Wavell and the Dying Days of the Raj

A critical and historical understanding of Lord Archibald Wavell’s viceroyalty (Oct.1943-Mar.1947) is important for understanding the rational dynamics amongst the three leading political actors of that time, the British, the Hindus and the Muslims. The study focuses primarily on Lord Wavell’s response to Muslim politics in India in the 1940s. The hypothesis of this study is that Lord Wavell was against the demand for Pakistan, because he believed that India was a natural geographic unit and could be preserved as such. Therefore during his viceroyalty he struggled to achieve that aim, and floated and backed schemes that tried to preserve the union of India such as his Wavell Plan, the Cabinet Mission Plan and the. Breakdown Plan. However, Pakistan emerged despite Wavell’s attempt to sidetrack it. It is important to note that although Pakistan came into being almost six decades ago, it still faces the effects of the problems it inherited from the decisions taken by the last two British viceroys.

Wavell’s viceroyalty was significant and decisive because of the developments that led to a sudden British exit from India under his successor. Wavell struggled from the start of his viceroyalty to keep India united. He suggested that India should be granted independence by March 1948 and in keeping with timeframe, he suggested appropriate plans for an orderly. British retreat from India before they were forcibly thrown out by the ever increasing strength of the Indian political awakening. However, by the end of Wavell’s term, Congress had become convinced by its experiences, especially by its participation in the Interim Government that the partition of India was the only way out from a very complex situation.

Among the immediate problems that Wavell was faced with, were: firstly, the need to carry the war with Japan to a decisive and speedy victory; secondly, to deal with the Bengal famine; thirdly, to deal with the day to day issues of the Indian Government; and finally, to break the political deadlock in India, which was his most important concern.

Right from the beginning of his term, Wavell saw a variety of complex problems littering the Indian political scene. The main ones were the following:

  1. Hindu-Muslim friction, which had entered its final phase, in the 1940s.
  2. The Muslim League demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims based on the two-nation theory and the multifarious political complexities it had given rise to.
  3. This demand (for Pakistan) had divided the Muslims into two groups, its supporters and detractors, which were as sharply opposed to each other as were the Muslim League and the Congress. Additionally the Cripps Proposals had been rejected both by the Congress and the League at a critical juncture of the Second World War and the British Government was not ready to break the political impasse.
  4. Muslim politics in India had become quite complicated, for a number of political parties and groups with conflicting ideas and divergent programs had emerged on the political landscape. Uslim parties like the Unionist Party, the Khudai Khidmatgars, and the Majlis-i-Ahmar, were strongly against the Pakistan demand.

He wanted to take steps to end it whereas Whitehall had no intentions of doing so. He felt that the smooth running of administration during the war required co-operation from major political parties. Therefore he wanted to constitute an Executive Council consisting of their representatives, however, the authorities in London did not concur with his planning. They advised Wavell to wait until an appropriate moment for that move; he had to wait until the defeat of Germany for such a green signal.

At the beginning of the Simla Conference (1945), there were signs that it would succeed as Indian National Congress had accepted the parity principle between the Caste-Hindus and Muslims and agreed not to nominate any Muslims either. Wavell’s insistence on accommodating Khizar Hayat Tiwana’s (Premier of Punjab) right to nominate a Muslim to the Executive Council, however, led to his differences with the Muslim League, which in turn led to the failure of the Simla Conference.

This break with the Muslim League produced a situation which in its turn also dealt a strong blow to his dream of cooperative team work between the Muslim League and the Congress in the Executive Council. The complex situation which resulted was too much for even a man of Wavell’s capabilities and perforce he had to declare the Simla Conference a failure.

However, the Simla Conference is of immense political importance from the Muslim League’s point of view. It helped to establish two main points: firstly, it established Jinnah as the sole and undisputed leader of the Indian Muslims; secondly, it also proved that the Muslim League was the most powerful and unmatched political representative of the Muslims. For the Muslims, the acceptance of the principle that they would get representation equal to the Caste-Hindus was in essence recognition of the Two-Nation Theory. Flush with confidence on both counts, Jinnah asked the Viceroy to announce the holding of the general elections to verify the respective claims of the League and the Congress. In spite of this, in retrospect, Jinnah once described the Simla Conference as a snare for the goals of Muslims in India, in the failure of which lay the seeds of the future making of Pakistan.

In England, the Labour Party, which had promised to grant India independence, had won the elections and come into power. Also, with the end of the Second World War, they wanted to hand over power to the elected representatives, something which was close to the heart of neither the Congress nor the Viceroy, each for their own reason. Congress leadership was not in favour of calling a quick election because they felt that having been incarcerated for the duration of the war they had lost touch with the masses. Wavell, on his side, felt the elections would only help to create further divisions between the two main communities in India and wanted to initiate another effort at reconciliation between them in the form of their joint participation and effort at working together in the Executive Council.

Following the elections to the central and provincial assemblies in 1945-46, both the Muslim League and the Congress gained decisive victories in their respective constituencies. This substantiated Wavell’s fears that elections would only help to widen the gulf between them, the two leading communities instead of bridging it.

The Muslim League had proved its case as the sole authoritative representative of the Muslims of India whose main demand was for a separate homeland, but neither His Majesty’s Government nor Wavell wanted such a solution to India’s independence. Therefore, they decided to send a mission comprising of three cabinet ministers of the British Parliament to India. The mission’s aim was to try to bridge the political gulf between the two main parties with the aim of transferring the power in India to the elected representatives of the people. It was also supposed to seek an agreement with Indian leaders on the principles and procedures to be followed in framing a constitution for an independent but united India. The mission was known as the Cabinet Mission.

The cabinet delegation and Wavell worked hard to achieve their goal but bereft of any executive powers they failed in their attempt to bring about a negotiated settlement between the two major parties. To break the political impasse they presented their own constitutional scheme for India known to history as the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946).

The Cabinet Mission Plan as presented consisted of two parts, a long-term part and a short-term one. Although initially hesitant, Jinnah was able to convince the League leadership that accepting the plan in full would be in the interest of Muslims at large. The Congress on the other hand, accepted the long-term part of the plan only upon the persuasion of Lords Stafford Cripps and Pethick Lawrence. However, their acceptance seemed to lack sincerity as they started nitpicking and raising objections in spite of the fact that the Cabinet Mission had stated clearly upon its presentation that their plan ha to be accepted or rejected ‘as is’ without any modifications.

As far as Wavell was concerned the scheme though containing a ‘grouping’ clause did not defer to the demand for ‘Pakistan’ as stated by the Muslim League in its Lahore Resolution of 1940. This was exactly what Congress had in mind when it had stated that it was totally opposed to any scheme for the division of India. However, in the end, both His Majesty’s Government and the Congress united to defeat Wavell’s attempt to keep India united via the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Jinnah and the League had accepted the plan in full because they felt that it contained the seed and substance of ‘Pakistan’ as envisioned in the Lahore Resolution. In addition Jinnah was afraid that the increasing Hindu-Muslim bitterness might lead to full-scale civil war which he wanted to avoid at all cost.

Congress remained complacent on the Pakistan issue and preferred to focus on the freedom of india to grab power without caring whatsoever about the cost involved to attain such a goal. Congress considered not only the unity of India vital but also wanted the unitary form of government in the long run which could guarantee economic and industrial development. If these objects were missing, it was ready to allow the League to have Pakistan but of its, i.e. Congress’s choice. Congress demanded that the provinces should be given the choice to opt out from the groups which would help her getting Assam and NWFP provinces in Hindustan. This demand was fantastic claptrap. Likewise, its attitude towards the demand for Pakistan, which was based on the ‘two nation’ theory, remained one of self-deception and negation of principles of nationalism which led into making wrong calculations and judgements at an extremely crucial period of Indian history. At a time when their thoughts, words, and actions could lead to some repercussions, Congress leaders like Gandhi, Patel and Nehru used them extravagantly and, more importantly, without a sense of timing.

Wavell tried by all means to achieve his objective of sidetracking the demand for Pakistan and maintaining the unity of India without prejudice to the interests of Muslims in a united India. He believed that, if established, a coalition government consisting of the Congress and the League would be able to solve the communal and constitutional problems facing India. However, because of the wide gulf separating the political parties, Wavell’s vision of a coalition government soon began to fade.

Wavell, himself could not be fully absolved of the responsibility for the failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan. The complex political situation put his sense of impartiality and fair play to the test and he was found wanting. He broke the pledge given to the League of allowing it to form the government without the participation of the Congress but then allowed the Congress to form an Interim Government on the same lines, but without the League’s participation.

After the formation of the Interim Government by the Congress, Wavell felt that it was imperative to bring the League into the government to prevent a wider catastrophe from engulfing India especially following the Direct Action Day killings in Calcutta (August 1946). He also felt that rule by Congress alone would definitely lead to the division of India. He, therefore, in spite of opposition from His Majesty’s Government and the Congress worked to bring the League into the Interim Government.

However, the formation of the Interim Government which Wavell was able to achieve at the centre eventually caused more harm than good to his dream of a united India. He had felt that the Congress would refrain from repeating the blunder it had committed in 1937 by not forming coalition governments in the provinces. That step had caused great damage to the communal harmony in the country and had forced the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution in 1940; he was proved wrong once again. Muslim League knew the true intentions of the Congress High Command, that the main leaders of its Working Committee aimed at establishing a unitary form of government under the slogan of a strong centre in united India.

The coalition Interim Government instead of lessening the political tensions in India helped to increase them as both the League and the Congress declined to work as a team thus exposing their communal agendas. Congress, although a bigger party than the Muslim League, felt frustrated because they were not allowed to act unilaterally, especially because Liaquat Ali Khan, who was the finance member in the Interim Government, created severe problems for the Congress leadership. This forced even Patel to think openly on the lines of partition as the best political solution for India, something which Congress had tacitly accepted since the Rajagopalachari formula of 1942.

The Muslim League which had withdrawn its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan, joined the Interim Government with the promise that they would accept it. Wavell failed to force the Muslim League either to attend the Constituent Assembly or to resign from the Interim Government. He, as an honest, impartial and keen observer was convinced that unless the Muslim League got a clear-cut statement from the Congress and His Majesty’s Government regarding Grouping, it would not accept the long-term part of the Cabinet Mission Plan and would not attend the Constituent Assembly’s meetings. The Congress had been demanding Wavell’s dismissal since August 1946, the Labour Party also considered him a spent force. But the fact was that Wavell was neither acceptable to the Congress nor the British Government for he was too impartial and honest. For the League, he failed to deliver the goods. In fact,he was made ineffective by the command and control of Whitehall.

Wavell thought of India as a single geographic unit and, therefore, wished to maintain its unity. This led him not only to denounce but even attempt to derail the demand for Pakistan. Initially he thought of it simply as a bargaining counter and believed that it’s creation could be avoided. However, with the passage of time, after he witnessed the rapidly rising support for the Pakistan demand and increasing popularity of Jinnah as the sole spokesman of the Muslims, he came to the conclusion that it needed to be taken very seriously and dealt with accordingly. This prompted him to suggest to His Majesty’s Government to expose the weaknesses of the Pakistan demand as incorporated in the Lahore Resolution. This was a strategy which he suggested should be adopted before the elections in order to lessen the popularity of the League’s demand; he was not allowed to pursue this course of action.

Following the victory of the Muslim League in the elections, Wavell kept Whitehall thoroughly informed of the latest political developments in India so that when the Cabinet Mission proposed its Plan for India it incorporated all those ideas which Wavell thought would help to keep India united in addition to offering the best constitutional arrangement for safeguarding the rights of the minorities, especially the Muslims, in India. What Wavell disliked was the modus operandi of the Mission’s delegates who tried to sidetrack the Muslim League’s point of view by sometimes openly, and at other times surreptitiously, siding with Congress delegates. These unfair and sometimes underhanded actions of the Cabinet Mission’s delegates aroused fear in Wavell’s mind that the Muslim League just might begin to oppose the Cabinet Mission Plan. At the same time his own position vis a vis the Congress was considerably weakened by such tactics as it came to the conclusion that Wavell could easily be bypassed while taking important decisions concerning India.

While all this activity with regards to the Cabinet Mission Plan was in progress, Wavell was also involved in giving finishing touches to his ‘Breakdown Plan’. Considerable controversy surrounds the aims and objectives of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan. H.M. Close, Narendra Sarila and Victoria Schofield are of the view that Wavell’s Breakdown Plan was designed to give Jinnah a smaller Pakistan. This study shows that Wavell’s Breakdown Plan did not aim at the partition of India. He was forced to draft his plan because of the highly depleted strength of the British military and civil forces which would have been unable to properly assert and maintain government’s control over all of India in case Congress decided to follow up on its threats of civil disobedience as it had during the ‘Quit India’ movement. The main aim of the Breakdown Plan included the following:

1. To implement the Cabinet Mission Plan in full which would involve peaceful transfer of power to the Indians while providing for the safe evacuation of all foreigners and maintenance of a united India after the departure of the British.

2. In case the two leading parties failed to compromise on the Cabinet Mission Plan, he thought that he would pressurize each of the two parties concerned by trying to make them realize that they would fall far short of their eventual aims if they rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan.

3. The third and final phase of his Breakdown Plan envisaged the phased withdrawal of British authority from four of the six Hindu-majority provinces but it would retain full control of the Centre and the Muslim-majority provinces from where he felt, the British still would be in a position to dictate a final and favourable constitutional solution to the political problem.

Whatever the merits of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan, His Majesty’s Government opposed it on the following grounds:

1. They considered it as indicating a case of ‘cut and run’ or a ‘defeatist’ attitude on his part;

2. In spite of their highly weakened positioned, something which was obvious to Wavell, His Majesty’s Government was unwilling to,even entertain the idea of completely cutting its links with India at such short notice.

3. His Majesty’s Government thought that implementation of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan would send a wrong signal to the Congress Party, i.e. this would inevitably lead to the creation of Pakistan and this was something that they were loathe to do under any circumstances.

4. Finally, such a move would have required legislation in the British Parliament and it was highly unlikely that it would get approval in that body. All these moves led to a deterioration of Wavell’s relationship with both His Majesty’s Government and the Congress and led to his dismissal soon after.

However, several of the ideas included by Wavell in his Breakdown Plan, unfortunately, outlived his presence in India. Whereas he had included the partition of Punjab and Bengal in his Breakdown Plan just to impress upon the Muslim League, the futility of its request for a Pakistan based upon the Lahore Resolution. With the aim of keeping India united, his successor, Lord Mountbatten and his team of Hindu advisors namely V.P. Menon and others, actually included them in their partition plans for these two provinces in June-August 1947; this led to the mass migrations and killings of countless innocent people. So those parts of Wavell’s Breakdown Plan which were actually put into practice went squarely against Muslims which was not the way he had intended them to be used in the first place. And finally, his dream of preventing the foundation of Pakistan by offering Muslims sufficient concessions within a united India also failed to materialize.

