845.00/4–1546: Telegram

The Commissioner in India (Merrell) to the Secretary of State

confidential

491. My telegrams 477 and 487, April 12 and 13.25 Such reactions to Reuter Washington story regarding willingness US to offer assistance as have come to attention of Mission have in general been unfavorable. Certain responsible individuals among Congress and League leaders and British officials have indicated that if the report implies US has any intention of intervening at this time, they would not view such intervention with enthusiasm. In this connection I feel following remark made to Weil26 in course of private conversations during past two days is not without significance.

When the subject was mentioned to Asaf Ali27 he said “I don’t like it”. Pie went on to say that if it were decided to hold plebiscites there might be some merit in asking a UNO commission to supervise them, but he somewhat inconsistently added that plebiscites might quite possibly come out in exactly same way as recent elections, which he felt had been conducted unfairly.

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Liaquat Ali Khan28 reiterated official Muslim League opposition to international arbitration on ground that Congress through its extensive publicity channels had unfair advantage over League in influencing world opinion and, whatever the award, would “have three quarters of India” while Muslims—if decision was against Pakistan—“would have nothing”.

A particularly well-informed British officer on General Staff whose friendly attitude toward Mission is unquestioned indicated tactfully that if statement had been official he would have regarded it as gratuitous.

Major Wyatt of Cabinet Delegation said “What? Are they going to interfere now?” While Mrs. Naidu Congress working committee member and confidante of Gandhi, remarked: “It would probably be too late in any case”. The perhaps most unfortunate effect of Reuter story is that it tends create impression officials in Washington may have decided—a week before completion of Cabinet Delegation’s talks with political leaders—that present negotiations will fail.

In referring to possibility of international arbitration Gandhi and Rojagapalachari29 are undoubtedly confident any American involved would be likely to lean toward idea of a United India—partly as result of British and Congress publicity in US and partly because of history of our own country. I am convinced that whatever decision is made—whether by Cabinet Delegation or by international tribunal—millions of Indians of one community or another are going to consider it unjust and not only will those making decision fail to win prestige or good will among these millions but there will arise question of how decision is going to be enforced.

I feel consideration should be given to fact that US initiative in Indian political settlement which did [not?] please Muslims, being already embittered by US official views on Palestine immigration announced last year,30 might create repercussions in other countries of Middle East.

While it is clear that if Indian problem is eventually taken up by UNO the US would inevitably play its part in attempting to reach a solution, it is my considered opinion that no useful purpose would be served if US were on its own initiative to intervene at this juncture.

Sent Department 491 repeated London 50, Calcutta 75, paraphrase to Bombay.

Merrell
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[For text of an exchange of messages between the Viceroy of India, Lord Wavell, and President Truman, dated April 15 and May 3, respectively, on the food crisis in India, see Department of State Bulletin, May 19, 1946, page 861. A Department of State press release, May 24, on shipment of grain to India is reprinted ibid., pages 857–858.]

  1. Neither printed; telegram 477 reported on an article in the Statesman alleging that the United States favored submitting the Pakistan question to international arbitration (845.00/4–1246). Telegram 487 related the highlights of interviews held by the British Cabinet Mission with Indian political figures (845.00/4–1346).
  2. Thomas E. Weil, Secretary, U.S. Mission, New Delhi.
  3. Prominent Muslim member of the Indian National Congress.
  4. General Secretary of the Muslim League.
  5. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Indian nationalist leader and member of the Indian National Congress.
  6. For documentation on the U.S. attitude toward the future status of Palestine and toward the question of Jewish immigration into Palestine, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. viii, pp. 678 ff.; also ibid., 1946, vol. vii .