16. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State 1
2445. Department pass White House. Security Council debate on Kashmir2 has touched off predictable emotional outburst in both Indian official and public circles which has damaged UK-U.S.-Indian relations and further widened gap between India and Pakistan.
On basis of discussions with MPs now in Delhi for current Lok Sabha session and with GOI officials and diplomatic colleagues, it is clear feeling now runs deep. Although British bearing full brunt of Indian indignation and resentment, U.S. is in strong runner-up position.
In Calcutta press conference last Friday attended by some fifty newsmen, questioning on U.S. position in regard to Kashmir-Pakistan was more relentless than anything I had previously experienced in India. I refused to comment on U.S. position in regard to Kashmir on grounds Stevenson had not yet spoken and underscored as on similar occasions urgent need for some solution to Pak-India impasse acceptable to both sides. When anti-British statements became extreme I [Page 33] reminded press reps that UK as well as U.S. had been quick to come to India’s aid when ChiComs attacked while USSR was unable to make up its mind. Even more moderate Indian press reps suggested afterwards that my remarks were beyond call of duty.
At small stag dinner at my home last night attended by Ashoka Mehta, Lakshmi Jain of Indian Cooperative Union, S.K. Dey, Minister of State for Community Development and Cooperation, Vkrv Rao, Pitamber Pant and Raj Krishna, all of Planning Commission, subject of Kashmir-Pakistan-U.S. relationship wholly absorbed an evening that had been set aside for economic discussions. Even these firm friends of U.S. with their deep understanding of what we have done to bolster Indian economy were, with single exception of Ashoka Mehta, emotional and unreasonable.
General theme running through discussion was that while Indians are appreciative for our economic and military assistance matters of national pride have become so involved in Kashmir-Pak situation that Indians can no longer afford to be taken for granted.
Mood was both strongly anti-Communist and anti-Chinese with no suggestion of compromise on either position. However, heavy emphasis was placed on fact that Nehru era is drawing to close and regardless of efforts of presumably sober people like themselves India which had been denied close relations it wanted with U.S. would now find itself drifting further from West and towards admittedly rambunctious and unappealing role which they assert has been practiced successfully by other nations.
Against this background following is our estimate of four factors which have contributed to this widespread emotional reaction. However unreasonable they may appear to us it is important that we understand them if we are to act realistically and effectively.
Factors that apply in general to India’s relationship to what is loosely known as “the West”:
Following ChiCom aggression in Oct 1962 and Pak flirtation with our major Asian enemy there was deep conviction within GOI and among Indian people that their relations with West would now be on new and much closer footing. They felt this assumption was particularly valid in view of their efforts to maintain moderate response to what they genuinely believe to be accelerated Pak effort to stir up subcontinent and thereby prevent closer India-U.S. relations.
Efforts to which they refer include decision of year ago, against their better judgment, to hold talks on Kashmir and to offer what they believed to be important concessions; agreement in December not to close Shillong in retaliation for Rajshahi; restraint following second wave of Pak riots on Jan 18 and 20; Nanda-Shastri proposal for joint [Page 34] review of communal riots by Home Ministers; GOI willingness to negotiate question of illegal Muslim settlers in Assam and Tripura at Ministerial level as requested by GOP (if those meetings went well they asserted that they would agree to discuss Kashmir itself), etc.
When Pakistan failed to respond to these GOI efforts to ease tensions and took issue to SC Indians were keenly aware that we deplored this action, and therefore jumped to conclusion that UK-US position would at best favor GOI and at worse remain neutral.
Factors involving their own internal problems:
GOI is embittered over fact that following Nehru’s illness Pakistan had seemed to take ruthless advantage of period of political uncertainty which is now aggravated by Chou En-lai’s State visit to Pakistan.
Further to feed GOI frustration is embarrassment caused by their belated recognition that Kashmir govt which they built around Bakshi in addition to being corrupt had no public support whatsoever. At same time they are resentful of what they believe to be deliberate appeals by Paks to arouse religious antagonism previous to and following theft of sacred relic, appeals which they feel gravely threatened their vision of secular state in India in which all religions can live peacefully together.
Finally new group headed by Shastri and Kamaraj which is gradually moving into leadership of GOI was itself persuaded of need for finding some basis for settlement Kashmir dispute and now finds itself badgered by extremists with little hope of meaningful discussions for some time to come.
