Quaid-i-Azam and Mountbatten Nature of Relationship

Massarat Abid

This article will discuss the relationship between Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy in India. While discussing the prickly relationship between the Viceroy and the leader of the Muslim league, we shall try to investigate what Mountbatten thought about Jinnah and what the Quaid’s judgment was about the viceroy’s policies with regard to the partition of India.

The record of dealings between the Quaid-i-Azam and Lord Mountbatten from March 1947 to August 1947 indicates that their relationship passed through many difficult moments. They differed almost on every point. But despite serious disagreement, the Quaid did all he could to have cordial association with the Viceroy. But sadly, the Quaid’s efforts failed due to the reason that Mountbatten did not care about the Muslim opinion and did his utmost to please the congress leaders like Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel bypassing the sole spokesman of the Muslims of India. And it was Mountbatten’s tilting in favour of Congress and almost every issue. The net result was that the Quaid began to lose confidence in Mountbatten co-called impartiality.

Before discussing the nature of relationship, the issue involved, and the difference of opinion between the two, it is important to understand that what was happening in India when Lord Mountbatten became the Viceroy.


Although during the second world war there was a special relationship between the Government and the Muslim League due to congress rebellion, it did not mean that the British had recognized the Muslim demand for a separate homeland for Indian Muslims. After the failure of the Simla Conference of 1945, it was decided by the British Government in London, and the Viceroy and his staff in India, that the Muslim League’s demand should be verified by holding elections in india. It is interesting to mention that the congree, the Mahasabha and the Sikh leaders were not interested in fighting election whereas the Quaid-i-Azam readily demanded that the only way to substantiate his claim was the hold the elections. It is also significant to mention that the secret documents of the government and the private papers of leaders like Patel revealed the fact that even before the elections it was anticipated that the Muslim League would win the coming polls in India.

The result of elections of 1946 were a great relief for the Muslim League and its demand for Pakistan; the League won all the Muslim seats in Provincial Assemblies. Jinnah had declared before the elections that the victory of the Muslim League should be a considered a ‘yes’ vote for Pakistan. As the British had decided to with draw from India, The prime question was India to God as Gandhi and the congress would have liked; or to divide India and create Pakistan as the Quaid had been demanding ever since the adoption of the Pakistan resolution. The British who took pride in achieving the political unity of India, were perturbed on passing it as their most valuable legacy to an independent India.

Exit Wavel

            When Mountbatten arrived, the situation in India was thhat there hand been a tremendous disagreement of the interpretation of the Cabinet Mission Plan. The London conference had also failed to resolve the political impass in India. It was in these circumstances that due to Congress pressure the decision for a new approach towards the Indian problem had already been taken in Britain; to dismiss Wavell and appoint Lord Mountbatten in his place. Attlee told King George in mid-December, 1946, that he doubted whether Wavell had the ability to negotiate the next steps when the British must keep the two Indian parties friendly to them all the time. Prof. R.J. Moore says that Attlee, Cripps and Pathic Lawrence never had full confidence in Wavell’s capacity for delicate negotiations with the Indian leaders. The main reason for this lack of confidence in the Viceroy was based on their fear that he might alienate the Congress and precipitate non-cooperation. Sufficient evidence is available to prove that some Congress leaders (Gandhi and Nehru) and their emissaries like Sudhir Ghoush and Krishma Menon played a key role in the removal of Wavell; and their secret talks with the British Prime Minister and Stafford Cripps led to the appointment of Mountbatten as the last Viceroy. Mountbatten’s name was first considered as a replacement for Linlithgow in 1942 Now Attlee offered the Viceroyalty to this forty-six year old great grandson of Queen Victorian saying that Mountbatten’s qualities of persuasive speech, imagination and capacity to work with people of all races might somehow solve the problem in India for the British Government.

It is of some importance to note that when Mountbatten’s name was proposed as the successor of Wavell, Nehru was also taken into confidence by some British officials. But Jinnah was not informed about these happenings. Very little effort would have been need on the part of British to take Jinnah into the picture as he had come to attend the London Conference when Mountbatten’s appointment was under consideration. It is also not a secret that Mountbatten had already met Nehru, and had established extremely good relationship with him. They had met in March 1946, when Nehru visited Singapore, which was the Headquarters of the South-East Asian Command, and between Nehru and Mountbatten became stronger during partition issue amicably. However, the same relationship made it extremely difficult for impartially. But all that was yet to come.

