SS8 Narendra Singh Sarila and Patrick French

1939-1947 Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila
Quotes included:
  • Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, The Shadow of the Great Game, Narendra Singh Sarila(excerpts)
  • On Gurdaspur, Liberty or Death, Patrick French(excerpts)
Narendra Singh Sarila quoted from The Shadow of the Great Game, Harper Collins India, 2005.
Patrick French quoted from Liberty or Death, Harper Collins, 1997.

Narendra Singh Sarila was an ADC to Viceroy Mountbatten and the heir of a princely state in Central India. He later served in high offices in India's Foreign Service.  His book combines well-researched primary sources with his comprehensive strategic viewpoint on relations between the Congress and British, those between M.A. Jinnah and the British, and the American connection. The portions excerpted here are explicitly related to relations between Jinnah and the British in the war and post-war periods.

Other authors[Glend2][Glend3][AnitaIS1] also quote from official records of conversations between Jinnah and Viceroy Linlithgow in 1939. Sarila's quotes of such exchanges from that period clarify further that Jinnah's intent in allying with British aims was to prevent the Hindu majority (and a Congress majority) from having any decisive say in any future constitution affecting Muslims of India.

Since the 1935 Government of India Act had already forestalled an elected Hindu and Congress majority at the center[Glend2], Jinnah's endeavours  may be seen as following logically from the federal provisions of the 1935 Act and also as the continuation of his efforts to make Muslim sovereignty inviolable to Hindu majorities at the national level,  after attempting to do the same without success at the provincial level in 1937[MJAkbar][BimalP][

The book excerpts from later years further re-inforce the notion that some section of the British establishment did not consider handing over power to Congress and united India as either desirable or as being in British strategic interests, and that Jinnah was their ally in pursuing success in this regard. 

In my opinion, Jinnah and his sympathisers in the British establishment expected that partitioned British India, embedded with hundreds of islands of princely states available for the picking by newly-created Pakistan or by the lingering British, would be geographically fragmented and have vulnerable defences and borders. However, in 1947, Congress demanded a swift British exit and Mountbatten's assistance in the accession of most princely states as conditions for Congress acceptance of partition, Dominion status and Commonwealth membership. The larger reconstituted India which resulted
, was not fully anticipated in either Jinnah's or British diehards'(such as Churchill's) calculations about the future of their mutual alliance on the subcontinent.

Mountbatten's strenuous efforts to persuade Jinnah in 1947 not to pursue full sovereignty for Pakistan are explained,
in my opinion, by a British interest to stay on indefinitely as arbitrators of sovereignty, defence and foreign affairs between two (or more) quasi-states in an undivided India with a weak ineffective center. In contrast, the creation of a fully sovereign Pakistan would mean that the British would have to exit sovereign divided India whenever Congress asked them to do so.  [Also see CMP(21) and Extra(6B)]

Narendra Singh Sarila quoted from The Shadow of the Great Game.
The Anglo-Muslim League Alliance
Sarila writes:
[Soon after the outbreak of World War II] Jinnah had met the viceroy immediately after Gandhiji on 4 September[1939]. While Gandhiji had offered tears and sympathy, Jinnah offered the viceroy the means to win the war and a clear compact. He pledged 'the loyalty of the Muslim community everywhere'(as if he was the sole representative of the Muslims of India) and then, with reference to the Congress ministries in the provinces, told the viceroy: 'Turn them out at once. Nothing else will bring them to their senses. Their object, though you may not believe nothing less than to destroy both you[the British] and us Muslims. They will never stand by you.'  And then he spelt out his mind: 'Muslim areas should be separated from "Hindu India" and run by Muslims in collaboration with Great Britain.'

Jinnah had spoken so candidly to the viceroy because his lieutenant, Khaliq-uz-Zaman, had met Lord Zetland in London a few months earlier. According to Khaliq-uz-Zaman, when he had conveyed to Zetland the desirability of the creation of autonomous Muslim states in the subcontinent that would remain linked with Britain with defence, the British minister showed enough interest to prolong the talk for an hour and a half! The answer Khaliq-uz-Zaman gave to Zetland, when asked about defence, needs to be quoted because it was bound to make the minister feel that the Muslim League would remain dependent upon, and subservient to, Britain:  'If you want to know (about defence) for the period that you are not in any way connected with the administration of the country, then I beg your Lordship not to put that question to me, for God only knows what will happen to us then.'

. . .[On 5 October 1939]'Jinnah', the viceroy reported, began by 'expressing great gratitude for what I had done to assist[him] in keeping his Party together'. Jinnah was referring to the pressure Linlithgow had applied on Sikander Hayat Khan, the chief minister of the Punjab, to fall in line with Jinnah. Linlithgow's disciplining Sikander Hayat Khan was no small help. Besides being a staunch friend of the British, he was the premier of a province from which 50 per cent of the British Indian Army was recruited and a major figure in Indian politics. . .

After acknowledging Jinnah's thanks, [Linlithgow] told him:
It was clearly unsatisfactory that while one of the two great parties was well organized and well equipped to pursue its objectives and express its aims, that the other equally of great importance should be masked and prevented from securing its full expression by failure to secure an adequate mouthpiece. It was in public interest that the Muslim point of view should be fully and competently expressed.

The viceroy then sought Jinnah's opinion on the Congress Party's demands for a declaration of British objectives in India after the war and on the expansion of the council to accomodate political parties. It was now Jinnah's turn to scratch Linlithgow's back. Neither was necessary, Jinnah replied, and added that he would refuse 'to reach agreement either with the Congress or the government unless the plan of creating a united India was abandoned, and effective protection was given to the Muslim minorities in the Provinces.' Linlithgow, by citing this 'Muslim objection, could now deflect the Congress Party's demands as well as those of the Labour Party critics at home'. . .

[The viceroy saw Jinnah on 4 November 1939] Referring to Jinnah's public rejection of a declaration of British objectives in India after the war, Linlithgow thanked him for the 'very valuable help he had given by standing firm against the Congress claims' and added that he was 'duly grateful'.  In this telegram on his discussions with Zetland, he reported: 'If Jinnah and the Congress had confronted me with a joint demand on this[the British declaration], the strain upon me and upon HMG would indeed have been very great.'

Jinnah after accepting Linlithgow's thanks, made certain remarks that were bound to sound like music to any Britisher at that time and would be lapped up in London. 'He[Jinnah] was extremely doubtful as to the capacity of India and Indians to look after themselves', reported Linlithgow. And added, 'If the British by any chance be beaten in the war and driven out of India, India would break into a hundred pieces in three months and lie open, in addition, to external invasion.'

After offering this bouquet, Jinnah came to the point he had come to make. Referring to the recent debate in the House of Lords, he said: Prominent personages, who were quite likely to be in the [British] Cabinet after the war, had frankly urged that in India[the] majority must rule and the minority must take their medicine... When the opposition at home came into power they would force democratic government on India and anaesthetize the Muslims.

Therefore, what he wanted was an undertaking from HMG that the Muslim community would not be compelled in any future dispensation to accept something it did not want. Linlithgow kept silent on this subject, but promised to forward this view to London for consideration.

