The Governor General

Quaid-i-Azam and Fatima Jinnah drove on the morning of August 14th, from the government house to the Legislative Assembly hall along a carefully guarded route, lined with soldiers as well as police alerted to watch for possible assassins, since reports of a Sikh plan to assassinate Jinnah, had reached Mountbatten and Jinnah several days earlier. But only shouts of “Pakistan Zindabad” and “Quaid-i-Azam Zindabad” were hurled at his carriage.

The Mountbattens followed in the crowded semicircular chamber of Pakistan’s parliament, which had been Sind’s Legislative Assembly. Lord Mountbatten graciously felicitated Jinnah and read the message from his cousin, King George, welcoming Pakistan into the Commonwealth. Jinnah replied:

“Your Excellency, I thank His Majesty on behalf of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly and myself. I once more thank you and Lady Mountbatten for your kindness and good wishes. Yes, we are parting as friendsand I assure you that we shall not be wanting in friendly spirit with our neighbors and with all nations of the world.”

A witness reported: “If Jinnah’s personality is cold and remote, it also has a magnetic quality -- the sense of leadership is almost overpowering.Here indeed is Pakistan’s King Emperor, Archbishop of Canterbury, Speaker and Prime Minister concentrated into one formidable Quaid-i-Azam.”

Pakistan became constitutionally independent at midnight between the 14th and 15th August 1947. The Quaid assumed charge as the Governor General of Pakistan on August 15, 1947.

The First Cabinet

The first cabinet of Pakistan took oath on 15th August 1947. It included the following members:

  1. Liaquat Ali Khan Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense
  2. I.I. Chundrigar Minister for Commerce, Industries and Works
  3. SardarAbdurRabNishtar Minister for Communications
  4. Raja Ghazanfar Ali Minister for Food, Agriculture and Health (In December he was shifted to Evacuee and Refugee Rehabilitation).
  5. JogendraNath Mandal Minister for Labour and Law
  6. Ghulam Muhammad Minister for Finance
  7. Fazlur Rahman Minister for Interior, Information and Education

In December Muhammad Zafrullah Khan was inducted as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Common wealth relations and AbdusSattarPirzada was given the portfolio of Food, Agriculture and Health. Raja Ghazanfar Ali’s ministry was changed and he was made in charge of the Ministry of Evacuee and Refugee Rehabilitation.

1947 The first Cabinet of Pakistan – Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah (Governor General), Liaquat Ali Khan (Prime Minister), I.I Chundrigar (Commerce Minister), Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar (Communication Minister), Raja Ghazanfar Ali (Food, Agriculture, and Health Minister), Jogendra Nath Mandal (Labour and Law Minister), Ghulam Muhammad (Finance Minister), and Fazlur Rahman (Interior, Information, and Education Minister).
Refugees Crisis 1947-48: Refugees telling their woeful tales to Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah as he gives him a sympathetic hearing

Building Pakistan from Scratch

Soon after that Jinnah riveted himself to work. The colossal task of building Pakistan from scratch needed his immediate attention. Since the Lahore Resolution of 1940, he never rested even for a moment. But he surpassed himself after becoming the first head of the biggest Muslim State. From the day he arrived in Karachi on August 7, till he breathed his last, is a tale of self-abnegation, exemplary devotion to duty and intense activity.

Even at the hour of triumph, Jinnah was sick and in pain. He had little or no appetite; he had lost his gift of being able to sleep at will and he passed many sleepless nights; also, his cough increased and with it his temperature. The harrowing tales of the sufferings of the refugees affected him deeply.

Refugee Crisis and Kashmir Dispute

Of the numerous disputes with India and domestic worries,evidently the unsolved problem of Kashmir, his inability to complete the Constitution of the new state of Pakistan, and the plight of the millions of refugees who had arrived in their new homeland utterly destitute affected him the most.

The scale of the refugee problem and the depth of the tragedy were indeed heart rendering. For Pakistan the problem of coping with the refugees was proportionately far more serious than it was for India. Her territory and resources were much smaller and her administration was still in its infancy.

It was not only the plight of the Muslim refugees who had arrived from India that grieved the Quaid-i-Azam deeply. The sad condition of the Hindus in Pakistan hurt him no less.

India Occupies Kashmir - Indian troops land in Kashmir on 27 October 1947

India Occupies the Junagarh and Hyderabad States

Apart from Kashmir, there were two Princely states Junagarh and Hyderabad that formed the subject of disputes between India and Pakistan. All the states in the subcontinent except these three had acceded either to India or Pakistan by 14th August 1947. It so happened that all these three were ruled by princes whose own religion was different from that of the majority of their subjects.

Quaid-i-Azam’s Message on the occasion of first Eid-ul-Fitr in Pakistan

He took the oath of office as Governor General on August 16th 1947, before members of the Cabinet and high civil and military officers.His Eid day message was broadcast two days later on August 18th. It was a memorable message which appeared with steamers in all the newspapers of the country. “I wish on this auspicious day a very happy Eid to all Muslims wherever they may be throughout the world -- and Eid that will usher in, I hope, a new era of prosperity will mark the onward march of the renaissance of Islamic culture and ideals.”

“I wish on this auspicious day a very happy Eid to all Muslims wherever they may be throughout the world -- and Eid that will usher in, I hope, a new era of prosperity will mark the onward march of the renaissance of Islamic culture and ideals.” Jinnah’s Eid Message on August 18th, 1947

The Quaid’s first public appearance after assumption of office was also on Eid day, August 18th, when he offered his Eid prayers on Bunder Road.He was the guest of honor a week later of the Karachi Municipal Corporation. He urged the need of devotion to duty and “building up and reconstructing Pakistan in a manner that will command the respect of sister nations and find a place of honor along with great nations of the world as an equal.”

Jinnah urged, “Building up and reconstructing Pakistan in a manner that will command the respect of sister nations and find a place of honor along with great nations of the world as an equal.”

On September 17, the Quaid, accompanied by Fatima Jinnah visited refugee camps in Karachi. He was visibly moved by their pain and tales of woe. There were touching scenes when an old woman sought his blessings for her sole surviving grandson.

There were touching scenes when an old refugee woman sought his blessings for her sole surviving grandson.

The Quaid laid the Foundation-stone of the Valika Textile Mills on September 25, 1947. Making a speech on the occasion he showed his grasp of the economic problems. He said, “If Pakistan is to play its proper role in the world to which its size, manpower and resources entitle it, it must develop Industrial potential side by side its agriculture and give its economy an industrial bias. By industrializing our state we shall decrease dependence on the outside world for the necessities of life, give more employment to our people and also increase the resources of the new State.”

“If Pakistan is to play its proper role in the world to which its size, manpower and resources entitle it, it must develop Industrial potential side by side its agriculture and give its economy an industrial bias.” September 25th 1947, Jinnah at inaugurating ceremony of Valika Textile Mills, Karachi

Quaid-i-Azam - Emergence as the ‘Great Leader’ (1935 - 1939)

The Quaid toured the whole country, visiting every corner of India, addressing meetings, meeting Muslim students, arguing with double-minded local leaders, exposing the policies of the Hindu Congress and slowly creating political consciousness among his people.

Meanwhile, the Act of 1935 was passed that was a clear attempt to crush the forces working for democracy and freedom. Therefore, the Muslim League rejected it.

The provincial part of the constitution was however, accepted "for what it was worth".

Jinnah toured the whole country, mobilizing and motivating, visiting every corner of India; exposing the policies of biased Hindu leadership of Congress and slowly creating political consciousness among Muslims.

Jinnah concentrated on the constitutional struggle within the Legislative Assembly and advocated his point of view with great strength and skill.

I believe that it (the proposed federation) means nothing but absolute sacrifice of all that British India has stood for and developed during the last 50 years, in the matter of progress in the representative form of the Government. No province was consulted as such. No consent of the provinces has been obtained whether they are willing to federate as federating units on the terms which are laid down by the British Government. My next objection is that it is not workable."

People began enthusiastically participating in Muslim League Meetings as Quaid-i-Azam reorganized Muslim League
Bombay - Muslim League Annual Session, 1936

In order to strengthen the League, bolster its bargaining position, and help prepare it for contesting elections, Jinnah appointed and presided over a new Central Parliamentary Board and affiliated provincial parliamentary boards. These boards, similar to those earlier established by the Congress, were to become Jinnah's organizational arms in extending his power over the entire Muslim community.

