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Ayub came to regard Bhutto as a 'special protégé': CIA files

Updated Jan 30, 2017 05:23pm
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (l) and General-turned politician Ayub Khan (r).— File
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (l) and General-turned politician Ayub Khan (r).— File

The following is an excerpt from a declassified document released online by America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of a searchable database on its website Reading Room. Declassified documents were previously only available to the public at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

In a special report titled Pakistan's Foreign Policy Under Ayub and Bhutto, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) highlighted then foreign minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's growing role in Pakistan's policy making while he was serving in former president Ayub Khan's cabinet.

In the "secret" report, dated April 16, 1965, the CIA's Office of Current Intelligence noted that Bhutto's diplomatic successes as foreign minister had led Ayub to regard him as a "special protégé".

President Ayub had given Bhutto wide discretion when he began to take interest in foreign affairs while being commerce minister.

The report cited a $30 million oil exploration assistance agreement with the USSR as Bhutto's "most dramatic success" in his capacity.

Bhutto was made the foreign minister at "the height of reaction" to a US decision to give military aid to India following the attack by China on India's Himalayan border.

"Since that time, Ayub has come to depend heavily on Bhutto for conceiving and carrying out new foreign policy initiatives," reads the report, which is redacted in some places.

Pakistan's tilt towards China

With Pakistan's foreign policy dominated by "fears" regarding India, the Ayub government made efforts to strengthen its relationship with communist China.

In a series of gestures directed towards Peiping (the former name of Beijing), Pakistan in 1963 and 1964 had hoped to deter India from deploying its army against Pakistan in entirety and inhibit "the new US support for India", said the report.

"Every new Pakistan visit to Peiping or statement on China arouses fresh rage in India, but Pakistan seems to have gone about as far as it is now willing to go in establishing areas of cooperation with China," the report reads.

Although President Ayub's visit to China in March 1965 "did little more than dramatize previous positions", the report said, the "heated response from India must have been gratifying" for Pakistan.

Irked by growing Indo-US ties, Pakistan in May 1964 even warned that it might lose interest in free world concerns and interests in Asia "and concentrate on the narrower field of the preservation of its own vital national interests".

The report said Pakistan even considered quitting SEATO when it found out that the US would give military aid worth $100m to India in 1965, but later seemed to have "become more resigned to continued US military assistance to India as a fact of life beyond its power to change".

As part of its foreign policy reorientation, Pakistan started reestablishing its ties with the Afro-Asian world, particularly Indonesia, which once had warm ties with India. Economic cooperation between the two countries was also expanding under the direction of Bhutto, "Pakistan's chief idea man".

"Indonesia's support for Pakistan on Kashmir has won it Pakistani neutrality in the Malaysian confrontation, despite Pakistan's Commonwealth ties to Malaysia," the report said.

Choosing development over defence

The Indo-Pak hostility that stemmed from the 1947 Partition amplified after the Sino-Indian Border Conflict of 1962, when India started an "ambitious" campaign to expand and modernise its military with US and Soviet aid.

India recruited 300,000 more men to its army in order to prepare to confront China and Pakistan simultaneously.

Despite being proportionally disadvantaged, however, Pakistan did not respond in the same manner, said the CIA report.

Instead of increasing its armed forces, the Ayub government maintained its focus on development, as the president thought the "required diversion of resources would be too costly".

This preference for development allowed Pakistan to post "an impressive record of economic development, and most of its five-year plan (1961-1966) goals are likely to be achieved", the report noted at the time.

"Pakistan's leaders view this record, when contrasted with India's economic difficulties in recent years -- most notably its continuing food crisis -- as an important source of strength."


The abovementioned document is part of a database of 930,000 previously-confidential files released by the CIA on January 17, 2017. The CIA had disseminated historical declassified documents to its CIA Records Search Tool (CREST) since 1999.

To view Dawn.com's compilation of extracts from the declassified CIA documents, click here.