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Paradigm of Hasty Decision
All Rights Reserved 2014 Naeem Baig Indo-Pak History & Research @ email@example.com
‘Sub-continent’, as someone said, cannot be understood with the mind only. I personally agree with the notion that sub-continent as land of the most ancient culture has its own philosophy besides rich civilization. If we walk through the historic megalomania era of earlier India called ‘Hind’, it had its own characteristics. The reasons and rationales that may be given to understand a concept, political or otherwise cannot be fully comprehended unless we peep into the psyche and cultural background of the people involved. Certain philosophies belie and negate logic but may be understood if you have lived through that philosophy. To know the sub-continent we need to do exactly that. Hence the creation of Pakistan starting from the initial years of 20th century from beginning to end was significantly a lengthy struggle that cannot be adequately judged through standard examination. A purely political and historical study of such a titanic struggle cannot succeed to convey its reality on the ground; rather we must go through the perspective issues accommodating psychological examination as well to understand the historic events that eventually led to the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan. However, if we set aside the political process envisaged for independence of India as sovereign dominion, India National Congress and All India Muslim League’s efforts that ventured jointly on the long way path for the united India, many questions arise about what exactly influenced later the leaders of AIML including Jinnah to surface as sole representative for cause of earlier separate electorate in 1906 (although not by Jinnah then) and later for the separate piece of land based on the two nation theory, firstly echoed at Allahabad in 1930 and then reaffirmed at Lahore through a resolution passed by AIML in 1940. Nevertheless the dull features of two nation’s theory appeared in the historical presidential address of Dr. Muhammad Iqbal in Allahabad in 25th Session of AIML in December, 1930 were not exhaustive and several Muslim leaders and scholars having insight into the Muslim-Hindu situation proposed the separation of Muslim India, however, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal gave the most lucid explanation of the inner feelings of Muslim community in his presidential address. In his address, Iqbal explained that Islam was the major formative factor in the life history of Indian Muslims. It furnished those basic emotions and loyalties, which gradually unified scattered individuals and groups and finally transformed them into a well-defined people, possessing a moral consciousness of their own. He defined the Muslims of India as a nation and suggested that there could be no possibility of peace in the country unless and until they were recognized as a nation. He claimed that the only way for the Muslims and Hindus to prosper in accordance with their respective cultural values was under a federal system where Muslim majority units were given the same privileges that were to be given to the Hindu majority units. As a permanent solution to the Muslim-Hindu problem, Iqbal proposed that Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and Sindh should be converted into one province. He declared that the northwestern part of the country was destined to unite as a self-governed unit, within the British Empire or without it. This, he suggested, was the only way to do away with communal division and consequent riots and bring peace in the sub-continent. When English rule came into complete success in the India particularly after 1857, the Muslims generally had lost, in my opinion, their vital strength and spirit to live in the united India. In
absence of the leadership at national level, though at small level it was available, yet it had no national impact. The intellect and wisdom of the Muslims and to improve the interaction with the English rulers in comparison of Hindu was disastrously hampered, in some places even disappeared. To protect the Muslim’s interest on the political and socio-economic at national level scenario Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and other Muslim intellectuals embarked for a continuity of the English rule to keep Muslim population protected from the majority of Hindu in the sub-continent was, however, needs to examine separately. Coming back to the fierce issues that contributed scarcity of socio-economic and political strength of Muslims as citizens of India, we need to answer a few questions in its true perspective. That, after 1857 following the fall of Moghals and His Majesty Government taken over the charge of United India directly into their hand from the East India Company through a legislation passed by HMG in August 1958 as Government of India Act 1958, became strong rulers in the area. Britain moved to create a new India office and Prime Minister Lord Palmerton’s* added appointment of an independent secretary in Whitehall was surely a step ahead of significance about united India. Muslims ought to be reenergized in the sub-continent which unfortunately in absence of Muslim leadership in United India caused less physical more psychological suffering that is the purely subject of this book and I would aspire to answer these questions in the following chapters how this anguish Muslims became the activist against both Hindus and HMG. Although it took great length of time until some extended leadership appeared on the scene for Muslims. Yet another question which proportionately has the greater significance and enormously effected the Partition, about disastrous massacre of over a million people and over 15 million people’s migration or displacement across the lines of two dominions, was delayed announcement of Radcliffe’s boundary commission award. My interest lies in unfolding and examining those intrigues and subtle moves that paved the way for an earlier declaration of independent states of India and Pakistan than the proposed date. What forces, internal and external, implicit and explicit, open and hidden, worked as a catalytic agent to accelerate the process and declare independence before the scheduled time. I’m more compelled to see what were the exact circumstances and considerate reasons behind the hasty decision, first through the removal of Lord Wavell from the viceroyalty and then Lord Mountbatten’s appointment by HMG as incoming viceroy. Was it labour party’s or Clement Attlee’s single handed own decision or was it an aftermath of WW II? It would also be pertinent to question here that after resuming the office of viceroy of India why Lord MB did everything in a hasty manner as he himself described the essence of the solution was ‘speed’ to accomplish his assignment. As Stanley Wolpert described in the introduction of his greatly written book ‘Shameful Flight’ published in 2006 by Oxford Press; “Those ten additional months of post-war talks, aborted by an impatient Mountbatten, might
have helped all parties to agree that cooperation was much wiser than conflict, dialogue more sensible than division, words easier to cope with and pay for than perpetual warfare. When asked how he felt about his Indian Viceroyalty eighteen years after Partition, Mountbatten himself admitted to BBC’s John Osman, when they sat next to one another at dinner shortly after the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, that he had “got things wrong.” Osman felt ‘sympathy’ for the remorsef ul sixty-five-year-old ex-viceroy and tried to cheer him, but to no avail. Thirty nine years after that meeting he recalled: “Mountbatten was not to be consoled. To this day his own judgement on how he had performed in India rings in my ears and in my memory. As one who dislikes the tasteless use in writing of... ‘vulgar slang’...I shall permit myself an exception this time because it is the only honest way of reporting accurately what the last viceroy of India thought about the way he had done his job: ‘I fucked it up.’”
