The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State
419. 1. I delivered Bajpai 12:30 p. m. today letter1 enclosing copy Pakistan note to US re reallocation troops north India. He accepted [Page 1402] letter good grace and said he appreciated our straight forwardness in matter. He had already explained background and reasons for movements and had nothing really to add. Movements had been practically completed and it was impossible undo measures which had already been taken in interests long term defense. GOI had no intention whatsoever using these troops except for defense purposes.
2. Bajpai said Nye UK High Commissioner had discussed with Nehru this morning what seemed to have been similar message from Pakistan to UK. Canadian High Commissioner had asked on behalf Pearson questions yesterday afternoon re movement these troops. He assumed Canada had received similar message from Pakistan. Australian High Commissioner had asked see Nehru this afternoon he assumed on similar errand. Furthermore, Nehru had received yesterday from Liaquat Ali Khan letter dated March 28 part of which Bajpai read aloud to me. In this letter Liaquat indicated his concern at finding on his return Karachi from east Bengal that these Indian troop movements had taken place and indicated movements this kind when known to public would undoubtedly increase resentment and strain. Letter further emphasized importance personal conversations and invited Nehru come Karachi soon as possible.
3. Bajpai then read portion Nehru’s reply sent yesterday to Liaquat in which Nehru referred to his communication to Liaquat inviting Liaquat visit Delhi which appeared to have crossed Liaquat’s letter to Nehru. Nehru then agreed on urgency of two getting together but stressed it was important that he have with him during conversations members his cabinet who for reasons of health could not travel to Karachi and again suggested Liaquat come Delhi.
4. I told Bajpai it would be unfortunate if meeting this kind which might result in quieting fears on both sides should be delayed because of disagreement re venue. Bajpai replied Nehru had told him this morning that he was personally prepared meet Liaquat any place since he did not wish petty detail such as place of meeting to postpone talks, but Nehru had pointed out it was absolutely necessary for sake of cabinet unity that Patel be at his side and Patel’s health would not permit travel Karachi. Bajpai added for my personal and confidential information that there had been terrific strain in cabinet during last week of such serious character that Nehru had felt constrained to tell President2 that if cabinet prevented him from pursuing his policies he would have to resign. Nehru therefore felt Patel who was leader opposition should share responsibility of agreements reached with Liaquat. Bajpai hoped there was some way convince Liaquat Nehru’s desire for talks take place in Delhi was not based on cheap considerations prestige.[Page 1403]
5. I asked Bajpai if he would object to me passing along to Ambassador Warren for his use in conversations he may have with Liaquat some of background responsible for Nehru’s insistence on Delhi.
6. Bajpai said it might be helpful if Warren could tell Liaquat he had heard from me that my information was that Nehru considered conference with Liaquat urgent, that he felt it necessary in view political situation India that Patel also be present, that Patel could not travel Karachi because of health and that therefore Nehru sincerely hoped Liaquat would understand real reasons for latter’s desire conference be held in Delhi. I told Bajpai I would pass this information to Warren for such discreet use as he could make of it.
7. I have reason believe Nehru is sincere in reason for not traveling Karachi. I had heard previously from reliable source of grave cabinet crisis which took place last week in which Nehru found himself almost alone in face hostile cabinet led by Patel. This will be subject of another telegram. It would be extremely helpful if Liaquat could find it possible in view gravity situation come Delhi.
8. Reverting to troop reallocation, Bajpai said it was Nehru’s belief this matter could be one of subjects for talks between two Prime Ministers when they met.
[Here follows discussion of the recent murder in West Bengal of a prominent British businessman and an unprovoked mob attack there on two American fliers.]
11. Bajpai said he would bring my letter immediately to Nehru’s attention.
Sent Department 419, repeated Karachi niact 42.
- Henderson delivered a slightly altered draft of the letter suggested in his telegram 417, p. 1399. Omitted from the first paragraph was the phrase “stands for peace and.” In the last paragraph, Henderson omitted the first word, “Since,” and the phrase “there is no reason for me to ask for comments.” (690D.91/3–3050)↩
- Rajendra Prasad, President of India.↩