Kashmir: The Storm center of the World
Table of Contents
   About the Author
   Abode of Kashyap
   The Making of J&K
   Hundred Years of Dogra Rule
   Quit Kashmir Movement
   Hari Singh's Dilemma
   Accession to India
   First Indo-Pak War
   Bungling at U.N.
   Kashmir Divided
   The Dixon Proposals
   Shadow of Cold War
   The Chinese Factor
   Indo-Pak War of 1965
   Indo-Pak War of 1971
   The Great Betrayal
   Back to Square One
   War by Proxy
   The Way Out
   Book in pdf format  
   Official Site  

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Chapter 10

The Dixon Proposals

The Cease Fire eased the situation in so far as it put a stop to the actual fighting. It also removed the fear of the fighting in Kashmir developing into a general Indo- Pak War. But it did not bring the solution of the problem as visualized by the UNCIP in its resolution of August 13, 1948 any nearer. Nothing had been settled about the Truce Agreement and plebiscite which were to follow the Cease Fire in terms of that resolution before India took the initiative to end the shooting War. This put the U.N. Commission in a difficult position. While it appreciated India's self-abnegation in stopping the actual fighting it could not allow the matters to rest there. It, therefore, after waiting for a few months passed a new resolution on January 5, 1949 which detailed the steps to be taken for the implementation of the provisions of its earlier resolution about the Truce Agreement and the plebiscite. To expedite the work it decided to move India and Pakistan to carry on its mediatory efforts to that end.

But neither Pakistan nor India was in a hurry to oblige the U.N. Commission. Pakistan wanted to consolidate her position in the territories acquired by her and was in no mood to take any risk by withdrawing the 30 battalions of local troops raised from among the people of these territories and allowing the writ of the lawful Government of Jammu & Kashmir to run, even nominally, over the whole state on which India insisted. The divergence between the views of the two sides regarding demilitarization and administrative control over the territories occupied by Pakistan was so great that it took them seven months even to finalize the Cease Fire Line.

The UNCIP therefore began to veer round the idea of arbitration by a thirdAdmiral Chester W. Nimitz party regarding the disputed points about demilitarization which stood in the way of signing of the Truce Agreement and induction of a plebiscite Administration for which post the security council had nominated Admiral Chester Nimitz of the USA. Accordingly, it presented to the Governments of India and Pakistan on August 29, 1949 its proposal about submitting to arbitration their differences regarding the implementation of Part II of the resolution of August 13, 1948. As if by prior arrangement, President Truman of the USA and Premier Attlee of the U.K. wrote to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan about the same time to accept this suggestion about arbitration.

The Government of Pakistan accepted the suggestion but the Government of India rejected it on the plea that the outstanding issue of disbanding and disarming of "Azad" Kashmir forces was a matter not for arbitration but "for affirmative and immediate decision".

Though the arbitration proposals thus fell through, it hardened the attitude of the USA and the UK against India.

The U.N. Commission therefore felt that any further efforts at mediation would be useless and decided to return to New York and report its failure to the Security Council. This it did on December 12, 1949. The majority report was signed by four of the five members. While admitting the Commission's failure in the task entrusted to it, it suggested that the "Security Council should designate as its representative, a single individual who should proceed to the subcontinent with the broad authority from the Council to endeavour to bring the two Governments together on all unresolved issues".

Dr. Chyde, the representative of Czechoslovakia, submitted a separate minority report in which he charged the U.N. Secretariat, the USA and the UK with interference in the work of the UNCIP, suggested that a new mediation organ really independent and untrammeled by outside interference should be created and asserted that the Security Council as a whole alone could be such an organ.

The presentation of these reports and the charges levelled by Dr. Chyde about interference by the U.S.A. and the UK in the working of the UNCIP made the division of the Security Council between the Western and Eastern Bloc on the question of Kashmir absolutely clear. It was now evident that the Kashmir issue had got caught up in the cold war and that a dispassionate study and solution of the problem on its own merits was going to become more and more difficult. This fact began to further influence the foreign policy of the Government of India in favor of the Communist bloc which in its turn made the attitude of the Western bloc more and more sympathetic to Pakistan's point of view.

