India's first High Commissioner in Pakistan Sri Prakash had reportedly told Lord Mountbatten that "for the sake of peace all around," the "best thing" India could do was to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan, a proposal turned down by Jawaharlal Nehru.
According to American historian Stanley Wolpert's new book on the partition of India, when Nehru was informed of what his High Commissioner in Karachi, then capital of Pakistan, had proposed, he expressed amazement.
In a sharp letter to Sri Prakash, Nehru wrote that "I was amazed that you hinted at Kashmir being handed over to Pakistan ... If we did anything of the kind our government would not last many days and there would be no peace ...
"It would lead to war with Pakistan because of public opinion here (in India) and of war-like elements coming in control of our policy. We cannot and will not leave Kashmir to its fate ...The fact is that Kashmir is of the most vital significance to India ... Here lies the rub ... We have to see this through to the end ...," Nehru said.
"Kashmir is going to be a drain on our resources, but it is going to be a greater drain on Pakistan," said the former Prime Minister, according to a report published in Paksitani newspaper 'Daily Times' today from Washington.
Wolpert writes that if Nehru had accepted Mahatma Gandhi's offer of mediating the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, history would have taken a different course.
"If Nehru had only listened to Gandhi, inviting him to arbitrate the Kashmir conflict with (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah, India and Pakistan might have been spared three wars and the tragic loss of countless lives, at least 50,000 of whom were Kashmiri," the book said.
Nehru wrote to his friend, the Nawab of Bhopal, on July 9, 1948 that "it has been our misfortune ... The misfortune of India and Pakistan, that evil impulses triumphed ...
"Can you imagine the sorrow that confronts me when I see after more than thirty years of incessant effort the failure of much that I longed for passionately?, " Nehru had said.
"Partition", he said, "came and we accepted it because we thought that perhaps that way, however painful it was, we might have some peace ... Perhaps we acted wrongly".
Observing that it "is difficult to judge now," the former Prime Minister had said that "and, yet, the consequences of that partition have been so terrible that one is inclined to think that anything would have been preferable ...
"Perhaps these conflicts are due to the folly or littleness of those in authority in India and Pakistan ... Ultimately, I have no doubt that India and Pakistan will come close together ... Some kind of federal link ... There is no other way to peace. The alternative is ... War," Nehru had said.