Chapter 6
Trouble in the Armed Forces

THE Armed Forces of undivided India actually came through the ordinary post-war stresses of demobilisation during the winter of 1945-6 very much better than some of the British Forces then on Indian soil. The events referred to in the last chapter were of different origin. They arose, dramatically, from two interconnected special affairs, whose emergence was doubtless difficult for the harassed authorities to foresee clearly -- though it is a fact that, at the time, many considered that perspicacity in high places had been woefully lacking. These affairs were the so-called 'I.N.A.' trials; and the mutiny in the Royal Indian Navy.

During the few weeks when the excitement created by them was at its height -- the spring of 1946, well before the Partition-time disturbances -- observers found themselves faced with the grim question whether, if the Indian ship of State was destined to founder, as seemed quite likely, the particular rock she hit would prove not to be political at all, as most people assumed, but simply military. Would the timbers be burst asunder by soldiery casting off their bonds of allegiance? It had happened several times before in the subcontinent's chequered past, as Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs well knew; not merely in 1857, the date which always leapt to the British mind. If so, catastrophe lay nearer to hand than the darkest of previous forebodings had suggested.

As matters turned out, this rock was not the one struck. Yet the reasons for fearing it, during those agitated weeks of 1946, were strong. And it can be argued that what averted shipwreck was not so much wisdom at the bridge, as sheer luck, an accidental turn of fortune's wheel. The outcome, in any case, was crucial for the future stability, and indeed survival, of the successor-States to the British Raj; and even more for Pakistan than for India, because as the year 1958 showed, her destiny was linked with the quality of her Forces, and especially with that of the officers -- mostly of about the status of major in 1946 -- who, by 1958, had risen to high commands.

The I.N.A. trials, or more properly courts martial, were an offshoot of the biggest defeat in British military history: the loss in February 1942 of Malaya and Singapore. About 130,000 officers and

-86-

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Pakistan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Maps 10
  • Part I 11
  • Chapter I - The Idea 13
  • Chapter 2 - The Land 33
  • Chapter 3 - Some Social Problems 48
  • Part II 67
  • Chapter 4 - Retrospect, 1857-1946 69
  • Chapter 5 - Towards Civil War 80
  • Chapter 6 - Trouble in the Armed Forces 86
  • Chapter 7 - The Cabinet Mission's Plan 96
  • Chapter 8 - Civil War -- I 108
  • Chapter 9 - Change of Viceroys 120
  • Chapter 10 - The Sikh Problem 131
  • Chapter II - Civil War -- II 137
  • Chapter 12 - Civil War -- III 147
  • Part III 167
  • Chapter 13 - Birth of a Nation -- I 169
  • Chapter 14 - Birth of a Nation -- II 182
  • Chapter 15 - Mainly About Kashmir 192
  • Chapter 16 - Defence and Foreign Affairs 212
  • Chapter 17 - Some Economic Problems 223
  • Chapter 28 - Politics and Constitution, 1947-58 229
  • Chapter 19 - Military Revolution 246
  • Postscript 262
  • Bibliography 265
  • Maps 269
  • Index 271
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