Owen DixonThe security council, after debating these reports for many weeks, decided by a majority vote on March 14, 1950, to send a single U.N. representative to assist in the demilitarization Programme and subsequent steps for organizing a plebiscite. Sir Owen Dixon, a retired Judge of the Australian High Court, was chosen for the purpose. Earlier, the names of Admiral Chester Nimitz and Mr. Ralph Bunche were proposed but had to be dropped because of India's opposition.

Sir Owen Dixon arrived in India 3n May 27, 1950. He immediately undertook a comprehensive tour of Jammu & Kashmir State on both sides of the Cease Fire Line and held discussions with local leaders besides the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan. On August 22, 1950 he announced that he had come to the conclusion that there was no immediate prospect of India and Pakistan composing their differences and that he would shortly report to the Security Council. This he did on September 15, 1950.

Sir Owen Dixon's report was the first judicial report on the state of Affairs in Jammu & Kashmir as it had developed since the beginning of Pakistani invasion in October, 1947. He made some practical suggestions about the solution of the problem in the light of the actual realities of the situation on both sides of the cease-fire Line.

He was the first U.N. representative to state in unequivocal terms that the crossing of the frontier of Jammu & Kashmir State by Pakistani invaders on October 22, 1947, and the entry of regular Pakistan Army into Kashmir in May, 1948 were contrary to international law.

He was again the first U.N. representative to clearly grasp the fact that Jammu & Kashmir State is just a heterogeneous conglomeration of territories under the political power of one Maharaja and that it was not really a unit geographically, demographically or economically. He, therefore, concluded that "if as a result of one overall plebiscite the state in its entirety passed to India, there would be a large movement of Muslims and another refugee problem would arise for Pakistan. If the result favored Pakistan a refugee problem, although not of such dimensions, would arise for India. Almost all this would be avoided by partition. Great areas of the State are unequivocally Muslims. Other areas are predominantly Hindu. There is a further area which is Buddhist. No one doubts the sentiments of the great majority of the inhabitants of these areas. The interests of the people, the justice as well as avoiding another refugee problem, all point to the wisdom of adopting partition as the principle of settlement and of abandoning that of an overall plebiscite".

In the light of above conclusions he suggested the following two alternatives to an overall plebiscite:

(1) A plebiscite be taken "by sections or areas" and the allocation of each section or area be made according to the result of the vote.

(2) Without holding a plebiscite, areas certain to vote for India and those certain to vote for Pakistan "be allotted accordingly and the plebiscite be confined only to the uncertain area". The "uncertain area" according to Sir. Dixon appeared to be the "Vale of Kashmir and perhaps some adjacent country."

This plan of holding a partial plebiscite in a limited area consisting of United Nations officers headed by the Plebiscite Administrator with powers to "exclude troops of any description. If however, they decided that for any purpose troops were necessary, they could request the parties to provide them."

He further suggested that the Security Council should pull itself out of the dispute and let the initiative pass to the parties concerned. He, however, stressed the necessity for the reduction in armed forces holding the cease-fire Line to the normal needs of a peace time frontier.

Keeping in view the actual state of affairs on both sides of cease-fire Line and the Indian commitment about plebiscite to determine the will of the people about accession, Dixon's proposals appeared to be eminently reasonable and practical even though they militated against the legal and constitutional right of India over the whole of the State. They left the gains of aggression which included three out of the four Muslim majority regions of the State in the hands of Pakistan and gave her a fair opportunity to secure control over the fourth- the Valley of Kashmir - if the people of that region really wanted to put their lot with her. They gave India an un-disputed control over Jammu and Laddakh and provided her an opportunity to put the loyalty of Sheikh Abdullah and Kashmiri Muslims for whom she had done so much, to a fair test. To confine the plebiscite to the Valley with its small and compact area was definitely to be preferred to an overall-plebiscite in the whole of the State from every point of view.

But there was one snag in these proposals. The suggestion to replace the lawfully constituted authority in the Valley by the U.N. administrators with the right to invite troops of both India and Pakistan if necessary for the purpose of maintenance of law and offer could not be justified on any ground. It amounted to absolute repudiation of India's special position emanating from the lawful accession of the State to her and bestowal upon Pakistan, the aggressor who had already obtained rich spoils, an equal status and right over Kashmir.

The Pakistan Government rejected the Dixon proposals on the plea that they "meant a breach on India's part of the agreement that the destinies of Jammu & Kashmir State as a whole should be decided by a plebiscite taken over the entire state". But this rejection was more tactical than genuine because there could not have been a better proposal from the Pakistan point of view.