The 1937’s General Election

In the 1937 elections, the Muslim League did not do well and won only 109 seats out of 482 it contested. The Muslim League failed to win majority in any of the Muslim provinces, where regional non-communal parties like the Unionists in the Punjab won majorities and formed ministries. The results of the elections demoralized many of the League leader. The only redeeming feature was that the Congress had miserably failed to gain any Muslim seat and it had only succeeded in gaining Hindu and Sikh seats in the Muslim provinces. The Congress had failed because it had made no effort to contact the Muslim masses, and was certain that politics based on economic issues would prevail in India. However, the conditions on which the Congress wanted to co-operate with the Muslim League were so humiliating that no self-respecting party could accept them.

Within a year after the Congress taking control of power in the Assembly, the Unionists and other small parties merged into Muslim League or allied with it. The defeat in the elections proved to be a blessing in a disguise.

People voting in 1937 General Election

The Congress was prepared to accept Muslims only if they ceased to have a separate political entity and were merged in the Hindu-dominated Congress. The Muslim League, of course, refused to do that for the sake of a few cabinet posts. The attitude of the Congress towards other parties opened the eyes of all sections of politically conscious people. The Unionists and other small parties who had been cold towards the Muslim League also changed their attitude within a year of the Congress taking control of power in the provinces. Fear of the dictatorial attitude of the Congress and the pressure of Muslim public opinion soon influenced local Muslim parties and one by one they came into the fold of the League or at least allied themselves with it.

Lucknow Session - 1937

Jinnah utilized all his energies on revitalizing the League. With the assistance of the Raja of Mahmudabad, a dedicated adherent of the Muslim League, the Lucknow Session was a grand demonstration of the will of the Muslims of India to stand up to the Congress challenge.

Jinnah travelled by rail from Bombay, and as his train steamed into Kanpur Central Station "a vast crowd of Muslims mobbed his compartment," Jamil-ud-din Ahmad recalled:

'So exuberant was their enthusiasm and so fiery their determination to resist Hindu aggression that Mr. Jinnah, otherwise calm and imperturbable was visibly moved. His face wore a look of grim determination coupled with satisfaction that his people were aroused at last. He spoke a few soothing words to pacify their inflamed passions. Many Muslims, overcome by emotion, wept tears of joy to see their leader who, they felt sure, would deliver them from their bondage'.

Lucknow 1937 - Muslim League Annual Session; Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali, Liaquat Ali Khan, and other Muslim League Leaders can be seen in the photo.

'So exuberant was their enthusiasm and so fiery their determination to resist Hindu aggression that Mr. Jinnah, otherwise calm and imperturbable was visibly moved. His face wore a look of grim determination coupled with satisfaction that his people were aroused at last. He spoke a few soothing words to pacify their inflamed passions.’

Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad, , Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah

He arrived in Lucknow on October 3, 1937, where twenty years before he had acted as a true Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, heralding a bright era of Hindu-Muslim unity that lasted a little longer than World War I. Jinnah's speech at that historic session gave a resounding reply to the Congress policies and exposed the anti-Muslim acts of the Congress ministries.

‘Many Muslims, overcome by emotion, wept tears of joy to see their leader who, they felt sure, would deliver them from their bondage'. – Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad

Jinnah began, addressing the estimated 5,000 Muslims from every province of India:

"This Session of the All-India Muslim League is one of the most critical that has ever taken place during its existence. The present leadership of the Congress, especially during the last 10 years, has been responsible for alienating the Muslims of India more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; they are in a majority, they have by their words, deeds and program shown, more and more, the Muslims cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Wherever they were in a majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to co-operate with the Muslim League parties and demanded unconditional surrender and signing of their pledges. To the Muslims of India in every province, in every district, in every tehsil, in every town, I say: your foremost duty is to formulate a constructive and ameliorative program of work for the people's welfare, and to devise ways and means for the social, economic and political uplift of the Muslims. Organize yourselves, establish your solidarity and complete unity.

There are forces that may bully you, tyrannize over you and intimidate you, and you may even have to suffer….by resisting, by overcoming, by facing these disadvantages, hardships and suffering….will make its future history greater and glorious not only in India, but in the annals of the world.

Jinnah, at Muslim League’s Lucknow Session,1937

Equip yourselves as trained and disciplined soldiers. Create the feeling of an esprit de corps, and the cause of your people and your country. No individual or people can achieve anything without industry, suffering and sacrifice. There are forces that may bully you, tyrannize over you and intimidate you, and you may even have to suffer. But it is going through this crucible of the fire of persecution which may be leveled against you, the tyranny that may be exercised, the threats and intimidations that may unnerve you - it is by resisting, by overcoming, by facing these disadvantages, hardships and suffering, and maintaining your true glory and history, and will live to make its future history greater and glorious not only in India, but in the annals of the world. Eighty millions of Muslims in India have nothing to fear. They have their destiny in their hands, and as a well-knit, solid, organized, united force can face any danger, and withstand any opposition to its united front and wishes. There is a magic power in your hands. Take your vital decisions - they may be grave and momentous and far-reaching in their consequences. Think a hundred times before you take any decision, but once a decision is taken, stand by it as one man."

Lahore – Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah (center), Sir Sikander Hayat Khan (right), Sir Nizam-ud-Din (left), Liaquat Ali Khan, and other Muslim League’s Leaders.

Jinnah-Sikander Pact

It was at the Lucknow Session that Jinnah persuaded Sir Sikander Hayat Khan to join the Muslim League along with his Muslim colleagues. That development later became famous as the Jinnah-Sikander Pact.

This Session marked a dramatic change not only in the League's platform and political position, but also in Jinnah's personal commitment and final goal. He changed his attire, shedding the Seville Row suit in which he had arrived for a black Punjabi sherwani long coat. It was for the first time he put on the compact cap, which would soon be known throughout the world as "Jinnah cap". It was at that session that the title of Quaid-i-Azam (the great leader) was used for Jinnah and which soon gained such currency and popularity that it almost became a substitute for his name.

He changed his attire, shedding the Seville Row suit in which he had arrived for a black Punjabi sherwani long coat. It was for the first time he put on the compact cap, which would soon be known throughout the world as "Jinnah cap".

The great success was achieved the organization front of the Muslim league. Within three months of the Lucknow session over 170 new branches of the League had been formed, 90 of them in the United Provinces, and it claimed to have enlisted 100,000 new members in the province alone.

Within 3 months of the Lucknow Session, 1937 over 170 new branches of League were formed with enlisted 100,000 new members in the province alone.

Allama Iqbal in last years of his life was a pillar of strength to Jinnah. He was an influential man and his poetry had made a place for itself in the hearts and minds of the people of India and abroad and had a special appeal for the Muslims. He was not an active, practical politician, but he could not remain indifferent to the Muslim majority provinces. In his letter of 28 May, 1937 he wrote to Jinnah to concentrate on Muslim majority provinces. He recognized in Jinnah the man chosen to lead the Muslims. "You are the only Muslim in India today to whom the community has a right to look up for safe guidance through the storm which is coming to North-West India, and perhaps the whole of India."

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah at Muslim League’s Lucknow Session, 1937. Quaid-i-Azam worn ‘sherwani’ and ‘Karakul Hat’ which later became symbolic dress in Pakistan’s history and politics.

Allama Iqbal wrote to Jinnah:

"You are the only Muslim in India today to whom the community has a right to look up for safe guidance through the storm which is coming to North-West India, and perhaps the whole of India."

Muslim League Gaining Momentum 1938 - 39

Jinnah's primary occupation in the year 1938 and 1939 was to build a mass party. He made tours of India and roused the Muslims with stirring speeches in which he exposed the Congress and answered the propaganda directed against him by the Hindu Press. His countrywide tours were superbly successful. Wherever he went, he was received with great love and fervor, especially by the Muslim students and the younger generation who idealized him and saw him as a beautiful mirror that reflected their future.

A special session of the Muslim League was held in April 1938 in Calcutta in which the Bengal leaders led by FazlulHaq declared their loyalty to the League. In his presidential address, Jinnah announced that in his extensive tours throughout the country he had come across an insatiable desire among the Muslim masses to unite under the banner of the Muslim League.

The Muslim League had been revolutionized within a very short period and one of the results of this was that members of provincial assemblies gladly joined the Muslim League parliamentary parties.

