Mountbatten and Jinnah negotiations on Pakistan April-July 1947

Extra (6B) April-July 1947  Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah
Quotes included:
  • Mountbatten and the Partition of India, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (excerpts)
  • Viceroy Mountbatten  to the Earl of Listowel, Secretary of State for India,12 July 1947 (full text)
  • The Earl of Listowel to Mr Attlee, 15 July 1947 (full text)
  • The Earl of Listowel to Viceroy Mountbatten, 15 July 1947 (full text)
  • Viceroy Mountbatten to Earl of Listowel, 8 August 1947 (excerpt)
  • Viceroy Mountbatten's Personal Report no. 16, 8 August 1947 (excerpt)
  • Viceroy Mountbatten  to the Earl of Listowel, 13 August 1947 (full text)
  • The Earl of Listowel to Viceroy Mountbatten,  14 August 1947 (full text)
Quoted from:
Mountbatten and the Partition of India, Volume 1 : March 22-August 15, 1947, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1982.

The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. XII, The Mountbatten Viceroyalty: Princes, Partition, and Independence, 8 July-15 August 1947, Eds. Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, 1983.

In Mountbatten and the Partition of India, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre published Mountbatten's reminiscences of his Viceroyalty in the period immediately preceding India's partition and independence.  In these conversations, Mountbatten was more expansive than he had been in his Viceroy's  secret official reports of the time, some of which were published in the Transfer of Power volumes in the  early 1980s.

Mountbatten's efforts to persuade Jinnah
These excerpts make clear, firstly, that in April 1947 Mountbatten spent a lot of time and effort trying to persuade Jinnah that he would get a bigger Pakistan if he accepted a weak common center along with the rest of India, otherwise a sovereign Pakistan could include only Muslim majority regions. Secondly, Jinnah was determined not to accept a common center and insisted on being given the bigger Pakistan anyway, which would have had 45%age non-Muslim population.

The question arises as to why Mountbatten spent so much time and effort officially trying to dissuade Jinnah from insisting on a sovereign Pakistan, and why his memories were so embittered with respect to Jinnah. Narendra Singh Sarila remarks in his book The Shadow of the Great Game that no mention of British strategic interests is found in official reports of these extensive conversations between Mountbatten and Jinnah. In Collins and Lapierre's narration too, there is no mention
of British strategic interests.

A plausible explanation for Mountbatten's strenuous seemingly altruistic efforts with Jinnah in April 1947  is that Mountbatten was not really urging Jinnah to accept a united sovereign India with a weak center  completely free of British presence. It is more likely that Mountbatten was urging acceptance of a united India with a weak center between two self-governing units Pakistan and "Hindustan" in an arrangement which would necessarily require the British to remain to hold the balance between the two quasi-states on matters of defence and sovereignty, especially since hundreds of princely states at that time still recognised the paramountcy of the British crown.

The next question arises as to why Jinnah was so determined against a weak common center despite the alternative being a  smaller Pakistan confined to Muslim majority regions. In my opinion, for a number of years Jinnah had had  assurances from some elements in British officialdom that they would ensure the creation of a sovereign Pakistan, and hence for Jinnah the only issue to be settled with Mountbatten was how big that sovereign Pakistan would be.  Jinnah rejected any common arrangement with the rest of India until a bigger sovereign Pakistan became easier to attain because he believed that once Congress took over reins of power at center in any measure, Congress would succeed in torpedoing Pakistan  even if the British remained in India in any capacity. The failure of the British to impose the Cabinet Mission Plan on Congress in 1946 was demonstrative of that.

There are other interesting points to note in these excerpts. It can be speculated whether when Jinnah said he required several days to call a League meeting and make a decision,  he actually needed time to get in touch and consult with his supporters in London's officialdom(this  delaying tactic of Jinnah's was seen in  mid-1946 as well). 

Pakistan adaption of Government of India Act 1935
A key point in these excerpts and those from Transfer of Power Vol. 12 relates to the Pakistan adaptation of Government of India Act 1935.  This reveals Jinnah's determination to exert strong control over central government and the provinces in the future Pakistan in the capacity of Governor General and to adapt the Government of India Act 1935 for this purpose.

It can be speculated that unlike Congress Party in the rest of India, Jinnah did not have strong party control over the governments in Pakistan's provinces and hence needed explicit constitutional powers to exert such control, especially in NWFP where the  Congress-Khidmatgar government of Dr. Khan Sahib was in office pre-independence. 

