690D.91/1–1052: Telegram

The Ambassador in India ( Bowles ) to the Department of State 1


2426. Had three long discussions Kashmir, one with Nehru, two with Bajpai. Results may be summed up as fols:

Bajpai states GOI has no basic objection setting up plebiscite administrator July 15 but suggest it wld be meaningless gesture unless other questions can be settled by proposed March 31 termination Graham’s final effort.
Bajpai states demilitarization is basic prob which must be settled, and made fol points.
Ind must insist no Pak troops be allowed Kashmir terr during plebiscite. 4,000 Azad-Kashmir troops are nine times normal police force this area.
21,000 troops requested by GOI roughly 20 percent number Ind troops Kashmir last June.
Under my repeated questioning Bajpai stated some such number required because geographic situation favored Pak and once Ind mil left valley it wld be difficult for them return. Bajpai finally agreed this figure might be subj reduction.
Explained that GOI has already agreed plebiscite administrator may place troops where he sees fit so that Ind forces cld not affect election result.

Bajpai stated in order avoid any last minute misunderstanding he also anxious have Graham clear up two additional points.

What does agreement previously reached mean “local authorities” in Azad-Kashmir? If this means local govts various cities villages and towns Ind agrees. If means overall govt of Azad–Kashmir which was described as unrecognized there might be difficulties.
What are standards under which former residents Kashmir who left country during disturbances may return cast vote? How will their eligibility be determined?

Bajpai stated he expects no difficulty over interpretation these two points but GOI wld prefer have Graham deal with them rather than plebiscite administrator who may not be familiar with background.

After repeated probing Bajpai unexpectedly stated he believed on conf basis it entirely possible work out agreement partitioning [Page 1168] Kashmir with plebiscite confined to valley. He agreed Azad–Kashmir wld undoubtedly vote with Pak and said no shadow of doubt that Jammu wld vote with Ind. He agreed if Ind shld win plebiscite covering entire area it wld be faced with continual bitterness and opposition in Azad–Kashmir area with another population exodus and that there was no conceivable profit in this for Ind. He stated Ind had turned down Dixon proposal only because Dixon insisted Kashmir govt shld give up its duties six months before plebiscite was held. He likened this to request of Repub Party in Amer for Truman admin abdicate next June in order guarantee fair election in Nov. He stated question of partition had not been discussed with Graham and that his statement to me that he believed GOI wld accept reasonable proposal was in strictest confidence.

I kept my discussions with Nehru deliberately in gen terms because he extremely weary from election efforts and I did not want run risk drawing from him dogmatic statements which wld make compromise difficult later. Focused my attempt on emotional appeal to him to take moral leadership in this difficult situation and to relieve world of one of its most critical points of tension.

Nehru stated it wld be easier for Ind if Amer and UK did not insist there was no moral or legal difference in position of Pak and Ind in relation to Kashmir. He stated Pak had no legal rights in Kashmir while India’s rights clear and Campbell-Johnson’s recent book on Mountbatten issue accurately described situation.2

I said I understood his feelings but he shld also understand our concern when many Indian leaders speak of cold war as simply another struggle between power hungry blocs. I pointed out our moral position completely clear in relation Sov Union and that just as he regretted unwillingness of many Amer to accept fully his position on Kashmir so we felt keenly about some Ind statements about US–USSR conflict.

Nehru jokingly stated he wld cheerfully accept our moral position in regard to USSR and indeed already accepted it but in return we shld accept India’s basic case on Kashmir.

There is obvious psychological roadblock here which complicates our efforts deal practically with situation as it now exists. Much of conversation consisted of discussion by Nehru of his relations with Sheikh Abdullah and his earnest desire estab Ind as secular state in which all religions work side by side.

My discussions with Bajpai much more detailed and specific but friendly. I argued many points vigorously on ground I cld not recommend [Page 1169] continuation Graham mission unless I was personally convinced he had fair chance for success.

My conclusions these conversations as fols: 1. GOI deeply convinced can win fair and honest plebiscite in valley and Jammu.

2. GOI anxious get Graham here and sincerely hopeful agreement can be reached which will allow plebiscite be held.

3. GOI concerned over its ability handle Sheikh Abdullah if it compromises too far.

4. GOI will remain adamant on Pak troops Kashmir and will compromise on Azad–Kashmir and to some extent on its own troops.

5. Face-saving devices to justify GOI in reducing number troops may be possible through clear cut UN guarantee against aggression or intimidation.

6. GOI apparent willingness partition Kashmir with plebiscite confined to valley suggests further opportunities dealing with mil question. This emphasizes need for giving Graham broadest possible terms of reference.

7. Graham may expect to find more reasonable attitude on part of Ind provided face-saving devices can be developed, yet negots will get nowhere if Pak Govt receives impression we will support its position if negots fail. Must be made perfectly clear to Pak US playing no favorites and they can expect no help from us unless they willing enter negots with determination to find reasonable basis for agreement.

8. Situation remains complicated and cannot be settled in brief visit. Balloting for house of people completed Jan 30 except few areas. Graham shld come subcontinent Feb 1 with firm understanding this final effort and that his findings must be completed March 31.

9. Decision at this point by SC as to rights or wrongs of situation wld destroy opportunity securing reasonable settlement Kashmir dispute.

10. Wld also be mistake for UN simply leave situation to two PriMins with request for them negot directly since this wld not increase chances for success and by admitting failure of UN effort wld tend to lessen world confidence in UN. If there to be agreement let us do everything our power see UN gets the credit.

Finally and with emphasis let me state I cannot guarantee what in Bajpai’s or Nehru’s minds, that I can only judge situation by what they say and how they say it, that even though Graham comes to subcontinent and Pak cooperates, can be absolutely no assurance of success but earnestly believes that considering long persistent UN effort it wld be tragic mistake not take full advantage whatever opportunities may exist now for final agreement.

  1. This telegram was repeated for information to London, Paris, and Karachi.
  2. A reference presumably to Alan Campbell-Johnson’s book, Mission with Mountbatten (London, Robert Hale Limited, 1951).