Pakistan and Mountbatten Deceits

December 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm (History, Pakistan, Politics) ()


By Syed Mohammad Tahir

Pakistan and Israel are the only countries in the world based on religious ideology. Surprisingly and unfortunately Pakistan inherited a lot from its colonial roots. The following lines would make starling disclosures about the sordid role of Lord Mountbatten in giving three districts to Indian dominion having Muslim clear majority along with head works and a significant part of army and ammunition and thus gave massive lose to newly born state Pakistan combined with a touch of Kashmir problem.

Previously it was supposed that Lord Radcliffe – a commission assigned to mark boundaries between two states – the arbitrator did everything on his own, but fresh light has been thrown after careful investigation conducted by many researchers including by an Indian writer on Mountbatten’s intervention who altered the Radcliffe Award in India’s favour at eleventh hour.

Dr Kanwar Sam – a former Chief Engineer of Bikaner State – in his book Reminiscences of an Engineer, has disclosed how pre-partition negotiations Maharaja Sandal Singh of Bikaner, who was Mountbatten’s comrade-in-arms in Europe during World War I, prevailed upon the Viceroy, in the interest of his State to get the Ferozepur Headworks and Gang Canal for India.

According to his book, the Prince had sent a high-powered delegation comprising Kanwar Sam and K M Pannikar to Mountbatten on August 11, 1947 to convey the message that if Bikanir was rebuffed, “he would have no option left but to opt for Pakistan”. This trick appears to have worked, presumably as Jodhpur and Jaisalmere were also intending to join Pakistan. So the announcement of the Boundary Award was put off till August 17 which was to be announced on 13 August and Radcliffe pressurised at the neck of the time to give India three tehsils of Ferozepur, Zira and Gurdaspur. That is how Mountbatten put a time bomb in the very foundation of Pakistan in the shape of lose of huge land, army arsenals and, of course, Kashmir problem which is still ticking.

In another book Birth of a Tragedy in Kashmir 1947, it has been clearly established by the author and proved to the hilt that Lord Mountbatten’s interest and role in perpetrating injustice on Pakistan was the greatest and that has been disclosed by none other than the Secretary to the Chairman of the Boundary Commission. Lord Mountbatten, much influenced by his good friend Jawahar Lal Nehru had decided in his mind regarding the future Jammu and Kashmir State. Moreover, he was fully aware of the importance of the Gurdaspur district in this context.

He was one such remarkable character who presided over the liquidation of the biggest empire of this age, but left behind a record that will long remain the subject of debate among students of contemporary history.

He, in fact, was conscious of the superlative role he was called upon to play in the transfer of power. He always compared the democratic peaceful exercise in the subcontinent with the violent Russian and Chinese revolutions and considered the transfer of power as “a Treaty of Peace without a War”. Whereas the facts and figures revealed something contrary to this, where, according to a careful analysis, over millions of innocent peoples killed, countless women raped and loss of property in billion of rupees was recorded while trying to migrate from one place to another.

However, to retrieve his tarnished image and to clear the historic record neat and clean, Mountbatten gave marathon interviews afterwards but Muslims of subcontinent still hated even after his death as Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Jinnah considered him as a prejudice towards Muslims community. On the other hand, after having six crucial meetings with Quaid in 1947, he, while showing his biased attitude, considered Quaid as evil genius and a psychopathic case. He said he found Jinnah most frigid, haughty and disdainful combined with a lunatic and clot.

Both the Congress and League leaders were captivated by the Operation Reduction launched by the glamorous Admiral before Quaid was apparently disenchanted. He refused to accept Admiral as the common Governor-General of India and Pakistan. This could not but hurt him. So he made an open tilt towards the Congress and then began to use his authority, in the transition period before and after partition, to the detriment of the Muslim League and Pakistan and eventually Muslims of subcontinent got immense loses.

However, afterwards, he said: “Once Jinnah knew I accepted Pakistan in principle he became more friendly and easier to work with, though we did have a misunderstanding about the post. He, while presenting lame excuses, said he did not personally resent Quaid decision (to be Governor-General of Pakistan) as he saved me from the daunting task of having to try and ride two separate horses simultaneously.”