Arriving at the 26th All-India Muslim League Session at Patna, 1938
1938 - 26th Session of All India Muslim League in Patna, Bihar
(Begum AmjadiBano) Begum M. Ali Jauhar, A Woman Muslim League Leader delivering Speech at 26th Muslim League's Session in Patna, 1938. Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah is visible in background.

All India Muslim League’s 26th Session – 1938

The twenty-sixth session of the League was held in December 1938 in Patna. Jinnah made another hard-hitting, historical speech to a tumultuous gathering from all over the country. Jinnah made an objective assessment of the development of Muslim consciousness and claimed that the Muslim League had "succeeded in awakening a remarkable national consciousness." He told the meeting, "you have not yet got to the fringe of acquiring that moral, cultural and political consciousness. You have only reached the stage at which an awakening has come, your political conscience has been stirred. You have to develop a national self and a national individuality. It is a big task as I told you, you are yet only on the fringe of it. But I have great hopes for your success."

The Day of Deliverance – The Congress Resigns

By the end of 1938, the Muslim League was recognized as the representative of the Muslims by the British Government and soon the Viceroy was giving the same importance to the views and opinions of Jinnah that he gave to those of the Congress leaders. The Second World War broke out in 1939 and the British government was anxious to win the favor and co-operation of the major political parties and leaders in their war effort.

The Viceroy made a declaration in October assuring the people of India that after the war, the constitutional problems of India would be re-examined and modifications made in the Act of 1935, according to the opinion of Indian parties. The Congress reacted to that drastically, condemned the Viceroy's policy statement and called upon the Congress ministries to resign by October 31, 1939. On the resignation of the Congress ministries, the Muslim League appealed to the Muslims and other minorities to observe December 22, 1939 as the "Day of Deliverance".

Jinnah and his party were no longer willing to retain the status of a mere "minority", and the capital of Punjab had been chosen purposely as the place to announce the Muslim League's new-born resolve.

I wish the Musalmans all over India to observe Friday 22 December as the "Day of Deliverance" and thanksgiving as a mark of relief that the Congress regime has at last ceased to function. I hope that the provincial, district and primary Muslim Leagues all over India will hold public meetings and pass the resolution with such modification as they may be advised, and after Jumma prayers offer prayers by way of thanksgiving for being delivered from the unjust Congress regime.

Viceroy Victor Alexander John Hope, 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow (24 September 1887 – 5 January 1952)

“I wish the Musalmans all over India to observe Friday 22 December as the “Day of Deliverance” and thanksgiving as a mark of relief that the Congress regime has at last ceased to function.”

Jinnah on Congress Ministers Resignation, 1939

The Pakistan Resolution - 1940

Jinnah's Lahore address lowered the final curtain on any prospects for a single united independent India. Those who understood him enough know that once his mind was made up he never reverted to any earlier position realized how momentous a pronouncement their Quaid-i-Azam had just made. The rest of the world would take at least seven years to appreciate that he literally meant every word that he had uttered that important afternoon in March. There was no turning back.

The ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity had totally transformed himself into Pakistan's great leader. All that remained was for his party first, then his inchoate nation, and then his British allies to agree to the formula he had resolved upon. As for Gandhi, Nehru, Azad and the rest, they were advocates of a neighbor state and would be dealt with according to classic canons of diplomacy. - Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan.

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah presiding over Muslim League the famous 1940’s Muslim League Session, Liaquat Ali Khan is sitting next to him, while Chaudhry Khaliq-uz-Zaman seconding the resolution.
Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, the author of Pakistan Resolution, 1940
All-India Muslim League Lahore Session, 1940 (M. Ali Jinnah,Liaquat Ali Khan and, Sikandar Hayat Khan)

The British had been compelled to recognize the Muslim League as the sole representative of the Muslims of India by 1940 and Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as its undisputed leader.

Time and Tide of London published an article by Jinnah on January 19, 1940 under the caption "The Constitutional Future of India". He maintained: "Democratic systems based on the concept of a homogeneous nation such as England are very definitely not applicable to heterogeneous countries such as India." He called the Hindus and the Muslims "two different nations" with different religions and different social codes.

It is obvious that by calling the Hindus and the Muslims two nations, Jinnah had reached the threshold of partition, but he was still reluctant to abandon his lifelong dream that Hindus and the Muslims would come to an understanding and in unison make "their common motherland” one of "the great countries of the world".

The Quaid-i-Azam crossed the barrier at the Lahore session of the Muslim League in March 1940. He traveled to Lahore from Delhi in a colorfully decorated train on which green flags were mounted, bearing the emblem of the Muslim League: the crescent and star.

Jinnah decided to address a public gathering on the opening day. It was a huge gathering of the Leaguers, the Khaksars and the Muslims at Minto Park (now Iqbal Park). Jinnah had expounded the rationale of the resolution in his presidential address that lasted for hundred minutes and frequently punctuated by thunderous applause. Though, most of his audience of over 100,000 did not know English, he held their attention and visibly touched their emotion. He asserted that the Muslims were "a nation by any definition".

“He asserted that the Muslims were "a nation by any definition"

Jinnah, 23rd March, 1940
23rd March 1940, Lahore - M. Ali Jinnah addressing people

In his historical address he laid the foundation of a separate state for the Muslims of India: "The Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs, and literature. They neither inter-marry, nor inter-dine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspirations from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and they have different episodes. Very often the hero of one is foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state."

The Quaid’s speech lasted for hundred minutes, punctuated with thunderous applause.

The session began with NawabzadaLiaquat Ali Khan presenting the annual report on March 23, 1940. After the report, MaulanaFazlulHaq from Bengal, moved the famous Lahore Resolution, better known as the Pakistan Resolution, "The areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute 'Independent States' in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign." The resolution was seconded by Choudhry Khaliquzzaman who gave a brief history of the causes which led the Muslims to demand a separate state for themselves. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Nawab Ismail Khan, Qazi Mohammad Isa and I.I Chundigar supported it, among others.

The resolution passed in Lahore on March 23, created a scare in the minds of the Congress and the Hindus. They could see that the Muslim League had now openly advocated the division of India into "Independent States." The Quaid had anticipated the Hindu reaction and had taken organizational steps to face the opposition of the Hindus. He himself set an example of calm courage and an iron determination to lead the Muslims to their cherished goal of freedom.

Maulvi A.K. Fazl-ul-Haq, Presenting the Pakistan Resolution, 23rd March 1940

The Pakistan Resolution gave them a legible, objective and reachable goal, i.e., Pakistan.

News excerpt - Lahore Resolution, 1940

The Pakistan Resolution released the potential creative energies of the Muslims and even the humblest amongst them made his contribution for the achievement of Pakistan. The Quaid knew that without a well-defined goal that could be understood even by the simplest Muslim, there could be no real awakening of the Muslims. The Pakistan Resolution gave them a legible, objective and reachable goal: Pakistan.

The Cripps Mission - 1942

The passing of the Pakistan Resolution was a turning point in the history of Indian Muslims; it brought about a qualitative change in their status as a minority in India. By the middle of 1940, the war had brought disaster for the allies, as France fell in June 1940, the British Government made renewed appeals for co-operation to all parties in India. In the middle of 1941, the war situation had become more serious for the allies, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America was involved in the war, the initial success of the Japanese armies in South-East Asia brought the war to India's doorstep.

The British under the leadership of the die-hard imperialist Churchill were most reluctant to make any firm commitment regarding Indian independence. Sir Stafford Cripps, who had recently joined the government as Lord Privy Seal and become a member of the War Cabinet and leader of the House of Commons, had decided to proceed to India. Churchill gave the genesis of this new policy, "The crisis in the affairs of India arising out of the Japanese advance has made Britain wish to rally all the forces of Indian life to guard their land from the menace of the invader." The American President Roosevelt urged Churchill to settle matters with India that finally persuaded Churchill to send Cripps to India.

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah shaking hands with Stafford Cripps at Delhi in 1942
Sir Richard Stafford Cripps
Sir Stafford Cripps with Jawaharlal Nehru, 1942

Stafford Cripps Arrives India

Cripps flew into Karachi on March 22, 1942, and touched down at New Delhi's airport the following day,the "Pakistan Day", the second anniversary of the Lahore resolution that was celebrated in Delhi by a public meeting addressed by Jinnah. During his stay, Cripps met with Maulana Azad, Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru to discuss the issues regarding India. He met Jinnah on March 25 and explained to Jinnah that he had changed his view about the Muslim League and Pakistan because of the "change in the communal feeling in India and the growth of the Pakistan movement."

