The United States government had thought that the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi might order an attack on West Pakistan to capture Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir after India’s operation to create Bangladesh got over, recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents say.
As per CIA reports and minutes of high-level meetings in Washington on India-Pakistan tensions, it was clear that the US government was readying a strategy should India smash military power of West Pakistan.
The then U.S. President Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger discussed various possibilities due to deteriorating Indo-Pak ties in the wake of India’s military offensive in East Pakistan. However, some top security officials in Washington felt the possibility of India launching a strike on West Pakistan was remote.
At one of the meetings of Washington’s Special Action Group, then CIA Director Richard Holmes said, “It is reported that prior to terminating the present hostilities, Mrs. Gandhi intends to attempt to eliminate Pakistan’s armour and air force capabilities,” as per papers which are part of nearly 12 million documents CIA declassified last week.
According to the documents, though Nixon had warned India to cut off economic aid in case of war in East Pakistan, the U.S. administration was clueless on how to implement it.
“Both the President and the Secretary of State have warned the Indians that we will ‘cut off’ economic aid in case of war. But do we know what that means? No one has looked at the consequences or examined the means of implementing a cut off,” Mr. Kissinger had told a meeting of top defence and CIA officials on August 17, 1971.
Mr. Kissinger was also unhappy over the CIA not having enough intelligence inputs on what the Chinese, Indians and the Pakistanis were up to.
As per minutes of the meeting, he was willing to take help of China and the Soviets to ease tension in the region.