Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Re-Contextualizing the Mountbatten's Viceroyalty - Accession of Sindh to Pakistan: A Reappraisal

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Re-Contextualizing the Mountbatten's Viceroyalty - Accession of Sindh to Pakistan: A Reappraisal

Article excerpt

Introduction

There is plentiful literature about almost all aspects of the creation of Pakistan and detailed accounts about the various roles of the Muslim leaders in achieving this goal but Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India's undeniable contribution in this regard has gone practically unacknowledged. Indeed, his June 3rd June Plan was what made partition of the subcontinent a reality and dictated the course that the process then followed. This was also what led to Sindh's accession to Pakistan. This paper explores and investigates the dynamics of Muslim politics in the province of Sindh and demonstrates how the June 3rd Plan was the missing link that actually enabled this transfer to take place and that too in a peaceful manner. This study argues that Mountbatten was instrumental in bringing the Muslim majority provinces into the fold of Pakistan1 despite the immense political complexity of such an endeavour.

Most accounts of the accession of Sindh to Pakistan convey the impression that the Sindh Provincial Legislative Assembly (SPLA) voted in favour of Pakistan; that there was no significant discord with the Hindu population and the transfer of power proceeded smoothly. This is not really how it happened. Similar to the other provinces, Sindh also had political, secessionist, economic and communal problems with regard to partition. It was as much of a challenge for the last viceroy of India to help the people of the province of Sindh to decide their future according to their conscience, as the problems he faced in the other provinces. In this regard Lord Mountbatten showed a sense of duty, honesty and impartiality and consequently the province became a part of Pakistan.

The Muslim League Party had grabbed power in Sindh in December 1946 but by no means was it strong enough to steer the ship of the Pakistan movement to the shore safely. The sizeable and influential Hindu population; the Congress' averred agenda to oppose the creation of Pakistan in every possible way; the growing fear of civil war in India on the eve of partition; the tense Hind-Muslim relations in Sindh, and on top of that, the sizeable representation of the Congress in the SPLA were serious hurdles to the province joining Pakistan.2

Literature Review

There are two groups of historians which have dealt with the situation in Sindh during partition:

... One group by writers like Khalid Shamsul Hasan, Sharif-ul Mujahid,3 discusses the Muslim struggle of Sindh in the creation of Pakistan. They glorify the role of the Sindh Muslim League in the achievement of Pakistan. They also highlight the role of important personalities and interest groups, of the Sindh Muslim League in boosting the sentiments of two nation theory which resulted in the victory of the Muslim League in the elections in the Sindh Assembly.

The second group of writers analyse the history at a national level and dilates on the situation in Sindh in this broader perspective. Much has been written on the viceroyalty of Mountbatten. However, as pointed out above, historians whether British or others have not given much thought to Mountbatten's policy towards Sindh. This aspect is of great significance not only to understand Mountbatten's reading of Muslim politics in India but also his efforts to implement the partition plan as impartially and justly as possible.

Therefore, this study attempts to fill a vital gap in the existing literature not only on the history of Sindh, but at a broader level it also probes the British policy towards ascertaining the will of the people to join either Pakistan or India4 and regarding the princely states Mountbatten advised the rulers to join either of these two countries. Thus in order to implement his 3rd June plan in letter and spirit, the viceroy allowed the people of the province of Sindh to decide their future freely and according to their conscience in the SPLA,5 where it was expected there would be tough resistance to this move from the Congress, non-Muslims and splinter groups of the Muslims. …

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