This throws up a couple of questions. If, in a Pakistan restricted to Muslim majority regions Jinnah was unsure of exerting adequate control via his party mechanisms,
it is difficult to understand by what course Jinnah had planned to control the 'bigger' Pakistan which he demanded from Mountbatten till the last. The 'bigger' Pakistan would have had 45% nonMuslims,  represented mostly by Congress and Sikh parties, against which parties Muslim League had been waging violent agitations for months in Punjab, NWFP and Assam.  It is also puzzling what control Jinnah planned to exert on various princely states in the rest of India which he and the Muslim League urged to join Pakistan, including noncontiguous ones such as Rampur situated in the heart of United Provinces. Was it to be military control?

There is also a question those historians need to answer, who argue that  Jinnah wanted a weak center for the hypothetical united India,  and that it was Congress which was dictatorial and insisted upon a strong center, forcing partition on Jinnah. If Jinnah himself believed that the Pakistan provinces  needed a strong center to be kept together, then going by his own logic, what would have been the ultimate fate of those regions over which the hypothetical united India center would have had only weak control?

These excerpts are best read in conjunction with [CMP(21)], [Extra(6)] and  [NSSarila].

The following is quoted from Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Mountbatten and the Partition of India, Volume 1.

Collins and Lapierre write, of their conversations with Mountbatten:

Q. When you revealed to Jinnah what a "moth-eaten Pakistan" would be in his plan, were you trying to drive him to face the reality of what he was asking for in the hope that it might bring him to his senses?

A. Correct. I was trying every trick I could play on him. I was trying to appeal to him in every way I possibly could. But you see he had discovered the extraordinary success he'd been able to have through continuing to say no. This was unbeatable. And he'd made this discovery before I came out. The only difference between the various negotiators he'd had before and me, was that he had no audience before which to say no, and its not the same thing to say it to one person. He had no gallery to play to. The only time he had a gallery, he just had to nod his head. It's my experience that people talk quite differently when they're alone than when there are other people listening.
. . .

[After a discussion on Jinnah's terminal illness and what might have ensued had Mountbatten and Congress known his illness was lifethreatening]:

Mountbatten's views on Hindus, Muslims, others
Anyway, that I wasn't told, was almost criminal. The only chance, and I am saying this now on the spur of the moment, it was the only chance we had of keeping some form of unified India, because he was the only, I repeat the only, stumbling block. The others were not so obdurate. I am sure the Congress would have found some compromise with them.

Q.  With the Muslim League as well?

A.You see, I liked the Muslim League people-they were mostly the people from the officer class of the Indian Army-much more than the Hindus. We came around to the Hindus more after I got out to India than before. I wasn't pro-anybody, but I really did like the Muslims. I had so many friends. Don't forget the history of India is basically one of conquest. When the Moghuls came along they in fact, conquered India and ran India and people like the Nizam were the viceroys of the Moghuls in the south. The Hindus were completely militarily beaten and treated as an occupied people by the occupying power.

But they were good brains, much better brains than the Muslims. I'm generalizing; Hindus were good shopkeepers, good business people, good clerks, good civil servants, and were employed by the British and they fitted in very well. They enjoyed serving the British-they preferred to serve the British, don't forget, than to serve the Muslims who were prepared to be gracious as hosts and go hunting and that sort of thing, but did not like the idea of toeing the line to the British at all. They were prepared to enter the army and so forth, but in fact the Hindus got into the whole machinery; they got into it because the Muslims weren't prepared to work in that sort of way with us.

I think you'll find this one of the things that's not completely understood. The British out there were naturally more easily friends with Muslims because they played polo, they went out shooting, they mixed freely, they didn't have any sort of inhibitions. The Hindus didn't get on so well with the British. Frankly, no Muslim ever took part in any plotting against the British. They wanted the British to remain, it secured their position.

The last thing Jinnah wanted was that we should go.  He said first he didn't want a separate Pakistan, just wanted us to stay and hold the reins for them. But the Hindus wanted us to go because they had gone to British universities, they were all terribly imbued with sort of Fabian ideas and they just thought it was wrong that the British should be ruling India. I mentioned that we ruled with the consent, with the affection, of the vast masses. No doubt of that. But the intelligent, educated people didn't like it. So that this is one of the things one was up against.

So how could we meet the Congress Party's desire without transferring power? We couldn't. We were obliged to the transfer of power. Nobody, particularly me, wished to have any partition in India. It was a ghastly thought. And it wasn't going to work. It wasn't really going to work because, you see, if you look at the distribution of the Muslim population in India, it's all over India. I don't suppose that we were able to separate more than half the Muslims and make them into East and West Pakistan. The rest of them were all over India. Most were perfectly happy to stay.