Courtesy of: Wavell and the Dying Days of the Raj by Muhammad Iqbal Chawla, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2011


Living out the legacy of his mentor

The Epoch 1990-1993/1997-1999 Going Nuclear


  • Ghulam Ishaq Khan 17/8/1988-18/7/1993
  • Farooq Leghari 14/11/1993-2/12/1997
  • Mohammad Rafiq Tarar 1/1/1998-20/6/2001

Prime Minister

Main Nawaz Sharif : 6/11/1990-18/4/1993; 17/2/1997-12/10/1999

Chief of Army Staff

  • General Mirza Aslam Baig 17/8/1988-16/8/1991
  • General Asif Nawaz Janjua 16/8/1991-8/1/1993
  • General Abdul Waheed Kakar 12/1/1993-12/1/1996
  • General Jahangir Karamat 12/1/1996-7/10/1998
  • General Pervez Musharraf 7/10/1998-28/11/2007

Chief Justice

  • Muhammad Afzal Zullah 1/1/1990-18/4/1993
  • Nasim Hassan Shah 18/4/1993-14/4/1994
  • Sajjad Ali Shah 5/6/1994-2/12/1997
  • Ajmal Mian 23/12/1997-30/6/1999
  • Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui 1/7/1999-26/1/2000

Main Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister of the country twice within two decades of the death of General Ziaul Haq, his principal benefactor, and his two terms were like a sequel of the general’s regime. His priorities were theocratisation of the polity, promotion of free enterprise, fulfilment of nuclear ambitions, and assertion of civilian authorities’ rights through centralization of power in himself. While doing the last part, he clashed with the establishment and lost power in the first term, and both authority and freedom in the second one.

For obvious reasons the business community’s interest came first with Nawaz Sharif. Several steps were taken under the label of economic reform, including a tax holiday for some, abolition of restrictions on bringing foreign exchange into the country or taking it out and on maintaining foreign currency accounts, and no questions asked. Privatization of not only nationalized units but also other enterprises, such as PIA and WAPDA, was undertaken with extraordinary zeal. Despite allegations of irregularities these steps increased the prime minister’s popularity in the circles that mattered.

Soon after assuming power in both terms Nawaz Sharif displayed his love for special courts. In the first term, Article 212A that Zia had crafted in 1979 for setting up military courts and which was dropped in 1985. These special courts were not subject to high courts and the Supreme Court and were assailed for being a parallel judicial system.

In the second term, the special courts were rejected by the Supreme Court 10 months after their formation and this became one of the issues in the skirmishes between the prime minister and the Chief Justice. However, an already brutalized public was happy.

Nawaz Sharif also gained in popularity with the masses by using force rather indiscriminately to curb lawlessness in Karachi, and more goodwill when he decided to punish the MQM after Hakim Saeed’s murder by dropping it from the coalition and ordering a crackdown in Karachi.

He also persisted in his campaign against Benazir Bhutto in the first term in the form of President’s references, and against her husband Asif Ali Zardari in the second term through the Ehtesab Cell that he had created to the chagrin of the chief ehtesab commissioner by amending the Ehtesab Act.

Soon after becoming the prime minister in 1990, Nawaz Sharif revived Ziaul Haq’s so-called Islamization drive with a Shariat Enforcement Act, but a major effort in this direction was made in his second term in the shape of the 15th Amendment that had two objectives. First, it sought to add Article 2B to the Constitution declaring Quran and Sunnah to be the supreme law, and, secondly, it proposed that the Constitution could be amended by a simple majority of members present in either house or at a joint session of the parliament.

Countrywide protests forced the government to abandon the second part of the bill and the National Assembly only adopted the proposal to add Article 2B to the basic laws. It read: “The federal government shall be under an obligation to take all steps to enforce the Shariah, to enforce Salat, to administer Zakat, to promote amr bil ma’roof and nahi unil munkar (to prescribe what is right and to forbid what is wrong), to eradicate corruption at all levels, and to provide substantial socio economic justice in accordance with the principles of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.”

The bill resembled the Zia sponsored 9th Amendment that was adopted by the National Assembly in 1986, but it was not sent to the Senate and lapsed. Similarly, the 15th Amendment was withheld from the Senate as the government was not sure of its majority there and it too lapsed. The text of the 9th and 15th Amendments is not found in our statute books. Thus ended Nawaz Sharif’s bid to push Zia’s Islamization further and to change the Constitution through a single enactment.

During the second term, several issues – Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, policy towards India, and the army chief’s desire to steal a military victory over India – got intertwined and offered Nawaz Sharif a mixed bag of joy and disappointment.

He met Indian Premier Inder Kumar Gujral during the SAARC summit and they agreed to be friends. Shortly thereafter, Attal Bihari Vajpayee became the prime minister of India. Among the first things the BJP government did was to carry out five nuclear tests in May 1998 that brought Nawaz Sharif under intense pressure from the people and the military to achieve parity with India in terms of nuclear capability.

Ignoring the strong advice of the country’s main economic patrons and partners, he allowed five nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, and a sixth two days later. This made the prime minister highly popular with the military and the people, but the steps accompanying the blasts, especially freezing of foreign currency accounts that the judiciary eventually overruled, did not.

Vajpayee met Nawaz Sharif in New York and proposed the start of a friendship bus service between India and Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif, with his characteristic impulsiveness, promptly agreed. Vajpayee duly arrived in Lahore by bus in February 1999 and the event did cause a thaw in India Pakistan relations, but it did not yield Nawaz Sharif the political dividend he had expected because the people had not been prepared for the policy shift and the army had not been taken on board.

Then almost from nowhere Kargil happened. The prime minister feigned ignorance of the operation to capture a few Kargil peaks while the army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, maintained that everything had been cleared by his civilian boss. As was expected, India threw its Air Force and heavy guns into the battle and Islamabad got worried. Nawaz Sharif literally forced the US president Bill Clinton to see him on July 4, 1999, the American National Day, and agreed to pull back his troops. The people, fed on stories that Pakistan had always defeated India in armed encounters, were unhappy. Worse, the army top brass put down Nawaz Sharif as a person they could not trust, a perception that was going to cause Nawaz Sharif’s downfall more than once.

Nawaz Sharif’s desire to completely control the government brought him into conflict early in his first term with president Ghulam Ishaq who also considered himself a true inheritor of Ziaul Haq’s mantle.

Among other things he denied the Premier any say in the selection of judges and appointed General Abdul Waheed Kakar as the army chief, following the sudden death of General Asif Nawaz, without informing the prime minister. In April 1993, Nawaz Sharif denounced the president in a TV address and the next day the president dissolved the National Assembly and sent him packing.

The Supreme Court restored Nawaz Sharif in the saddle only 37 days later. His failure to oust the Punjab chief minister, Manzoor Wattoo, who was openly supported by the president, reignited the feud with Ghulam Ishaq. Eventually, the army chief intervened and both vacated their offices in July 1993.

General Kakar, the gentleman general who coveted neither power nor glory for himself, demonstrated that even if the army had to intervene in a political crisis, imposition of military rule was not the only solution, a precedent yet to be emulated.

When Nawaz Sharif regained power in February 1997, the circumstances were wholly in his favour. He had two thirds majority in the National and Punjab assemblies and his party was able to form coalition governments in Sindh and the NWFP (since renamed KP). Armed with heavy mandate, he resumed his drive to eliminate the rival centres of power.

No trouble was expected from president Farooq Leghari with whom Nawaz Sharif was reported to have struck a deal before the PPP government was sacked and who had allegedly facilitated the Sharif brothers’ election in the 1997 elections by amending the ineligibility laws related to loan defaulters. The president was paid off with a Senate ticket for a relative, appointment of a friend as Punjab governor, and obliging Zulfikar Khosa to make up with Leghari.

Having done all that, Nawaz Sharif calmly told a befuddled Leghari of his decision to remove Article 58-2 (B) from the Constitution that was to deprive him of power to sack a government. The formality was completed the next day with the adoption of the 13th Amendment, a step hailed by all democrats.

Meanwhile, the prime minister’s relations with Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah deteriorated. While sparring over the selection of five judges for the Supreme Court, both resorted to bizarre tactics; the PM reduced the Supreme Court strength from 17 judges to 12, hoping to remove the need for new appointments, and the Chief Justice suspended a constitutional amendment. Eventually, the Premier gave in. But the suspension of the 14th Amendment on legislators’ defection, which gave the party bosses the last word, annoyed the prime minister and he declared that while he had ended ‘lotacracy’ the Supreme Court had restored it.

Soon enough, the chief justice hauled up the prime minister for contempt. What followed was incredible. The Supreme Court was stormed by an N-League mob that included several parliamentarians. The chief justice’s appeal for succour was heeded neither by the president nor by the army chief. Eventually, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was dethroned by his brother judges through a process that is still mentioned in whispers, and ironically enough, he fell a victim to his own judgement in the Al-Jihad Trust case. Before the year 1997 ended, president Leghari resigned to hand Nawaz Sharif his second victory in quick time.

In October 1998, army chief General Jahangir Karamat suggested the formation of a National Security Council. This, too, was first proposed by General Zia and he had inserted an article to this effect in the Constitution, but it was deleted at the time of the bargain over the 8th Amendment on the terms and conditions for lifting martial law in 1985.

Nawaz Sharif asked the army chief to resign and the latter complied with the order (though he had the last laugh when after sometime a National Security Council indeed started functioning).

By the end of 1998, Nawaz Sharif had freed himself of all possible threats from the presidency, the judiciary and the GHQ, and has become the most powerful ruler of Pakistan ever. But he had built a castle on sand. On October 12, 1999, he ordered General Musharraf’s replacement as the army chief by the then ISI chief who had failed to warn him of the officer corps’ decision not to tolerate the ‘humiliation’ of another chief. The Musharraf plane affair was bungled and the army took over. His arrest, conviction for plane hijack and exile to Saudi Arabia for nearly eight years is another story in political wilderness.

Through courtesy:

Living out the legacy of his mentor by I A Rehman.

The writer is a senior political analyst and a human rights activist.

Dawn Nov.18, 2017

Majid Khan, Cricketer

Majid Jahangir Khan is a former cricketer, batsman and captain of the Pakistan cricket team. In his prime, Majid Khan was considered one of the best batsmen in the world, able to decimate any bowling attack, including the mighty West Indian fast bowlers of that era. It is a shame that over an 18-year Test career, he only played in 63 Test matches, primarily because Pakistan played a very limited Test match schedule. Thus, the cricketing world was deprived of the pleasure of watching one of the greatest exponents of batting in the world. Khan’s first-class career spanned 1961 to 1985. Overall, he played 63 Tests for Pakistan, scoring 3,931 runs with 8 centuries, scored over 27,000 first-class runs and made 73 first-class centuries, with 128 fifties. Majid played his last Test for Pakistan in January 1983 against India at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore and his last One Day International (ODI) was in July 1982 against England at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Early life

Born on 28 September 1946 in Ludhiana, in the state of Punjab in India, Khan grew up in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab in Pakistan. His father, Jahangir Khan, had played Test cricket for British India before the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Majid Khan started his career as a pace bowler, but a back injury and doubts over his technique converted him into an off-spin bowler and batsman. He also played for:

  • Glamorgan and Cambridge University in Britain
  • Queensland in Australia
  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • Rawalpindi
  • Punjab

Majid’s father, Dr. Jahangir Khan, famously killed a bird in flight while bowling during an MCC vs. Cambridge University match in 1936. This bird is now part of the permanent MCC museum exhibit at Lord’s Cricket ground. Dr. Jahangir Khan was the Chief Selector of then Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) when Majid Khan was close to national selection. Dr. Jahangir Khan resigned from his post to maintain the impartiality of the Cricket Board during selection.

International career

Majid’s Test career started in 1964 against Australia at National Stadium, Karachi. Khan is one of only five batsmen (the other four are Trumper, Macartney, Bradman, and Warner) to have scored a century before lunch in a test match, scoring 108 not-out off 112 balls against New Zealand in Karachi during the 1976–77 test series.

Khan made his ODI debut against New Zealand in 1973 at Lancaster Park, New Zealand. He also holds the unique honour of scoring the first one-day century for Pakistan, in an ODI against England at Trent bridge on 31 August 1974. Khan scored 109 from 93 balls with 16 fours and a six.

Majid had played for Lahore since 1961–62 and had made his Test debut against Australia in 1964–65 and toured England and Wales with the 1967 Pakistanis. During a match with Glamorgan, Majid blasted a rapid 147 in 89 minutes, hitting Roger Davis for five sixes in one over. Wilf Wooller, the club secretary, had been a close friend of Majid’s father when Dr Jahangir Khan had been up at Cambridge, and the influential Glamorgan secretary persuaded Glamorgan county to sign him as the overseas player from 1968.

In 1972 he won the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the season’s fastest century which he scored in 70 minutes for Glamorgan against Warwickshire. He captained the Welsh county between 1973 and 1976, scored over 9000 runs punctuated with 21 first-class centuries for them. Imran Khan, the legendary Pakistani ex-captain and fast bowler, and Javed Burki are his cousins. Bazid Khan, Majid’s son, has also played for Pakistan, making the family the second, after the Headleys, to have three consecutive generations of Test cricketers.

Initially, Majid Khan continued to boost Pakistan’s middle order, until he was promoted to fill the opener’s slot with Sadiq Mohammad in 1974. He was the first century scorer for Pakistan in One Day International Cricket, scoring 108 runs against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in the same season. Majid Khan was also a specialist slip fielder and made most catches look easy. Khan was also well known as a “walker”, maintaining the standards of the game in an era when professionalism was straining at the game’s traditional etiquette.

The 1976–77 tour of West Indies was the most remarkable period for Majid Khan, where he scored 530 Test runs against one of the most powerful bowling attacks in the history of the game. His best innings was perhaps the 167 in Pakistan’s second innings at Georgetown that saved Pakistan from likely defeat. Pakistan lost that series 2–1.

On 30 October 1976, while playing against New Zealand in Karachi, he became only the fourth cricketer to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test match, after Victor Trumper, Charlie Macartney and Don Bradman.

After retirement from International Cricket, Khan became an administrator with the Pakistan Cricket Board, becoming the CEO of the board in mid-1990s.

He now lives in Islamabad.

Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

Admiral Graf Spee

Admiral Graf Spee was a Deutschland-class heavy cruiser which served with the Kriegsmarine during World War IL. The vessel was named after Admiral Maximilian von Spee, commander of the East Asia Squadron that fought the battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands, where he was killed in action, in World War I.


She was ordered by the Reichsmarine from the Reichsmarinewerft shipyard in Wilhelmshaven. Her keel was laid on 1 October 1932, and the ship was launched on 30 June 1934; at her launching, she was christened by the daughter of Admiral Maximilian von Spee, the ship’s namesake. The ship was completed slightly over a year and a half, and commissioned into the German fleet on 6 January 1936. She was nominally under the 10,000 long tons (10,000 t) limitation on warship size imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, though with a full load displacement of 16,020 long tons (16,280 t), this was significantly exceeded. Armed with six 28 cm (11 in) guns in two triple gun turrets, Admiral Graf Spee and her sisters were designed to outgun any cruiser fast enough to catch them. Their top speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph) left only the few battle cruisers in the Anglo-French navies fast enough and powerful enough to sink them.

