Last British Viceroy to India, Louis Mountbatten (second from right) with Jawaharlal Nehru on left and Mohammad Ali Jinnah on right, negotiating partition of India sometime in 1947.
By the end of World War II in 1945 the curtain was drawing to a close on the British Empire in the Middle East and in India. The major seat of power overlooking this resource rich region was India; due to its strategic location and the availability of manpower for the British armed forces, both in the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh populations. This asset was skillfully used by the British in winning World Wars I and II. But decolonization was beginning the process of drawing the British back within the boundaries of their small island. Before they left they were fully cognizant of the fact that this strategically important region, because of its oil resources, needed to be stable where the long term interests of Britain and the United States, one of the world's new superpowers, were fully protected from the other new superpower, the Soviet Union.
They also realized that before they left they needed to leave India in such a manner that would prevent a political and physical conflict between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim populations. These differences had been festering over centuries and a good number of the Muslims in particular wanted a separate homeland once the British left . While the Muslims, those who created Pakistan, wanted a separate homeland, the Hindus, led by Mahatma Gandhi and closely supported by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, wanted a unified India. It was the Hindu leaders belief that Indians irrespective of their religion could find ground to co-exist. Keeping in view the past history of India, the main Muslim leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a different impression. Jinnah came to realize that the dominant Hindu political party, the Indian National Congress (INC) was unwilling to share power proportionally with the All India Muslim League (AIML) political party, from what he had seen when the British government in early 1900 had begun giving more autonomy to the Indians to run the provinces. As a number of differences continued between the two political parties into 1946, the British government in India realized that the division of the subcontinent was a very real possibility.
After careful deliberations in the British parliament in London between the ruling Labor party and the Conservative party, led by Winston Churchill, on February 20, 1947 Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that British rule over India would come to a end. The British administration including its military forces would withdraw from India no later than June 1948.
The question was to whom would the British hand over power? Would power be handed over to one country (as was the desire of the INC), two countries (as was the desire of AIML) or possibly even three countries. At the time there was a desire and active movement within the province of Bengal in eastern India that if a division of India took place, the Bengalis of Bengal should get their own homeland.
In short, after bloody clashes between the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of India, in which over one million people were killed, partition of the subcontinent took place on August 14 and 15, 1947; creating the two states of Pakistan and India, respectively. While most of the territorial disputes were settled at the time of partition, one major territorial dispute remained, and that was over the state of Kashmir.
From this point the two countries have been at odds and at times have fought wars over Kashmir, which today remains an unsettled dispute. The first war over Kashmir in October 1947 resulted in a standoff, with Pakistan controlling one-third of Kashmir and India controlling two-thirds. Since then this dispute has become strategic in nature for both. Pakistan gets a substantial amount of water from Kashmir and India sees this as a huge leverage over Pakistan if it can prevent the free flow of water into Pakistan. In 1960 the World Bank, supported by the U.S. government under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, negotiated a settlement between Pakistan and India for the peaceful use of water flowing through Kashmir. This is known as the Indus Water Treaty. Both sides have honored this until now. In recent times this treaty is now under threat due to the growing political differences between the two nations; not only in Kashmir but also over India's growing influence in Afghanistan.
On November 25, 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "The water on which India has its right is flowing into Pakistan. I am committed to stop that water and bring it for our farmers in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India." This was widely reported locally and internationally.
To understand these dangerous developments one will have to go into the past and also understand the present political scenario taking place, not only in India and Pakistan but also in Afghanistan.
Currently Pakistan is facing two conflicts and both are at its core interests. One is on its western border, which is the ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan since 2001, which my book The End of the Great Game discusses in detail. The other is on Pakistan's eastern border. As mentioned, this is a dispute with India over Kashmir. On this four wars have been fought between these two nations since 1947 and each country is trying to drive out the other from Kashmir. On either side Pakistan is looking for security from its neighboring country. To give the Kashmir issue more clarity and context, one will have to trace the dispute from its inception in 1947 when Pakistan and India became nations. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, called Kashmir Pakistan's "Jugular," because of its water resource. Keep in mind this is a brief history.
