Memorandum by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Berry) to the Secretary of State


Subject: Appeals From the UK and Pakistan for Admiral Nimitz’s Services in Kashmir


On January 30 Mr. McGhee and Mr. Hickerson forwarded a memorandum1 to you requesting that you urge the President to make available Admiral Nimitz’s services to carry on UN negotiations in the Kashmir case. When it was decided that this would not be advisable,2 another joint memorandum was forwarded to you calling attention to a possible appeal from the UK and Pakistan and recommending that you forward a personal message to Mr. Bevin pointing out that, while Admiral Nimitz was not available at this time, we would be glad if the UK concurred to approach another distinguished American, Dr. Ralph Bunche and to press him to undertake the proposed Kashmir negotiations.3 It was decided that a preferable approach would be to have Mr. McGhee discuss this matter with the British Embassy, which he did on February 6 in a conversation with Mr. Steel, Minister Counselor of the British Embassy.4 On February 8, Ambassador Austin in New York informed the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Sir Zafrulla Khan, that Admiral Nimitz’s services were unavailable and that the US had suggested to the UK another distinguished American without identifying the person by name. Mr. McGhee similarly on this date informed the Pakistan Ambassador here. Both the UK and Pakistan representatives expressed disappointment upon hearing of Admiral Nimitz’s unavailability and Sir Zafrulla has requested a meeting with the President at which time we anticipate that he will ask us to reconsider our decision on Admiral Nimitz.

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On February 10 the British Embassy approached the Department and requested that the views of Mr. Bevin be transmitted to you. The UK inquired (Tab A)5 if the President could not make Admiral Nimitz’s services available for an immediate three-month assignment as provided in the revised UK Kashmir resolution.

A complicating factor is that we have just informally learned that both the White House and Admiral Nimitz are of the opinion that his services might be made immediately available for UN Kashmir negotiations. We believe we should now inform both the UK and Pakistan that we favor Admiral Nimitz retaining his status as UN Plebiscite-Administrator-Designate for future services in Kashmir; that he will not be available for UN duties at this time, in view of his current appointment as Chairman of the President’s Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights; and that we believe another outstanding American can be sent out to take on the immediate task of demilitarization and to suggest plans for the plebiscite. We should stress to the British that we strongly favor Dr. Bunche because of his extensive UN experience in difficult negotiations (Tab B).6 We are not in a position to inform the Pakistan Foreign Minister of the name of our alternate choice, as we believe it highly important that the name of the person designated by the UN not be submitted to the parties for their approval, a view shared by the Pakistanis.


1. That you sign the attached telegram (Tab B) to Mr. Bevin;

2. That you approve the attached memorandum to the President (Tab C);7

3. That you arrange to have Admiral Nimitz informed of the above developments.


Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President

Subject: Your Appointment With the Pakistan Foreign Minister

Sir Zafrulla Khan, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, will call on you on February 13 or 14 and put forward an earnest request that [Page 1722]you make available the services of Admiral Nimitz in connection with the Kashmir case, which will be considered by the United Nations Security Council this week.

On the assumption that Admiral Nimitz would not be immediately available for a United Nations assignment, because of his recent appointment as Chairman of the Commission on Internal Security and Individual Eights, the Department has recently informed the British and Sir Zafrulla that another prominent American was being considered for the post of United Nations Representative in the Kashmir dispute. We have also suggested to the United Kingdom (but not to Pakistan) that we believe Mr. Ralph Bunche would provide the most suitable alternate for Admiral Nimitz. Under a new United Nations resolution, which we expect the British and other members of the Security Council to co-sponsor with us, a United Nations Representative would be authorized to effect the demilitarization of Kashmir and to suggest detailed plans for a plebiscite. The functions of Plebiscite-Administrator-Designate, from which Admiral Nimitz is on leave without pay, would be exercised at a later stage. Mr. Bevin has inquired if you could not make the Admiral available immediately for three months’ service with the United Nations and I have informed him that, as this would not be possible, we favor the alternative procedure prescribed above.

I believe you will wish to express to Sir Zafrulla your regret that the services of Admiral Nimitz are not now available in connection with the Kashmir case and to say that we have great hopes that another distinguished American will be able to carry out the immediate duties which may be assigned to a United Nations Representative by the Security Council. You may also wish to state that Admiral Nimitz is still the Plebiscite-Administrator-Designate and that you will give every consideration to the possibility of making his services available in that capacity at the appropriate time.

Should Sir Zafrulla inquire as to the name of the American being considered for an immediate United Nations assignment regarding the Kashmir case, you may desire to point out that, in our view, the United Nations Representative should be appointed directly by the Security Council without reference, as heretofore, to either party to the dispute (a position originally put forward by the Pakistan Government).

It is possible that Sir Zafrulla will mention the pending Indian food request and express the hope that the effects of United States generosity will not prove detrimental to Pakistan. In this case, you may find it appropriate to remind him that the Pakistan Ambassador has been informed of our humanitarian motives in this matter, and has [Page 1723]been assured that we do not intend our action to be in any way detrimental to Pakistan’s interests.8

  1. Not printed.
  2. According to a memorandum of February 5 by Mr. Matthews to Mr. McGhee, the “Secretary on February 2 decided that it would be inadvisable to approach the President requesting Admiral Nimitz’s services be made available for the Kashmir negotiations proposed in the UK draft resolution.” (McGhee Files, Lot 53D468)
  3. Memorandum by Assistant Secretaries McGhee and Hickerson to the Secretary of State, February 2, 1951, not printed (357.AB/2–251).
  4. See the memorandum of conversation of February 6, p. 1718.
  5. Extract of memorandum of conversation of February 10, not printed, in which the following participated: Mr. Michael Walker of the British Embassy and Messrs. Elbert G. Mathews and Frank D. Collins of the Department of State (357.AB/2–1051). A portion of this conversation is paraphrased in telegram 3765 to London. February 12, infra.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Annex below. The covering memorandum bears the following notation in the Secretary of State’s hand: “I gave the memo to the President who will see Sir Zafrulla at 12:15 Wed. [February 14.] I have signed the telegram. D[ean] A[cheson].”
  8. The President and the Secretary of State met with Sir Zafrulla and the Ambassador of Pakistan on February 14; see the memorandum of conversation of that date by Secretary Acheson, p. 1726.