British Withdraw

            The announcement that Mountbatten would replace Wavell was made on 20 February 1947. It was also stated that the British would  leave India not later that June 1948. Huge Tinker says that a terminal date of British rule was on of Cripps’ ideas for bringing the two major political parties under the compulsion to cooperate. However, not all British favoured this course. The announcement of the final date of British withdrawal was opposed by Sir William Croft, Deputy Under-Secretary of India Office who minuted: “the announcement will be favourable to the stronger party, that is Congress, who have always taken the view that hey will have no difficulty in settling with the Muslims as soon as we are no longer there. Mountbatten as the Viceroy decided to transfer power even earlier than June 1948, at the demand of congress, fully knowing that this decision would create countless difficulties for the new born state of Pakistan. It was realize by the British themselves that the establishment of an organized administration for the future state of Pakistan would take at lease a year, and that an organized transfer of poers could result in a still-born Pakistan. Nevertheless, Mountbatten accepted congress demand and transferred power in the Summer of 1947. His policy of attaching more importance to the congress demands ignoring the Muslim League’s point of view was clear indications that he would give more weight to his relations with the Congress leaders that to Quaid-i-azam, the Muslim League, or to the well-being of Pakistan.

            On almost all controversies between the Congress and the Leagues, Mountbatten adopted the same policy. His policy of placating the Congress even when it meant some injustice to the Muslim League made it difficult for Jinnah to look forward to a cordial relationship with him. The record of their meetings in 1947 shows that Mountbatten was very anxious to avoid disagreement with the Congress; this very further complicated the relationship between them.

Policy Directive

            Let us now examine the nature of these relations in the light of some important partition issue. Before his departure for India Mountbatten asked for a policy directive. He was directed to ‘obtain a unitary government for British India and the States, if possible within the British Commonwealth, though the medium of Constituent Assembly. The viceroy was the persuade all the parties to work together to this end; but if by October 1947 he considered that there were no prospects of reaching of settlement, he was to report on the steps which he considered should be taken for the transfer of power. It is important to mention that the policy directive contained no reference to Pakistan or partition.

            When Mountbatten arrived in India on 22 March 1947, the political picture in India was most discouraging for not having any agreed solution for the future of India between the Congress and the Muslim League. Each party any other settlement. In addition to this the communal situation was also dangerously unsettled’ Communal fighting in some places had increased the tension in the country. There were communal riots and troubles in the Punjab the N.W.F.P , Bihar, Calcutta, Bombay, the UP and Delhi.

Mountbatten’s Prejudices

            On 24 March, Wavell departed from India and Mountbatten was sworn in. In the same afternoon the Viceroy began a series of meeting with the Indian leaders. His own record of interviews with the Congress leaders shows that Mountbatten’s relations with Congress had a flying start. Pandit Nehru struck him as ‘most sincere’; Patel was ‘most charming’’ Rajendra Prasad was ‘most delightful man’; and Azad was described by him as ‘a charming old gentleman’. In sharp contrast to these warm remarks, Mountbatten almost found it impossible to cultivate even a working relationship with the Muslim League. Liaquat Ali Khan, a member of his interim Government, had an interview with the Viceroy the same afternoon he assumed office. Giving details of this meeting, Mountbatten recorded: “he gave me his version of how coalition government had been formed…a totally difference version to that rendered by Nehru… and quite untrue’. These remarked deserve only on comment that the viceroy had already started to see the things the ‘Nehru way’ and was not receptive to any other side of the story. Furthermore, Mountbatten did not find Liaquat was intellectually stimulating or personally appealing as Nehru, and no bond of real intimacy ever developed between them.

            Jinnah’s first meeting with the Viceroy took place on 5 April. Giving comments on this interview, Mountbatten noted: “he was in a most frigid, haughty and disdainful frame of mind’ After this he told his staff: ‘My God he was cold….it took most of the interview to unfreeze him.’ Jinnah and his sister, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah had been invited to a dinner by the Mountbatten the same afternoon. But this dinner was postpond as Mountbatten felt that ‘he could no sustain another session with Jinnah that day.’ It may be noted this was Mountbatten’s first meeting with Jinnah. It may also be noted that after his first interview with the Viceroy, the Quaid felt that he had made little access to Lord Mountbatten’s heart. Jinnah told his secretary that the Viceroy ‘does not understand.’ The relations between the Quaid and the Viceroy became more strained during partition preparations and especially when they were Governors-General of the new hostile state.

