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
Muslim League and princely states
One-fifth of the Indian territory was under princely rule. The inhabitants of these states comprised two-fifth of the total population; out of forty crores they totaled sixteen crores. There were approximately six hundred states of varying sizes. The Congress and the Muslim League were at loggerheads on the future of these states. The Congress policy was that the people of every state should decide their own destiny. The Muslim League's stand was that this right should be exclusively vested with the ruler. His subjects should simply follow him to whichever side he chooses.
The map of India was broken into fragments of various sizes, each of which comprised a Princely State. Across the country one saw various examples of governance by Nawabs and Maharajas. Some states were equal in size to small countries of Europe. One such example, the Nizam's Kingdom of Hyderabad, with a population of two crores, was approximately the size of Italy. The League had in mind Princely States such as Hyderabad Deccan, Bhopal and Rampur where the rulers were Muslims and the majority of inhabitants non-Muslims. Kathiawar's states such as Junagarh and Manawader were in a similar predicament. Although these states were at a distance from the Pakistan border the distance was not as vast as the distance between Karachi and Dacca. On the basis of this argument presented by the Muslim League, the accession of these states to Pakistan was feasible. No one could take an exception to their logic that the ruler should decide the fate and future alliance of his state.
The League did not consider it necessary to consult the people of the states. Never having approached the British for the rights of the people of India, they could not be expected to concede the rights of the people living in an Indian State under a Muslim ruler. They were, in fact, anxious to impress upon the British that the Muslims of India did not want them to leave. The Viceroy of India, Lord Wavell, wrote that the British should stay on in India for a while; at least the Muslims did not want to see them go. "He [Liaquat Alt Khan] said that in any event we [British] should have to stop for many years yet, and that the Muslims were not at all anxious that we should go." [Wavell, p. 207].
The majority of the Muslim League leaders was indifferent to the fate of the Indian Muslims. Ironically, however, the decision for accession of the Indian States was being made on the basis of Islam. The leaders were indifferent to what would happen to Kashmir [where the Maharaja was a Hindu while the majority of the population was Muslim] in case the right of the ruler deciding about accession was conceded. How would they rationalize their double standards— one for the accession of Hyderabad, Bhopal, and Rampur and the other for the accession of Kashmir?
Kashmir presented another difficulty for India. Its boundaries did not coincide with India's boundaries. Fortunately, this problem was resolved by the Muslim League when it agreed to the partition of Punjab. When the report of the Boundary Commission was received and the District of Gurdaspur was included in India, it extended Indian boundaries up to Kashmir. Since both the political parties, the Congress and the Muslim League, had accepted that the verdict of the Boundary Commission would be final and binding on both, the Muslim League did not have the right to object to the District of Gurdaspur becoming a part of India. If the Hindu Maharaja of this state wanted to accede to India, the Muslim League had no moral or legal right to question this decision. They had already declared that the accession of the Indian states would be decided by the rulers. In this manner the Muslim League presented Kashmir to India on a golden platter. Thanks to her leaders, Pakistan lost to India another territory with a Muslim majority.
(To be continued)
The book in PDF form can be accessed at: http://www.awaminationalparty.org/books/factsarefacts.pdf