Admiral Graf Spee spent the first three months of her career conducting extensive sea trials to ready the ship for service. The ship’s first commander was Kapitän KzS Conrad Patzig; he was replaced in 1937 by Walter Warzecha. After joining the fleet, she became the flagship of the German Navy.

  • In the summer of 1936, following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, she deployed to the Atlantic to participate in non-intervention patrols off the Republican-held coast of Spain.
  • Between August 1936 and May 1937, the ship conducted three patrols off Spain.
  • On the return voyage from Spain, Admiral Graf Spee stopped in Great Britain to represent Germany in the Coronation Review on May 20 at Spithead for King George VI.
  • After the conclusion of the Review, Admiral Graf Spee returned to Spain for a fourth non-intervention patrol.
  • Following fleet manoeuvres and a brief visit to Sweden,
  • The ship conducted a fifth and final patrol in February 1938.

In 1938, KzS Hans Langsdorff took command of the vessel; she conducted a series of goodwill visits to various foreign ports throughout the year. These included cruises into the Atlantic, where she stopped in Tangier and Vigo. She also participated in extensive fleet manoeuvres in German waters. She was part of the celebrations for the reintegration of the port of Memel into Germany, and a fleet review in honour of Admiral Miklós Horthy, the Regent of Hungary. Between 18 April and 17 May 1939, she conducted another cruise into the Atlantic, stopping in the ports of Ceuta and Lisbon. On 21 August 1939, Admiral Graf Spee departed Wilhelmshaven, bound for the South Atlantic.

World War II: following the outbreak of war between Germany and the Allies in September 1939, Adolf Hitler ordered the German Navy to begin commerce raiding against Allied merchant traffic. Hitler nevertheless delayed issuing the order until it became clear that Britain would not countenance a peace treaty following the conquest of Poland. The Admiral Graf Spee was instructed to strictly adhere to prize rules, which required raiders to stop and search ships for contraband before sinking them, and to ensure that their crews are safely evacuated. Langsdorff was ordered to avoid combat, even with inferior opponents, and to frequently change position. On 1 September, the cruiser rendezvoused with her supply ship Altmark southwest of the Canary Islands. While replenishing his fuel supplies, Langsdorff ordered superfluous equipment transferred to the Altmark; this included several of the ship’s boats, flammable paint, and two of her ten 2 cm anti-aircraft guns, which were installed on the tanker.

On 11 September, while still transferring supplies from Altmark, Admiral Graf Spee’s Arado floatplane spotted the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland approaching the two German ships. Langsdorff ordered both vessels to depart at high speed, successfully evading the British cruiser. On 26 September, the ship finally received orders authorizing attacks on Allied merchant shipping. Four days later Admiral Graf Spee’s Arado located Booth Steam Ship Co’s cargo ship Clement off the coast of Brazil. The cargo ship transmitted an “RRR” signal, “I am under attack by a raider” before the cruiser ordered her to stop.

Admiral Graf Spee took Clement’s captain and chief engineer prisoner but let the rest of her crew to abandon ship in the lifeboats. The cruiser then fired 30 rounds from her 28 cm and 15 cm guns and two torpedoes at the cargo ship, which broke up and sank. Langsdorff ordered a distress signal sent to the naval station in Pernambuco to ensure the rescue of the ship’s crew. The British Admiralty immediately issued a warning to merchant shipping that a German surface raider was in the area. The British crew later reached the Brazilian coast in their lifeboats.

On 5 October, the British and French navies formed eight groups to hunt down Admiral Graf Spee in the South Atlantic. The British aircraft carriers HMS Hermes, Eagle, and Ark Royal, the French aircraft carrier Béarn, the British battlecruiser Renown, and French battleships Dunkerque and Strasbourg, and 16 cruisers were committed to the hunt. Force G, commanded by Commodore Henry Harwood and assigned to the east coast of South America, comprised the cruisers Cumberland and Exeter. Force G was reinforced by the light cruisers Ajax and Achilles; Harwood detached Cumberland to patrol the area off the Falkland Islands while his other three cruisers patrolled off the River Plate.

  • On the same day as the formation of the Anglo-French hunter groups, Admiral Graf Spee captured the steamer Newton Beech. Two days later, she encountered and sank the merchant ship Ashlea.
  • On 8 October, the following day, she sank Newton Beech, which Langsdorff had been using to house prisoners. Newton Beech was too slow to keep up with Admiral Graf Spee, and so the prisoners were transferred to the cruiser.
  • On 10 October, she captured the steamer Huntsman, the captain of which had not sent a distress signal until the last minute, as he had mistakenly identified Admiral Graf Spee as a French warship. Unable to accommodate the crew from Huntsman, Admiral Graf Spee sent the ship to a rendezvous location with a prize crew.
  • On 15 October, Admiral Graf Spee rendezvoused with Altmark to refuel and transfer prisoners; the following morning, the prize Huntsman joined the two ships. The prisoners aboard Huntsman were transferred to Altmark and Langsdorff then sank Huntsman on the night of 17 October.
  • On 22 October, Admiral Graf Spee encountered and sank the steamer Trevanion. At the end of October, Langsdorff sailed his ship into the Indian Ocean south of Madagascar. The purpose of that foray was to divert Allied warships away from the South Atlantic, and to confuse the Allies about his intentions.
  • By this time, Admiral Graf Spee had cruised for almost 30,000 nautical miles (56,000 km; 35,000 mi) and needed an engine overhaul.
  • On 15 November, the ship sank the tanker Africa Shell, and the following day, she stopped an unidentified Dutch steamer, though did not sink her.
  • Admiral Graf Spee returned to the Atlantic between 17 and 26 November to refuel from Altmark. While replenishing supplies, the crew of Admiral Graf Spee built a dummy gun turret on her bridge and erected a dummy second funnel behind the aircraft catapult to alter her silhouette significantly in a bid to confuse allied shipping as to her true identity.
  • Admiral Graf Spee’s Arado floatplane located the merchant ship Doric Star: Langsdorff fired a shot across her bow to stop the ship. Doric Star was able to send out a distress signal before she was sunk, which prompted Harwood to take his three cruisers to the mouth of the River Plate, which he estimated would be Langsdorff’s next target.
  • On the night of 5 December, Admiral Graf Spee sank the steamer Tairoa. The next day, she met with Altmark and transferred 140 prisoners from Doric Star and Tairoa.
  • Admiral Graf Spee encountered her last victim on the evening of 7 December: the freighter Streonshalh. The prize crew recovered secret documents containing shipping route information.
  • Based on that information, Langsdorff decided to head for the seas off Montevideo. On 12 December, the ship’s Arado196 broke down and could not be repaired, depriving Graf Spee of her aerial reconnaissance. The ship’s disguise was removed, so it would not hinder the ship in battle.

Battle of the River Plate

  • At 05:30 on the morning of 13 December 1939, lookouts spotted a pair of masts off the ship’s starboard bow. Langsdorff assumed this to be the escort for a convoy mentioned in the documents recovered from Tairoa.
  • At 05:52, however, the ship was identified as HMS Exeter; she was accompanied by a pair of smaller warships, initially thought to be destroyers but quickly identified as Leander-class cruisers. Langsdorff decided not to flee from the British ships, and so ordered his ship to battle stations and to close at maximum speed.
  • At 06:08, the British spotted Admiral Graf Spee; Commodore Harwood divided his forces up to split the fire of Admiral Graf Spee’s 28 cm guns. The German ship opened fire with her main battery at Exeter and her secondary guns at the flagship Ajax at 06:17.
  • At 06:20, Exeter returned fire, followed by Ajax at 06:21 and Achilles at 06:24. In the span of thirty minutes, Admiral Graf Spee had hit Exeter three times, disabling her two forward turrets, destroying her bridge and her aircraft catapult, and starting major fires. Ajax and Achilles moved closer to Admiral Graf Spee to relieve the pressure on Exeter. Langsdorff thought the two light cruisers were making a torpedo attack, and turned away under a smokescreen.
  • The respite allowed Exeter to withdraw from the action; by now, only one of her gun turrets was still in action, and she had suffered 61 dead and 23 wounded crew members.
  • At around 07:00, Exeter returned to the engagement, firing from her stern turret. Admiral Graf Spee fired on her again, scored more hits, and forced Exeter to withdraw again, this time with a list to port.
  • At 07:25, Admiral Graf Spee scored a hit on Ajax that disabled her aft turrets. Both sides broke off the action, Admiral Graf Spee retreating into the River Plate estuary, while Harwood’s battered cruisers remained outside to observe any possible breakout attempts. In the course of the engagement, Admiral Graf Spee had been hit approximately 70 times; 36 men were killed and 60 more were wounded, including Langsdorff, who had been wounded twice by splinters while standing on the open bridge.



Scuttling in Montevideo: as a result of battle damage and casualties, Langsdorff decided to put into Montevideo, where repairs could be effected and the wounded men could be evacuated from the ship. Most of the hits scored by the British cruisers caused only minor structural and superficial damage but the oil purification plant, which was required to prepare the diesel fuel for the engines, was destroyed. Her desalination plant and galley were also destroyed, which would have increased the difficulty of a return to Germany. A hit in the bow would also have negatively affected her seaworthiness in the heavy seas of the North Atlantic. Admiral Graf Spee had fired much of her ammunition in the engagement with Harwood’s cruisers. After arriving in port, the wounded crewmen were taken to local hospitals and the dead were buried with full military honours. Captive Allied seamen still aboard the ship were released. Repairs necessary to make the ship seaworthy were expected to take up to two weeks.

British naval intelligence worked to convince Langsdorff that vastly superior forces were concentrating to destroy his ship, if he attempted to break out of the harbour. The Admiralty broadcast a series of signals, on frequencies known to be intercepted by German intelligence. The closest heavy units—the carrier Ark Royal and battlecruiser Renown—were some 2,500 nm (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) away, much too far to intervene in the situation. Believing the British reports, Langsdorff discussed his options with commanders in Berlin. These were either to break out and seek refuge in Buenos Aires, where the Argentine government would intern the ship, or to scuttle the ship in the Plate estuary.

Langsdorff was unwilling to risk the lives of his crew, so he decided to scuttle the ship. He knew that although Uruguay was neutral, the government was on friendly terms with Britain and if he allowed his ship to be interned, the Uruguayan Navy would allow British intelligence officers access to the ship. Under Article 17 of the Hague Convention, neutrality restrictions limited Admiral Graf Spee to a period of 72 hours for repairs in Montevideo, before she would be interned for the duration of the war.On 17 December 1939, Langsdorff ordered the destruction of all important equipment aboard the ship. The  ship’s remaining ammunition supply was dispersed throughout the ship, in preparation for scuttling.

On 18 December, the ship, with only Langsdorff and 40 other men aboard, moved into the outer roadstead to be scuttled. A crowd of 20,000 watched as the scuttling charges were set; the crew was taken off by an Argentine tug and the ship was scuttled at 20:55. The multiple explosions from the munitions sent jets of flame high into the air and created a large cloud of smoke that obscured the ship which burned in the shallow water for the next two days.

On 20 December, in his room in a Buenos Aires hotel, Langsdorff shot himself in full dress uniform and lying on the ship’s battle ensign. In late January 1940, the neutral American cruiser USS Helena arrived in Montevideo and the crew was permitted to visit the wreck of Admiral Graf Spee. The Americans met the German crewmen, who were still in Montevideo. In the aftermath of the scuttling, the ship’s crew were taken to Argentina, where they were interned for the remainder of the war.

Photo by Imperial War Museum staff – This is photograph HU 3285 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 6307-02), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5097614

By S. W. Roskill – The War at Sea 1939–1945, Chapter VI, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6344759

By courtesy Wikipedia.org


Pakistan’s First Military Ruler; Pakistan’s Constitutional Past & Political Legacy

What is past is a prologue: any objective appraisal of Ayub Khan’s military rule in Pakistan which lasted for well over ten years (1958-1969), would place him in the medieval tradition of benevolent dictatorship. Ayub’s assumption and exercise of personal power was not an unusual phenomenon in Muslim history. Among the Muslims, the ruler has long been seen as the ‘shadow of God’- the ultimate source of power. Muslim jurists regard power as a ‘gift of Allah’, hence its own justification. To question the possession of power was to invite disorder. Following the doctrine of the lesser evil they firmly believed that personal rule, however tyrannical, was better than lawlessness. A usurper had only to plant himself at the pulpit and the ‘believers’ would render him instant allegiance. When the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared that the military revolution which brought Ayub to power in 1958 was in its own ‘source of law’, he was only following a well-established practice in Muslim history.

Ayub had one advantage over most other military rulers. His accession to power was generally, and quite genuinely, acknowledged as the only way out of the mess which the politicians had created during the first eleven years of Pakistan’s existence. The elitist classes, the feudal lords, the ulema and the bureaucrats, had all lost the right to speak for the people and this gave Ayub direct access to the masses. He spoke to them and they listened- he promised them reforms and they believed him.

Had Ayub remained true to the authoritarian tradition he would have relied on the more vocal and influential religious leaders to advocate and uphold his rule while keeping the army under his personal command. Instead, he sent the army back to the barracks and debarred the politicians, religious as well as secular, from participating in the affairs of the country. His hope was that he would take Pakistan into the modern age by disassociating himself from the fundamentalist visions of the past.

He knew that he could not achieve his goal without the participation of the people but he did not fully comprehend the requirements and demands of the people’s participation. He thought that given the low rate of literacy, hardly above ten percent, it should be enough for the people to choose their local leaders-Basic Democrats-after which they should leave him alone to get on with the job without undue interference. Like most Muslim rulers, Ayub failed to realize the participation would have no meaning unless it was based on the principles of equality and interdependence. Equality makes the people partners in failure, as in success, and interdependence generates a sense of mutual obligation based on tolerance and trust. The Islamic system of government, as generally understood, guarantees the rights of all citizens but their rights are not equal, nor do different communities interact with each other in a framework of interdependence. Under Ayub’s highly centralized system the people in the provinces never had the feeling of equality nor were the people of the country bound together in a network of collective self- reliance. East Bengal, in particular, blamed and not without justification, the central government for exploiting the resources of the province and denying the people their fundamental rights. Ayub presided over a coalition of unequal and unwilling partners.

Of great public concern was Ayub’s refusal to submit to any transparent system of accountability. Anyone who questioned the motives or performance of his government was considered ignorant or malicious. He expected the people to repose their trust in ‘the leader’ in order to enjoy the munificence of his rule. Given the resources of the country, Ayub should have known that the beneficiaries of his system would never outnumber the deprived among the masses. The prominence and affluence of the few would only add to the unhappiness of the many, who were denied even elementary opportunities of education, health and employment. That was why Ayub could never understand the disaffection of the Bengalis. He attributed their outbursts of resentment and agitation to emotionalism.

