31. Letter From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to the Minister-Counselor of the Embassy in Pakistan (Gardiner)1

Dear Arthur: Thank you for bringing to our attention your despatch No. 920.2 It is most timely to have your views on this problem which has been of continuing concern to us, and for which there is, I fear, little prospect of an early settlement, however much we should like to see one.

You express the feeling that “it is wrong for the United States to pussy-foot on this issue”.3 If by that you mean that we should vigorously support the Pakistani case before the Security Council, your telegram No. 84 reminds us that they have not yet made up their minds what it is that they expect to ask us to support. We can hardly give them a blank check in advance to support anything they may subsequently decide to come up with.

Your despatch is most useful in summarizing the Pakistani viewpoint. I wish it might have been possible to make a more specific recommendation for action on our part, beyond the hope [Page 92] that the Department will “treat this case on its merits”—which we have certainly been trying to do since the dispute arose in 1947.

You do suggest that the Pakistanis would in all probability accept a compromise settlement which would leave predominantly Hindu areas with India, “but with those territories presently occupied by Pakistan, including the predominantly Muslim Vale, becoming an integral part of Pakistan.” The “predominantly Muslim Vale” is, of course, presently occupied by India and it is not clear how any group of outside powers could go about persuading India to give up “the heart” of Kashmir.

You may be sure that we appreciate the strong feelings of the Pakistanis on the Kashmir controversy and their tendency to measure the success of their over-all foreign policy by the progress they make on Kashmir. We certainly desire to find a settlement of this running sore in the relations between these two countries. To remove it, however, the “solution” must be one that is mutually and genuinely accepted by both sides; if it is not, we have accomplished nothing, even if a majority of the Security Council could be mustered to accept in toto Pakistan’s version of the controversy (which is doubtful), and the Security Council possessed the means of enforcing such a decision in an area occupied by Indian troops (which it does not). In company with the British, we have therefore preferred to follow courses of action which seemed most likely of resulting in agreement between the parties. Simple support in the debate for the case of one side or the other would not advance that solution any more than the Soviets advanced it by plunking for India’s side last December. And since even all-out support on our part for Pakistan’s case could not bring about the desired solution, the Pakistanis would be more frustrated and resentful than ever, while we should have been put in a position of leading a major campaign against India which would be certain to have consequences of the utmost gravity.

I do not understand the statement in your despatch that U.S. interests have not been improved there “as a result of our expressed wishes to postpone presentation of the case to the Security Council, and our unwillingness to advocate positive support for Pakistan’s demands for a plebiscite in the Security Council.” It was my understanding that the Pakistanis had not themselves been prepared to bring the case to the Security Council until after the Commonwealth Conference, which suited our convenience because of the prospective Nehru visit. In response to their request for advice on the matter, Ambassador Lodge has given them the estimate that they would probably do better in January than sooner, but the only position given to the Pakistanis has been that set forth in the last [Page 93] paragraph of the Department’s telegram No. 689 to USUN5 (repeated to Karachi 2926). Nor has Pakistan yet formulated her demand to the Security Council.

It is natural that the Pakistanis should bring continuing pressure to bear on us for support in this case when it eventually comes before the Security Council. In the meantime, however, we must retain the greatest possible operating flexibility. We shall try to take a stand that is fair and consistent with our previous declarations on the matter, but we shall not always be able to give them everything they want—and probably they do not expect us to. We can certainly assure them of a sympathetic hearing at any time, and of the desire to be helpful in any way likely to advance a genuine solution. We have already reassured them that we considered the UNCIP Resolutions still valid, which is in effect an action in their favor. It is, incidentally, more than a little ironic to hear responsible officials seemingly supporting Nehru’s claim that the Kashmir situation has been altered by the fact of U.S. aid to Pakistan, and by implication placing blame on the U.S. for having impeded the holding of a plebiscite. You do not report your reply to this offensive reasoning, but I assume you gave him a firm answer on that one!

In closing I want to mention that both the British and the Australians have told us of reports they had received from Karachi to the effect that the U.S. Embassy had informed the Pakistani Government on July 4 that we were prepared to support them on Kashmir in the Security Council whenever they wanted to introduce the item. Both the U.K. and the Australian High Commissioners6 seemed to have the impression that the U.S. was encouraging Security Council action. The Department and USUN have been careful to emphasize in reply that our position had not changed, and that you had standing instructions to make it clear to the GOP.

[Page 94]

Please continue to give us the benefit of your thoughts.7


William M. Rountree8
  1. Source: Department of State, SOA Files: Lot 66 D 415, Kashmir 1956. Confidential; Official–Informal. Drafted by Witman.
  2. Document 29.
  3. In a letter to Rountree of June 30, Gardiner expressed his hope that Rountree and Allen would read despatch 920, “in which I have poured out my soul about Kashmir. … I feel strongly that it is wrong for the United States to pussyfoot on this issue,” he wrote, “and hope that our think-piece in 920 will have some influence in Washington.” (Department of State, SOA Files: Lot 66 D 415, Kashmir 1956)
  4. Dated July 3, not printed. (Ibid., Central Files, 690D.91/7–356)
  5. Document 27.
  6. Major General W.J. Cawthorn, Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan.
  7. In a letter to Rountree of August 1, Gardiner emphasized his belief that the merits of the Kashmir case called for a plebiscite. He suggested that “the United Nations might serve a very useful purpose in suggesting through some special observer that the area of Jammu and Kashmir might be separated into various segments, justified ethnologically and topographically, for the purpose of holding more than one plebiscite…. I do not see why we should not continue to advocate a solution based on the principle of self-determination,” he stated, “whether or not we think Nehru will agree to it.” Gardiner cautioned that Pakistan would resent the United States if it abandoned that position which it had originally taken in 1952 and reaffirmed most recently at the SEATO meeting. (Department of State, SOA Files: Lot 66 D 415, Kashmir 1956)
  8. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.