79. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State0

1918. I had extremely important meeting with Nehru this afternoon on which I urge most prompt followup.1 Following Shafqat’s statement [Page 165]to Rountree a couple of days ago that Pakistanis were planning to take Kashmir issue to SC, the Indian newspapers this morning carry stories of this intention. I went in to see Prime Minister this afternoon ostensibly to say goodby but in fact to urge direct discussion along lines of Ayub-Rountree-Galbraith talk. I concentrated on this for an hour. At first he was disinclined and a bit distant. I pictured unhappy consequences of a SC debate on this issue for all concerned. I asked him directly if he were attracted by idea of a verbal slugging match between Zafrullah Khan and Krishna Menon. He said no. I pointed out that it would revive Goa antipathies, transfer them to Kashmir and have a further bad effect on American public opinion. I reminded him that he was being unfaithful to the comradeship of democratic leaders by making matters worse for the President. He said he had no desire to do this. I then asked him to consider the affirmative gains. By taking the lead in asking Pakistan to discuss the question India would rehabilitate her moral position, affirm her support of orderly process and persuade her critics she had generosity of spirit. He asked what could be talked about and here I improvised, noting that all problems including canal water dispute had seemed impossible until the effort was made. Ingenuity and imagination might partly modify, partly circumvent the territorial question, give the Pakistanis firm guarantees on the river sources, provide access to the valley, make it a free trade area, so forth and so on. I noted I had made same points to both Nehru, Ayub without explosion. He said he was attracted by these ideas and I then pressed him on the shortness of time involved. He then said he was leaving town for two weeks, very soon thereafter would be out campaigning and noted that the discussions were difficult while an election was going on and his need to prepare public opinion including Kashmir Government. I said Rountree and I had pointed out to Ayub the improbability of progress before the Indian elections. But the important thing was to get a clear manifestation of will to act and any case preparatory discussions were essential for success. I urged that a prompt invitation go to General Burki with a view to laying the ground for a Nehru-Ayub meeting. This would affirm Indian willingness to move further on the matter.

The foregoing will give the flavor of a much longer discussion. In the end in response to a pin-down question, he said I could cable affirmation of his sympathy for the idea and went on to say he would try to put steps in train about General Burki’s visit before leaving tomorrow and take matter up on his return.

Comment: I feel it very important that the Pakistanis know confidentially of this effort and respond agreeably to any initiative while holding their fire on the SC. There is some chance that by real effort we can get Nehru to negotiate after the election and give an earnest of progress. SC debate would be bad for the Indians as well as ourselves and while doing [Page 166]nothing real for Paks would of course harden all lines. It would also be opportunity for another Soviet intervention on behalf of India which one sector of Indian public opinion will cheer. Would urge that Rountree indicate discussion and make these points to President with request for total discretion until I can do more here. Pakistanis will be aware that having asked for a strong “intervention” with Nehru on the Kashmir issue, they have had it. We have right to hope accordingly they will take advantage of it and not pursue the unpromising course of the New York debate.

I told Nehru that the matter was of so much importance that I would plan to remain in Delhi rather than proceed to Switzerland as planned and on to the States. He queried as to why since my absence would coincide roughly with his. (I had previously told him reasons for journey.) Accordingly, I will plan to leave as scheduled tomorrow evening but will remain available next week through Martin, Geneva.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/12-2861. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution. Repeated to Karachi and USUN.
  2. McGeorge Bundy sent a copy of this telegram to General Clifton on December 30 for President Kennedy. He described it as “Galbraith at his formidable best,” and noted that the Department of State was instructing Rountree to take the same line with Ayub. He added, however, that Talbot was afraid that “Ayub won’t play.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Kashmir, 1/61-1/62)