Cripps publicly disclosed the contents of the Declaration at a press conference on March 29. The object was "the creation of a new Indian Union which shall constitute a Dominion, associated with the United Kingdom and other Dominions by a common allegiance to the Crown, but equal to them in every respect." The said goal would be achieved in the following manner: immediately after the war, an elected body would be set up to frame a new Constitution for India. Any province of British India not prepared to accept the new Constitution would have the right to retain its present constitutional position. To such non-acceding provinces, his Majesty's Government would be prepared to give the same full status as to the Indian Union.

The proposals brought by Cripps were not received very enthusiastically by any section of Indian opinion. Gandhi and other Congress leaders were against it because they believed that Britain had already lost the war that it had nothing to offer for the future of India and therefore they looked to Japan and other Axis powers who appeared to them to have the key to their future. Hindu chauvinists to whom Pakistan had become a nightmare smelt the germ of the idea of Pakistan, even if it was not the Pakistan of the Muslim League's conception. Jinnah, in his presidential address to the Allahabad session of the League, analyzed the Cripps proposals and expressed the disappointment that their main objective was the creation of a new Indian Union and Pakistan was treated only "as a remote possibility.'

The formal rejection of the Cripps proposals took the form of a Congress Working Committee resolution dated 11 April 1942. The Muslim League too rejected Cripps' proposals by a Working Committee resolution of the same date. It expressed gratification that the possibility of Pakistan was "recognized by implication" but stated that "the only solution of India's constitutional problem is the partition of India into independent zones; and it will therefore be unfair to Muslims to compel them to enter such a constitution-making body whose main object is the creation of a new Indian Union."

"The only solution of India's constitutional problem is the partition of India into independent zones” – 11thApril 1942, Statement by All-India Muslim League rejecting the Cripps’ Proposals.

The Committee concluded that as "the proposals for the future are unacceptable, it will serve no useful purpose to deal further with the question of the immediate arrangements.'

The Cripps Mission –Cover of a Book by R. Coupland, 1942

1942-1943 – Madras Resolution

The failure of the Cripps Mission, though unfortunate in many ways, resulted in strengthening of the Muslim League case for Pakistan. The positive outcome was that Pakistan was considered seriously and not merely regarded as a stunt or bargaining counter. The Congress leadership had tried to exploit the difficulties of the British to wrest power for itself but it had refused to acknowledge the demands made by the Muslim League. A section of the Congress realizing the causes of their failure to compel the British and realizing the danger to India's defense from the advance of Japanese armies, decided to reconsider the question of Pakistan with an intention to arrive at a settlement with the Muslim League without which there could be no political advance in India.

Raja Gopal Acharya accepted the Muslim League’s demand of Pakistan and passed, Madras Resolution.

Rajagopalacharya, an elderly statesman, accepted in principle the Muslim League demand for Pakistan and passed, Madras Resolution, calling upon the Congress High Command to negotiate with the Muslim League on the question of Pakistan with the object of establishing a national government in India to organize the defense of India.

8th August 1942, Gandhi making his famous 'Quit India' speech

Towards the end of April 1942, in a meeting of the All India Congress held in Allahabad, the Madras Resolution was rejected and the Congress leaders made angry and fiery speeches against Jinnah and his concept of Pakistan. The Hindu Press took the cue from the All India Congress Committee and launched a virulent hate campaign against Jinnah and the Muslim League, holding Jinnah responsible for blocking the path to India's freedom and meanest of all, accusing him of playing the British game.

Bengaluru, 1942 - A procession during Quit India Movement

The Congress’ Quit India Movement

The Congress decided to launch its final assault on British imperialism in the movement that came to be known as the "Quit India" movement. Gandhi called upon the people to take initiative and "to do or die" in a last struggle for freedom, throwing off the initial pretenses of non-violence. He did not consult the Muslim League or any other party and went ahead with his plans in the hope that the momentum of the mass movement would take violent forms and would involve all parties and sections of the people of India. He made a grave mistake of under-estimating the reserves of power of the British to deal with the Indian movement, when they were too deeply involved in their military struggle against the Japanese. In spite of being warned by the government, that it would use all its powers to suppress any movement which obstructed their war effort, the Congress passed the "Quit India" resolution in August 1942.

The Government swooped down upon the leadership and locked up them all in jail, including Gandhi. There was turmoil in parts of India for about three months. The rail communications were damaged, police stations were attacked, sacked and burnt, and the Congress Socialist Party and other terrorists got busy doing everything they could do to paralyze the war effort, destroy the agencies of the Government and spread anarchy. After a short span, the Government was able to suppress the movement. Large sections of the people who were involved in the war effort and were thriving on war contracts, recruitment to the army and defense services, ignored the Congress appeals and went about their business as usual.

Quaid’s Answer to Quit India – Divide and Quit

To the Congress slogan of "Quit India", the Quaid's answer was "Divide and Quit". When the Muslim League Working Committee met in Bombay on 16 August, 1942, there were many who wanted the League to plunge blindly into the struggle, while others went to the extreme of giving full and unconditional support to the British and crushing the Congress. The Quaid wisely advocated a middle course avoiding both the Congress and the British traps and concentrated more on building up the Muslim League organization and removing some of its inherent weaknesses.

Jinnah received murder threats from the Khasksar, and one member of Khaksar tried to attack him, but Jinnah defended himself by catching hold of the assailant’s hand.

November 1942, Jullundur - Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah arrives at the station for inaugurating the Islamiyah College
Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah riding a buggy during a procession in Allahabad, 1942

Jinnah received several threats of murder in June and July 1943 from the Khaksars. The threat to Jinnah's life almost materialized on the afternoon of 26 July 1943. A Khaksar named Rafiq Sabir Maznavi walked up to the Quaid's residence and attacked him with a large knife. Jinnah defended himself by catching hold of the assailant's hand. This softened the blow and Jinnah escaped with no more than a wound on his chin and some cuts on his hand. In the meantime Jinnah's chauffeur and others arrived at the scene and overpowered Sabir. He was subsequently sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment by a British judge.

Bengal famine 1943 - People suffering from starvation; a woman is trying to feed a starving man
Bengal Famine 1943 - A Muslim Family leaves their village to Chittagong

Bengal Famine: 1942-43

In the autumn and winter of 1942-43, Bengal suffered a dreadful famine. The official estimate was that one and a half million died of starvation or by its after-effects. No one knows for sure how many starved to death or died of disease during these months of horror. The shortage of the rice crop would have been overcome by purchases from Burma or Thailand, but these sources were under Japanese control at that time.

One and a half million died of starvation or by its after-effects in Bengal Famine.

The provincial government was inefficient and imprudent and allowed the situation to get out of hand, while the central government under Linlithgow did not assert itself effectively. It was not until Wavell took over as Viceroy on 20 October 1943 and took a vigorous interest in the tragedy that anything worthwhile was done to alleviate the suffering

Jinnah-Gandhi Negotiations - 1944

Rajagopalacharia continued his efforts to bring about a Hindu-Muslim accord and in this regard Rajaji formula got famous. It was on 17 July, 1944 that Gandhi set the ball rolling by writing to Jinnah: "I have not written to you since my release. Today my heart says that I should write to you. We will meet whenever you choose. Do not disappoint me." Jinnah, who at that time was in Kashmir, replied that he would be glad to receive Gandhi at his residence in Bombay on his return. They met at Jinnah's house in Bombay on 9 September and thereafter corresponded at some length. They did meet a number of times up to 26 September, but without arriving at an agreement. They did not keep any record of their oral discussions but the text of their letters is available.

The first letter in this series was written by Jinnah to Gandhi on 10 September, and it is learnt from it that during their meeting on the previous day, Jinnah had tried to persuade Gandhi to accept the Pakistan Resolution of March 1940, while Gandhi had put forward the Rajaji Formula. The main points that emerged during the debate were as follows:

"I cannot accept that statement of yours. It is quite clear that you represent nobody else but Hindus, and as long as you do not realize your true position and the realities, it is very difficult for me to argue with you."

Jinnah in a letter to Gandhi, 1944
September 1944, Bombay - Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah and M.K. Gandhi pose to photographers.

