PERSONAL PREJUDICE IN FOREIGN POLICY MAKING: NIXON'S ROLE IN SOUTH ASIA DURING BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR REVISITED
ABM Mosleh Uddin*
The United States extended overwhelming support toward Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Although, some geopolitical factors were quite important, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon's special penchant for Pakistani President Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan and his general aversion to the Indian leadership, its premier Mrs. Indira Gandhi, contributed considerably to this policy. The India issue was very much relevant to U.S. policy because New Delhi became involved with the crisis of East Pakistan, what is now Bangladesh, from the very beginning. Moreover, Nixon's personal Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger also disliked the Indians. In this paper, an attempt will be made to delve deep into a good number of recently declassified official documents of the U.S. State Department as well as the accounts produced by the then U.S. high-ups apropos the crisis, which show that Nixon's special feelings for Pakistan and Yahya Khan, and his dislike for India and Gandhi influenced American policy toward South Asia in 1971.
The crisis between East and West Pakistan surfaced as the central authority of Pakistan refused to devolve power to the Awami League that was most popular in East Pakistan. Therefore, the refusal to transfer power to the League triggered wide resentment in East Pakistan. Dialogues between the leadership of the two wings of Pakistan failed, and finally on 25 March 1971, the Pakistan army launched clampdown on the eastern flank, which triggered the war of 1971.
The Nixon administration, however, officially declared the conflict in East Pakistan an internal matter of Pakistan and avowed to remain neutral. But, it did not stem military and economic aids for Pakistan. In addition, Washington vindicated the Pakistani cause in international forums. Ostensibly, a number of immediate geopolitical factors led the Nixon administration to support Pakistan during the war. By the time, Pakistan became, as Kissinger in his memoir White House Years claimed, the prime channel for Washington in its effort to reconcile with China. Washington cut off its diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1949 after the Communist Revolution in China. The Pakistani President Yahya Khan, however, already started to play a vital role in diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Beijing. Therefore, the Nixon administration did not intend to offend Yahya Khan and to risk the China opening.
The U.S.-Pakistan and the U.S.-India ties, in fact, were already defined mainly in the context of the Cold War. Washington-Islamabad relations were considerably determined by the latter's entry into the U.S. block in the 1950s through the SEATO (South-East Asian Treaty Organization) and the CENTO (Central Treaty Organization, earlier the Baghdad Pact) agreements against the Soviet-patronized Communist expansion throughout the world. After the signing of the treaty, Pakistan also received extensive U.S. military and economic aid. Therefore, Washington was not ready to write off Pakistan in times of need. On the other hand, India showed indifference to the U.S. call for mutual agreements against potential communist hegemony in and beyond South Asia. Moreover, India made an alliance with the Soviet Union in August 1971.
However, although the abovementioned geopolitical factors remained vital, individual relationship between Nixon and Pakistani and Indian leaderships had a great impact upon Washington's policy toward South Asia in 1971. The notion at first might seem flimsy, but a deeper look into the discussions in some sessions of the W.S.A.G. (Washington Special Actions Group) and S.R.G. (Senior Review Group), two imperative organs of the U.S. National Security Council (N.S.C.), as well as Nixon's directives to the high U.S. officials with regard to the crisis would give a clear indication that that was the fact of the time. On many occasions while shaping Washington's policy toward the crisis, it was understood that Nixon had special feelings for Yahya, and he would not allow anything to happen on the part of the administration that could provoke chagrin of the Pakistani President. Contrarily, Nixon's distrust in Gandhi was more than clearly echoed during the crisis period. Now, these hypotheses should be spelt out to show how these actually occurred.
Nixon became known for his pro-Pakistani stance during the Eisenhower administration (1952-60). During this period Nixon served as the Vice President of the U.S. and became a great exponent of the U.S.-Pakistan proximity. In 1969, however, he visited Pakistan as part of his round-the-world trip to gather first-hand experience on this region and became enraptured with the Pakistani leadership, who extended to him a warm reception. Nixon became renowned as a valiant Cold Warrior. Kissinger in his memoir White House Years noted that Nixon “never forgot” the hospitality Yahya accorded to him during this visit. He further added that Nixon felt that Pakistan showed him immense respect during his visit “when he was out of his office.” However, Nixon's victory in the 1969 U.S. Presidential election caused elation in Pakistan. Expectedly, the Nixon administration attached a high priority to Pakistan as far as U.S. policy toward South Asia was concerned. Kissinger in his memoir mentioned that “the bluff, direct military chiefs of Pakistan” were congenial to Nixon. During Yahya's visit to Washington in August 1969 Nixon told the Pakistani President that close U.S.-Pakistan relationship would be “dearer” to him. In October 1970 when Yahya undertook another visit to Washington, Nixon assured him that “nobody has [ever] occupied the White House who is friendlier to Pakistan.”