In the same book Wolpert further described in its introduction as; “Although I could not more politely and at much greater length summarise the central thesis
of my book, and what I have now long believed to be the primary cause of the tragedy of Partition and its aftermath of slaughter and ceaseless pain, I could not more pithily, nor aptly, state my own views of Mountbatten work in India. If for no other reason than to counter the many laudatory, fawning accounts of Lord Mountbatten’s splendid,” “historically unique,” “brilliant and wonderful” viceroyalty that have for more than half a century filled shelves of Partition literature and Mountbatten biography, I feel justified in adding my “Shameful Flight” to history’s list of the British Raj’s last years. World War II, British politics, personal ambitions, and simple ignorance each added complexity to the picture, and I shall have much to say about the roles of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Viceroys Lord Linglithgo and Lord Wavell, as well as Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, though none of them played as tragic or central a role as did Mountbatten.”
These observations deserved to be valued in its true tangible background that led to hasty, undeveloped and unwell-done division of united India. Ironically, my opinion which I would like to elaborate in the coming chapters, an impact of World War II and that the change of the HMG in Britain after WW II might have contributed a blow toward hasty decision for the independence for India, yet greatly the mandate for independence granted to Lord Mountbatten anyway was till June 1948, which Wolpert rightly observed as I quoted above, if the ‘speed’ could have not been accelerated and decisions were given ample after-thought over the consequences of drawing a simple line between two emerging dominions without any thoughtfulness, Britain might have avoided that disastrous massacre and migration of poor Indians before ever reaching their promised land as we witnessed. Was it a deliberate decision planned and executed through the cunning skills of Lord MB? Did he act on his own or were things done through a consensus? Was Lord Mountbatten a victim of his own whims and fancies at the expense of millions of dead bodies thus sowing a lifelong hatred, mistrust and scars of communal riots between the two emerging nations? As Richard Hough, an official biographer of Lord Mountbatten, described in the biography of Lord MB “Mountbatten—Hero of our time” (published in UK in the year 1981 by Book Club Associates London) had to admit that “Wavell on his return had reported to Attlee who after a brief conversation, in Wavell’s words ‘bowed me out without one single word of thanks or commiseration.’ He did not rule out partition as the final solution but he never wavered in his belief that the transfer could be made to a united India. But there must, as he told Attlee at this last unhappy parting in March 1947, be ‘detailed arrangements so as to avoid confusion where we leave.’” He further asserted “Alas, no such detailed arrangements were ever made. There was no time. Churchill’s prediction that ‘a fourteen-month time interval is fatal to an orderly transference of power’ was proved tragically true. In the Delhi files was a contingency paper written by Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tuker, GOC Eastern Command in India in March 1946 detailing the preparations that should be made if it should come to the division of India, and Partition was inevitable, judged this soldier, if the negotiations for the transfer were rushed. Mountbatten never saw it, and of course no such contingency plan was made in the period of Mountbatten Viceroyalty. There was no time, for a decision in favour of Partition was made within fourteen days of his arrival.”
That is the particular point which I understand should have been enquired. Had Lord Mountbatten seen those contingency plans in order to evaluate the mass destruction sparked from his ‘speed’ myth, the loveliest piece of land on earth would have been saved at least to the extent of disastrous outcome of confusion if not for the Partition. Three-fold pressure for the division, demarcation and securely rehabilitation of potential displaced or migrated poor masses had only demanded a reasonable time which at least HMG has already given to Mountbatten by the end of June, 1948. ‘The result was the worst horrors India had even known and inter-racial outrages on a terrible scale. It led to the disembowelling the tens of thousands of pregnant women, the cutting off of breasts, the rape of girls---all before being bludgeoned to death or hacked to pieces; to the indescribable tortures carried out on countless Sikhs and Muslims and Hindus; to tens of thousands dead from exposure and starvation,’ as Richard’s gravely expressed his grief of the occasion. Just after few days of the celebrations of August 1947, the horrors of Partition began to emerge. Conflict upon tangible assets of united India and its division arose immediately. Whether the partition of united India was wise is still under debate. Even the imposition (although delayed) of Radcliffe’s boundary commission award has not ended conflict between Muslim and Hindus existed prior to draw a line as its final solution. Issues regarding crown and princely states left unresolved, even Kashmir left unresolved by the British that caused three wars and continuing strife between India and Pakistan and this all changed the path of history if again I would say the hasty decisions and mysterious ‘speed’ had been avoided in last days of Partition.
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