            Let us now revert to the Viceroy’s initial meeting with the Indian leaders. The Viceroy tried to persuade them to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan, claiming that it would provide the best arrangement that could be derived to meet the interest of all the communities. In his preliminary negotiations with the Viceroy, the Quaid repeated that he would accept the Cabinet Mission Plan (CMP) if the Congress did so unreservedly. In view of the non-acceptance of the CMP by the Indian political parties, the Viceroy felt it essential to devise other possible plan. Jinnah in another interview with the Viceroy expressed the view that there was only one solution to the problem” ‘a surgical operation on India’, cutting off the provinces of Bengal, Assam, the Punjab, Sind, NWFP, and the British Baluchistan, and turning them over to Pakistan, leaving Six provinces to Hindustan. Mountbatten pointed out that if India were to be divided, the provinces of Punjab and Bengal would also be divided. Later on the Viceroy recorded that; ‘I am afraid I drove the old gentleman quite mad because whichever was his argument when I always persuaded it to a stage beyond which he did not wish it to go.’ It appears that even at the initial stage of discussions on the partition Mountbatten was not prepared to give Jinnah more that ‘a truncated Pakistan’. While Jinnah was not interested in accepting ‘a moth-eaten Pakistan’, insisting on having ‘full Pakistan’, the Congress had been demanding to division of the Punjab and Bengal; this demand was put forward in the hope of frightening Jinnah from demanding Pakistan’. It was generally believed by the Congress that if Jinnah accepted the partition of these two provinces, and there would revolt against Jinnah and the League. Mountbatten who stood against the division of India also supported the Congress’s view, because just after a few days of his arrival in India, the Viceroy had come to the conclusion that the solution of the Indian problem would be a united Indian or a ‘truncated Pakistan’.


Mountbatten’s opposition to the division of India made it much easier for him to ‘court the Congress leaders.’ The Viceroy described the Pakistan scheme as ‘this made Pakistan.’ His animosity against Pakistan and his support for the Congress is evident from his own record of the negotiations in India.
Let us first of all consider the Third June Plan. The details of certain aspects of this Plan will show that it included none of the important proposals of Jinnah and the Muslim League, while this Plan included most of not all of the Congress demands, for example the approved version of the ‘Plan Balkan’ was changed by Mountbatten without even discussing the matter with Jinnah only to make it more acceptable to Nehru. This was a departure from the agreed procedure that all parties would see the final version of the Plan together. Like wise, Mountbatten’s decision to bring forward the date of transfer of power from June 1948 to August 1947 was also taken at the demand of the Congress party. The Viceroy agreed to transfer power earlier in return for Congress’s acceptance of dominion status. He accepted the  famous V.P. Memon scheme which proposed the transfer of power earlier that June 1948 on the basis of dominion status. This decision was taken regardless of the fact that this decision would create countess problems for the Muslim League. It may also be mentioned here that the decision left little time for referenda in the Punjab and Bengal, possibly in Kashmir as well. This decision helped Mountbatten to forge still closer relations with the Congress.

Disrespect of Jinnah

While claiming to be impartial publicly, in his private reports and interviews Mountbatten described Jinnah as ‘psychopathic case’, ‘an evil genious’, whereas Nehru in his words was ‘a brilliant, good looking and highly articulate Indian leader’. At the wedding of princess Elizabeth, he told Wavell; Jinnah was become an impossible megalomaniac and that Nehru has shown himself a really great man’. All these negative assessments of Jinnah reveal the animosity Mountbatten had for the founder of Pakistan.

            Jinnah stood against the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. He appealed to Mountbatten in their early meetings, ‘not to destroy the unity of the Punjab and Bengal.’ But the Viceroy clearly indicated that he could not provinces. In another meeting Mountbatten informed Jinnah that power would be remitted to provinces in June 1948, and that the provinces would have the right to decide whether they wished to join any other group of provinces or remain entirely autonomous. Mountbatten expressed the view that ‘Sind, half of the Punjab and probably the NWFP would form one group, part of Bengal another group, which together would form Pakistan.’ Jinnah was ‘displeased and distressed’ and said that the scheme of the Viceroy was in no way that the Muslim League wanted. But Mountbatten was not prepared to listen to his arguments.

Plan Balkan

            Mountbatten was in favour of announcing the decision before the end of May 1947 at the latest. Two possible plans to transfer power were under consideration at that time. Plan Union was the Cabinet Mission plan with some modifications while Plan Balkan gave every province a choice to decide its future which meant a truncated Pakistan. The leader of all parties had been given considerable details of the Plan Balkan without being told that this was the Plan Mountbatten intended to submit to be British Government. Jinnah, giving him views about the Viceroy’s claims that under his scheme Bengal could remain a separate unit indicated that he was not convinced that this would happen. While Jinnah did not reject Mountbatten’s scheme completely, he expressed the view that the partition of provinces would lead to terrible complications, confusion and bloodshed. Jinnah refused to accept that the arguments given by him for not agreeing to partition within the Punjab and Bengal, applied with even greater force to India as a whole. He said that the justification for Pakistan was that it was impossible to ask two entirely foreign nations to live together. This did not apply to the provinces of Bengal and the Punjab from where the minority communities could move to their homelands (India and Pakistan) if they wished to do so. Jinnah suggested that the power should be transferred to provinces as they existed. They could then form groups, or remain separate as they wished. It is of some importance that while reporting to the Secretary of State Jinnah’s strong opposition to the partition of the Provinces, Mountbatten added that; ‘I do not consider that he is any position to stop the Plan going forward. It appears that as far as Mountbatten was concerned, Jinnah had no choice but to accept whatever was handed to him. Nehru’s reactions to the Plan Balkan were ‘over all satisfactory’. And perhaps that was enough for the Viceroy to go ahead with his proposals.

