FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, 1958–1960, SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, VOLUME XV
375. Memorandum of a Conversation, Karachi, December 8, 1959, 9 a.m.1US/MC/16
President Ayub had said several months ago that it would be fatal if India and Pakistan should remain enemies. They had a common interest in the defense of the subcontinent, yet 80% of India’s forces faced Pakistan, in consequence of which most of Pakistan’s forces faced India. He had asked why their problems should not be resolved since if they were settled, both armies could do their proper jobs in area defense. Even now, Nehru was in difficulty finding troops to meet the Chinese problem, since he felt he could not remove the forces facing Pakistan. By the same token, if Pakistan should encounter acute difficulties with Afghanistan, it would have the same problem in reassigning troops. He had therefore urged that conditions be created so that this military picture might improve. Nehru had declined the concept of joint defense. That was less important, however, than an understanding between the two countries, but there could be no assured peace with India without a solution to the Kashmir problem.
President Ayub reviewed the status of the Indus waters negotiations and expressed the view that the talks were going well and would soon result in an agreement. He explained details of the IBRD plan, and expressed gratitude that the United States had indicated its willingness to assist in the financial aspects. Pakistan now had 23 million acres of land artificially cultivated, and this depended upon the use of the waters of the Indus. Those waters must be conserved and this conservation must begin in the hills of Kashmir. The very life of [Page 784]Pakistan thus depended upon Kashmir. However, he felt that it should not be difficult to find a solution to Kashmir if three elements of the questions were taken fully into account: (1) The people of Kashmir had a stake in their future; (2) Pakistan had a stake in Kashmir and (3) India had a stake in the area. Any solution reasonably satisfying these three elements would be accepted by Pakistan. A plebescite would be fine, but if that was not possible, he was prepared to consider any alternative which would satisfy the three points.
President Ayub related this problem and its solution to US aid to India. He felt that the US had tremendous influence in that country, since Indians relied on our aid. He hoped that the United States would use its influence, not by holding a brief for Pakistan but by holding a brief for the interests of the Free World. If this matter were not settled, both countries would be defeated and would go under. The United States might be the last to suffer from this but eventually its interests would be gravely involved.
President Eisenhower observed that the United States might in fact be the first to suffer from any conflict with the Soviet Union, but agreed with President Ayub that this would be true only in a global war. President Ayub felt that there was a great danger of non-communist countries being “nibbled away” short of global war.
President Eisenhower recalled that in 1956 he had had a series of talks with Nehru during which the Kashmir question was discussed.2 Without knowing the details of the dispute, the President had taken the line that there was no problem between Pakistan and India which could not be solved if both countries approached it with reason and good will. He was delighted that President Ayub had taken the initiative in endeavoring to improve relations with India and bring about solutions to outstanding problems. He would find it easy to resume his talks with Nehru along the previous lines, and he would be better prepared to talk on the subject, in light of his conversations with President Ayub. He had emphasized to Nehru that India and Pakistan should both face northward, not each other. At that time Nehru had been particularly disturbed over American military aid to Pakistan, and had raised the specific question of American bombers. President Eisenhower had told Nehru that we were helping Pakistan militarily because we thought it was in our interest to do so, but he had stated that if Pakistan should attack India, the United States would be on India’s side. Continuing, President Eisenhower said passive resistance was no good against communism, and he thought this concept might be a bit clearer today in India than it had been before. He observed that he could talk more satisfactorily with Nehru alone than with others present. Nehru was a contemplative type who liked quiet and [Page 785]relaxed conversations. President Eisenhower would try to see how far he could get with Nehru in this manner.3
(President Ayub handed to President Eisenhower a résumé of the points he had made, which he hoped might be helpful.)
President Ayub said that the United States was of course a free agent to give India anything that the United States wished. He wanted to say, however, that military aid to Nehru, in the absence of an agreement with Pakistan, would be disastrous for the latter. Indian Army forces were already three times greater than Pakistan’s, and India had always made clear that these forces were created vis-à-vis Pakistan. In the past they had bought certain tanks and rifles from the United States. Although they had paid for these weapons, the United States had extended economic aid to India in substantial amounts, and the result had been the same as though the United States granted the equipment. Nehru had objected to military aid to Pakistan, although his objection might now be somewhat less than heretofore. Nehru still wanted Pakistan to remain weak while India builds up its strength.
