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This belief was further cemented by fresh raids into the Mirpur region and other
areas across the Poonch border in the first week of December 1947. News of the
fall of the town of Jhangar on December 24 created an elevated sense of urgency
in Delhi, and Nehru concluded that military preparations should speed up and be
completed by mid-January. Intervention by Mountbatten and the British Prime
Minister, Clement Attlee, however, finessed Nehru into choosing a two-track
course of action: a reference to the UN, and contingency planning for attacking
the invaders bases in Pakistan. While he proceeded in good faith on the first,
Mountbatten held back on the second point .31
What motivations might have underpinned British partisanship at this stage?
At the United Nations in early 1948, British diplomats, advised by the United
Kingdom s Foreign Office, continually took positions and proffered proposals
that favoured Pakistan. This policy emerged from the developing crisis in
Palestine, concern about an Arab backlash , and the sense that Arab opinion
might be further aggravated if British policy on Kashmir were to be seen as bein
unfriendly to a Muslim state .32 All of this was a piece with evolving British
policy in the region. As early as 1944, we know from the memoirs of Sir Francis
Tucker, the last General Officer Commanding of the British Indian EasternCommand, Imperial strategists had supported the case for Pakistan, seeing it as
a buffer against efforts by the Soviet Union to expand its influence into South
Asia. Convinced that the Hindu faith, which was in Tucker s view to a great
extent one of superstition and formalism , would be displaced by a material
philosophy such as Communism , British strategists believed it very necessary
to place Islam between Russian Communism and Hindustan .33 Tucker, like
many British strategists, believed that:
There was much therefore to be said for the introduction of a new
Muslim power supported by the science of Britain. If such a power could
be produced and if we could orient the Muslim strip from North Africa
through Islamia Deserta [sic], Persia and Afghanistan to the Himalayas,
upon such a Muslim power in Northern India, then it had some chance of
halting the filtration of Russia towards the Persian Gulf. These Islamic
countries, even including Turkey, were not a very great strength in
themselves. But with a northern Indian Islamic state of several millions,
it would be reasonable to expect that Russia would not care to provoke
them too much.34
Pakistan, thus, in Britain s imagination served a purpose that far transcended
India: it was planned as part of a mosaic of interlocking pieces intended to
contain the Soviet Union long before the Partition of India became a certainty.
Given the central role of Afghanistan in containing the Soviet Union, and the fa
that Kashmir was placed next to it, Britain s interest in ensuring that Pakistan
controlled the levers of power in Jammu and Kashmir is self-evident. When the
United Nations did act on Jammu and Kashmir, the terms of its intervention