            The NWFP was under a Congress ministry. Here the population was more than 94% Muslims. The Congress was interested in preventing this province from joining Pakistan. Under Plan Balkan new elections were proposed to find out whether the province wished to join Pakistan or Hindustan. Nehru was opposed to holding fresh elections, and his party informed the Viceroy that this decision would not only shake the confidence of the Congress party in his impartiality but it would also result in violence. The fact of the matter was that it was an open secret that the Congress would have lost very badly ignore the Congress threat; he therefore immediately sat down to remove Congress’s objection. He decided to include in his Plan a provision to hold referendum in place of elections. When Jinnah was told about this change he was upset but had no choice but to agree. The Plan was then amended. Sir Olaf Caroe was the Governor of the province. The congress accusing him of partiality demanded that he be removed. In Mountbatten’s own view Caroe was competent and honest officer, but since ‘he had lost confidence of the Congress party’ he was tactfully removed from the Governorship. Here, it may by mentioned that the Muslim League had been demanding the removal of Sir Evan Jenkins, the Governor of the Punjab, for quite some time, because due to his biased policies against the Punjab league Jenkins had lost the confidence of the Muslims. But Mountbatten did little to address this complaint. This was yet another example of his favoritism for the Congress.

Partition of Punjab and Bangal

            Anyway, Jinnah stood against the partition of Punjab and Bengal. The division of Bengal was considered more difficult mainly because it involved putting Calcutta, because of its Hindu majority, in Hindustan. Furthermore, Jinnah believed that it would become economically difficult for Eastern Bengal to function without Calcutta. The city of Calcutta was the capital of Bengal, its only major port and its centre of industry, commerce, communications and education. Bengal produced the bulk of raw jute in India but all the jute mills were in or near Calcutta. Some of the British officials themselves pointed out to Mountbatten that if Bengal were to be partitioned it would soon become a ‘rural slum’. Suharwardy, the chief minister of Bengal, had evidently been thinking in terms of an independent united Bengal. As an independent Bengal was desirable for the economic well-being of the Bengalis, Jinnah did not oppose this suggestion. Mountbatten decided that the members of the Constituent Assembly in Bengal when deciding the future of their province should vote for independence or joining Hindustan or Pakistan before deciding the issue of partition. An amendment was therefore made in the draft plan to make possible this change of procedure. This amendment meant that Bengal could vote for independence before voting for the partition. It should be mentioned here that Nehru who wanted to see Bengal (and the Punjab) divided, had clearly, stated to Mountbatten in early April, that the Punjab and Bengal would have to split into separate provinces before taking the decision whether to join Hindustan or Pakistan or possibly even remaining independent. This explains why Nehru reacted so sharply when Mountbatten showed him the Plans in Simla. This point seems to have escaped the attention of historians.

Conspiration with Nehru

            The Viceroy had invited Nehru to Simla to discuss some important issues such as early transfer of power on a dominion status basis. After sending the final draft of his Plan Balkan to London for approval, Mountbatten went up to Simla ‘for a change of air’. Nehru and his daughter, Indra were house-guests. On 10 May, the approved version of the Plan Balkan was received in Simla from London. ‘Having made real friends with Nehru during his stay here’ Mountbatten wrote to Lord Ismay, his Chief of Staff. ‘I asked him whether he could look at the London draft….as an act of friendship and on the understanding that he would not mention to his colleagues that he has seen it.

            Nehru reacted very strongly against some marginal amendments made in London. His main objection was to the clause which would allow an Indian province to become independent. Nehru seemed to think that the clause would lead to a united independent Bengal. In order to please Nehru, Mountbatten informed London that he wished to withdraw his previous proposal, and that ‘some re-drafting of the Plan’ would be required. London was under the impression that the Plan had been drawn up after ‘satisfactory’ interviews with the Indian leaders. It felt out of touch with these developments. Attlee asked Mountbatten to fly home for consultation. Before setting off, in order to remove, Nehru’s objection to Plan Balkan, the Viceroy redrafted his proposals. As Nehru’s main objection was to the clause which allowed an Indian province to become independent, the Viceroy omitted this option. The number of choice offered to the provinces was reduced from three to two. Under the re-drafted Plan, the provinces were not given the option of remaining independent of either India or Pakistan. While considering the proposed change, the Cabinet Committee did not like the idea of reducing the number of choices from three to two. They were to the opinion that they were pledged to give the provinces the option of remaining applicable to the case of Bengal. Hodson has written that Mountbatten felt that if His Majesty’s Government did not accept his revised Plan he would resign. This indicates the extent the Viceroy was prepared to go to make the proposal more acceptable to Congress.

