Wednesday, November 3, 2010

East and West in India

That was the vividly written paper and read by freedom fighter Mr.Gopal Krishna Gokhale at the Universal Bacoa Congress, London, July 1911 (Reprinted from The Hindustan Review, Allahabad, July 1911). So what is the point here? The point is the conversation between US President Dwight Eisenhower and Jawaharlal Nehru on the issue of Kashmir.

Excerpts from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s reply to the US President dated June 7, 1958, are reproduced below:

Dear Mr President,

Ambassador (Ellsworth) Bunker handed over to me on the May 16 your personal letter of May 14. I am grateful to you for your personal interest and concern in matters affecting us.

I had a long talk with Ambassador Bunker on the subject of your letter and pointed out to him the various aspects of the problems and the difficulties we had to face. I have no doubt that the Ambassador has communicated to you what I said to him on both these occasions.

I need not, therefore, write at any length now. But I am taking the liberty of enclosing a copy of the report of a speech I made in our Parliament on April 9, 1958. This deals with Indo-Pak relations and I attempted to give in it our approach to all the problems that had arisen between them. It deals, in particular, with the basic difficulty we have faced throughout these years in our dealings with Pakistan. There is also reference in it to the report that Dr (Frank) Graham made to the Security Council after his recent visit to India.

This speech will, I hope, make it clear to you how anxious we have been ever since Independence to have normal and friendly relations with Pakistan. We had hoped that the old conflicts and the policy of hatred and violence, pursued by the old Muslim League, which indeed had led to the Partition, would cease. It was obviously to the advantage of both countries to live in peace and friendship with each other and to devote themselves to their social and economic development which was so urgently needed to give a social content to our freedom and independence.

Unfortunately for us and for Pakistan, our hopes were not realised and the Pakistan government continued to pursue that old policy of hatred and violence. Every government that comes to power in Pakistan bases itself on this policy of hatred against India. It is this basic fact that has to be recognised. In our opinion, the settlement we so ardently desire cannot come if this policy of hatred continues.

Military pacts and military aid have made Pakistan think in terms of coercing India. No self-respecting country can submit to this, much more so when that country is an aggrieved party and the other country continues to profit by its aggression. Unfortunately, the encouragement that Pakistan has received in the Security Council and elsewhere has led it to continue its policy of aggressive intransigence.

I realise fully that whatever the rights and wrongs may be in regard to these disputes, it is highly desirable to settle them and turn the course of events in the direction of peace and cooperation. I entirely agree with you, Mr President, that we should make every effort to this end. The question that arises is how best this can be done, because a wrong step may well lead to further difficulties.

We have experience of trying to explore various avenues and making proposals for discussion, which found no response from Pakistan and led to further confusion. Indeed, we were made to suffer for every step that we took in the hope of facilitating a settlement.

Despite all this, it is our desire that our two countries should resolve their differences and develop friendly relations with each other. To this end, we shall continue to work, but in doing so, we cannot submit to what we consider basically wrong, for any such submission would not solve any problem and would only aggravate our conflicts.

We have always been of the view that a settlement of our various issues with Pakistan can only be arrived at satisfactorily by direct contacts between the two countries. If third parties intervene, even though that intervention proceeds from goodwill, the position becomes entirely different. The aggressor country and the country against whom aggression has taken place are put on the same level, both pleading before that third party.

It is this difficulty that has faced me in considering the proposal that you have made. Ambassador Bunker has told me that it is not intended that any person should act as a judge or umpire. Nevertheless, by whatever name the third person might be called, his intervention would tend to be regarded as of that kind and might well add to the present difficulties. Any visit of such a person could not be kept secret and the result would be greater public excitement.

Kashmir, canal waters and other matters in issue between India and Pakistan are the result, and not the basic cause, of Pakistan’s hostility to India. The atmosphere between the two countries has been worsened further by the incitement by Pakistan of subversion and sabotage in Kashmir and by speeches by Pakistan’s leaders advocating holy war against India.

The Pakistani authorities have been responsible for frequent border incidents; early this week, seven of our border police were shot down in cold blood while negotiating under the white flag with their Pakistan counterparts along the border.

I have ventured to point out frankly the difficulties that face us. At the same time, I appreciate greatly your concern and I am anxious to explore all possibilities which might lead to happier results. I do not think, for the reasons I have given above, that a visit by a special representative, as suggested by you, would be helpful.

May I again express my gratitude to you, Mr President, for your personal approach to these matters which concern us intimately. I know that you and your country mean well by us and we are happy that there has been a growing understanding between our countries.

(From The Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol 42)

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