Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I am sure that all members of the house have followed with concern reports of the fighting now being conducted on India's northern frontiers against the communist Chinese invasion of India.
Despite determined resistance, Indian forces have had to withdraw. In the northwest frontier area, in the Ladakh district of Kashmir, the situation at the moment appears to be relatively stable though strong Chinese attacks are being directed toward the capture of an important Indian air field at Chushul. In the northeast frontier area, however, between Bhutan and Burma, the Chinese have delivered two massive attacks, moving beyond Walong near the Burmese border and pressing south of the Se La pass near the Bhutan border.
The result of this Chinese offensive has been to bring their troops to within 30 miles of the Assam plains, a part of India of great economic value and importance. In these plains flows the great Brahmaputra river, which is a vital factor in the lives of the people of northeast India, and also for the people of East Pakistan. In these grave circumstances we would all wish to assure once more the Indian people and the Indian army of our support for their determination to defeat aggression, and our sympathy for the losses they have suffered.
We have given, and intend to give, practical evidence of our support for India at this time. As I stated to the house on November 5, we have dispatched six DC-3 Dakota transport aircraft in answer to an urgent Indian request. These aircraft were flown out by R.C.A.F. aircrews and are now in India. Over the week end we received, through the Canadian high commissioner in New Delhi, more specific advice from the Indian government about their needs for further assistance in the form of aircraft, clothing for their forces
and other materials. In the light of this additional information the government is at the moment urgently considering how we can best meet the Indian government's requests and the most expeditious way by which our assistance can be sent to India.
There is one other factor in the present situation which derives from the fact that the great and populous subcontinent, part of whose borders has been penetrated, is shared by two commonwealth countries, India and Pakistan. The long standing differences between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have been a cause of regret to Canada and the other commonwealth countries for many years. We cherish a deep fraternal regard for both countries and have tried over the years to find means to reconcile their differences.
In the present circumstances, when communist Chinese aggression has forced India into a bloody conflict, the entire subcontinent, home of both India and Pakistan, is exposed to a grave threat. We would hope that this ominous situation might give new impetus to the search for a settlement between these two fellow members of the commonwealth. Such a settlement would facilitate a concentration of effort against the invading forces on the northern frontier; and I want to make this clear, that if there is anything Canada can do to further such a settlement, the Canadian government will respond wholeheartedly.
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic: INDIA-STATEMENT ON PRESENT POSITION