            It is significant to mention that the Muslim League and Jinnah were unaware of the negotiations between Nehru and Mountbatten about an early transfer of power on the basis of dominion status. This proposal was generally referred to as the Menon Plan as it was drawn up by V.P. Menn, Reforms Commissioner to the Government of India and a close confident of Sardar Patel. Mountbatten did not accept the advice of his staff that Jinnah and the League should also be taken into confidence on the crucial issue. He decided not to raise this subject with Jinnah until after the announcement of his Plan.

New Plan

            Mountbatten arrived back in Delhi with his Plan on 30 May and presented it to the Indian leaders in a conference which started on 2 June, Jinnah protested very strongly against the partition of Punjab and Bengal. He repeated his proposal for a proper referendum in Bengal and Punjab. Mountbatten replied that he was not prepared to make any amendment unless it was agreed by both the parties. It was yet another example of the fact that Mountbatten was treating Jinnah and Nehru differently.

            Both the Congress and the League had raised a number of objections to the Plan; however the Congress was better off n the sense that the Plan included most of its demands. Most politicians and historians from Pakistan regard the Plan as ‘an Anglo-Hindu Plan’. They consider it so because of the fact that it was revised by Mountbatten as a result of consultation mainly between Nehru, Patel, V.P. Menon and the Viceroy, whereas Jinnah was neither invited nor informed about the secret negotiations in Simla. It could not be denied that the decision would directly affect the Muslims. If Jinnah was given the status of the sole spokesman of the Indian Muslims then he had every right to know the decisions which were being taken about the future of India. If Jinnah had not been ignored by Mountbatten at this stage of negotiation, the charge about his unfair dealings with Nehru at the expense of Pakistan could easily have been avoided. It appears that Mountbatten had decided to give up even the pretence of impartiality and to deal with Nehru and Congress alone. The ‘other party’ was not important enough even to be consulted.

            Pointing out the fact that Plan did not meet in some important respects of Muslim point of view, Jinnah in his broadcast of June third (1947) stated that: ‘We cannot say or feel that we are satisfied or that we agree with some of the matters dealt by the Plan. It is for us to consider whether the Plan….should be accepted as a compromise or a settlement. Anyway, the League accepted the 3 June Plan because it appeared ‘the only possible solution in the circumstances.’

Separate Governor-General

Mountbatten-Jinnah relationship suffered yet another blow due to the controversy over the issue whether to appoint one Governor-General or to have two separate Governors-General for India and Pakistan after independence. The Viceroy and the Congress supported the idea of having a common Governor-General for both the countries. Quaid-i-Azam, however, decided to have a separate Governor-General for Pakistan. But the reasons behind Jinnah’s decision were not fully understood and accepted by Mountbatten. The result was that some ill will was demonstrated by Mountbatten towards Jinnah.
After negotiations between Mountbatten and Nehru in Simla, it was decided that power would be transferred earlier than June 1948. V.P. Menon prepared draft ‘Heads of Agreement’. It proposed that the Governor-General should be common for both the states and that the present Governor-General be re-appointed.
As mentioned earlier, in May Mountbatten was in London for consultation on his revised Plan. He conveyed the impression that both India and Pakistan would accept him as their Governor-General. Churchill, when informed about this proposal even suggested that if Mountbatten was appointed Governor-General of both the countries he might adopt the title ‘Moderator’.
On his return to India, Mountbatten found that Jinnah was still not prepared to accept the idea of a common Governor-General. On 3 June, Mountbatten told Indian leaders for the first time that power would be transferred on 15 August 1947 instead of 1st June 1948. Mountbatten was deeply interested in becoming the Governor-General of both the countries thinking that it would be a tremendous achievement for him. He would be judged by historians as a man who not only succeeded in resolving the problem of India and Pakistan but also won their trust.
In his meetings with Muslim leaders, the Viceroy time and again pointed out the advantages to be gained from a common Governor-General. He also used the argument that since the time available to complete the process of partition was very short, both India and Pakistan should have the same man as Governor-General.

On 2 July, Jinnah informed Mountbatten that he was not willing to share a common Governor-General with India, and that he himself would like to be the Governor-General of Pakistan. Explaining the reasons for his decision, Jinnah wrote to the Viceroy that in view of the shortage of senior and experienced Muslim officers he wished to have British Governors in every province of Pakistan, except Sind, which would be under his direct supervision. The three chiefs of the armed forces were also British . In Jinnah’s view the only way to make this arrangement acceptable to the people of Pakistan was for himself to assume the office of Governor-General.