Jinnah complained the Gandhi's claim that he had come to discuss Hindu-Muslim settlement in his individual capacity raised "great difficulty" in his way because he himself could speak only in his capacity as the president of the Muslim League. Gandhi characteristically claimed, "though I represent nobody but myself, I aspire to represent all the inhabitants of India", to which Jinnah replied, "I cannot accept that statement of yours. It is quite clear that you represent nobody else but Hindus, and as long as you do not realize your true position and the realities, it is very difficult for me to argue with you."

For his part, Gandhi questioned the right of the Indian Muslims to call themselves a nation, "I find no parallel in history", he wrote in one of his letters, "for a body of converts and their descendants claiming to be a nation apart from the parent stock", to which Jinnah gave the famous reply:

"We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation. We are a nation of a hundred million, and, what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life. By all canons of international law we are a nation."

Jinnah’s famous reply to Gandhi on Indian Muslims as a Nation

"We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation. We are a nation of a hundred million, and, what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life. By all canons of international law we are a nation."

The two leaders also differed with regard to the boundaries of Pakistan and how the issue of whether India should be divided at all, was to be determined. Gandhi was adamant on the question of partition and although he appeared to be conceding the possibility of partition he did everything he could to persuade the Quaid to give up his demand for the establishment of two sovereign States.

The British had been watching with anxiety the progress of the Gandhi-Jinnah talks and were making plans to meet the situation if the Congress and the League arrived at an agreement. The failure of these talks spurred the Viceroy to make renewed efforts to break the political deadlock in India.

Though the Gandhi-Jinnah negotiations failed to achieve the avowed goal of the Hindu-Muslim unity, they brought to Jinnah and the Muslim League two important political gains. Firstly, the leadership of the Congress had now offered to discuss the question of Pakistan seriously -- before that, the Congress and Mahatama had kept the door to that subject uncompromisingly shut. Secondly, the Congress could no longer justifiably claim that it stood for all the communities in India including the Muslims.

Gandhi-Jinnah talks proved successful for Muslim League on two fronts; first, Gandhi offered to discuss the question of Pakistan – Secondly, the Congress could no longer claim that it stood for all communities, especially the Muslims.

Lord Archibald Wavell Viceroy to India from 1943-1947

The Simla Conference - 1945

As the conditions of war began to turn in favor of the Allies, the Viceroy Wavell felt that the time had come to make proposals for a resolution of the political deadlock in India. His objective, as stated in a letter to Churchill, was to form "a provisional government, of the type suggested in the Cripps Declaration, within the present Constitution, coupled with an earnest but not necessarily simultaneous attempt to devise a means to reach a constitutional settlement."

Wavell had a one-and-a-quarter hour meeting with Churchill on 29 March 1945. The Prime Minister thought that the problem of India, 'could be kept on ice", but Wavell told him quite firmly that the question of India was very urgent and very important. It was on 31 May that Wavell at last got a go-ahead from the Cabinet largely on the lines he had desired. He left London on June 1, and landed at Karachi on June 4

The British Government's new proposals were publicly disclosed on 14 June 1945, on which date the Viceroy made a broadcast at New Delhi and the Secretary of State made a statement in the House of Commons. In this broadcast, Wavell said the proposals he was making were not an attempt to impose a constitutional settlement, but the hope that the Indian parties would agree on a settlement of the communal issue which had not been fulfilled, and in the meantime great problems had to be solved. He therefore invited the great leaders to a conference in Simla on 25 June to consult with him the formation of the new Executive Council. The Viceroy concluded the broadcast with the announcement that orders had been given for the immediate release of the members of the Congress Working Committee who were in detention.

Wa vell separately interviewed Azad, Gandhi and Jinnah on 24 June. Azad appeared to accept the main principles underlying the proposals, including wholehearted support for the war effort. He said that the Congress would accept equality of Caste Hindus and the Muslims but would not compromise on the method of selection.

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah along with other Indian Political Leaders meeting Lady Wavell during Shimla Conference of 1945
Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah with Jawaharlal Nehru at Simla Conference of 1945
24th June 1945, Simla - Lord Wavell greets Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah
Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah on the way to Simla Conference, 1945

The Congress must have a voice in the selection of non-Hindus and the Muslims in particular must not be selected by an exclusive communal body.

Gandhi said that he would attend the conference if the Viceroy insisted but would "sit in a corner". In the end he did not attend the meeting but remained available at Simla for the duration. Jinnah expressed the anxiety that the Muslims would be in a minority in the new Executive Council and he claimed that the Muslim League had the right to nominate all the Muslim members to the Council. Wavell said he could not accept this. Jinnah argued that the League had won all the by-elections in the preceding two years and therefore represented all the Muslims of India.

On the very first day of the conference on June 25, it became clear that the real issue was the composition of the Executive Council; all parties would accept the proposal if they could reach an agreement on the method of selection. By June 29 it became clear that the parties would not be able to come up with an agreed list of Executive Councilors and the conference was adjourned till July 14 to enable them to file separate lists.

Jinnah on Simla Conference

In a meeting with the Viceroy on June 27, Jinnah had said that he wanted a council of fourteen, including the Viceroy and commander-in-chief with five Hindus, five Muslims, one Sikh and one Scheduled Caste. He said that this was the only council in which the Muslims would stand a chance of not being out-voted on every issue. It was after seeing Jinnah on July 11 that the Viceroy accepted that the conference had failed because he had been unable to accede to Jinnah's demands. After the failure of the conference Jinnah explained:

"if we accept this arrangement, the Pakistan issue will be shelved and out into cold storage indefinitely, whereas the Congress will have secured under this arrangement what they want, namely, a clear road for their advance towards securing Hindu national independence of India, because the future Executive will work as unitary Government of India, and we know that this interim or provisional arrangement will have a way of settling down for an unlimited period, and all the forces in the proposed Executive, plus the known policy of the British Government and Lord Wavell's strong inclination for a united India, would completely jeopardize us."

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah and Muslim League Leaders during Simla Conference, 1945
Excerpt from a newspaper about the Simla Conference 1945
Simla Conference 1945 - Political Leaders having conversation, Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah can be seen in the background.

When the conference met on July 15, Wavell formally announced his failure and sportingly blamed himself for the result. In fact, the Viceroy deserved the greatest praise. With resolution and persistence he had succeeded in winning the consent of Churchill and of others to open the Indian question and give the Indian leaders another chance to install a national government.

It was the two principal political parties, the Congress and the Muslim League, that were really responsible for the failure. They had taken up positions that admitted no compromise.

Congress leaders blamed Jinnah for the lost opportunity and said that the Viceroy should have gone ahead without the League. But in fact the entire plan had been based on the idea that the Executive Council would be an all-party body.

Some days after the conference, at a public meeting the Quaid-i-Azam, referred to Gandhi's presence at Simla during the Simla Conference in scathing terms:

“The first question is why Mr. Gandhi as one of the leaders of the recognized parties went to Simla? Having gone there, why did Mr. Gandhi not attend the conference? The reason is simple. It was to play the role of wire puller."

The Cabinet Mission - 1946

Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India on February 19, 1946, announced in Parliament that a special mission consisting of three Cabinet ministers, in association with the Viceroy, would proceed to India, in order to hold discussions with the Indian leaders. The three Cabinet ministers would be Pethick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and A.V. Alexander Cripps told the press conference on landing at Karachi on March 23 that the purpose of the mission was "to get machinery set up for framing the constitutional structure in which the Indians will have full control of their destiny and the formation of a new interim government." The Mission arrived in Delhi on March 24 and left on June 29.

Jinnah faced extreme difficulties in the three-month-long grueling negotiations with the Cabinet Mission. The first of these was the continued delicate state of his health. At a critical stage of the negotiations, he went down with bronchitis and ran temperature for ten days. But he never gave up the fight and battled till the end of the negotiations

At a critical stage of the negotiations, he went down with bronchitis and ran temperature for ten days. But he never gave up the fight and battled till the end of the negotiations.

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah shaking hand with A.V. Alexander while the members of CabinetMission look on, 1946 (Cabinet Mission stayed in India from 24th March, 1946 to 29th June 1946)
Cabinet Mission 1946, Meeting - Sir Stafford Cripps (right), Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah (center), and Pathick Lawrence.

Secondly, the Congress was still much stronger than the Muslim League as a party. "They have the best organized -- in fact the only well-organized -- political machine; and they command almost unlimited financial support. They can always raise mob passion and mob supportand could undoubtedly bring about a very serious revolt against British rule."-- Mountbatten's "Report on the Last Viceroyalty".

Thirdly, The Congress had several powerful spokesmen, while for the League Jinnah had to carry the entire burden of advocacy single-handedly.