Under Ayub, Pakistan made great strides in the agricultural sector which was rapidly modernized and introduced to more efficient and productive methods of farming. The country made significant progress in the industrial field and a vibrant private sector, relieved of bureaucratic controls, came into operation. Unfortunately the hold of the big landlords on the land and the emergence of business and industrial cartels resulted in the concentration of wealth in a few hands. The ‘trickle down’ economics, which Ayub had embraced at the instigation of the World Bank proved a hollow slogan for development.

Ayub’s detractors criticize him disrupting the natural evolution of the democratic process in the country; his apologists blame the politicians who preceded him for corrupting the democratic institutions which Pakistan had inherited from the British at the time of independence in 1947. Both these positions are familiar alibis used by Muslim intellectuals and social scientists to avoid addressing the fundamental problem of reconciling the Islamic doctrines, as enunciated by Muslim jurists, with the democratic concepts and demands of the modern age.

Ayub tried to move the people towards the modern age but he found every route blocked not only by the fundamentalists but even by the so-called modernists who would tentatively sneak out of their conventional habitat, survey the ground and withdraw into their shells at the first sign of opposition. In the end Ayub was left with no supporter or any intermediary.

A quarter of a century on, social and political problems which Ayub set out to resolve continue to haunt the people of Pakistan. If anything, they have acquired greater complexity and gravity. The nation- state remains undefined. Equality of all citizens in all respects, regardless of faith and gender is still an unacceptable concept. The demand for an Islamic state has assumed far greater intensity though there is still no agreed definition of an Islamic state. The Constitution, as it stands today, confers such overriding powers on an indirectly- elected President that he can command the government to act in accordance with his instructions or wishes, and if he finds the working of the government unsatisfactory he can dissolve the National Assembly and dismiss the government. The President can, and indeed does, act in much the same manner as his authoritarian predecessors did because the basic problem of division of power between the head of state and parliament remains unsolved.

Ayub introduced a range of reforms in the hope that the benefits flowing from these would reach the people and they would come to recognize the merits of his system of government. Some of the reforms never got off the ground; others, like the land reforms, lost their purpose in the course of implementation. Still the introduction of the reforms created an atmosphere of rethinking which constituted a challenge to vested interests. The ulema were particularly alarmed when Family Laws came into operation. These laws gave married women certain rights which acted as a restraint on male freedom to divorce at will or acquire more than one wife. While women welcomed these laws, the conservative classes considered them an assault on the Islamic structure of society. When Ayub’s reforms came to be questioned he began to wonder whether he had not ‘pushed the people into the modern age.’

The implementation of the reforms was left to the administration. The result was sudden expansion in the size and powers of the bureaucracy which started to intrude in every corner of life and, at the behest of the rulers, snuffed out all criticism and dissent. In the end it was the bludgeoning presence of government functionaries which incited the people to revolt against an intrusive and oppressive system of government. The revolt was essentially a secular phenomenon because it arose out of the people’s refusal to accept any restrictions on their right of franchise or expression. Ayub thought that the people had ‘gone mad’ but he never understood the cause of their madness. The people had come to know of heir democratic rights, and despite their history, they opted for ‘lunacy’ because sanity demanded renunciation of those rights.

The provinces, particularly East Bengal, felt that they had lost their identity in Ayub’s unitary form of government. The governors of the provinces were mere agents of the President and the Provincial Assemblies were composed mostly of nominees of the administration, parading as representatives of the people. The struggle of the Bengalis for greater freedom evoked spontaneous response from the smaller provinces of West Pakistan which were groaning under the yoke of Punjabi and Pathan domination. Towards the end , Ayub came to the dismal conclusion that there was nothing to hold the country together except the fear of the Hindu. The best thing, he thought, was to ‘let East Pakistan go’ and give the other provinces the maximum autonomy they wanted.

Ayub had given Pakistan a system which Western social scientists had come to see as a model of development but as Ayub said towards the end, ‘We managed to bluff the world but our own people called the bluff.’

Ayub was seen as an enlightened world leader, particularly among the Afro-Asian nations. His greatest contribution was the bond of friendship he established between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China. Few leaders could have withstood the tremendous pressure he came under during the India-China War of 1962. President Kennedy wanted Ayub to give India some gesture of support which would help it to repel the Chinese invasion without having to worry about its flanks. Had Ayub succumbed to this pressure the Chinese would have been permanently alienated from Pakistan. Instead, Ayub used the opportunity with great foresight and skill to negotiate a border agreement with China which established a close relationship of understanding and cooperation between the two countries. Unfortunately, the Americans did not recognize that Pakistan’s friendship with China could also serve as an opening for them. Two years after Ayub’s abdication,  the Americans would use Pakistan as a covert channel of communication with the Chinese which led to a degree of normalization of relations between the US and the People’s Republic China.

No less significant was the breakthrough which Ayub achieved with the Soviet Union. As an ally of the United States, which had provided the USA with military bases, and a member of two regional pacts opposed to Soviet interests, Ayub could hardly expect a warm response from the Soviet leaders to any overture on his part. Yet when he visited the Soviet Union in March 1965, the first such venture by any Pakistani head of government, he succeeded in persuading the Soviet troika, Brezhnev, Podgorny and Kosygin, that the Soviet Union could rely on Pakistan as a friendly neighbour. He received a promise of military aid and economic cooperation and substantial financing for important joint projects. Ayub presented his case against India with great adroitness and secured an undertaking from the Soviet leaders to review their stand on Kashmir. In return Ayub gave a firm indication of his intention not to renew the lease of the US communication base in Pakistan. The Americans reacted angrily to Ayub’s parleys in Moscow and President  Johnson cancelled Ayub’s official visit to Washington. Unfortunately for Ayub, the USA had not yet realized that their regional pacts had lost all purpose, and their bases in Pakistan were no longer of vital importance to them.

India was Ayub’s greatest disappointment. He had successfully negotiated the Indus Basin treaty for the distribution of waters between India and Pakistan and hoped to resolve the Kashmir dispute through negotiations. The Indian Prime Minister Nehru, who was reasonable on other issues, was adamant on Kashmir with which he had deep personal attachment.

How did Ayub, a man of prudence, who would take infinite pains to examine a problem and who never hesitated to take personal command of any difficult situation get involved in Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir which made no military sense? And why did he allow the Operation to be controlled and run by a volatile Foreign Minister and an irresolute Commander- in- Chief?  Hopefully this account answers these questions. The controversy about Grand Slam, which was planned as the crowning move in Operation Gibraltar, and the decision to relieve General Akhtar Malik, who had masterminded the whole operation three days before the outbreak of the war, is finally laid to rest. The prevailing view in Pakistan is that if Ayub had allowed General Malik to play his hand to the finish he would have won the game. Even sensible army officers in Pakistan rely on an Indian writer who suggested that Grand Slam, if successful, ‘might have, at one stroke, lopped off the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of India, militarily and politically’. They ignore the proviso ‘if successful’ and insist that the change of command at that crucial moment was the most fateful decision of the war. The truth is that Grand Slam had no chance of success regardless of who was in command. General Akhtar Malik had lost all the tricks, none of his finesse had worked, and the trump he was holding was a rag.

There is no evidence that Ayub was the victim of any conspiracy, though there is enough to show that he was grossly misinformed about the details of the Operation and deliberately kept in the dark about its failure. He had approved Operation Gibraltar himself though he always regretted that he never set up a ‘counter syndicate’ to identify its flaws and weaknesses, a job which should have been done by the Commander- in-Chief in any case.

Ayub allowed his Foreign Minister to convince him that Kashmir was seething with discontent and the oppressed people of the state would rise in revolt once they saw Pakistan coming out in support of their struggle for liberation. There was no evidence whatever to support such a claim. Pakistan in fact had no contact with the leaders of Kashmir, much less with the people in the villages, where Pakistan commandos, armed to the teeth, would appear as liberators in the middle of the night only to create panic and terror. The whole Operation was based on two assumptions: (1) that the people of Kashmir would spontaneously rise in support of Pakistani soldiers coming to their liberation, and (2) that the Hindu had no stomach for a fight. The first assumption was a Foreign Office- cum Military Intelligence contrivance, inspired by wishful thinking and the second was the reflection of the traditional Muslim belief in their martial superiority. Ayub subscribed to this belief. In the final order  he issued before the outbreak of the war he said, ‘As a general rule Hindu morale would not stand more than a couple of hard blows at the right time and place.’

Ayub was no Abraham Lincoln or Salahuddin Ayubi, as Bhutto presented him in the beginning, but he was no charlatan either, as Bhutto portrayed him in the end. Ayub’s reforms in the economic field and the courageous and enlightened manner in which he faced international and domestic pressures during the India-China War made a lasting contribution in Pakistan’s stability and advancement. Ayub failed because military rule is a complete negation of democratic principles and fundamental human rights. The people of Pakistan rejected Ayub’s dictatorship, despite some of its material benefits, because they were not prepared to give up their democratic rights. More than any other form of personal rule, military dictatorship brings out the worst qualities in a citizen- fear, jealousy, suspicion- and turns the qualities of tolerance, trust  and self- sacrifice into unrewarding pursuits.

Ayub’s greatest contribution was to continue the process which Jinnah had initiated, of reconciling the demands of the modern age with the demands of Islam. If the people of Pakistan pursue that process, with their eyes on the expanding avenues of the times, and defy the fundamentalists who would drive them back to the dark caves of the past, then the lessons of the Ayub era would serve as a prologue to the struggle that awaits the Muslims and demands of them a dynamic willingness to undertake Ijtihad, the highest form of creative defiance of obscurantist tradition. Without Ijtihad the dream of Muslim renaissance shall, for ever, remain an illusion.



The concept of Pakistan found its first formal expression in the Pakistan Resolution adopted by the Muslim League in 1940. The Resolution envisaged the grouping of areas in which the Muslims were numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, into “independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. This position was reconsidered by the Muslim League in the Legislator’s Convention held in Delhi between 7 and 9 April 1946. In his speech to the Convention, Jinnah said:

We are a nation of 100 million and what is more with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history an traditions, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law we are a nation.

In the resolution that was adopted by the Convention on 9 April it was demanded that “the zones comprising Bengal and Assam in the North East and the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan in the North West of India, namely Pakistan zones, where the Muslims ate in in a dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent state”. On 12 May 1946 the Muslim League endorsed the President’s memorandum of the minimum demands of the Muslims according to which the six Muslim provinces (Punjab, NWFP, Baluchistan, Sindh, Bengal and Assam), named as the Pakistan Group would deal with all subjects and matters “except foreign affairs, defense and communications necessary for defense”. A separate constitution-making body would be established for the six Muslim provinces to “frame constitutions for the Group and the provinces in the Group” and to determine “the list of subjects that shall be provincial and Central (of the Pakistan Federation) with residuary sovereign powers vesting in the Provinces”. While the subjects were not identified the memorandum provided that: “After the Constitutions of the Pakistan Federal government and the Provinces are finally framed by constitution-making Body, it will be open to any province of the Group to decide to opt out of its Group, provided the wishes of the people of that Province are ascertained by a referendum to opt out or not”. (Emphasis added). The provinces were thus given a pledge that they would have full control over all subjects except the three which were allocated to the central government under clause I of the memorandum. It is true that the memorandum was adopted while the Muslim League was still engaged in negotiations with the British and the Congress in the hope of establishing a confederation in India composed of two federations and, therefore, the powers of the confederate authority were being restricted to the minimum possible extent. But even a plain reading of the April resolution and of all the earlier resolutions, leaves one in no doubt that the Muslim League did not envisage at any time the establishment of a federal state of Muslim provinces in which the constituent units would be wholly subservient to central authority.

In his Presidential address to the Assembly on 11 August 1947 Jinnah said:

“The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. Th first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing our future Constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the federal legislature of Pakistan”. Referring to the first function, he made a momentous declaration, saying:

Pakistan could be made and prosperous if the government were to concentrate on the well- being of the people especially of the masses and the poor. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to hat community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what his colour, caste, or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations . . . you may belong to any religion or caste or creed- that has nothing to do with the business of state.

He concluded with the words:

Now, 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 b 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.

When Jinnah’s speech appeared in the newspapers it caused a great consternation among the orthodox classes since Jinnah was clearly advocating a secular model of democratic government of Pakistan. The question arose “What will be the position of Islam in Pakistan?” Almost immediately the  ulema who had, at best, played a subsidiary role in the struggle for Pakistan began to assert that the alone had the authority to define the place of Islam in the future Constitution of Pakistan. The Lahore Resolution contained no reference to Islam. Nor was there anything to suggest that Pakistan had been established to revive old Islamic institutions. The Resolution only talked about the areas where the Muslims were in a numerical majority and required that such areas should be grouped to constitute independent states. It was a secular demand based on the western secular concept of the people exercising their right of self- determination. Thus were sown the seeds of a major conflict between those who shared Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a democratic state, where all citizens would have equal status and rights, and the fundamentalists who wanted to convert Pakistan into a model Islamic state governed by the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan consisting of some sixty- nine members, comprising politicians, landlords, retired bureaucrats, lawyers and businessmen, few of whom had any knowledge of Islamic law or history, was overwhelmed by the rhetoric of the ulema. They had been elected to the Constituent Assembly not directly by the people but by the provincial assemblies before Independence. In March 1949 the Assembly adopted what was called the Objectives Resolution. The Resolution proclaimed: “whereas sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He had delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust”. The concept of sovereignty was not defined nor was any indication give of the limits prescribed by Allah. The Resolution required the Assembly to frame a Constitution for “the sovereign independent State of Pakistan“.

A Basic Principles Committee and a Board of Talimaat-i-Islamia was appointed to advise on matters arising out of the Objectives Resolution. The Committee submitted an interim report on September 1950. It proposed that the Objectives Resolution should be incorporated in the Constitution as a directive principle of state policy. The Committee also suggested that “steps should be taken in many spheres of governmental activities to enable the Muslims, as laid down in the Objectives Resolution to order their lives in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah”.

The growing difference of opinion among the representatives of the different sects of Islam compounded the problem of providing an agreed definition of the Islamic State and the fundamentalists began to fear that the Islamic Constitution might come to be seen as  “a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. Stung by this fear the ulema held a convention in Karachi in January 1951. Thirty one religious scholars “representing all the schools of Islamic thought” unanimously formulated what they called “the fundamental principles of the Islamic State”.  The document containing these principles provided inter alia that “ultimate sovereignty over all Nature and all Law vests in Allah, the Lord of the universe, alone” and “the Laws of the Land shall be based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah and no law shall be enacted nor any administrative order issued in contravention of the Qur’an and Sunnah”;  “the State shall be based not on geographical, racial, linguistic, or any other materialistic concepts but on the principles and ideals of Islamic ideology”; that “the Head of the State shall always be a make Muslim in whose piety, learning, and soundness of judgement the people or their elected representatives had confidence”; and that “no interpretation of the Constitution which is in conflict with the provisions of the Qur’an or the Sunnah shall be valid”. The ulema made no attempt to define “the principles and ideals of Islamic ideology” on which the state was to be based nor did they suggest any institution or procedure for the interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah. They did not recognize universal franchise and there was no mention of any legislature. They talked about the body empowered to elect the Head of the State but did not suggest how that body was to come into existence. The provinces were to be reduced to the level of ‘administrative units’ under the “supremacy of the centre”. The whole document was a farrago of archaic, contradictory, and self- serving recommendations aimed at establishing an authoritarian form of government in which the ulema would have the ultimate authority to interpret the Qur’an and Sunnah an prescribe the scope and limits of legislation. In other words the ulema would act as a supra- parliament body with the power to overrule the legislature. Not surprisingly the unanimous endeavours of the ulema did not advance the cause of the Islamic state.

