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
Partition proposals before Mountbatten-I
When Mountbatten reached Delhi and began his discussions with political leaders, he held his first meeting with Gandhiji. Gandhiji said since Jinnah was prejudiced against the Congress, the best way to remove this prejudice was to dissolve the Interim Government and allow Jinnah to form a new Government. The choice of Ministers should be his. This would prove to the world that the Hindus and Muslims have reached an agreement and are prepared to coexist in peace and harmony. The responsibility of the British would be to protect not the minority but the majority rights.
Mountbatten's second meeting was held with Jinnah. On hearing Gandhiji's proposal Jinnah immediately remarked that this "disease" had become so rampant that its only solution was radical surgery. Jinnah's uncompromising stand was due to the fact that following the departure of Wavell he lost hope of ever getting Pakistan. Another alarming development was the American interest in Anglo-Indian affairs. When relations between the two became very strained, America jumped in. The U.S. Government made several attempts to convince Britain to reconcile with the Congress.
On 1 May 1947 two Americans, Ronald A. Hare, Head of the Division of South Asian Affairs, and Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary of U.S. Embassy in India, visited Jinnah. A detailed account of this visit was sent by the American Charge D' Affairs to Marshall, the Secretary of State. According to this account Jinnah stated that under no condition was he prepared to accept the scheme for a united and federated India. The Muslim League had decided to insist upon the creation of Pakistan:
He [Jinnah] sought to impress on his visitors that the emergence of an independent, sovereign Pakistan would be in consonance with American interests. Pakistan would be a Muslim country. Muslim countries stand together against Russian aggression. In that endeavour they would look to the United States for assistance, he added. [Venkataraman, American Role in Pakistan,p.1]
This is a variation on the old British game of hanging around the Soviet neck, the "albatross" of Islam. The second problem Jinnah presented to these Americans was also a part of the British scheme. If the British left a United India in the hands of the Congress it would have disastrous consequences for the western world. The Congress, being a sworn enemy of England and other western countries, would be unwilling to protect their interests in the Middle East and the Gulf. "Jinnah coupled the danger of Russian aggression with another menace that Muslim nations might confront. That was ‘Hindu imperialism’. The establishment of Pakistan was essential to prevent the expansion of Hindu imperialism to the Middle East [Venkataraman, American Role in Pakistan, p.1].
Jinnah was trying to persuade the United States that it was politically expedient to build an Islamic bastion against the Russians. If India was allowed to remain unified then the bastion stretching from Turkey to China would be incomplete. This message was being communicated by Jinnah through every American Agent. The slogan was, "Create Pakistan and save the western world!"
Jinnah’s proposals began to succeed, thanks to American interference. Iskander Mirza was asked to refrain from attacking the tribal areas because Pakistan was already in the bag. There was no need to fight the Jehad ! Right from Linlithgow to Wavell, both Viceroys had twisted the communal situation in a way so as to place the entire destiny of India in the hands of Jinnah. Now, there were three ways open for him: (1) A United India; (2) The Proposal of the Cabinet Mission, i.e. three groups, or (3) Pakistan. None of these were simple alternatives. Jinnah should have found a way in which the Muslims could be given their rights in non-Muslim States. These leaders had been elected in minority Muslim provinces for the obvious reason that they could protect the Muslim rights. Now the entire matter rested on the decision of Jinnah and the Muslim League.
