Lessons of Murree

Print edition : July 02, 2010

CHRONICLES of India-Pakistan relations take little note of the summit conference that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Mohammad Ayub Khan had at the beautiful hill station Murree on September 21, 1960. It failed, with sad consequences.

Ayub Khan met Nehru twice, first at the Palam Airport in New Delhi on September 1, 1959, and next at Murree on September 21, 1960, when Nehru visited Pakistan to sign the Indus Waters Treaty in Karachi on September 19. The first meeting lasted two hours, the next for over an hour. On May 26, 1964, they agreed to meet for the third time, thanks to Sheikh Abdullah's persuasion when he visited Pakistan with Nehru's backing. On May 27, Nehru breathed his last.

Nehru made no effort to conceal his dislike of the head of state of a neighbouring country, an imperial self-indulgence in which Indira Gandhi revelled, in both cases, at the expense of India's national interest.

India's High Commissioner to Pakistan Rajeshwar Dayal has recorded in his memoirs the excellent rapport he had with Ayub Khan from the time they were together in Mathura in 1940. He was the District Magistrate. The sole Indian officer, in charge of a small unit of the Service Corps, was a young Indian Captain, Mohammad Ayub Khan. Almost every evening he would be at our house. ( A Life of Our Times, Orient Longman, page 57; an excellent but neglected memoir by a singularly upright man.)

Ayub Khan did not pull rank when as head of state he received his old friend's credentials as India's High Commissioner in November 1958, all protocol forgotten, and smiling profusely. Rajeshwar Dayal performed brilliantly, battling hard against a paranoid V.K. Krishna Menon and a Commonwealth Secretary, M.J. Desai, who had an almost pathological aversion to Pakistan, a trait that persists in some to this day.

The initiative for the first meeting with Ayub Khan came from Manzur Qadir, the Foreign Minister. Nehru and Ayub Khan issued a joint statement at Palam. Speaking to the press, Ayub Khan suggested that there was need for reappraisal, for forgetting and forgiving, and for a more realistic, rational and sensible relationship with each other. This was the language of one who wished to shed old baggage.

He had, in fact, shed it already and indicated that clearly in a major policy pronouncement through his Foreign Minister six months earlier, on March 12, 1960, in an address at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. Manzur Qadir hinted that Pakistan was open to alternatives to a plebiscite: If somebody has a solution other than ours, let him suggest it. We can at least start thinking about it. On June 30, 1960, the Jan Sangh's Raghu Vira, MP, said after meeting Ayub Khan, that he no longer insisted on a plebiscite but sought any mutually acceptable way that would save the face of both sides.

This brings us to the Nehruvian style of diplomacy alike in relations with China (the precondition of withdrawal coupled with refusal to negotiate) and with Pakistan (no negotiation). Nehru would state his position and ask for its acceptance. He invited alternatives from the other side to shoot them down.

In April 1960, Zhou Enlai was prepared to accept the McMahon Line if India yielded on the Aksai Chin. Nehru could have accepted that and asked for some areas south-west of the road. He flatly rejected Zhou's offer.

Since Pakistan was prepared to relent from the agreed United Nations resolutions, Nehru could have offered some viable alternative. He offered the status quo, a non-starter. Why would Pakistan accept in a bargain what it already had?

The Ayub government settled the India-Pakistan boundary and concluded the Indus Waters Treaty. Rajeshwar Dayal mentions the flow of visitors to and from India, the increase in commerce and proposals for joint projects. Unlike M.J. Desai, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary, M. Ikramullah, brother of M. Hidayatullah, Chief Justice of India, was a dove. When Morarji Desai as Finance Minister visited Pakistan to discuss the issue of public debt, he played bridge with his counterpart, Shoaib.

Ayub's memoirs reveal that he accurately perceived Nehru's disdain for a military man. He wrote: I did not get the impression that Pandit Nehru was extraordinarily pleased to see me, but he was quite moved by some of the suggestions I made to him. He struck me as a tired man, though he still had a reserve of fight and political acumen. I missed the idealism or starry-eyed thinking which is often attributed to him. I told him I considered that relations between India and Pakistan had been dictated by drift rather than by any rational design. I felt it was not too late to formulate a plan to put our relationship on a rational and sensible basis.

I then raised with him the Kashmir problem. I put it to him that it was the people of Kashmir who should have the decisive say in the matter. It was vital that a solution satisfactory from the point of view of the people of Jammu and Kashmir be found. Mr Nehru did not disagree with my ideas but emphasised the need for the creation of a background of understanding between the two countries and for eliminating, as a start, border incidents and firing ( Friends Not Masters, pages 123-124).

