Memorandum by Mr. Howard Meyers of the Office of “United Nations Political and Security Affairs and Mr. Frank D. Collins of the Office of South Asian Affairs 1


Subject: U.S. Policy in the Kashmir Dispute.

1. From New York’s 1189, February 23,2 reporting a conversation of Zafrullah and Mohammad Ali with Ambassador Gross,3 it appears fairly certain that the draft UK–US resolution introduced in the Security Council February 21 is generally acceptable to the Government of Pakistan. The Pakistan press has indicated some dislike for the border adjustment clause and the provision suggesting that there might be a varying degree of supervision of the government for different areas during the plebiscite, but the objections of the Pakistan Foreign Minister and Secretary General of the Cabinet were concerned principally with drafting rather than substantive matters.

2. The reaction of the Government of India undoubtedly, will be quite adverse, judging from the response of the Indian press to the resolution and supporting speeches. In general, Indian newspapers single out for objection the references to Dixon’s demilitarization proposals, the use of foreign troops to police the plebiscite area, and the proposal to refer unresolved issues to arbitration. The Hindustan Times, which is regarded as usually reflecting the Government’s position, takes the line that the whole resolution should be rejected without effort to amend it and remedy its defects. Accordingly, there is a good possibility that the GOI will take the position of refusing to accept the resolution in toto, thus raising the question—what should be the policy of the United States in this event.

3. It should be noted that the Indian Government has objected to considerable portions of previous Security Council resolutions adopted during the course of the India-Pakistan question hearings: particularly the 21 April 1948 and 14 March 1950 resolutions. Despite these objections, the GOI cooperated with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and with the United Nations Representative who succeeded the Commission, Sir Owen Dixon. Admittedly the GOI did not object to every provision of these past resolutions, but objected to such substantial portions that it is a reasonable assumption that the GOI will similarly be willing to enter into negotiations with the new United Nations Representative even though refusing to accept the resolution.

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4. Mr. Fowler of the United Kingdom Delegation on 27 February said that he believed the United Kingdom would be willing to consider an Article 374 approach to the Kashmir problem, by which the Security Council would recommend specific terms of settlement for the dispute, rather than machinery to aid the parties to reach a solution, as in the past. This position was based upon a possible GOI refusal to accept the major elements of the resolution, particularly the provision for arbitration of unresolved issues, so that the United Nations Representative would only be retracing the ground covered by Sir Owen Dixon in his unsuccessful mission, if the Indian Government was willing to engage in negotiations with the United Nations Representative although not willing to accept the terms of the resolution.

This indication of a possible United Kingdom position poses a difficult problem. It seems probably that the Indian representative in the Security Council will either refuse categorically to accept the arbitration provision, or will say that, while his Government agrees to arbitration in principle, they cannot commit themselves to arbitration on unresolved issues before they know what are the specific matters to be the subject of such arbitration. This would be in line with Nehru’s statements in his exchange of correspondence with Liaquat. Assuming that this will be the Indian line, two possible U.S. positions appear logical:

a) To defer for the present taking issue with the Indian refusal to accept the terms of the resolution, trusting that the negotiations of the United Nations Representative may coincide with other factors sufficient to induce the Indian Government to exhibit a reasonable, attitude toward suggestions for solving the dispute, so that the UN Representative’s mission will result in a net gain in Security Council action in this dispute.

If this policy is adopted, we should point out that, as was said in our supporting speech on February 21, the resolution does not criticize either of the parties and does not attempt to sit in judgment upon them; that the resolution is predicated on the theory that the area of disagreement between the parties has been narrowed and that the Security Council can best exercise its functions to narrow further this area of disagreement by effecting demilitarization of Kashmir as a prerequisite to conducting a plebiscite. We should take the line that we think the resolution is a practical attempt to capitalize on the often-reiterated willingness of both sides to settle the issue peacefully on the basis of a fair and impartial plebiscite under United Nations auspices. We might refer to Nehru’s speeches reaffirming the plebiscite method of settlement and say that we assume that it is still the foundation of GOI policy; that the resolution is directed toward this goal and we, consequently, assume that the Government [Page 1733]of India will cooperate to the utmost in aiding the UN Representative to effect demilitarization and to work out detailed plans for such a plebiscite. We can suggest that the United Nations Representative will be able, through his investigations and negotiations, to report back to the Security Council what he has been able to accomplish, so that the Council and the world in general will have a clearer picture of the situation in Kashmir.

In other words, we should ignore the Indian refusal to accept specific terms of the resolution; assure them that we recognize their willingness to settle the issue peacefully by means of state-wide plebiscite, pressing them to meet their previous commitments in regard to the plebiscite; and hint broadly that failure to work with the United Nations Representative will result in a report to the United Nations, which, adequately publicized will further indicate Indian failure to practice the reasonable approach to international issues which they advocate so strongly in other matters.

On the basis of previous Indian action in the Kashmir dispute, the GOI will probably meet with the United Nations Representative to see what possibilities might adduce to their benefit through these negotiations. If the Indians are willing to, in fact, negotiate with the United Nations Representative on the basis of the terms of the resolution which establishes his terms of reference, even though refusing to accept those terms of reference, they have in effect accepted the terms. Moreover, the resolution is predicated upon acquiescence between the parties rather than affirmative acceptance. Under these circumstances, the policy outlined above would seem adequate for the immediate circumstances.