Apart from the personal relationship between Nixon and the Pakistani leadership, it is seen that the administrations of the Republican Party had leanings to Pakistan. Especially, from the time of the Republican administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson (1964-68), Washington began to attach higher priority to Pakistan as compared to India. The leadership of the Republican Party thought that the Indians were fond of the Democrats. On the other hand, they found the Pakistanis friendlier. At that time, as a matter of fact, India also maintained a special tie with the Democrat elements in the U.S.
The Johnson Administration put considerable economic pressure upon India. From this time onward, however, Washington adopted a closer approach to Pakistan and the authority of Republican President Nixon as expected became friendlier to Islamabad when the conflict in East Pakistan broke out. Nixon personally believed that the Indians preferred John F Kennedy as the American President. He thought Indian public opinion was “pro-Kennedy” and “anti-Nixon.”
Therefore, in the context detailed above, it was expected that the Nixon administration would adopt a favorable policy toward Pakistan as far as the conflict in East Pakistan was concerned. This became clearer on 6 March 1971 from a meeting of the Senior Review Group that was chaired by Kissinger and participated by the top brasses of the State Department, the Defense Department and the C.I.A. The meeting was convened with a view to assessing the situation in East Pakistan. A declassified document of the U.S. State Department shows that Kissinger briefed the meeting that Nixon did not want to do anything to stop the turmoil in East Pakistan as any U.S. move to that direction might upset Yahya Khan. Christopher Van Hollen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, who also attended the meeting, wrote that Kissinger cautioned the participants that Nixon had a “special relationship” with Yahya and a decision to move toward stopping the much predicted Pakistani military operation in East Pakistan would receive disapproval from the President. Upon this cautionary note, Van Hollen pointed out that the meeting suggested pursuing a “massive inaction” in the potential conflict in East Pakistan. A meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group (W.S.A.G.) held on 26 March with Henry Kissinger as the chair also suggested U.S. inaction in the conflict. Kissinger conveyed to this gathering that Nixon was unwilling to warn Yahya against the military solution in East Pakistan and did not “want to do anything.”
The subsequent approach of the U.S. administration toward the crisis also followed the policy of Nixon's particular feelings for Yahya Khan. This principle was also reflected in Kissinger's policy proposals to Nixon. On 28 April Kissinger presented Nixon with three policy options in order for any one to be picked up by the President to deal with the crisis. In the first option, he proposed complete support for Pakistan by totally disregarding Pakistani military actions in East Pakistan. As the second option, he proposed to defer U.S. economic and military aids, except for military spare parts, for Pakistan and to continue humanitarian aids in East Pakistan and India for the victims of the conflict. Accordingly, ten million people took refuge in India till the conflict in East Pakistan came to an end on 16 December 1971. However, the most important option was the third one that Kissinger recommended to Nixon to accept. It proposed that U.S. continue the existing flow of aid for Pakistan. Kissinger explained that the policy would offer the administration a favorable status to influence Pakistan for seeking a peaceful solution of the crisis by “making the most of the relationship with Yahya.” Finally, however, Nixon took the third option and inserted a hand note directing not to pressurize Pakistan: “To all hands. Don't squeeze Yahya this time,” with three times underlining the word “Don't.”
Nixon through his personal messages and official communiqués to Yahya Khan also directly expressed his friendship to Pakistan. In his personal letters, Nixon invariably heaped praises upon the leadership of the Pakistan. Even he assured Yahya that he understood why the government of Pakistan had to decide for military solution of the crisis. Such an expression was made in a letter from Nixon to Yahya on 7 May. In the letter, Nixon conveyed his personal sympathy with Yahya and cognizance of the anguishes that the Pakistani President had to go through while taking “the difficult decisions.” In another letter on 28 May, Nixon expressed the “spirit of friendship and understanding” and “heartfelt wishes” to Yahya. He sent a handwritten letter to Yahya on August 7, which was another glaring example of U.S. policy of friendship towards Pakistan as he wrote that those who wished “a more peaceful world in the generation to come” would “forever be in your debt.” Unfortunately, President Nixon seemed to be the only world leader who found words of praise for the Pakistani President.