The one last hitch in the parleys on the Indus Waters Treaty having been removed, Rajeshwar Dayal wrote: Ayub Khan, elated at this achievement which would rebound to the credit of his regime, said that he would welcome a personal visit by Prime Minister Nehru for the signature of the historic treaty or, alternatively, he would be glad to go to Delhi himself. Now that almost all the practical problems between us had been settled, only one issue which had generated much emotion on both sides remained. That was Kashmir. He said his predecessors had made certain promises to the people from which he could not resile, and India had adopted a contrary position which Pakistan, likewise, could not accept. Let us start talking and inshallah something will come out of it' were his words. He added that Pandit Nehru was at the zenith of his power and popularity in India, and any decision taken by him would be unquestionably accepted, while he in Pakistan also had the necessary authority to ensure acceptance of settlement to which he may agree.

I hurried to Delhi to report Ayub Khan's views and reactions to the Prime Minister and to arrange a mutually suitable date and programme for the visit and signature of the treaty. Pandit Nehru was greatly relieved by the successful outcome of the negotiations; he gave his preference for Karachi as the venue of the signature ceremony and a date early in September 1960 was arranged. He was very keen to address a public meeting in Karachi on the occasion (page 289).

Dayal spelt out to Nehru his ideas on the stand India should adopt. I reported Ayub's proposal that, with the conclusion of almost all the unfinished business of partition on a basis of mutual accommodation, the remaining problem, that of Kashmir, which was of a sensitive nature and clouded by emotion, could now be taken up. I submitted my view that talking about Kashmir would help drain it of its emotional content. To engage in talks did not imply conceding anything in advance as experience of the complicated negotiations on the canal waters' problems had shown, the very process of discussion could produce its own solution.

It would, in the context of Kashmir, be of interest to recall the dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia in regard to the former Free Territory of Trieste which was settled by timely international intervention. That agreement, though provisional, has been more durable than many definitive treaties. It meets the felt needs of both sides while side-stepping the contentious question of sovereignty.

The manner in which Ayub Khan put his proposal implied that all he expected at that stage was that the process of discussion on Kashmir be initiated without precondition. He was too much of a realist to expect early results and he knew that the process would be long-drawn. Significantly enough, the matter of Kashmir had not been raised earlier by President Ayub or his Foreign Minister. The process of talking about Kashmir would at least have given some assurance to Ayub Khan's constituency, the army, as well as to the people at large, that the regime was not neglectful of a problem which had excited such high emotions.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru driving with President Mohammad Ayub Khan after his arrival in Karachi on September 19, 1960, to sign the Indus Waters Treaty. They met for a summit on September 21 at Murree.-PHOTOGRAPHS: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

With the easing of the Kashmir situation, trade could have opened up, helping to ease the financial burden on India while creating a new and profitable market in Pakistan for Kashmiri goods. Great quantities of Kashmir timber were lost to Pakistan, for which claims for compensation were annually presented and summarily rejected; these could be sold profitably instead of being confiscated. Similarly, tourism in Kashmir could be opened to Pakistanis in principle, the issue of visas being regulated and the activities of visitors closely monitored. Leaving aside the non-negotiable question of sovereignty, what Kashmir had to offer was its incomparable climate and scenery and trade in its superb silks, carpets and handicrafts and, of course, tourism.

I placed these thoughts in some detail before the Prime Minister, just before I was to leave to take up the stewardship of the United Nations mission in the Congo. The Prime Minister listened attentively and seemed particularly interested in the analogy of the Trieste agreement. The upshot was that Pandit Nehru agreed to the proposal to accompany Ayub Khan to the cool heights of Murree to the President's lodge for a tete-a-tete, without formalities or advisers (emphasis added, throughout).

Dayal's appointment as successor to Ralph Bunche, head of the U.N.'s mission in the Congo, at this moment was most unfortunate. I had wanted my Deputy in Karachi, Padmanabhan, who was fully conversant with every nuance of the several negotiations over the last two years and personally knew the Pakistani personalities involved, to carry on in my place as acting head of mission. But M.J. Desai had other plans, and Padmanabhan was arbitrarily transferred and my deputy in Dacca, Trivedi, who was totally unacquainted with the Karachi scene and the central government authorities, was sent as a replacement. Trivedi was an acolyte of Desai's and fully shared his negative perceptions, which he was to demonstrate during his brief tenure.

