Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Pakistan–Afghanistan Affairs (Gatewood)


Subject: Kashmir

Participants: Mr. Mohamad [Mohammed] Ali, Secretary-General, Government of Pakistan
Mr. M. A. O. Baig, Minister, Embassy of Pakistan
SOA—Mr. Mathews
Mr. Gatewood

Problem: To make further progress towards solution of Kashmir dispute.

Action Required: To consider Pakistan views concerning action by the Security Council.

Action Assigned to: SOA

Mr. Mohamad Ali called by appointment and, in the course of a two hour conversation, reported on developments at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference as follows:

1. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers (excluding the South African representative) met twice and the Prime Ministers of the [Page 1710]UK, Australia, India, and Pakistan met once to discuss Kashmir and the outstanding issues were found to be, a) demilitarization (without which it was agreed no impartial plebiscite could be conducted), and b) arrangements for a plebiscite. Liaquat recognized that, should certain non-Muslim districts (such as those south of the Chenab) find themselves included in Pakistan as a result of the plebiscite, a serious refugee problem would be created; therefore, he was willing to consider the possibility of having the plebiscite conducted by regions, especially as each of the three principal regions of Kashmir (Jammu and Poonch, The Vale, and the northern areas with Ladakh) were mostly populated by Muslims. Nehru felt that more emphasis should be placed on ethnic and linguistic affinities and maintained his opposition to the “two-nation theory,” but he did not object strenuously to the idea of three regional plebiscites. It was pointed out to him that ethnic and linguistic ties of the population in the Ladakh area were stronger with Tibet and China than with India or Pakistan.

In regard to demilitarization, Nehru insisted that he was responsible for the security of Kashmir, that he feared further Pakistan aggression, and that India’s legal position was sound. Attlee pointed out that legal considerations should not impede the settlement of a de facto situation.

2. Menzies (Australia) put forward the first suggestion for effective demilitarization: Commonwealth troops might be stationed in Kashmir at Commonwealth expense after the withdrawal of both Indian and Pakistan forces. After considering this proposal for a day, Nehru rejected it on the grounds that the USSR would be offended by it, alleging that Kashmir had been turned into an Anglo-American base of operations against Russia and the Indian public would object to this indication that Dominion troops were beginning to re-occupy the subcontinent. Mr. Mohamad Ali was clearly attracted to this suggestion and pointed out that Nehru’s arguments were very weak as only one brigade, lightly armed, would be needed throughout Kashmir and these troops would not be numerous enough to arouse suspicions of imperialism or intended aggression.

3. Attlee then suggested that joint Indo-Pakistan forces might be stationed in Kashmir after the withdrawal of the present troops. Nehru flatly opposed this, stating that this would give Pakistan the same status as India and therefore would be equivalent to condoning Pakistan aggression.

4. It was then suggested that the UN Plebiscite Administrator might raise local troops which would be commanded by officers of UN countries other than India and Pakistan. After considering this, Nehru said he was only responsible for the defense and foreign affairs of Kashmir; that this proposal affected the internal administration of the State; and that he would have to consider Sheikh Abdullah in the matter. (Menzies remarked that this would imply that Nehru thought his colleagues were fools, knowing nothing of his control over Abdullah.) Liaquat pointed out that only a question of principle was involved: after both Indian and Pakistan troops were withdrawn, the Plebiscite Administrator must have some military support to insure the impartiality of the plebiscite. Nehru said that, from this point of view, he would have to refuse the proposal and vaguely indicated [Page 1711]that, after consulting Sheikh Abdullah, he might talk about it further with Liaquat when they next meet in Karachi. Mr. Mohamad Ali indicated such a meeting might possibly take place in mid-February but he had no hopes that it would produce any substantive results. He also believed the delay in recruiting local troops, estimated at 6–9 months, would not be very acceptable to his Government, even though Liaquat had agreed to the proposal in London.

5. The UK communiqué and Nehru’s press conference on Kashmir left the impression that there were still several points to be discussed. Liaquat’s press conference was designed to set the record straight, to inform the Pakistan public of a course of discussions and to show that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers had really made a sincere attempt to move forward. Liaquat made it quite clear that Pakistan would be unable to contribute anything to the defense of the Middle East or Asia until the Kashmir question was solved.

