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
Dominion status and Commonwealth
The Muslim League was firm on its demand and Jinnah was not prepared to accept any thing short of Pakistan. This was the result of the expeditious efforts of the British. The policy of Lord Linlithgow, and Mr. Amery, the Secretary of State for India, was that the greater the divide between the Hindus and the Muslims, the brighter the chances for the British to become the arbitrators and administer their own problem-solving recipes. The British insistence on including the Muslim League in the Interim Government had convinced many people that the British were favouring the League and had taken a final decision on Partition. With the passage of time, communal hatred was growing as was evident by widespread communal riots.
When the Muslim League joined the Interim Government, one of its Ministers got the Finance portfolio. At that time there were two capable and competent Muslim officers in the Ministry of Finance, Malik Ghulam Mohammad and Choudhry Mohammad Ali. Knowing that business and industry were in the hands of non-Muslims, Liaquat Ali Khan, while preparing his first budget, imposed such heavy taxes that these capitalists and industrialists staggered beneath their adverse impact. The first priority of the Congress had always been to provide relief to the poor. Therefore, they found it difficult to object to this budget. The capitalists and the industrialists were forced to seek other solutions. This was a dead-end situation; therefore, they came to the unfortunate conclusion that it was better to concede the demand of the Muslim League for Pakistan. They also advocated that if the Muslim League was prepared for the partition of Bengal, Calcutta should be allotted to India, as also the mining areas of coal and iron ore, and the League might be given the waterlogged lands prone to floods in East Pakistan. They wondered why the Congress objected to this scheme of division? They said that India should have no objection to this scheme provided the Muslim League agreed to the division of Punjab. Thus, as a result of pressing public opinion, India was driven to accepting the creation of Pakistan.
Time had come for final decision making. The principle of partition had been accepted. The British strategy was to keep both these countries as Dominions within the British Commonwealth. Pakistan had no objection to this proposal. Mr. Jinnah had given the bait to Mountbatten when he found he was trying to convince him about the advantages of Pakistan. In the course of this discussion Mr. Jinnah had hinted that Pakistan would join the British Commonwealth as a Dominion. Mountbatten ridiculed this idea saying that Jinnah was surprised when he found Mountbatten indifferent to this proposition. He said that when the occasion arose, he would place Jinnah's proposal before the British Government. Jinnah had thought that he was placing Britain under a great obligation.
The British were more interested in winning over India to the proposed arrangement in which, as a Dominion, it would be a member of the British Commonwealth. A difficulty arose, however, when the Constituent Assembly met in a joint session. It decided that India may become a Republic but not a Dominion. The Government of India, being a successor authority, should maintain its continuity of association with the British. There was one other aspect of the problem. Since Pakistan was separating itself from India and was as such covered by the term "secession", its continued association with the Commonwealth was all the more necessary. Another difficulty before India was the existence of over 600 Princely States. Since these States had entered into treaties with the British Crown, their future status was uncertain unless the new Government was recognized as the successor to the British Government: India's decision to join the Commonwealth solved this problem. The only remaining obstacle was that the structure of the Commonwealth would have to be altered so that a Republic could also become a member.
The British were now satisfied that their communal policies had reached a logical conclusion. Having used up all their tricks of divide and rule, they played their final trump by presenting the patriots with the parting gift of partition. To celebrate their departure they lit the communal spark before closing the door behind them. The atmosphere thus created resulted in mass killings, and a bloody carnage with a disastrous impact on future generations.
(To be continued)
The book in PDF form can be accessed at: http://www.awaminationalparty.org/books/factsarefacts.pdf