Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: Independence (Episode 13)

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: Independence (Episode 13)

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On 20 February 1947, Attlee announced Mountbatten’s appointment, and that Britain would transfer power in India not later than June 1948. Mountbatten took office as Viceroy on 24 March 1947, two days after his arrival in India. By then, the Congress had come around to the idea of partition. Leaders of the Congress decided that having loosely tied Muslim-majority provinces as part of a future India was not worth the loss of the powerful government at the center which they desired. However, the Congress insisted that if Pakistan were to become independent, Bengal and Punjab would have to be divided. Mountbatten was not favorably impressed with Jinnah, repeatedly expressing frustration to his staff about Jinnah’s insistence on Pakistan in the face of all argument. Jinnah feared that at the end of the British presence in India, they would turn control over to the Congress-dominated constituent assembly, putting Muslims at a disadvantage in attempting to win autonomy.

He demanded that Mountbatten divides the army prior to independence, which would take at least a year. Mountbatten had hoped that the post-independence arrangements would include a common defense force, but Jinnah saw it as essential that a sovereign state should have its own forces. Mountbatten met with Liaquat the day of his final session with Jinnah, and concluded, as he told Attlee and the Cabinet in May, that “it had become clear that the Muslim League would resort to arms if Pakistan in some form were not conceded.” The Viceroy was also influenced by negative Muslim reaction to the constitutional report of the assembly, which envisioned broad powers for the post-independence central government.

On 2 June, the final plan was given by the Viceroy to Indian leaders: on 15 August, the British would turn over power to two dominions. The provinces would vote on whether to continue in the existing constituent assembly or to have a new one, that is, to join Pakistan. Bengal and Punjab would also vote, both on the question of which assembly to join, and on the partition.

On 4 July 1947, Liaquat asked Mountbatten on Jinnah’s behalf to recommend to the British king, George VI, that Jinnah be appointed Pakistan’s first governor-general. This request angered Mountbatten, who had hoped to have that position in both dominions—he would be India’s first post-independence governor-general—but Jinnah felt that Mountbatten would be likely to favour the new Hindu-majority state because of his closeness to Nehru. In addition, the governor-general would initially be a powerful figure, and Jinnah did not trust anyone else to take that office. Although the Boundary Commission, led by British lawyer Sir Cyril Radcliffe, had not yet reported, there were already massive movements of populations between the nations-to-be, as well as sectarian violence. Jinnah arranged to sell his house in Bombay and procured a new one in Karachi. On 7 August, Jinnah, with his sister and close staff, flew from Delhi to Karachi in Mountbatten’s plane.

On 11 August, he presided over the new constituent assembly for Pakistan at Karachi, and addressed them, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan … You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State … I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.” On 14 August, Pakistan became independent; Jinnah led the celebrations in Karachi

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Qaiser Rizwan Abbasi

The author is the student of bachelors in business administration. He has a keen passion for politics and current affairs and he loves to share his ideas, opinion, and understanding.

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