When I went to take leave of Ayub Khan he was less than pleased that I should be going away at that juncture even for a temporary period, as he strongly felt that I should be present for the crucial visit of the Prime Minister. he feared that the combined influence of Krishna Menon and Desai on Mr Nehru would now prevail.

Dayal recalled: We had reached a peak in relations between the two countries. At the official and personal levels we found that we had suddenly become popular. Even the normally hostile press spared us undue attention. The general public too responded to the new mood and our flagged car when passing in convoy was greeted with clapping instead of boos. Even when not in procession, there was the sound of applause from the passers-by, with occasional cries of Visa Please!' Invitations to High Commission functions were eagerly sought, especially to Indian film shows in the auditorium of our fine new four-storeyed chancery building. There were frequent music recitals at the residence given by visiting Indian musicians, which were attended by highly appreciative, culture-starved audiences. The local notables no longer felt afraid or inhibited in inviting us to their functions. Some were even given in our honour. Our Urdu, and especially Susheela's [Mrs Dayal's] impeccable Lucknow accent, was much admired. The migrants from U.P., nostalgic for their old homes set amidst greenery, found our presence particularly reassuring. We delighted to renew contacts with families and friends of long-standing who had migrated, some out of political conviction or religious sentiment, but most to improve their economic prospects.

Frank and open-minded

If Ayub Khan persisted despite a keen perception of Nehru's dislike of him, it was because he sought earnestly to settle Kashmir and get on with the job at home. In my very frequent dealings with him in Pakistan, especially in the earlier years, I found Ayub Khan frank, open-minded and cooperative. He was straight-forward and quick in grasping the essentials of a problem and, once convinced, quick in decision. He often observed that it was senseless on the part of our two countries, which were destined to live together, to be in a constant state of confrontation. He betrayed not a trace of religious bigotry or narrow-mindedness, and whenever he mentioned Prime Minister Nehru, he always did so in terms of respect.

It was such a man whom Nehru slighted. When Dayal met Ayub Khan in London at the time of the conference of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, he upbraided me for leaving my post in Pakistan at such a critical juncture, remarking caustically that Pandit Nehru seemed to think that the Congo was more important to India than Pakistan. When I once more pleaded that an envoy was not a prime mover but only a conveyor belt, Ayub Khan bristled. He soundly blamed Krishna Menon and M.J. Desai for their evil counsel and the Prime Minister for being influenced by them. Lapsing into Urdu, he said with much bitterness: Who mujhe hiqarat ki nazar se dekhte hain.' Mr Nehru looks down upon me with contempt.' I was flabbergasted and tried vainly to assuage his hurt feelings. He went on to say that he expected better of Pandit Nehru, adding that he too was the head of a large state and should not have been treated thus. I was dismayed at what I heard and daunted by the thought that the Sisyphean task of trying to restore some degree of sanity and civility in our relations would have to be faced again.

It was clear that the intimate talks between President Ayub and Prime Minister Nehru in the quiet of the pleasant Murree hills, from which Ayub had expected the commencement of a new chapter in relations had, instead, proved an unmitigated disaster. This was evident from Ayub's bitter remarks to me in London some months earlier. All that Ayub Khan revealed was that when he tried to open a conversation about Kashmir, Nehru simply stared out of the window at the scenery and shut up like a clam'. From that time the relations between the two countries, which had been built up brick by brick, suddenly collapsed in rubble (pages 301-303). What exactly happened at Murree on that fateful day, September 21, 1960?

Pakistan's version

Ayub Khan's memoirs, published in 1967, provided his version of the talks. I told him that he knew very well the kind of elections' that had been held in the State in the absence of any civil liberties. There was no denying the fact that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were most unhappy about the continued occupation of their State by the Indian army. As regards the Muslim minority in India, they could not be held as hostages and their future did not have to be linked with the problem of Jammu and Kashmir.

Nehru finally asked what, accepting the fact that there was need for peace between the two countries and also that the room for manoeuvre for settlement of the Kashmir dispute was limited, I thought should be our first step. I told him that this would depend on the objective we had before us. Once the objective was determined, an organisation could be established to work out the method. Mr Nehru said that he foresaw serious political opposition in his country. He mentioned that Indian public opinion had reacted violently to Chinese occupation' of Indian territory'.

I did not get the impression that Nehru was interested in any long-term and lasting solution. He was, perhaps, not averse to the dialogue going on for the time being, but he was not visualising a future of understanding between the two countries (pages 124-126).