To resolve this vital issue, on February 21, 1947 a new British viceroy to India, Lord Louis Mountbatten was announced. His mandate by the British government was to begin negotiations between the leading political parties so that a satisfactory resolution acceptable to all parties could be reached as to how power was to be shared between the INC and AIML once the British left. Mountbatten's original instructions were to propose a plan where both INC and AIML could co-exist and the division of India was avoided. However, if the differences were wide and irreconcilable, then he was to divide India along Hindu dominant provinces and regions, and Muslim dominant provinces and regions. After failed exhaustive deliberations between the two political parties, which took place with Mountbatten as the mediator, on June 3, 1947 it was announced by the British government that India was to be divided between the Hindus and Muslims. This announcement carried a final date of August 15, 1947 for the division of India rather than just the independence of India, which was to take place by June 1948. The new date was moved up by almost a year. This whole process of the division of India took place in roughly three months and thirteen days from the first day the announcement was made that the British were leaving. It needs to be stated that during this time Mountbatten made more than one trip back to London to appraise the British government and the opposition leader, Winston Churchill, of the futile discussions he was having with Indian political parties. Both these branches of the British government had to agree to the final division of India; a division which also suited Britain's interests in the region, particularly in the Middle East as explained below. In 1981 the British government authorized the release of declassified papers which cover the substantial correspondence that took place between the British Prime Minister, the King of Great Britain and the British Viceroys that ruled India between 1942 through 1947. This is a twelve volume set titled "The Transfer of Power (TOP) 1942-1947," authored by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderal Moon, published in 1981 and 1983. These volumes also cover the correspondence that took place between the British government in India with the local political leaders and the British government in London. For those looking for a deeper study on the partition of India in 1947, they will find Volumes 9, 10, 11 and 12 of particular interest.
Soviet Threat to India
As mentioned in several places within these papers, that while the division or the settlement of India between the Hindu and Muslims was paramount to the British government, it was equally important that British interests in the Middle East and the Indian ocean were also safeguarded by the impeding threat of the Soviet Union. For instance on May 2, 1947, just three months before the Indian partition, the Governor of Madras, Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Nye wrote to Mountbatten to share his concerns about threats to British interests. "No informed person" said Nye, "can dispute that the only real potential danger to world peace in the next few decades comes from Russia. I use the word "potential" because I am no alarmist and I do not think Russia is likely to go to war during, say, the next ten years. If Russia is a threat to the world in general, placed where she is geographically, she is a threat to India in particular, in fact in the foreseeable future, I think it fair to say that the only real threat to India is from Russia." (TOP, Vol 10, pg 559) The area of threat that Nye had in mind was not Calcutta or New Delhi, for which the Russians would have to invade and occupy India. Rather, it was most likely Southwest India, which was about to become Pakistan. This raises the question of why India would potentially come under Russian threat. The answer lies in the lingering desire of the Russians to have a warm water port. If they were ever to become a sea power, which is a basic requisite of any large power looking to become a superpower, the Russians needed this asset. Here the Russians were possibly looking to take advantage of its captured Central Asia states, adjoining Afghanistan, to launch an attack on India, hoping to make a naval base on the Persian Gulf. The fears of Nye played out thirty-three years later when the Soviet Union did invade Afghanistan in December 1979. Thus to say that the British were only focusing on the partition of India would be a mistake. The British empire was made and thrived on the premise that when a division of people and regions could be done for its own imperial interest, generally they took that route. The division of the Ottoman empire after World War I is a case in point. The creation of Syria, Iraq, Jordan and later Israel (post World II) further illustrates this.
Radcliffe Border Commission
But in early 1947 the British had a different set of problems. They were seeking to divide a large India and establish new borders for two new nations that would satisfy both sides. To delineate these borders, London sent over Sir Cyril Radcliffe on July 8, 1947. He was a British lawyer and according to a number of reports, had never been to India and was completely unfamiliar with its people or its geography. In some regards this was a plus, as he came to India with an unbiased agenda. His task was to define new boundaries in a land where there was a large hostile and biased group of people. To make his task easier or more difficult, depending upon one's perspective, he was provided by Mountbatten four Indians who would serve with him; what came to be known as the Radcliffe commission. Two of these Indians were from the Congress Party and two were from the Muslim League. In all there were five members on this commission, including Radcliffe himself. As this commission began its work information began leaking to both political parties as to where Radcliffe was looking to establish the final boundary lines. An important name to keep in mind is that of Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, who later became the prime minister of Kashmir from October 15, 1947 to March 5, 1948. Being a key member of the Radcliffe commission, he was also a lifelong member of the Congress party. Once Pakistan and India became nations on August 14 and 15, 1947 respectively, suspicions started to take place within the Muslim League once Mahajan was announced as prime minister of Kashmir even though the final status on of Kashmir was yet to be determined and no one knew which way the Kashmiri ruler would go. While most of the princely states had chosen the countries they wanted to join, Kashmir was one of the three states whose final status was yet to be determined. Other two were Junagadh and Hyderabad. On October 26, 1947 Kashmir's ruler Hari Singh signed the accession to India. For Mahajan to have been placed in Kashmir prior to this date, with the approval of the ruler of Kashmir, the Congress Party and with no objection from the British, naturally stimulated the suspicions of leaders of the Muslim League. The possibility of a predetermined or nefarious collusion on the part of these entities seemed like a reasonable conclusion.