Military assistance continued to go to Pakistan from the U.S. until 8 November when finally the Nixon administration had to suspend it in the face of the Congressional pressure. But economic aid was more crucial for Pakistan to continue the war and save its economy from collapse. Therefore, Yahya's economic adviser M.M. Ahmed and Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., Agha Hilaly, met Kissinger on 10 May. Kissinger assured them of U.S. economic help for Pakistan. “The last thing one does in a situation like this,” Kissinger commented, “is to take advantage of a friend.” He also explained that Pakistan's development would serve the U.S. interest.
During a meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to India, Kenneth Keating, on 3 June, Kissinger asserted that Nixon had a “special feeling for President Yahya.” Kissinger also apprised him that Nixon wanted to treat with Yahya “with love rather than with brutality.” “One cannot make policy on that basis,” he explained, “but it is a fact of life.” Kissinger on July 19 wrote to Harold H. Saunders, an N.S.C. staff, that the U.S. would maintain “some special relationship” with Pakistan. At the S.R.G. meeting of 30 July, upon the directive from the President, Kissinger emphasized the U.S. leaning toward Pakistan. At the meeting he expressed smugness that the administration had not openly condemned Yahya for the military adventure in East Pakistan. On August 11 during a meeting with the high U.S. officials, Nixon voiced his “good personal relationship with Yahya” and directed to work “within the framework of friendship” with Pakistan. He also instructed not to discomfit the “straightforward” Pakistanis. At a meeting with the Chinese Premier Chou En Lai on 10 July Kissinger vaingloriously pointed out that the U.S. “feel strong friendship” for Yahya and it was “the only major Western country” that had not condemned Pakistan for its military actions in the East.
In fact, when the Pakistani actions were widely criticized in the U.S. media and Congress, Nixon's friendship for Yahya offered Pakistan a favourable position. Yahya through his letters invariably praised Nixon for extending friendship to him. In his 17 April and 28 June letters Yahya expressed gratitude to Nixon for his “friendly relations” and “sympathy” with Pakistan. In another letter on 6 October Yahya conveyed his personal gratitude to Nixon for extending his “friendship” to Pakistan. Undoubtedly, Nixon's special feelings for Yahya vouchsafed a psychological boost for the Pakistani President. Nixon's special relationship also made Yahya Khan particularly vainglorious; few days after the conflict broke out Yahya declared that he had received “a friendly and warm-hearted letter” from Nixon.
But while Nixon put weight on his personal relationship with Yahya in determining U.S. policy toward South Asia, his bitter relationship with the Indian leadership, especially Gandhi, was not less important in this regard. The Indian leadership was inhospitable to Nixon when he visited India in 1969 as the U.S. Vice-President. While the Pakistani regime accorded to him warm hospitality, Indian leaders, as he thought, were indifferent to him. Kissinger pointed out that in India Nixon was offered a restrained reception where “'crowds were merely adequate; the discussions with the Indian leaders were what in communique language would be called “constructive” and “businesslike.”' Mrs. Gandhi was particularly lukewarm about him. Kissinger wrote that Gandhi's conceit in her perceived moral superiority and “moody silence brought out all of Nixon's latent insecurities.” He sketched Gandhi's disdain towards Nixon: “Her bearing toward Nixon combined a disdain for a symbol of capitalism quite fashionable in developing countries with a hint that the obnoxious things she had heard about the President from her intellectual friends could not all be untrue.”
Gandhi's biographer Pupul Jayakar has also mentioned that she was aloof from President Nixon during his visit to India. Nixon, however, eventually finished his tour through praising the political acumen of Mahatma Gandhi and discussing “thoughtfully” the course of the contemporary international peace and order, which Kissinger termed as “a very eloquent dinner toast” given by the U.S. leader to the Indian statesmen. He, however, returned to Washington “angry.”
Therefore, it is understandable that relationship between Nixon and the Indian leadership was strained. Kissinger in his memoir admitted that Nixon and Gandhi “were not intended by fate to be personally congenial” and that Nixon's comments on Gandhi sometimes were not worth printing. Gandhi's biographer Jayakar maintained that Nixon had “strong antipathy towards India” and “intense dislike” against the Indian Prime Minister. Kissinger admitted that Nixon had “personal qualms” with Gandhi and privately sniffed at her moral pretension. He thought Gandhi as “a hypocrite.” During the crisis, he repeatedly made abominable comments on the Indian leaders. Kissinger further pointed out that Nixon disliked “the complex and apparently haughty Brahmin leaders of India” and “no one could speak for five minutes with Nixon without hearing of his profound distrust of the Indian motives.” Nixon believed that the Indians were not that “goddamn good.” Kissinger also acknowledged that personal relationship between the leaders of the two countries was worse. On 11 August during a meeting with the high U.S. officials Nixon directed not to provide the Indians with a “dim of aid.” To him, the Indians were “slippery,” “treacherous,” “insufferably arrogant,” and “devious.” Thus, in a word, the administration of President Nixon became “sharply tilted” against India.
