This section considers Important events within Anglo-Sikh history such as early European accounts of Sikhs, the role ofSikhs in the armed forces and pre British Raj accounts.


India and Pakistan Celebrate

British Rule ends in India after 163 Years 1947

The Guardian
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."

The Future
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.

Source:The Guardian, Thursday September 25, 1947

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