Jinnah saw the viceroy again on 12 January 1940 and was advised on the form the British undertaking should take: 'If you say that you would make no new pronouncement or new constitutional departure unless the Muslims approved, he[Jinnah] would be attacked as the arch supporter of Imperialism and for playing our[British] game. Therefore the formulation should be that any pronouncement of a future advance would have to receive the approval of the two communities.'

And then delivered the following broadside against the Congress Party that he knew would be more conducive to clinch his argument than any other on the basis of merit: 'Show Congress that they can get nothing further out of you and once they know that, they will be more likely to come to a settlement and even if they don't, what do you lose?'

It is well to record here that whatever the sentiments of Jinnah on his ability to manipulate the viceroy, the latter was quite sure that he was using the former. 'He[Jinnah] represents a minority and a minority that can only hold its own with our assistance' was how Linlithgow later put it to the secretary of state.

The next day Linlithgow was in Bombay and sent for Jinnah to seek his help in installing a Muslim League Ministry in the North West Frontier Province- the crucial province-from which the Congress Party Government had walked out in October 1939. Jinnah agreed to go to Lahore and make the effort. The collaboration between the British and Jinnah was now growing day by day. Linlithgow then told him that he was under pressure from England not to 'indefinitely postpone normality'; in other words, he should try to bring back a measure of popular participation in government. The Muslim League chief's reply, as reported by the viceroy, was as follows:  'The Hindus were not capable of running a government as we will find for ourselves before we had finished.'

And when Linlithgow drew his attention to an article by John Gunther, the American journalist, on Nehru, that had just appeared in the Life magazine in the United States, and asked him to do something to contradict such pro-Congress propaganda, Jinnah replied that he had no funds to do so, thereby leaving whatever had to be done in this context to his new British partner.

[On 5 February 1940, the viceroy met Gandhi.] The viceroy saw Jinnah later the same day. Jinnah complained that the viceroy never appeared to break with Gandhiji, which caused 'dreadful suspense'. He threatened:  'If the Congress Governments returned to provincial office there will be civil war in India.'

Then taking up Linlithgow's request of the previous month to install a Muslim League Ministry in the North West Frontier Province, he observed that he required the support of the governor, Sir George Cunningham, to be able to do so. And added: 'There could be no better advertisement of the real position in India whether before the country or throughout the world than that a non-Congress Ministry should be set up in the North West Frontier [Province].' . . . And the viceroy agreed to ask the governor of NWFP to help Jinnah. . .

Eleven days before he gave the call for the partition of India, Jinnah took the viceroy into confidence regarding his plans on 13 March 1940. According to Linlithgow's report to Zetland, Jinnah told him:

Given the development of the war[its possible extension into Asia] there was much to be said for our[British and Muslims] getting together...[but]if we wished for their [Muslims'] definite and effective help we must not sell the pass behind their backs.... He and his friends were clear that Muslims were not a minority but a nation, that democracy(i.e., majority rule) for India was impossible, and they were anxious not to let us get ourselves in a position in which our hold over India was deliberately and progressively withdrawn so that in the end the control of the country would be handed over to Hindu Raj. He[Jinnah] was quite prepared to contemplate the possibility that we might have to stay here much longer than was anticipated for the job of keeping the ring... He wanted Muslim areas to be run by Muslims in collaboration with Great Britain, and that Muslims would be able to safeguard "because of their military power even those of their community who were domiciled in the Hindu areas"
. . . .

[Elsewhere in the chapter, Sarila quotes a little more from that conversation:]
"The Muslim areas would be poorer, but because of the Muslims' military power and British collaboration, they would be able to safeguard even those of their community domiciled in the Hindu areas."

Linlithgow replied to Jinnah as follows:
His Majesty's Government's presence would be needed in India longer than even some imagined[and this could be]in a manner as little out of tune with Indian aspirations as possible [and] in such a tripartite agreement [Muslims, Hindus and the princes]...Britain would have the predominant responsibility for defence.

Jinnah met the viceroy on 27 June 1940. He had apparently received intelligence with regard to Amery's plans to come out with a declaration on HMG's policy on India in the wake of the formation of the new government. He pressed Linlithgow 'for a declaration on agreement between the principal communities as precedent to the implementation of any constitutional scheme'.

Referring to Zetland's April statement in the House of Lords, he demanded a firmer guarantee to ensure that 'the likes of Cripps and Wedgewood Benn* in England at some future date would not sell the Muslims to the Hindus'. 
(*Both socialists)

Jinnah's views were accepted by the War Cabinet, though Churchill warned against 'any far-reaching declaration'. The upshot was that the British declaration made by Linlithgow on 8 August 1940 and, at Jinnah's request, repeated by Amery in the House of Commons on 14 August. It offered dominion status after the war; an expansion of the Viceroy's Executive Council to accomodate representatives of political parties; a War Consultative Committee which would include some princes; and a guarantee to the minorities as follows: It goes without saying that they [the HMG]could not contemplate transfer of their present responsibilities for the peace and welfare of India to any system of Government whose authority is directly denied by large and powerful elements in India's national life. Nor could they be parties to the coercion of such elements into submission to such a Government.

The British forever afterwards interpreted the aforementioned statement as His Majesty's Government's firm committment not only to the Muslims of India but also to Jinnah as the sole spokesman of the Muslims of India, virtually according him veto powers over future Indian constitutional developments. The declaration therefore turned out to be an important milestone in the British efforts to build up Jinnah and forge the Anglo-Muslim League alliance. In all subsequent negotiations for Indian independence Jinnah flung this declaration at the British negotiators who questioned his demand for Pakistan or suggested a settlement of communal differences in an elected Constituent Assembly instead of directly with him. And after the Labour Party replaced the Conservative Party in power in England in 1945, British civil servants in London and New Delhi were ever ready to point to this British declaration in order to curb any propensity on the part of their new masters to bypass Jinnah.

The British declaration of 8 August 1940 came as a rude shock to the Congress leaders. The veto power given to Jinnah on India's constitutional developments would increase his intransigence. Their reaction was to revoke their own offer made after the fall of France to lay aside their creed of non-violence for national defence, which they had hoped would clear the way for cooperation with the Allies during the war. Gandhiji was worried that in their frustration some Congressmen might go too far and start an agitation against the government, which he had promised the viceroy he would discourage. So he worked out a strategy that would enable the Congress Party to show to the public that it was giving no quarter to the British authorities and yet take no action that would really hinder the war effort, which stand Subhash Chandra Bose compared to 'running with the hare and hunting with the hound'.

To prepare the ground for his new approach, Gandhiji wrote to the viceroy on 29 August 1940 that his desire not to embarrass the British Government during the war 'could not be carried to the extent of the Congress Party committing hara-kiri',  And when he saw Linlithgow on 27 September 1940, he reiterated his view and insisted that he had the right of freedom of speech to dissuade the people from recruitment on the ground [and] that his party was committed to only non-violent action. 'A person had a right not to join the army but not the privilege to propagate the same', Linlithgow argued back, reporting to London that 'to preach non-violence in this way was unlikely to remain an academic question but impinge on the war effort'. Making an issue of his freedom to preach non-violence, Gandhiji, on 17 October 1940, launched what was termed 'Individual Peaceful Disobedience'.