Like Nixon, Kissinger also looked down upon the Indians. His memoir is replete with poignant criticism of Gandhi. Recent declassified documents disclose that he repeatedly made denigrating comments on Gandhi and the Indians. On 26 May 1971 Kissinger, while talking with Nixon, commented that the Indians were “the most aggressive goddamn people” in South Asia who were planning to make war with Pakistan.19 India's appeal to Washington to employ its influence on Pakistan to end the crisis was also criticized by Kissinger. On 4 June he ventilated to Nixon: “Those sons-of-bitches [Indians], who never have lifted a finger for us, why should we get involved in the morass of East Pakistan.” In the memoir Kissinger explained that he disliked Gandhi because she was bent on serving her interest in the name of values: “It was not that she was a hypocrite, as Nixon thought; this assumed that she was aware of a gap between her actions and her values. It was rather that, for her, her interest and her values were inseparable.” He also commented that Gandhi was a “cold-blooded practitioner of power politics” and she had “fewer scruples” than Nixon in this respect. He admitted that Nixon also held “similar” view with regard to Gandhi.
Gandhi had two meetings with Nixon that produced no tangible outcome. It was foreseen that the two leaders would not be able to yield any efficacious result from their dialogue due to their mutual distrust. Their meeting, as predicted, also became a manifestation of a fruitless dialogue. During their first meeting on 4 November there were “pregnant silences.” Haksar, Gandhi's personal secretary and member of her entourage, and Kissinger were waiting in the anteroom as Nixon and Gandhi started their talks. At last, Haksar and Kissinger joined the two prime discussants “to ease the situation” so that the discussion did not turn “dangerous.” Kissinger maintained that Nixon made specific proposals to Gandhi on the solution of the crisis, some of which she heard for the first time; for example, mutual withdrawal of troops from the Indo-East Pakistan borders. Nixon also expressed a wish to fix a time limit with Yahya for political accommodation in East Pakistan. Nixon asserted that India could count on U.S. endeavors to ease the crisis within a short possible time. But, both Kissinger and Jayakar maintained, Gandhi did not respond to these proposals. Kissinger noted that she “listened to what was in fact one of Nixon's better presentations with aloof indifference” but “took up none of the points.” Jayakar pointed out that Gandhi listened to Nixon “without a single comment, creating an impregnable space so that no real contact was possible.” She also refrained from assuring if India would follow Pakistan's suit, that is, withdrawal of Indian troops from the borders. But Gandhi assured that she would respond to those proposals in the next meeting. As a result, the main agenda was “dropped altogether.”
Gandhi, indeed, had no interest to discuss the crisis with Nixon. Rather, she concentrated on the issues perceived less relevant to India's instant foreign policy objectives. She spoke about America's involvement in the Vietnam War and Washington's initiative to reconciling with China. But Nixon was reluctant to discuss these issues with Gandhi. Kissinger stated that Nixon showed his irritation with Gandhi through “glassy-eyed politeness;” he attempted at keeping his displeasure in check in order to evade face-to-face disagreement with the Prime Minister. Kissinger also ruminated that Gandhi evaluated Nixon's policy toward Vietnam and China “in a manner of a professor praising a slightly backward student.” Nixon “had no time for Gandhi's condescending manner,” Kissinger pointed out, and her “moral pretensions” were also “irritating” to him.
Thus, in the face of sheer disagreements, the Nixon-Gandhi confabulation transmogrified into a “classic dialogue of the deaf.” But eventually the meeting failed not because, as Kissinger explicated, “they did not understand each other but because they understood each other only too well.” He explained that Gandhi was “as formidable as she was condescending.” She very well understood that Nixon sincerely sought a tangible solution of the crisis – something she wanted to evade.
Gandhi's biographer Jayakar pointed out that the futility of the discussion was only too predestined. Gandhi's entourage was ambivalent about the success of the meeting because of her “rage” about Nixon. She seldom smiled during the meeting and maintained an “icy formality of her manner.” In his piece Jayakar noted Gandhi's air to Nixon that invited the latter's wrath: “There was something in her manner, an austere distancing, that brought to the fore antagonistic feelings, a visceral feeling of dislike for India and its Prime Minister.” Jayakar further elaborated: “Indira's outward demeanour remained icy in its withdrawal. There was in her a fierce pride, the sense that she was the head of a democratic country with a vast population, a country of the poor, yet with a millennia of civilization.”