The final report of the Basic Principles Committee was published in December 1952 and another convention of the ulema met in Karachi in January 1953 and proposed a number of amendments to the recommendations made by the Committee. At last the ulema mustered the courage to address the problem of defining Islamic ideology. They held that: “. . . it was not enough to say in the Constitution that no law should be enacted which was repugnant to the Qur’an and Sunnah. What is required is that it should be laid down as a matter of principle that the dictates and directives of the Qur’an and Sunnah should be the chief source of legislation”.

Before giving assent to any bill, the Head of State must consult ” a Board consisting of not more than five persons well- versed in Islamic laws”, an if the Board unanimously found the bill repugnant to the Qur’an and Sunnah the bill should be referred back to a joint sitting of the two houses of the federal legislature. For a member of the Board It was enough to have been a mufti for ten years or a qadi or a teacher in any religious institution, but to be a member of the legislature, a Muslim must be known to observe all Islamic duties and desist from all that was forbidden. Most of the amendments proposed by the ulema were as vague as the principles formulated by them.


The demand for Pakistan was based on Jinnah’s “Two-Nation Theory” according to which the Muslims of India represented a separate nation and were entitled to an independent homeland of their own. Jinnah did not question the principle of majority rule, nor did he disagree with the western concept of democratic government. He rested his case on the claim, which was not easy to refute, that the principle of majority rule under one government could not apply to two separate nations. The fact of Hindu-Muslim ‘separateness’ was the critical point in Jinnah’s argument which had a tremendous emotional appeal for the Muslim masses because it reflected so dramatically the reality of their social condition.

Once Pakistan was established, the sense of separateness and fear of Hindu domination which had provided the principal motivating force during the struggle for liberation disappeared. Free, at last, the Muslims were called upon to establish a nation state based on the principles of equality, justice, accountability to the people, and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. The only collective political concept with which the Muslims were familiar was that of the ‘Ummah‘ (Muslim brotherhood). A democratic nation-state, governed by majority rule regardless of caste, colour or creed was something wholly novel, if not alien, to Muslim history. But in the euphoria of independence, Islam and Pakistan had come to be treated as synonymous.

Jinnah recognized the problem and attempted to resolve it in his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947. But there were fundamental conceptual contradictions which could not be resolved by appeals to national unity. The distinction between the nation and the state was not recognized; indeed the state was not even defined. With the establishment of Pakistan, two lobbies began to assert themselves: the reformists, inclined towards secular democratic ideals, and the fundamentalists, who favoured the revival of an authoritarian form of government dominated by civil- military bureaucracy.

To the reformists, Islam was a dynamic force, a concept of life, and not of law, a source of nourishment for the springs of creative thought and not an immutable code of do’s and don’ts. They maintained that the Qur’an did not prescribe any form of government nor were any rigid rules or regulations laid down for organizing the institutional structure of the state. The Islamic state should be built on the principles of equality and justice as presented in the Qur’an and it must respond to the demands of the time by providing full freedom to the creative spirit of the people. The principles of equality and justice were immutable but there was an ever expanding field available for innovation and progress in the intellectual, political and social spheres. The reformists asserted these principles quite forcefully, but when it came to giving them a concrete form, suited to the needs of the people, they could not think of any institutions other than the ones they had become accustomed to under the British.

The fundamentalists, on the other hand, insisted that the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) provided all the laws that would ever be needed by mankind and those laws were applicable to all societies at all times. All fundamental questions of principle having been finally settled, there was no longer any room for innovation or dissent. All that was required was to discover those laws from the Qur’an, by following the judgements and decrees of authoritative Muslim jurists, not to invent new laws. The reformists had the support of the Western educated classes. The fundamentalists found their supporters among the conservative lower- middle classes. The reformists clung to the British institutions, the fundamentalists to their memory of the past. Paradoxically, both the reformists and the fundamentalists ended up by becoming champions of status quo and allies of the ruling junta in frustrating the popular forces of change.

Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, who was Secretary-General in the Government of Pakistan and later became Prime Minister, regarded the British institutions as “the principal gift of the British to their colonies”. The Western elite, and politicians, the civil servants, the judges and the lawyers believed that the future of the country, as much as their own, depended on the continuation of those institutions.

Among the fundamentalists there was much talk of introducing the Shariah ( the Islamic code) and establishing Islamic institutions. But when it came to formulating any concrete proposals, the ulema could not go beyond making vacuous assertions and pious declarations. It took them years to decide whether sovereignty belonged to the people or to Allah. They never paused to reflect that sovereignty was a complex western concept based on ‘the principle that the authority of law was derived from the community and the law was supreme, not only over subjects but over rulers.

In 1956 when the first Constitution was adopted, after nine years of political debate, all that was recognizable as Islamic in the Constitution was a directive principle of state policy that “steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan individually and collectively to order their lives in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah”. The rest of the Constitution was no more than a revised version of the Government of India Act 1935. Ayub Khan would later describe the Constitution as a ‘document of despair.’

By courtesy: Ayub Khan by Altaf Gauhar, Oxford University Press Karachi 1996

The Age of Napoleon


The currents of history run fitfully. At some points they turn sluggish; spreading out into what seems stagnant pools of time, as in the “Dark Ages” of Europe. At other points they appear to rush on, cutting new channels towards the future, as they did, for instance, in the early years of the sixteenth century. In 1789, with the storming of the Bastille, the flow of human events suddenly broke into a rapid which in its swirling, turbulent course had no precedent. For a quarter of a century, ending with the maelstrom at Waterloo, people and principalities were tossed about by forces that shattered the peace of Europe and disrupted its established structure–forces that, before they were spent, reached to far corners of the world with revolutionary consequences.

While the Continent struggled to contain its internal disturbances, in the Americas and in the Indies old empires disintegrated and new ones took shape, new nations were conceived and others were born to larger destinies. But during those crucial years Europe remained the centre of the world stage, and for most of them Napoleon Bonaparte played such a dominant role that, as has been said, the man quickly became the epoch.

It seems impossible to consider Napoleon dispassionately. In his own day he was variously regarded by his enemies and adherents with fear, hatred, awe, respect, admiration, devotion, and even veneration-but rarely with love, even by members of his own family, and never with indifference by any who fell within the range of his influence. Ever since, he has remained the subject of continuous interest and controversy-sometimes cast as a demigod, sometimes as a demon, practically always seen as a figure considerably larger than life. Probably no other mortal has received so much attention from historians and biographers, critics and enthusiasts.

Yet in spite of the prodigious amount of study that has been devoted to the man and his times, there is still little general agreement as to whether Napoleon is more important as a product and symbol- a victim, perhaps- of circumstances that were not of his making, or as a man who, pursuing his own destiny, shaped circumstances that governed the course of history. Like all great men, Napoleon was both, of course; but to a degree uncommon in other great men, he was also an opportunist who took circumstances as he found them and used them to his own ends.. He did not count on luck, but by studied calculations of the risks and by swift decision he countered on mastering luck. By his own confession his ultimate objectives were often not clear. In the final analysis it was his own destiny that mattered, and this he identified or confused with the destiny of civilization itself.

At the moment Napoleon appeared on the world scene the destiny of Western civilization seemed to hang on the outcome of the French Revolution. Chaotic forces had been loosed that quickly brought France to a state of terror and charged much of the surrounding world with excitement and apprehension. But with these convulsive beginnings, Napoleon had little to do. The megalomania that seized France in the years immediately following the Terror was not induced by Napoleon either, but by the impetus of the Revolution and the ideas it projected. Nevertheless, when as First Consul he acquired supreme control of the nation, Napoleon appeared to many as the true child of the Revolution- the embodiment of its spirit and the saviour of its principles.

Neither the Revolution nor the Napoleonic wars completely broke the stream of French tradition. Napoleon’s most constructive accomplishments followed historic trends that had deep roots in the policies of his royal precursors. His Civil Code, his centralization of the administration of France, and the monuments he had raised were but refinements and enlargements of the intentions of Richelieu and Louis XIII, Colbert and Louis XIV more than a century earlier. Even his Egyptian campaign was a long deferred enactment of schemes hatched by royal ministers of the past to secure the “master key to world commerce” and unlock convenient channels to the fabulous wealth of the Indies.

The success with which Napoleon rapidly reorganized the administration of his own country, unified its laws, an reduced its economic confusion was the envy of such other rulers as Alexander of Russia. In achieving those positive ends he was giving reality to ideals of system, order, and efficiency that had stirred the imagination of philosophers as well as that of “enlightened despots” throughout the eighteenth century. That his reforms had to be buttressed, both against internal strains and external threats, by effective military force added stability to a structure of widely approved designs. Such a highly organized, powerful system of bureaucratic control had not been seen in the Western world since the decline of imperial Rome; and France bears its imprint to this day. The impact of these reforms was felt- is still felt- far beyond the confines of France. The Civil Code by which the new government was administered has been termed one of the few books that have influenced the whole world. It was, Napoleon himself claimed, “the code of the age. It not only ordains tolerance but systematizes it, and tolerance is the greatest blessing of mankind.”

That Napoleon assumed dictatorial authority in bringing the Revolution so sharply to order at first caused little enough concern, save in French royalist circles. The men whose writings had done so much to undermine the foundations of the old regime-Montesquieu, Diderot, Turgot, Rousseau, and the philosophes in general- had made no great claims for republicans as such, no more than they did democracy; but to a man they had aimed at a more rational order of society. They sought a formula to express those “natural” principles which, once discovered and applied to government, would assure human liberty and social harmony. It should matter little under what auspices the principles were put in practice, but likely enough it would take a strong man to dictate such enlightenment to a land so long in the shadows of outworn tradition.

So far Napoleon indeed appears as the child of his age, an offspring of the ambiguities that so distinctively characterized the eighteenth century. Beyond this however, he becomes an anachronism, at once a throwback to a vanished past and a herald of times yet to come. The epoch that so heavily felt his influence begins to resemble an aberration of history, a deviation explicable only in terms of the temperament and genius of one man. Over the previous centuries Europe had been partitioned into kingdoms that were in effect private estates of their ruling dynasties, estates conveyed by one generation to another by royal marriages, or should dynastic schemes become hopelessly snarled, by royal wars of succession- relatively “civilized” wars compared to those that would follow. Tradition and circumstance had long established among these diverse states a fluctuating balance of power. That relatively comfortable stability was shattered by the marching French armies which under Napoleon became a war machine such as the world had not seen.

As the citizen soldiers of revolutionary France- mobilized in great masses to serve their patrie- swarmed across national boundaries, the professional armies of tradition were quickly proved obsolete. In self- defense against this new military pattern the rest of the world would have little choice but to follow suit. Warfare was converted from “the sport of the kings,” as it was once called, to the total effort of a people struggling either for prestige or for survival, as world has had continued reason to remember.

In retrospect the imbalance of power created by the sudden rise of French might proved to be an anomaly. The separate traditions of the nations of Europe were so deeply rooted that even the withering blasts of Napoleon’s armies could not long stunt their growth. On the contrary, as it happened, they found new vigour during the passing storms; in the century that followed, nationalism flowered as it never had before. Yet for a decade or more all Europe, from the Urals to the Atlantic and from Archangel to Cape Mattapan was subject to strife and conquest; the fate of all nations lay within the reach of a single individual. Beyond its Channel fortress even England was threatened with invasion. And before this abnormal state of affairs was corrected, the dead would have to be counted and institutional debris would have to be cleared away.

More than a thousand years after Pope Leo had crowned the Frankish king in St. Peter’s, almost two thousand years after Caesar conquered at Pharsalia; Napoleon overcame the emperors of Austria and Russia, who claimed to represent the old and the new Rome respectively. Francis abdicated his imperial title and Europe’s most venerable institution came to its end, and with it an era of world history. The self- styled “Emperor of the French” could hope to rule all Europe from Paris as Caesar had ruled it from Rome. And this he came remarkably close to doing. At the peak of his influence, Napoleon’s international domain included a greater area than the European holdings of the entire empire o Caesar or of Charlemagne.

For Frenchmen who survived them, those were unforgettable days. Even under Louis XIV, the Grand Monarch, France had not known such glory and grandeur, or such power. To the parades of victorious armies Napoleon added the pageant of imperial ceremony on a continental scale. Abandoning the barren Josephine for a Hapsburg princess, he married into one of Europe’s oldest and proudest families. The saga of the little Corsican was up to the turning point of his fortune, the greatest success story ever told.

When his success ran out and a new European balance sheet was drawn up, the results were contrary to almost everything Napoleon had envisioned. England stood firmly at the crossroads of world commerce, supreme mistress of the seas. Russia emerged as an important power in the West for the first time in history. The way was prepared for a federation of German states under the domination of Prussia. The people of Italy were reminded of their own ancient unity. And France remained, somewhat shrunken on the map, at the crucial centre of aroused nationalism and international rivalries.

Along with the divisive tendencies that kept Europe so effectively split into competing national camps went an old, recurrent dream of continental unity- a dream that has not yet lost its power to stir the minds of men. Under the single law and language of ancient Rome, proudly shared by diverse peoples, Europe had known such unity over a period of centuries, a period that was recalled with nostalgia long after the dissolution of the Roman Empire. Again under Charlemagne and during the early Middle Ages most of Europe was united, by a common religion and a common social structure, into a single church- empire that only slowly broke apart and faded away. At other times and in other ways the dream has been revived. The cosmopolitanism of the eighteenth century led toward a cultural unity that was charged with creative energies.

With the Napoleonic age the dream became something of a nightmare. The kind of political unification Napoleon had hoped to impose upon the Continent- if not upon the world- proved to be premature, if not simply specious. His pragmatism in applying what he chose to consider the principles of the French Revolution betrayed the weakness of eighteenth- century philosophy. Goethe stated with more enthusiasm than accuracy that “Napoleon was the expression of all that was reasonable, legitimate, and European in the revolutionary movement.” but, even had Goethe been right, there are loyalties and habits which men will not forsake in the name of reason. Napoleon’s failure to consolidate the Continent in a unified system was in a sense th failure o eighteenth century to redeem itself in the name of reason.