Division of India Announced
With division of India expected by most, on July 18, 1947 the British parliament agreed to and passed into law a bill known as Indian Independence Act of 1947. According to the general outline, this bill stated that provinces which had majority Hindu populations were expected to merge with or secede to India. This was also the case for Pakistan and those states that had Muslim majority populations. To satisfy this provision, Punjab and Bengal province, which both had majority Muslim populations, had to be partitioned; right in the middle in certain areas, so that Muslims and Hindus could be separated. At the time of independence there were seventeen major and minor provinces in India. On either side of India, in the North West and North East, were Muslim majority provinces. These were expected to become part of Pakistan. In the middle of India were Hindu majority provinces. The final break-up was as follows:
Pakistan Provinces (Muslim Majority)
India Provinces (Hindu Majority)
*After August 15, 1947, Bengal was partitioned into two provinces. West Bengal went to India and East Bengal went to Pakistan, later to be called East Pakistan.
Then there was the issue of the princely states. These were roughly 562 in number. Most, if not all, of these were had hereditary Hindu and Muslim rulers coming down generations to whom the British provided protection. Once the announcement came that the British were leaving, according to the 1947 Act, these states were given a choice. They could become independent, with the British no longer providing protection, or they could secede to one of the two new nations. This was the mandate. It was the general expectation that princely states, those that were contiguous to Pakistan and had a majority Muslim population were generally expected to join Pakistan. The same thinking applied with concern to Hindu populations and India. Without complicating the matter further, Kashmir was one of the largest princely states in area which had a Muslim population of over 75 percent. Its ruler however, was a Hindu. It was contiguous to both Pakistan and India and both these nations had passable land access to it, though Pakistan had more than one such access. As mentioned earlier, when August 15, 1947 came around, the ruler of Kashmir had yet to make a decision as to which state would he join. At the time Pakistan and India were desperately wooing the ruler as both had strategic interests in Kashmir. Pakistan was more desperate because of the waters coming out of Kashmir. If India gained control of this state, it would gain an upper hand in controlling the waters of Pakistan. Not only were Pakistan and India cognizant of the value of Kashmir, but the British were fully aware of this vital piece of territory as well. Hence jockeying for Kashmir began early to woo the ruler of Kashmir and those who were part of the ruler's administration.
Early Wooing of Kashmir Ruler
According to Sardar Patel's Correspondence, Volume I, edited by Durga Das, published by Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmadabad, India in 1971, prior to the accession of Kashmir to India, India had began approaching the administration of Kashmir to place non-Muslim officers in Kashmir who were sympathetic to India. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the key members of the Congress Party who negotiated the partition of India with the British Empire. He was considered to be a conservative right wing Hindu nationalist who is credited with bringing the hesitating rulers of the princely states into the fold of India, using aggressive tactics when needed. Upon India's independence on August 15, Patel became India's deputy prime minister and its home minister. In a letter dated July 3, 1947, Patel wrote to Ram Chandra Kak, the prime minister of Kashmir, (from June 1945 to August 10, 1947) where he tried to solicit Kak to consider joining India once it was created. He said:
I invite your attention to the second paragraph of my last letter of 11 April 1947, after which I have not written to you, as you did not choose to send any reply. Conditions in India have since changed considerably, and I do not know how your mind is working at present.
You are aware that on 15 August, India, though divided, will be completely free, and you also know that by this time a vast majority of states have joined the Constituent Assembly of India. I realize the peculiar difficulties of Kashmir, but looking to its history and its traditions, it has, in my opinion, no other choice.