Under this movement, important Congress leaders, one after the other, would speak in public to protest against recruitment into the Army, and get arrested. There would be no mass stir; merely protest by selected individuals. The Congress Party opened its innings by sending in Vinoba Bhave, Gandhiji's staunchest disciple of non-violence, who got promptly 'stumped'; in other words, he was put behind bars. Nehru followed as number two. After he too landed in jail, Sardar Vallabhai Patel was sent in. And so on and so forth till all the top starts of the Congress Party got themselves picked up and packed into British prisons. Gandhiji then retired to his ashram and devoted himself to social work and the spinning wheel, leaving the viceroy to handle the complexities of defence preparedness without any embarrassment from the Congress Party's side.

Louis Fischer characterized this agitation as one launched 'to save face'. The director of British intelligence had a different view of the Gandhian policy of 1940. In one of his reports, he quotes Nehru as saying:'No one expects Gandhiji's movement to bring success but its moral value is what counts.' The director then added: 'After the war is over any ban [on the Congress] will be lifted, Congress leaders will be released and at the next elections Congress will sweep the polls. Today they want to embarrass the Government morally. Gandhiji's plan serves this purpose.'. . .

The number of Congressmen arrested during arrested during Gandhijis 'Individual Civil Disobedience' reached a peak of 15,000 by the summer of 1941. . .'The effect on India's war effort was nil.'. . . [U]timately, the strength of the British Indian armed forces rose from about 190,000 at the beginning of the war to almost two million towards the end. And when it was decided to released the demoralized Congressmen at the end of 1941- Nehru and Azad were released on 3 December- Churchill called it: 'Surrender at the moment of success.' Whatever the conceived benefits of the 'Individual Peaceful Disobedience' to the nationalists, it led to considerable gains for Jinnah and the Muslim League. According to one Muslim leader: 'While the Congress civil disobedience was lingering along[sic], the Muslim League through speeches, pamphlets and personal contacts had started making rapid progress in the cities and towns.'. . .

In the summer of 1940, Leopold Amery, the Secretary of State for India, wrote a secret private letter to Lord Linlithgow, the viceroy, in which he noted:

If our [British] tradition is freedom-loving and our domestic development centuries ahead of the continent, that is largely because we are an island. If the Prussian tradition is one of militarism and aggression, it is largely because Prussia never had any natural frontiers. Now India has a very natural frontier at present. On the other hand, within herself she has no natural or georgraphic or racial or communal frontiers- the northwestern piece of Pakistan would include a formidable Sikh minority. The northeastern part has a Muslim majority so narrow that is setting up as a State or part of a wider Muslim state seems absurd. Then there is the large Muslim minority in the United Provinces, the position of Muslim princes with Hindu subjects and vice versa. In fact, an all-out Pakistan scheme seems to me to be the prelude to continuous internal warfare in India.

Britain, in 1940, hoped to stay on in India for many decades more. . .The reason why the viceroy was befriending Jinnah in 1940 was with the limited aim of encouraging him to oppose the Congress Party's demands that Britain make an unambiguous commitment to grant independence to India at the end of the war and, in the meantime, to include members of political parties in the Viceroy's Executive Council. . . .

[Given that many groups of Muslims opposed partition] How then did Jinnah tackle the critics of his scheme, especially the Muslim Leaguers and Muslim fundamentalists? How did he square the circle? First, although Muslims may not have been enamoured of partition, there was to be found, among their elite, the sort of amorphous feelings as conveyed by the Aga Khan to Lord Zetland in 1940: After all there was a certain obligation on His Majesty's Government not to put the Muslim community or other minorities and the princes under a worse position than they had occupied when the British had come to India.

Therefore there existed a foundation for Jinnah to build upon. Jinnah had taken care, when announcing his scheme in Lahore, to ensure that its parameters were kept obscure and fluid. He left open the possibility of the creation of a large and powerful state, which the Muslims could be proud of.

The Muslim League plan revealed in 1942 included the North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, the Punjab and the neighbouring Delhi province- even though it did not have a Muslim majority-and Sind, in the west and Bengal, including Calcutta, and Assam-even though it also did not have a Muslim majority-in the east. The plan also included Hyderabad and all the other Muslim-ruled princely states.(Later, a corridor to connect the two wings of the proposed Muslim state was added to the plan.).

Such a large Pakistan would be more than equal to Hindustan, even if all the princely states ruled by Hindu princes joined the latter. Such a possibility was remote, as made out by the League, because the chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, Nawab Muhammad Hamidullah of Bhopal, was working for the creation of a third sovereign state-a Princestan-consisting of the territories of all the Indian princes. After the idea of a separate Princestan collapsed, Jinnah encouraged the Nawab of Bhopal to try and persuade those non-Muslim Indian princes whose states lay between West Pakistan and Bhopal in Central India to join Pakistan. . .

All such activity and propaganda succeeded in creating in the Indian Muslim mind an ambiguity about the future boundaries of Pakistan until the very end of British rule. This saved Jinnah embarrassment and revolt by his followers in the Muslim-minority provinces, who would have been left high and dry.

Jinnah's ardent supporters spread the message that without creating a powerful independent Muslim state in the subcontinent with its own armed forces, free to seek the support of foreign powers, the Muslims' position in a post-British united India would gradually deteriorate and their identity would be threatened. Therefore, Jinnah's adherents emphasized that the retreat of Muslim power to the two wings of the subcontinent should be seen as a strategic move, with the avowed goal to consolidate and advance as opportunities presented themselves after British withdrawal. Jinnah had given a hint of this type of militant thinking to Lord Linlithgow as early as 13 March 1940, when he told them: 'The Muslim areas would be poorer, but because of the Muslims' military power and British collaboration, they will be able to safeguard even those of their community domiciled in the Hindu areas.'

On 31 March 1940, Sir Francis Mudie, the chief secretary in the United Provinces, reported what two prominent members of the Muslim League, Khaliq-uz-Zaman. . . and M.B.Kidwai told him: During the late regime[the Congress Party Government in UP till October 1939] they[the Muslims] were powerless vis-a-vis the Congress[Hindus] because of the implied sanction of the British army. If each of those dominions[Pakistan and India] had an army of its own, that position would change. The UP Muslims would then look after themselves against a UP Congress Government relying on their own resources. . .
Sayed Ain-ud-Din had served as a district magistrate of Lucknow, the capital of the United Provinces, in the pre-indepedence era. In 1945 or 1946 he told my father that his acquaintances in the Muslim League were assuring him that, with England's help, Pakistan would become strong and since there would be Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India, this factor would restrain the Hindus from acting against the Muslims left behind in India. This was the League's 'hostage theory' to calm the Muslims, who, under Jinnah's scheme, would be left in India. Nevertheless, Ain-ud-Din migrated to Pakistan after it was founded. (He later became the administrator of the Karachi airport). . .