Fourthly, the Mission was biased heavily in favor of the Congress. Secretary of State Pethick-Lawrence and Cripps, the sharpest brains among them, made no secret of their personal friendship for the Congress leaders. Wavell was much perturbed by Pethick-Lawrence's and Cripps's private contacts with the Congress leaders and the deference they showed to Gandhi.

Finally, Jinnah suffered from the disadvantage that it was the Muslim League, a minority party, which alone demanded Pakistan. The Congress, the smaller minorities and the British Government including the comparatively fair-minded Wavell with whom the final decision lay, were all strongly opposed to the partition of British India.

The Delhi Resolution - 1946

Quaid-i-Azam the constitutionalist, took appropriate steps to strengthen his hand as the spokesman of the Muslim League. He convened a meeting of the Muslim League Working Committee at Delhi (4-6 April 1946) which passed a resolution that "the President alone should meet the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy. This was immediately followed by an All India Muslim Legislator's Convention. Nearly 500 members of the Provincial and Central Legislatures who had recently been elected on the Muslim League ticket from all parts of India attended it. It was the first gathering of its kind in the history of Indian politics and was called by some "the Muslim Constituent Assembly". In his presidential address, Jinnah said that the Convention would lay down "once and for all in equivocal terms what we stand for".

In his presidential address, Jinnah said that the Convention(4-6th March , 1946) would lay down "once and for all in equivocal terms what we stand for".

A resolution passed unanimously by the Convention (the "Delhi Resolution") stated that no formula devised by the British Government for transferring power to the peoples of India would be acceptable to the Muslim nations unless it conformed to the following principles:

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah at the meeting of the Muslim League's Working Committee Session at Delhi (4-6 April, 1946)

That the zones comprising Bengal and Assam in the North-East and the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan in the North-West of India, namely Pakistan, zones where the Muslims are in a dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent State and that an unequivocal undertaking be given to implement the establishment of Pakistan without delay.

The two separate constitution-making bodies be set up by the people of Pakistan and Hindustan for the purpose of framing their respective Constitutions.

That the acceptance of the Muslim League demand of Pakistan and its implementation without delay are the sine qua non for Muslim League cooperation and participation in the formation of an Interim Government at the Center.

That any attempt to impose a Constitution on a united-India basis or to force any interim arrangement at the Center contrary to the Muslim League demand will leave the Muslims no alternative but to resist any such imposition by all possible means for their survival and national existence.

This impressive show of strength, staged in the very city where the members of the Cabinet Mission were quartered, demonstrated to the Mission and to all the others that the 100 million Muslims of India were solidly behind the demand for Pakistan and further that the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was their undisputed supreme leader.

The impressive show of strength in the form of Delhi Convention showed that majority of Indian Muslims support the demand for Pakistan and consider Quaid-i-Azam as their sole supreme leader.

The Mission began their talks by first informing themselves of the views of the different leaders and parties. When they found the view-points of the League and the Congress irreconcilable, they gave a chance to the parties to come to an agreement between themselves. This included a Conference at Simla (5-12 May), popularly known as the Second Simla Conference, to which the Congress and the League were each asked to nominate four delegates for discussions with one another as well as with the Mission. When it became clear that the parties would not be able to reach a concord, the Mission on May 16, 1946, put forward their own proposals in the form of a Statement.

April 3rd 1946 - A.K. Azad, the Congress' President with the Cabinet Mission Members

Muslim League and Congress’ Responses

Azad, the president of the Congress, conferred with the Mission on April 3 and stated that the picture that the Congress had of the form of government in future was that of a Federal Government with fully autonomous provinces with residuary powers vested in the units. Gandhi met the Mission later on the same day. He called Jinnah's Pakistan "a sin" which he, Gandhi, would not commit.

At the outset of his interview with the Mission on April 4 the Quaid was asked to give his reason why he thought Pakistan a must for the future of India. He replied that never in long history these was "any Government of India in the sense of a single government". He went on to explain the irreconcilable social and cultural differences between the Hindus and the Muslims and argued, "You cannot make a nation unless there are essential uniting forces. How are you to put 100 million Muslims together with 250 million people whose way of life is so different? No government can ever work on such a basis and if this is forced upon India it must lead us on to disaster.

“You cannot make a nation unless there are essential uniting forces. How are you to put 100 million Muslims together with 250 million people whose way of life is so different?”

Jinnah, 4th April 1946

The Second Simla Conference having failed to produce an agreed solution, on May 16, the Mission issued its own statement.

The Cabinet Mission broadcast its plan worldwide from New Delhi on Thursday night, May 16, 1946. It was a last hope for a single Indian union to emerge peacefully in the wake of the British raj. The statement reviewed the "fully independent sovereign state of Pakistan" option, rejecting it for various reasons, among which were that it "would not solve the communal minority problem" but only raise more such problems.

The Cabinet Mission reviewed the ‘fully independent sovereign state of Pakistan’ option, rejected it for various reasons.

The basic form of the constitution recommended was a three-tier scheme with a minimal central union at the top for only foreign affairs, defense and communication, and Provinces at the bottom, which "should be free to form Groups with executive and legislatures," with each group being empowered to "determine the Provincial subjects to be taken in common". After ten years any Province could, by simple majority vote, "call for a reconsideration of the terms of the constitution".

Details of the new constitution were to be worked out by an assembly representing "as broad based and accurate" a cross section of the population of India as possible. An elaborate method of assuring representation of all the communities in power structure was outlined with due consideration given to the representation of states as well as provinces.

April 4th 1946, Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah with the Cabinet Mission Members
M.K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress rejected the 1946's Cabinet Mission Plan

Congress Rejects Cabinet Mission Plan

The Quaid replied on the 19th , asking the Viceroy if the proposals were final or whether they were subject to change or modification, and he also sought some other clarification. The Viceroy promptly furnished the necessary explanations. It seemed as if the Quaid would accept the Viceroy's proposals. The Congress Working Committee met in Delhi on June 25 and by a resolution rejected the proposals, as "Congressmen can never give up the national character of the Congress or accept an artificial and unjust party, or agree to the veto of a communal group." Azad sent a copy of the resolution to the Viceroy and in his covering letter protested against the non-inclusion of a Muslim-Congressman from the Congress quota.

After the Congress stand had become known, the Working Committee of the Muslim League resolved to join the Interim Government, in accordance with the statement of the Viceroy dated 16th June. The interpretation of the Quaid-i-Azam was that if the Congress rejected the proposals, the League accepted them, or vice versa, the Viceroy would go ahead and form the interim Government without including the representatives of the party that decided to stand out. But the interpretation of the Viceroy and the Cabinet Mission was different from that of the Quaid-i-Azam.

It became clear that the protracted negotiations carried out for about three months by the Cabinet Mission did not materialize in a League-Congress understanding, or in the formation of an interim Government. Towards the end of June, the Cabinet Mission left for England, their task unfulfilled.

It was clear to the Indians that the acceptance of the demand for Pakistan would be an integral part of any future settlement of the Indian problem.

It had, however not been a complete failure. It was clear to the Indians that the acceptance of the demand for Pakistan would be an integral part of any future settlement of the Indian problem. In the meantime the League and the Congress were getting ready for elections to the Constituent Assembly.

The Interim Government - 1946

Wavell wrote identical letters to Nehru and Jinnah on July 22, 1946 asking them whether the Congress and the Muslim League would be prepared to enter an interim government on the basis that six members(including one Scheduled Caste representative) would be nominated by the Congress and five by the Muslim League. Three representatives of the minorities would be nominated by the Viceroy.

Jinnah replied that the proposal was not acceptable to the Muslim League because it destroyed the principal of parity. At Nehru's invitation, he and Jinnah conferred together on August 15 but could not come to an agreement on the question of the Congress joining the interim government.

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah and Nehru talk at the Indian House Reception, 15th August 1946
'Direct Action Day' - Hindus and Muslims riot, excerpt from a newspaper dated 17th August 1946
August 16th, 1946 - thousands were killed in 'Great Calcutta Killing'

The Direct Action Day

The Working Committee of the Muslim League had decided in the meantime that Friday 16 August, 1946 would be marked as the 'Direct Action Day".There was serious trouble in Calcutta and some rioting in Sylhet on that day. The casualty figures in Calcutta during the period of 16-19 August were 4,000 dead and 10,000 injured.