"No other choice" but to join India, as suggested by Patel. Source: Patel's correspondence, Vol. I, page pg 32
The following is another letter, also written on July 3 by Patel to the ruler of Kashmir, His Highness Hari Singh:
My Dear Maharaja Sahib,
Rai Bahadur Gopaldas [a prominent Hindu of Lahore] saw me today and conveyed to me the substance of your conversation with him. I am sorry to find that there is considerable misapprehension in your mind about the Congress. Allow me to, assure Your Highness that the. Congress is not only not your enemy, as you happen to believe, but there are in the Congress many strong, supporters of your State. As an organization, the Congress is not opposed to any Prince in India. It has no quarrel with the States. It is true that recent events resulting in the arrest of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru-and the continued detention of Sheikh Abdullah, have created a feeling of great dissatisfaction amongst many Congress men who wish well of your state. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru belongs to Kashmir., He is proud of it, and rest assured he can never he your enemy.
It is unfortunate' that none of the Congress leaders-has got any contact with Your Highness. Personal contact would have removed much of the misunderstanding, which probably is based largely on misinformation gathered through sources not quite disinterested.
Having had no personal contact, my correspondence has been with your Prime Minister [Ram Chandra Kak] since the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah, and my efforts have been to persuade him to have a different approach to the problem, which in the long run would be in the interest of the State.
Is it necessary to assure you that in your domestic affairs the Congress has no intention whatever of interfering? If it had not been so, the Constituent Assembly would not have been able to attract a vast majority of Princes who have joined it, and I have no doubt that the rest will also join with very few exceptions who have no choice owing to peculiar circumstances, for instance Bahawalpur, Kalat, etc [states that fell in West Pakistan]. In Negotiating Committee, your Prime Minister was present, and our decisions were unanimous in the four meetings that he attended. In these meetings, all the Princes got complete satisfaction from us about their special rights, privilege, etc, which they enjoyed.
I fully appreciate the difficult and delicate situation in which your state has been placed, but as a sincere friend and well-wisher of the state, I wish to assure you that the interest of Kashmir lies in joining the Indian Union and its Constituent Assembly without any delay. Its past history and traditions demand it, and all India looks up to you and expects you to take that decision. Eighty per cent of India is on this side. The States that have cast their lot with the Constituent Assembly have been convinced that their safety lies in standing together with India.
I was greatly disappointed when His Excellency the Viceroy [Mountbatten] returned without having a full and frank discussion with you on that [fateful] [authors note: as stated in original letter] Sunday, when you had given an appointment which could not be kept because of your sudden attack of cholic pain. He had invited you to be his guest at Delhi, and in that also he was disappointed. I had hopes that, we would meet, here, but I was greatly disappointed when His Excellency [Mountbatten] told me that you did not avail of the invitation.
May I take the liberty of suggesting that it would be better if you even now come to Delhi, when you will certainly be his guest? We want an opportunity of having a frank and free discussion with you in an atmosphere of freedom, and I have no doubt that all your doubts and suspicions, of which I have heard from Gopaldas, will completely disappear. In Free India, you cannot isolate yourself, and you must make friends with the leaders of Free India who want to be friends with you.
Source: Das, Sardar Patel's Correspondence, Vol. I, pages 32-34
It is important to make the following observations on Patel's letter to Hari Singh:
Wooing of the Kashmir administration by Congress began well before August 15, the partition date.
Hari Singh was rightly suspicious of the real intentions of the Congress party, as is clear from Patel's statement when he tells Hari Singh about the "considerable misapprehension in your mind about the Congress."
Patel then goes on to tell Hari Singh that as "Congress is not opposed to any Prince in India...Is it necessary to assure you that in your domestic affairs the Congress has no intention whatever of interfering? If it had not been so, the Constituent Assembly would not have been able to attract a vast majority of Princes who have joined it..." This was a blatant false statement. As a historical fact, it was Patel who led the charge against Princely States soon after India got created and most if not all rights and privileges were taken away from the Princes and rulers of the states. Hence Patel was desperately misleading Hari Singh only in the hope of making him join India and not Pakistan.