Now, I suppose my wife and I were about the first people to show genuine affection for Indians, irrespective of their creed. Don't forget you had Parsees and Jains also. The last Jain king lost his throne because as he was marching out to meet his enemy, the rains came and he cancelled the march, for fear of the tremendous loss of insect life his troops would cause marching across the marshes when the insects were coming out.

And there were the Christians also. The south of India became Christian about the first century A D under St. Thomas. So you will never understand the problem of India unless you realize it is not a country. Its called a subcontinent because it's attached to the continent of Asia, but it is, in fact, a continent. It's comparable to Europe in almost every way. The dimensions are not very far apart. The number of races, of languages, of dialects, of religions, is pretty near as great. And what the English did is produce a common market, run by them as sort of overlords 200 years ago. It's a very remarkable piece of social work which mustn't be minimized. So it is tragic that we should have had to divide it on leaving.

Q. Would you say you were pre-disposed in any way, before you reached India?

A. It is very difficult to say for certain what the state of my mind was on arrival. I was a great believer in a unified India. I thought the greatest single legacy we could leave the Indians was a unified country. It's a hell of an achievement to have a unified India. I realized I still had to unify the states with the rest of India.That, I thought was going to be the greatest difficulty and indeed it was an absolute miracle that we managed to get that straightened out.

I thought we should try everything we could to keep India united and I really was very keen that we should find a solution.

Q. What did the Hindu leaders think of partition?

A. Nehru was horrified by the idea of partition. He was an extraordinarily intelligent man. He saw the point on everything. He almost got himself in serious trouble when he saw the point on the Indian National Army court martials which no one else could see. He saw everything I was trying to do. I was completely in step with him. He would have given me any help he could to try and keep India unified if Jinnah had shown any sort of advance at all. Nehru was a first class chap.

Gandhi had no key at all. The key to the whole thing obviously was Jinnah.  Not only that, but I believe there was confusion all the way through. Most people thought it was Gandhi. If they didn't think it was Gandhi they thought it was Nehru. But it wasn't Gandhi, it wasn't Nehru, it was Jinnah and Patel. They were the two people.

If Mr. Jinnah had died of this illness about two years earlier, I think we would have kept the country unified. He was the one man who really made it impossible. I didn't realize how impossible it was going to be until I actually met Jinnah.

I have the most enormous conceit in my ability to persuade people to do the right and intelligent thing, not because I am persuasive, so much, as because I have the knack of being able to present the facts in their most favourable light. I didn't realize there was nothing at all you could do about Jinnah. He had completely made up his mind. Nothing would move him.

Q. There was an impasse?
A. All I could do was just to negotiate. For instance, he wanted to have the whole of the Punjab, the whole of Bengal, and I told him this was not on. And then of course there followed that amusing and rather tragic game of around and around the mulberry bush which I shall describe.

When I told Jinnah I don't want you to have a partitioned India, I gave him all my reasons, and he said, "Well, I am afraid we must. We can't trust them. Look what they did to us in 1938-39. When you go, we'll permanently be at the mercy of the elected Hindu majority and we shall have no place, we shall be oppressed and it will be quite terrible."

I told him I was quite certain that people like Nehru, and there were many of his colleagues like him, had no intention whatever of oppressing them.

He said, "Well, that's what you say, but Nehru was still the most important figure when they did, in fact, oppress us in 1938-1939. And he failed to stop it. But," he said, "you must give me a viable Pakistan. You must give me the whole of Punjab as well as Sindh and NWFP and Bengal and Assam, and I shall want a corridor to unite them."

I said, "Look, Mr. Jinnah, you have said that you won't agree to having a minority population ruled by a majority population."

"Alright, I happen to know that in the Punjab and Bengal there are wide areas where the opposite community is in the majority. It happens also that they just about divide east and west. So I'm afraid that if you want Pakistan, I shall have to arrange for the partitioning of both the Punjab and Bengal. You cannot take into Pakistan the Hindus of Punjab and Bengal."

"Your Excellency doesn't understand that the Punjab is a nation. Bengal is a nation. A man is a Punjabi or a Bengali first before he is a Hindu or a Muslim. If you give us those provinces you must, under no condition, partition them. You will destroy their viability and cause endless bloodshed and trouble. "

"Mr. Jinnah, I entirely agree."
"Oh, you do."
"Yes, of course. A man is not only a Punjabi or a Bengali before he is a Muslim or Hindu, but he is an Indian before all else. What you're saying is the perfect, absolute answer I've been looking for. You've presented me the arguments to keep India united."