Factors which produced particularly strong anti-British reaction:
Ever since turn of century most Indians have been persuaded that British deliberately backed Muslim minority against Hindu majority as basic means of forestalling Indian independence. They feel that this British policy was thereby responsible for final partition which in their view unnecessarily split continent wide open and led to present difficulties.
Indians look on British Conservative Party with particularly deep distrust. Duncan Sandys and Home are considered lineal descendants of British Viceroys who supported by Conservative govts in London were responsible for putting almost every member of present GOI in prison for at least one or two terms. Against this background they were infuriated by British SC suggestion that original accession of Kashmir to India in 1947 approved by Viceroy and by act of Parliament was irrelevant. Moreover in endorsing past SC resolutions both British and ourselves have emphasized self determination features of August 1948 resolution which Indians know have great appeal to people all over [Page 35] world while failing to mention related reference in same resolution that Paks must agree to withdraw from Azad Kashmir as prerequisite of self-determination process.
Factors which relate to Indian criticisms of U.S.:
In India President Kennedy was looked upon as special friend who was author of Indian resolution in Congress, who had frequently spoken in behalf of Indian aid, and who had singled out India as great experiment in democracy. With loss of this friend, Indians now believe we favor Pakistan in its disagreement with India and discount India’s importance.
From this basic assumption have stemmed two further reactions. First of these is belief that military assistance program which after my return from Washington in Nov and particularly following Max Taylor’s visit here two weeks later was assumed to be forthcoming was held up because of pressure by Paks on Johnson administration and second, feeling that Paks would not have taken Kashmir issue to SC if not convinced that new administration was oriented favorably in their direction. However unjust this may appear to people in Washington it must be realized that this is deep-seated conviction that runs through Indian Govt, press, Lok Sabha and informed citizens generally.
In this framework Chagla’s3 reports that U.S. had pushed Great Britain into forward role and quietly urged Ivory Coast to put forward formula that supported Pak position received credence which it did not deserve.
Although these reactions may appear unreasonable and distorted we should not minimize their implications. In spite of great personal influence and prestige of Gore-Booth British ability to exercise constructive influence here will be circumscribed for some time.
Krishna Menon has been given platform and equipped with issue on which he excels. His Feb 14 speech was effective and received reaction from sizable majority of Lok Sabha. Civil servants such as Gundevia who have preached futility of dealing with Paks and need for firm line have been strengthened, while moderates are being forced to get on bandwagon.
After Congress Parliamentary Party executive indignation meeting on Feb 14 fifty-one Congress MPs issued statement sharply critical of pro-Pakistan stand of British. Signatories included such staunch pro-U.S. moderates as Tyagi K.C. Pant, Raghunath Singh and Ravindra Varma.
Another element in general worsening situation is hardening of views of West Bengal politicians on status of East Pak Hindus and [Page 36] increasing communal attitude towards refugee problem which I encountered in Calcutta.
Most distressing of all is fact that throughout India, Pakistan controversy once again dominates news and China for first time in over year is off front page. In addition Indians have again been forcefully reminded of Soviet contribution to GOI’s position on Kashmir and of importance of non-alignment in order to insure continued Soviet support at very moment when MIG-21s and SAMs are under discussion with USSR.
Although situation to put it mildly is unhappy one, it is no time for discouragement. In every way available to us we will strive to calm down GOI officials and to encourage more sober reaction from press. If Paks do not indulge in further provocative actions in connection with Chou En-lai visit or otherwise we may be able to resume in due course constructive dialogue with GOI which will underscore overriding need for Indians and Paks to seek some means by which they can live together in rational manner.
Lest we lose perspective I think I should report that difficult dinner of last evening followed busy day in and around Kanpur where I encountered strong pro American sentiment at Engineering College and in two nearby villages where several hundred cultivators assured me that “Indians and Americans are brothers”.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDIA–PAK. Confidential. Repeated to London, Karachi, and USUN and passed to the White House.↩
- On February 17, Foreign Minister Bhutto asked for and received a postponement of the Security Council debate on Kashmir to allow him to return to Karachi for consultations and new instructions. (Telegram 3114 from USUN, February 17; ibid.) Bhutto joined Chou En-lai and his party when they began their visit to Pakistan on February 18. (Telegram 1588 from Karachi, February 25; ibid.)↩
- M.C. Chagla, Indian Minister of Education, was representing India in the Security Council debate on Kashmir.↩