Then there was the issue of Mountbatten going to Kashmir where he was expected to meet Hari Singh on the issue of Kashmir's final status and Hari Singh not meeting him. In the British Transfer of Power documents, there is mention of this precise trip of Mountbatten to Kashmir, where Gandhi and Nehru offered to accompany Mountbatten and meet Hari Singh. Being a savvy official of the British government, Mountbatten advised Gandhi and Nehru against this idea, as this group of three going to Kashmir may look suspicious to Jinnah and the Muslim League. The Indians took Mountbatten's advice and stayed behind in Delhi. With Hari Singh being suspicious of Mountbatten's real motivation to see him, which most likely was to woo Hari Singh to join India, it is reasonable to assume that this was the real reason why Hari Singh refused to see him. The fact that Patel saw this rejection of Mountbatten by Hari Singh disappointing leads one to believe that indeed the real reason behind this visit was to solicit Hari Singh to join India. Patel then does not stop here in his letter. He further expresses his disappointment by stating Mountbatten "had invited you to be his guest at Delhi, and in that also he [Mountbatten] was disappointed. I had hopes that we would meet here, but I was greatly disappointed when His Excellency [Mountbatten] told me that you did not avail of the invitation. May I take the liberty of suggesting that it would be better if you even now come to Delhi, when you will certainly be his [Mountbatten'] guest."
It is evident that Mountbatten and the senior most leaders of Congress were in full communication and agreement when it came to soliciting the final status of Kashmir for Patel to assure Hari Singh that he will be welcomed by Mountbatten when he comes to Delhi. Hari Singh however, seemed not to trust these individuals and his reluctance was on full display. As August 15 came around and the two nations got created, the status of Kashmir was yet to be decided. Patel, however remained focused on consolidating India's position in Kashmir. On September 13, Patel, as vice prime minister and home minister of India, wrote a letter to Baldev Singh, India's defense minister asking him to make the services of Lt. Col Kashmir Singh Katoch available for the Kashmir army. In his letter Patel stated, since Major-General Henry Lawrence Scott, the army chief of Kashmir was retiring and as "you [Baldev Singh] knew the difficulties of the State, and I feel that at this moment it would be most useful to have an officer of our own Army as Commander-in-Chief of the Kashmir Forces." (Patel's correspondence, vol I, pages 37-38) Once again, Mountbatten as Governor-General of India is seen conceding Kashmir to the Indian's piece by piece. In fact if General Scott's retirement was already scheduled and the status of Kashmir was still far from being determined, it was the responsibility of the British to hold back any overt influence India would gain in Kashmir by allowing Indian military officers to take command of armies in Kashmir who clearly would not have been sympathetic to Pakistan. To avoid such suspicions of impropriety Mountbatten should have replaced General Scott with another British officer. He did not. In fact Mountbatten waived the protocol through which the services of Lt. Col Kashmir Singh were acquired. (Patel's correspondence, vol I,pages 38-39)
The history of 1947 partition is riddled with similar acts of bias treatment against Pakistan at the hands of the British and India, which point to the fact that Pakistan was to be denied Kashmir because in here lay the waters of Kashmir, Pakistan's "jugular." The obvious question is why? For this all we have to do is examine the "containment and balance of power" tactics of the British and later adopted by the United States. The less jarring name for this is known as the Western "world order." The simple explanation is to design a strategy where a target country will be prevented by the containing country at some time in the future so that the target country does not act against the interest of the containing country or the large outside power, whose interests are also served by this containment. We will seen that the way partition took place was designed so that both Pakistan and India would end up containing each other. In Pakistan's case there was always an apprehension on the part of the British and the Indians that at some future period, Gandhi is on record with this concern, Pakistan might join up with the Muslims of the Middle East. Needless to say, the last thing the British would want was for another country to join the ranks of a very rebellious group of Muslims who would want to rid themselves of the exploiting British, the French and later the Americans. Hence, if a Muslim majority Kashmir state along with its water resources was to be denied to Pakistan, it is a reasonable argument that Pakistan would have a lever imposed upon it that could be used to pressure it if it sought to becoming a larger regional power, particularly in relation to the Muslim countries of the Middle East.
