4. Letter From the Ambassador to Pakistan (Rountree) to the Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs (Weil)0

Dear Tom: My colleagues and I have read with interest your paper entitled “Another Look at the Kashmir Problem,” which was sent with your transmittal slip of January 5, 1961.1

I find the paper in general a good outline of the problem, and am in general agreement with most of its contents. I am inclined to believe, however, that the general tone of the paper reflects a bit more optimism that Ayub and Nehru will succeed in finding a solution to the problem than events, particularly of the recent past, would support. Certainly the Pakistanis have become extremely disillusioned and believe even more strongly than before that some pressure will have to be applied on the Indians before they will move from their present adamant position. Yet the Pakistanis, and particularly Ayub, have often voiced the themes appearing in the paper that “progress toward a solution is apt to be [Page 7]directly dependent upon Ayub and Nehru,” and “it will be more difficult to achieve a solution at a later date when Nehru and Ayub have passed from the scene.” Ayub has long felt that only a strong leader in Pakistan such as himself, and a strong leader in India such as Nehru, can hope to solve the problem by peaceful means pursuant to arrangements which could be rendered acceptable to their respective publics.

As you know, President Ayub, as well as most Pakistanis, believes that the United States has not used to the extent that it should its appreciable potential influence upon Nehru to move toward a settlement of the Kashmir problem. Ayub and his cabinet fully understand the reasons for massive American aid to India and, although this has not always been the case, it is true now at least that they recognize that such aid to India is in fact in Pakistan’s interest, as well as in the interest of the entire free world. Their main concern is that we have not used Nehru’s imperative need for American assistance as an instrument to persuade him to be reasonable on the Kashmir problem, a solution to which is considered to be essential for the stability of and real progress in the area.

Apart from the general improvement of Pakistan-Indian relations which has taken place under Ayub’s regime, there have been two significant developments which have led us to hope that a solution to Kashmir is not impossible. One is the fact that the Pakistanis cautiously state that the plebiscite called for by the United Nations (which they seem to recognize India will never accept) is not the only means by which the problem can be solved, and they have indicated a willingness to discuss some sort of partition. The other is the fact that Nehru disclosed a willingness in his last meeting with Ayub at least to discuss Kashmir, implying some basis other than India’s claims to the entire area.

In light of this situation, I have some reservations about the statement in the paper that “for friends of India and Pakistan to intervene at this time with proposals for a solution would undoubtedly be counterproductive.” As indicated above, this is not true in the case of Pakistan. In fact, the opposite is more nearly the case. The lack of American efforts to help find a solution is a continuing and major source of Pakistani disillusionment and dissatisfaction with us.

I realize that any approach to Nehru must be extremely cautious and couched in such terms as to avoid a reversal of the present excellent trend in Indo-American relations. Yet it seems to me that the expanded aid program to India and Pakistan, which appears likely, could provide an atmosphere and context conducive to some initiative on our part. Conversely, increased aid to India unrelated to Indo-Pakistan relations might drive Pakistan further away from us and confirm the already widespread conviction that Pakistan should also have the best of both worlds.

It is easy enough for me in Pakistan to make suggestions as to what we should do in India. Obviously, I am in no position accurately to evaluate [Page 8]the situation there and the prospects of any particular course of action vis-a-vis Nehru. Yet it does seem to me clear that, on the one hand, the tremendous advantages to be gained by some progress on Kashmir and, on the other hand, the dangers of increased and serious problems if no progress is made, render it advisable for us not to come to any firm conclusion that we should take no initiative at this time. I believe we should take some initiative, but the precise nature of it would have to be very carefully considered. Perhaps the recent assumption of power by the new United States administration which the Indians regard as very friendly towards them would provide an opportunity for some sort of review of the situation with Nehru for the purpose of urging him to advance discussions with Pakistan designed to settle the issue on a compromise basis.



P.S. I am enclosing an extra copy of this with the suggestion that it might be passed to George McGhee.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/2-861. Secret; Official-Informal.
  2. The summary and conclusions portion of this paper, which was prepared by the Policy Planning Staff on November 18, 1960, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XV, p. 214. The complete paper is in Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, India.