Is this the whole truth? The fact is that Mountbatten had set his heart on joint Governor-Generalship and did not want to be the Governor-General of India alone. In the Heads of Agreement given to the League and Congress and in the draft plan for the transfer of power, which he took to London in May l947 a plan seen by Nehru only there was a provision for a common Governor-General of the two Dominions.

Actually he wished to have his name in history books not only as the man who gave subcontinent independence, but also as the one who taught the two newly dominions how to run the state’s affairs.

But the Quaid-i-Azam dropped an ounce of sour in a pound of sweet by refusing him to accept as Pakistan Governor-General one reason or the other because Quaid contemplated how Pakistan could claim a real sovereignty if he also become Pakistan Governor-General.

Subsequent events showed that if the carnage in the Punjab was not controlled, if the Radcliffe Award was absolutely perverse, if the conspiracy in Kashmir was hatched in a sinister manner and the Maharajah made to sign suddenly the instrument of accession with India, and if Pakistan was a loser in the distribution of assets all this was attributable, partly if not wholly, to the way Lord Mountbatten conducted himself after having been rebuffed by the Quaid-i-Azam and frustrated in his ambition to wear the dual crown of joint Governor-Generalship.

It is pertinent to note that Mountbatten chose the timing of the transfer of power midnight on 14/15 August 1947 because it was the second anniversary of the Japanese surrender. There was no greater planning or reasoning to it than that.

On the shadow of independence, Government of Mountbatten was aware of the Sikh plan and RSS activities as undivided Punjab Governor, Sir Evan Jenkins, had given a warning to the Viceroy about the Sikh rising in which millions were killed or uprooted from their ancestral homes. The history revealed that the Punjab Boundary Commission Award — the dishonest Radcliffe Award—for which Mountbatten cannot escape responsibility, enhanced partition riots.

Mountbatten claimed on many occasions that he at no time attempted in any way to influence Radcliffe. He also defends himself by quoting Radcliffe that he was “under no pressure or influence whatsoever from the Viceroy to draw the boundary lines or to alter the Award, and that access to Kashmir had not been in his mind at all in drawing the Gurdaspur boundary”.

Whereas, statistics revealed that the tehsils of Ferozepur and Zira had come to Pakistan but given to India deliberately. The question is how these tehsils granted to India in the award announced on the 17th of August? The only explanation possible is that someone altered the award sometime between the 8th and 17th of August as a map and a letter written before August 8 revealed that these tehsils were demarcated in Pakistan territory.

That was why, after listening conspiracies in this regard, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah warned the concerned authorities that if the disturbing reports about the likely decision of Radcliffe to hand over the Muslim majority districts including Gurdaspur to India turned out to be true, this would have a serious impact on Pakistan’s relations with Britain combined with other consequences.

Historic testimony revealed that Abell, the Viceroy’s Private Secretary, sent a sketch map and an accompanying letter to Jenkins, the then Governor Punjab. The map showed that the Punjabi tehsils (sub-districts) of Ferozepur and Zira had been allotted to Pakistan. These were Muslim-majority areas, contiguous with the western Punjab lying in a salient east of the Sutlej River. Together they comprised over half a million people; in Zira 65 per cent were Muslims and in Ferozepur 55 per cent. According to the terms of reference of the Radcliffe Commission, these tehsils should automatically have been awarded to Pakistan, unless ‘other factors’ intervened. That ‘other factor’ turned out to be Mountbatten’s support for a strong, post-independence India against a weakened Pakistan.

Abell’s map and letter arrived at Government House in Lahore on 8 August 1947. On 11 August Jenkins received a telegram from Abell, which simply read: ‘Eliminate Salient’. This meant that Ferozepur and Zira had been awarded to India rather to Pakistan.

Sir Francis Mudie, a former Governor at Sindh, had spent twenty-five years in the’ Indian Civil Service and Jenkin’s successor as Governor of Pakistan’s West Punjab after independence remembered the occasion when the telegram arrived. This meant the Ferozepur was to go to India as Ferozepur housed an important Indian army arsenal, thus depriving the Pakistan Army of most of its weapons share. No explanation of why this sudden change was made at the last moment was given or has ever been given. However, it was believed it was the result of pressure put on Radcliffe by Mountbatten and his Government.