"Oh, you don't understand. If you do that..." and so we'd start all over again.
"Look, Mr.Jinnah, it is a fact you want partition?"
"Yes, of course."
"Well, if you want partition then you must have partition of Punjab and Bengal."

You know, not only did this go on for hours, it went over several discussions. He simply was caught in his own trap. He finally gave up and said, "So you insist on giving me a moth-eaten Pakistan."
I said,"You call it a moth-eaten Pakistan. I don't even want you to take it at all if it's as moth-eaten as that. I'd really like you to leave India unified."

But he was absolutely set on his great cry of no-he was the de Gaulle of his day-and when after about three or four of these sessions I realized the man was quite unshakeably immovable and quite impervious to any quarrel or logical argument and not even prepared to look at any safeguards which I might be able to devise, I told him, "Mr. Jinnah, if only you would believe me, if only you would accept some organization like the Cabinet Mission Plan you would find that you could have great autonomy, the Punjab and Bengal could rule themselves, it would be even more autonomous than the USA. It would be quite independent. What is more, you could have the great pleasure of oppressing the minorities in any way you wanted to, because you'd be able to prevent the centre from interfering. Doesn't that appeal to you?"
"No, I don't want to be part of India. I'd sooner lose everything than be under a Hindu raj."

He went on and on. Very early I realized what I was up against. I never would have believed, I had never visualized that an intelligent man, well-educated, trained in England, was capable of closing his mind-it wasn't that he didn't see it-he closed his mind. A kind of shutter came down. Then I realized that while he was alive, nothing could be done. The others could be persuaded, but not Jinnah. He was a one-man band, and the one man did it like that.

Mind you, Jinnah is now forgotten. He was the man who did it. Bangladesh and all that misery which I forecast. Twenty-five years ago Rajagopalachari and I said it would last 25 years. It had to. . . It couldn't go on. All this misery and trouble was caused by Jinnah and no one else. And he hasn't had one word said against him. He was the evil genius in this whole thing. He presented a peaceful solution. He wouldn't play along at all. He was perfectly friendly and courteous and polite, at the end, emotionally pleased when I took him around and prevented him from being blown up[in Karachi, post-independence-blogger]. But with him there, you couldn't move him. You could move all the others. When Jinnah came to see me, he always sat there(relaxes, sits back easily), Ali Khan, when he came in with Jinnah sat right on the edge of his chair. He'd keep saying, "Yes, Qaidi." He would not even sit back.

The only difference between the scheme I was prepared to give Jinnah and that which he would have go under the Cabinet Mission Plan was that under the Cabinet Mission Plan he was obliged to accept a small, weak centre at Delhi controlling the defence, communications and external affairs. The three might really  be lumped together under the general heading of defence.

That speech was absolutely the last plea for a united India. Please remember, every one of these interviews lasted one hour. They were reduced in my note to three or four pages. They represented, each page, 15 minutes of talking. Therefore, one-eighth of what was said was compressed into this.

I then realized that he had this faculty of closing his mind to the thing-he could see points, he was an able debater, he had a well-trained mind, he was a lawyer, but he gave me the impression of having closed his mind, closed his ears; he didn't want to be persuaded, he didn't want to hear. I mean whatever one said, it passed him absolutely by. In the case of partitioning Punjab and Bengal, he didn't even seem to have been listening to the previous thing at all.

His great strength. . . he got all this by closing his mind and saying, "No".And how anybody could fail to see Jinnah held the whole key to the situation, to the continent, in his hand, I fail to understand. I saw that dear old Gandhi held nothing at all in his hands.

I can remember when Jinnah had got his Pakistan. When the British Government was prepared to let me put forward the plan of June 3, when even the Sikhs had swallowed it, and the Congress. That is what he'd been playing for, and he'd got it. And he said, "No."

Actually what he said was, "I shall have to put it to the Muslim League Council."
I said, "I can give you until midnight. Or 8 a.m."
He said, "I can't get them here before a week."

I said, "Mr. Jinnah, if you think I can hold the position for a week you must be crazy. You know this has been drawn up to boiling point. A miracle has been achieved in that the Congress Party, for the first time, is prepared to accept this sacrifice of partition. But they are not going to be shown up. Having to wait for you to get your Muslim League to accept it tonight or tomorrow morning, it's out for good. And this is going to make a terrible mess and we aren't going to start again. You'll never again get the Congress Party to respond."