But it was not so easy for India to accept these proposals. It would have amounted to an implicit acceptance by her that the accession of the State to India had no legal and constitutional validity and that the State should be partitioned on the same basis on which British India had been partitioned earlier. Further, doubts had begun to assail the mind of Pt. Nehru as well about the advisability of putting the Kashmiri Muslims into the ordeal of a plebiscite in which, whenever held, religious and communal considerations would outweigh all other considerations. Taya Zinkin, the representative of "Manchester Guardian" of London, reported Pt. Nehru as having told her on June 30, 1950, in answer to her question whether he would accept the "status quo" with plebiscite confined to the Valley of Kashmir, that he would not agree to a plebiscite so long as Pakistan held a part of the State because the people of Kashmir were "timorous." Pakistan had agreed that it would not canvass in Kashmir on religious grounds but he could not run the risk of their breaking this understanding. Compared with the risk of communal conflagration he did not care about world opinion, but added that "of course if the Kashmiris want a plebiscite to be fought on economic and not mind you, religious grounds they can have it. But I shall never allow so long as I live a plebiscite over cow's urine and all that. It would undo the whole of communal harmony." 1

However, according to Sir Owen Dixon, the Prime Minister of India was in agreement with the general principles underlying his proposals, viz., area where there was no doubt as to the wishes of the people going to India or Pakistan and plebiscite being confined to the areas where there was doubt about the result of voting

provided the demarcation line was drawn with due regard to geographical features and requirements of an international boundary. But Nehru was strongly opposed to Dixon's proposal about supersession of the existing Kashmir Government and bringing in of Pakistani troops in the Valley if the plebiscite Administration felt keeping of such troops there necessary.

There are reasons to believe that had Sir Dixon and afterward the Security Council adopted a flexible approach in regard to the suggestion about suppression of lawful Kashmir Government and admission of Pakistan's troops into the valley if the Plebiscite Administrator so desired, his proposals might have proved a workable basis for a final settlement in spite of the immediate adverse reactions of India and Pakistan to it.

But the Security Council which met on February 21, 1951 to consider the report of Sir Owen Dixon instead of finding out ways and means of making the Dixon proposals acceptable to the two parties, decided by a resolution sponsored jointly by the UK and the USA to send another U.N. representative to India and Pakistan in succession to Sir Owen Dixon "to effect the demilitarization of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the demilitarization proposals made by Sir Dixon in his report with any modifications which the U.N. representative deems advisable, and to present to the Government of India and Pakistan detailed plans for carrying out plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir". This resolution was passed with slight modification in spite of the opposition of India by a majority vote on March 30, 1951. None voted against it but the USSR and Yugoslavia abstained.

In accordance with this resolution the Security Council appointed Dr. Frank Graham of the USA as its new representative for India and Pakistan. Dr. Graham who first came to India and Pakistan in June, 1951 carried on endless discussions with the Prime Ministers of both countries about the quantum of armed forces to be retained by the two sides in Kashmir after a demilitarization in terms of the resolution of August 13, 1948 had been brought about. Having failed to make any headway, he suggested direct negotiations between the two governments. They began at a joint conference of the two countries at ministerial level at Geneva in August, 1952, and were later, after a change of Government in Pakistan following the assassination of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, continued at Karachi and New Delhi at the Prime Minister's level.

The joint communiqué issued on August 20, 1953, after the conclusion of the talks between the two Prime Ministers at New Delhi gave the impression that some headway had been made toward a negotiated settlement. According to the communiqué the Prime Ministers agreed to consider directly the preliminary issues like the quantum of forces to be kept by both sides in Kashmir and to that end decided to appoint military and other experts to advise them in regard to these issues. A provisional time-table for implementation of their decisions was also drawn up according to which the Plebiscite Administrator was to be inducted into office by April, 1954.

But before any concrete steps could be taken to implement the decisions announced in the joint communiqué, a new turn was given to the whole problem by the military pact between Pakistan and USA under which Pakistan began to receive massive military aid from the USA and the internal developments in Kashmir which culminated in the overthrow of Sh. Abdullah and installation of a new Government headed by Bakshi Gulam Mohammed and ratification of accession by the Kashmir Constituent Assembly.


1. "Reporting India" by Taya Zinkin, Pg. 206.

Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World



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