6. In talks with Attlee and Bevin before leaving London, Liaquat pointed out that there was a wave of anti-Commonwealth and anti-UN feeling in Pakistan and that the position of the Muslim League (the source of Liaquat’s political power) might be gravely prejudiced if this party were unable to obtain a good majority in the Punjab local elections, now scheduled for March. Accordingly, he urged SC action before the end of January along lines stronger than those put forward in the “eminent jurist” resolution. Attlee agreed with both these suggestions. Liaquat went on to say that he hoped some SC resolution might be worked out along the following lines: a) The activities of the Kashmir National Conference (concerning which Zafrulla has already presented a letter to the SC) must not be allowed to prejudice a fair plebiscite; b) Nimitz should be appointed both UN Representative (exercising the powers of the former UNCIP to supervise troop withdrawals) and Plebiscite Administrator (with powers to complete arrangements for a plebiscite); and, c) the new SC resolution should take account of the offer of Commonwealth troops. Liaquat made it plain that the powers of the Plebiscite Administrator should be sufficient to prevent the local Kashmir governments, on either side of the cease-fire line, from taking any action that would prejudice an impartial plebiscite. The British agreed to give this suggestion most careful and urgent consideration.

Mr. Mohamad Ali pointed out that the “formal authority” of the Plebiscite Administrator is to be derived from the State of Kashmir, in accordance with terms of the UN Resolution of January 5, 1949; that the Indians had insisted, in 1948–49, that this was a mere formality; and that he thought the Indians would induce Sheikh Abdullah to grant proper authority to the Plebiscite Administrator if the SC were to pass a resolution such as Liaquat suggested. He also said he had seen the President of the SC (Quevedo) briefly in New York and had obtained his agreement that SC action on Kashmir should consist of something further than a mere acknowledgment of Zafrulla’s letter regarding the Kashmir National Conference.

In closing this summary of developments in London, Mr. Mohamad Ali expressed the hope that the US would support SC action along the lines suggested by the Pakistan Prime Minister.

[Page 1712]

Mr. Mathews thanked Mr. Mohamad Ali for informing us of the London discussions and said that the Department agreed that, a) the “eminent jurist plan” was no longer adequate, and b) that the SC must act promptly. He pointed out that we were not yet informed of specific British views in this matter and that our own thinking was in a formative stage. Meanwhile, he raised some questions, on a personal and speculative basis, eliciting the following replies:

The Plebiscite Administrator should be allowed discretion to request outside military forces for duty in Kashmir from UN members so as to avoid the possibility of having the USSR offer some troops for this purpose, (this would be distasteful to Pakistan, which was quite ready to accept Swiss or Swedish or Commonwealth or locally raised troops).
In the view of Pakistan military authorities, only one brigade (3 battalions) would be necessary for the use of the Plebiscite Administrator in the whole of Kashmir. It was to be understood that the existing strength of local police forces was not to be increased and that all types of Indian and Pakistan troops (including local State forces and the Maharajah’s guards) were to be withdrawn.
Pakistan could not consider making a unilateral gesture by withdrawing its troops shortly after the passage of a SC resolution such as Liaquat proposed; public opinion would accuse the GOP of leaving Azad Kashmir at the mercy of the Indians. Pakistan forces, however, could be withdrawn as soon as UN contingents arrived in Kashmir.
It might be possible for Pakistan to agree that the plebiscite should be conducted by districts (tehsils) rather than by regions, provided India accepted conditions for a “reasonable” conduct of the voting.

Mr. Mohamad Ali attached great importance to the appointment of Admiral Nimitz as both UN Representative and Plebiscite Administrator at the earliest possible moment, pointing out that the Admiral had been accepted by both parties, that he was internationally eminent, and that any delay in his appointment would postpone a plebiscite until the summer of 1952, whereas Pakistan wishes the earliest possible action.

Mr. Mohamad Ali said his government would have no difficulty controlling any possible tribal incursions into Kashmir, provided definite action were taken to set in motion the procedures for a fair plebiscite.

It was agreed that the Foreign Minister (Zafrulla), who is arriving in New York about January 25, and Mr. Mohamad Ali would be available for conference in Washington, if necessary, and that the Department would inform the Pakistan Embassy if further discussions with Mohamad Ali were required. Mr. Mathews said we would give most urgent and careful consideration to GOP views in this matter.