Kashmir dispute: Domestic or world issue?


India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Pakistan Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Bogra. Even in August 1953, Nehru agreed with Bogra that “the Kashmir dispute… should be settled in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State”.

The Kashmir dispute was internationalised quite early in its history and has never been a purely domestic issue, apart from the fact that the Valley cannot be subjugated by force.

“It is an international problem. It would be an international problem anyhow if it concerned any other nation besides India and it does. It became further an international problem because a large number of other countries also took interest and gave advice…. We do not want to win people against their will and with the help of armed force, and if the people of Jammu and Kashmir State so wish it, to part company from us, they can go their way and we shall go our way. We want no forced marriages, no forced unions like this….

“But whether it is a pain and a torment, if the people of Kashmir want to go out, let them go because we will not keep them against their will however painful it may be to us. That is the policy that India will pursue and because India will pursue that policy people will not leave her, people will cleave to her and come to her. Because the strongest bonds that bind will not be the bonds of your armies or even of your Constitution to which so much reference has been made, but bonds which are stronger than the Constitution and laws and armies—bonds that bind through love and affection and understanding of various peoples.”

—Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

in Parliament on August 7, 1952.

As late as February 25, 1955, Nehru was asked by Lakshmi Charan in the Lok Sabha: “In view of the fact that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly has ratified the accession of the State to India, what will be the terms of discussion on Kashmir with the Pakistani Prime Minister?” Nehru replied: “A question like this cannot be solved unilaterally.”

On July 8, 1949, Nehru said that “Kashmir is a world question”. He was all for mediation and said on November 12, 1949, at a press conference in London: “India continues to suggest that there should be mediation and that this mediation should be under the auspices of the United Nations [U.N.] partly because we want to increase the prestige of the United Nations.”

On his return to India, Nehru declared at a press conference in New Delhi on November 16, 1949: “If you rule out mediation, then the only two things that remain are either continuation of the deadlock or war. So far as we are concerned, and I have said this repeatedly, we want to rule out war.”

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