his wisdom to declare in the Indian Parliament in 1954 with reference to Chinese position in Tibet that 'I am not aware of any time during the last few hundred years when Chinese sovereignty, or if your like suzerainty, was challenged by any outside country. All during this period, whether China was weak or strong, or whatever the Government of China, China always maintained its claim to sovereignty over Tibet. The British Empire in the days of Lord Curzon had expanded into and made several types of arrangements in Tibet. Now it is impossible or improper for us to continue any such arrangements. These maps and treaties are all prepared by the British Imperialists. These treaties and maps are intended to show that we must act as they did.'

Militarily, however, we do not believe that China can bring to bear against India her major forces through the difficult terrain of the Himalayas to achieve decisive results, and even if she has any such intention the way to do it would be to outflank India through Burma. In our opinion that would be a simpler way of doing it and in cost it would be cheaper. If the Chinese intensions were more than limited and they were to expand into the territories of Assam, we would have as much cause for concern as India, as our East Pakistan would be directly affected. We are making this appreciation about the actual situation in no light-hearted mood.

Why has such a situation developed on this sub-continent and around India? We believe that this is the direct outcome of distorted and fallacious thinking on the part of Mr. Nehru and his associates and a consequence of a baseless foreign policy that he has been following. This foreign policy has been based on the following factors:

(a) bending over backwards to appease communism;

(b) hoist the white flag of neutralism to appease communism and get otherwise wavering nations to join India in order to be able to create a world nuisance-value for themselves;

(c) intimidate and threaten Pakistan in order to politically isolate it and economically weaken it; and

(d) abuse the West, and especially the U.S.A. in season and out of season.

The events have proved that all that is happening to Mr. Nehru is the direct consequence of his warped thinking. We have been warning and pointing to this all along.

Mr. President, what you now ask of us is to give an assurance to Mr. Nehru of a kind that will enable him to deploy his troops, at present concentrated against us, elsewhere. I am surprised that such a request is being made to us. After all, what we have been doing is nothing but contain the threat that was continuously posed by India to us. Is it in conformity with the human nature that we should cease to take such steps as are necessary for our self-preservation? Or, will our people ever accept such a position?

According to our information, India has withdrawn an infantry division and half away from us but there are definite inclinations that they are moving forward their reserve armoured formations of one division and one brigade to battle location against Pakistan. Similarly, they now have a corps headquarters to control troops deployed against East Pakistan. The bulk of their Navy, barring a couple of small vessels, have been concentrated in Bombay harbour, ostensibly for refit but in reality to pose a threat to us. Under no stretch of imagination, Mr. President, can these moves be described as indications of peaceful intentions towards us by India. So, how can we, in a situation like this, be expected to show our friendship to them?

No, Mr. President, the answer to this problem lies elsewhere. It lies in creating a situation whereby we are free from the Indian threat, and the Indians are free from any apprehensions about us. This can only be done if there is a settlement of the question of Kashmir. This matter is sometimes stated as very difficult to resolve. I do not agree with that. I believe that if there is a change of heart on the part of India, it should not be difficult to find an equitable and honourable settlement.

Our object is to have peace, especially with our neighbours. I am very grateful for the assurance you have given that the arms you are now supplying to India will not be used against us. This is very generous of you, but knowing the sort of people you are dealing with, whose history is a continuous tale of broken pledges, I would not ask a friend like you to place yourself in an embarrassing situation. India's conduct over the question Junagadh, Mangrol, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Goa should be well-known to you. Our belief is that the arms now being obtained by India from you for use against China will undoubtedly be used against us at the very first opportunity. However, in the light of the promise that you were good enough to make, namely, that we shall be consulted and also informed as to the types and the quantities of weapons and equipment before you gave any military assistance to India, we did expect to be consulted and also informed as to the types and the quantities of weapons and equipment which are now in the process of being supplied to them. It is regrettable that none this has been done.

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that although India today poses as an aggrieved and oppressed party, in reality she has been constantly threatening and intimidating, in varying degrees, small neighbouring countries around her. Let me assure you that in the eyes of many people in Asia, Indian intentions are suspect and the Indian image as a peace-loving nation has been destroyed.

You have referred, Mr. President, to press comments in Pakistan. While we have endeavoured to restrain expression of extremist views in our newspapers, it is not possible to interfere with the freedom of the press which reflects the real sentiments of the people. It must be realized that public opinion is gravely exercised by the new developments as the result of arms aid to India, more so, as India continues to pose a serious threat to our security. I am afraid it is going to be extremely difficult for my Government to discount public opinion.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Ayub Khan

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

Back to Top

Search the Republic of Rumi
Page Hits | Visitors BACK | HOME | CONTACT