1. Editorial Note

A number of major issues affected U.S. policy toward South Asia during the period 1961-1963. Most of these issues had deep roots and were inherited by the Kennedy administration when it took office in January 1961. Two of the more intractable problems dated back to the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the establishment of Pakistan. Among other tensions created with the birth of Pakistan were boundary disputes between Pakistan and India, and also between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The dispute between Pakistan and India was over rival claims to territory in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir dispute was the most serious of the problems affecting the subcontinent, and had the effect of creating the intermittent threat of armed conflict between India and Pakistan. The dispute between Pakistan and Afghanistan was over the Pathan tribal area of Pakistan along the Northwest frontier, referred to by Afghans as Pushtunistan. The United States, which had encouraged Pakistan to become a part of the Western alliance system as a member of both the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) during the Eisenhower administration, had sought periodically to foster compromise solutions to these boundary disputes, but to no avail. A third boundary dispute, between India and China in the Ladakh district of Kashmir and along the McMahon Line which marked the boundary between China and India’s Northeast Frontier Agency, posed no problems of mixed sympathy for the Kennedy administration, given the tensions that existed between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

U.S. concern to foster solutions to the disputes between Pakistan and its neighbors was magnified by competition between the United States and the Soviet Union for influence in South Asia. Policymakers in Washington were particularly concerned to prevent the expansion of Soviet influence in India, the leading and most populous of the neutral nations. They were also concerned about Soviet influence in Afghanistan, traditionally viewed as the gateway to the subcontinent.

Documentation on all of these issues is in Foreign Relations volumes dealing with South Asia for the 1947-1960 period. For material on the major issues affecting South Asia during the last years of the Eisenhower administration, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, volume XV, pages 1 823.