Friday August 15, 1947
British rule in India ended at midnight last night after 163 years.
To-day the new Dominions of India and Pakistan are in being. At
midnight in Delhi, capital of India, Lord Mountbatten ceased to
be the Viceroy and became Governor General of India. It is announced
in London that an earldom has been conferred on him. At midnight
in Karachi, capital of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah became Governor General
of Pakistan. The Pakistan Constituent Assembly met yesterday afternoon
and Lord Mountbatten was there to say farewell: not an absolute
parting, he said, but a parting among friends. The Indian Constituent
Assembly held an "independence meeting" at midnight; the
hour, said Mr. Nehru, the Indian Premier, when the world sleeps
and India wakes to life and freedom. The United States announced
yesterday that it is giving full diplomatic recognition to Pakistan.
China is doing the same, and Egypt is to establish diplomatic relations
with India and Pakistan.
The shape of the new Dominions
The Dominion of India is mainly Hindu but will have a Moslem minority
of some 30,000,000. It consists of- Bombay, Madras, Orissa, Central
Provinces, United Provinces, Bihar, Assam, Western Bengal, and Eastern
Punjab. In the Dominion of Pakistan the majority is Moslem, but
there is a considerable Hindu and Sikh minority. The Dominion is
split into two parts, one in North-west India and the other in the
North-east. It is made up of- Sind, North-west Frontier Province,
Baluchistan, and Western and Central Punjab. The actual division
of the Punjab and Bengal is now being discussed by boundary commissions.
Most of the Indian states have decided to accede to India some are
likely to accede to Pakistan, but Hyderabad, Kashmir, Indore, and
Bhopal have done neither.
Some of the main streets through which the procession passed were
half-empty, except for the troops lining the road, and many of the
reserved seats for distinguished citizens in front of the assembly-hall
were unused. It is a puzzling phenomenon, and a visitor does not
know whether to put it down to the lethargic temperament of the
ordinary Sindi, to the fact that the majority of the population
of Karachi is Hindu, or to the realisation by the inhabitants of
the tremendous problems which overshadow the birth of this new State
and which in Karachi are already making life difficult for the ordinary
man in the street. Perhaps it is a combination of all three.
That popular enthusiasm which Moslem propagandists have argued
as being one of the main assets of Pakistan is certainly not much
in evidence here. There would doubtless be more in the Moslem areas
of the Punjab, but by all reports East Bengal is as apathetic and
undemonstrative as Sind. When the Viceroy and Vicereine arrived
at the Assembly they were welcomed by Mr. Jinnah. Guards of honour
were formed by the Royal Indian Navy and the first battalion of
the Royal Scots. A crowd of only moderate proportions had assembled
belatedly round the assembly hall buildings.
Sitting on the dais on Mr. Jinnah's right hand, the Viceroy addressed
the assembly and first read a message from the King, sending "greetings
and warmest wishes on this great occasion when the new Dominion
of Pakistan is about to take its place in the British Commonwealth
of Nations." The Viceroy paid a tribute to Mr. Jinnah, to other
Moslem leaders, and also to those who had advised and assisted the
progress of the negotiations and who had kept the machinery of administration
running under great difficulties.
"All this," he said, "has been achieved with toil
and sweat. I wish I could say also without tears and blood, but
terrible crimes have been committed. It is justifiable to reflect,
however, that far more terrible things might have happened if the
majority had not proved worthy of the high endeavours of their leaders
and had not listened to that great appeal which Mr. Jinnah and Mahatma
Gandhi together made." Mr. Jinnah in a brief reply said he
greatly appreciated the goodwill and sympathy which Britain had
shown towards Pakistan. "We are parting as friends and I sincerely
hope we shall remain friends."
It is a fact that the attitude towards Britain and the British seems
to be fairly friendly. Six out of the nine key departments in the
Pakistan Government are headed by Englishmen and out of 24 top officials
15 are British. Mr. Jinnah has acknowledged, frankly and without
rancour, that both in the Army and civil services Moslems of adequate
ability and training are not yet available. As for relations with
India the omens appear bad.
During the past few days the Congress President, Mr. Kripalani,
who is now visiting Sind, and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan have been making
charges and counter charges in the press and I have found a universal
belief among Moslem leaders here that India will do everything she
can to wreck Pakistan's chances of success.
Pakistan has a food surplus and produces most of the sub-continent's
jute and about half of the cotton, ideally giving her a favourable
balance of trade. These advantages will avail nothing if there is
not some stability inside both Pakistan and India and good relations
between them. If there is an economic tug-of-war between them and
no freedom of movement of funds there will be little prosperity
in either. In these few days in Karachi I have not seen much evidence
of great popular enthusiasm.
Pakistan is a recent concept and perhaps it has not yet reached
the masses of the people. There are peasants in the country districts
who have never read of it. Certain delegates to the Constituent
Assembly from East Bengal are positively depressed and seem to fear
that Eastern Bengal, although containing two-thirds of Pakistan's
population and producing all the jute, will be very much the poor
relation. Certainly the centre of gravity of the new Dominion will
be in the West.