27. Memorandum From the Secretary of State to the President1


  • Proposal for Settlement of India–Pakistan Differences

For many years, indeed ever since the partition of the Indian subcontinent, the Government of the United States has been concerned with the serious disputes which have plagued relations between India and Pakistan. For almost a decade now, two basic issues have proved insoluble by those who have attempted to resolve them: Kashmir by the Security Council and the Indus Waters by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The mutual distrust and fear which these have nurtured over the years have more recently helped generate in each country a compulsion to build up its military posture against the other. This is in turn precluding both countries from devoting the maximum amount possible of their resources to badly needed economic development.

In view of the large population, important resources, and strategic location of India and Pakistan, our national interest demands that they be as politically stable and as economically prosperous as possible. Past and particularly current trends endanger this objective. It, therefore, seems to me necessary to try a new approach toward solving the basic differences which separate India and Pakistan. The essence of this would be to consider the Indus, Kashmir and arms questions as closely related so that a wider field for compromise will exist.

This approach, I am convinced, could best be initiated by a personal appeal from you to the leaders of both countries. In this we would, in strict secrecy and without prejudice to our present position if [Page 82] the new approach were unsuccessful, offer our good offices to assist them to reach agreement on all three questions. Procedurally, the negotiations might follow the lines of the Trieste ones.

To illustrate to you how we would initiate this new approach we have prepared a draft letter from you to the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India.2

If you approve of this general approach, we would then discuss it with the U.K. before actually acting, as they may want to be in on the “good offices”— as in the case of Trieste and Tunisia.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/4–1758. Secret
  2. Attached to the source text but not printed.
  3. In a memorandum to Dulles of April 21, Eisenhower replied as follows:

    “I have your memorandum of April seventeenth, containing a proposal looking toward the settlement of the India-Pakistan differences. I am all for the approach you indicate, to be undertaken in the utmost secrecy. In fact, if there should ever be realized sufficient progress in negotiations to warrant the hope that a personal gesture might help assure success, there is no inconvenience at which I would balk. For example, I’d be ready to welcome and entertain the Prime Ministers simultaneously—I would even go out there.” (Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/4–2158)