However, Nixon and Gandhi met again on the next day, 5 November. The dialogue lasted for one hour. Jayakar noted that Gandhi was made to wait for forty-five minutes in the anteroom to meet Nixon. She viewed that by this Nixon demonstrated his visceral dislikes for the Indians. He took Indira's condescension personally and embarked on personal vendetta. Kissinger maintained that both Nixon and Gandhi were aware that their discussion would bring about no substantive outcome; hence, they intended to avoid the East Pakistan issue. Nixon wanted to avoid the subject “partly because he dreaded unpleasant scenes, partly because he correctly judged” that Gandhi too did not like to discuss East Pakistan. Kissinger continued that the disagreement between them was “unbreakable” and “their tendency to avoid precision” was clear. Gandhi, however, did not respond to the Nixon's proposals made to her on the previous day on resolving the East Pakistan crisis. Kissinger pointed out that Indian Prime Minister finished her business with some “penetrating questions” on U.S. policies all over the world except for South Asia. Gandhi's visit concluded, as Kissinger maintained, “without progress on any outstanding issue” and without reaching any modus operandi whereupon some impetus could be made later on. As expected, the meeting became a manifestation of “the never-never land of U.S.-Indian relations” and a “classic demonstration why heads of government should not negotiate contentious matters.” Thus, Kissinger further added, Nixon's dialogues with Gandhi became “the two most unfortunate meetings” he “had with any foreign leader.” However, Nixon and Gandhi formally claimed that their discussions had been successful.
Ostensibly, the mutual distrust and disregard between Gandhi and Nixon led their dialogues to an abrupt end. This notion could further be corroborated by the evidence of recent declassified documents of the State Department that show that the Nixon-Kissinger dyad were unforthcoming to Gandhi when she visited Washington. On 5 November as Nixon and Kissinger met in the White House to assess dialogues with Gandhi, Kissinger exasperatedly commented: “... the Indians are bastards anyway. They are starting a war there.” “While she was a bitch,” Kissinger remarked, “we got what we wanted.” Nixon along the same line commented on Gandhi: “We really slobbered over the old witch.” In fact, such remarks were not a rarity. Van Hollen wrote that as Gandhi's dealings of the Bangladesh crisis challenged Nixon's policy, ‘his customary sobriquet of “that bitch” was replaced by more unprintable epithets.”'
However, the way Nixon dealt with the South Asian crisis suggests that Nixon's personal dislikes for the Indians actually accentuated his policy towards South Asia in 1971. From the minutes of a number of important high profile meetings held in Washington during December before the conflict ended, it is observed that the officials were directed to tilt toward Pakistan against India. In the W.S.A.G. meeting held on 3 December 1971, Kissinger stated that he was “catching ... hell every half-hour” from Nixon, who adamantly desired a strong anti-Indian position and to tilt decisively toward Pakistan. The President was convinced that, as Kissinger explained to the meeting, his wishes were not being carried out in the U.S.'s South Asian policy. Accordingly, Nixon was already disgruntled with the State Department that had opposed some of the White House decisions regarding South Asia, for example, continuing arms supply for Pakistan. Even a temporary defection took place in the Sate Department when a group of young officials of the South Asia Division refused to obey the administration's order in favour of Pakistan. On 6 December, Kissinger, in line with Nixon's instruction, again directed the participants of the W.S.A.G. meeting to show considerable coolness towards the Indians and not to hold the Indian Ambassador Jha on high status.
The administration, however, denied that U.S. policy toward Pakistan and India in 1971 was anyhow influenced by Nixon's personal feelings. It was thought that Nixon was influenced by the mixed experience he gathered during his visit to India and Pakistan in 1969. Kissinger, however, outright denied this notion. At a press conference on 7 December he ascertained that Nixon had no “preferences for Pakistani leaders over the Indian leaders.” He also explained that Nixon had intimated to him that both India and Pakistan accorded to him warm hospitality during his tour to the subcontinent in 1969. Kissinger in his memoir also denied the charge of Nixon's anti-Indian bias in handling the East Pakistan crisis. He stressed that the administration rather prioritized “analysis, not sentiment” while making decision on the crisis. He further added that American policy regarding the crisis was defined in view of U.S.’s greater stakes in the context of global politics.