Jinnah and Churchill
Sarila writes:
Sir Martin Gilbert, the British historian and biographer of Winston Churchill, recently revealed that he had come across Jinnah's letters of 1946 to Churchill. Since Churchill was then out of office and did not wish to be seen in touch with Indian politicians, he had asked Jinnah to address his letters to a lady employed at Chartwell Manor, Churchill's home in Kent. Letters to her would receive no attention. She was one Elizabeth Giliat. When this connection precisely started, I do not know. However, Jinnah's sudden breaking away from the Federal Scheme, which Churchill opposed, in 1937, his confidence and boldness in coming out with the Pakistan scheme which Churchill favoured in 1940 and his coddling by Viceroys Linlithgow and Wavell, both Churchill's admirers between 1940 and 1946, are undisputed facts. Jinnah admitted during the Simla Conference in 1945 that he was receiving advice from London. . .

[On 29 March 1945, Viceroy Wavell met Prime Minister Churchill in London]. A record of this meeting is unavailable.  But one can get some idea of what was discussed from a cryptic entry made by the viceroy in his diary that night: The PM then launched into a long jeremiad about India which lasted for about forty minutes. He seems to favour partition of India into Pakistan, Hindustan and Princestan.

. . .Wavell's talks with the members of the India Committee of the War Cabinet, headed by Clement Attlee, were spread over two months. They revolved around his proposal to hold a conference of Indian leaders to discuss the formation of a politically representative executive council that would contain an equal number of 'caste Hindus and Muslims' and would function with minimum interference from the viceroy. . .

The War Cabinet finally agreed to the proposal but it was understood that Jinnah's assent to the composition of the proposed executive council was a prerequisite. Initially, Churchill hesitated to take the plunge but later yielded after he was assured that he need have no fears that a government in India would result from the proposal and, indeed, the conference was destined to fail.[Penderel Moon,The British Conquest and Dominion of India, Vol 2 (India Research Press, Delhi, 1999)]. . .

The conference of Indian leaders called by Wavell on 25 June 1945 was a charade from the beginning to the end. Delegates from all the major parties, the representatives of the Sikhs and the Scheduled Castes and premiers of British provinces present and former-including the Congress Party premiers who had resigned in 1939- were invited to meet the viceroy in the Viceregal Lodge in the Raj's summer capital of Simla, up in the Himalayas. . .

The conference failed as it was planned to fail, because Wavell refused to veto Jinnah's pretensions to represent all the Muslims of India. According to Durga Das, a journalist of great integrity, Jinnah told him in the lift of the Cecil Hotel, Simla(towards the end of the conference) that he had been assured by friends in England, through a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council, that 'if he remained firm on the demand[of exclusively representing the Muslims and thus breaking the conference]he would get Pakistan'. One of the two secretaries of the Simla Conference has written: 'Hossain Imam, who attended the conference in his capacity as the leader of the Muslim League Party in the Council of States, stopped me on my way to the Cecil Hotel and said that a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council was advising Jinnah to stand firm.'

. . .[Jinnah] used the Simla Conference to make a long statement, arguing fully the case for Pakistan and highlighting Hindu-Muslim differences, which provided enough material to London to pass on to the Americans. According to the US State Department secret documents, Wavell's officers briefed the American Commissariat in Delhi on eight separate occasions during and after the conference.

Providing parity to the Muslims in the envisaged Viceroy's Executive Council could be understood as ensuring a safeguard for a minority. But sustaining Jinnah's claim as the sole spokesman of all the Muslims of India, when in both the Punjab and NWFP, ministries of Muslims opposed to Jinnah were in office and commanded majorities in the legislatures, demonstrated that the British aim was not to instal a new government in India but something different. Wavell had before him the top-secret and personal telegram sent by Sir Bertrand Glancy, the governor of the Punjab, dated 3 July 1945, stating: 'Jinnah's claim to nominate all Muslims appears to me in light of League's meagre hold on Muslim-majority Provinces, to be outrageously unreasonable. If he is given three nominations out of, say, five Muslims seats he should account himself[sic] fortunate indeed.'

Wavell knew all along that Jinnah would stick to his guns, a stand that would be unacceptable to the Congress Party. He also knew that London would never agree to overrule Jinnah's demand, however absurd it may be; or let the Congress Party enter his 'cabinet', without the countervailing presence of the Muslim League in it. Therefore, 'enacting' the Simla Conference had no other purpose except to build up Jinnah against his Muslim rivals in the Punjab and head off renewed American pressure for Indian self-government. And in this, Wavell succeeded brilliantly.

The results of Simla were recorded by the Punjab governor as follows: 'Since Jinnah succeeded by his intransigence in wrecking the Simla Conference his stock has been standing very high with his followers and with a large section of the Muslim population. He has openly come out that the [coming] election will show an overwhelming verdict in favour of Pakistan. The uninformed Muslim would be told that the question he is called on to answer at the polls is - Are you a true believer or an infidel or a traitor? Against this slogan the Unionists have no spectacular battle cry.' Glancy then warned: 'If Pakistan becomes an imminent reality we shall be heading straight for bloodshed on a wide scale.'
H.V.Hodson, the former reforms commissioner and main advisor to the viceroy, concurs with Glancy: 'Mr. Jinnah's demonstration of imperious strength at the Simla Conference was a shot in the arm for the League and a serious blow for its Muslim opponents especially in the Punjab... Lord Wavell's sudden abandonment of his plan[to set up a representative executive council] was a decisive move that made the partition of India inevitable... To twist Mr. Jinnah's arm, it is clear, was not part of the plan that he had so laboriously agreed with His Majesty's Government.'

After Simla, Muslims with political ambitions, including those with other Muslim formations, began to switch sides to the League in large numbers, though, in the Punjab, Tiwana held his ground. Soon after the conference, the secretary of state, Leopold Amery, in a personal telegram to the viceroy, congratulated him: 'The Congress Party, after all by coming into the Conference, abandoned their claim that they are the only people to take over from us.'

[S]oon after the breakdown of the Simla Conference. . .Churchill's conservative Party lost the general elections and a Labour Party Government, with Clement Attlee as prime minister, took office on 23 July 1945. . . On 20 August [Wavell] alerted his new masters as follows: 'HMG must be most cautious in any immediate announcement [on India] they wish to make. It is easy to say that the Muslims cannot be allowed to hold up the settlement; but they are too large a proportion of the population to be bypassed or coerced without very grave danger.'

And when summoned to London for a policy review by the cabinet, he spoke as follows:

There was no possibility of a compromise between the Muslim League and the Congress(Party) and we..have to come down on the side of one or the other... It was most unlikely that Mr Jinnah would now enter into discussions without a guarantee of acceptance in principle of a Pakistan. While it was possible to overestimate the importance of any individual political leader[his] own judgement [was] that Jinnah spoke for 99 per cent of the Muslim population of India in their apprehensions of Hindu domination... Before further progress could be made, we should face up to the root cause which was the problem of Pakistan.'

Wavell further clarified his views in a note for the cabinet's consideration(on 31 August 1945). In this note, he stated: 'The draft declaration of 1942[the Cripps offer] proceeded on the assumption that partition in the last resort provided solution of the Hindu-Muslim question.'