The Middle East Factor
The fear of the British and Hindus was not superficial. In December 1946, with the birth of Pakistan still just a dream, Jinnah made a stop in Egypt after attending a meeting of Indian politicians with the British government where they tried to sort out the political disagreements. In Egypt, Jinnah met Prime Minister Fahmy Nokrashy on December 17. At a press conference he said, "It is only when Pakistan is established that Indian and Egyptian Muslims will be really free. Otherwise there will be the menace of Hindu Imperialist Raj [rule] spreading its tentacles right across the Middle East." He further went on to say, "If India will be ruled by a Hindu imperialistic power, it will be a great menace for the future if not greater, as the British imperialistic power has been...the whole of the Middle East will fall from the frying pan into the fire." This was a provocative statement made by Jinnah, which must have sent alarm bells ringing in London. Therefore keeping in mind the threat of Russia to India and the Middle East, British interests in the Middle East, the threat the Indians may have posed as stated by Jinnah, to say that the task of dividing India was a simple bilateral issue between the Muslims and Hindus would be a gross oversimplification. Partition has had huge ramifications as we can now see seventy years later, where Pakistan is seen closer than ever to the Middle East countries.
Division of India's Cash Reserves
Further proof of sidelining Pakistan is the way the assets of India were divided in 1947. Other than the border demarcations, the financial and military assets of India also had to be divided. In 1947, the cash reserves of India were Rs 4 billion, in local terms Rs 400 crore. This was equivalent to £300 million or $1.3 billion approximately. According to the agreement between Pakistan and India and overseen by the British, Pakistan's share was 20% of the cash disbursement. This meant that Pakistan was to receive Rs 75 crore or $225 million at the time of partition, considering the conversion rate at the time, which was Rs 3 to $1. On August 14, Pakistan got only Rs 20 crore or roughly $60 million and 55 crore was held back in the State Bank of India, which was turned over to the Congress Party by the British government. In summary, at partition Pakistan got approximately 25% of its rightful assets, with 75% held back. India at the same time got 100% of its assets plus it remained in control of 75% of Pakistan assets too. It is often debated in Pakistan and India as to why stability in the former has taken longer than in India when both nations came into existence at the same time. As we can see, one major reason was that Pakistan was put at a significant financial disadvantage, when both the British and Indians held back their resources. This being its share of cash reserves. Reasons for holding back Pakistan's balance payment by the British and turning it over to Indian hands remain dubious at best. The British adopted the same tactics when it came to dividing the armaments in their control. In fact Pakistan got little or nothing in this category. All this is sufficiently documented by several historians who have covered the partition. If the intention of the British was to put Pakistan at a disadvantage if war was fought over Kashmir, then denying Pakistan of cash and weapons was a smart strategic move. In fact, the Americans, according to their State Departments declassified documents of 1950, volume V, also recognized the disadvantage the British and Indians put Pakistan in when its military stores were held back. It stated, "Since India retained most of the military stores of the old British Indian army, including most of those which by agreement were to have been delivered to Pakistan, and since India has some capacity for producing arms while Pakistan is totally dependent on outside supplies, the Pakistanis contend that our [U.S.] policy actually favored India, and do not believe it served as deterrent to the use of force in Kashmir dispute." Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950 Volume V, the Near East, South Asia, and Africa, page 1498 As we can see, soon after August 15, 1947 the stage was being set by Britain and India for cooperation that if war came to Kashmir, Pakistan would be at a significant disadvantage. On October 15, 1947 the government of India convinced the ruler of Kashmir to appoint one of the Congress Party's key members as prime minister of Kashmir, Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan. As mentioned earlier, Mahajan was a member in the Radcliffe commission when the final borders of India were being determined. The ground work of him becoming the prime minister of Kashmir was taken well before he actually took charge. In fact the decision of his appointment was already taken in September. In a letter dated September 21 to Hari Singh from Sardar Patel, he said, "Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan met me yesterday and I am glad to learn that Your Highness had decided to appoint him as your Prime Minister. It is a wise choice and I have no doubt that he will be able to handle the affairs of the State in this critical period, firmly and in a statesmanlike manner...He has discussed with me about the immediate requirements of the State and I have promised him full support and co-operation on our behalf. We fully realize how difficult the situation there is, and I can assure Your Highness that we will do our best to help your State in this critical period. Justice Mehr Chand will