Pledges about Right of Self-Determination
the Kashmiri People
"We have received urgent appeal for assistance from Kashmir Government. We would be disposed to give favorable consideration to such, request from any friendly State. Kashmir's Northern frontiers, as you are aware, run in common with those of three countries, Afghanistan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China. Security of Kashmir, which must depend upon control of internal tranquility and existence of Stable Government, is vital to security of India especially since part of Southern boundary of Kashmir and India are common. Helping Kashmir, therefore, is an obligation of national interest to India. We are giving urgent consideration to question as to what assistance we can give to State to defend itself.
I should like to make it clear
that question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed
in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view
which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of
accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in
accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view, it
is quite clear. I have thought it desirable to inform you of
situation because of its threat of international
(Excerpts of telegram dated 26 October 1947 from Jawaharlal Nehru to the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee)
"I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the state to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view."
(Telegram 402 Primin-2227 dated 27th October, 1947 to PM of Pakistan repeating telegram addressed to PM of UK)
[On the very same day the Indian army officially intervened in Kashmir!]
"Kashmir's accession to India was accepted by us at the request of the Maharaja's government and the most numerously representative popular organization in the state which is predominantly Muslim. Even then it was accepted on condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion then."
(Telegram No. 255 dated 31 October, 1947, PM Nehru's telegram to PM of Pakistan)
"...our assurance that we shall withdraw our troops from Kashmir as soon as peace and order is restored and leave the decision regarding the future of the State to the people of the State is not merely a promise to your Government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world."
(Jawahar Lal Nehru, Telegram No. 25, October 31, 1947, to Liaqat Ali Khan, PM of Pakistan)
"We have decided to accept this accession and to send troops by air, but we made a condition that the accession would have to be considered by the people of Kashmir later when peace and order were established. We were anxious not to finalize anything in a moment of crisis, and without the fullest opportunity to be given to the people of Kashmir to have their say. It was for them ultimately to decide.
And here let me make clear that it has been our policy all along that where there is a dispute about the accession of a state to either dominion, the decision must be made by the people of the state. It was in accordance with this policy that we added a proviso to the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir.
We have declaed that the fate
of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge
we have given, and the Maharaja has supported it not only to the
people of Kashmir but the world. We will not, and cannot back out
of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been
established to have a referendum held under international
auspices like the United Nations. We want it to be a fair and
just Reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict.
I can imagine no fairer and juster offer."
(On 2nd November, 1947, broadcast to the nation over All India Radio, Pandit Nehru, PM of India)
"I wish to draw your attention to broadcast on Kashmir which I made last evening. I have stated our government's policy and made it clear that we have no desire to impose our will on Kashmir but to leave final decision to people of Kashmir. I further stated that we have agreed on impartial international agency like United Nations supervising referendum."
(Nehru's reiteration of plebiscite pledge in a telegram to Liaqat Ali Khan, November 03, 1947)
"We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it."
(On 3rd November, 1947, All India Radio broadcast, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
"I have repeatedly stated that as soon as peace and order have been established; Kashmir should decide about accession by plebiscite or referendum under international auspices such as those of United Nations."
(On 21st November, 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
"Further we made it clear that as soon as law and order had been restored in Kashmir, the question of the State's accession should be settled by reference to the people.
In order to establish our
bonafide, we have suggested that when the people are given the
chance to decide their future, this should be done under the
supervision of an impartial tribunal such as the United Nations
Organisation. The issue in Kashmir is whether violence and naked
force should decide the future or the will of the people".
(On 25th November, 1947, statements in the Indian Constituent Assembly, Pandit Nehru, PM of India)
".... But in order to avoid any possible suggestion that India had utilized the State's immediate peril for her own political advantage, the Government of India made it clear that, its people would be free to decide their future by the recognised democratic method of plebiscite or referendum which, in order to ensure complete impartiality, might be held under international auspices."
(Government of India's letter of 31 December, 1947, to UN Security Council)
"The question of the future status of Kashmir vis-à-vis her neighbors and the world at large and a further question, namely, whether she would withdraw from her accession to India and either accede to Pakistan or remain Independent, with a right to claim admission as a Member of United Nations- all this we have recognized to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir, after normal life is restored to them."
(Indian representative Gopalaswami Ayyanger, "United Nations Security Council Official Records", 227th Meeting, January 15, 1948)
"As the Security Council is aware, the Government of India is fully committed to the view that after peace is restored and all people belonging to the State have returned there, a free plebiscite should be taken and the people should decide whether they wish to remain with India, go over to Pakistan or to remain Independent if they choose to do so."
(Indian representative Gopalaswami Ayvanger, "UN Security Official Records", 239th Meeting, February 23, 1948)
"Even at the moment of accession, we went out of our way to make a unilateral declaration that we would abide by the will of the people of Kashmir as declared in a plebiscite or referendum. We insisted further that the Government of Kashmir must immediately become a popular government. We have adhered to that position throughout and we are prepared to have a Plebiscite with every protection of fair voting and to abide by the decision of the people of Kashmir."
(On 5th March, 1948, statement in the Indian Constituent Assembly, Pandit Nehru, PM of India)
"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..... A deadlock, of course, will continue until there is settlement. Therefore, mediation is the only way out. When I say mediation, it does not mean necessarily the type or kind or extent of mediation that we have had. That is matter for consideration. But I do say that it should be under the auspices of the United Nations. What form it should take can be considered later."
