Arrival of Lord MountbattenLord and Lady Mountbatten arrived in dehli 22 march 1947 to serve the shortest and important term of British viceroy. Mountbatten had met and befriended Nehru earlier and the league was immediately suspicious that the neutral Wavell had been replaced by a more pro-congress viceroy. Mountbatten met the senior leader and tried hard to persuade Jinnah to agree to cabinet mission proposals or to accept the partition of Punjab and Bengal. After failing to persuade him, Mountbatten later tried to blame Jinnah for the bloodshed that followed.
Jinnah’s love for minoritiesAs the principle of sovereign and the British, Jinnah rightly held onto a principle which was almost as dear to him as the right of the Muslims. Throughout his life, the quaide had never been accused even by his enemies of religious prejudice and the idea that Pakistan would not look after its religious minorities was a point he could not accept. If the whole of Punjab and Bengal were to become part of Pakistan it would have left a sizeable non-Muslim minority with in Pakistan. This was something Jinnah and the Muslim league were happy with, as they had constantly stated their goal was to protect all religious freedom and minority rights. It was for this reason, as well as for geographic and economic ones, that Jinnah did not want to see the two ancient provinces Punjab and Bengal brutally divided.
Congress rejected Jinnah’s proposalJinnah tried to persuade Sikhs that they had nothing to fear in the state of Pakistan by offering them to fix quota in the civil service and army, as well as the post of commander-in-chief of the future Pakistan army, Jinnah had even agreed to proposal that the united Bengal should be allowed independence from both India and Pakistan. Jinnah stated on 26 April that he would be “delighted” with the proposal as Bengal without Calcutta would be useless and he had little doubt that such a state would be on friendly term within Pakistan. It was proposal which the congress immediately rejected.
Mountbatten’s schemeBy May 1947, Mountbatten had formulated a scheme which was eventually made public on 3 June and formed the basis of the transfer of power.
- The plan envisaged that the Muslim-majority area be given independence and that the British should transfer power to the two states of India and Pakistan.
- The interim constitution of the two states was to be the 1935 government of India act.
- Both states would have dominion status and the executive would be answerable to their respective constituent assemblies.
- It provided an option for princely states to decide which country to join and for a division of military and financial assets between India and Pakistan.
- As far as the boundaries of India and Pakistan were concerned, a boundary commission was to be established to determine the exact demarcation.
- The legislative assembly of the Sindh was to be given the option to vote for Pakistan as were the Muslim members of the Punjab and Bengal assemblies.
- If the Muslim Punjab members voted for the Pakistan, then there was to be referendum in the North West frontier province.
- Baluchistan was also to the given an opportunity to vote, although it was not yet decided by the means.
- This 3 June plan, as it becomes known, was the formula for the partition of the subcontinent.
British withdrawalThe day after this plan was announced, Mountbatten decide the date of the British withdrawal was to be 15 august 1947, not June 1948, as was initially planned. This left hardly any time for planning a careful withdrawal. After two hundred years in the subcontinent, the British seemed in a hurry to leave. By the middle of June 1947, both the Muslim league and the congress party had officially accepted the plan, neither happy with conceding some of their held principles, but recognize something would now have to be conceded. Acceptance, however, was only part of the problem--these decisions had to be implemented in just 72 days.
3 major unresolved problemsThere were then, three major unresolved problem of 3 June plan.
- Firstly, there was the question of how much Pakistan was to receive of the financial and military share of British India, which included ensuring that congress abided by the agreement once the British left.
- Secondly, there was the problem of those princely states who either wish to remain independent or join country with which they did not share the border of religion.
- Thirdly, the relationship of the British with the independent states of India and Pakistan had to be decided. India had already accepted that Lord Mountbatten was to be the first governor-general of India but the quid decided that he was to be Pakistan’s. This was to have serious consequence later as Mountbatten would have his revenge on the state of Pakistan.
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