Nehru's word: The game behind US and UK's support to Pakistan on Kashmir
A staple of the recently exploding tribe of Nehru-bashers is his (mis)handling of Kashmir. ‘If only Sardar Patel had been the Prime Minister’, we are told, ‘there would have been no Kashmir problem’
In my last letter to you, I referred to the growing tension, almost amounting to a crisis, in lndo-Pakistan relations. Since then, there has been an exchange of telegrams between Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan and me…. In a sense, the critical situation has worsened because of the continuous warlike propaganda in Pakistan and their blackouts, civil defence measures, and the like.
I think it is generally recognised, even by those who have been unfriendly to us in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, that Pakistan has overshot the mark and its attention has been drawn to this. The patent contrast of warlike Pakistan and peaceful India is too obvious not to be noticed by even the casual observer. Gradually it is sinking into the consciousness of outside observers that there is something wrong about the tumult and shouting in Pakistan.
But the fact remains that the situation is serious and we must be vigilant all the time and not be caught unawares…. Apart from defence preparations, involving the army, etc., the most important element in a conflict is the morale of the people. I am happy to tell you that the morale of our people, all over northern India, is excellent....
Three days ago, I addressed a public meeting in Delhi. It was an open-air meeting and a vast crowd, estimated at 200,000, had gathered. Throughout the meeting, it rained continuously. And yet, that tremendous audience not only stood the rain but was cheerful throughout.
I spoke to them about this serious situation and told them all what Pakistan was saying and doing and of the steps we had taken. I dealt with the situation as objectively and calmly as I could, and I watched carefully the reaction of that great crowd. And the reactions I got pleased me. My comparison of the ‘clenched fist’ of Pakistan (on July 27, Liaquat Ali Khan speaking at Karachi on ‘Defence Day’, gave the symbol of ‘clenched fist’ to his people) with the Ashok Chakra—our symbol of peace and righteousness—evoked the loudest applause.
I would therefore suggest to you to deal with the present situation in a way which demonstrates to the people that we are not in the slightest upset by it...We should, of course, keep wide awake and follow events carefully. We should have in our minds what we should do in case any particular emergency arises. But we should not do anything which might lead the public to think that war is on the doorstep. I do not, in fact, think that it is anywhere near. But you cannot relax your vigilance.
As usual, we have received, and I suppose Pakistan has received also, communications from the UK and USA governments, pointing out to us the dangers of the situation and stressing the need for peace. Good advice is always welcome, though sometimes it may not be appropriate. Our desire for peace with Pakistan is far greater than that of any other country not only because of our entire policy but also because it concerns us most. Perhaps this critical situation be-tween India and Pakistan would not have arisen but for the policies pursued by the UK and USA in regard to the Kashmir dispute. They have consistently encouraged the intransigence of Pakistan. Is it surprising then that Pakistan, so encouraged, has gone far in the wrong direction?
Nothing has surprised me so much during the past months or even years than the deliberate policy pursued by the UK and USA in the UN Security Council and elsewhere, in regard to Kashmir. I hope I am not entirely incapable of taking an objective view of the situation. I have tried to do so, and I cannot understand why some foreign countries should be so hostile to us in this matter. There must be some basic cause for it, which has little relation to the merits of the dispute.
It is clear that long ago, the UK and USA came to the conclusion that Kashmir must go to Pakistan. That had nothing to do with the merits of the case. Having come to that conclusion, naturally the policy they have pursued has been meant to further that objective. Why did they start with this premise? If we trace this, perhaps we will have to go back to pre-Partition days when the British government encouraged the Muslim League and separatism in India. We shall also have to go back and try to understand the policy of the UK, which led them to support feudal and reactionary regimes in the Middle East and sometimes even favour the idea of Pan-Islamism or an Islamic bloc.
In the old days, this was against the Czarist Russia. Later, Communist Russia became a major danger. Of course, there was oil in the Middle East and the routes to India and the Far East had to be protected. After the First World War, the whole of the vast area from Afghanistan to Turkey was more or less under British occupation and Mr. Winston Churchill even suggested the creation of a Middle Eastern Empire. But other developments took place. There was the new Soviet Russia, weak and facing a civil war, but nonetheless a power, with a new kind of strength. Kamal Ataturk drove out the allied occupation forces from Turkey and later defeated the Greek Army, which was sup-ported by the British. Raza Shah Pahlavi became dominant in Iran. In the Arab countries, all kinds of new situations arose. Iraq remained largely under British control.”