The Acting United States Representative at the United Nations (Gross) to the Secretary of State
1207. Re Kashmir. Following SC dinner last night, Jebb1 agreed to my suggestion that we both approach Rau2 for an informal discussion of GOI reactions to Kashmir draft resolution. Although Rau appeared quite ready and willing to discuss matter, Jebb left me alone with Rau almost at once after conversation had begun. However, before Jebb left, following two points were brought up by Rau: (1) His statement that we need not be concerned by the proposed action of the Kashmir national conference (which Rau subsequently in conversation explained in fuller detail, as set forth below); and (2) his comment that the GOI felt matter should have been left to the settlement between the two parties. As to first point, Jebb expressed gratification, and as to second point, he commented merely that this was, after all, what Sir Owen Dixon himself had suggested.
I then continued conversation alone with Rau. Rau said it would be no secret to us that his government had reacted most unfavorably to the resolution. Nehru was “upset, very upset” not only about the substance of the resolution, but by the fact that matter had not been discussed with GOI in advance of tabling the resolution. GOI had made repeated efforts to ascertain in advance what was planned, but approaches to UK both in London and here had been rebuffed.
Throughout our talk, Rau’s criticism seemed directed against UK rather than against US. In fact, when I pointed out that our sole interest was to see a fair end to a dispute which was giving increasing concern to our Congress and people who were sincerely friendly toward the people of India, Rau readily expressed understanding of our motive and attitude. I said that we quite naturally felt that the Kashmir dispute was primarily an issue within the British Commonwealth nations, that we wished to be as helpful as possible in bringing the parties to agreement on a mutually satisfactory basis, and we understood that the draft resolution, which we had co-sponsored, reflected the best judgment of the Commonwealth Ministers who had participated in the London discussions of the matter.
Turning to the resolution itself, I said we shared anxiety of the British concerning the proposed action of the Kashmir national conference. It seemed to us that action taken by the conference which might prejudge and prejudice the plebiscite would be grossly arbitrary and utterly inconsistent both with the prior agreement of the parties [Page 1737]and the interest and jurisdiction of the SC. Rau replied that we need have no concern about the actions of the conference. He said the Conference would limit itself to preparing a constitution and that for this purpose it was appropriate and necessary to establish a Constituent Assembly. However, the question of accession of the state would not arise. As to this, Rau emphasized, the matter was one to be handled subject to the SC.
I then raised the question of demilitarization, requesting Rau’s views on the resolution in this respect. Here I found him most critical of the resolution, which, he insisted, was built upon the “errors” of Sir Owen Dixon. Rau insisted Dixon had turned the clock back by reopening a question which had actually been previously settled by agreement of the parties. When I pressed Rau for further comment on this he said he was referring particularly to fact that the parties had agreed prior to Sir Owen’s advent that demilitarization of the state of Jammu-Kashmir would be effected and that this meant withdrawal of all Pakistani forces and of all Indian forces except for a small, if not negligible, number essential for security purposes. Rau complained that Sir Owen had reopened this question and had made it appear that Pakistan was not under an obligation to withdraw its forces from the large areas of which it was in occupation. Rau asserted that GOI was in process of withdrawing Indian forces, and in fact had already withdrawn 20 to 25 percent. Rau, therefore, objected to the provision in the draft resolution instructing the UN representative to effect demilitarization on the basis of Sir Owen Dixon’s proposal with such modifications as the UN representative deems necessary.
I replied that we were interested solely from the point of view of assuring that conditions would be established in which a free and fair plebiscite could be held. It seemed clear to us, as we had been advised by the British and by General McNaughton as well as Sir Owen Dixon, that demilitarization was an essential prerequisite. I said I assumed GOI was still willing to adhere to its agreement that a disposition of the state would be decided by a plebiscite. I asked Rau whether he could hazard an opinion as to when he thought a plebiscite could be held at the earliest practicable time under conditions assuring that such a plebiscite would be free. I found Rau very evasive on the whole subject of a plebiscite and I consequently prodded him from different directions. This elicited a rather discursive lecture on the impossibility of anyone (I was certain he was referring primarily to the British) understanding the problems of Kashmir who was not thoroughly familiar with the local situation. Rau said he himself had been Prime Minister of the State for over a year and he was personally well aware of the many difficulties and complexities of the situation. He thought Abdullah was genuinely attempting to bring [Page 1738]about reforms within the State and that conditions were improving all the time. This, Rau maintained, was why it was possible for the GOI to withdraw a substantial portion of its forces there. In addition, the Pakistanis had acted in a most unreasonable manner. Rau illustrated his comment by saying that he believed the dispute could have been settled last year if Ibrahim, former President of Azad Kashmir, had been allowed to follow through on his plan to confer at Lake Success with Abdullah. Rau said a lunch had actually been arranged by Ibrahim and Abdullah, but that the day prior to the luncheon, the Government of Pakistan had requested Ibrahim to leave New York.
I said that we did not wish to reopen settled questions nor become involved in a fruitless debate over past history. We were interested in the future and in the prompt and fair settlement of the dispute. Therefore, I hoped that Rau in his statement to the SC could find it possible to avoid bitterness, rancor or destructive criticism. I ventured to suggest to him that his approach might be to point out the manner in which the GOI felt the dispute could be settled, the steps by which his government believed demilitarization could be accomplished and the method and the time for holding a plebiscite. In other words, it seemed to me that if GOI pointed the way toward a solution, it would be most reassuring to our government and public, which were becoming increasingly anxious over the indefinite postponement of solution. Rau did not comment himself but listened attentively, and I do not know what his ultimate course will be. He reverted to his earlier comment that it was most unfortunate that the resolution had been tabled without prior discussion with his government. He repeated Nehru’s deep disappointment and dissatisfaction and said it was quite possible that it was too late now to undo the harm that had been done. He felt that we should have taken into account the necessity for parties to reach an agreement on their own, and pointed to the recent trade agreement between India and Pakistan, which he said had been successfully concluded in spite of great difficulties in the way. He said we must remember that GOI is not a dictatorship and that the public reaction as well as the reaction in the Indian Parliament, has been violently opposed to the draft resolution. All this, Rau repeated, might have been avoided if his government had been consulted prior to the publication of our resolution.
The tone of our conversation, which was rather lengthy, was most friendly throughout and Rau seemed anxious to appear reasonable without concealing at any point his strong feeling that it had been a mistake to table the resolution without previous consultation with GOI.