convey to you personally the gist of our conversation on all matters affecting the interests of Kashmir." Members of the Muslim League were closely watching as events in Kashmir were being rigged in front of their eyes. Patel had already placed a sympathetic military commander in Kashmir and now with head of the Kashmir administration also a key member of Congress, Muslims fighters, sympathetic to the Pakistani cause, though small in number, had started coming into Kashmir trying to occupy the territory. By October 25 fighting had intensified between Hari Singh's army, backed by the Indian army, and the Muslims of Kashmir, backed by fighters from Pakistan. Early in the conflict there was a real chance that the Muslims were going to overrun those who supported India. In an emergency, India flew in V. P. Menon, a close associate of Patel and adviser to three previous Viceroy's of India, who met Hari Singh and had him sign the accession document on October 26, 1947. Since there are different versions of the signing of the accession, Pakistan considers the signing as fraudulent stating that Hari Singh was put under duress to sign the documents. But many agree that Menon had told Hari Singh that if he did not sign the accession document, the Indian government legally could not fly in Indian troops to protect his state. The next day on October 27 Mountbatten as governor-general of India accepted the accession and immediately gave orders to fly in thousands of Indian troops on aircraft still piloted by the British to stop the Muslims from fully taking control of Kashmir. As Kashmir acceded to India, Mountbatten immediately declared that once fighting in Kashmir subsides, a referendum will be held granting the Kashmir population the right to choose between Pakistan and India. As fighting intensified throughout 1948 and only after a cease fire took place between Pakistan and India , the issue of Kashmir was sent to the United Nations. But a referendum however, never took place. After initial hesitation by the British Generals who were commanding the Pakistan army, because Pakistan was virtually devoid of senior military officers, Pakistan moved lightly armed troops into Kashmir to stop the complete takeover of Kashmir by Indian army and air force units. After a few months of fighting, there was a standoff and both Pakistan and India went to the United Nations, where it was agreed that India will allow a referendum to take place so that the people of Kashmir can decide as to which country would they want to join; or even the option of becoming independent. As a ceasefire took place in early 1948, a line of control was agreed upon between Pakistan and India, according to which Pakistan held one-third of Kashmir and India held two-thirds. With Pakistan at a serious disadvantage in the Kashmir war because it could hardly pay salaries to its soldiers, in January 1948 Pakistan's prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan and its finance minister Ghulam Mohammad went to India to ask for its entitled cash reserves being held by India. Here Sardar Patel, the vice prime minister and home minister of India, held a press conference on January 12, 1948 and announced that he had told "the Prime Minister and Finance Minister that we would not regard the settlement of these [cash reserve] issues as final unless agreement had been reached on all outstanding issues. I made it quite clear then that we would not agree to any payment until the Kashmir affair was settled." He went on to say, "It is clear, therefore, that nothing belongs to Pakistan until Government of India transfer the amount to its account." For those who had any doubt that the cash reserves held back by the British and India was done to weaken Pakistan financially and militarily so that it would capitulate on Kashmir in the event of a conflict ― that doubt was removed. Patel had blundered when he essentially said so much by openly connecting the war in Kashmir to Pakistan's cash reserves held back by India. Not only was Mountbatten embarrassed in the eyes of the world but so was Gandhi and Nehru. In fact Gandhi went on a self imposed fast to protest Patel's remarks and ordered the Indian government to release Pakistan's money. Within a few days Patel announced that all money due to Pakistan would be released immediately. While Gandhi tried to restore his image in the eyes of the world with his position of fasting, the fact is that Gandhi was fully aware of this injustice all along. If Patel had not stated his government's position publicly, no one knows if Gandhi would have taken the position he did. Within days of Gandhi breaking his fast, he was assassinated by a right wing Hindi nationalist for his generosity towards Pakistan. The other unresolved issue of partition was the final settlement of two other princely states; Junagadh and Hyderabad. Both had Muslim rulers and majority Hindu populations. As mentioned earlier, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 gave the princely states the right to accede to Pakistan or India, or they could declare independence if they so desired. On August 15, the ruler of Junagadh state declared to join Pakistan. Looking at this from a logical point of view this did not make sense, because Junagadh was on the western shore of India and had no land connection to Pakistan, unlike Kashmir. Jinnah kept this issue aside and as Governor-General did not accept the ruler's offer. In fact it was on September 15, 1947 that Jinnah changed his mind and finally accepted Junagadh's accession after he realized