In fact, Kissinger's assertion that Nixon was not influenced by his personal prejudice towards India in dealing with the East Pakistan crisis was amiss. In his autobiography he described that during his visit to India and Pakistan Nixon was neglected by the Indian leaders. In utter contrast to his declaration in the press conference, he also conceded in his memoir that Nixon took up “a somewhat warmer tone toward Pakistan.” In the memoir he also admitted that sometimes Nixon's letters to Yahya were not “exactly strong.” Therefore, from Kissinger's accounts it could be asserted that the administration was influenced by Nixon's prejudice towards India while making decisions on the crisis.
The U.S. policy makers were also aware of Nixon's partisanship for Pakistan against India. Assistant Secretary for South Asia Van Hollen emphatically stated that Nixon's policy toward the crisis was “influenced by his long-standing dislike for India and the Indians, and his warm feelings toward Pakistan.” “Despite disclaimers,” he elaborated, “Nixon's contrasting feelings toward the Indian and Pakistani leaders undoubtedly colored his judgments in 1971.” William J. Barnds in his article also concluded that Nixon's special preference for Pakistan in dealing with the crisis was a fact:
Nixon's warmer attitude towards Pakistan as Vice-President had completely cooled during the intervening years, it may be argued, therefore, that Nixon's personal preference as well as his country's foreign policy needs largely determined the American policy towards the liberation movement of Bangladesh.
That U.S. policy was influenced by Nixon's personal prejudice could be further established from the disclosures of a set of secret documents on the minutes of three W.S.A.G. meetings held during early September 1971. Journalist Jack Anderson had those papers published in the New York Times on 30 December 1972. The dossiers divulged that Nixon was particularly biased against India in favor of Pakistan during the crisis. Anderson also asserted that Nixon's dealing of the crisis was considerably motivated by his special infatuation for Yahya and odium for Gandhi.
However, apart from the evidences of Van Hollen, Barnds and Anderson, from the discourse above, it is clear that the Nixon-Kissinger duo was clearly motivated by their anti-Indian feelings during the crisis. On various occasions and high profile meetings of the S.R.G. and W.S.A.G., both Nixon and Kissinger made denigrating comments on the Indians and Gandhi. Even sometimes Nixon's comments on Gandhi seemed abominable.
The argument pushed by the U.S. administration that it was badly in need of Pakistan's mediation for making the China initiative a success is not out of question either. The argument, however, apparently holds a cognizable ground; but a deeper look into it provides other indications. An examination of U.S. policy towards the crisis at least till the later part of April 1971 could hint a somewhat different fact. Nixon first offered Yahya to play a role as a mediator between China and the U.S. during his visit to Pakistan in 1969. Afterwards, Van Hollen pointed out, Romania's President Nicolae Ceausesco also played an important role in this regard and remained an alternative channel. But it was around late April 1971 that the Islamabad conduit was finalized. So, a saner judgment would suggest that U.S. policy towards the crisis was not supposed to be influenced by the China factor at least till late April and Nixon could have castigated Pakistani actions in the East before the Pakistani channel was finally determined. Therefore, it is inferred that Nixon's innate predilections for Yahya primarily dissuaded him from castigating Pakistani military actions in East Pakistan.
Now, from the above discussion, it is clear that U.S. policy towards South Asia in 1971 was particularly influenced by Nixon's personal prejudice. Even though the U.S. administration categorically rejected the notion of favoring Pakistan on the basis of special preference, recent declassified documents leave no doubt that Nixon was particularly biased to Islamabad when dealing with the crisis. Nixon and Kissinger egged on the high profile bodies into crafting decisions in a way that would not displease Pakistan or discomfit Yahya. Robert Payne in his work Masscare has rightly commented that Kissinger had “only unstinted praise for him” and Nixon “admired him.” Contrarily, soiled comments on Indira and the Indians throughout the conflict showed the hallmark of adverse attitude of the Nixon-Kissinger duo to India.
Therefore, it could be concluded that Nixon's personal prejudice against the Indian leadership had an inevitable fall-out upon U.S. policy towards South Asia in 1971. Mutual distrust also led the Nixon-Gandhi meeting, held in Washington in early November, to a fiasco. Lastly, in early December, after the India-Pakistan war broke out, the White House issued a directive to the officials concerned to tilt towards Pakistan.
* Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Chittagong.