Chaudhary Muhammad Ali who was close to Jinnah at that time says ‘a common Governor-General for both states seemed to be a constitutional absurdity to Jinnah. Being a constitutional head of the state, Governor-General was bound to act on the advice of his cabinet or rather cabinets. In the explosive situation of 1947, when interests of India and Pakistan were opposed to each other, conflicting advice by cabinets was bound to be given to the Governor General. Faced with conflicting advice from two dominions’ cabinets it would have been impossible for the common Gevernor-General to discharge his duties properly.


Mountbatten described Jinnah’s decision as a ‘bombshell” He went as far as to say that this decision was taken by Jinnah to satisfy his vanity by becoming the first head of the state and ‘for the sake of becoming His Excellency. An eye witness to the events in India, Professor Morris-Jones, who was one of the constitutional advisers to the Viceroy, recalls that Mountbatten’s only ‘recorded moment of fury’ during his viceroyalty came ‘when Jinnah told him that the Governor-General of Pakistan would be Jinnah not Mountbatten. Malik Firoz Khan Noon expressed the view that Mountbatten ‘behaved like an angry Hindu’ after Quaid-i-Azam turned him down as the joint Governor-General. There seems little doubt that the decision had upset the Viceroy. During and angry conversation, Mountbatten told Jinnah that without him as Governor-General, Pakistan would put itself at the greatest disadvantage. When Jinnah seemed unmoved from his position, the Viceroy asked him ‘Do you realize what this would cost you?’ Jinnah answered, ‘It may well cost several crorers of rupees in assets’; to which Mountbatten replied” ‘It may well cost you the whole of your assets’, to which Mountbatten replied” ‘It may cost you the whole of your assets and the future of Pakistan,’ and then left the room. This conversion reveals the fact that Mountbatten was extremely angry at the development. This also explains why he did everything in his power to harm Pakistan. At the time of the division of assets, Mountbatten handled all issues in a manner inimical to the interest of Pakistan.

It may be mentioned here that the decision to assume the office of Governor-General of Pakistan ‘lost Jinnah a lot of ground in England’ Nevertheless, this decision saved Pakistan in many ways. A common head of state for India and Pakistan would have strengthened Congress propaganda that Pakistan was nothing but a temporary succession of certain areas. It would also have created the impression that the Indian subcontinent still somehow retained its ‘oneness’. Such an impression would have been suicidal for Pakistan. It is not a mere speculation because while suggestions a common Governor-General for India and Pakistan. V.P. Menon had clearly stated that ‘having realized the usefulness of a common Governor-General, the Government of India and Pakistan might conclude that….a unified constitution would be better for all. Mountbatten himself pointed out in a meeting that Jinnah might object to the proposal of a common Governor-General on the ground that on Mountbatten’s departure from India, the Congress would attempt to secure one of their own nominees for the post. It seems inconceivable that Jinnah would not have given some thought to these aspects of the question. It must have seemed to him that in order to establish the identity of Pakistan, it was necessary to have a separate Governor-General for his country. Clearly, Jinnah was thinking of prime interests of Pakistan only when he finally made up his mind not to accept Mountbatten as Governor-General of Pakistan. As far as Jinnah was concerned, the controversy did not make any negative marks on the relationship between him and Mountbatten; and no doubts about the impartiality were expressed by Jinnah. In fact Jinnah wished Mountbatten to fill the post of crown Representative to be responsible for the division of assets between India and Pakistan. As Mountbatten did not like this idea it received little or no attention. The Mountbatten did not like this idea it received little or no attention. The proposal indicates that Jinnah still had trust in Mountbatten’s impartiality, but sadly Mountbatten did not fulfill his obligations as later events clearly demonstrated.

Gross Injustice

The third June plan included a proposal for the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Towards the end of June, two Boundary Commission, one for Bengal and the other for the Punjab were constituted. On Mountbatten’s proposal, Radcliffe was appointed Chairman of both Boundary Commissions with a final casting vote. The allocations of some Muslim majority areas to India in the Radcliffe Award have been considered as an act of gross injustice. They believed that the Award was changed at the last moment as a result of improper pressure from Mountbatten. The British rejected the ‘Pakistani charge’ and stated that the Viceroy had no desire to influence the Boundary Commission’s decision in any way. Mountbatten himself recorded that I have taken greatest paints not to get mixed up in the deliberations of the Boundary Commission in any way.
No document is available to show that Mountbatten issued any written instructions to the Boundary Commission or to Radcliffe. But there are some documents which clearly show that Redcliffe altered his Award after he had discussed it with Mountbatten. According to Radcliffe he showed the first draft of the proposed Award to ‘authorities in Deli.’ In a ‘private meeting’ which was held at Ismay’s house ‘on or about August-9’? Mountbatten told Radcliffe that the Viceroy hoped that when Radcliffe was ‘balancing up’ the boundaries of East and West Pakistan, he would bear the Sikh problem in mind.’ The details of this discussion are available in a letter written to Ismay by Mountbatten at a later stage.

