July 2001 News

India, Pakistan agreed to settle Kashmir on basis of status quo

28 July 2001
The Hindustan Times

Washington DC: BOTH INDIA and Pakistan have been willing at various times to settle the Kashmir dispute on the basis of the status quo, i.e, with Pakistan keeping what it now has and not asking for more from the Indian side of the Line of Control, says a former US diplomat. In his book on US-Pakistan relations titled Disenchanted Allies, retired US Ambassador Dennis Kux draws the above inference on the basis of British and American documents and other sources. Kux, currently a senior fellow at the Wilson Centre, while narrating the different stands taken by Indian and Pakistani leaders over the Kashmir controversy at different points of time, attempts to highlight the role played by British and American interventions in achieving a reconciliation. He points out that President Franklin Roosevelt while supporting India''s freedom from British rule, firmly opposed the creation of Pakistan, and favoured a unified India. Kux goes on to recall that when the UN commission suggested arbitration to solve Indo-Pak differences on Kashmir, it was endorsed by US President truman and Pakistan''s Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. Though Nehru rejected the idea, during his meeting with Secretary of State John Foster during the latter''s visit to New Delhi in 1953, he ''agreed with Dulles that partition might be a better way to solve the problem than plebiscite''. ''The Indian leader suggested that the ceasefire line, with minor modifications, would provide a reasonable basis for dividing the state. This has remained the unofficial Indian position ever since,'' says Kux. President Kennedy sent a team headed by Averell Harriman to the subcontinent. The British dispatched a parallel mission led by Commonwealth relations secretary Duncan Sandys. Field Marshal Ayub Khan took a hard line on November 21, 1963 telling Parliamentarians that the threat from ''Hindu imperialism'' was greater than the threat posed by international communism. But when Harriman and Sandys met Ayub Khan on November 28, 1962, Ayub ''readily agreed to negotiate Kashmir with India. He appeared to agree that a plebiscite was not the best way to settle the dispute and that Pakistan could not expect to receive all of Kashmir,'' the book says. Nehru told the Indian Parliament that any change in the status of Kashmir would be ''very bad for the people there.'' Harriman wrote to the National Security Council that the chances of successful Kashmir negotiations were ''quite remote.'' The trouble was that the terms for a settlement acceptable to Pakistan were unacceptable to India.


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