And we went on and on. And he said, "No, no, I must do this thing the logical, legal way, as is properly constituted. I am not the Muslim League."

I said, "Now, now Mr.Jinnah, come on. Don't tell me that. You can try and tell the world that. But please don't try to kid yourself that I don't know who's who and what's what in the Muslim League."

And then he said, "I must do this thing absolutely legally."

I said, "I'm going to tell you something. I can't allow you to throw away the solution you worked so hard to get. It's absolutely idiotic to refuse to say yes. The Congress has said yes. The Sikhs have said yes. Tomorrow at the meeting, I shall say I have received assurance from the Congress Party, with a few reservations, that I am sure I can satisfy and they have accepted. The Sikhs have accepted. And I had a very long, very friendly conversation with Mr. Jinnah last night, we went through every point and Mr. Jinnah feels this is an absolutely acceptable solution. Now, at this moment, I will turn to you and you will nod your head in agreement, and if you shake your head(to indicate disagreement) you will have lost the thing for good, and as far as I am concerned, you can go to hell."

I didn't know whether he was going to shake his head or nod his head the next morning.
I said, "Finally, Mr. Jinnah has given me his personal assurance that he is in agreement with this plan," and turned to him and he went like that.*  [*Mountbatten nodded his head imperceptably-Authors]

Now I can tell you that if he had shaken his head, the whole thing would have been in the bumble pot. To think that I had to say yes for this clot to get his own plan through, it shows you what one was up against. This was probably the most hair-raising moment of my entire life. I've never forgotten that moment, waiting to see if that clot was going to nod or shake his head. He had no expression on his face. He couldn't have made a smaller gesture and still accepted.
The funny part is that the others, I knew, guessed that Jinnah was being difficult. And I think they realized the only hope for them to get a transfer of power quickly was to agree, and I think they allowed me to get away with it. They could have absolutely had me by questioning Jinnah, but they didn't. They knew pretty well what was going on.

You can't make too much of that, that dramatic moment when this great clot was about to throw everything away and I don't even know why. I can't imagine. He was the Muslim League and what he said, they did. He knew he'd got the last dreg. He knew as far as I was concerned, "You're out whether I shall stay or not, you're out. No one's going to deal with you if you reject this. You'll just have to fight for it."

But isn't it fascinating that the whole thing should have depended on which way he was going to shake his head.

Q. Was there a sense of relief among the others?

A. I, in fact, realized that none of them had the faintest conception of the administrative consequences of the decision they were taking. I'd given Ismay the special task with a high priority to work out all that had to be done. God knows, 30, 40, 50 major things. He produced this admirable paper on the administrative consequence of partition and transfer of power. That was brought down like an exam paper being issued by myself and that marvellous fellow Erskine Crum, and put around, and they couldn't resist looking at it and it destroyed the euphoria. I mean I'm nothing if not a stage manager. This was really stage managed. The result was that their whole attention was distracted by this. They came down to this. Even Jinnah was shaken. Then I did a thing that was very unpopular. To this day a lot of Indians hate it, even friends of mine like Mrs. Pandit. I had a calendar made, which showed how many days were left to the transfer of power.

They disliked it because they thought it was a trick of mine. I knew it was unpopular but I couldn't care less. It was unpopular because they felt they were being put under pressure and they were. The reason they were put under pressure was that if I'd let up on them the whole thing would have blown up under my feet.

I have no worry about Jinnah being shown up for the bastard he was. You know he really was. I actually got on with him, because I can get on with anybody. He made not a single effort at all. The worst thing he did to me was that he kept saying I mustn't go, that I must stay, that if I didn't stay they wouldn't get their assets transferred so that after the transfer of power I must stay out in over all charge.

When this was analyzed by my staff and myself, we realized that we couldn't have two governors-general with a viceroy over them after independence. Quite clearly the only way we could do the thing was if I was Governor-General of both provinces just for the transfer, and that was accepted tacitly as the solution. My staff talked about it with his staff. And indeed we know that this came about because of the Indian side which first suggested I should stay with them-and when they suggested that, which staggered me, that they were prepared to do it, then I said that I thought the solution would be if Jinnah wanted me to stay, then I must also stay as Governor-General of Pakistan.

It would have been absolute hell, living in two houses, it would be almost untenable, but I was prepared to try it. But he led us up the garden path. At the last moment this man-who obviously wanted to run Pakistan- instead of running it as a chief executive, i.e., the prime minister, decided to be the constitutional head of state who had no authority whatsoever under the Constitution.

When I discussed it with him I said, "You realize you've chosen the wrong thing. The man you want to be is the Prime Minister, he runs the country."

