16 JANUARY 1948, Page 2

The Kashmir Conflict

The fact that the United Nations Security Council has formally taken cognisance of the dispute—which is in fact open war—between India and Pakistan and is about to begin its discussions on the con- flict, can do nothing immediate to mitigate the peril of the situation existing in and around Kashmir. Trouble was inevitable from the day when the Hindu ruler of that predominantly Muslim State declared his adhesion to the Dominion of India and India accepted the adhesion. The wing condition is that a plebiscite should he held to decide the will of the population as soon as conditions permitted. They never have permitted, and they look less like it today than ever. Each day brings news of a fresh intensification of the fight or a new complication like the threats of the North West Frontier tribesmen with whom Liaquat All Khan, the Premier of Pakistan, has been negotiating. What degree of material help the well-armed tribesmen who are inflicting heavy losses on the Hindu troops opposing them in Kashmir are receiving from the Pakistan Government there is at present no means of ascertaining. The question ought to be investigated by the United Nations except for the fact that it will quite certainly have become irrelevant long before any investigation could be carried out. The importance attached by the British Government to the discussions of Lake Success is shown by the fact that the Minister for Commonwealth Relations has crossed the Atlantic specially for them. The best course the United Nations could take would probably be to charge this country primarily with the task of mediation and ascertainment of fact. But the danger that while the delegates at Lake Success talk, as they must, the conflagra- tion in Kashmir may spread disastrously is imminent and alarming.