How these important areas were moved from Pakistan to India at the last minute has remained something of a mystery, until Beaumont provided several crucial clues forty-five years later. He has alleged that Mountbatten, under pressure from Nehru and the Maharajah of Bikaner — whose State bordered on Ferozepur — persuaded Radcliffe, the deliberations of whom were meant to be impartial and free from all political considerations, to alter the Award to place Ferozepur and Zira in India. The canal headworks, which controlled the irrigation of Bikaner were located at Ferozepur and the Maharajah—an old friend of Mountbatten—feared that should they be allocated to Pakistan, his State’s agriculture would be controlled by Jinnah.

The loss of the Ferozepur arsenal was a crippling blow to Pakistan, which suffered badly in the subsequent division of stores and military equipment when the Indian army was divided.

The Radcliffe Commission was instructed ‘to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of majority of the community. Ten days of public hearings were held in Lahore, but Radcliffe did not himself attend these meetings as he had to be in Bengal. In his final report he announced that it was impossible to arrive at any agreed line. So he had to impose himself. He was the first to admit that ‘the drawing of a boundary line cannot avoid disrupting such unitary services as canals, irrigation, railways and electric power transmission’ but could only recommend cooperation between the two dominions over these.

The Commission was created in order to distance Mountbatten and the British Government from direct responsibility for the boundary line because of the anticipated controversy. It has long been assumed that Mountbatten himself took no personal interest whatever in which parts of the subcontinent. His claims of disinterest have generally been taken at face value. However, recently evidence has emerged to challenge that assumption. It casts yet more doubt on his protestations of impartiality towards India.

Christopher Beaumont, a retired circuit judge, in February 1992, made a series of revelations, after having obtained the Foreign Office’s permission to do so, about Mountbatten’s gerrymandering of the Awards in India’s favour in the last few days before partition. Beaumont had been Secretary to the Radcliffe Commission and was moved to reveal his knowledge when he saw his grandson had chosen The Transfer of Power in India as his special subject for Cambridge study.

When Jenkins’s own Private Secretary. Stuart Abbott, asked whether the sketch map, accompanying letter and amending telegram should be destroyed, the Governor replied that as he had already shown it to his successor Governors of East and West Punjab, ‘it would be pointless and perhaps discourteous to do so’. Therefore, this prima facie evidence that the boundary had been retrospectively altered stated amongst his papers, until the Pakistan Government discovered it after independence.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Zafrullah Khan later appraised the alteration to the Security Council of the United Nations. Mountbatten was keen that either Attlee or Radcliffe should answer Zafarullah Khan’s accusations.

Many people in Pakistan regarded some of his actions and decisions as patently unjust and heavily biased against their country. He stayed on as the Governor-General of free India and there are many who believe that he was involved in a conspiracy to throttle Pakistan at birth.

It was the Radcliffe Award, which enabled India to consolidate her defence southwards all the way from Uri to Pakistan border. Had the Gurdaspur district not been awarded to India, Indian could certainly never have fought a war in Kashmir.

Seen in this light, no fair-minded person can deny that the Radcliffe Award was utterly perverse and that it was political not judicial, as Quaid-i-Azam observed in a speech.

These deceits of Mountbatten and Radcliffe stunned the elder people of Pakistan as it eroded their blind faith in British justice. The very first principle of justice is that a party should know why a verdict has gone against it. Radcliffe, unfortunately, never cared to explain this in his two-page Award. The announcement of the Award itself was purposely postponed until the partition, as Mountbatten did not want to expose the plan before he had received bouquets and salutations from grateful Pakistanis.

Indian would always be indebted to Lord and Lady Mountbattten for the services rendered by them at a turning point in their history. Whereas on the other hand, Pakistan authorities had refused to allow Viceroy to visit their country in 1950 as the first Sea Lord of the Admiralty and then again in 1965 as the Chairman of Commonwealth Immigration Commission over colossal lose of lives and property to Pakistan.

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1 Comment

  1. neel123 said,

    Well, it may be Pakistan’s point of view.

    Mountbatten could not have made both India and Pakistan happy.

    He rightly decided to go with a tolerent multi ethnic, multi religious nation, rather than an Islamic intolerent nation…. !

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