In one of his moods Napoleon contended that the causes of his ultimate defeat remained beyond the reach of either man or reason. “The obstacles before which I failed did not proceed from men but from the elements,” he rationalized at St. Helena. “In the south it was the sea that destroyed me; and in the north it was the fire of Moscow and the ice of winter; so there it is, water, air, fire, all nature and nothing but nature; these were the opponents of a universal regeneration commanded by Nature itself! The problems of nature are insoluble!”

By courtesy:The Age of Napoleon by J. Christopher Herold published in New York by the American Heritage Publishing Company Inc. 1963.


Kashmir 1947-48

Matters came to a head in August 1948 after the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) proposed the withdrawal of Pakistani troops that had entered Kashmir (which would include Pakistani withdrawal from Gilgit also). This proposal was against British policy. However the Americans continued to support a Pakistani withdrawal on the ground that the State’s accession to India could not be questioned until India lost the proposed plebiscite.

It was at that stage that Ernst Bevin the British foreign secretary, decided to talk frankly to George Marshall, the American secretary of state. Bevin spoke to Marshall on 27 October 1948 when the two were present in Pais for the UN General Assembly meeting. After observing “that Nehru since he was a Kashmiri Hindu was very emotional and intransigent on the subject,” Bevin added:

The main issue was who would control the main artery leading into Central Asia. The Indian proposal would leave that in their hands . . .

Bevin had let the cat out of the bag: that the issue concerning Gilgit was strategic and not one of the legality or the presence or otherwise of the Pakistani forces there. The ‘main artery’ into Central Asia that Bevin had referred to was the British-built track from Gilgit to Kashgar in Sinkiang, via the 4709-meter high Mintaka Pass, across the mighty Karakoram Range. (This artery had been an important link for them with their consulate general in Kashgar which maintained a British presence north of the Karakoram).

From the internal telegrams exchanged between the State Department in Washington and the US delegation to the UN in Paris it is evident that Bevin failed to carry the Americans along. Simple cease-fire order (as the Briish were insisting on) without provisions for truce and plebiscite would imply sanctioning of Pakistani troops (italics added) and would not only be inconsistent with the provision of the SC (Security Council) and UNCIP approach but would (also) be highly unacceptable to GOI (Government of India)– From Washington to its delegation in Paris on 11 November 1948:

Accordingly the US delegate to the UN, John Foster Dulles, on 10 November 1948, told Sir Alexander Cadogan, the British delegate to the UN:  ‘Difficulties involved in immediate cease-fire remain substantial without overall political settlement and in the light of India’s claim to the area (Gilgit).’

Let us now for a moment look at India’s policy towards Gilgit. Nehru first briefed Mountbatten on J&K through a note on 17 June 1947: the state consists of roughly three parts: Kashmir Proper, Jammu and Ladakh (Baltistan, Skardu, Kargil). The note omitted to describe Gilgit as part of the state. Such a document coming from the future prime minister could have created the impression in London that the Indian leaders had ceased to consider Gilgit as part of J&K (possibly because of the lease). It could have emboldened those planning Brown’s coup.

However on 25 October 1947, after Pakistan attempted to seize J&K through the tribal invasion, Nehru wrote to Attlee as follows: Kashmir’s northern frontiers, as you aware, run in common with those of three countries, Afghanistan, the USSR and China. Security of Kashmir . . . is vital to the security of India especially that part of the northern boundary of Kashmir and India is crucial. Helping Kashmir, therefore, is an obligation of national interest of India.

Yet, some four months later, i.e., on 20 February 1948 the prime minister wrote to Krishna Menon, the Indian high commissioner in the UK, as follows: Even Mountbatten ‘has hinted a partition of Kashmir’, Jammu for India, and the rest including lovely Vale of Kashmir to Pakistan. This is totally unacceptable to us . . . Although if the worst comes to the worst I am prepared to accept Poonch and Gilgit being partitioned off (italics added).

Lord Mountbatten was anxious to settle the Kashmir dispute before he relinquished the governor-generalship in June 1948. At his behest, V.P. Menon and Sir Gopalswami Iyengar, the minister without portfolio, drew up a plan for the partition of the state, complete with maps (which left Gilgit to Pakistan). It is difficult to believe that the Indian ministers remained ignorant of this exercise. Nothing came out of it but the proposal was not kept confidential. V.P. Menon on 31 July 1948, told the charge d’ affairs of the US Embassy in Delhi that the ‘Government of India will accept a settlement based on accession of Mirpur, Poonch, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit to Pakistan’.  Such a statement cut the ground from under the US’s stand that to leave the occupied areas in Pakistan’s control ‘would be highly unacceptable to GOI.’

Joseph Korbel was a member of the UNCIP which visited Delhi in July 1948. He has written that Sir Girja Shanker Bajpai, secretary general of he Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while talking to UNCIP members on 13 July 1948, sought the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from J&K (which would include Gilgit) before all else and said,  ‘ . .the sands of time are running out. If the problem is not resolved by reason, the sword will find the solution’. This was in line with India’s complaint to the Security Council.

However, Korbel goes on to say that, a few days later, the Indian prime minister told him: ‘He would not be opposed to the idea of dividing the country between India and Pakistan.’ this meant leaving Gilgit to Pakistan.

Lars Blinkenberg, a Danish diplomat, has recorded that: On 20 August 1948, Nehru in a separate letter to the UNCIP Chairman stated ‘that the authority over the region (the Northern Areas) as a whole has not been challenged or disturbed, except by roving bands of hostile or, in some places, by irregulars or by Pakistani troops . . .we desire that after Pakistani troops and irregulars have withdrawn from the territory, the responsibility for the administration of the evacuated areas should revert to the Government of Kashmir and that for defense to us . . . We must be free to maintain garrisons at selected points in this area.’

The chairman in his reply, fudged the issue. ‘the question raised in your letter could be considered in the implementation of the resolution.’

However, the question was never pressed diligently afterwards. On 4 November 1948, a Pakistan Air Force Dakota on a supply-dropping flight to Gilgit was attacked by Indian planes. As a result the Pakistan Cabinet decided that fighter escorts would be provided for supply-dropping missions to Gilgit that was cut off in winter from Pakistan. Whitehall was worried that if this was done, India may then try to take on the Pakistan Air Force and attack airfields in Pakistan. After consulting the UK high commissioner in Delhi, Air Marshall Thomas Elmherst, the chief of the Indian Air Force, then called on the prime minister and held an hour-long discussion on the subject with him. During this discussion he succeeded in persuading Nehru to ignore the Pakistani aircraft supply-dropping missions to Gilgit. Besides abandoning the simplest way to cut off Gilgit from Pakistan in the coming winter months, the decision amounted to recognizing Pakistan’s presence in the Northern Areas.

It may be noted that no offensive was ever planned to regain Gilgit. Admittedly, the Army had constraints in reaching the Northern Areas during 1948 but the matter was never raised at any relevant or Joint Defence Committee meeting.

In view of the erratic positions adopted by India on Gilgit it is not surprising that he UNCIP proposals of August 1948 and amended by interests parties in Pakistan’s favour, so that the Pakistan vacation of Gilgit (and other occupied areas) did not remain unconditional. India failed to exploit the US support for its juridical position; indeed, it made statements that undermined the favorable stand taken by the Americans. After India accepted, in December 1948, a ceasefire on UNCIP terms that left Gilgit in Pakistani control, the US dropped its insistence on a Pakistani withdrawal from Gilgit. The US State Department had sought the opinion of John Hall Paxton, it’s counsel in Tihwa in Sinkiang on the feelings of the Muslims there on the issue. The consul replied that the Sinkiang Muslims felt closer affinities with the Muslims than the Hindus of the subcontinent. He also reported that most of the trade between India and Sinkiang was in the hands of Muslims. This information also possibly persuaded the US to accept the status quo.

The other area of J&K that Britain definitely wanted to go to Pakistan was the western strip of territory from Naushera to Muzaffarabad lying along Pakistan Punjab. The reason why Britain felt that his area had to go to Pakistan is best told in the words of General Douglas Gracey, the Briish commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army: Its (this area) going to India would (mean facing) ‘the Indian Army on the long Pakistan border within 30 miles of the strategic railway leading from Peshawar through West Punjab to Lahore’. . . Occupation of Bhimber and Mirpur (two important places in that area) will give India the strategic advantage of . . . sitting on our doorsteps, threatening the Jhelum bridge which is so vital to us. It will also give them control of the Mangla Headworks,  placing the irrigation in Jhelum and other districts at their mercy. . . Furthermore, loss of Muzaffarabad- Kohala (a strategically located place) would have the most far reaching effect on the security of Pakistan. It would enable the Indian Army to secure the rear gateway to Pakistan through which it can march at any time it wishes. . . it will encourage subversive elements such as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his party, (the Fakir of ) Ipi and (those in) Afghanistan. If Pakistan is not to face another serious refugee problem . . . If civilian and military morale is not be affected to a dangerous extent; and if subversive political forces are not to be encouraged and let loose in Pakistan itself,  it is imperative that the Indian Army is not allowed to advance beyond the general line, Uri-Poonch-Naoshera. To make Pakistan a confident and willing member of the Briish team, it had to be made to feel secure.

Unlike Gilgit, India and Pakistan fought for over a year to take control of this belt along the Pakistan part of the Punjab. This matter presented a very complicated diplomatic tangle. Before we proceed to deal with this story, let us take a quick look at J&K’s topography, its relevant past and the events leading to the crisis and subsequent war. Nearly the size of France (J&K), the state extended from the subcontinental plains to the Pamirs. Three great mountain ranges ran across it, east to west, and their spurs, north to south, cut up the vast area into different segments, so that people of different racial stocks and different cultures, who spoke different languages and professed different faiths, were found in this patchwork.

The Karakoram range separated the state from Central Asia. This range contained glaciers larger than any seen beyond the Poles and massive mountains-K2 (8610 meters), the second tallest peak in the world, and a host of other giants over 7600 meters. The Himalayan range ran through its middle, with the massif of the Nanga Parbat (8126meters) at its western extremity. The Pir Panjal range separated these highlands from the southern foothills, akin the Dogra stronghold of Jammu was situated. The Kashmir Valley, or Kashmir Proper, was situated in the western reaches of the mountains with the ancient city of Srinagar on the Dal Lake. The valley occupied less than ten percent of the total area of the state though it contained well over half the state’s population of about four million. The only all-weather road from this isolated but beautiful valley ran along the Jhelum River to the west towards Pakistan. From Srinagar to Jammu there existed a fair-weather road through the Banihal Pass (2700 meters), closed during winter.

The Northern Areas were inhabited by Shia Muslims including Ismailis; eastern Ladakh along Tibet with Leh as its capital by Lamaistic Buddhists, Jammu Province by Dogras and other stock as the Punjabi Muslims across the border. The Kashmir Valley had 80% Sunni Muslims, the rest being Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandits (the last, because of their talents having spread to occupy important posts throughout India). The valley enjoyed a distinct cultural identity (Kashmiriyat), the main characteristics of which was a tolerant form of Islam–thanks to the Sufis who had proselytized there in the Middle Ages and to its relative isolation. Or was it because rare is the union of beauty and purity?

Till the fourteenth.century, the Kashmir Valley and some of the areas of the present state were ruled by a series of Buddhists and Hindu dynasties, which later were supplanted by Muslim rulers. In the sixteenth century, Akbar the Great started to spend the summer months in Srinagar. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the area passed into the grasp of the Afghans, from whom the Sikh King, Ranjit Singh wrested in 1819. The origin of the state dated from 1846. After the British defeated the Sikhs decisively and annexed the Punjab that year, they handed the mountainous territory to the north of the Punjab to Gulab Singh, the Dogra chieftain of Jammu- for a monetary consideration.

Gulab Singh and his generals extended Dogra sovereignty up to the Pamirs and Tibet. They united and held together this fragmentary land, the maharaja providing the focal point and a certain razzmatazz. The Briish were content to let the Dogras enlarge the territories of the Empire up to Central Asia, cost free. As the Russians started moving southwards in the 1860s and the Great Game began, the viceroy assumed greater control over the territory by stationing political agents in it. In the 1880s the British built the track from Gilgit to Kashgar in Sinkiang via the Mintaka Pass in the Karakoram. Kashmir became even more important for Britain after the Bolsheviks took hold of Russia in the 1929s and started to penetrate the frontiers ‘with the invisible force of ideology,’ sending communist agents and literature into India. They used the unfrequented Kashmir passes, including the 5575-meter high Karakoram Pass on the track from Leh to Yarkand*. Agents of both sides used Kashmir rather than the more exposed routes via Afghanistan. Colonel F.M. Bailey, on his famous mission to Tashkent in 1918, left via Kashmir.

* both the towns, Kashgar and Yarkand in Sinkiang lay on the old silk route between Europe and China.

Till March 1947, it was expected that the rulers of some of the bigger princely states, such as J&K, might choose independence and remain associated with Britain, particularly in the vital sphere of defence. However, British policy in April 1947 suddenly changed, and the princely states were advised to accede to one or the other dominion. As soon as the agreement on partition was reached, Lord Mountbatten himself, on 17 June 1947, travelled to Srinagar to discuss the future of this strategically placed area with the ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh. They were old acquaintances, having served together as aides-de-camp to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) during his fairly lengthy tour of India in 1921. Mountbatten broached the subject with the maharaja, during a car drive, with Hari Singh at the wheel of his Bentley. Mountbatten told me many years later:

I explained to HH (His Highness) that his choice was between acceding to India or Pakistan and made it clear that I had assurances from the Indian leaders that if he acceded to Pakistan they would not take it amiss.  According to V.P. Menon, ‘these assurances had been given by Sardar Patel, the Home Minister himself* * before the ‘basket of princes’ promised by Mountbatten had been delivered to him, which happened around 15 August 1947.

**Patel was more flexible on Kashmir. The viceroy was helping to place in the Indian dominion an area spread over 500,000 square miles with a population of 86.5 million, comprising the princely states. Patel was more concerned with them and also in obtaining Mountbatten’s help to discourage the Nizam of Hyderabad from seeking independence for his state. It was after Pakistan tried to seize J&K by force through a barbaric attack that Patel became the most indefatigable crusader against Pakistan on Kashmir.

H.V. Hodson who was given permission to see the Mountbatten papers that are not available to others, has written that that the viceroy also told Hari Singh not to take a decision till the Pakistan Constituent Assembly had been convened. While briefing Jinnah on 1 November 1947 at Lahore, Mountbatten maintained that he had advised the maharaja ‘to ascertain the will of the people and then accede to the Dominion of the people’s choice.’

The loss of the option of independence came as a shock to Hari Singh. He shut himself up like an oyster, avoiding thereby further discussions with the viceroy. He probably felt that his friend wanted him to join Pakistan. This he was absolutely unwilling to do. It would enrage his entire Dogra base and could lead to his elimination by the Muslim fanatics gathering in Pakistan. If he acceded to India, he risked alienating a large section of his Muslim subjects. Besides there was no safety for him in India either. Sheikh Abdullah the leader of the National Conference-then the strongest party in the Kashmir Valley-posed a major threat to his throne and Dogra rule, against which Abdullah and his followers had been agitating since 1938. The fact that Abdullah’s party was allied to the Indian National Congress and that he himself was admired by Nehru presented a double danger. Hari Singh had been compelled to take the future prime minister into custody in 1946 when he had tried to enter Kashmir to agitate for Abdullah’s release from prison. The fact that a majority of the 80% of the Muslims of he Kashmir Valley acknowledged Abdullah as their leader excited Nehru greatly. Here was a Muslim leader who rejected Jinnah’s two nation theory; who could serve as a bridge between Kashmir and India, who would help to make his ancestral home a symbol of Indian secularism.

