Published in 1986, ‘Facts are Facts’ by the late Wali Khan was an instant hit. ‘Facts are Facts’ is an attempt to contest text book versions of Pakistan’s history. In a bid to generate debate, the Viewpoint is serializing this text
Removal of Wavell and appointment of Mountbatten-I
After this announcement of the Muslim League, Congress demanded that either the Viceroy should ask for resignation of the Muslim League Ministers or the Congress would be forced to take matters into its own hands. When London learnt of this, Wavell was immediately summoned for discussions. At this time he was so engrossed in the Indian political situation that he did not respond to the Government orders. On 4 February 1947, a special messenger arrived in India bearing a letter from Prime Minister dismissing Wavell from his job and appointing Mountbatten in his place. At the same time the British Government made its historical announcement that in June 1948 India would become self- governing.
There was one other consideration regarding India's future. If the Constituent Assembly was acceptable for an undivided India, well and good. The British would then hand over controls to that Assembly. But if the Indians were not agreeable to keeping one Constituent Assembly and one Constitution, then the Government would have to decide whom the power should be transferred to? To some form of Central Government or to the existing Provincial Government? Or was there another reasonable solution which would be acceptable to the Indian people? The Muslim League was aware that this condition had to be fulfilled before a Central Government for a United India could be established. Therefore they refused to participate in the Constituent Assembly of a United India. If they wanted partition all they had to do was to refuse to take part in the Constituent Assembly. This was an easy decision. The more difficult one was to decide who should be entrusted with the power following the partition? The British were inclined towards the states. This was an open invitation to the Muslim League to grab power, in whichever state they wanted in Pakistan. The British Government advised the League to get rid of the Unionists if they wanted Punjab and to throw out the Khudai Khidmatgars if they wanted the Frontier included in Pakistan. This announcement by the British Government was made on 20 February 1947.
After this the entire concentration of the Muslim League and its supporters was on these two Provinces. They were desperate to establish their control over them. Having lost the election in both provinces, they had no legal or democratic right. So they had to resort to illegal means. Punjab was not a problem. If Hindu-Muslim riots could be started there, as a result of which the Sikh and Hindu members would be chased away, then the decision would come down in favour of the Muslim League. The real problem was the Frontier, because even among the Muslim members the majority was of Khudai Khidmatgars.
Wavell was trying to convince the British that their only chance for success lay in adopting his Breakdown Plan. Sir Olaf Caroe was the External Affairs Secretary in the Central Government. One of his important assignments was to keep an eye on the North-West boundary of India and watch the Afghanistan border. The British feared danger from the Russian side. Their policy regarding Russia was quite explicit. In whatever way possible, Russia should be contained on the other side of the River Amu, within its ideological and geographical boundaries. Since Russia had just suffered an initial setback in war with Germany, the British did not immediately anticipate any danger of an attack from that direction. Their entire concentration was on its ideological boundary. To combat their ideology the British had been wielding the sword of Islam. The problem arose because the Frontier Province bordered Russia on the side of Afghanistan; all the strategic military passes were located in this area. Until the British were in complete control of this province their "military crescent" policy could not be completed. Wavell could not implement his Breakdown Plan unless he could lay his hands on this most important and sensitive Muslim Province. During the elections, the British tried hard, but could not bring this sensitive area under control. Another basic problem that the British and the Muslim League encountered was that due to the Khudai Khidmatgar movement, there was a tremendous amount of political awakening among the people. They had already chased away the people with British titles. The poor, the humble and the weak had been able to rise to the top, thanks to this grass-roots movement of the Khudai Khidmatgars.
The British were hell bent on handing over this province to the Muslim League. So far, nothing had produced desirable results. Neither the elections nor the communal rioting gave any foot-hold to the League. Therefore, Jinnah hatched a dangerous plot, the details of which Iskander Mirza has written in his autobiography.
Iskander Mirza had been transferred from the Frontier to Delhi where he was the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence. He wrote that in February 1947 Jinnah telephoned, inviting him to a meeting. During this meeting the first thing he asked was, "Do you consider me the leader of the Indian Muslims? Would you obey my orders?" Iskander Mirza had no choice but to say, "Yes." Jinnah then said that he was afraid he was not going to get Pakistan unless some serious trouble was created and the best place to do this was NWFP and the adjacent tribal areas. In his view it was important to tell the British that the Muslims were seething with anger at their decision to hand over the country to the Congress. Jinnah explained that if Pakistan cannot be won by negotiations he would achieve it by combat. Iskander Mirza wrote that Jinnah wanted him to resign from service, go into the tribal territory and start a Jehad. Let us for a moment review the circumstances. It is February 1947. Wavell had been fired from his job. The British Government had announced that the transfer of power would occur in June of 1948. Wavell's departure is a blow to Jinnah and the Muslim League. Communal riots had pulverized the nation. But Jinnah, notwithstanding, wanted to play the most dangerous game and that too in the Frontier Province.
Iskander Mirza wrote, "He [Jinnah] said according to his information I could achieve this if I really tried." This proves that Jinnah had maintained his contact with Government officials and knew how to create trouble in the tribal areas. It also shows how cleverly British officials could arrange a Jehad. Iskander Mirza reflected on various aspects of this problem. He wrote:
This could only take the form of raids on the border villages, in the settled area…yet I decided to fall in with Quad-i-Azam's Plan. I had no desire to be branded as a man who was found wanting when the time for action came. With the liberal expenditure of money I would be able to cause some trouble in Waziristan, Tirah and Momand country. I gave my estimate for the sum of money as one crore.
He asked that a plausible excuse be found for his disappearance from Delhi. “Mr Jinnah had already anticipated these requirements, he had the cover and the money ready. The cover was an appointment with His Highness the Khan of Kalat, and the treasure was provided by His Highness, the Nawab of BhopaI." On the very same day Iskander Mirza met the Nawab of Bhopal who gave him Rs 20,000 for out of pocket expenses. Jinnah assured him that if he was killed during the Mission he would see to it that his family members were well provided for.(To be continued)
The book in PDF form can be accessed at: http://www.awaminationalparty.org/books/factsarefacts.pdf