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Mountbatten - Jinnah Talks On Kashmir

By Abdul Majid Zargar

21 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

In a glittering function held to commemorate the 25th year of existential journey of Daily Greater Kashmir, A. G. Noorani stirred a fresh controversy by blaming Jinnah to ignore a proposal from Mountbatten in November 47 negotiations which would have awarded Kashmir to Pakistan in lieu of its forsaking claim on Junagarh & Hyderabad.

The background situation of November 47 negotiations needs to be understood first in its proper perspective. When the news of Indian Army landing in Srinagar reached Pakistan, its First Governor General, Quaidi Azam, Mohd. Ali Jinnah, called his Commander-in-chief, General Grecy at midnight of October 27th and ordered him to dispatch troops to Srinagar which meant a full fledged War between two Countries.. The General pleaded his inability to do so without the express approval of Supreme Commander in charge of administering partition of the Common Army Claude Auchinecleck. At Greecy’s urgent request, Auchinecleck immediately flew to Pakistan & prevailed upon Jinnah to withdraw instructions. Left with no choice, Jinnah invited Mountbatten & Nehru for talks to Pakistan to diffuse the Situation. It needs to be kept in mind that Mountbatten, who had been appointed the first Governor General Of India was miffed with Pakistan for not being similarly awarded by it, an ambition which he had long nursed. This incident made him so prejudiced against Pakistan that even Frank Messervy, CIC Of Pakistan army once remarked that he was surprised to find Mountbatten personally directing the Military operations in Kashmir (Kashmir in Conflict by Victoria schofield-p 61).Meanwhile Jinnah branded Kashmir’s accession to India as an act based on fraud & violence and refused to recognize it

On October 30th, Indian Cabinet gave it’s approval to Mountbatten & Nehru’s Visit to Pakistan. Nehru, however, Could not go because of indisposition. Some writers with a strong argument, suggest that he deliberately feigned illness to avoid meeting Jinnah in Pakistan. Finally Mountbatten arrived in Lahore on November Ist for protracted discussions which lasted for four hours between the two Governors-Genearl .Jinnah Formally presented a three point proposal embodying a cease fire, a mutual withdrawal of all “alien” troops (implying both Indian Army as well as tribal raiders) and a plebiscite to be organized under the joint superintendence & control of two Governors-General i.e Jinnah & Mountbatten.

Here is the text of the proposal

I. To put an immediate stop to fighting, the two Governors- General should be authorized and vested with full powers by both Dominion Governments to issue a proclamation forthwith giving forty- eight hours’ notice to the two opposing forces to cease fire. We have no control over the forces of the Provisional {Azad} Government of Kashmir or the tribesmen engaged in the Fighting, but we will warn them in the clearest terms that if they do not obey the order to cease firm immediately the forces of both Dominions will make war on them .

2. Both the forces of Indian Dominion and the tribesmen to withdraw simultaneously and with the utmost expedition from Jammu and Kashmir State territory.

3.With the sanction of the two Dominion Governments, the two Governors- General to be given full powers to restore peace, undertake the administration of Jammu and Kashmir State, and arrange for a plebiscite without delay under their joint control and supervision. (Dangers in Kashmir- Josef Korbel-p86)

Mountbatten rejected Jinnah’s proposal on the ground of his constitutional inability to act without his Government’s advice. He, however, suggested a plebiscite under UN auspices but this was not acceptable to Jinnah as he would insist the plebiscite to be arranged & organized by two Governors-General bilaterally. It is intriguing as well as interesting to note that while Mountbatten appeared authorized to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir Under UN supervision, he was not bestowed authority by Indian Government to hold the same under a bilateral arrangement. This is quite contrary to the long held Indian stand that all matters between It & Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally without intervention of a third party.

As will be seen from the above text, there is no reference to any deliberations on Hyderabad or Junagarh, the former having declared its independence & the latter accession to Pakistan, both of which declarations were vehemently resented to by India. But discussion on these two states did take place as is evident from the report of Mountbatten dated 2nd November submitted to Nehru soon after his arrival back to India and relied upon by Noorani to arrive at the controversial conclusion. Going through the entire report in detail (Full Report available with the columnist) it is clear that Mountbattan wanted elaborate discussions to find a common principle for plebiscite in case of Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagarh. At this stage Jinnah did not want to go into Hyderabad & Junagarh issue primarily because Indian Army had already entered into Kashmir unlike the other two princely States and hence needed urgent attention. Never at any stage of discussions, there was any exchange formula put forward by Mountabaten or its rejection by Jinnah.

During the discussions Jinnah bitterly complained of Nehru’s absence from talks preventing taking of some on-spot decisions. “If he was ill-Sardar Patel could have replaced him” –complained Jinnah. Later events suggest that it was a deft & well planned move by Nehru to keep himself away from talks as it allowed much time to India to strengthen its military position in Kashmir.

(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com)


 

 




 

 


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