Jinnah and Junagadh

Published : Sep 29, 2001 00:00 IST

Jinnah Papers: Pakistan: Pangs of Birth 15 August-30 September 1947; first series, Volume V; editor-in-chief Z. H. Zaidi; Quaid-e-Azam Papers Project, Cabinet Division, Government of Pakistan; distributed by Oxford University Press; pages 725; Rs. 950.

This is the first of a two-part series.

"What has happened is, indeed, a great personal triumph for Mr. Jinnah. Within seven years after the Lahore Pakistan resolution of 1940, he has succeeded in defeating a great political organisation of sixty years' standing with the backing of the large majority of the Indian people. But has he succeeded in doing good to the Muslims themselves and to his country? When the whole world is trying to integrate, it is no service to India to disintegrate the country. India divided and speaking with two voices cannot pull her proper weight in the councils of the nations. But, above all, the division of India has laid the foundations of interminable quarrels and chaos which will bring untold suffering to generations yet unborn."

THUS wrote Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, prophetically, in The Times of India on June 15, 1947. Censure from him is particularly noteworthy. Unlike Tej Bahadur Sapru and other Liberals, he was never overawed by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru or the Congress but was sternly independent. He censured all three for the collapse of the last chance to preserve India's unity, the Cabinet Mission's Plan of May 16, 1946. They had "repudiated one of the fundamentals of the scheme" - the grouping of provinces within a Union, which Jinnah had accepted. "The cherished boon of a United India had fallen into their lap; but they, by their own want of political wisdom, threw it out and made it beyond their reach."

Unlike S. Gopal and other scholars who edited papers of leaders, Zaidi did not receive the Jinnah papers from the custodians. He hunted for them devotedly. The Muslim League was banned after the military coup in 1958. Papers were stacked in diverse places, including police stations. But judgment never provided company to his devotion. As before, Zaidi includes trivia and excludes papers of importance. At page 538 alone one finds evidence of this. Six important documents, none accessible in South Asia, are "not printed".

Intrinsically flawed as the idea of Pakistan was, the two-nation theory injected sheer poison into it. On August 11, 1947, Jinnah threw it out of the window: "In course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense... but in the political sense as citizens of the State." The theory had done incalculable damage meanwhile.

His vision of Pakistan was of a democratic secular state based on the rule of law. Cordial relations with India were crucial for its fulfilment. He told the Communist lawyer, A.S.R. Chari, who then represented Daily Worker (London, October 5, 1944): "We will say 'hands off India' to all outsiders". Eric Streiff of New Zurcher Zeitung was told (March 11, 1948) that the paramount interests of India and Pakistan demanded that they "should coordinate for the purpose of playing their part in international affairs... and jointly... defend their frontiers... but this depends entirely on whether Pakistan and India can resolve their own differences."

He had a curious notion of India comprising Pakistan and "Hindustan", and angrily wrote to Mountbatten on August 26: "It is a pity that for some mysterious reason Hindustan have adopted the word 'India' which is certainly misleading and is intended to create confusion."

If Jinnah, the partitionist, had a latent sense of an India above the two states, Jawaharlal Nehru, the ardent unionist, not only contributed to the collapse of the 1946 plan but adopted a policy that would congeal the partition: "I doubt very much if it (Pakistan) can survive at all. Financially it will be completely bankrupt," he wrote to Sheikh Abdullah on October 10 (Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru; Second Series; Volume 4; Page 269). "Kashmir's future is of the utmost intimate personal significance. On no account do I want Kashmir to become a kind of colony of foreign interests. I fear Pakistan is likely to become that if it survives at all."

The Sheikh was willing to accede Kashmir to India. It was the Maharaja who hesitated. Nehru had a vision of India as a secular democracy governed by the rule of law and a great power regionally with promise of a global role. He was the democratic Curzon. Even if it did not sign an Instrument of Accession, Kashmir "was not independent and our responsibility even then continued as the continuing entity if anything happened to Kashmir... whether Kashmir acceded to India or not" (SWJN; Vol. 19, pp. 302-303; emphasis added throughout this article).

