1941-1947 (THE TRANSFER OF POWER)
The period of 1941-1947 is very important in the political career of Quaid-i-Azam regarding establishment of Pakistan. The Pakistan Resolution of 23rd March 1940 defined the goal of Pakistan. On the face of Congress opposition to the Pakistan scheme, Quaid-i-Azam stood firm like a rock. In an article published in the Times and Tide of London, Quaid-i-Azam reiterated that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations and insisted on the two nations sharing the governance of their common motherland.1
The Second World War had a significant effect on the events leading to creation of Pakistan. The British Government was eager to attain the cooperation of leading parties of India including All India Muslim League. Quaid-i-Azam elaborated Lord Linlithgow on the League Working Committee’s stance that as a pre-condition of League’s full cooperation and support to the war effort, the British Government should give assurance that no policy declaration would be made or any constitution framed without the approval or consent of the Indian Muslims.2
On August 8, 1940, in a view to gain Indian support, the British Government issued a white paper that “after the war a constituent Assembly would be formed which will include all the elements of the national life and its task would be to prepare the framework of the country’s future constitution”.3 The scheme was called the August Offer. Quaid-i-Azam as a constitutionalist realized the importance of August Offer and in a meeting of League Working Committee “expressed his satisfaction over the British Government decision that no future constitution would be adopted without the prior approval and consent of the League”.4
To bring an end to the political deadlock of India, the British Government send Sir Stafford Cripps. He arrived in India on 22nd March 1942 and held talks with Indian leaders including Quaid-i-Azam on his famous proposal called as CRIPPS PROPOSALS. The proposals included some important points like complete independence to India after war, framing of new Constituent Assembly and if a province wants not to accede, she was given this option.
The Cripps proposals were rejected both by the Congress and Muslim League. Though Quaid-i-Azam was against these proposals and termed it as “vaguer terms and unfair to Muslims in obliging them to take part in a constitution making body whose main object, contrary to their, was the creation of an all-India union”.5 Besides rejecting, Quaid-i-Azam saw a ray of hope in the Cripps proposals and had admitted that the only positive aspect of the plan was that” for the first time, the British Government agreed in principle to the idea of partition”.6
The Congress was adamant to oppose the British Government at any cost. To give impetus to this stance, the Congress Working Committee on 14th July 1942 passed a Resolution calling upon the British Government to quite India immediately. Quaid-i-Azam sensed the real motive of Congress Resolution. In an statement to the press, Quaid-i-Azam revealed that the aim of the Congress is “blackmailing the British and coercing them to concede a system of government and transfer power to that government which would establish a Hindu raj immediately under the aegis of the British bayonet thereby placing the Muslims and other minorities and interests at the mercy of the Congress raj”.7
Not all Muslims looked up to Jinnah. Many criticized him, some because they found him too Westernized, others because he was too straight and uncompromising. One young man, motivated by religious fervour and belonging to the Khaksar, a religious party, attempted to assassinate him on 26 July 1943. Armed with a knife he broke into Jinnah’s home in Bombay and succeeded in wounding him before he was overpowered. Jinnah publicly appealed to his followers and friends to “remain calm and cool”8 The League declared 13 August a day of thanksgiving through out India.
When Gandhi realized that Quit India Movement was heading nowhere but towards failure, he approached the Viceroy and at the same time, sought settlement with the Muslim League. With this end in view, C. Rajagopalachari, the only person who was seeking some understanding with the Muslims, wrote a letter to Quaid-i-Azam on 8 April 1944. He forwarded to the Quaid-i-Azam his formula known as C.R. Formula.
C. Rajagopalachari termed it “a basis for a settlement which I discussed with Gandhiji in March 1943 and of which he expressed full approval”.9 Quaid-i-Azam responded to C. R. Formula not by himself but instead said that the matter to be presented before Working Committee of the All India Muslim League. Salient features of the C. R. Formula were formation of interim government, plebiscite to decide the issue of separation from Hindustan, mutual agreements in case of partition etc. The C.R. formula became the basis for Gandhi in connection with his talks with Quaid-i-Azam.