But, in 1945, the Cripps offer would not be any more be acceptable to Jinnah because the Muslim majorities in the Punjab and Bengal were too slim and he could not be sure whether these two provinces would definitely vote for Pakistan. 'If a plebiscite was held of the whole population, the Punjab would quite possibly not vote for Pakistan.' Further, Jinnah would not welcome the idea of a Constituent Assembly as envisaged in the Cripps offer at the end of hostilities, unless Pakistan was accepted in principle.

Wavell then called attention to the fact that since no agreement between the parties was likely to be reached, 'the nature of the secession the Muslim majority' may have to be acceptance by HMG of the Pakistan scheme. However, Wavell put in a rider that not all the territories demanded by Jinnah could be conceded because the Punjab and Bengal would need to be divided: for the entire Punjab to go to Pakistan would be totally unacceptable to the Sikhs and to award the Hindu-majority Calcutta and West Bengal to Pakistan would be patently unfair to the Hindus. . .

[It is] noteworthy that while Labour ministers in their public pronouncements and briefings to the Americans were singing to the tune of a united India, they were seriously contemplating the least controversial way of dividing the country. And all these events occurred two years before India's independence and subsequent partition and long before Lord Louis Mountbatten, who is generally blamed for partition and the Punjab bloodbath that followed partition, appeared on the scene.

While in London, Wavell, on 31 August 1945, called on Churchill. According to Wavell's account: 'He warned me that the anchor [himself] was now gone and I was on a lee shore with rash pilots...His final remark, as I closed the door of the lift was: "keep a bit of India."'

[Wavell sent a series of telegrams to London in the end of 1945 urging the inattentive post-war British government to take new initiatives in Indian affairs] He followed up this cannonade with another telegram on 27 December 1945, recommending that Britain should base itself on the following two principles:
(1) If Muslims insist on self-determination in genuinely Muslim areas this must be conceded; and
(2) on the other hand there can be no question of compelling large non-Muslim populations to remain in Pakistan against their will. . .

On 29 January 1946, the secretary of state in London finally reacted to Wavell's messages by sending the following telegram: 'It would help me to know when I may expect to receive your recommendations as regards definition of genuinely Muslim areas if we are compelled to give a decision on this'.

It was in response to this telegram that Wavell, on 6/7 February 1946, forwarded the blue print of the future Pakistan, which was implemented almost to the letter when India attained independence eighteen months later. This was one of the most important communications sent by any viceroy of India ever since the inception of that office, though ignored by most historians:

(1) If compelled to indicate demarcation of genuinely Moslem areas I recommend that we should include:
(a) Sind, North-West Frontier Province, British Baluchistan, and Rawalpindi, Multan and Lahore Divisions of Punjab, less Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.
(b) In Bengal, the Chittagong and Dacca Divisions, the Rajshahi division(less Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling), the Nadia, Murshidabad and Jessore districts of Presidency division; and in Assam the Sylhet district(.

(2) In the Punjab the only Moslem-majority district that would not go into Pakistan under this demarcation is Gurdaspur(51 per cent Moslem). Gurdaspur must go with Amritsar for geographical reasons and Amritsar being sacred city of Sikhs must stay out of Pakistan...
(5) We should make it clear in any announcement that this is only an indication of areas to which in HMG's view the Moslems can advance a reasonable claim, modifications in boundary might be negotiated and no doubt the interests of Sikhs in particular would be carefully considered in such negotiations. Some such saving clause is indicated by importance of prevent immediate violence by Sikhs.
(6) In Bengal the three Moslem-majority districts of Presidency division must I think be included in Pakistan, though this brings frontier across the Ganges. The demarcation includes in Pakistan all Moslem-majority districts and no Hindu-majority districts.
(7) There is no case, consistent with the principle suggested in [the] breakdown plan, for including Calcutta in Pakistan. The Moslems will probably try to negotiate for its being made a free port. If negotiations fail Eastern Bengal's prospects as a separate autonomous State will be seriously affected. But Moslems, if they insist on Pakistan, must face up to this problem. . .

significant events in 1946 were provincial elections, the Cabinet Mission's visit, the election of the Constituent Assembly and taking of office of the Interim Government. ]

A little before he was sacked in early 1947, N.P.A. Smith, the powerful director of the Intelligence Bureau, submitted a note to Wavell. This note gives a flavour of the easy relationship that Patel[Home Minister in the Interim Government] could establish with his English subordinates, even with those who knew that he wanted them to go, as Smith did: I told him[Sardar Patel]...that any attempt to force the Muslim would result, through the disintegration of the police and Army in the loss of NW India. His reply was that, if I thought that generosity would placate the Muslim Oliver Twist, I did not understand either the Muslim mind or the situation. With which statement I am tempted to agree...


In his book, Sarila does not consider Jinnah's acceptance of the 'united' India intent of the Cabinet Mission Plan to have been sincere;  rather Sarila considers Jinnah to have viewed such acceptance as a step towards realising a full sovereign Pakistan via the Plan (those portions of Sarila's book are not excerpted here).  Congress seems to have judged the situation in the same way at the time. The League's intent is corroborated elsewhere as well.
From Political Parties and their motives, B. Sheik Ali,
The Partition in Retrospect Ed. Amrik Singh, New Delhi, 2000
Commenting upon the Cabinet Mission, Jamil-ud-din Ahmed, a spokesman of the League observed:

"... We work the Plan upto the Group stage and then create a situation to force the hands of the Hindus and the British to concede Pakistan of our conception. . . After we have made the constitutions of Group B and C according to our wishes our position will be stronger than what it is now if we use our opportunities properly.  We will have some foothold. When we reassemble in the Union Constituent Assembly we can create deadlocks on really important issues by using the powers vesting in us under para 19(7). If the worst comes to the worst and the Hindu majority shows no willingness to compromise we can withdraw from the Assembly in a body, and refuse to honour its decisions. Ours will be a solid bloc as there won't be more than two or three non-League Muslims in the Assembly.... We will be on strong ground morally and politically because firstly we will have previously declared that we can never acquiesce in any Centre which reduces us to a subordinate position and secondly we will be in power in the Groups, and we will be better able to resist the imposition of an unwanted Centre.."
(Escape from Empire, R J Moore,  London 1983)
(end quote from R J Moore/B.Sheik Ali)

Sarila writes:
On 19 December [1946] the [US] State Department instructed [US Charge d' Affaires in Delhi] Merrell to

...inform  Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan or both, our doubt that Congress attitude re. Provincial groupings can be modified unless accompanied by public declaration or other tangible evidence of Muslim League willingness to cooperate locally within framework of Indian federal union to be established in accordance with the Cabinet Mission Plan... necessary safeguards can never be achieved unless the concept of union itself is generally accepted by the principal parties.' 

...Merrell [spoke to Liaquat Ali Khan and] followed this two days later by cabling that Liaquat Ali Khan had confirmed that Jinnah could not be persuaded to offer assurances of any sort until such time as Congess accepted the British grouping plan. The US State Department then chased Jinnah to Karachi where the then American vice-consul, Joseph S. Spark, was able to catch up with him. 'Tell your government...for God's sake, not to be chloroformed by meaningless Congress gestures for purely propaganda effect' was the Quaid-e-Azam's response.