But Nehru overlooked one vital aspect. A confrontationist "great power" policy towards Pakistan would not only fortify the barriers between the two countries but strengthen the forces of chauvinism in both countries. And chauvinism in South Asia wears a religious garb. To this day, the communal climate in India is affected by Indo-Pakistan relations, as even a Commission of Inquiry into the Ranchi riots (1968) noted. Nehru risked a lot fighting for secularism. His Pakistan policy weakened the cause.

Vallabhbhai Patel was no less eager to secure Kashmir's accession to India. "I realise the peculiar difficulties of Kashmir, but looking to its history and its traditions, it has, in my opinion, no other choice," he wrote to its Prime Minister, Ramchandra Kak, on July 3 (Sardar Patel's Correspondence: Vol. 1; p. 32). This was factually untrue. But for the fact that the Radcliffe Award gave Gurdaspur to India, in August, it would not have had a land link with the Valley. Its only all-weather road went to Rawalpindi. India had one vital advantage. The most popular leader in the state, the Sheikh, was opposed to Pakistan and to the two-nation theory. On the issue of accession, it is only fair to say that opinion in the Valley was divided.

If the ruler's Instrument of Accession alone mattered, India had a decisive advantage. Yet, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) resolved at the outset (June 15) "that the people of the States must have a dominating voice in any decisions regarding them." On July 30, Jinnah plumped for the ruler's right to decide. Pakistanis would do well to read in this volume a painful memo of August 25 by the All-Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference, a rival to the Sheikh's National Conference since Jinnah's stand left the ruler free to accede to India, "Kashmir can join Hindustan and Quaid-i-Azam cannot have any objection to it, though geographically Kashmir may be contiguous to Pakistan" (p. 568). National Conference workers "argue that the Muslim League stands for the sovereignty of the rulers whereas the Congress stands for the sovereignty of the people... They (the Muslim Conference) feel as if they are left in the lurch and that the Pakistan Government has absolutely no interest in them."

Jinnah was opportunistically wooing the rulers of Jodhpur and other states. His main, if not sole, link with Kashmir was his young secretary, K.H. Khurshid. Indian leaders of rank were in touch with Srinagar. In 1947 the two sides were out to do each other down. On Junagadh and Kashmir both sides were to adopt utterly inconsistent stands on five crucial issues - the democratic principle, the communal factor, geographical contiguity, the sanctity of the ruler's Instrument of Accession; and the use of force.

In his hour of triumph, Jinnah's bitterness overwhelmed his judgment and he sowed the seeds of Indo-Pakistan strife. Mustafa Kamal founded modern Turkey, and writing of irredentist claims, he set about building the new state. Pakistan was in a far weaker position. Statesmanship, itself a blend of morality and expediency, required Jinnah to grasp the AICC formula and forge a grand settlement based on the popular will in regard to all three states - Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad. Mountbatten offered that to Jinnah in Lahore on November 1. So did Nehru the next day. Jinnah rejected it and acted in crass ignorance and ineptitude. "He received his first shock upon discovering that Pakistan was militarily incapable of securing the accession of Junagadh". (Ayesha Jalal; The State of Martial Rule; p. 43).

Wilfred Cantwell Smith raises a pertinent question which no reader of Jinnah Papers can ignore; "Mr. Jinnah is usually regarded, by Pakistanis at least, as a brilliant leader. That he was a clever dialectician and lawyer seems clear. Yet is it not perhaps time to bring into question his statesmanship, his political sagacity, in view of his apparent failure to foresee - apparently even to try to foresee - the concrete working out of his proposals... If he is to be credited with all of Pakistan's achievements, as is customary, should he be exempted from responsibility for its problems?" (W. C. Smith; Islam in Modern History; p. 273).

The Quaid-e-Azam was blissfully ignorant of two factors. One was that Kashmir was already all but lost to him. The papers in this volume show how even the postal links with Pakistan were being gradually cut, though Kashmir had a stand-still agreement with Pakistan; not with India. There were systematic efforts by the ruler to forge links with India. The Pathankot road was being developed at frantic speed.