(On 16th November 1949, Press conference in New Delhi, Pandit Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
"India has repeatedly offered to work with the United Nations reasonable safeguards to enable the people of Kashmir to express their will and is always ready to do so. We have always right from the beginning accepted the idea of the Kashmir people deciding their fate by referendum or plebiscite. In fact, this was our proposal long before the United Nations came into the picture. Ultimately the final decision of the settlement, which must come, has first of all to be made basically by the people of Kashmir and secondly, as between Pakistan and India directly. Of course it must be remembered that we (India and Pakistan) have reached a great deal of agreement already. What I mean is that many basic features have been thrashed out. We all agreed that it is the people of Kashmir who must decide for themselves about their future externally or internally. It is an obvious fact that even without our agreement no country is going to hold on to Kashmir against the will of the Kashmiris."
(On 16th January 1951, press conference in London, as reported by the daily "Statesman" on 18th January 1951, Pandit Nehru, PM of India)
"We have given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide."
(Nehru's statement in Indian Parliament, 12 February 1951)
"I reaffirm that so far as the Government of India is concerned the Constituent Assembly for Kashmir is not intended to prejudice the issue before the Security Council or come in its way."
(Indian representative Mr. Rajeswar Dayal's address to the UN Security Council on 29 May 1951)
"We have made it perfectly clear that the constituent assembly of Kashmir was not meant and is not meant to come in the way of any decision which might flow ultimately in the Security Council's decisions."
(PM Nehru's reply when asked at a press conference on 11 June 1951, "What will happen if the Constituent Assembly in Kashmir decides in favor of acceding to India?")
"Kashmir has been wrongly looked upon as a prize for India or Pakistan. People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future."
(Addressing the All India Congress Committee on 6th July 1951, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
"The Government of India not only reaffirms its acceptance of the principle that the question of the continuing accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India shall be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations but is anxious that the conditions necessary for such a plebiscite should be created as quickly as possible."
(On 11th September, 1951, letter to the U.N. representative by Pandit Nehru, PM of India)
"It [Kashmir] belongs to the Kashmiri people. When Kashmir acceded to India, we made it clear to the leaders of the Kashmiri people that we would ultimately abide by the verdict of their Plebiscite. If they tell us to walk out, I would have no hesitation in quitting. We have taken the issue to United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation we cannot go back on it. We have left the question for final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision."
(On 2nd January 1952, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
"If, after a proper plebiscite, the people of Kashmir said, 'we do not want to be with India'; we are committed to accept it though it might pain us. We will not send an army against them. We will accept that however hurt we might feel about it. W e will change the constitution, if necessary."
(On June 26, 1952, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's statement in the Indian Parliament)
"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. So, while the accession was complete in law and in fact, the other fact which has nothing to do with the law also remains; namely, our pledge to the people of Kashmir - if you like, to the people of the world - that this matter can be reaffirmed or cancelled or cut out by the people of Kashmir if they so wish.
Let me say clearly that we
accept the basic proposition that the future of Kashmir is going
to be decided finally by the goodwill and pleasure of her people.
The goodwill and pleasure of this Parliament is of no importance
in this matter, not because this Parliament does not have the
strength to decide the question of Kashmir but because any kind
of imposition would be against the principles that this
Parliament holds. Kashmir is very close to our minds and hearts
and if by some decree or adverse fortune, ceases to be a part of
India, it will be a wrench and a pain and torment for us. If,
however, the people of Kashmir do not wish to remain with us, let
them go by all means. We will not keep them against their will,
however painful it may be to us. I want to stress that it is only
the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir. It is
not that we have merely said
that to the United Nations and to the people of Kashmir, it is our conviction and one that is borne out by the policy that we have pursued, not only in Kashmir but everywhere. Though these five years have meant a lot of trouble and expense and in spite of all we have done, we would willingly leave if it was made clear to us that the people of Kashmir wanted us to go. However sad we may feel about leaving we are not going to stay against the wishes of the people. We are not going to impose ourselves on them on the point of the bayonet.
I want to stress that it is only the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir. It is not that we have merely said that to the United Nations and to the people of Kashmir; it is our conviction.
I started with the assumpion
that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their own future.
We will not compel them. In that sense, the people of Kashmir are
(Excerpts from Pandit Nehru's speech in Indian Parliament on 7th August, 1952)
"When a question becomes an international question like the Kashmir question, this Parliament can take many steps, of course, but it cannot solve the international part of it... the accession of Kashmir to India... was in that sense complete, not subject to anything except subject to the goodwill of the people of Kashmir... It is a very important thing and by that declaration we are going to stand. It is left to their decision... Now it is before an international forum and how can I or this Parliament take it away? Some may say that the question is already decided because we passed this law or resolution. It is beyond my understanding. I can take a succession of steps if you like, which steps should involve, first of all, saying no more Security Council, no more United Nations. If you are prepared to do that and take the consequences of it we may do it. We may not do it because the consequences are very serious... It is an issue, which, with all the goodwill in the world, we cannot solve suddenly by our wishing to solve it."
(On 25th March 1953, in Indian Parliament, Pandit Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
"India still stands by her international commitments on the Kashmir issue and will implement them at the appropriate time."
(May 15, 1954, Pandit Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
" Kashmir is perhaps the most difficult of all these problems between India and Pakistan. We should also remember that Kashmir is not a thing to be bandied between India and Pakistan but it has a soul of its own and an individuality of its own. Nothing can be done without the goodwill and consent of the people of Kashmir."
(On 31st March, 1955, statement in the Lok Sabha as published in Hindustan Times New Delhi on 1st April, 1955, Pandit Nehru, PM of India)
"So far as we are concerned, there is not one word in the statements that I have made in this council which can be interpreted to mean that we will not honour international obligations. I want to say for the purpose of the record that there is nothing that has been said on behalf of the Government of India which in the slightest degree indicates that the Government of India or the Union of India will dishonour any international obligations it has undertaken."
(On 24th January, 1957, statement in the 765th meeting of the Security Council by Mr. Krishna Menon, the Indian representative)