"Not in my Pakistan." he said, "there the Prime Minister will do what the Governor-General tells him."

So I said, "That's the whole reverse of the whole British concept of democracy."
"Nevertheless, that's the way I'm going to run Pakistan."

Then he said, "I'll accept you as Chairman of the Defence Council, a very important thing" - and he did until it finally broke down after the troubles. And he said, "I'll also accept the fact that you shouldn't feel that you can't accept the Indian invitation to be Governor-General of India. Please feel it would help us if you would, because the only way to retain my influence with them is by remaining as Governor-General. After all they've got everything and we've got nothing. We've got to get it out of them. Being Governor-General of Pakistan won't help you because we've got nothing to give, to transfer."

Q. What were your own feelings about this exchange with Jinnah?

A. You see, I found it very difficult to believe that an educated man, a man of apparently goodwill, with great affection and admiration for the British, a man who'd shown me consideration, although of a rather cold sort, I found it rather difficult to believe that he would accept India becoming a second class power, and destroy everything, and produce what he himself had said would be an unviable Pakistan. I had hoped that he would say, "If you give me absolute and complete autonomy, if you limit the centre's interference to inter-dominion committees which will sit and elaborate a common  defence policy, I might go along with keeping India together."

Do you realize what he has done instead? He absolutely ensured the complete break-up of Pakistan because, you see, the wealth and population resided in East Bengal and they had loathed, they had learned to hate the others, and they've broken up completely. They're now making friends with India. And the little tribes up in the north will split up; if it wasn't for the Americans giving the others enormous aid, they couldn't continue to exist. They're finished the day America withdraws her aid. I don't see how they can survive. Even with an army, an air force, they'll be completely at the mercy of India. All this I tried to explain to Jinnah. I went on and on, and I am fairly glib, and I was very clued up.

I don't think people realized what a one man band this was. I don't believe people realize that nobody ever did any negotiating for me with anybody. Sometimes I'd try to get Ismay to go back to Jinnah to butter him up. He liked Ismay, but this was entirely a one-man band. Whereas before it was a negotiation by a sort of a committee, by sitting around a table and thrashing things out.

If you, in fact, are doing it yourself on the other hand, if you know that what you say goes and you can tell London what you've done, you don't have to ask their permission. If you're a complete negotiator like that, then you can get things very easily.

So it isn't surprising that it was a one-man band, that I knew all the answers. It had to be a one-man band. Even a stenographer sitting in the room would have absolutely killed the effect.They never in their lives had been faced with a Viceroy all by himself. They'd never in their lives had to deal with day to day conversations and continuing dialogue that went on day after day after day. They were used to round table conferences, to endless great discussions. This was something none of them had ever  come across before.

It produced quite a different result. People saw points and moved and spoke in a way they'd never done before. I will at once confess that I failed with Jinnah. But let me tell you this, nobody else would have been any more successful. I don't believe there was any more you could do with Jinnah. I must take the responsibility myself. And it was done at very high speed.

The following are quoted from The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. XII
: The Mountbatten Viceroyalty: Princes, Partition, and Independence, 8 July-15 August 1947.

86 page 127 (full text)
Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma to the Earl of Listowel[Secretary of State for India]
NEW DELHI 12 July 1947
I must warn you that Jinnah has told draftsmen who are preparing adaptation orders that he would prefer adaptation order for Pakistan to be based on the Ninth Schedule rather than on Part II of 1935 Act.

2. The effect of this will be apparent to you. Adaptation based on the Ninth Schedule would give Governor-General the following powers among others.
(1) To appoint members of Government
(2) to settle number of members
(3) to appoint a vice-president
(4) to overrule majority opinion of Government
(5) to frame rules of business.

3. The adaptation order would also have to be based on assumption that Governor-General would ordinarily preside at Cabinet meetings.
4. This Governor-General would effectively be his own Prime Minister, but with special powers. This would give Jinnah position of a dictator.
5. Two alternative adaptation orders have been prepared, one on basis of Ninth Schedule(but omitting power to overrule a majority decision), and the other based on Part 2 of the Act.
6. I should be grateful for advice what I should do in the event of Jinnah insisting that the adaptation order should be based on the Ninth Schedule, whether with or without the overruling power.
7. I am very doubtful about approving an Order in Council of this kind before August 15th, but there must be some adaptation order, and it would be embarrassing to adopt the alternative against the advice of Moslem League who will certainly support Jinnah.
8. I take it this matter might cause embarrassment in Parliament, and that you will want to consult Cabinet, but I should be grateful for a very early reply as time is short.