On 7 February 1947, the Congress Party and minority members of the Interim Government presented the viceroy with a petition demanding the resignation of the Muslim League representatives from the body[on count of not entering the Constituent Assembly despite Congress acceptance of the grouping formula, which acceptance Jinnah termed] a 'dishonest trick'. The fact was that the Congress Party had not accepted the 6 December formula unreservedly, which had enabled Jinnah to cry foul. But the Muslim League's strong words could suggest that, during his stay in London after the conference, Jinnah had received assurances that continued intransigence was in order. . .

Attlee's statement of 20 February 1947 fixed'not later than June 1948' as final for British departure from India. . .Wavell wired [Secretary of State for India] Pethick-Lawrence on 26 February 1946 the Indian political parties reactions to HMG's statement: 'The Congress welcome the fixing of the date and hope that the statement means that if they do not get an agreement with the Muslim League, they can establish a strong unitary government based not on the Cabinet Mission's plan[that envisaged a weak Centre] but on their own estimates of India's requirement.'

The Muslim League reaction was, Wavell said, 'based on the assumption that if the League refused to to cooperate with the Constituent Assembly, they will receive not the small Pakistan but the large Pakistan'. Wavell then added : 'It may turn out all right.'. . .

[The new viceroy] Mountbatten first met Jinnah on 5 April and their conversations continued every day from 7 to 10 April. Jinnah demanded that power be handed over, province by province, with the provinces themselves choosing how they would form themselves into groups, and 'those with a Muslim majority forming a new State'. He threatened that 'an attempt to maintain the unity of India would lead the Muslim League to resort to armed force to resist it'.

Mountbatten argued that, logically, the same principle would have to be applied to areas of Bengal and the Punjab, where non-Muslims made up nearly half of the population, and, as a result, these two provinces would be partitioned. It was on 10 April that Mountbatten finally brought Jinnah to his knees, proving once more that his strength lay in direct proportion to the support he received from the British. 'I do not care how little you give me as long as you give it to me completely', he said. And then: 'I do not wish to make any improper suggestion to you but you must realize that the new Pakistan is almost certain to ask for Dominion Status within the British Empire.'

On another occasion, according to the viceroy's report, Jinnah pleaded:
All the Muslims have been loyal to the British from the beginning, supplied a high proportion of the army which fought in both wars, none of our leaders has ever had to go to prison for disloyalty, not one member of the Muslim League was present in the Constituent Assembly when the Resolution for an Independent Sovereign Republic was passed.

Jinnah had yielded on all the three points of interest to Mountbatten: He was accepting a truncated Pakistan; he was giving his assent to membership of the Commonwealth; and he was willing to be recruited as an ally in the Great Game on the British side- even though he continued to raise certain issues till the end, such as an independent Bengal, the joint control of Calcutta and even a corridor to link West Pakistan and East Pakistan. . .

During the period between 16 April and 2 May 1947, the withdrawal plan was drafted and redrafted by Lord Ismay and his colleagues at least a dozen times. According to Mountbatten's report, its broad outlines were shown to Nehru and Jinnah by Sir Eric Mieville, the viceroy's principal secretary. Both leaders gave their approval to this plan, but, in fact, the points shown to Nehru gave him no idea of the full scheme. On 2 May 1947, Lord Ismay left for London with the plan and on 6 May wired back that the preliminary reactions back home had been favourable. . .

In Simla 10 and 11 May 1947 were days of high drama. The plan sent to London on 2 May was received back, with HMG's approval on 10 May, without any real amendments, except that its language had further diluted the concept of Indian unity. That night Mountbatten gave it to Nehru to get his reaction. This step was against the advice of his staff, who felt it should be shown to all parties or to none at all.Mountbatten maintained that he did so on a 'hunch' and this 'hunch' saved his viceroyalty from failure. However, it is doubtful whether Mountbatten would have had his famous 'hunch' to take Nehru into confidence, if he did not also have a 'hunch' that V.P. Menon's plan[of Britain handing over power to two strong governments and preventing princely states from asserting independence ]was the better solution to secure all his three objectives[Partition, Dominion Status, membership of Commonwealth] in one go.

The Ismay plan had a bewildering impact on Nehru. He stayed awake till 4 a.m. and the next morning the viceroy received a handwritten note, later followed by a typewritten one, rejecting the plan in most emphatic terms. To Nehru acquiescence in splitting the Punjab and Bengal did not imply casting away the geographical and historical oneness of India. The concept of India having full continuity as conceived by the creation of the Constituent Assembly from which the Muslim-majority areas might be shed, but to which most princely states would adhere, was one thing. 

To give various parts of the country the initial option of independence-creating numerous potential successor states and then their combining to form one, two or more dominions- was quite another. Nehru wrote that the plan would Balkanise India, lead to a breakdown of the central authority, provoke civil conflict and greatly demoralize(by making headless) the Army, the police and the civil services. Working under pressure, Nehru had produced possibly the most persuasive letter he ever wrote. Mountbatten immediately understood that the Congress Party would not accept his plan. . .

It was characteristic of Mountbatten that 'in a moment of calamity his thought was not how to muffle the difficulties with compromises or procastrination but to find an alternative course to recapture the initiative and succeed.' Moreover, Mountbatten now had a fall-back position. From one moment to another, he jettisoned his plan and adopted V.P.Menon's ideas and informed London accordingly. This move was carried out with such alacrity that it has been suggested that the first plan was shown to Nehru to browbeat him to accept the second. This was not so. . . Nehru[however] was brought down to earth by the imminent danger facing his own country. The Ismay plan, therefore, did contribute to his accepting partition beyond the amputation of the Punjab and Bengal and agree to independence on a dominion status basis. . .

Mountbatten was summoned back to the UK to explain his U-turn. Upon reaching London, he immediately went into a meeting with the British Cabinet. He explained that the possibility of the Indian parties willing accepting partition and the transfer of power on a dominion status basis, which would mean India remaining in the British Commonwealth,was an entirely new and very significant development. He emphasized that to secure the Congress Party's agreement, power would have to be transferred immediately. . . Attlee, as usual, was decisive. The draft of the Indian Independence Bill based on the new plan, he said, would be ready in six weeks after 3 June, the date on which the plan was to be announced.

The next step was to obtain the approval of the leaders of the opposition, including Winston Churchill. Churchill was unhappy that Mountbatten had accepted the viceroyalty. Churchill had built him up to serve and uphold the old Empire, least expecting him to agree to go out and dismantle it. Mountbatten described to me in 1973 how his meeting with Churchill had gone.(This meeting must have been on 20 or 21 May because, according to the record, when he saw him on 22 May under Attlee's instruction, Churchill gave him a letter approving the plan.)