that Mountbatten and the Hindu leadership had no intention of resolving the Kashmir issue. Then there was the issue of Hyderabad, which was the richest state in India. On August 15, the ruler of Hyderabad announced that he wanted to become an independent state and join the British Commonwealth. The British paid no attention to this even though Hyderabad's ruler was playing by the rules laid out in the Act of 1947. These were irritations for Nehru and Sardar Patel. To resolve these, Indian forces invaded Junagadh on November 9, 1947 after fighting had broken out in Kashmir, and took over the state. On February 20, 1948 a referendum was held in Junagadh under the supervision of the Indian government, in which the majority Hindu population voted to join the Indian union. Patel adopted the same strong arm tactics in Hyderabad. With the ruler insisting on becoming independent, Patel ordered Indian troops to invade Hyderabad on September 12, 1948 and occupied and annexed Hyderabad into India. By a number of accounts there was intense fighting in which about 40,000 people died. Other studies report much higher numbers. It was such desire of India to dominate the smaller states that a policy of "balance of power" had to be put in place to contain India too, not only by the British but also the United States. The 1950 declassified documents of the U.S. State Department speaks on this issue quite clearly: Keeping in view "India's arbitrary actions in Junagadh and Hyderabad...India's execution of its policy of consolidating the princely states, and its inflexible attitude with regard to Kashmir, may indicate national traits which in time, if not controlled, could make India Japan's successor in Asiatic imperialism. In such a circumstance a strong Muslim bloc under the leadership of Pakistan, and friendly to the US, might afford a desirable balance or power in South Asia. On the other hand our interests should be better served by cooperation than by rivalry between India and Pakistan as long as Soviet expansionism threatens South Asia." Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950 Volume V, the Near East, South Asia, and Africa, page 1499 The 1950 statement by the U.S. State Department was in line with the visionary statement of Jinnah, which he made in December 1946 in Egypt, warning the world against Hindu imperialism. In fact the above would become U.S. policy in South Asia, as described in my book The End of the Great Game. As Pakistan became a central player in keeping the Soviet Union and India apart in their designs for the Middle East, Pakistan also suffered in the process by losing its eastern half due to some of its own poor policies. As cease fire was declared in 1948-49 between Pakistan and India over Kashmir after which Pakistan holds on to one-third of Kashmir and India two-thirds. Following would be other key events that took place in Pakistan's history.
The 1965 war between Pakistan and India. To fully understand this one will have to look at the 1962 border war between India and China. Here the U.S. began arms supply to India, which Pakistan saw as excessive.
The 1971 war between Pakistan and India. Here Pakistan loses to India and also lost East Pakistan. Contrary to common belief, this was NOT a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. This conflict also involved the United States, the Soviet Union and China. Each of these large powers had vital interests in the outcome of this war. For instance, President Richard Nixon is on record for stating that if this conflict was not resolved soon, it had the potential of turning into "World War III." All this must be seen in the context of the Cold War and the Middle East, as is the case even today with the Russians, the Americans, the Iranians, the Turks and the Saudi's fully involved in the wars of Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
In May 1974, India conducts its first nuclear test.
In December 1979, Soviet's invade Afghanistan and Pakistan remains fully exposed to the Soviet threat throughout 1980's.
In May 1998, Pakistan conducts nuclear test in response to India's nuclear test.
In May 1999, Pakistan occupies Indian posts in Indian held Kashmir and the two countries fight a brief war, known as the Kargil conflict.
After September 11, 2001 tragic events in New York and Washington, the U.S. attacks Afghanistan and later occupies the whole country. The U.S. asks for Pakistan's help to fight terrorists and gets it.
In the process Pakistan becomes fully exposed to Afghan conflict once the U.S. invites India in Afghanistan.
Sixteen years later, the Afghanistan conflict remains unresolved.
It is my hope that the reader will benefit from this brief outline, as the Kashmir issue remains at the heart of the dispute between Pakistan and India. A number of good books have been written by numerous authors, including mine, which the readers may consult for a deeper understanding of the history of Pakistan.
Main Leadership of Indian Congress Party on August 15, 1947. (on left) Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, (middle) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, with no official title, (on right) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, vice Prime Minister and Home Minister
Two key members of Muslim league party. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, first Governor-General and founder of Pakistan at right and Liaquat Ali Khan, first Prime Minister of Pakistan in middle.
Princely states are shaded in dark.
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