 117 Page 173
(full text)
The Earl of Listowel to Mr Attlee
INDIA OFFICE, 15 July 1947
Prime Minister,
I attach a telegram from the Viceroy in which he says that Jinnah wishes the adaptation of the 1935 Act in respect of Pakistan to be based on the 9th Schedule i.e. the provisions under which the Executive Council Government at the Centre is set up. I attach a draft reply to this telegram for your consideration.

2. The Viceroy urged us during the drafting of the Bill to do it on the basis that the existing Government of India Act would remain in force in each of the two Dominions. It is as a result of this that Mr. Jinnah is able to do what he now proposes to do. If an accusation is made that we are helping to set up a dictatorship, the answer is that the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan is vested with sovereign legislative powers and can rescind orders of the Governor-General and also make a new Constitution.

In practice, however, in view of the dictatorial position which Mr. Jinnah holds in the Muslim League the Pakistan Constituent Assembly is likely to be docile and it may be that Mr. Jinnah will be able to establish himself as a virtual dictator instead of being constitutional Governor-General of the kind customary in British Dominions. This will be an embarrassing situation but it is one which can only come into being if the Pakistan Constituent Assembly so desires and if, if that is the position, it is likely to arise in any event.

3. The only alternative to the line taken in the reply would be to amend the Bill to require that adaptation of the Government of India Act should be based on part II of the Act and not on the 9th Schedule. This would, however, be a substantial modification of the Bill and we should have to explain why we were doing it. It could only be done in the Lords and then at very short notice and probably at the cost of re-arranging the Parliamentary programme. There is not time to take the matter to the India and Burma Committee as the Lords are taking second reading and all other stages tomorrow afternoon. LISTOWEL

122 Page 179
(full text)
The Earl of Listowel to Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
INDIA OFFICE, 15 July 1947
Your telegram 1926-S. The [Indian Independence]Bill(Clause 8) says that until other provision is made by Constituent Assembly each of the new Dominions shall be governed as nearly as may be in accordance with Government of India Act. Jinnah is therefore perfectly entitled to proceed under 9th Schedule and as he can do what he pleases by Order on the 16th August, it would seem useless to resist his wishes in regard to adaptation now. I consider, however, that it would be right and proper to exclude in adaptation Governor-General's power to override his Council under 9th Schedule on ground that this was part of machinery of British control.

2. As regard your paragraphs 6 and 7, therefore, we consider that you should prepare Adaptation Order in form desired by Jinnah but excluding over-riding power of Governor-General whatever his wishes on this point may be. If it is necessary on administrative grounds that this Order be issued before 15th August we consider that it should be issued with a statement that it is in the form desired by Muslim League. Otherwise, we consider that it should be prepared in readiness and left to be promulgated by Jinnah upon his appointment.

3. It would be inadvisable to make this order until after the Bill has been passed.

Note below: Mr Attlee had approved Lord Listowel's original draft of this telegram subject to the insertion of the sentence in paragraph 3. It replaced the following sentence which had been included in Listowel's draft: 'Disclosure of this situation might well cause embarrassment in Parliament and every endeavour should be made to keep it secret until the Bill has passed.'

383 (excerpt)
Rear Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma to the Earl of Listowel
8 August 1947

4. As soon as I turned my attention to the problem of the States, it  became evident to me that their independence, based on the Cabinet Mission memorandum of May 12, 1946, read with our June 3 statement, would not be worth a moment's purchase unless they had the support of one or the  other of the two Dominions, principally because of the wide gap that  prevails, between the Rulers and the ruled.  Barring a few States, the rest have no real  military forces of their own, and such police as they possess, are hardly  adequate even to deal with the internal situation.  

This has been proved conclusively by the recent riots in the Rampur State where the Muslim subjects of the Muslim Ruler, though in a minority, organised widespread riots and destruction of Government property and offices, by way of a protest against the  decision of the Rampur Ruler to accede to the Indian Dominion, and where he had to call in aid from the Government of India.   The aid was promptly given and the situation there is now rapidly returning to normal.  You can imagine what would have been the position in Rampur, if this had occurred after 15th August and they had declared their independence, particularly if the riots had been organised by the Hindus who form nearly 90% of the population!

