357.AB/3–551: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State


1611. Deptel 542 February 28.1 Silence of Soviet press to date on SC meeting February 21 and US–UK resolution on Kashmir not surprising view past failure Soviets take active part in SC proceedings re Kashmir and relatively limited comment on subject in Soviet press since issue arose in 1947. Such articles as have appeared in Soviet periodicals and other media have invariably depicted Kashmir dispute as stemming from machinations of Anglo-American “imperialists” who while both interested in utilizing Kashmir as military base against USSR are at same time vying with each other for supremacy over the area. Soviet has thus deliberately soft-pedaled purely Indo-Pakistan character of dispute and attempted create impression that Anglo-American interests are encouraging continuance Indo-Pakistan struggle over Kashmir with view keeping two countries under imperialist yoke.

Kashmir developments from February 21 to date (formal US–UK initiative in SC, provisions of resolution re possible introduction UN forces into Kashmir and reported GOI rejection of resolution on grounds India cannot permit entry foreign troops) certainly afford Soviets excellent opportunity for further propaganda along foregoing lines. Failure Soviet press thus far utilize these developments may arise from fact that world peace council sessions Berlin, which also began February 21, have been dominant Soviet press topic during past week.

Reticence Soviet press this subject also reflection of basic early decision by Soviets not to alienate either Indians or Pakistanis by taking any concrete position on future status Kashmir and to let onus fall on US and UK for almost inevitably unpopular character in one [Page 1743]country or another of a given territorial decision. Wisdom of such policy must have been confirmed in Soviet minds by fact that Kashmir problem has indeed become major irritant in US–UK relations with both Karachi and New Delhi (Soviet policy re Palestine in past two years obviously formulated on same premises and with similar consequences).

Embassy inclined view that in future meetings SC on Kashmir Soviets will continue take backseat and let US and UK “hang themselves” over this explosive issue. If Soviets should contrary to this prediction decide take active part in dispute at this stage, they would almost certainly adopt pro-GOI position though for reasons given Delhi’s 103, January 23 (1950),2 they would probably prefer weak, independent Kashmir to either partition or accession of entire state to India or Pakistan. A pro-Indian position would be calculated encourage GOI neutralism on world scene and at same time embitter GOP relations with US and UK by making it even more difficult for latter “to deliver the goods” on Kashmir. Soviets must be aware that Pakistan public opinion so intense on Kashmir that failure GOP achieve favorable settlement may undermine present Karachi regime and thus create better prospects for eventual Commie revolution in Pakistan. Soviets may feel too that while solution favorable to GOI would not appreciably bolster internal GOI stability (since Kashmir not widespread popular issue in India), nevertheless Indian Commies and associated elements would be able capitalize on friendly support by Soviets of this aspect Nehru’s foreign policy. Within Kashmir itself opportunities for Commie penetration would be better under GOI-supported Sheikh Abdullah regime than control by present GOP. On other hand, pro-GOI stand would have immediate, though perhaps short-lived unfavorable repercussions for Soviets in Pakistan and would also entail losses in Moslem Near East at time when Soviet influence on upgrade in that strategic region.

Whatever tactics Soviets choose follow, we may be sure they will not encourage or support constructive proposals aimed at a solution acceptable to both parties and conducive to greater stability in SOA. Advantages to Soviets of indefinite prolongation of tension between GOI and GOP must be presumed dominate any Kremlin approach to Kashmir problem.

Repeated info USUN 250, Delhi 54, Karachi 20, London 287.

  1. Telegram 542, to Moscow, February 28, relayed telegram 1197, from the U.S. Mission at the United Nations, February 27 (357.AB/2–2851). In this telegram the Mission requested the comment of the Embassy in the Soviet Union on possible reasons for the absence of discussion in the Soviet press on the Security Council meeting of February 21 and on the U.S.-U.K. draft resolution on Kashmir. The Mission also requested comment on the probability and nature of any Soviet attempt to make an issue of the Kashmir question in future meetings of the Security Council. (330/2–2751)
  2. Telegram 103 from New Delhi, January 23, 1950, contained an analysis of an article which appeared in the January 6, 1950 issue of the Indian communist organ Crossroads, entitled “Imperialist Aggression in Kashmir.” The Embassy believed that the article was prepared on the basis of instruction from Moscow and that it would therefore assist in understanding the objectives of the Soviet Union in the forthcoming Security Council discussion of Kashmir. (357.AB/1–2350)