Indian version

In 1984 the third volume of S. Gopal's biography provided the Indian version, but very briefly, on the basis of Nehru's note written at Murree (page 144). The full text of that historic document is available at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library in New Delhi, to which this writer is greatly indebted. It was written by Nehru that very day at President's House, Murree and ran into 15 paragraphs in three pages. It makes sad reading. The President began by laying stress on the importance and the urgency of a full settlement between the two countries of all our problems and, more particularly, that of Kashmir which had come in the way of good relations between the two countries. He spoke at some length on this subject and laid stress on as speedy a solution as possible partly because delay might worsen the situation and partly because if these problems were not settled between him and me while we functioned in our respective capacities, a settlement might become much more difficult or even impossible later on.

I entirely agreed on the desirability of good and cooperative relations between the two countries. That had always been our desire and policy and I was glad that we had made much progress in this direction. So far as I could judge, the people of both countries had friendly feelings towards each other and the old bitterness had gone. In dealing with Kashmir we had to take a realistic view of the situation. Not to do so would land us in greater difficulties. It would be most unfortunate for us to try to take a step which might create numerous upsets and emotional upheavals that is, accept the status quo and make the ceasefire line an international boundary.

Ayub Khan and his wife were guests at an informal dinner hosted by the Indian High Commissioner, Rajeshwar Dayal (left), on August 25, 1959.-

Ayub Khan distanced himself sharply from the policies of the past. Pakistan had raised some issues which, the President thought, were not justifiable. Thus, there was the case of Hyderabad and Junagadh, etc. It was clear that these places could only go to India. They were surrounded by Indian territories and they could not separate themselves from it. These questions should have been settled easily without the necessity even of India taking action as in the case of Hyderabad. Evidently, the President was treating the case of Kashmir on a separate basis and indicating that Pakistan was justified in regard to her claim on Kashmir, though the President did not say so actually. Ayub Khan did not want any upsets following an attempt at solution. There was no reason why there should be any such upsets if the parties agreed to it. Nehru replied that the consequences of any marked change would not only have a great upsetting effect in Kashmir itself, but also in India. We had a large population of Muslims in India and on the whole they had been integrated. But any wrong step taken by us would affect them injuriously and prevent further integration. I gave also various other reasons and further pointed out that it was extraordinarily difficult for us to go through the various processes that might be required for any major change. I referred to the Berubari case which had been raised in Parliament and had to be referred to the Supreme Court. There was much excitement over this issue in Bengal especially. If this kind of thing happened over a small issue like Berubari, he could well imagine what great difficulties would be raised over any larger issue. The slightest change in territory involved our going to Parliament and changing our Constitution, apart from convincing our people. Then again, according to our very Constitution, we could do nothing in regard to Kashmir without the consent of the Kashmir Assembly. Twice there had been elections in Kashmir for this Assembly. Next year we are going to have a third general election in which Kashmir would join.

This was too disingenuous by half. Nehru knew that the Kashmir Assembly elections held by Sheikh Abdullah in 1951, and by Bakshi Ghulam Muhammed in 1957, were rigged. His reference to the Assembly's powers ran contrary to his stand in 1951 when the Sheikh asserted its plenary power to which New Delhi demurred.

The reference to the Constitution was a poor excuse. Article 253 empowers Parliament to legislate on any matter, whether in the Union or State list, for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with another country. However as applied to the State of Jammu & Kashmir, Article 253 is qualified by a proviso which is in force to this day: Provided that after the commencement of the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954, no decision affecting the disposition of the State Jammu & Kashmir shall be made by the Government of India without the consent of the Government of that State.

Nehru went on to propose this: It seemed to me that the only practicable and feasible course was to allow matters to rest where they were more or less and to accept the position as it was. The President said that the present position was a result of military conflict and an ad hoc ceasefire line which had no real justification as a frontier. As such it could hardly be accepted and it was there only because armies stood on either side. I said that was partly true and adjustments could be made to conform to geographical or like features, provided the basic position was accepted. Any other course was not practicable or realisable now and would lead to trouble and difficulty.

Ayub was not agreeable to this but he did not give up. He did not want me to say yes or no at this stage. He knew that the question was a difficult one and every aspect of it had to be considered; consultations had to take place and public opinion gradually directed to certain ends. But he would like me to give full thought to this question and how to find a way out. I told him that I had been considering this matter for the past dozen years and I would continue to give more time to it. But I could see no way out other than the one I had suggested. I tried to get the President to indicate what precise course of action he had in mind but he did not do so. All that he said and repeated was that we must but we must give full thought to this question and try to find some way out. There were three parties to this question of Kashmir: India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. All must be satisfied.