Karan Singh, Hari Singh’s heir apparent, has observed: I suspect that in his heart of hearts my father still did not believe that the British would actually leave . . . Independence could perhaps have been an attractive proposition but to carry that off would have required careful preparations and prolonged negotiations and diplomatic ability. . . Instead of taking advantage of Mountbatten’s visit to discuss the whole situation meaningfully and trying to arrive at a rational decision, he first sent the viceroy out on a prolonged fishing trip to Thricker (where Mountbatten shocked our staff by sun-bathing in the nude) and then-and having fixed a meeting just before his departure-got out of it on the plea that he had suddenly developed a severe attack of colic. . . thus the last real chance of working out a viable political settlement was lost.

Mountbatten reached out to the maharaja again at the time of India’s independence. Lord Ismay visited Srinagar on a ‘holiday’ during the Independence Day celebrations in India and met him there. According to Phillip Zeigler, he applied pressure on the maharaja. When Ismay referred to the Muslim population of Kashmir, the maharaja replied that the Kashmir Valley’s Muslims (where two-third of the Muslims of Kashmir lived) were very different from Punjabi Muslims. ‘All he would talk was about polo in Cheltenham in 1935 (Ismay was then military secretary to the viceroy, Lord Willingdon), and the prospect of his colt in the Indian Derby.’

The Maharaja of Kashmir had not been invited to the last meeting of the Chamber of Princes on 25 July 1947, in which Mountbatten launched his operation to rope in the princes.V.P. Menon, who was then the secretary dealing with the princely states, has written: ‘If truth must be told, I for one had simply no time to think of Kashmir,’ an amazing statement from a live wire like him, unless Mountbatten, whose closest advisor he was, had infected him with apathy for building up a Kashmir connection.

In his personal report to the secretary of state (of July 1947) while enumerating the states that might join Pakistan, Mountbatten mentioned ‘the possibility of Kashmir joining Pakistan’.  His report was sent after he had seen Hari Singh. On 10 October 1947, Mountbatten saw the Diwan of Kashmir and told him that there was no legal objection to Kashmir acceding to India, if it did so against the wishes of the majority of the population, such a step would not only mean immense trouble for Kashmir but might also lead to trouble for the dominion of India. Whatever the future of Kashmir, a plebiscite must be the first step. Mountbatten while reporting the above to London, said that he had informed Nehru and Patel of the discussions ‘and they both accepted what I said.’

Jinnah and the Muslim League from the very start believed that J&K should come to them and that Britain would assist them in the acquisition if for no other reason, then for strategic considerations. The acquisition of Kashmir was the least that the Muslim League could expect after having being handed out a ‘moth-eaten’ and truncated Pakistan, one-fifth the size of India. The Kashmiris of the western belt of the state were of the same stock and faith as the Punjabi Muslims. Admittedly, those of the valley were different, less communal and under a political spell of Abdullah. But in the end, they were likely to harken to the call of Islam. There was a security angle as well as explained in General Gracey’s words. It is a matter of speculation whether it ever occurred to Jinnah that the acquisition of the Northern Areas might one day help Pakistan develop ties with China.

Jinnah had commissioned an architect to design a house for himself in the Kashmir Valley. The matter seemed straightforward. Srinagar was just 135 miles from the Pakistan border. The only proper all-weather road into it was from Pakistan. If Pakistan could take Srinagar in a lightning strike, no help could possibly reach the maharaja from anywhere. But there were constraints. The first was the British attitude. Although London favoured Kashmir’s attachment to Pakistan, it wished this ‘on agreed terms’ with India. Therefore, if the Pakistanis wished to jump the gun, they evidently could not take HMG into confidence. There is, however, some circumstantial evidence that certain people in the Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) were aware of Pakistan’s designs, the principal staff officer to the secretary of state, General Geoffrey Scoones (an ardent supporter of Pakistan) as we shall see, amongst them. The matter had to be kept hush-hush, especially from Mountbatten in Delhi, whom Jinnah did not trust.

Secondly the situation in the valley-Kashmir ‘Proper’ was not promising for Pakistan. There, the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah had the upper hand over the Muslim conference allied to the Muslim League. According to a report of the British resident, W.O. Webb, Agha Shaukat Ali of the Muslim conference had threatened ‘direct action’ in Kashmir in 1946 but failed to unite the warring factions of the Muslim Conference proving there was no communal feeling. This was the main reason why Jinnah had hummed and hawed over a plebiscite when one under UN auspices was suggested to him by Mountbatten on 1 November 1947 in Lahore. O the other hand, a forcible seizure- a daring display of dash- might break Abdullah’s spell on the valley’s Muslims. Even in the west, along the Punjab border, there was no massive spontaneous revolt against the maharaja to justify an incursion by Pakistan to save the Muslims. According to H.V. Hodson, the trouble that broke out in Poonch was ‘sporadic for most part’ and there was some evidence of Pakistan taking part.’ he says: ‘the above was nothing surprising or pretentious view of Punjab happenings . . . To justify action (by Pakistan) in Kashmir on the above basis would be incorrect.’ The reports of Webb, the British resident in J&K and of the British, commander-in -chief of the Kashmir State Forces, General Victor Scott, confirm Hodson’s assessment. According to Webb, ‘relations between Hindus and Muslims began to grow uneasy and in some areas strained as communal violence flared up in the plains around the State’. Kashmir remained free from communal disturbances. The unease was more confined to Jammu and along the frontier areas adjoining Pathan Tribal Agencies. General Scott reported in September 1947 that : ‘the State troops had escorted one lakh Muslims through Jammu territory on their way to Pakistan and an equal number of Sikhs and Hindus going the other way’, signifying that the communal situation in J&K was totally different from that in Punjab. Lars Blinkenberg, the Danish diplomat has pointed out: ‘The Maharaja with Mehr Chand Mahajan (his prime minister) toured the western part of Jammu from 18 to 23 October 1947. The local revolt in the areas of Poonch and Jammu made most by Pakistan was therefore not sufficiently powerful to obstruct the Maharaja’s circulation.’

The most formidable obstacle in Pakistan’s path was Maharaja Hari Singh. He had absolutely no desire to accede to Pakistan. It was no secret to Jinnah that the replacement of Pandit Ram Chandra Kak as the prime minister of J&K by Mahajan in the middle of September 1947 signified that Hari Singh had decided to accede to India. The Pandit detested Sheikh Abdullah like his master and had kept playing a diplomatic game with Pakistan to counterbalance the Abdullah-Nehru pressure. For his part, Kak hoped to work for J&K’s independence with guarantees from both India and Pakistan to uphold the same.* *

**The British resident in J&K had reported from Srinagar on 1 November 1946: ‘I am inclined to think that the Maharaja and Kak (prime minister of J&K from 1945 onwards) are seriously considering the possibility of Kashmir not joining the . . .(Indian) Union if it is formed . . .The Maharaja’s attitude is, I suspect, that once Paramountcy disappears, Kashmir will have to stand off its own feet, and that the question of loyalty to the British Government will not arise and that Kashmir will be free to ally herself with any power – not excluding Russia – if she chooses.’

His hopes were dashed as a result of the change in British policy in April 1947 that the princely states should accede to one or the other dominion. In July 1947, Mountbatten had introduced Kak to Jinnah in Delhi to discuss the possibility of J&K’s accession to Pakistan and Jinnah had sent his private secretary to Srinagar on a long sojourn to keep in touch with the situation there. After Kak’s fall, despite the existence of a Standstill Agreement between Pakistan and J&K, Pakistan started to pressurize the state, starting with an economic blockade. Meanwhile, the matter of the state’ accession to India was being delayed only because of Prime Minister Nehru’s insistence that the maharaja hand over power to Sheikh Abdullah and install a fully representative government before any further steps could be contemplated. Hari Singh was unwilling to do so.

On 27 September 1947, Nehru wrote to Sardar Patel, who was keeping in touch with the maharaja, as follows: I understand that the Pakistan strategy is to infiltrate into Kashmir now and to take some big action as soon as Kashmir is more or less isolated because of the coming winter. . .it becomes important therefore that the Maharaja should make friends with the National Conference so that there may be this popular support against Pakistan. . .Once the State accedes to India,  it will become very difficult for Pakistan to invade it officially or unofficially without coming into conflict with the Indian Union . . .It seems to me urgently necessary therefore that the accession to the Indian Union should take place early.

Patel Singh wrote to Hari Singh on 2 October: I need hardly say how pleased we all are at the general amnesty which your Highness has proclaimed (meaning the release of Sheikh Abdullah). I have no doubt that this would rally round you the men who might otherwise have been a thorn in your side. I can assure your Highness of abiding sympathy with you in your difficulties nor need I hide the instinctive response I feel for ensuring the safety and integrity of your State . . .In the meantime I am expediting as much as possible the link-up of the State with the Indian Dominion by means of telegraph, telephone, wireless and radio.

Time was obviously running out for Jinnah. To avoid an open conflict with India, pro-Muslim League tribesmen from the frontier areas (Masoods, Afridis and Hazarras) would be used as privates enticed with the promise of loot and more. They would be recruited by Pakistani officers of the old Indian Political Service who had vast knowledge of the tribes and armed and transported by Pakistan and led by Pakistani officers. (We have seen, the confidence Jinnah And Liaquat Ali reposed in some senior Muslim members of the Political Service in the episode related by Humayun Mirza, the son of Iskander Mirza; the father was at this time the defence secretary in the Pakistan Government.

Mohammed Yunus, the nephew of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Frontier Gandhi, has narrated an interesting anecdote in his memoirs. Yunus recounts that one day his unclereceived a message from George Cunningham, governor of the NWFP, that one way to rehabilitate himself with Jinnah would be for Ghaffar Khan to lead a tribal lashkar (militia) into Kashmir. Yunus says that he passed on this information to Pandit Brij Kishen Mohan, the teacher of Yurav Karan Singh, who conveyed it to his mother, the maharani. According to Yunus, the maharaja sent for him to get more details but Prime Minister Kak convinced Hari Singh that Yunus was acting for the Congress Party and was trying to frighten him into acceding to India apart from releasing and making up with Sheikh Abdullah.

Much later, when I enquired from Dr Karan Singh about the veracity of this episode, he replied (on 13 December 2002) as follows: I do recollect that such a message was in fact pased on to Pt. Brij Kishen Mohan and then to my mother who mentioned it to my father. If I remember correctly Yunus and one of his cousins did call upon my father at the Gulab Bhawan although I am not sure what transpired at the meeting.

Colonel (later major general) Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army has described in his book how the ‘tribal operation’ was planned under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. Akbar Khan was the military member of the Liberation Committee. He has written in his book:

Upon my seeking a clarification of our military objective, the Prime Minister said that all he wanted was to keep the fight going for three months which would be enough time to achieve our political objective by negotiations and other means.

Did Liaqat Ali Khan expect that Pakistan’s occupation of the Kashmir Valley would force India to accept a settlement in J&K, satisfactory to Pakistan, under British aegis?

It is not my purpose to follow the course of the war in any detail. The Pakistani attempt to seize Srinagar failed. The Dogra commander of the J&K Forces, Rajinder Singh* held back the tribal hordes (the first attack was by about 5000 tribesmen) for three days at the entrance of the valley, till he was killed.

* Rajinder Singh was the first Indian to be awarded the Mahavir Chakra (posthumously) after India’s independence.

Then two days were lost by the invaders in pillage and rapine in Baramullah, at the entrance of the valley. Moreover, according to one source, ‘the rapidity with which Indians flew into Kashmir was outside Jinnah’s calculations.’ for carrying out this operation, almost all the commercial planes flying in India were commandeered.

On 14 November 1947 Akbar Khan found himself in Uri, 100 kilometers on the road to Srinagar with the tribesmen retreating from the valley after their clash with the Indian forces at the gates of Srinagar at Shelatang. They had suffered 600 casualties. He was attempting to reason with them not to abandon the battle:

‘Some had held out,  hope of cooperating. Some had even got into their lorries and started towards the enemy, but then changed their minds and turned back . . . at 9 pm the taillights of the last departing vehicle disappeared in the distance. Taking stock of what was left, I discovered that in the rush my Staff Officer, Captain Taskin-ud-din and the wireless set had also gone. Barring about a dozen people, nothing remained. The volunteers, the tribesmen, and other Pathans, had all gone . . . My mission had ended in complete failure . . . But I did not think that I could go back yet. I had already, as it were, burnt my boats behind me by adopting the name of General Tariq. I had no pretensions to that great name but I felt it would provide an inspiration, as well as conceal my identity. Tariq, twelve centuries earlier, upon landing on the coast of Spain, had burnt his boats, and when told that it unwise to have abandoned their only means of going back to their own country had replied, in the words of (Mohammad) Iqbal: ‘Every country is our country because it is our God’s country.’

Akbar Khan continues: ‘In India, in the absence of homogeneity, a penetration in any direction can result in separation of different units geographically as well as morally because there is no basic unity among the Shudras (low castes), Brahmins, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims who will follow their own different interests. At present, and for a long time to come, India is in the same position as she was centuries ago, exposed to disintegration in emergencies.’

This analysis has to be juxtaposed with what V.P. Menon has written:

Personally when I recommended to the Government of India the acceptance of accession of the Maharaja of Kashmir, I had in mind one consideration and one consideration alone, viz., that the invasion of Kashmir by the raiders was a great threat to the integrity of india. Ever since the times of Mahmud Ghazni, that is to say, for nearly eight centuries . . . India has been subjected to periodical invasions from the north-west . . . And within less than ten weeks of the establishment of the new State of Pakistan, its very first act was to let loose a tribal invasion through the north-west. Srinagar today, Delhi tomorrow. * *

**The Kashmir dispute started life as a contest over rights to a territory, not to establish the wishes of people’, remarks historian Alistair Lamb in his work, Incomplete Partition: The Genesis of the Kashmir Dispute 1947-1948 (Roxford Books, Hertingfordbury, 1997).

Uri (where we found Akbar Khan stranded), Naoshera to Uri’s south on the southern side of the Pir Panjal range and Tithwal to Uri’s north were approximately at the eastern extremities of the belt of territory which General Douglas Gracey had argued was necessary for Pakistan’s security. Pakistani raiders advancing in early November 1947 had occupied a large portion of this area. After the tribal lashkar had fled from the Kashmir Valley and Uri had been recaptured on 14 November 1947, India considered the question of recovering all of this territory, including the Jhelum Valley road from Uri to Domel, situated on the Pakistan border.