385 (excerpt)
Viceroy's Personal Report No. 16
8 August 1947
4. On the 5th August, the Nawab of Rampur came to see me with his Chief Minister, Zaidi. [4]  They arrived in a very harassed condition having  driven through rioting mobs in Rampur to appeal to me for help.  The Nawab is an old friend with whom I have stayed twice in the last four years, and he  told me that Jinnah had been bringing every possible pressure to bear on him personally to stop him from acceding to the Dominion of India.  Zaidi even gave a categorical account of a meeting with Liaquat and other Muslim Leaguers at which grave threats were uttered as to what would happen to Rampur if he deserted Pakistan and joined India.  Zaidi had replied that if the League could arrange to have Rampur transferred to the Pakistan area, they would gladly join Pakistan; otherwise they had no option but to join India.

Liaquat was adamant, whereupon Zaidi asked him specifically how Pakistan would help Rampur if it came to a showdown with India.  The reply was "by moral support".  Zaidi said this was insufficient, and that he had no choice  but to advise his Ruler to join India.

5. They have now carried out their threats and the League organisations in Rampur have staged riots which have become serious, several Government buildings have been set on fire and the servant of an Inspector of  Police having been burnt alive.  I immediately despatched 300 of my Crown Representative's Police and half a battalion of troops.

6. The only satisfactory part about this sordid story is that Patel  entirely endorsed my action and told the Nawab that after the 15th of August the States' Department would continue to help the States in this matter.  Patel has  now decided to take over the whole of my Police as a Federal Police Force for the Dominion as a whole and for loan to any Ruler who requires internal help.

7. Bhopal is still giving me a lot of trouble. . .

[4] No record of this meeting has been traced.

464 Page 707(full text)
Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma to the Earl of Listowel
KARACHI, 13 August 1947
At today's meeting in Karachi Pakistan cabinet urge[d] me to include in Pakistan Adaptation Order provision retaining Section 93 in modified form, text of which follows in my immediately succeeding telegram.

2. My Pakistan colleagues claim that this adaptation is neither ultra vires nor improper because the Governor-General acts on advice. My Reforms Secretariat, however, are of view that any such adaptation would be a fraud on Independence Act, Section 8(2)(C) which abolishes discretionary powers. My Pakistan colleagues rejoin to this that provincial administration on their scheme would be controlled not by Governor but by Governor-General acting on advice who would use Governor as a mere agent. My advisers comment that this argument assuming it to meet objection based on Section 8(2)(C) only does at cost of producing by a process of ostensible adaptation a position wholly in variance with Government of India Act 1935n that geographical field would be invaded wholesale by Central Government.

3. I have pointed out that Pakistan Government Constituent Assembly can pass the desired provision at any time, but my colleagues press for inclusion thereof in my Adaptation Order. I would be grateful for most immediate advice on constitutional position.

4. Cooke knows background.

479 page 726(full text)
The Earl of Listowelto Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
INDIA OFFICE, 14 August 1947

Your telegram no.14K of 13th August. It seems to me of doubtful legality to amend Section 93 in way desired by Pakistan Government by means of adaptations under Section 9 of Indian Independence Act. It would certainly seem inconsistent with the spirit of the Indian Independence Act. Decision whether or not to make it is mainly a political one and its doubtful legality seems to me conclusive argument against your including it in any adaptation order issued by you today.

2. I recognise that Pakistan Government genuinely feel this power to be essential for safety of Pakistan and it is not unreasonable that in conditions of India special reserve powers should exist for dealing with grave threats to security of the Dominion or Province or with breakdown of Dominion or Provincial constitutions. I am however sure that you are right in suggesting that Pakistan Government's correct course is to seek such powers as they need from Pakistan Constituent Assembly which is now in session.


CMP(1) -  From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'

CMP(2) -  Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946

CMP(3) -  The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946

CMP(4) - Jinnah  and ML  responses to the CMP 22 May  and June 6 1946

CMP(5) -  Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946

CMP(6) -  Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946

CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946

CMP(7) -  The Congress unease with parity  8-9 May 1946

CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946

CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union

CMP(8) -  More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting  11 May 1946

CMP(9) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946

CMP(10) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946

CMP(11) -   Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946

CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946

CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946

CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946

CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946

CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946

CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action,  July-August 1946

CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946

CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946

CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946

CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947

CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell

CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947

CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946

CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?

CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material

CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947

CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan

Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan

Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942

Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940

Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45

Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan

Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'

Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931

Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928

Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38

Extra(5) -  BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947

Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947

Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43

Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah

Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory

Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies

Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth

Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937

Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43

Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh

Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab

Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto

Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter

Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit

1937-1940(2)  Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert

1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar

1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad

1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh

1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh

1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page

1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher

Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers

Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States

Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments

1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila

1944: Gandhi-Jinnah talks, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)

1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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