b) If the United Kingdom openly proposes an Article 37 approach (instead of only suggesting the possibility), then in deference to the agreement that the United Kingdom should take the initiative in this matter we might support such initiative, and help draft a resolution by which the Security Council would recommend the specific terms of settlement considered appropriate, on the basis that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. If this policy is adopted, it will require careful presentation of the history of this dispute and the continued refusal by the GOI to accept reasonable proposals for solving the two major issues of demilitarization and the plebiscite, in such way as to demonstrate that the Council has been led inexorably to the next step in the process of peaceful settlement of the dispute under Chapter 6;5 recommending specific terms of settlement. The new resolution, whatever its details, should be supported by pointing out: (i) the parties have failed to settle the dispute by means of their own choice, (ii) the Council and its representatives have failed to persuade the Indian Government to accept proposals worked out through machinery established by the Council, (iii) the Council must take, a more radical step because of the deterioration of the situation in Kashmir and the threat the Kashmir dispute presents to the maintenance of international peace and security in South Asia. For this reason, the United States believes that it is necessary to take a step [Page 1734]which goes beyond that envisaged in the original UK–US resolution presented to the Security Council on Feb. 21. This step is proposed without intending to criticize or judge either one of the parties. However, it is a necessary evolution of this case to which the Security Council has been led by the logic of the situation, in which repeated attempts to reach a solution of the case have foundered upon objections which appear to have no direct relationship to the expressed willingness of both parties to settle the future of Kashmir by a fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices. Under these circumstances, the Security Council has no other alternative except that of recommending in detail the steps which should be taken by the parties to bring about demilitarization and a fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices.


Despite irritation with the GOI attitude, alternative (a) above is recommended as the better policy as of this moment. It is possible that it may result in nothing more than a fruitless negotiation of the same nature as Sir Owen Dixon’s. Nevertheless, it does offer the possibility that a combination of the negotiator’s efforts plus other factors in the international and Indian domestic scenes may cause the GOI to be willing to cooperate in demilitarization and accepting a reasonable plebiscite plan. It is reasonable to say that a major factor in United States policy in the Kashmir dispute, to date, has been to attempt to provide various devices for keeping the parties in a negotiating position so that (i) their positions would not become frozen; (ii) the combination of varying factors might cause the Indians to adhere to a reasonable solution. If this, in fact, has been the immediate limited objective of our policy in the United Nations, alternative (a) offers the opportunity of carrying out this policy while still enabling us to resort to a strong stand, as suggested by alternative (b), if the United Nations Representative’s negotiations actually are fruitless. In other words, employing alternative (a) does not rule out alternative (b), whereas the use of an Article 37 approach at this time would automatically eliminate alternative (a). Assuming that Pakistan will be satisfied and their public assuaged by Security Council action along the lines of the present UK–US resolution, this resolution should be put forward despite apparent Indian refusal to accept its terms, since the GOI will probably engage in negotiations with the United Nations Representative.

The proposal to present detailed recommendations under Article 37, in addition to eliminating a more flexible approach as outlined above, raises the serious problem of the succeeding step if the Indians, as is probable, reject the detailed recommendations under Article 37. It is true that a recommendation under Article 37 is not binding upon the parties (see Hearings Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 79th Congress, pp. 272–288). However, a detailed recommendation [Page 1735]of this sort does involve the prestige of the Security Council to a greater degree than previous suggestions by the Council, which have had for their goal establishing machinery to aid the parties to reach a settlement of the dispute. A probable Indian rejection of such detailed recommendation would appear to have a more adverse reaction upon Security Council prestige than non-acceptance by the GOI of the type of proposals envisaged by the present UK–US resolution coupled with probable Indian willingness to negotiate with the United Nations Representative. Moreover, Indian refusal of detailed recommendations under Article 37 might logically lead the Security Council to consider whether the situation constitutes a threat to the peace, and face the Council with the unhappy task of deciding if enforcement measures under Chapter 76 are required. There has been no case before the Security Council to the present in which this question of enforcement measures has been considered when the dispute before the Council did not involve actual hostilities. Thus, it is somewhat difficult to see how the Council can determine that a threat to the peace exists when conditions in the Kashmir area are the same as they have been since the summer of 1949, and the Council has not yet declared that this situation constitutes a threat to the peace. Nonetheless, an Indian rejection of an Article 37 recommendation might well lead Pakistan to conclude that a show of force on the part of the Azad Kashmir forces or Muslim tribesmen would, given the Indian recalcitrance towards the Council, materially aid the Pakistan cause. In this situation, the Security Council would be faced with a situation which might be termed a threat to the peace, and probably would have to decide if enforcement measures were necessary to support the Council’s detailed recommendations under Article 37.

A final argument supporting this recommendation that alternative (a) be adopted is that since any lasting settlement of this dispute must rest on Indian as well as Pakistan acceptance, it is difficult to conceive what can be gained by dropping the present UK–US resolution, which is unacceptable to the GOI, and then put forward a recommendation which is sure to be even less acceptable to the Indians. The present resolution, at least, offers the possibility that the UN Representative’s negotiations may result in Indian acceptance of a reasonable solution of the dispute, while enabling establishment of more evidence which would be necessary if the Security Council must proceed to a detailed plan for settling the issues. Assuming that the Pakistanis will be satisfied by Security Council adoption of this resolution, as appears quite probable, it does not seem appropriate to drop this resolution and proceed to an Article 37 approach at this time.

  1. Addressed to the Director of the Office of U.N. Political and Security Affairs (Bancroft) and the Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs (Mathews).
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ernest A. Gross, Deputy U.S. Representative at the United Nations.
  4. With respect to procedure under Article 37 of the U.N. Charter, see United Nations, Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, vol. ii: Articles 23–54 of the Charter (New York, 1955), p. 325. See also the case history of the India–Pakistan question, ibid., pp. 309 ff., paras. 91–102.
  5. With respect to procedure under Chapter vi of the U.N. Charter, see United Nations, Repertory of Practice, vol. ii, pp. 193 ff.
  6. With respect to procedure under Chapter vii of the U.N. Charter, see United Nations, Repertory of Practice, vol. ii, pp. 331 ff.