357.AB/7–2651: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State


370. Ref Deptel 199, sent Karachi 88, London 569, USUN 51. Statement closely following numbered paras 1, 2, 3 of Embtel 283, July 20 and 298, July 21 was made to PriMin at 1800 hrs. Allusion was made at end to PriMin’s successful personal intervention in communal crisis last year.

PriMin responded with what seemed expression of genuine appreciation of Secretary’s message. PriMin said he could well understand our concern about sudden intensification Kashmir difficulty at time when so many other difficulties existed in other parts of world. He asked that Secretary be assured that he would do his utmost to resolve present crisis in peaceful way. He said that his personal conviction was there wld be no war and went on to add that he thought GOI action in moving troops fortnight ago toward Pak borders was principal reason why war wld not come.

PriMin explained movement of troops as resulting from mounting evidence in several weeks immed prior thereto that GOP was taking mil measures in both East and West Pak which GOI wld not but regard as carrying possible threat to India. As responsible head of Ind Govt he had felt he cld not possibly disregard these mil measures and had taken steps which he wished to assure US had no aggressive intent toward Pak. He went on to say that Pak leaders and press had long been fulminating against India with much talk of jehad; that GOI had largely disregarded these actions as propagandists but that when these were followed by what, he insisted, were measures of mil character of seemingly threatening intent he cld no longer continue to ignore possible danger.

PriMin’s explanation was couched in calm and measured language without any suggestion of bellicosity.

PriMin picked up only one thought in statement made to him—that referring to difficulty for world to understand any failure GOI [Page 1794] find peaceful solution of crisis with neighboring govt in light of its counsels of peace in UN. He understood that world might be mystified at what might seem like Indian inconsistency and launched into lengthy explanation of what had led to this situation. Tribal invasion of Kashmir1 had taken Inds completely by surprise and unprepared. He described heart-searching conferences of Ind leaders including Gandhi2 before decision taken to send troops to Kashmir to resist what they thought was an incursion of tribal marauders numbering only few thousands. It was some time before they found themselves up against Pak troops. When it was realized that Pak was actively involved, mil advisors had urged attacks upon the real bases of Pak operation but Ind Govt from then until present day had carefully refrained from any action that wld bring on full-scale war. India, he said, still believed in peaceful methods and was engaged in Kashmir in what was essentially a defensive operation which Pak by propaganda had apparently convinced world was something of another character.

He went on to explain at length that India had been at pains to adopt the attitude it had in Kashmir because Kashmir exemplified the larger problem of India—a great nation of many diverse peoples. The conflict within Kashmir was more between the reactionary and progressive elements of the Muslim population than between Muslims and Hindus. The progressives were enlightened people desirous of living in peace with their Indian neighbors. India cld not abandon all these people to their fate.

The PriMin finally concluded his remarks by statement that he had great difficulty in visualizing any practical solution to this extraordinarily difficult problem but reiterated intention do his utmost solve it.

He also stated that next Sunday3 it was his intention make several speeches in different parts New Delhi to city populace in which he wld call upon them to maintain calm and to avoid doing anything that might give rise to communal feelings.

PriMin was informed that reps in similar sense being made by Emb in Karachi.

Repeated information Karachi 25, London 21.

  1. Reference is to tribal movements into Kashmir from the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in October 1947.
  2. Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948), Indian nationalist leader, formerly President of the Indian National Congress.
  3. July 29.