26. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to the Secretary of State1


  • India-Pakistan “package” proposals


On December 16, 1957, Mr. Herter approved my memorandum to you of November 302 (copy attached as Tab C) and suggested that we proceed to discuss the pertinent proposals with the Department of Defense and develop a plan of negotiation.

When we first raised the pertinent proposals with the Department of Defense, the latter expressed concern regarding two points.3 (Tab D) The first was that our plan implied a contemplated reduction in the armed forces of Pakistan; the second that it suggested a commitment involving the use of United States forces in defense of India and Pakistan against aggression. The Department, by letter,4 (Tab E) explained that neither of these interpretations was correct. The Department of Defense has raised no further objections.

As a result of these discussions, further consideration of the proposals by interested officers in the Department and by our Ambassadors in Karachi and New Delhi, agreed drafts have now been prepared of the letter from the President to the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India (enclosure to Tab A)5 and a talking paper (Tab B) for the guidance of our Ambassadors during the first or exploratory stage of the negotiations.


The two drafts which are herewith presented for your approval represent the first step in the proposed negotiations. The exact timing of the initiation of this step remains to be worked out in consultation with Ambassador Langley and Ambassador Bunker. According to present indications, however, we believe that it will be possible to proceed quickly with the presentation of the letters once you have approved the drafts and secured the President’s agreement to the [Page 76] proposals. If this can be done by April 15, we would proceed to discuss the overall proposal with the British representatives on April 16 and 17 and transmit the letters to our Ambassador on the 18th. The exact timing of the presentation would then be left for determination by the two Embassies.

My memorandum of November 30 (Tab C) indicated that we envisage that the proposed negotiations would seek solutions to the outstanding problems now exacerbating relations between India and Pakistan. We now feel that the negotiations should properly seek to achieve agreements on arms limitation, Kashmir, and the Indus Waters. Ancillary agreements dealing with nonaggression, trade and partition problems might be expected to follow in the improved atmosphere, but we do not anticipate that they would be considered initially. Papers dealing with the various issues are being drafted and will be ready for approval by the time the approach is authorized. We envisage that the United States role in the negotiations will be to listen to the proposals of each party and attempt to assist them in arriving at an agreed formula. We feel that the United States must preserve a flexible position from the beginning and be prepared to encourage the positions which appear to have the best chance of producing agreement. Our general approach to each of the three main problems is as follows:

1. Kashmir:

We wish to encourage India and Pakistan to reach agreement, within a “package” framework, on any reasonable solution of the Kashmir issue, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] We would hope that the principle of self determination by the people of Kashmir might prevail [2 lines of source text not declassified]. If partition is a mutually acceptable solution, consideration of the partition line should not be related in any way with the existing military “cease-fire line”, but rather should provide a fresh approach to this dispute, divorced from its long and acrimonious history under the United Nations resolutions. Certain criteria should, in our opinion, provide the bases for such partitions: (a) regard for religious concentrations whenever possible; (b) contiguity of geographic area; (c) present district and administrative boundaries; (d) terrain and natural communications and trade routes; (e) present or potential irrigation and hydro-electric projects; (f) national security, with particular reference to the northern frontiers; and (g) control over river segments or headwaters in relation to any settlement of the Indus Waters dispute.

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2. Indus Waters:

The United States Government hopes that settlement of the Indus Waters controversy will be based upon development of the Indus Basin as an economic entity. In accordance with this principle, development of the Indus Basin should:

Provide works designed and located in accordance with sound engineering principles rather than determined by political boundaries.
Provide works designed and located so as to obtain the maximum benefit for the Basin as a whole in return for the smallest possible financial investment.
Provide enough water to insure to both countries deliveries of historical uses plus reasonable amounts for future development purposes.
Provide for the establishment of a joint commission with some form of neutral membership for the purpose of developing the Indus Basin as a unit.

Should such a settlement be achieved, the United States should be prepared to give its full support and assistance to both countries in order to develop the Indus Basin along these lines.

3. Arms Limitation:

The United States desires to facilitate an arms limitation agreement between India and Pakistan. We believe that such an agreement might be effective, particularly if it flowed from the amelioration of political tensions now identified with the Kashmir and Indus Waters disputes. While the details will have to be carefully worked out, it is possible that the arms limitation agreement might, in the first instance, be based upon present force levels (which would include the light bomber squadron we are committed to furnish Pakistan, and any other absolutely necessary acquisitions to achieve appropriate balance in specific fields). There might be established a South Asian Arms Commission, possibly within the framework of the UN, to inspect compliance with the agreement. India and Pakistan could be members, along with three other countries, e.g., possibly Canada (or Australia), Burma (or Ceylon), and Sweden (or Switzerland). The Arms Commission might create inspection teams composed of a representative each for India, Pakistan and one of the other Commission countries. These teams might be allowed unrestricted travel and inspection prerogatives throughout the territories of India and Pakistan.


That you approve the draft of the talking paper attached as (Tab B).
That you sign the Memorandum to the President attached as (Tab A).6

Tab B


The U.S. Ambassadors to India and Pakistan would call upon Prime Minister Nehru and President Mirza, preferably on the same day in order to avoid either government feeling slighted. They would present the President’s letter. They would emphasize the President’s deep personal concern and stress his desire to offer U.S. assistance to the two countries not only in working out their differences but also in helping to make effective any agreement which might be reached.
Both Ambassadors would base their approach on the premise that it is to the best interest of each country that agreement be reached on the unresolved political and economic issues and that this is a most serious offer the U.S. is making for the sake of peace and progress in South Asia. Although we recognize the difficulties in reaching a settlement on the issues in question, we believe no time should be lost in seeking ways toward improvement of the situation on the subcontinent.