Churchill was at the time in bed with a severe cold and Mountbatten was shown to his bedroom. 'As soon as he saw me come through the door he turned away to face the other side without acknowledging my presence,' Mountbatten recounted. He pulled up a chair and sat down without saying a word. After a few minutes of absolute silence, Churchill growled: 'I know why you have come to see me.' Mountbatten said that he then enquired about his cold. There was silence again; and then another growl: 'Keep them as Dominions and in the Commonwealth at least.' Mountbatten replied at once:'That is exactly what I have been able to do.'

This response had a therapeutic effect on Churchill, who turned, the cold forgotten, to listen to him with attention. Mountbatten then recounted to him how he had been able to obtain the separation of Pakistan from Hindustan and yet keep them both as dominions and in the Commonwealth. Churchill was moved. 'He thanked me with moistened eyes and promised to support the India Independence Bill in the House of Commons if it adhered to what I had reported to him.'

When Mountbatten saw Churchill again on 22 May, he mentioned that, before he had left Delhi, he had secured the assurance of the Congress Party to his new plan in writing. He, however, pointed out that he had not yet managed to get Jinnah's assent, though he had no doubt that he(Jinnah) would ultimately accept it. Churchill's reply is quoted in Mountbatten's report:'It is a matter of life and death for Pakistan to accept this offer with both hands. By god! He[Jinnah] is one man who cannot do without British help.' And Churchill pointedly asked Mountbatten to pass on this advice from him to Jinnah.

Churchill, a few months earlier, had condemned, in Parliament, the formation of the Constituent Assembly, calling the Indian legislators in it 'men of straw of whom in a few years no trace will remain'. He also lambasted the Labour Government for its India policy...

When Mountbatten met Churchill on 22 May 1947, the latter had given him a letter for Attlee approving the Mountbatten-Attlee plan based on 'an effective acceptance of Dominion status for the several parts of a divided India...' This letter suggests that he was under the impression that dominion status had been accepted by India and Pakistan as a permanent feature. Further, the letter suggests that Churchill was expecting more dominions, not merely two, to emerge from the Indian Empire- the larger princely states most likely.

Mountbatten next met Churchill at the reception in Buckingham Palace for Princess Elizabeth's (the future Queen) wedding in November 1947. Churchill hurled angry words at him suggesting that his former protege had led him up the garden path. Then Churchill turned and walked away in full view of the assembled guests. He refused to talk to Mountbatten for many years thereafter. . .

On his return from London, Mountbatten found Jinnah in a rebellious mood. He continued to oppose the division of Bengal and to press for the provinces to be given the option to choose independence. On 22 May, 'in an interview with Reuters correspondent', records Mountbatten, 'Jinnah had gone even further, stating that he would resist to the last the partition of Bengal and the Punjab and demanding a corridor between East and West Pakistan.' (The corridor would presumably pass through Delhi, the old Mughal capital; the Muslim princely state of Rampur; Lucknow, the former capital of the Shia Muslim state of Oudh; and Patna the capital of Bihar, the old domain of the Afghan Sher Shah Suri.)

These demands may have been the reason why Mountbatten armed himself with Churchill's message when he saw him that day, to discipline Jinnah. Jinnah finally yielded on Bengal, the corridor forgotten, but he pressed for six months of joint control of Calcutta. When Mountbatten sought Patel's view on this topic through V.P.Menon, arguing it might help in avoiding trouble during the city during partition, Patel replied: 'Not even for six hours.'

On 3 June Nehru, Jinnah and Baldev Singh(for the Sikhs) gave their formal assent to the plan-Jinnah merely by a nod. The same evening Indian independence and partition were announced to the world from Delhi and London . . .

[Regarding the Princely States, Mountbatten reported that] Sardar Patel had made it clear. . .only if I could offer the promise of accession by all or very nearly all of the States..the "full basket"..-before 15 August, would it be possible for him to persuade the Congress to abide by this limitation of subjects[to Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communications]'.

That this was part of the wider deal struck with the Congress Party, on the lines proposed by V.P. Menon mentioned earlier, is apparent from Sardar Patel's statement in the Constituent Assembly in July 1949: In exchange for Indian acceptance of partition, Britain had agreed to withdraw not only in two months but [also] not to interfere in the question of Indian States.  . .

The princes' euphoria that on British withdrawal they would become independent to do what they willed evaporated very fast. 'Without entering into some kind of an organic relationship with the Central Government Your Highnesses would be totally exposed to the Congress-Party-inspired agitations with no help to come as until now from the Reserved Crown Police under the Political Department', warned the Maharaja of Nawanagar. Most signed up. 'But there were some "sluggards"', noted Mountbatten. 'Apart from Hyderabad and Kashmir(and Junagadh), the states which gave the most trouble were Travancore, Indore, Bhopal, Rampur, Jodhpur and Baroda.' . . .

Travancore's [ultimate] collapse persuaded those princes who had by then not made up their minds to accede to the future Indian dominion. This development enabled Mountbatten to present the 'full basket' he had promised Patel-except, of course, for Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir.
(end excerpts from Narendra Singh Sarila)

In the excerpts quoted above, Sarila cites Viceroy Wavell's message of February 6/7 1946
on possible Pakistan boundaries :
(1) If compelled to indicate demarcation of genuinely Moslem areas I recommend that we should include:
(a) Sind, North-West Frontier Province, British Baluchistan, and Rawalpindi, Multan and Lahore Divisions of Punjab, less Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. . .

(2) In the Punjab the only Moslem-majority district that would not go into Pakistan under this demarcation is Gurdaspur(51 per cent Moslem). Gurdaspur must go with Amritsar for geographical reasons and Amritsar being sacred city of Sikhs must stay out of Pakistan...

It is worth understanding why even in early 1946 Viceroy Wavell recommended assigning Gurdaspur to India despite its being Muslim majority.  In these excerpts of Patrick French's book Liberty or Death,  French has expanded on this point and provided a map(excerpted also) which clarifies without any ambiguity remaining,  that unless portions of Gurdaspur were assigned to India, the Amritsar district would be surrounded on three sides by Pakistani territory. This would have been non-viable for the security of Sikhs and their holy city.
(end comment)

Patrick French in Liberty or Death(excerpts)
French writes:
Given that Amritsar could not become part of Pakistan, the adjoining district of Gurdaspur (which was only 51 per cent Muslim) should also stay out of Pakistan so as to give Amritsar some geographical protection.

If Gurdaspur did go to Pakistan, the thousand square miles of Amritsar district would be cut off and left as a lone Sikh island, floating in a hostile Muslim sea. On all sides Amritsar would be bounded by Pakistani ground, except on its south-eastern flank, where it would border a Princely State called Kapurthala. This small kingdom was inhabited by a Muslim majority, although its ruler was a Sikh, and it would in practice have cut off Amritsar Sikhs from their co-religionists to the east.

On paper the question of Gurdaspur and Amritsar looked like a minor point, but it was to prove a focus of the start of the massacres of August 1947. On any neutral assessment, it was clear that Gurdaspur and Amritsar  would have to be treated as if they were one unit, whether they became part of India or of Pakistan. . .

