10. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Pakistan’s Referral of Kashmir to Security Council

Pakistan has requested an immediate meeting of the Security Council to consider “the grave situation that has arisen in the states of Jammu and Kashmir” and “the danger that it poses to peace in the region.” Pakistan’s case encompasses the steps taken by India to integrate Kashmir into the Indian Union.2 These steps, Pakistan claims, violate the resolutions of the Security Council. Pakistan’s case also emphasizes Indian denial of human rights in Kashmir and Indian failure to bring under control the communal riots in Calcutta.

Events Leading Up to Referral to Security Council

The present series of events leading up to Pakistan’s return to the Security Council began with the failure of bilateral talks in the spring of 1963 and the rejection by both India and Pakistan of the U.S./U.K. mediation proposal. Thereafter, both sides reverted to previous [Page 19] uncompromising positions on Kashmir and Pakistan started its quest for new ways of “leaning on India.” When, last fall, the Indians announced the latest in a long series of moves to integrate Kashmir into the Indian Union, Pakistan protested vigorously. India remained undeterred. Pakistan then sought to dramatize its case by playing up incidents along the cease-fire line at Chaknot and near Poonch. India carefully avoided being provoked. Pakistan also alleged the Indians were misusing U.S. arms along the cease-fire line.

India, in the east, resumed the eviction of Muslims, many of whom had entered India illegally, from Assam into East Pakistan. Inconclusive discussions took place regarding possible Indo-Pak talks on this issue. Pakistan ordered the closing of the Indian consular office at Rajshahi, despite the adverse effect this had on the prospects for negotiations on the eviction issue. India continued a policy of relative restraint and did not retaliate.

Against this background, the Kashmir demonstrations over the theft of a relic of the Prophet broke out in late December. (See our memorandum of December 31, 1963.)3 This mass display of feeling clearly indicated a lack of confidence in the local Kashmir Government, dominated by the Bakshi family, on which the Government of India had depended for ten years. Although information is scanty because of tight Indian control, available reports indicate, however, that the demonstrations were not in support of Pakistan.

Triggered by the furor in Pakistan over the Kashmir demonstrations and the Indian Muslim eviction policy, communal rioting in East Pakistan followed. The rioting spread across the border to Calcutta, where it became much more serious, and then back to East Pakistan in Dacca and Narayanganj. (See our memorandum of January 16, 1964.)4

United States Action

When the Indians announced their moves further to integrate Kashmir into the Indian Union we told them we considered such action unfortunate. As tension increased along the cease-fire line we urged both sides to exercise restraint and informally discussed the situation with the United Nations Secretariat. When the demonstrations over the theft of the relic took place in Kashmir we urged both countries to avoid making this a new issue between them. As communal rioting became serious we persuaded the British to propose Indo-Pak talks and we supported their initiative. This action was, however, overtaken by the Pak decision to go to the Security Council. Although we doubted we could dissuade the Paks from this course, we supported a British [Page 20] initiative to reverse this decision on the grounds that the best way to deal with the serious communal disturbances was to hold bilateral talks leading to joint action.

Our experience during this period has thus shown that our leverage has been slight on these issues.

Pakistan’s Referral to the Security Council

In coming to the Security Council at this time, Pakistan is continuing its policy of “leaning on India.” As will be indicated in more detail below, India’s position has been weakened by a number of factors, some related and some unrelated to its quarrel with Pakistan. By contrast, Ayub currently enjoys a strong political position and so probably feels he is in good shape to exploit India’s weakness, although he probably finds the Dacca riots an embarrassment.

Pakistan is probably seeking many of the same objectives in the Security Council it has in previous debates. These include focusing world attention on Kashmir and India’s failure to carry out the U.N. resolutions, obtaining a reaffirmation of the Security Council’s position on Kashmir, and reminding Kashmiris that there is hope for a change in status in Kashmir.

There are new factors which form a background for Pakistan’s move in the Security Council, however. Pakistan is concerned over the new U.S. relationship with India. It has begun a “normalization” of its relations particularly with Communist China but also with the Soviet Union and other bloc countries and initiated an effort to exert a more influential role in the Afro-Asian bloc.

Pakistan did not consult us prior to its referral to the Security Council and it apparently was aware that our support might be considerably less active than in the past. It may be that Pakistan is considering how, without abandoning its present legal position, it can move the Kashmir issue into a new framework so that greater Afro-Asian support can be gained. The emphasis that Pakistan is giving to the human rights aspects of the question suggests such a possible new framework, one which might also be effective in the General Assembly. Pakistan may also be interested in testing Western and Soviet attitudes on Kashmir prior to Chou En-lai’s visit. This is a factor we shall have to keep in mind in developing our strategy in the Security Council.