Basic Principle Behind the “Package” Proposals

For almost ten years now the “Kashmir problem” has been before the Security Council for solution and the “Indus waters problem” before the IBRD. Neither of these problems has proved during this decade to be susceptible to solution taken independently. A basic principle, therefore, behind the presently proposed approach is to unite the Kashmir and Indus problems and to see whether, if considered together, there exists a greater opportunity to effect the necessary compromises than has existed when these two problems have been handled in more or less water-tight compartments by two separate international agencies. Dr. Graham himself in his latest report to the Security Council seems implicitly to recognize this when he refers not only to basic differences regarding Kashmir, but also to “other matters”, the solution of which might contribute toward a peaceful settlement.

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The Ambassador to Pakistan would emphasize our continuing desire to maintain Pakistan as an effective military ally and our belief that Pakistan would be enabled to enhance its security and contribute to free world defense more effectively by an agreement which reduced tensions between India and Pakistan. He would assure the President that its total level of economic assistance from the United States would not be adversely affected by an arms limitation. It would be understood that Pakistan’s ability to fulfill its role in the Baghdad Pact and SEATO areas would be assured. If this were possible at less expense once agreed levels are reached, resultant decreases in assistance for defense support purposes could be made good by an increase in aid for economic development during the period of the Five Year Development Plan. He would point out, however, that continued U.S. assistance—both military and economic—is dependent on Congressional approval, and that we can expect growing concern in the Congress with the effect on U.S. aid programs of the arms build-up race in the subcontinent, at least, unless a vigorous effort has been made to achieve arms agreement there.
The Ambassador to India would point out that, although the U.S. in now embarked on large scale assistance to that country through Eximbank, DLF and PL 480, India’s continuing needs next year or thereafter, will have to be approached in light of the situation at that time. It is the intention of the U.S. Government to continue to view India’s needs sympathetically, but U.S. Congressional and public opinion will necessarily to [be] a significant consideration. We believe such opinion would be favorably affected if some real progress could be made in settling the basic problems of the subcontinent.
If Prime Minister Nehru asks what assurance there is that the Government of Pakistan will either negotiate in good faith or be able to carry through on any commitments, the Ambassador might answer:
We think Mirza trustworthy and strong enough to assure adherence to any commitments;
The basic self-interest of both countries is the overwhelming motivation;
In the final analysis, it takes a certain amount of faith which can be justified only if it is tried.
If President Mirza asks what assurance there is that the Government of India will either negotiate in good faith or be able to carry through on any commitments, the Ambassador might reply:
With the Second Five Year Plan hanging in the balance, Nehru and the Congress have particularly strong reasons now for wanting to cut defense expenditures, which they will do only when Indo-Pakistan differences are settled;
It is worth keeping in mind that Nehru is not a young man and that he is likely to give the Pakistanis a fairer deal that any successor;
We believe both countries have strong enough motivation and sufficiently trustworthy leaders, so that they are justified in acting partially on faith that the other side also will negotiate in good faith.
Both Ambassadors should stress that the President does not now expect answers to his letter concerning the substance of the issues involved. He merely wants to know whether the Prime Minister and the President believe that it would be useful for further negotiations to take place. Details of time, place and method for such talks would be settled in accordance with their wishes on the basis of convenience, maintenance of security and the identity of the negotiators. The Ambassadors should indicate that negotiations could be held in Karachi and New Delhi or in any other mutually agreeable place such as New York, Geneva, or Tokyo.
Both Ambassadors would refer to the outstanding issues between the two countries: Level of arms, Kashmir, canal and river waters, and partition financial problems, including the problem of refugees. They would suggest that these issues might be tackled either in a package or in two stage approach which would consist of initial agreement on one of these issues (for example, arms limitation) followed by negotiations concerning the other issues in the less tense atmosphere that might result. It was for the President and the Prime Minister to indicate how they wished to proceed. The Ambassador would listen to the views of the President and the Prime Minister about the issues in dispute, the prospects for their resolution, and the best methods of approaching that resolution.
The Ambassador would state that the United States would be prepared to cooperate in bringing about the settlement by (1) supporting an IBRD loan for the Indus Waters settlement; (2) reiterating publicly our pledge under the UN Charter to come to the assistance of either country in the event of aggression; (3) being prepared to consider any further action they might think would help to guarantee the settlement.

For Embassy’s Information:

If the initial reactions were favorable, the Ambassadors would begin immediately to work out the details of procedure for the stage of formal negotiations. If Dr. Eisenhower’s visit to the area is desired, it would be very useful for it to take place shortly after the initial soundings by the Ambassadors. It could give effective impetus to the negotiations by stressing to the two Prime Ministers the importance which the President attaches to their success.
The negotiations should be carefully planned by the three governments, and might take place outside the subcontinent if that seemed more desirable to all parties. There should also be agreement on the method to be used, e.g., should the U.S. representative deal [Page 81] only with one government initially, then go to the other government and back and forth as negotiations proceed, or should representatives of the three governments sit together from the beginning?
The British Government will be informed of our plans shortly before the first approach is made. We would indicate that we would welcome their participation and their help in financing, if possible, the settlement. The IBRD should also be informed of those aspects of the proposals which bear on the Indus Waters.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/4–1758. Secret. Drafted by Nicholl on April 9 and concurred in by C. Douglas Dillon in draft and S/P, W, H, IO, ICA, EUR, E, and W/MSC.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 8.
  3. See Document 9.
  4. Document 12.
  5. See infra. The draft letters are not printed.
  6. Dulles initialed his approval of both recommendations on the source text; under recommendation 1 he made the following handwritten comment: “subject to talks with U.K.”
  7. Secret. Drafted by Nicholl of SOA and Henry Owen of S/P on April 4.