In his letter to Pethick-Lawrence, Wavell had reported that appreciably more Muslims than Hindus had been killed. The "Great Calcutta Killing" marked the start of the bloodiest phase of the "war of succession" between the Hindus and the Muslims and it became increasingly difficult for the British to retain control. Now, they had to cope with the Congress civil disobedience movement as well as furious Muslims that had also come out in the streets in thousands.

The "Great Calcutta Killing" marked the start of the bloodiest phase of the "war of succession" between the Hindus and the Muslims and it became increasingly difficult for the British to retain control.

Quaid’s Reaction on Viceroy’s Decision of Making Government with Congress

The negotiations with the League reached a deadlock and the Viceroy decided to form an interim government with the Congress alone, leaving the door open for the League to come in later. A communique was issued on August 24th, 1946 which announced that the existing members of the Governor General's Executive Council had resigned and that on their places new persons had been appointed. It was stated that the interim government would be installed on September 2, 1946.

Jinnah declared two days later that the Viceroy had struck a severe blow to Indian Muslims and had added insult to injury by nominating three Muslims who did not command the confidence of Muslims of India. He reiterated that the only solution to Indian problem was the division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan. The formation of an interim government consisting only of the Congress nominees added further fuel to the communal fire. The Muslims regarded the formation of the interim government as an unconditional surrender of power to the Hindus, and feared that the Governor General would be unable to prevent the Hindus from using their newly acquired power of suppressing Muslims all over India.

He reiterated that the only solution to Indian problem was the division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan. (Jinnah writes in a letter to viceroy, 26th August 1946

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah in London

After the Congress had taken the reins at the Center on September 2, Jinnah faced a desperate situation. The armed forces were predominantly Hindu and Sikh and the Indian members of the other services were also predominantly Hindu. The British were preparing to concede independence to India if they withdrew the Congress was to be in undisputed control, the Congress was to be free to deal with the Muslims as it wished. Wavell too, felt unhappy at the purely Congress interim government. He genuinely desired a Hindu-Muslim settlement and united India, and had worked hard for that end.

Wavell pleaded with Nehru and Gandhi, in separate interviews, that it would help him to persuade Jinnah to cooperate if they could give him an assurance that the Congress would not insist on nominating a Nationalist Muslim. Both of them refused to give way on that issue.Wavell informed Jinnah two days later that he had not succeeded in persuading the Congress leaders to make a gesture by not appointing a Nationalist Muslim. Jinnah realized that the Congress would not give up the right to nominate a Nationalist Muslim and that he would have to accept the position if he did not wish to leave the interim government solely in the hands of the Congress.

"In the interests of the Muslims and other communities it will be fatal to leave the entire field of administration of the Central Government in the hands of the Congress". Jinnah 8th October, 1946

Quaid’s Nominates Five Members For The Interim Government

On October 13, he wrote to Wavell that, though the Muslim League did not agree with much that had happened, "in the interests of the Muslims and other communities it will be fatal to leave the entire field of administration of the Central Government in the hands of the Congress". The League had therefore decided to nominate five members for the interim government.

Shri JogindarNath Mandal a Scheduled Caste Hindu, nominated by Quaid was a tit-for-tat response to Congress’ insistence for including a Nationalist Muslim in its quota.

On October 15, he gave the Viceroy the following five names:

Liaquat Ali Khan, I.I Chundrigar, Abd-ur-RabNishtar, Ghazanfar Ali Khan and JogindarNath Mandal. The last name was a Scheduled Caste Hindu and was obviously a tit-for-tat for the Congress insistence upon including a Nationalist Muslim in its own quota.

Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, A Muslim League’s Leader
Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar better known as I.I. Chundrigar, A Muslim League’s Leader
Abud-ur-RabNishtar, A Muslim League’s Leader
Ghazanfar Ali Khan, A Muslim League’s Leader
Shri Jogendra Nath Mandal a scheduled caste Hindu Leader

The Congress’ Nominees

The Congress nominated the following members:

External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations Jawaharlal Nehru
Defence Baldev Singh
Home (including Information and Broadcasting) Vallahbhai Patel
Finance Liaquat Ali Khan
Posts and Air AbdurRabNishtar
Food and Agriculture RajendraParsad
Labor Ragjivan Ram
Transport and Railways M.Asaf Ali
Industries and Supplies John Matthai
Education and Arts C. Rajgopalacharia
Works, Mines and Power C.H. Babha
Commerce I.I. Chundrigar
Law JogindarNath Mandal
Health Ghazanfar Ali Khan

New Indian Policy and Mountbatten's Appointment as the Viceroy

The Muslim League's refusal to take part in the Constituent Assembly meant that the plan of the Cabinet Mission for the transfer of power in accordance with a Constitution framed cooperatively by the Indian political parties themselves had come to a deadlock. Accordingly, Prime Minister Attlee made the following statement on Indian policy in the House of Commons on February 20, 1947:

His Majesty's Government desire to hand over their responsibility to authorities established by a Constitution approved by all parties in India in accordance with the Cabinet Mission's plan, but unfortunately there is at present no clear prospect that such a Constitution and such authorities will emerge. The present state of uncertainty is fraught with danger and cannot be indefinitely prolonged.
His Majesty's Government wish to make it clear that it is their definite intention to take the necessary steps to effect the transference of power into responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June 1948, if it should appear that such a Constitution will not have been worked out by a fully representative Assembly before the time mentioned, His Majesty's Government will have to consider to whom the powers of the Central Government in British India should be handed over, on the due date, whether as a whole to some form of Central Government for British India or in some areas to the existing Provincial Governments, or in such other way seem most reasonable and in the best interests of the Indian people.

Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of United India – Viceroy with Lady Mountbatten

In regard to the Indian States, as was explicitly stated by the Cabinet Mission, His Majesty's Government do not intend to hand over their powers and obligation under paramountcy to any government of British India. It is not intended to bring paramountcy, as a system, to a conclusion earlier than the date of the final transfer of power, but it is contemplated that for the intervening period the relations of the Crown with individual States may be adjusted by agreement.”

Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy of British India

It was announced at the same time that Rear-Admiral the Viscount Mountbatten would succeed Lord Wavell as the Viceroy in March. Lord and Lady Mountbatten landed at Delhi on March 22, 1947 and he took over as the Viceroy two days later. He could very well have represented to the British Government that both the Congress and the Muslim League had already asked for the partition of India into Muslim-majority and non-Muslim majority areas and sought their permission to embark upon the process of partition straightaway. But he chose to follow the policy that first the attempt to transfer power in accordance with the Cabinet Mission plan must continue. It is to that end, therefore, that he first directed his endeavors.

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah with Viceroy Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten
Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten with M.K. Gandhi

Mountbatten's relations with the Congress party had a flying start. The foundation of Nehru's friendship with Lord and Lady Mountbatten had been laid in March 1946 when the Indian leader visited Singapore. The political conditions in India too had changed in favor of the Congress. In post-independence India the Congress party was expected to rule the country. Consequently, it was the Congress's friendship that had now to be cultivated. The fact that Mountbatten personally was bitterly opposed to partition, made it much easier for him to court the Congress leaders.

Mountbatten’s relations with the Congress Party had a flying start, coupled with Nehru’s friendship with Battens increased the formidable odds for Quaid in his fight for Pakistan.

All these factors greatly increased the already formidable odds facing the Quaid-i-Azam in his fight for Pakistan. In his meetings with Mountbatten, he refused to budge from the position that Pakistan was the only solution acceptable to the Muslim League.

The 3rd June Plan – The British Raj Ends

The plan for the transfer of power to which all concerned had agreed, was authoritatively announced by the British Government in the form of a statement on June 3, by Prime Minister Attlee in the House of Commons and Secretary of State for India the Earl of Listowel in the House of Lords.

The existing Constituent Assembly would continue to function but any constitution framed by it could not apply to those parts of the country which were unwilling to accept it. The procedure outlined in the statement was designed to ascertain the wishes of such unwilling parts on the question whether their constitution was to be framed by the existing Constituent Assembly or by a new and separate Constituent Assembly. After this had been done, it would be possible to determine the authority or authorities to whom power should be transferred.

The Provincial Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab (excluding the European members) will therefore each be asked to meet in two parts, one representing the Muslim majority districts and the other the rest of the Province.