 Syed Anwar Husain, Role of the Superpowers in the Bangladesh Liberation War (Bangladesher Sadhinota Juddeh Parashoktir Bhumika), (Dhaka 1982), p. 46; Mizanur Rahman Shelley, Emergence of a New Nation in a Multi-Polar World: Bangladesh, (Dhaka, 2000), pp. 111-126; Imtiaz Ahmed, "The Superpowers Strategy in the Third World: The 1971 South Asian Crisis," in Emajuddin Ahamed, (ed.), Foreign Policy of Bangladesh: A Small State's Imperative, (Dhaka 2004), pp. 155-160; Ehsanul Huq, "Bangladesh and the United States: Dimensions of An Evolving Relationship," in Abul Kalam, (ed.), Bangladesh: Internal and External Linkages, (Dhaka 1996), p. 226.
 See, U.S. Department of State, "Foreign Relations, 1969-1976," Vol. 11, South Asia Crisis, 1971, Documents 1-300, available at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/xi/, accessed on 11 June 2006. [Hereafter the documents under this website have been cited only according to the numbers assigned against them without referring to the website address further-- like Document 1, Document 2, etc.]
 Details, Rounaq Jahan, "East Pakistan During The Decade Of Ayub," in Peter J. Bertocci (ed.), Prelude to Crisis: Bengal and Bengal Studies in 1970, (Asian Studies Center: Michigan State University 1972), pp. 1-28; Lawrence Ziring, Bangladesh, From Mujib to Ershad: An Interpretative Study, (Dhaka 1992), pp. 53-78; R.K. Dasgupta, Revolt in East Bengal, (Delhi 1971), pp. 1-77; Tanweer Akram, "Virtual Bangladesh: History," available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Liberation_War, accessed on 4 Nov. 2006.
 Henry Kissinger, White House Years, (Boston 1979), 704 & 860. Details, Robert A. Diamond (ed.), China and U.S. Foreign Policy, Congressional Quarterly, (Washington 1971), 14-15; The Center for Strategic and International Studies (C.S.I.S.), Peking-Washington: Chinese Foreign Policy and the United States, (U.S.A.: Georgetown University 1976), p. 37; Christopher Van Hollen, “The Tilt Policy Revisited: Nixon-Kissinger Geopolitics And South Asia”, Asian Survey, Vol. 20, No. 4, (April 1980), pp. 340 & 343; "Memorandum From the President's Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon, undated, Document 95, the U.S. Department of State; Lawrence Lafschultz, Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution, (London 1979), 112; Howard F. Bremer (ed.), Richard M. Nixon: Chronology-Documents-Bibliographical Aids, (New York 1975), 138; Akira Iriye, "The United States in Chinese Foreign Policy," in William J. Barnds (ed.), China and America, (New York: New York University Press 1977), pp. 38-39.
 "We Must Stop Sending Arms to Pakistan Bloodbath in East Pakistan," Senator Frank Church, May 18, in Hasan Hafizur Rahman, (ed.), Independence War of Bangladesh: Documents (Bangladesher Shadhinota Juddoh: Dolilpatra), V. 13, (Dhaka: The Government of Bangladesh 1982), [hereafter cited as Independence Documents 13], pp. 383-87.
 Details, Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 848-49; J.N. Dixit, Liberation and Beyond: Indo-Bangladesh Relations, (Dhaka 1999), pp. 66-67; Ralph Toledano, see Sarbjit Sharma, US-Bangladesh Relations: A Critique, (Dhaka 2001), pp. 6-7; Pupul Jayakar, Indira Gandhi: A Biography, (New Delhi 1992), p. 225.
 M.J. Vinod, United States Foreign Policy Towards India: A Diagnosis of the American Approach, (New Delhi 1991), p. 144; Sarbjit, US-Bangladesh Relations, p. 6; S.R. Sharma, Bangladesh Crisis and Indian Foreign Policy, (New Delhi 1978), p. 114; Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, p. 225.
 "Minutes of Senior Review Group Meeting," 6 March, Document 6; Van Hollen, “The Tilt Policy,” pp. 340-341; "Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting," 26 March, Document 11.
 "Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon," 28 April, Document 36, the U.S. Department of State.
 "Letter From President Nixon to President Yahya," 7 May, Document 41, U.S. Department of State; "Letter From President Nixon to President Yahya," 28 May, Document 63, U.S. Department of State; "Handwritten Letter from President Nixon to President Yahya," 7 August, Document 20, in Sajit Gandhi, (ed.), "The Tilt: The U.S. and the South Asian Crisis of 1971," available at: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ NSAEBB/ NSAEBB79 [hereafter, cited as www.gwu.edu] accessed on 11 December 2006. Also see, "Letter From President Nixon to President Yahya," 30 October, Document 175, U.S. Department of State.