Before we proceed further, let us focus on two factors that played a significant role in the struggle for the above territory. The first was Mountbatten’s metamorphosis. From being ‘almost neutral’ with even a slight pro-Indian edge, by the end of October, following the directions received from London, he began to tilt towards Pakistan. On learning of the tribal invasion of J&K, his first thought was to somehow avoid an inter dominion war, which would undo all the good work he had done for Britain in the subcontinent in the past six months.

He explained the dilemma to the King as follows: It would still be legally correct to send troops at (its) request to a friendly neighboring country even if it did not accede but the risk of Pakistan also sending troops would be considerable. The accession would fully regularized the position, and reduce the risk of an armed clash with Pakistan forces to a minimum because then they will be entering a foreign country.

India was committed to holding plebiscites in the princely state which became disputed. Mountbatten was confident that he could subsequently arrange matters, with Indian agreement, to Pakistan’s satisfaction, through either a plebiscite or a partition of the state of J&K. In his report to the King, he continued that ‘forming an Interim Government under Sheikh Abdullah had . . .increased India’s chances of retaining Kashmir in the ultimate plebiscite . . . though I still think that a country with so large a Muslim population will finally vote for Pakistan’.

Mountbatten had accepted the maharaja’s accession in his capacity as governor-general. With the cabinet’s approval, he simultaneously wrote a personal letter to the maharaja in which he declared: As soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invaders, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by reference to the people. This letter was not the legal acceptance of the Instrument of Accession. Such an acceptance had been given on the instrument itself in accordance with the Government of India Act, 1935, as amended and in force on 15 August 1947; the letter was a supplementary written due to the extraordinary situation in which the accession was sought. Its contents would later form the background of the basic conflict between India and Pakistan.* *

**Almost all non-Pakistani writers have come to the conclusion that the accession of J&K was legally complete when the governor-general had signed the Instrument of Accession on 27 October 1947.

The US Government recognized the accession.

For a discussion on this issue see Lars Blikenberg, India and Pakistan: the History of Unsolved Conflicts, Vol I (Odense University Press, Odense, Denmark, 1998, pp.79-82).

A few writers believe the accession did not come in force because of the letter written by Mountbatten; its coming into force is conditional on an approval by the population of Kashmir. In this controversy, the intention of the man who accepted the Instrument of Accession is important. Mountbatten in an aide memoirs, to Lord Ismay after he had left India explained: ‘ this discussion to hold a plebiscite in no way invalidated the legality of the accession of Kashmir to India. The position then was that Kashmir was legally part of the Dominion of India and the voluntary, unilateral, decision to hold (a) plebiscite to confirm this was only intended to be held after the tribesmen had been withdrawn and peaceful conditions had been restored throughout Kashmir.’

A factor that had weighed with Mountbatten was the necessity to save British residents living in and around Srinagar from the fate that had befallen the nuns from the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Baramullah at the Pathans’ hands. General Claude Auchinleck, the supreme commander, wanted to send British troops to escort the residents out of J&K. Mountbatten, however, prohibited this. ‘Blood will be on your hands’, Auchinleck had protested.

Mountbatten’s metamorphosis started on 31 October 1947. On that day a policy directive on J&K issued by the Commonwealth Relations Office was brought to Mountbatten’s notice by the British high commissioner. Besides stating that Kashmir had to go to Pakistan, though ‘on agreed teems’, this directive went on: On the one hand Pakistan has connived at the tribal invasion into Kashmir, ‘supplied artillery and transport’ for the same and on the other India has made ‘provocative mistakes’ in accepting Kashmir’s accession since that was not really required for sending military help (to prevent tribal depredations) . . . ‘had not consulted Pakistan and (had) used Sikh troops’.

Prime Minister Attlee was obviously not sure that the accession could be so easily made to ‘vanish’ by the Mountbatten magic in Delhi, as the governor-general believed. Other means would, therefore, have to employed to offset the advantage gained by India through this legal process. The first of these would be to establish Pakistan’s locus standi in J&K, using the presence of the Pakistani tribals and volunteers inside Kashmir for the purpose. The second would be to bring in the weight of international, particularly US, opinion, to pressurize India to make concessions.

This explains Attlee’s icy blast directed at Nehru when the latter explained to him the reasons for his government accepting Kashmir’s accession to India: I do not think it would be helpful if I were to comment on the action your government has taken. Side by side Noel-Baker wired to Lord Ismay: ‘Prime Minister is . . . unwilling to send a message to Jinnah (drawing his attention to the help the tribals had obtained from Pakistan) which, in fact, charges him (Jinnah) with responsibility.’

On the same day, Attlee wired Liaquat Ali Khan: ‘if in the talks with the Indians (scheduled for the next day) there was agreement that accession ‘is not to prejudice in any way the ultimate decision of the future of Kashmir’ (Attlee trusted) he (Liaquat) and Jinnah would make such an appeal in the way you will know best to ensure those not immediately under your control may fully weigh your counsel to them.’ this was an extraordinarily convoluted way of referring to the tribesmen in order to absolve Pakistan of blame for the invasion. But the message was clear: if there was no agreement and if India used the Instrument of Accession to justify its position in Kashmir, you will stay put (do not pull back the tribals).

Attlee had disapproved Mountbatten’s action on accession. Like the good soldier he was, Mountbatten immediately fell in step with HMG. On the very next day (1 November) on meeting Jinnah at Lahore (for nearly four hours), he launched, together with Ismay, a far-reaching initiative taking into account Attlee’s objectives: It is the sincere desire of the Government of India that a plebiscite should be held in Kashmir at the earliest date and in the fairest possible way. . . They suggest that UN might be asked to provide supervisors for this plebiscite, and they are prepared to agree that a joint India-Pakistan force should hold the ring while the plebiscite is being held. Mountbatten had no authority from the Government of India to suggest a reference to the UN or for the induction of Pakistan’s forces into J&K. His hope was that if Jinnah gave a nod to the proposal, he would try and get India to agree to it. Jinnah refused for reasons mentioned earlier; he was not confident of winning the plebiscite. It was during this conversation that Jinnah suggested ‘both sides should withdraw simultaneously’. When Mountbatten asked him: ‘How the tribesmen (who, Pakistan maintained, were acting independently) were to be called off? Jinnah replied (in the oft-quoted remark):’All he had to do was to give them an order to come out.’

At the meeting Mountbatten upbraided Jinnah for making out that the accession ‘rested on fraud and violence’. He said that the accession was perfectly legal and that the tribesmen for whom Pakistan was responsible, had indulged in violence. On 28 October 1947 General Auchinleck, the supreme commander, had threatened to pull out all British troops from the Pakistan Army, which Pakistan could ill afford to allow to happen. This threat resulted in Jinnah canceling his order to General Douglas Gracey, the acting commander-in-chief, to send in regular troops into the Kashmir Valley to clear the Indian troops arriving there by air and to secure the Banihal Pass. London had welcomed Auchinleck’s intervention, which probably averted an inter dominion war. Mountbatten’s warning was part of the same British effort to restrain Pakistan from further adventures.

The British, throughout the crisis, supported Pakistan but restrained it from taking actions that might result in an Indian invasion of West Punjab and a full scale war. Another factor that significantly influenced the situation was Nehru’s offer to Mountbatten to chair the Defence Committee of the Indian Cabinet as a whole that made the decisions on Kashmir war policy. This position gave the governor-general enormous power to influence the course of fighting. After Mountbatten had lived up to to his bargain to place the princely states in the Indian Union in July and August 1947, Nehru (as well as Patel and Gandhiji) had come to trust his word. The Indian leaders were also moved by Lady Mountbatten’s indefatigable efforts to provide solace to the suffering by touring refugee camps and hospitals day in and day out. Nehru and the Mountbattens had come close to each other. The Indian was less able to separate affairs of state from personal feelings than the Englishman.

General Kulwant Singh, GOC, Kashmir Operations, had prepared a plan in November1947 to clear the invaders from the entire belt along the Pakistan border. General Roy Bucher, the acting British commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, with support from Mountbatten (chairing the Defence Committee), opposed Kulwant Singh’s plan as being too risky. And though Nehru and other ministers pressed for an attack, Kulwant Singh was instructed ‘not to take unnecessary risks’.

On 9 November Mountbatten left for London to attend the wedding of Princess Elizabeth with Prince Phillip.* Mountbatten’s absence gave Kulwant Singh an opportunity to interpret his chief Bucher’s order in his own way and, within fifteen days, his troops had relieved the towns of Kotli, Jhangar and Naoshera from tribal occupation and were able reinforce the besieged town of Poonch. He could not, however, take back Mirpur, Domel and Muzaffarabad, situated near the Pakistan border.

*Patel encouraged Mountbatten to go to England: ‘At the present juncture such a visit would be both tactically and politically wise.’

On returning from London on 14 November, Mountbatten wrote to Nehru as follows: ‘I have on several occasions repeated my views on the question of sending Indian troops into western areas . . . During my absence in London this object changed. It thus evidently became the purpose of the Government of India to impose their military will on the Poonch and Mirpur areas.’ Admittedly, some portions of the uncharacteristically stiff letter to Nehru were meant for Attlee’s eyes.

In London, he had been made wise to the alarming allegations being made against him for siding with India against Pakistan. The cheerleader of this campaign was none other than his former godfather, Winston Churchill:  ‘Muslims were Britain’s friends and that it was terrible that an Englishman and a cousin should now support Britain’s enemies against them.’ Mountbatten later said: ‘he accused me of having planned and organized the first victory of Hindustan against Pakistan by sending British-trained soldiers and British equipment to crush and suppress the Muslims in Kashmir.’

The Indian success in stemming the Pakistani advance by flying in troops into the state had resulted in the welling up of frustration in all those Englishmen who saw India and the Hindus as their enemy. Most of the British officers who had decided, at the time of withdrawal, to serve on in the subcontinent had opted for service in Pakistan. Over 500 British personnel held positions in the Pakistan Army, and many in the civil service and Political Department. The governors of Pakistan provinces such as Sir Francis Mudie in West Punjab and Sir George Cunningham in the NWFP were Britishers. Only some of them would fight for Pakistan in Kashmir, but most supported Pakistan’s efforts there. When the indians complained to London about British officers taking part in the Kashmir war, some of whom were killed, A.V. Alexander , the minister of Defence, agreed with Noel-Baker that: ‘it would be wise not to probe too deeply into the matter

C. Dasgupta: ‘The course and outcome of the first India-Pakistan war cannot be understood if we overlook the fact that the two contestants had yet to establish full national control over their respective armed forces . . . The international factor is particularly important in wars in the third world . . . Decisive results must be speedily achieved before major powers can intervene.’

The role of Mountbatten and British Service Chiefs made it virtually impossible for India to meet this requirement in 1947-48 . . . The British Government was kept informed at every stage and was thus enabled to take diplomatic steps to close India’s military options. The truth of these observations was proved time and again during the struggle for the possession of the western belt of Kashmir’ territory during 1947-48. In November 1947 Nehru proposed a ‘cordon sanitaire’, or a demilitarized zone, to be established along the frontier with West Punjab with orders that any observed movement within it should be attacked from the air after due notice.

According to H.V. Hodson: They Indians were so insistent that Lord Mountbatten had to temporized by getting the proposal referred to Joint Planning Staff. He made sure meanwhile that the report would be adverse and so it was. The ministers then gave up the idea without argument.

On 3 December 1947 Bucher made an effort to get the Defence Committee to accept the evacuation of Poonch, which, according to British thinking, had to be left with Pakistan. However, Nehru was able to shoot down this proposal despite the support Bucher received from Mountbatten. On the other hand, the commander-in-chief succeeded in getting shelved the push from Uri to Domel to clear the Jhelum Valley till the next spring. He also succeeded in getting dropped the plan to destroy the bridges across the Kishen Ganga river, which would have cut Muzaffarabad from Pakistan.

The struggle for control of the territory continued throughout 1948. During March that year, General K.M. Cariappa, the new GOC-in-C in the area, was able to reoccupy Jhangar and beat back a powerful attack on Naoshera. In April the Indian troops entered Rajouri town and thus the Jammu-Naoshera lines of communication were restored. Cariappa had taken care not to inform the Army Headquarters about his operational plans. According to his biographer, Cariappa had to fight ‘two enemies’, Army Headquarters headed by Roy Bucher, and the Pakistan Army headed by (Frank ) Messervy.

Bucher admitted to Gracey, the Pakistan C-in-C, that he had no control over Caiappa but hit upon an intriguing scheme to now stop the advance of his own army. Graffety Smith, British high commissioner in Karachi, reported to London the arrangements reached privately between the commander-in-chiefs of the two dominions. General Bucher indicated to General Gracey that ‘he had no wish to pursue an offensive into what is effectively Azad Kashmir-controlled territory, i.e., to Mirpur and Poonch sector . . .the object of these arrangements is to reach a situation in which each side will remain in undisputed military occupation of what are roughly their present positions . . . An essential part of the process. . . is that three battalions of the Pakistan army should be employed in Kashmir opposite the Indian forces at Jhangar in and around Poonch and at Uri (italics added). . . The Pakistan Prime Minister is aware of these exchanges I have reported above, but I understand he feels unable at present to endorse officially.’ Further, Bucher told that he would try to get Indian troops withdrawn from Poonch.

Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, the leader of the so-called ‘Azad Kashmir’ Government, spilled the beans on this secret pact. He was so delighted that the Indian side had referred to, and thus recognized, ‘Azad Kashmir’ that he issued a press statement on 31 March 1948 to proclaim the same. It said: ‘His Government had been approached by India for a ceasefire.’ the Indian repudiated Bucher’s initiative, but there is no record of his being pulled up. Mountbatten too wanted to neutralize Indian military initiatives. He told General Gracey, the Pakistan Army’s commander-in-chief, who visited Delhi on 2 May 1948: I pointed out (to Gracey) that, if we could get the two Governments to . . . feel themselves thoroughly militarily impotent, then this appeared to be the best chance of reducing the risk of war after my departure. Nehru and the Indian Cabinet had no such intention.

Terence Shone, the UK high commissioner in India, warned London on 14 May 1948 that the Indians intended to press ahead from Uri to Domel. The regular Pakistan Army had by now entered Kashmir. On 8 May 1948, the US military attaché in Delhi had cabled Washington: Pakistan has three regular . . . Army battalions in Kashmir now one vicinity Uri, one vicinity Poonch and one vicinity Mirpur . . . Pakistan on practical war footing along entire India-Pakistan border Bahawalpur State to Domel . . .Lack of supplies and reserves would mean short bloody aggression, with India certain and quick victor . . .

As a result of the Pakistani reinforcements, the indian two pronged attack to capture Domel and Muzaffarabad fizzled out. Tithwal, north of Uri was captured but the advance on the Jhelum Road did not proceed beyond 10 kilometers west of Uri. Soon thereafter, the members of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) arrived and India suspended operations for the duration of their stay in the subcontinent.

Excerpts “Shadow of the Great Game” by Narindra Singh Sarila