Six days after the despatch of Wavell's telegram[on 7 February 1946],a junior clerk at the India Office drew three primitive sketch maps on the basis of the information that the Viceroy had provided. Significantly, Gurdaspur district was marked as being part of the potential Pakistan, although there is no written explanation for this decision, and in all other respects Wavell's advice was followed to the letter.

This is however no sign of political motivation as the main map is simply titled: 'Northern India showing "Pakistan" confined to Moslem-majority districts', and Gurdaspur did on paper have a Muslim majority. It was probably a simple clerical error, even if it was to have far-reaching symbolism. . .

Although Radcliffe was to destroy all his papers relating to India later that year, it is apparent that the basis for his border line was the 'detailed demarcation' produced by Wavell in February 1946. It might be noted that the civil servant who was originally responsible for drafting Wavell's document was none other than the astute Reforms Commissioner V.P.Menon, assisted by another Hindu constitutionalist, Sir Benegal Rau.

There were no other maps of possible demarcations for Radcliffe to consult, since the India Office had been so dilatory in defining the borders of the proposed Pakistan. The notional boundary that was laid down in the Second Schedule of the India Independence Act corresponds exactly to Wavell's line, except that it places the district of Gurdaspur in Pakistan. . .

Probably acting on advice of the Viceroy's Private Secretary George Abell, who knew the importance of the Punjabi canal systems, [Radcliffe] made particular effort to ensure adequate irrigation and water supply in all parts of Central Punjab. His final boundaries corresponded closely to Wavell's original plan, although in Bengal he gave the predominantly tribal Chittagong Hill Tracts in the far east to Pakistan(presumably in order to safeguard the security of the crucial port of Chittagong), while allocating a small amount of Muslim territory to the north of Calcutta to India.

In the Punjab he followed Wavell's original instructions almost to the letter, and even included Gurdaspur and a small portion of Lahore district in Indian territory so as to give protection to the Sikhs' holy city of Amritsar.

Although it had originally been intended that the Radcliffe Awards would be announced a few days before the transfer of power, Mountbatten decided to postpone disclosure until 16 August, so as not to interfere with the independence celebrations. . .

More important than the timing of the announcement is the fact that the route of the Punjab border was changed at the last moment. Elaborate conspiracy theories have been built up around this, and the compressed time-scale within which Radcliffe was working has given his draft maps a quite disproportionate significance. Viceregal apologists have tended to deny that the border was altered at Mountbatten's instigation, although it is hard to see who else would have had the political clout to sway Radcliffe. 

There is powerful anecdotal evidence that Mountbatten was responsible, from sources such as the diary of his secretary John Christie, the 1992 testimony of Radcliffe's assistant Christopher Beaumont, a footnote in Penderel Moon's book 'Divide and Quit', and the dubious retrospective assertions of various Pakistani officials.

The course of events was as follows. At a lunch at the United Services Club in Simla with his Commissioners in early August, Radcliffe said that he would award a portion of Ferozepur district with a nominal Muslim majority to Pakistan, 'in return for giving Gurdaspur and part of Lahore district' to India.[TOP XII, P 619] This extraordinary proposal would have left a forty-mile-long spur or salient of Pakistani territory sticking out into the heart of the Sikh community.

Like Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, it would have been an extremely vulnerable geographical anomaly, which ran the risk of being bisected at its western end in the event of military hostilities. Moreover, it was an obvious and provocative challenge to Sikh security. Ironically, it was news of this planned but ultimately rejected boundary line that was to spark the communal massacres.

On 8 August, George Abell sent a rough map featuring the Ferozepur salient to the private office of Sir Evan Jenkins, to enable him to make security arrangements along the new border. An accompanying letter signed by Abell said: "There will not be any great changes from this boundary." Mountbatten later claimed this was done without his knowledge, which was improbable given that 'at two separate staff conferences' he had told Abell that 'Jenkins should have the earliest possible notice of the line, so that he could make police and military dispositions.'

Over the next two or three days the border was altered, supposedly following representations from V.P.Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Chairman of Punjab's Waterways and Irrigation Commission, ministers from the Princely State of Bikaner, and various other suspects. In practice it is more likely that the views of experienced ICS officials such as Abell provoked the adjustment. On either 10 or 11 August, Jenkins received a Secraphone message from Viceroy's House telling him to 'eliminate salient', meaning that the whole of Ferozepur District would now remain in India.

The fact that Radcliffe adjusted the border at this later stage in an apparently furtive manner lends weight to the notion that his earlier version was somehow the 'true' border between India and Pakistan. It is however worth considering how realistic it would have been as an international border.

Neither the Wavell line of February 1946 nor the notional boundary attached to the Second Schedule of the Indian Independence Act placed any of Ferozepur district in Pakistan. As the Maharajah of Bikaner told Mountbatten, an attempt to put the salient under Pakistani control would 'gravely prejudice' the water supply into northern Rajputana. Even an apolitical cotton farmer a hundred miles south at Khanewal could refer in late June to a Bahawalpur canal-head as being 'in Ferozepur district i.e. in Hindustan'.  It never occurred to anybody- except Radcliffe and some local Muslim League activists- that the nominally Muslim-majority revenue divisions of an essentially Sikh district might be transferred to Pakistani control.

There is no way of knowing the precise reasoning behind Radcliffe's original decision. It appears from anecdotal evidence that he was particularly anxious to avoid disputes over water, given that the fertility of the Punjab depended on irrigation channels. He made various attempts during early August to have all common canal systems put under joint control but this proved politically impossible. Placing Ferozepur in Muslim hands may have been an attempt to give Pakistan some degree of control over one of its water sources, since the main headworks of the Sutlej Valley canal system were in Ferozepur.

It is also likely that Radcliffe wished to compensate for having given a small portion of Lahore district and most of Gurdaspur district to India, which had been done to prevent the Sikhs of Amritsar from being isolated.

It is certainly true that in general the Radcliffe line favoured India. In the eyes of Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, not only was their homeland being partitioned, but even the fringes were being gobbled up by Congress. Yet in practice it is hard to see how this could have been avoided, given the need to placate the justifiable anger of the Sikh minority.

If the Sikhs' holy city of Amritsar was to be located in India, it was essential that it was not cut off in a hostile Pakistani sea. This inevitably meant that surrounding pieces of territory had to be allocated to India, to the detriment of Pakistan. The Ferozepur salient may have been an attempt to redress the balance, but it was a dangerously misguided one, and Radcliffe was right to alter it. Pakistan would in the long term have gained little benefit from having to defend a strip of land that was in such a strategically vulnerable position. . .

[Radcliffe began work on 8 July  1947]
. . .at a meeting held on 17 July, Mountbatten is known to have said that although the future of Kashmir 'presents some difficulty... it can claim an exit to India, especially if a portion of Gurdaspur district goes to East Punjab.'  A portion of Gurdaspur did go to India, but Sir Cyril Radcliffe subsequently denied that this had been done in order to facilitate Indian access to the Kashmiri capital Srinagar.

The theory that there was a British conspiracy to ensure an Indian takeover of Kashmir rests on tenuous ground, and in practice road access to Srinagar from Gurdaspur was unimportant, since India's takeover depended on an airlift and not on any road link. . ."
(end excerpts from Patrick French)


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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