Preserved Award

It is evident from this letter if Mountbatten did not actually advise Radcliffe to assign some Muslim majority tahsils to India, at least not on record; he left Radcliffe in not doubt what his personal views were. Radcliffe obviously gave weight to the Viceroy’s views, and on further consideration he made the Award in terms which deprived Pakistan of important Muslim majority areas. The allocation of some Muslim majority tahsils to India was greatly resented by Pakistan. Under the Punjab Boundary Award the Muslim majority tahsils of Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Ferozepur, Zira, Ajnala, Nakodar etc. were assigned to India, Not a single non-Muslim majority area was taken away from her. Under the Bengal Boundary Commission’s Award, Calcutta was assigned to India, because the majority of population was Hindu. The other main features of this Award were that the whole of the Muslim majority district of Murshidabad and the greater part of Muslim majority district of Nadia were given to India. Parts of Jesore district were also transferred from East Bengal to West Bengal. The details of the Award would show that West Bengal gained substantially over East Bengal. Jinnah called the Award ‘unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse.’ In his view ‘it was not judicial but a political award. Mountbatten’s influence over Radcliffe had obviously harmed ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’ and had worked in favour of ‘Nehru’s India.’

Radcliffe’s decision to bisect the Gurdaspur district and award its greater part to India caused the greatest resentment in Pakistan. This decision provided India land access to Kashmir. Most Pakistanis thought that there would have been no Kashmir problem if this was not done. However, some British works suggest that ‘Kashmir was not in anybody’s mind’ when the Award was being drawn up, and that even the Pakistanis themselves had not realized the importance of Gurdaspur to Kashmir until the Indian forces actually entered Kashmir. It is correct that the subject of Gurdaspur was not raised by the Pakistan side at the meeting of Indian leaders on 3 June, but it should not be forgotten that when Jinnah received information about the likely decision about Gurdaspur, he sent a message to Ismay on 9 August saying that ‘if it proved true that the Gurdaspur district or even a part of it had been given to East Punjab….this would be regarded as most serious.’

Hodson’s view that Kashmir was not in anybody’s mind also seems too much to assume. Some documents available reveal the fact that at least Mountbatten and the Maharaja of Kashmir realized that if the Boundary Commission provided India with any land communication with Kashmir, the whole nature of the future relations between Kashmir and India would be affected. During a discussion on the question of accession of the Indian states to either of the two dominions, Mountbatten observed that Kashmir could join either Dominion provided that part of Gurdaspur was put into East Punjab by the Boundary Commission. The Maharaja of Kashmir mentioned the possibility of holding a referendum in his state to decide whether to join Pakistan or India provided that the Boundary Commission awarded him land communication with India. It is also important to note that while discussing the national Award, Nehru suggested to Mountbatten that the district of Gurdaspur to suggest that there were any instructions given by Mountbatten to the Boundary Commission, yet , a lead in this direction was given by the Viceroy when in a press conference he said that  he would be surprised if Gurdaspur, awarded to Pakistan, remained wholly in Pakistan. Mountbatten’s reference to Gurdaspur  in this press conference and later the knowledge that Radcliffe had first awarded Ferozepur to Pakistan but had changed his decision, led the Pakistan Government to conclude that the change was made as a result of pressure from Mountbatten. Some documents show that in February 1948 the Government of Pakistan was thinking of raising the issue of last minute changes in the Radcliffe Award at the United Nations Security Council. The Government had sufficient evidence to associate Mountbatten’s name with what had been done. It appears that due to some pressure from the British Government, Sir Zafarullah Khan decided not to raise the issue. Although no charges against Mountbatten were officially brought forward, yet the criticism in Pakistan against Mountbatten’s policies still continues.

To summarize, Jinnah’s relations with Mountbatten, we clearly see that the Viceroy was so concerned about keeping Nehru on his side that he gave disproportionate weight to Nehru and Congress’s views and tended in consequence overlook the interests of Pakistan. Jinnah strongly objected to Mountbattes’s policies on many issues but whenever possible he tried to avoid a clash. However, Mountbatten’s policies of showing too much favours to Nehru and his party, led Jinnah to see Mountbatten in his true colours.