President Eisenhower inquired whether, assuming India and Pakistan should come to an agreement on the waters dispute protecting Pakistan’s vital interest in the matter of irrigation, and putting aside the question of who had political control of Kashmir, all troops on both sides might be withdrawn from Kashmir. President Ayub replied that this might be feasible if the area were not otherwise menaced, but that was not the case. He pointed out that parts of Kashmir were in dispute with the Chinese. If forces were withdrawn altogether, it was almost certain that the Chinese would simply move in and take over. Other points of Kashmir would fall to the communists. Thus, the area could neither be demilitarized nor made independent. President Eisenhower said he saw merit in this point, and thus could perceive of no answer but an agreement between the two countries.
In reply to President Eisenhower’s question as to whether the people of Kashmir were warlike, President Ayub responded that in general the population of the Vale of Kashmir were not. The inhabitants of other more rugged areas were.
President Eisenhower inquired whether, if the waters agreement were concluded, there might be a permanent division of Kashmir generally along the present armistice lines. President Ayub responded that this would not be possible. Among other things, it would mean that India would be within 15 miles of Pakistan’s vital communications system. [7 lines of source text not declassified]
President Eisenhower understood that Nehru was born in Kashmir, and wondered which section. President Ayub responded that Nehru was not born in Kashmir, although his family came from there. Nehru had used this in arguing India’s position on Kashmir. It would, however, be like President Ayub saying that because his family was from Afghanistan, which it was, Pakistan should have Afghanistan. Certainly he was not claiming Afghanistan.
[4½ lines of source text not declassified] President Eisenhower replied that it of course was not his intention to negotiate. He could do little more than urge Nehru to get together with Pakistan to try to work out the problem, and he would not indicate what the Pakistani position might be. He saw great value in finding some way of solving the problem [1 line of source text not declassified]. He wondered whether it was necessary for Pakistan physically to possess the land from which the waters of the rivers originated. He mentioned that the economies of many areas of the world depended upon waters coming from other countries. He cited, for example, our arrangements with Canada which provided for the assured flow of waters without our owning the places of origin, and without any fortifications between the two nations. President Ayub said that the big difference was the spirit which prevailed between Canada and the United States on the one hand and between India and Pakistan on the other. If relationships between the latter two countries were not as they were, the problem would never have arisen. It was the lack of confidence between the two countries that led to the necessity of the World Bank’s intervention. In Pakistan’s view, India had taken away rivers that should belong to Pakistan and upon which Pakistan’s life depended.
Reverting to the question of United States aid to India, President Ayub again said that the United States should give India what was reasonable, but that it should insist that they solve their problems with Pakistan. It was a fact that Pakistan had reason not to trust India. In 1951, for example, the Indian Army had been given orders to move against Pakistan. Fortunately, Pakistan learned about this and its forces were in position in 7 days as against the 10 days that India needed. He hoped there would be no repetition of this, but there must be confidence. Pakistan should not be exposed to unnecessary dangers. If it should go down, American influence in all of Asia would diminish or disappear. Pakistan was a strong bulwark against communism; that was in fact the reason why it was the victim of most vicious communist and neutralist propaganda. He referred to the attitude of certain Congressional leaders concerning military aid to Pakistan, and mentioned in particular Senators Kennedy, Cooper and Fulbright, as well as Congressman Bowles. He said that he often wondered what [Page 787]happened to American Ambassadors when they went to New Delhi. On one occasion, one of them had been virtually insulted by Nehru and commented later that Nehru was “wonderful.”
President Eisenhower referred to President Ayub’s recent visit to New Delhi and wondered whether Nehru had indicated any desire to return the visit. President Ayub responded that the Foreign Minister had asked Nehru to stop in Pakistan en route to or from Afghanistan, but Nehru had declined. He felt Nehru was suspicious and hard-headed, and was loathing every minute of the present situation in his relations with China. Nehru much preferred to bask in the shade of communism and wanted and expected to have the USSR intervene to ease the current tenseness with China. [1½ lines of source text not declassified]
Concluding this part of the discussion on India, the President said that he would do his best in his talks with Nehru to contribute to a greater willingness on the latter’s part to solve the problems between the two countries.