Pakistan was carved out in desperate urgency. It came into existence with horrible loss of life and property, and the migration of millions of dazed and destitute men, women, and children. The cost was heavy in terms of human suffering. But what the Muslims wanted and what they achieved was a homeland of their own. They now had the freedom to worship, practice their religious faith and develop their culture. Moreover, independence had opened up a bright future for the Muslims, who hoped for a better standard of living, economic development, prosperity and a fuller life.
But it seemed in those early years (1947-58) that the immense sacrifices might have been in vain for Pakistan had been struggling from one major crisis to another, fighting to ward off the multiple problems that threatened the nation.
The main problems were:
- Indus Water
- Accession of Princely States
It had been agreed between Jinnah and Nehru that a Boundary Commission should be setup to define the borders between India and Pakistan. The British Government immediately appointed a Boundary Commission under Sir Cyril Radcliffe to demarcate permanent borders.
The boundaries had to be defined as such that provinces, districts, and villages that were predominantly Muslim went to Pakistan, while Hindu majority areas went to India. Provinces like Baluchistan, Sindh, N. W. F. P. and East Bengal provided little difficulty. But deep problems arose when boundaries in Punjab had to be fixed; there were also a substantial number of Hindus and Sikhs residing in this region, other than the Muslims. However, the province was partitioned.
When the boundaries were drawn between India and Pakistan, it resulted in many tragic events. In an almost frantic, cruel rush, the commission divided districts, villages, farmlands, water and property. Thousands of innocent men, women and children were caught unaware. The result was that many hastened across the border, leaving their homes, land and personal property to seek refuge. Panic, fear, revenge and reprisals followed. Both India and Pakistan were soaked in blood. It left on Pakistan’s doorstep, seven million refugees who had to be rehabilitated, clothed, fed and sheltered.
Partition also involved dividing of the assets of the Sub-continent. India, being the larger country, got the lion’s share in all transactions, leaving Pakistan with minimal resources to survive and build on.
Equally disastrous was the economic situation. There were not sufficient skilled personnel to run the railways, hospitals and offices. There weren’t enough chairs, tables or even stationery and paper pins for administrative purposes. Food was scarce. Pakistan had no industry.
At the time of partition, the cash balances of undivided India stood at about Rupees 4,000 million. At the beginning of December 1947, India and Pakistan mutually came to an agreement that Pakistan would get Rupees 750 million as her share. Rupees 200 million had been already paid to Pakistan while Rupees 550 million were to be paid immediately. But this amount was withheld on the plea that Pakistan would use it in the war going on in Kashmir. However, as this stand was morally untenable, the remaining amount was later on released after Gandhi’s fast and under world pressure on January 15, 1948.
Soon afterwards, Sardar Patel threatened that the implementation of the agreement would depend upon the settlement of the Kashmir issue. But, it was upon Gandhi’s request that the Reserved Bank of India paid Pakistan Rupees 500 million, retaining the balance of Rupees 50 million to adjust some trumped up claim against Pakistan.
The Indus Water
The most explosive of Indo-Pakistan disputes was the question of sharing the waters of the Indus basin.
On April 1, 1948, India cut off the supply of water from the two headworks under her control. Fortunately, Eugene Black, President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development offered the offices of the Bank for the solution of the water problem in 1952. A solution acceptable to both governments was agreed upon in 1960 at the Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement at Karachi. This treaty is commonly known as the “Indus Water Treaty”.
The treaty allowed for a transitional period of 10 to 13 years, after which the three eastern rivers would fall exclusively to India’s share and the three western rivers to Pakistan. During the transitional period, Pakistan would construct a system of replacement works consisting of two dams, five barrages and seven link canals financed by the Indus Development Fund.
Accession of Princely States
Prior to partition, there existed in British India many semi-autonomous Princely states whose future had to be settled before Britain withdrew from India.
There were some 560 such states all over the Sub-continent. Some fell within Indian territory, others in Pakistan.
On July 25, 1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten (the last Viceroy of India) in his address to the Chamber of Princes advised them that in deciding the question of accession, they should take into consideration communal composition and the geographical location of their states. Nearly all the states accepted the reality of the situation and opted either for Pakistan or India accordingly. But there were four states, Junagadh, Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Kashmir, which defied the principle of partition.
I. Junagadh: The ruler of Junagadh was a Muslim but 80 percent of his subjects were Hindus. On September 15, 1947, the Nawab acceded to Pakistan, despite the fact that his state did not fall within the geographical grouping of Pakistan. India protested, stormed in her troops, and forcibly reversed the Nawab’s decision and Junagadh became a part of India.
II. Hyderabad: Hyderabad, the second of the defiant states was the largest and richest in India. Its population was 85 percent Hindu but the ruler (Nizam) was a Muslim. He was reluctant to accede either to India or Pakistan but was dismissed by Mountbatten for adopting this course. The Nizam was forced by the Indian government and Lord Mountbatten to join India. A standstill agreement was concluded between India and Hyderabad. The Hindu subjects were incited to revolt against the Nizam’s desire to be independent. The whole province suffered turmoil and violence. Hyderabad filed a compliant with the Security Council of the United Nations. Before the hearing could be started, Indian troops entered Hyderabad to “restore order”, and under the pretext of “police action” Hyderabad was forced to join India. The Hyderabad army surrendered on September 17, 1948, and finally Hyderabad was annexed into the Indian Union.
III. Jodhpur: Yet another prince, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, expressed a wish to join Pakistan but Mountbatten warned him that his subjects were mostly Hindus and his accession to Pakistan would create problems. As a result Jodhpur, too, acceded to India.
IV. Kashmir: Please see “Kashmir Crisis”.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003