Even the Indian film makers have remained obsessed with the problems which partition brought forth — the brother separated from the brother, the lover separated from his beloved; the nice brotherly neighbour turning into a savage and setting fire to the house and home where he had enjoyed all cordial hospitality once and at all times.
The Indian film-makers have over the year enacted such scenes in the films produced by them such as Garam Hawa, Tamas, 1947 — A Love Story; and such others and the bitter struggle which has gone on between the two countries, in films like Border and more recently in Hey Ram and Pukar.
The Indian mind is inclined to be more sentimental and ‘partition’ had hurt his mind and soul more. No Pakistani film maker or a thinker for that matter seems to have thought or attempted or rather dared to build a story on these lines of re-estabiishing cordiality between the peoples of the two countries. It is only in India that such thoughts emerged in the minds and generated a story.
Even when the Prime Minister of Pakistan — Nawaz Sharif — was shaking hands with, and hugging the then Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Pakistani forces were infiltrating into the Indian borders and occupying strategic points. It was a sheer betrayal thereafter. The Kargil conflict has left bitter memories, never to be forgotten. So this has been the sordid story of Partition.
India has never been an aggressor but Pakistan could never accept peace and made attempts after attempts — first as early as in 1947 and then again in 1965 and still again in 1971 and then now in 1999, every time to be repulsed back by the Indian forces.
Kashmir has been their main issue and their main target while India and Indian Prime Ministers have time and again reiterated India’s stand was-a-was Kashmir that Kashmir is an integral part of India.
Should we not try to know how and why did partition take place? It was really a masterstroke of British diplomacy and the Indian leaders were beguiled into the belief that this was going to solve the ever conflicting problems between the two major communities — the Hindus and the Muslims.
By making the Indian leaders to agree to the formation of Pakistan, the British were in no way serving the interests of Muslims, as they apparently seemed to have been doing and led Jinnah to believe that. They were actually serving their own interests by creating a country which, out of obligation to them may ever remain friendly to them and could act as a bulwark against the Russian power of which the British were ever scared and India and the Indian leaders — particularly Jawahar Lai Nehru — was considered as politically more inclined towards Russia.
The British wanted to restrict the Russian power to spread its wider net and the formation of Pakistan was a part of that major game plan on their part to create a power point from where the British and the US could operate and keep vigilance around.
The British did not trust India and Indian leaders but they did create in the minds of the Pakistani leadership a feeling of closeness and bondage of fraternity. The Muslim interests were hardly any concern of theirs — it was sheer semblance and never the reality that Pakistan had got created to serve the Muslim interests by providing them a separate homeland.
The recent unsealing of the top secret documents of the period preceding India’s independence has brought out some very revealing evidence of the intriguing British diplomacy in the matter.
These documents have more than much revealed that the British were supporting Jinnah’s demand for Partition in order to safeguard their strategic interests in Asia after the World War II. Their constant fear was the spreading of the Russian influence over the oil rich Gulf countries — the so-called ‘wells of power’.
They wanted to develop a base for counteraction against the possible Soviet intrusions or safeguard the sea lines in the Indian Ocean. They were convinced that the Congress party would not support this move; therefore they encouraged the Muslim League to seek Partition, with the aim of placing India’s strategic north-west that abutted Afghanistan and Iran in the hands of those who could cooperate and support the British strategy. Kashmir with access to Sikkim was considered part of India’s strategic northwest.
Lord Wavell, the then Viceroy of India, had drawn up a blueprint in New Delhi towards the end of 1945 and communicated in a top secret telegram to the Secretary of State of India in London on February 6, 1946. Wavell had no interest in keeping East Punyali nor Assam nor Kolkata and West Bengal. He argued that the NWFR Baluchistan, West Punjab and Sindh with Karachi port were sufficient for the British strategic purposes.
A truncated Pakistan — the Western and the Eastern — might also be more palatable to the Congress Leaders and may also be favoured towards the Labour Government in England, keen to maintain a closer rapport with the Congress. Wavell’s assessment did not prove wrong for soon after Partition Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact and the ENTO. Then in 1959, it signed a bilateral military pact with Britain’s closest ally, the us soon thereafter providing a lease at Peshawar for American U2 planes to spy over the Soviet Union.
And as the last part of the grand gameplan Pakistan assisted the US in ejecting Soviet forces from Afghanistan. The present and the then-timed strategy worked well and could work well only as the British got to the Muslim league their Cherished land — Pakistan. On September 4, 1939 Jinnah met Lord Linlithgow and pledged to Britain the loyalty of Indian Muslim troops — nearly 40 per cent of the Indian Army and help the recruitment of Muslims to the British army.
The Congress party was holding power in eight out of eleven British provinces and thus was the main partner of British in administering India. In October 1939, the Congress party governments resigned, of course, out of protest but for the British this paved an easy way to act without depending on the Congress support.
Kaliqul-Zaman, a trusted emissary of Jinnah obtained the support of Lord Jetland, the then Secretary of State for India, to the Muslim League’s demand for ‘independent states for the Muslims of India’ which Jinnah so heartily desired and which was resolved upon by the Muslim League through a resolution passed in March 1940.
Winston Churchill, the arch-batter of the Congress found a ready handle to beat the Congress with when Gandhi proposed a non-violent non- cooperation as the correct policy for Britain and France against the advancing German army.
The ‘Quit India’ resolution of 1942 was construed by the British as a stab in their back at the moment of their worst and dire situations in the World War II.
Subhash Chandra Bose, joining hands with the Japanese further widened the Anglo-Congress rift. Cripp’s mission announced British withdrawal on condition of the formation of Pakistan and another formation consisting of the Princely States in India. Wavell used the Gandhi-Jinnah talks in August 1945 in which Gandhi discussed partition on district-wise referendums by the people.
The Cabinet mission plan was a deft design to shift the responsibility of the partition on to the Indian shoulders and threatened to carve out a larger Pakistan. Jinnah’s launching a direct action in 1946 persuaded the Congress to accept some sort of a partition.
V.P Menon advised Mountbatten to put up a revised plan of Partition — to accept Weevil’s proposal for a smaller Pakistan, and dominion status as the basis for independence and helping to add the territories of the Indian states.
Ultimately, this plan got accepted and India agreed to a partition — India with the princely states — and a truncated Pakistan — West and East Pakistan.
This is how Partition became a reality. Its aftermath told a horrid and horrendous story, which still haunts the minds. Partition did get accepted but the crisis and conflicts have continued and Kashmir has remained the main bone of contention. Are we to live with this ‘bone’ or can we ever resolve it? The recent Kargil war has added still further dimensions to the ‘bone’ of contention.
Partition did not only partition lands and territories but has partitioned perceptions — ever lasting and never ending as it seems for the present. This is in totality the sordid story of Partition. But now the conflicts are having ‘international attention and larger ramifications and eyes of all major nations and powers are demanding its solution sooner than later. In the process of Partition, it was only India, Pakistan and Britain were interested but after Partition, in its aftermath, the whole world seems to evince interest. May this over-anxiety on the part of the world force India and Pakistan to carve out a solution time will only show — let us hope for the best.