U.S. Initiatives for the Settlement of Kashmir Dispute in Cold War Period.

Byline: Ahmad Ejaz


The worth of U.S.-sponsored collective security in Asia was based on harmonious relationship between India and Pakistan. Divided South Asia could never be supportive to the U.S. security strategy in the region. Thus United States constantly tried to push India and Pakistan to improve their relationship through the resolution of all contentious issues, Kashmir in particular, that has blocked all channels to reduce animosity between the two countries. The U.S. played a intermediary role in resolution of Kashmir dispute and it made efforts in and outside the United Nations. These U.S. endeavors though did not pave way for resolution of the dispute, they effectively functioned to avoid crisis over issue and also thwarted India's policy for further maneuverings over Kashmir.

Initiatives at UN

In early 1948 as the dispute was presented before the UN Security Council, the United States moved the 'basic' resolution of April 21, 1948, proposing for a free and fair UN supervised plebiscite in Kashmir to decide its future in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. The resolution was of crucial importance because under the recommendation of this resolution, the subsequent UN intermediary efforts through the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and the individual UN representatives were carried out. The United States played an active role in UNCIP. The U.S. support for plebiscite in Kashmir caused resentment in India. The Indians called it an unfriendly line of action against their country.1The Indian government argued that the formation of UNCIP guaranteed the U.S. objectives in Kashmir.2 The UNCIP intermediary efforts made the cease-fire effective in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan on January 1, 1949.

The further implementation on the UN resolutions of the 1948 and 1949 for demilitarization of the Kashmir state and holding of plebiscite was barricaded due to India's ill response.

The obstructionist policy of India thwarted the U.S. mediatory endeavors through UN and diminished the hope for settlement of the Kashmir issue. However, the United States continued with its quest for an amicable solution of the dispute.3

The U.S. policy makers became convinced that India was responsible for the failure of the UN efforts towards the peaceful solution of the problem.4

Amid the UN peace efforts, the security situation between India and Pakistan flared up South Asian region in beginning of 1951. It happened in the backdrop of Indian Policy of incorporating the Indian-controlled Kashmir into the Indian Union through the India-sponsored constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that escalating tense situation between India and Pakistan could probably turn in to an armed clash that would not remain limited to the Kashmir border.5

In an attempt to defuse the situation, United States sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council, in March 1951, which disapproved the Indian plan of determining the future status of Kashmir by constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir and reaffirmed that the future of Kashmir state should be "decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspicious of the United Nations."6India rejected it.7

Indian provocative attitude went worst when India unilaterally incorporated the state on November 17, 1956 through the constitution adopted by the India-sponsored Jammu Kashmir Constituent Assembly. The Indian move flouted all Security Council endeavors for peaceful and amicable settlement of the future of Kashmir. The United States declared the Indian action as invalid and also a violation of the international charter for self-determination.8The Security Council adopted a resolution on January 24, 1957 which reiterated, rejecting the Indian attempt action that: "The final disposition of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations."9The U.S. representative in the Security Council Cabot Lodge commented on the matter.10

The United States introduced a resolution in the Security Council on February 14, 1957 which called for reintroduction of UN mediator and use of the UN forces in connection with demilitarization of the Kashmir region.11

The Soviet Union vetoed the resolution in favour of Indian stand. However, the resolution confirmed the U.S. support for the right of self-determination of Kashmiris.

In November 1957, when the Security Council resumed debate on Kashmir, the United States categorically reiterated its policy on Kashmir. Along with Britain, Australia, Colombia and Philippines, it forwarded another resolution that recalled that the demilitarization of Kashmir region was an important goal and put emphasis on renewal of the UN mediatory efforts to secure the agreement of India and Pakistan for the settlement of the dispute, on the basis of the resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949. The resolution was adopted on December 2, 1957.12

Following this resolution, the U.N. mediator frank P. Graham was dispatched to South Asia in a final attempt to seek some way to settle the dispute, on the basis of the U.N. resolutions, but he again failed due to the intransigent of India.Commenting on Indian attitude to block the UNCIPs, The New York Times stated: "India does not wish to have the Kashmir question settled through the offices of the UN.... India's intransigence is no longer directed against Pakistan. It is directed against the United Nations itself."13

After forcible annexation of Goa, in December 1961, the Indian leaders, drawing parallel to the annexation of Goa, threatened to capture the Kashmir.

Indians' provocative statements had created an agitated situation in Pakistan. The UN Security Council again resumed debate on Kashmir in June 1962 and through a resolution reminded India and Pakistan to move to seek peaceful settlement of Kashmir within the frame of resolutions of 1948 and 1949. US heavily supported the resolution but Soviet Union vetoed it. 14The U.S. mainstream newspaper, New York Herald Tribune, in its editorial...

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