JINNAH GANDHI TALKS are an interesting chapter in the history of India. The two major figures of their parties were watched with an air of expectancy, aimed at breaking the political stalemate between the League and the Congress for a settlement to pave the way for Indian independence. Though the talks were between two personalities but actually it was the clash of two schemes, C. R. Formula advocated by Gandhi and Pakistan Resolution by Quaid-i-Azam. Gandhi and Jinnah met on 9 September 1944 and the meeting was followed by a series of letters exchanged between the two. In a letter wrote to Gandhi, Quaid-i-Azam questioned his position, “representative Character and capacity on behalf of the Hindus or the Congress”.10 Quaid further wrote that you cannot discuss the Hindu-Muslim settlement and you have no authority to do so. To this M. K. Gandhi replied that he was participating in the talks in individual capacity.11 Quaid-i-Azam primarily based his views on Lahore Resolution that the areas in which the Muslims are in majority should be grouped to constitute independent states. M. K. Gandhi insisted on C.R. Formula as starting point. He added that after the war an interim government would be set up and a plebiscite will be held as to decide in favour of separation from Hindustan or against it. To this Jinnah replied and saught clarification for the mechanism and authority to decide and work out these matters. The Jinnah-Gandhi talks failed as C.R. Formula and Pakistan Resolution could not be reconciled. But it exposed the Gandhi’s Congressite-cum-Mahasabhite face. He wrote to Quaid-i-Azam that “I find no parallel in history for a body of converts and their dependants claiming to be a nation apart from the parent stock”.12 Quaid-i-Azam reiterated that Muslims are a nation by any definition and by all canons of international law.
The failure of Gandhi-Jinnah talks necessitated the need for all the political parties of India to come to some political settlement of the communal tangle. On June 14, 1945, Lord Wavell announced for re-organization of Governor General’s Executive Council. The arrangement put forward by Lord Wavell is called WAVELL PLAN. A conference was called by the Viceroy at Simla and invited inter alia Quaid-i-Azam to attend the Conference. At the SIMLA CONFERENCE the Muslim seats became the bone of contention. Congress insisted on nominating two Muslims of its own while Quaid-i-Azam demanded that “all Muslims appointed to the Council should be from among the All India Muslim League”.13 The Simla Conference failed mainly because of the refusal of the British Government and the Congress to recognize the All-India Muslim League as the only representative body of Muslim India. Now the challenge before Quaid-i-Azam and Muslim League was to prove that Muslim League is the only representative organization of Muslim India and it was proved in the General Elections of 1945-46.
To set the preparations for GENERAL-ELECTIONS 1945-46, a campaign for collection of funds was started in July 1945. In response donations in large sums received from all over the India and the Indian Muslims abroad. Parliamentary Boards were set-up in each province to decide the issue of allocation of Muslim League tickets. The democratic attitude of Quaid-i-Azam can be witnessed in allocation of seats and it was made clear by Quaid-i-Azam that he will never interfere with the work of the Parliamentary Boards nor be interceded on behalf of any aspirant. Quaid-i-Azam urged on the Leaguers to concentrate exclusively on the elections. In a telegram to medical students of Calcutta, he advised “establish complete unity, face election with grim determination. Issue life-death. Every vote for the League means rescue of hundred million Musalmans, Islam Pakistan”.14 The League performed well in the elections. It swept all the Muslim seats in the Central Assembly and captures 428 out of 492 Muslim seats in the provincial legislatures. The League’s claim to speak on behalf of Muslim India has now been fully realized.
After the War the British Government was left with no option but to give independence to India. In these circumstances the Secretary of State for India, Lord Pathick Lawrence on February 19, 1946, announced the formation of the CABINET MISSION to solve the Indian political tangle. The salient features of Cabinet Mission Plan were long term and short term. The long term plans were union of India, grouping of India into 3 groups based on Communal lines and option of reconsideration for any group, the terms of constitution after 10 years. The Short term plan including setting up of an interim government by the Indian representatives. Quaid-i-Azam rejected the Cabinet Mission plan and in a statement on 22 May 1946 said, “Pakistan is the only solution to the constitutional problems of India”.15 But being a lover of democracy, the Quaid-i-Azam rested the decision with the League Council. In the meeting of League Council, Quaid-i-Azam expressed his firm faith that the Muslims of India would not feel at rest till the creation of Pakistan. He further added, “the scheme contained in itself, a basis for Pakistan”.16 The Congress out rightly rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan while the Muslim League accepted it. It was binding on the British’s Government to invite Muslim League for the formation of interim government but it was not done so. Under these circumstances, the League on 27 July 1946, decided to withdraw its support for the plan and to take DIRECT ACTION to attain Pakistan. In this meeting Quaid-i-Azam remarked, “the Cabinet Mission has played into the hands of the Congress. It has played game of its own”.17 However due to the stern responses, the League along with Congress was invited to form the interim government.