As ever, Nehru sought proposals from his adversary while not relenting a bit from his own maximalist position. But there was another matter of consequence that they also discussed at Murree. Nehru raised the issue of the boundary with China. He asked me whether we had approached the Chinese to demarcate the border and I informed him of the position. He wanted me to show him the map on which we were basing our claim and wanted to know exactly the area to which our claim extended. I told him quite frankly that we had no intention of claiming any area which we did not honestly believe to be covered by the actual line of control as determined by our experts. We might ask for certain areas beyond the line of control to provide facilities for the local population.

Mr Nehru asked me to let him have a copy of the map and I agreed to this in principle. As soon as he went back to India, he started criticising us for having approached the Chinese to demarcate the border. He mentioned the map I had shown him and said that we did not even know where the border was and that we were acting in a childish manner. That was Mr Nehru's style, he quite forgot the spirit in which we had discussed the matter and used the whole thing as a debating point.

This is very true. Nehru told a press conference on January 18, 1961: Pakistan does not know very much about the border their knowledge of this is extremely limited. In a speech in the Rajya Sabha on May 3, 1962, he recalled the Murree talks: I found they knew less than I did even on that side of the border.

Nehru repeated this in the Lok Sabha on May 7, 1962, and cited the Mir of Hunza's old claims on China. The British Government, after due enquiry, had not accepted the Mir of Hunza's claim to that particular grazing area, and therefore had refused to intervene in this matter. This refers to a particular spot, the grazing area, and not to the whole frontier He [Ayub Khan] agreed with that that particular area the grazing area of Hunza. He said we cannot lay claim to that in the circumstances when the British Government had given it up.

This was said in 1960 before the Sino-Pakistan talks began. Nehru based his criticism of the Sino-Pakistan accord on March 5, 1963, on these old maps. Rather inconsistently, for he had ridiculed Pakistan's maps and, indeed, its ignorance of the borders generally.

Nehru's intolerance

The cause for hurt lay deeper as Nehru explained on May 7, 1962. It was the acceptance by the Government of Pakistan of the Chinese Government's view that this boundary has never been delimited and demarcated in history and their willingness to demarcate it now.

Ayub Khan and Nehru met for the first time on September 1, 1959, at Palam Airport in New Delhi.-

His stand was different. He had spoken to Ayub because we thought that any action which they might take should be in line with the action we were taking in regard to this border, and should not conflict.

This was intolerance twice over. Vis-a-vis China, Nehru had said on January 18, 1961: In our opinion, we have nothing to negotiate; our minds are quite clear. That is one thing. But so far as we are concerned we are always prepared to talk. Vis-a-vis Pakistan, he demanded conformity with this stand, which spelt certain conflict. Pakistan revised old maps and settled anew. As for Nehru, he was always ready to talk. He was never ready to negotiate.

Van Eekelen, a Dutch diplomat who served in India, wrote in his book Indian Foreign Policy and the Border Dispute with China that the accord followed the main Karakoram watershed, but once left it for another spur and a river bed to accommodate Pakistan in her desire for the pocket of Sokh Bulaq. The compromise border left about two thirds on China side, but while Pakistan in the main had given up only claims on maps, China would be withdrawing from about 750 square miles.

The book under review, ably edited by Nadia Ghani, comprises interviews with Ayub Khan by Altaf Gauhar and N.A. Faruqi. Most of the material went into the writing of Friends Not Masters. But not all. What was left out is excellent material that no student of Pakistan should ignore, especially on the boundary. It nails to the counter the lie that Pakistan ceded land to China. Some Kashmiri politicians have also begun to propagate this in desperate folly, hoping thereby to bring China in and complicate matters. They know no better.

China two different approaches

Ayub Khan explains in detail how he won a concession from China. His instructive exposition should bring home to us the folly of the dramatically opposite course Nehru followed, a fact which most refuse to accept to this day.

He profited from Nehru's example. I also said to myself that a similar situation can also arise on our undemarcated border with Sinkiang and Baltistan area. As a matter of fact, there have been reports from time-to-time that Chinese patrols had come up to Shamshal and, although, actual shooting did not take place but there was driving away of certain herdsmen from our side. All these points combined led me to think that wouldn't it be a good idea to approach the Chinese and suggest to them that we should demarcate this border. When I looked into the history of this part of the area as to whether any attempt had been made to define it in the past, I was given a paper by the Foreign Office. Apparently, there had been certain proposals made by the British from time-to-time, and about three proposals had been suggested.