The second factor that Jinnah never reckoned with was India's military might and its readiness to use it. By the time he accepted Junagadh's accession to Pakistan, for use as a bargaining chip, Nehru had gone a long way towards Kashmir's eventual accession: "I have an intimate and personal interest in it and the mere thought that Kashmir should join Pakistan and become a kind of foreign territory for us is hateful to me." (SWJN; Vol. 4; p. 373). More realistic than Jinnah on this issue, Nehru pleaded with Sardar Patel, whose sympathies lay with the ruler, not with the people, that the ruler must release the Sheikh from prison. "Abdullah is very anxious to keep out of Pakistan and relies on us a great deal for advice. At the same time he cannot carry his people with him unless he has something definite to place before them" (SWJN; p. 264). After mid-1952, Nehru - and after him every Prime Minister - forgot these wise words and alienated the people.

Abdullah was released from prison in September but M. C. Mahajan, who was hostile to him, had become the State's Prime Minister. On October 21 Nehru could confidently write to Mahajan: "I feel it will probably be undesirable to make any declaration of adhesion to the Indian Union at this stage." He cautioned: "Although we have not specifically said that there should be a plebiscite or referendum in Kashmir, we have accepted a policy in regard to States which necessarily leads to a referendum where there is a dispute. We cannot therefore object to it." But, in good Nehruvian manner, he proposed a plebiscite of his own conception: "The best way is to have an ordinary election to the State Assembly at a suitable time. Long before this there should be a new interim government in power. Only then will a change come over the Kashmir scene and the people will develop some enthusiasm" - if that government governed well. None ever did (ibid; p. 274). Already by May 1948, Indira Gandhi had warned Nehru that the people were not pro-India.

In this situation, whatever did Jinnah hope to achieve by accepting Junagadh's accession instead of the AICC's offer? This volume contains some important papers on this episode; but not fully. Shah Nawaz Bhutto, father of Z. A. Bhutto and Dewan of Junagadh, wrote to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, on August 19: "We are awaiting the formal acceptance of Junagadh's accession to the Pakistan Dominion and I should be glad if you would kindly arrange to convey it as soon as possible" (p. 548). Peeved at the delay he wrote to Jinnah, on September 4, reminding of his promise at Delhi: "Pakistan will not allow Junagadh to be stormed and tyrannised and Veraval is not far from Karachi" (p. 579). All that Jinnah could tell him was: "Tomorrow there is going to be a Cabinet meeting when the matter will be further discussed and a definite policy will be laid down" (September 8; p. 586).

On September 12, Nehru wrote to Liaquat Ali Khan, after a Pakistan-Junagadh standstill agreement (of September 8) was announced, citing the facts of geography, the communal factor (80 per cent of the people were Hindus), the democratic test and made this remarkable offer: "The Dominion of India would be prepared to accept any democratic test in respect of the accession of the Junagadh State to either of the two Dominions. They would accordingly be willing to abide by a verdict of these people in this matter, ascertained under the joint supervision of the Dominion of India and Junagadh. If, however, the ruler of Junagadh is not prepared to submit this issue to a referendum and if the Dominion of Pakistan, in utter disregard of the wishes of the people and the principles governing the matter, enter into arrangement by which Junagadh is to be part of the Federation of Pakistan... the Government of India cannot be expected to acquiesce in such an arrangement" (p. 593). Thus, the Instrument of Accession had no value and plebiscite was a matter between India and Junagadh alone. Pakistan was out. Junagadh formally acceded to Pakistan on September 15, 1947.

There were, as Nehru said, "pockets of the Junagadh territory within States which have acceded" to India. Indian troop movements had begun. Bhutto sensed danger and begged of Liquat on September 16: "At least. Kindly let us know what help you are giving or what line of action we should follow?" Thus, by September 1947, a month before the tribal people marched into Kashmir, India was set on military action in Junagadh.

(To be continued. The second part will discuss how the events reached a climax.)

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