The last Governor General of India, Louis Mountbatten arrived India on 22nd March 1947. Louis Mountbatten was sent by the British Government on a special mission to transfer power to India. With this end in view he prepared a plan for the transfer of power known as MOUNTBATTEN PLAN OR 3RD JUNE PLAN. Important points of 3rd June Plan were adequate arrangements of Punjab and Bengal assemblies if they favor partition of these provinces, referendum in NWFP and Sylhet for deciding their fate to join India or Pakistan etc. The Plan was presented on June 2, 1947 before the Indian leaders including Quaid-i-Azam. Being a constitutionalist and firm believer in democratic norms, he remarked, “I can express my own opinion in this regard but the Muslim League is a democratic institution. Therefore, the League and Working Committee would contact the people before making any final decision”.18 The plan was finally approved by League Council on 9th August 1947.19 The plan of 3rd June paved the way for partition of India in general and of Punjab and Bengal in particular.
To give effect to the 3rd June Plan, a commission was formed headed by Sir Cyril Radcliff known as RADCLIFFE COMMISSION. The Commission was assigned the task of demarcating the contiguous Muslim and non-Muslim majority areas of the Punjab and Bengal. The award of Radcliffe Commission was very astonishing to the Muslims. Great injustices were done by the Award. The Muslim majority areas of Gurdaspur, Jullundur, Ferozpur, Zira and Ambala were handed over to India due to the clandestine efforts of Congress in general and V.P. Menon in particular. The Quaid-i-Azam expressed his grief and resentment on the Award and said that they have been squeezed inasmuch as it was possible and it was an unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse Award.20 During these circumstances the independent Muslim State of Pakistan emerged on the map of the world on 14th August 1947 and Quaid-i-Azam became the undisputed first Governor General of Pakistan.
- 1.Z. H. Zaidi, ed., Jinnah Papers: Pakistan: The Goal Defined Vol. XV, (Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam Papers Wing, 2007), Chronology.
- 3.Ahmad Saeed, Trek to Pakistan, p. 279.
- 5.H. V. Hodson, The Great Divide: Britain-India-Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 102.
- 6.Ahmad Saeed, op. cit, p. 286.
- 7.Waheed Ahmad, ed., The Nation Voice: Unity, Faith and Discipline, Vol. III (Karachi: Quaid-i-Azam Academy, 1997), pp. 28-31.
- 8.Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan, p. 225.
- 9.Z. H. Zaidi, ed., Jinnah Papers: Quest for Political Settlement, Vol. X (Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam Papers Project, 2004), pp. 266-8.
- 10.Ibid., pp. 143-6.
- 11.See ibid., 149-50.
- 12. Ibid., pp. 159-62.
- 13.Ahmad Saeed, op, cit., p. 302.
- 14. Z. H. Zaidi, ed., Jinnah Papers: The Verdict for Pakistan, Vol. XII (Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam Papers Project, 2005), p. 386.
- 15. Waheed Ahmad, ed., The Nation’s Voice: Deadlock, Frustration and Riots, Vol. V (Karachi: Quaid-i-Azam Academy, 2001), p. 8.
- 16. Ahmad Saeed, op, cit., p. 309.
- 17. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, The Foundations of Pakistan, Vol. II (Karachi: National Publishing House Ltd., 1970), p. 544.
- 18. Ahmad Saeed, op. cit., p. 329.
- 19. Ibid., p. 336.
- 20. Ibid., p. 352.
LIFE AND TIMES
BIRTH, EDUCATION and Early Career
Early life of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.ReadMore
Comprehensive detail about the political career of Quaid-e-Azam.ReadMore
Quaid-i-Azam and The Transfer of Power
Role of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Pkaistan Movement.ReadMore
A description about life of Quaid-e-Azam as Governor General of Pakistan.ReadMore