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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 11, 1956

CABLE FROM THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN, 'PAKISTAN’S PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY'

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    The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan reports on the domestic debate inside Pakistan regarding changes in foreign policy.
    "Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, 'Pakistan’s Parliamentary Debate About Foreign Policy'," October 11, 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 105-00779-04, 25-28. Obtained by Sulmaan Khan and translated by Anna Beth Keim https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114887
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Copy to: Zhang, Zhang [Wenji], Ji [Pengfei], Liu, Qiao, General Office, Asian Affairs Department, Information Department, Research Office, [Meng] Yongqian, Ambassador Geng

From the Desk of the Ambassador to Pakistan

Priority: Very Urgent

Received: 10 493

11 October 1956

Already Copied To: Chairman, [Liu] Shaoqi, [Zhou] Enlai, Zhu De, Chen Yun, [Peng] Dehuai, [Deng] Xiaoping, Chen Yi, [Xi] Zhongxun, [Yang] Shangkun, [Wang] Jiaxiang, [Li] Kenong, Investigation Department, Military Intelligence, International Department of the CPC Central Committee, Propaganda Department, Xinhua Press

Pakistan’s Parliamentary Debate about Foreign Policy

Foreign Ministry, Investigation Department and Ambassador Geng:

(1) In addition to the electoral district system, another issue that may become a center of debate in the Pakistani Parliament is foreign policy. F. Kalimu, a Communist Party member who recently entered the joint conference of the ruling party and Parliamentary Party and organizations as an independent person, suggested on the 7th that Parliament pass two resolutions:

a. To express satisfaction with the new cabinet’s position at the Second London Conference [held from 19 September through 21 September 1956], of persisting in peacefully resolving the Suez Canal issue.

b. To require the Pakistani government to hand over the international treaties it has signed to the Parliament for discussion.

Awami League leftists and other left-wing parties and organizations are also looking into similar proposals. Leftists in the Republican Party, Peasants and Workers Party and Awami League are opposed to the second proposal. The United Front, on the other hand, emphasizes resolving the Kashmir issue, and that the second resolution has to be debated in Parliament before anyone knows whether it can be realized. Parliament members who approve of canceling the military treaty are currently still the minority in Parliament, and the proposals of the left-wing parties and organizations are also just making use of the parliamentary platform to issue their own views; thus, this Parliament’s debate on foreign policy won’t have any direct results.

(2) However, because the influence and effect of the people’s demand for a complete change in foreign policy has grown compared to the past, and the United States remains intent on using Pakistan’s dependence on American aid to force Pakistan to maintain US-friendly policies, foreign policy has become, since the new cabinet took power, one of the prominent issues in the struggles between the people and reactionary forces and between all different parties and organizations.

a. [All Pakistan] Awami [Muslim] League leftist leader [Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan]  Bhashani, reflecting the universal wish of the broad masses of people and every leftist party and organization, at mass gatherings in the month following the Awami League taking office in East Pakistan, has demanded four times that [Pakistan] “implement independent, neutral foreign policies, change the old foreign policies, be friendly with all nations, withdraw from the military bloc and protect its own sovereignty.” At the Awami League central steering committee meeting early this month, leftists maintained the same views. But the rightists argued that the leftists were too fanciful and unrealistic, and advocated handing over full authority for managing foreign policy to [Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed] Suhrawardy. The moderates tended toward the middle between left and right;

b. The Republican Party’s first representative assembly at the end of September determined that one of the party’s tenets was: “Devoting [ourselves] to bringing together free countries with the same beliefs to form a global group that creates and safeguards peace, and liberates persecuted people.” The party’s declaration proposed “staunchly protecting peace,” “establishing friendly relations with all countries,” “supporting colonized peoples’ struggle for freedom” and “upholding the United Nations Charter.” Behind these contradictory, vague tenets and declarations were the differing attitudes toward foreign policy of different groups within the Republican Party. The leftists (who are mostly mid- and low-ranking cadres) advocate staunchly supporting Egypt and “changing foreign policy,” but have no clear views on change. The Khan Sahib advocates the “[Let’s] no longer play errand boy to big nations” trend toward Indo-Pakistani friendship. But the most dominant bloc of this party (to which the current foreign minister belongs), while on the one hand agreeing with Pakistan’s post-Second London Conference stance on the Suez Canal issue, advocating the improvement of relations with China and the Soviet Union and obtaining aid [from them], on the other hand advocates staying in the military bloc. They also said that the pre-election cabinet was “custodial” in nature and lacked the power to fundamentally change foreign policy; if there were to be changes, they could only happen gradually. They stress [holding] a public referendum in Kashmir, and take support for Pakistan on this issue as the standard for truly being friendly with Pakistan. They plan to make China’s support for a Kashmir public referendum a give-and-take condition for supporting Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

c. The Arab League recently touted “proposing independent foreign policy in view of Pakistan’s national interests and the interests of world peace,” “friendliness toward all nations that love peace,” and “eliminating colonialism and the phenomenon of large nations exploiting small ones,” but their actual deeds have been to stir up anti-Indian sentiment and, with American and British support, provoke fanatical religious opposition to a united electoral district system. They have also refused to explain “whether independent foreign policy means withdrawing from the aggressive military bloc.”

d. Since losing power, the Peasants and Workers Party has been making great efforts to carry out anti-Egyptian propaganda, and has used silence to mask its pro-Western stance.

(3) Pakistani foreign policy is in the process of fermenting change. Currently Pakistan’s central cabinet faces the following circumstances: on one hand, having taken on the obligations of a military treaty, [Pakistan] cannot effectively resolve its financial difficulties, and cannot raise Pakistan’s international status; also, the demand for foreign policy change from the people and from the ruling party, especially inside the Awami League, is unprecedentedly strong, and continues to grow. This has determined that Pakistani foreign policy must shift toward peaceful neutrality. Signs of this shifting trend are [Pakistan’s] stance toward Egypt and Suhrawardy’s firm decision, after the new cabinet came to office, to visit China first. But on the other hand, the constraints of the military treaty and Pakistan’s dependence on American aid remain great; organized people’s power has not yet grown to the point where it can force the regime to immediately and completely change foreign policy. This has determined that there must first be a considerable period of gradual change, and several more rounds of successful struggle by the people against reactionary forces, before there can be fundamental change. Suhrawardy’s speeches on the 3rd and 4th of this month reflected this contradiction in Pakistani foreign policy. On one hand, he stated that “Pakistan cannot do with foreign aid,” and thus “Pakistan will honor its international duties.” On the other hand, he stated, “Pakistan would rather eat less and have nothing to wear than trade its independence for foreign aid,” and “if [I] thought changing foreign policy would be good for Pakistan’s international prestige, [I’d] be willing to change it.” And Mirza’s speech on the 6th, which emphasized that [Pakistan] will not back out of the military treaty, and will shoulder the duties of the treaty, despite being cheered by the US Congress and played up as propaganda, was for the purpose of quickly raking in some profit from the US out of fear that American foreign aid policy might change following the election (it is currently in negotiations). At the same time, it was for the purpose of clearing up the confused thinking in the Pakistani army created by the new cabinet having taken office.

[Chinese] Embassy in Pakistan

11 October 1956

Telegram received on the 13th, 12:59 a.m. Printed on the 14th, 8:50 a.m.