1953: US Diplomat Recounts Talks with India-Pak Leaders

1. Nehru believed Kashmir should be settled by direct talks with the Prime Minister of Pakistan on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis and said he would continue to talk with Pakistanis until agreement was reached. He referred to talks by members of the secretariat of both countries preliminary to a meeting of the two Prime Ministers. He hoped to have an informal and personal word with the Pakistan Prime Minister Mohammed Ali in London at the time of the Coronation which would clear the way for a later meeting on the subcontinent. Nehru admitted he should take the lead in a settlement. Private conversations with Nehru were on a very frank and relaxed basis, but no specific solution was put forward as suggested by (State) Department officers.

2. Deshmukh, Finance Minister, and Radhakrishnan, Vice President, said in private conversations that either an autonomy or partition with a plebiscite in the Vale offered the best chance for solution. The latter method was considered more desirable with the cease-fire line to be used as the basis for partition outside the Vale (adjustments would be necessary).

3. Discussions in Karachi were with the Governor General, Ghulam Mohammed, the Prime Minister, Mohammed Ali, the Foreign Minister, Zafrulla Khan, and the Minister of Finance, Mohammed Ali. These officials were pressed very hard with the necessity from Pakistan’s viewpoint of settling the issue. The Prime Minister indicated his understanding that this was so and his willingness to negotiate a settlement directly with Nehru. The Governor General put in the caveat that Pakistan would not be a camp follower of Nehru’s.

4. It was understood that these talks would not relieve either India or Pakistan of any of its commitments or obligations under the UN resolutions. Further Security Council action should, however, be held in abeyance to permit the direct negotiations to be carried out. Pakistan officials said, however, that there should be a time limit placed on the talks. It is understood that the parties will inform their representatives in New York of their wishes for delay, but the procedure on this is not clear.

5. The approach to Nehru was on the basis of an appeal to leadership for peace, the contribution to world peace which a settlement of this trying and long-standing issue in Asia would make, and an emphasis on the fact that the time for agreement was “now”. The present attitudes of the two parties appeared very favorable for a real attempt at direct negotiations.”