There were two alternatives; (1) a vast Pakistan with limited rights; or (2) a small Pakistan with complete rights. When the Muslim League rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan for the last time and demanded partition they were told that if India was divided, Punjab and Bengal would have to be split into two parts, Jinnah threatened Mountbatten that he would ask for Sylhet district in Assam. Mountbatten said this demand was legitimate, and would be acceptable to the Congress as well:
Jinnah admitted the apparent logic of this and begged Lord Mountbatten not to give him a "moth-eaten" and "truncated" Pakistan. The demand for the partitioning of Bengal and Punjab was all bluff on the part of the Congress to frighten him off his claim for Pakistan. But he was not so easily frightened. [Hodson, The Great Divide, p. 2271]
It was evident that Mountbatten was trying to persuade Jinnah to accept the Cabinet Mission's group proposal. This is why he was continually making him aware of the difficulties that could arise from the creation of Pakistan. He tried to warn Jinnah:
“Nevertheless”, wrote Lord Mountbatten while recording the talk, “he gives me the impression of a man who has not thought out one single piece of the mechanics of his own scheme and he really will get the shock of his life when he comes down to earth.” [Hodson, The Great Divide, p. 2291].
When Mountbatten realized how inflexible Jinnah was, he called Nawabzada Liaquat AIi Khan and warned him that if Jinnah obstinately pursued the partition route he would get nothing but to quote his own words, a "truncated" and "moth- eaten" Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan stated that he would consult his colleagues and inform the Viceroy. The next day Liaquat All Khan visited Mountbatten as the spokesman of Jinnah and the Muslim League. He said, "If your excellency was prepared to let the Muslim League have only the Sind desert, I would still be prepared to accept it." [Hodson, The Great Divide, p.224]. While this horse trading was going on, another calamity erupted in Bengal. When the Bengalis discovered the imminent danger of the partitioning of Bengal, the Chief Minister of Bengal, Suhrawardy, told the Viceroy, "He could say with confidence when given enough time he could persuade Bengal to remain united. That he could get Jinnah to agree to that and in that event it need not join Pakistan." On the same day Mountbatten discussed this issue with Jinnah. He wanted to find out the latter's views on a united Bengal. Mountbatten records, "'Without hesitation", Jinnah replied, 'I should be delighted- What is the use of Bengal without Calcutta? They had much better remain united and independent'."[Hodson, p.246]
These historical records and Government documents are a shocking relation of the fact that these leaders of the Muslim League were completely unconcerned about serving their humble and weak brethren. Their actions were entirely governed by personal considerations.
The most complex link in this chain of events was the Frontier. In 1946 they had rejected the politics of the Muslim League and the demand for Pakistan. The British interest was confined to the tribal passes which led to Russia by way of Afghanistan. The Governor of the province, Caroe, presented a proposal to the Central Government that fresh elections should be held so that the new members may decide about the future of the province. Mountbatten summoned the Chief Secretary, de Lafarque, and asked him two questions. First, if elections were held what result could he predict? Secondly, are the Ministers very dissatisfied with Governor Caroe? Dr Khan Sahib had told the Viceroy in the presence of Caroe that if he wanted to meet the leader of the Muslim League he should not look very far, for he was standing right in front of him in the shape of Governor Caroe. Lt. Col. de Lafarque expressed his view:
that a free and clean election in the province was more likely to return the Congress to power than the League, even if Section 93 was imposed. That the Governor, though having a great knowledge of the Frontier, was biased against the Congress Government, and his continuance in office was a menace to British prestige. [Hodson, The Great Divide, p. 283]
Following these private discussions with the Chief Secretary, Mountbatten gave up the idea of holding fresh elections. The Muslim state of mind is evident from this incident recorded by Campbell Johnson in his book, Mission with Mountbatten. During a trip to Peshawar he attended a dinner given by the Governor in honour of Mountbatten. During dinner, he sat next to the Peshawar Deputy Commissioner, S.B. Shah. Throughout the evening this gentleman kept expressing the view that the British should not leave India. Johnson wrote about the ironical turn of events: he and Mountbatten, two Englishmen, wanted India's freedom. And here was an Indian insisting that the British should not leave India! Since Mountbatten could not agree to the Governor's suggestion of holding fresh elections because they would result in Khudai Khidmatgar victory, he had to find other ways of transferring power to the Muslim League.
(To be continued)
The book in PDF form can be accessed at: http://www.awaminationalparty.org/books/factsarefacts.pdf