June 2nd 1947, Delhi - The Partition Plan, Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah with Lord Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru. The advisor to the viceroy, Lord Ismay is visible in background

The members of the two parts of each Legislative Assembly sitting separately will be empowered to vote whether or not the Province should be partitioned. If a simple majority of either part decides in favor of partition, division will take place and arrangements will be made accordingly.
For the immediate purpose of deciding on the issue of partition, the members of the Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab will sit in two parts according to Muslim majority districts and non-Muslim majority districts. This is only a preliminary step of a purely temporary nature as it is evident that for the purposes of final partition of these Provinces a detailed investigation of boundary questions will be needed; and, as soon as a decision involving partition has been taken for either Province, a Boundary Commission will be set up by the Governor General, the membership and terms of reference of which will be settled in consultation with those concerned.

A Boundary Commission will be set up by the Governor General, the membership and terms of reference of which will be settled in consultation with those concerned.

Lord Mountbatten - 11 days before the transfer of power

Moreover, it was stated that the Legislative Assembly of Sind was similarly authorized to decide at a special meeting whether the province wished to participate in the existing Constituent Assembly or to join the new one. If the partition of the Punjab was decided, a referendum would be held in the North-West Frontier Province to ascertain which Constituent Assembly they wished to join. Baluchistan would also be given an opportunity to reconsider its position and the Governor General was examining how this could be most appropriately done.

In his broadcast, Mountbatten regretted that it had been impossible to obtain the agreement of Indian leaders either on the Cabinet Mission plan or any other plan that would have preserved the unity of India. But there could be no question of coercing any large area in which one community had a majority to live against their will under a government in which another community had a majority. The only alternative to coercion was partition.

On the morning of June 4, the Viceroy held a press conference and said for the first time publically that the transfer of power could take place on "about 15 August" 1947.

The Council of the All India Muslim League met in New Delhi on 9th and 10th of June 1947 and stated in its resolution that although it could not agree to the partition of Bengal and the Punjab to give its consent to such partition, it had to consider the plan for the transfer of power as a whole. It gave full authority to the Quaid-i-Azam to accept the fundamental principles of the plan as a compromise and left it to him to work out the details.

The All India Congress Committee passed a resolution on June 15 accepting the 3rd June plan. However, it expressed the hope that India would one day be reunited.

The Radcliffe Boundary Award

Two boundary commissions were set up by the Viceroy, one of them was to deal with the detailed partition of Bengal and separation of Sylhet from Assam and the other to deal similarly with the partition of the Punjab. Each of the commissions would have a chairman and four members, two appointed by the Congress and two by the Muslim League. Sir Cyril Radcliffe, a leading member of the English Bar, was appointed the chairman of both commissions.

Sir Cyril Radcliffe(30 March 1899 – 1 April 1977)

Radcliffe had never visited India before and there is no indication that he had any worthwhile knowledge of Indian affairs. He arrived in Delhi on July 8. Mountbatten disclosed the awards to the Indian leaders on August 17.
The awards satisfied no one. The Congress' criticism of the award relating to Bengal mainly related to the allotment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts to Pakistan. The major Pakistani criticism was the allotment of Calcutta to India.

With regard to the Ferozepur district, Pakistan pointed out that Muslim majority tehsils of Ferozepur and Zira, contiguous to Pakistan, were first allotted by Radcliffe to Pakistan later on as the result of a last minute intervention by Mountbatten, were allotted to India.

“It is an unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse Award. It may be wrong, unjust and perverse; and it may not be a judicial but a political Award, but we have agreed to abide by it and it is binding upon us.” Jinnah on Boundary Commission Award 1947

August 17th 1947, the Boundary Commission Partition Map

The Quaid-i-Azam could do no more than to console his countrymen, 'we have been squeezed in as much as was possible and the latest blow that we have received is the Award of the Boundary Commission. It is an unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse Award. It may be wrong, unjust and perverse; and it may not be a judicial but a political Award, but we have agreed to abide by it and it is binding upon us. As honorable people we must abide by it. It may be our misfortune but we must bear up this one more blow with fortitude, courage and hope."

Pakistan - Birth of a Free Nation

On the morning of June 3, Mountbatten concluded the conference by announcing that an official announcement of the acceptance of the plan would be made by him and by the two leaders, Jinnah and Nehru, that evening in a radio broadcast.

The Delhi Station of All India Radio was agog with excitement. Mountbatten was there to announce, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, what Churchill in his inimitable style had termed, a few years back as the impending liquidation of the British Empire in India. Mountbatten spoke with poise and dignity, and Millions that heard him all over India, realized that the end of a long drawn-out struggle for independence was in sight, as he declared in unequivocal terms that power would be definitely transferred by the British to two successive sovereign States

"I have faith in the future of India and I am proud to be with you all at this momentous time. May your decisions be wisely guided and may they be carried out in the peaceful and friendly spirit of the Gandhi-Jinnah appeal." Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, 3rd June 1947

The Viceroy concluded his broadcast with the words, "I have faith in the future of India and I am proud to be with you all at this momentous time. May your decisions be wisely guided and may they be carried out in the peaceful and friendly spirit of the Gandhi-Jinnah appeal."

Then Nehru, in a solemn voice announced that the Congress had accepted the plan for India's independence, as set out in His Majesty's Plan announced by the Viceroy.

3 June 1947 – Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah announcing the June 3rd Plan

His first sentence on that historic occasion was, "I am glad that I am offered an opportunity to speak to you directly through this Radio from Delhi." Jinnah, 3rd June 1947

Thousands of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs migrated to either side of the border, 1947

Quaid-i-Azam Congratulates Nation on Creation of Pakistan

Then it was the Quaid-i-Azam, who was to address the Muslim Nation. His first sentence on that historic occasion was, "I am glad that I am offered an opportunity to speak to you directly through this Radio from Delhi." Regarding the Plan for the transfer of power to the peoples of India, he said: had to take momentous decisions and handle grave issues, "Therefore we must galvanize and concentrate all our energy to see that the transfer of power is affected in a peaceful and orderly manner." In this, his finest hour, he was meek and humble

"I pray to God that at this critical moment that He may guide us and enable us to discharge our responsibilities in a wise and statesmanlike manner." 3rd June 1947, Radio Message by Quaid

He did not forget to pay his tribute to those that had suffered and sacrificed in the struggle for Pakistan. "I cannot help but express my appreciation of the sufferings and sacrifices made by all classes of Muslims". He gave wholehearted credit for "the great part the women of the Frontier played in the fight for our civil liberties."

"The great part the women of the Frontier played in the fight for our civil liberties." 3rd June 1947 Radio Message by Jinnah

He did not forget those who had died or suffered in the struggle for Pakistan, "I deeply sympathize with all those who have suffered and those who died or whose properties were subjected to destruction".Quaid-i-Azam ended his memorable speech by saying, extemporaneously, "Pakistan Zindabad".

Quaid-i-Azam ended his memorable speech by saying, extemporaneously, "Pakistan Zindabad".

Quaid-I-Azam Arrives in Newly Founded Pakistan

The Quaid-I-Azam and his sister Fatima Jinnah flew from New Delhi to Karachi on August 7, 1947. The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan elected Jinnah as its president at its inaugural session on August 11, 1947.

"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed -- that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Jinnah addressing the first session of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly, 11th August 1947

Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah arrives Karachi with Ms. Fatima Jinnah, 7th August 1947
Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah with Ms. Fatima Jinnah arrives Karachi

In his presidential address to the Assembly, the Quaid said that the first duty of a government was to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected. If Pakistanis wanted to make their country happy and prosperous they should "wholly and solely concentrate on the wellbeing of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor." In that historical address he remarked further:

"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed -- that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination between one caste or creed or another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest Nations of the world."

August 13th 1947 - Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah in jubilant ode as the first Governor General of Pakistan meeting with Lord and Lady Mountbatten, Ms. Fatima Jinnah is also present
August 14th 1947, - People celebrating the creation of Pakistanat the city’s Kakri Ground, Karachi

On the afternoon of August 13, Lord and Lady Mountbatten flew from Delhi to Karachi. The state procession on August 14 was staged in open cars with Jinnah and Mountbatten in the leading car and Miss Fatima Jinnah and Lady Mountbatten in the next car. Mountbatten addressed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan followed by Jinnah.

Pakistan became constitutionally independent at midnight between the 14th and 15th August 1947. The Quaid assumed charge as Governor General on August 15 and the Cabinet of Pakistan, with Liaquat Ali Khan as Prime Minister, was sworn in on the same day.

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