India’s Position

Pakistan has brought India to the Security Council at a time of particular Indian weakness. India is greatly embarrassed by its troubles in Kashmir where the Indian-supported regime has been repudiated by the people. Its policy of expelling Muslims from Assam which was a contributing factor to the riots in Bengal, has the appearance of being [Page 21] inconsistent with India’s own concept of a secular state. In Calcutta India has suffered the worst communal rioting at least since 1950.

India has additional unrelated troubles to worry about. Its economy has become sluggish. It is anxiously eyeing the peregrinations of Chou En-lai, fearful that he may convince India’s erstwhile Afro-Asian friends to support China’s position regarding Sino-Indian border talks. The popularity of the Congress Party is declining. Finally, just at this time, India has been deprived of effective leadership by Nehru’s illness, and is undergoing an intense domestic power struggle. (The appointment of Lal Bahadur Shastri to the Cabinet is not likely to lessen this struggle.)

Under these conditions, it is difficult to predict how India will react to Pakistan’s taking Kashmir to the Security Council. It seems most unlikely that India will respond with concessions on Kashmir. Rather, the danger is that India may feel impelled to take strong action to recoup its position in Kashmir. It might try to accomplish this by political moves to increase central control over Kashmir and by a strong, emotional line in the U.N. debate. Such moves could cause a resumption of communal rioting.

Lurking in the background in India will be Krishna Menon, who has always made great political capital by attacking Pakistan. He will be quick to seize upon any opportunity, presented either by apparent Western support of the Pak position, or by too moderate an Indian defense, in order to continue to rebuild his political position.

The manner in which various GOI leaders handle this question may noticeably affect their position in the struggle to succeed Nehru, which is now going on in India. This may both limit their flexibility and increase temptations to resort to demagoguery. It follows, therefore, that from the standpoint of India’s future, and our relationship with India, we are entering a very critical period, and every action the U.S. takes must be calculated with this in view.

United States Stance

We believe we should “back off” somewhat from our previous active substantive role on the Kashmir issue in the Security Council, at least until we see more clearly what the GOP and GOI strategy will be and whether the climate of debate will admit of constructive action. Pakistan made its decision to take the issue to the U.N. without consulting us. We believe the move ill-advised and more likely to stimulate further rioting than to stem it. We discharged our obligation to Ayub to support him on Kashmir in the Security Council when the issue came up in the Security Council in the winter and spring of 1962. At that time it was only as the result of President Kennedy’s personal intercession with the Irish Ambassador that we were able to obtain a sponsor for a resolution acceptable to Pakistan. Since that time developments [Page 22] in the bilateral talks and our abortive mediation efforts gave us opportunities to reiterate to the GOP that we saw quiet diplomacy as the only constructive way to move ahead but the GOP and the GOI were unreceptive. We certainly do not intend to abandon our previous position in support of Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, but neither do we see any purpose served by mere reaffirmation since it has become clear that this will not advance but instead, might retard a solution. In the bilateral talks Pakistan signified willingness to consider approaches other than a plebiscite and India recognized that the status of Kashmir was in dispute and territorial adjustments might be necessary.

We see little or no prospect for progress toward a Kashmir settlement under the present conditions. Security Council consideration is likely to stiffen India’s position at least for the time being. Our leverage is demonstrably low. The Chinese military pressure on India has eased. The Pak-ChiCom relationship has become such that the Indians question what benefit they would get in terms of their national security from the major concessions they would have to make to reach agreement on Kashmir.

The immediate problem which must be faced on the subcontinent is the communal tensions and the dislocations caused by the recent riots which still smolder under heavy military and police control. Interlarded is the festering problem of Kashmir which is the focus of the Pakistan Security Council complaint. Unless a satisfactory arrangement is made on the communal problem, massive migration could take place which could affect our interest in the area as well as those of India and Pakistan. The communal disturbances appear to be under control for the present, although they could erupt again at any time.

We are working quietly behind the scenes to try to moderate the forthcoming debate in the Security Council, which otherwise might exacerbate the situation. We hope the debate can be brought to a rapid conclusion without passage of a resolution and that the Indians and the Pakistanis can be brought together in talks.

The Secretary-General has indicated to Governor Stevenson his willingness to offer his good offices to the parties in whatever manner they might feel useful, but we do not yet know the results of the Secretary-General’s efforts in this regard. At the same time, we expect our Embassies in Karachi and New Delhi to continue quietly urging talks leading to joint Indo-Pak action. Underlying our strategy is our view that the Hindu-Muslim problem is a deep-rooted one which must be faced squarely by India and Pakistan and that we should not inject ourselves in such a way that either party looks to us to bring about a solution.

John McKesson 5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Kashmir, Vol. I, 12/63–7/64. Secret.
  2. On January 21, President Ayub sent a letter to President Johnson arguing the necessity for Pakistan to take the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council. (Ibid., Head of State Correspondence File, Pakistan, Vol. 1, President Ayub Correspondence, 12/15/63–12/31/65)
  3. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XIX, Document 351.
  4. Document 4.
  5. McKesson signed for Read above Read’s typed signature.