The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Secretary of State
3966. Garner,1 in conversation with Embassy officer today, made it clear Kashmir conversations here made no progress towards solution of problem. While cautious in his language, he left no doubt re his feeling that failure primarily result Nehru’s intransigence, although he balanced this to some extent stating that unfortunate public agitation in Pakistan and uncertainty re Liaquat’s attendance had created unfavorable atmosphere for conversations. He did not, however, blame Liaquat for this agitation which he felt was a genuine expression public concern and dissatisfaction over impasse.
Altogether three informal meetings held on Kashmir. At first two, Prime Ministers of UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon present while at final meeting at Chequers only Attlee and Menzies present in addition Liaquat and Nehru. At first meeting atmosphere was friendly and UK was optimistic re possibility agreement. Second meeting was still encouraging and it was not until third that it became apparent there was no possibility any agreement.
Garner went on observe that it was difficult give us full details re proceedings since they were confined Prime Ministers with no other officials present. Memorandums which were prepared by Attlee himself, only reached officials yesterday and were not very full. In general, however, Garner understood Nehru had not been willing accept any [Page 1707]suggestion put forward while Liaquat prepared accept all. (In this connection, Garner observed Nehru appears have followed same course as during Dixon efforts by turning down proposals before Liaquat had chance speak, which may have facilitated Liaquat’s acceptance).
Following specific proposals put forward on demilitarization during course conversations:
- Outside force to assist in demilitarization and policing during plebiscite period. UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all indicated willingness contribute to force, which, however, was not intended necessarily be exclusive and, if established under UN aegis, would have contained other contingents as well if UN members had felt that would be desirable.
- Joint Indian-Pakistani force.
- Force recruited from local inhabitants of Kashmir by plebiscite administrator, with officers chosen from outside. All foregoing proprosals were accepted by Liaquat and rejected by Nehru. In case of first suggestion, Nehru turned it down on grounds that it would be interpreted by Indian public as return to old imperial days and might be provocative to Russians.
Garner said Nehru’s main point during conversations was that India’s association with Kashmir was matter of right while Pakistan’s was that of aggressor. He could not, therefore, tolerate positions of two countries in dispute being equated. Government of Kashmir is legal and duly constituted and he insisted Pakistan must therefore withdraw from its territory.
Garner said that although bulk of consideration given to problem was on demilitarization, there had also been some inconclusive discussion of ways in which plebiscite might be conducted. He understood that there had been no great pressure on part due Pakistan for over-all plebiscite and little effective discussion of possibility partition plus plebiscite. There was some general and inconclusive discussion of possibility simultaneous plebiscites in different areas. Question of conditions for holding plebiscite also briefly considered with Nehru taking position he could not commit himself on this point due to his inability to speak for Government of Kashmir.
Garner said SC action is clearly next step and Pakistanis have indicated desire for earliest possible action. In this connection, Garner understood Zafrullah holding himself in readiness to go Lake Success shortly after Liaquat’s return to Karachi, while Mohammed Ali2 is understood be proceeding directly from London within next few days. Garner said Pakistanis have told HMG that they do not think that eminent jurist proposal goes far enough and mentioned possibility SC resolution instructing plebiscite administrator to proceed with implementing SC’s recommendations.[Page 1708]
Garner said CRO and Foreign Office now considering nature of steps which should be taken in SC and hope be in position talk to us in near future. While they regard matter as one of urgency in light current Pakistani public opinion, they nevertheless feel it is important give matter fullest possible consideration in order assure that best possible line of action is taken. Garner said Pakistanis concur this latter viewpoint.
Garner emphasized UK carefully watching reaction in Pakistan to latest failure here and is fully alive to danger inherent in situation. He expressed particular concern at anti-Commonwealth turn which Pakistani resentment had taken prior Liaquat’s departure for London. He said Liaquat felt that rather complete expose of conversations which he had given in press conference yesterday (Embtel 3962, January 17)3 would help in convincing Pakistan public that Commonwealth had in fact given fullest possible consideration to this problem and had tried in every way find equitable solution to it.
Garner paid generous tribute to Menzies, who, he said, had worked hardest of all Prime Ministers (except Attlee) to find solution to this problem and who was fully aware of disruptive influence which continuance of dispute is having in present world crisis and, more specifically, on Commonwealth solidarity.
When I saw Menzies yesterday, he expressed very grave concern at failure reach agreement, placing blame squarely on Nehru. Menzies spoke of his efforts contribute to solution by offering Australian troops for proposal No. 1 above, which he took initiative putting forward, but which Nehru rejected for reasons of doubtful validity. Menzies most apprehensive continuance of impasse will lead resumption communal strife and perhaps war between two dominions.
Repeated information priority Karachi 60, New Delhi 123.