Then I asked for the actual line of control. I asked the experts concerned to mark the actual line of control on the map for me, which they did. And then I said, well now, does it mean that we claim the area up to this line and not beyond. They said, by-and-large this is it. But of course opposite to the Shamshal Pass, the people of the Shamshal village live on this side, on our side, but they take their cattle for grazing to areas on the other side which is very fertile for grazing, but where the Chinese have some posts. And also, the people of Shamshal used to get their salt, which is scarce and, hence, a very valuable commodity in those areas, from there. Barring that we really had no claim beyond the actual line of control.

The Chinese agreed to have discussions with us and we began our negotiations. I believe that in the beginning the Chinese were being very difficult. They felt that we were trying to trick them in the way that the Indians had tried to trick them. But once they realised that we were not outwitting or tricking them or anything of that sort, but are only looking for an honourable solution, then I think they came around and agreed to discuss the issue. They came out with a map, and in that map they had laid certain claims to our side of the area, for example, Khunjerab and some areas near the K2 Mountain, in fact, the whole of the K2 area. After much arguments and discussions, they finally agreed to the demarcation line. By-and-large, the watershed of the Indus Basin was to be in our possession; and the watershed of the rivers Yarkand and so on was to be on their side. A survey of the area was conducted and a mission from their side came here and our people went there, and finally the whole matter was settled without any difficulty (pages 244-246).

In fact the area did not belong to either side. It was, as in the case of the Aksai Chin, a no-man's land. China did not respond to Britain's offer on March 14, 1889, which gave most of the Aksai Chin to China, some to India. Since China did not reply, Curzon unilaterally modified the line in 1905 to move it to claim the land beyond the Shimshal Pass.

It is false to say, as Jaswant Singh said, significantly, on the eve of the Agra summit, that Pakistan gave the Shaksgam Valley to China, an idea which originated in the mind of an aide who was eager to please. That area beyond the Shimshal Pass and beyond the watershed was conceded to Pakistan by Zhou Enlai around midnight as a last minute concession after its delegation assured him that it did not seek to reopen the agreed draft but sought a concession for Hunza's people, who depended on grazing for their livelihoods.

Ayub Khan did not abandon his new line on Kashmir after the failure of the Murree summit. He said on March 22, 1961: If there is any other reasonable solution as would satisfy the people of Kashmir we should be prepared to listen. Manzur Qadir said in Calcutta on March 26, 1961, that Pakistan was willing to consider proposals acceptable to all the three sides. In New Delhi, on July 8, 1961, Lt.-Gen. K.M. Sheikh said that Pakistan was prepared for a solution other than a plebiscite, but such a solution should come from India.

Rightly so. Plebiscite, based on the agreed U.N. resolutions, was an agreed course. If India rejected it, the onus of suggesting an alternative lay on it. While publicly professing commitment to a plebiscite, Nehru had since 1948 in private repeatedly suggested partition based on the status quo. He never offered a via media.

In April 1960, he rejected Zhou's offer of a settlement based on the status quo on the grounds it was arrived at by recourse to force. In September 1960, he offered Ayub Khan a settlement based on precisely such a status quo.

But there was a vital difference. Zhou's offer conceded India's non-negotiable vital interest, the McMahon Line. Nehru's offer to Ayub did not offer any compromise formula on the Kashmir Valley. The two failed summits of 1960 exacted a big toll.

Rebuffed by Nehru repeatedly, resoundingly from 1960 to 1963, Ayub Khan became receptive to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's advice to settle the matter by recourse to force. On May 12, 1965, Bhutto wrote a letter to the President advocating this course. It began with a foolish assumption: India is at present in no position to risk a general war of unlimited duration. India's capacity increases with the passage of every single day (White Paper on the Jammu & Kashmir Dispute, Government of Pakistan 1977; page 82). Ergo strike now.

India proved the assumption wrong. Pakistan's adventure was doomed from the start. The Economist said in an editorial Pakistan cannot Win.

The ruinous folly destroyed Ayub Khan, alienated East Pakistan further, wrecked the progress Pakistan had achieved and silenced advocates of plebiscite in India, led by Jayaprakash Narayan. Bhutto bounced back to inflict yet greater havoc on his country in 1971 and later.

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