Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)



  • Kashmir


  • Ambassador Chester Bowles
  • John D. Hickerson
  • Mr. Weil, SOA
  • Mr. Stein, UNP
  • Mr. Ludlow, UNP

Ambassador Bowles called upon me this morning to discuss the Kashmir situation. He commenced his comments by describing to us the last few meetings he had with Dr. Graham in New Delhi, particularly as they related to the consideration of the limitations on Dr. Graham’s terms of reference. He requested information as to what happened after Dr. Graham left New Delhi and he was advised of Dr. Graham’s experiences in Karachi which convinced him that further negotiations on the Kashmir question could not be conducted by him there on the subcontinent at that time.

The Ambassador then proceeded to outline his views concerning the necessity for settlement of the case through partition or through a partial partition with a plebiscite in the Vale. He said that he did not believe that there was reason to hope for anything productive coming out of Dr. Graham’s present talks in New York. He indicated his belief that the Indians were really not prepared to permit a quantum of forces which the Pakistanis could accept, since it appeared likely that whenever the Pakistanis would insist on a force larger than insisted upon by the Indians, the Indians would merely increase the number that they were insisting upon. Aside from the troop quantum question, the Ambassador said that it was his belief that the Indian Government now was coming to the conclusion that they could not win a plebiscite [Page 1258] in Kashmir. Up to about a month ago they had assumed that in a plebiscite one quarter of the people would vote for Pakistan, one quarter of the people would vote for India, regardless of what the Sheikh Abdullah urged, and 50 percent of the people would be swayed by the position that the Shiekh Abdullah took which would mean that the plebiscite would then go to India. The Indian Government now is not at all sure of Abdullah’s loyality. Accordingly, they would be much more inclined to settle the Kashmir question on the best partition terms possible. He said that, as he saw it, the only possible alternative to partition, with or without a plebiscite, would be a joint guarantee by India and Pakistan of Kashmir’s independence, but it was agreed that this would present some extreme difficulties.

I told the Ambassador that it had been my feeling for nearly two years now that there never could be the plebiscite anticipated in the UNCIP resolutions, and perhaps there should not be. My own preference was for straight partition with no plebiscite as being the way most likely to produce quick settlement. Sir Owen Dixon’s experiences with Nehru two years ago, when talking about partition in the Vale, had tended to discourage me from the belief that even a partial plebiscite can be held. Ambassador Bowles pointed out that he had attempted in his conversations with Bajpai to indicate his belief that holding a plebiscite in the Vale after the rest of the state was partitioned would still confront the two parties with the problem of the quantum of forces and that a proposal for a plebiscite merely in the Vale, in reality, did not bring the Kashmir question much nearer solution.

We talked of the ways and means of inducing the discussion of partition. The Ambassador and I agreed that the water rights problem with the possibilities of loans to the governments for the development of the water ways had an important bearing on the case and might offer an incentive to both parties to work for a settlement of the problem. Ambassador Bowles pointed out that India in particular would have a much better prospect of receiving loans from the International Bank if, with the solution of the Kashmir problem, defense appropriations could be substantially reduced. It was pointed out that the water ways talks were not progressing at all well now with the Indians taking an intransigent position on the subject. Ambassador Bowles pointed out that it was the Government of India’s thesis, as evidenced by his talks with Bajpai and his talks this past week with Indian Ambassador Sen, that India itself could not raise the subject of partition. I told the Ambassador that it was our belief no one but India could raise the matter of partition. Certainly we could not and Dr. Graham had indicated he would not. I hoped therefore that he would use every effort to persuade Nehru of the necessity of Indian initiative.

Turning to the consideration of what we should do in the event that [Page 1259] Dr. Graham’s effort failed, both in New York and with the Prime Ministers, Ambassador Bowles said that it was his opinion, and he was glad to say that Ambassador Warren agreed with him, that we should make every effort to get out of the case since, so far as our relations with India are concerned, we were profiting nothing by our manifest role in the case. Only the Soviet Union was gaining any advantage by our continued role in the case. I pointed out to the Ambassador that while we could not get out of the case entirely we had been giving careful consideration to the possibility of a good offices group, consisting of Prince Wan, Romulo, and Entezam, being the means not only of putting pressure on the parties to settle the case but of broadening the UN responsibility for the settlement of the case—possibly to the point where we could step into the background. To Ambassador Bowles’ question I replied that I thought that it would be possible to persuade all three persons mentioned to undertake the task, if we decided upon this course of action. We agreed that there would be nothing gained, if Dr. Graham failed, by attempting to force upon India an Article 37 resolution which could not be enforced.

In concluding, I reiterated our hope that the Ambassador would do everything in his power, when we so requested, to persuade Nehru to meet with the Pakistan Prime Minister and to take the initiative on a new course of negotiation. Ambassador Bowles said he would be ready to do this although he did not know at this stage who had the hardest job: he, in attempting to persuade Nehru to do what we were suggesting, or Ambassador Warren in attempting to persuade the Pakistanis to accept talks on partition.

J[ohn] D. H[ickerson]