Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. W. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President


Subject: Pakistan–Afghanistan

[Page 1728]
Participants: M. A. H. Ispahani, Ambassador E. and P. (Pakistan)
Sir Zafrulla Khan, Foreign Minister of Pakistan
Mohammed Ali, Secretary General of the Pakistan Cabinet
Mr. Elbert G. Mathews, Director of South Asian Affairs Division of Department of State
Mr. W. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President

Sir Zafrulla opened the conversation by summarizing his discussion with the President earlier today. He said that he had made a strong plea to the President that Admiral Nimitz be made available for the Kashmir case at this time. The President had indicated that unfortunately it would not be possible to do this but that Admiral Nimitz might be made available later to fulfill his role as plebiscite administrator. Sir Zafrulla said that he must, of course, abide by the President’s decision but that he did greatly hope that any American who might be substituted for Admiral Nimitz at this stage of the Kashmir dispute would be of outstanding ability and of a military background.

Sir Zafrulla then referred to his Government’s concern at the possibility that the Security Council might make some reference in its next resolution to a regional plebiscite in Kashmir. He said that Pakistan did not object to this concept in principle but that its introduction by the Security Council at this time would encourage the Indians to believe they could obtain even more concessions by being entrenched. I said that I believed that the Secretary of State fully understood the Foreign Minister’s point on this matter.

[Here follows a brief discussion of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan which is printed on page 1944.]

I asked Sir Zafrulla what he thought would happen to Burma. He replied that Burma was in a very shaky internal state and deeply fearful of China. He thought, however, that China would turn its attention first to Indo-China and then to Malaya before exerting greater pressure on the Burmese. This would give time to strengthen the Burmese. I asked the Foreign Minister what he had in mind in the latter connection. He said that economic aid and even military aid would be very helpful. I commented that we were now giving the Burmese some economic assistance, but that they had been rather hesitant in requesting it. Sir Zafrulla remarked that this was only another indication of the Burmese fear of China.

I said to Sir Zafrulla in conclusion that I believed the Russians were strongly of the opinion that the free world could not hold together; that in a sense this was an advantage since the Russians had the idea that if they waited long enough the free world would fall apart and their road would be much easier; and that I did not believe this would happen, although the free world clearly had many problems among its members urgently requiring solution.

I also referred to President Roosevelt’s conviction that the Moslem world offered a great opportunity for economic development and [Page 1729]improvement. I myself had much the same feeling as the President. Unfortunately the unhappy events in the Near East and also in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent had greatly impeded necessary measures in the economic field. We hoped that these political issues could be put at rest and that emphasis could be shifted to the economic field. Sir Zafrulla expressed his agreement and said that, as regards India and Pakistan, their disputes had made them liabilities to the free world when in happier circumstances they could be substantial assets.

Mohammed Ali told Mr. Mathews that in view of the President’s decision his Government definitely desired that any representative who might be appointed by the Security Council at this phase of the Kashmir case should not be given the functions of plebiscite administrator, that Pakistan desired that Admiral Nimitz continue to retain that capacity.

W. A. Harriman