 Footnote 2, Document 173; Van Hollen, "The Tilt Policy," Footnote, 12, 344; "Halt in shipment of military supplies to Pakistan," Senator Edward M. Kennedy, 8 November, Independence Documents 13, p. 483; Shalom, “The U.S. Response to Humanitarian Crisis,” available at: http://www.zmag.org/zmag/articles/ShalomHumnCri.html, accessed on 15 January 2006.
 A.M.A. Muhith and Rehman Sobhan, "On Economic Assistance to Pakistan: Policy Options For Donors," in A.M.A. Muhith, American Response to Bangladesh Liberation War, (Dhaka, 1996), pp. 120-124.
 "Memorandum of Conversation," 3 June, Document 64, U.S. Department of State; "Memorandum for Dr. Kissinger, Military Assistance to Pakistan and the Trip to Peking," 19 July, Sajit, Document 17; available at: www.gwu.edu; "Minutes of Senior Review Group Meeting," 30 July , Document 111, U.S. Department of State; "Memorandum for the Record," 11 August, Document 121, U.S. Department of State, [hereafter cited as Document 121],; Sultan Shahin, "South Asia through history's looking glass," available at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/DJ18Df05.html, accessed on 14 Nov. 2006.
 "Letter From Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon," 17 April, Document 29, U.S. Department of State; "Letter From Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon," June 28, Document 82, U.S. Department of State; "Letter From Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon," 6 October, Document 161, U.S. Department of State; "Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan," 19 October , Document 169, U.S. Department of State; "Letter From Pakistani President Yahya to President Nixon," 28 June, Document 82, U.S. Department of State; K.P.S. Menon, The Indo-Soviet Treaty: Setting and Sequel, (Delhi 1971), p. 31.
 Kissinger, White House Years, p. 848; Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, p. 225.
 Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 848-849.
 Ibid., pp. 848 & 879; Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, p. 225.
 Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 848-849 & 864; "Editorial Note," Document 65, U.S. Department of State [hereafter cited as Document 65]; Document 121.
 Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, p. 225.
 Document 65; also see, Hindunet: the Hindu Universe, "Why does U.S. lie to protect Pakistan?," available at: http://www.hindunet.org/forum/showflat.php?Cat-Board-west & Number-59400&Main-53601, accessed on 16 Nov. 2006.
 Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 879 & 848.
 Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, p. 232; Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 878 & 881-82.
 For details see, Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 878-79.
 Details, Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, pp. 225 & 232-33.
 Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 879-882; Jayakar, Indira Gandhi, 233; R.C. Gupta, U.S. Policy Towards India and Pakistan, (Delhi 1977), 83; Dhiren Mullick, Indira Speaks on Genocide War and Bangladesh, (Delhi 1972), pp. 50-55; Richard Sission and Leo E. Rose, War and Secession: Pakistan, India and the Creation of Bangladesh, (New Delhi 1990), pp. 195-196.
 "Editorial Note," Document 180, U.S. Department of State; Van Hollen, The Tilt Policy, 341; Hindunet: the Hindu Universe, "Why does U.S. lie to protect Pakistan?," available at: http://www.hindunet.org/forum/showflat.php?Cat-Board-west&Number-59400&Main-53601, accessed on 16/11/2006. After the disclosure of stinking remarks of the Nixon-Kissinger dyad about Indira in the run up to the 1971 war through the declassification of the secret documents of the State Department, Kissinger made an apology to the people of India. He explained that his comments should be spelt out in the context of the Cold War. He also claimed to have held high personal respects for Gandhi. Those remarks, he further spelt out, were token of the outburst of their anger stemmed from the appalling tragedies rolling over the subcontinent in 1971. Available at: http://www.tribuneindia.com/ 2005/ 20050702/world.htm, accessed on 15 Nov. 2006.
 Kissinger, White House Years, 897; "Minutes of Washington Special Action Group Meeting," 3 December, Document 218, U.S. Department of State; "Minutes of Washington Special Action Group Meeting," 6 December, Document 235, U.S. Department of State; Archer K. Blood, the Cruel Birth of Bangladesh: Memoirs of an American Diplomat, (Dhaka 2000), 248; S.C. Tewari, Indo-US Relations, 1947-76, (New Delhi 1977), pp. 136-137.
 Kissinger, White House Years, 879; "India-Pakistan (Background briefing with Henry A. Kissinger)," Muhith, American Response, pp. 346-347.
 Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 848-849 & 857.
 Van Hollen, The Tilt Policy, p. 341.
 As quoted in Sarbjit, US-Bangladesh Relations, p. 7.
 Ibid., p. 18.
 Van Hollen, The Tilt Policy, pp. 340 & 343. Also see, Hussain, Role of the Superpowers, p. 51.