  1. Chaudhary Muhammad Ali, The Emergence of Pakistan, London, 1967, p.48.
  2. The British were accused of adopting the Imperial strategy of ‘Divide and Rule’ in India. They always denied it, but sufficient evidence is available to say that they took advantage of the differences between the Hindus and the Muslims.
  3. Cf. Kenneth Harris, Attlee, London, 1982, p.369
  4. R.J. Moore, Escape From Empire, Oxford, 1982, p. 202.
  5. For details see Philip Ziegler, Mountbatten: The Official Biography, London, 1985.
  6. A.H. Dani (ed.) World Scholars on Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Islambad, 1979.
  7. It was already suggested that earlier the power was transferred the weaker Pakistan would be. See Viceroy’s Personal Report (VPR) no.1, 2 April 1947 in N. Mansergh (ed) The Transfer of Power, (T.P.) vol.x. Document no. 59.
  8. Directive from Attlee Mountbatten, 18 March 1947, T.P.X. Enclosure no.543.
  9. V.P.R. no. 1, 2 April 1947, T.P. x59.
  10. Ibid.
  11. S.M. Burke and Ssalim Al Din Qureshi, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: His personality and Politics, Karachi, 1997, p.326
  12. Stanely Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan, New York, 1984, p.316
  13. Hector Bolitho, Jinnah Creator of Pakistan, London, 1954, p.179.
  14. Attlee to Commonwealth PMS, 8 May 1947, T.P. x., 352
  15. Mountbatten’s interview with Jinnah, 9 April 1947, T.P. x 105.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Mountbatten’s interview with Jinnah, 9 April 1947, T.P. x. 105.
  18. Burke & Qureshi, op. cit., p. 326.
  19. Ibid. 327
  20. Andrew Roberts, Eminent Churchillians, London, 1996, p. 87.
  21. Record of interview with Jinnah, 10 April 1947, T.P. x.p. 190
  22. Kahn Hussain Zia, Mountbatten and Pakistan, Montreal, 1995, p.8
  23. Jinnah’s interview with Mountbatten, 9 April, 1947, T.P. x. 105
  24. Meeting between Jinnah and Mountbatten, 10 April 1947, T.P., x 116.
  25. VPR no. 3. 17 April 1947, T.P. x. 165
  26. Report by E. Mieville, 30 April 1947, T.P. x. 256.
  27. VPR, no. 4, 1 May 1947, T.P. 276
  28. Ibid.
  29. VPR, no. 6, T.P. x. 354.
  30. Patel’s Speech, 15 January 1950, cited in The Emergence of Pakistan.  P 208
  31. Meeting between Jinnah and Mountbatten, 23 April 1947, T.P. x., 207
  32. Lord Ismay was instructed to make the amendment, VPR, no.5, I May 1947, T.P. x. 96.
  33. Mountbatten’s interview with Nehru, 8 April 1947, T.P. x.96.
  34. Mountbatten to Ismay, 10 May 1947, T.P., x. p. 776
  35. VPR, no 7, 15 May 1947, T.P. x., 451.
  36. VPR, no. 3, 1 May 1947, T.P. x. 276.
  37. Mountbatten to Ismay (tel), 11 May 1947, T.P. x. 412.
  38. Ismay to Mountbatten, 15 May 1947, T.P. x., 449.
  39. H.V. Hodson, The Great Divide, London, 1969, p. 309.
  40. Viceroy’s Staff Meeting, 10 May 1947, T.P. x., 381.
  41. VPR, no. 8 5 June 1947, T.P. x.91.
  42. Text of broadcast by Jinnah, 3 June 1947. T.P. xi. 47
  43. Interview between Viceroy, Jinnah and Liaquat, 7 June 1947, T.P., xi, 101
  44. Heads of Agreement, May 1947, T.P. x., Annexure to 454.
  45. Meeting between Churchill and Mountbatten, 22 May 1947, T.P., xi, 101.
  46. Viceroy’s Conference Papers, VCP, 63, 2 June 1947, T.P., xi, Annexure to no. 28.
  47. VPR, no 11, 4 July 1947, T.P. xi, 506.
  48. Mountbatten to Cripps, 9 July 1947, T.P. xii, 35.
  49. VPR, No. 11, T.P., xi, 506.
  50. Meeting between Jinnah and Ismay, 24 July 1947, T.P., xii, 222.
  51. Note by Menon, undated, T.P. x, Appendix to 222.
  52. Minutes I.E.B. (47) 26 MTG., 20 May 1947, T.P. x., 494.
  53. For more details see K.B. Sayeed, Pakistan the Formative Phase, London, 1968.
  54. VPR, No. 17, 16 August 1947, T.P. xii, 489.
  55. Mountbatten to Ismay, 2 April 1948 Papers, 111, 7/27, Kings College London.
  56. Jinnah’s broadcast by Radio Pakistan, 31 August 1947, cited in Sharif Al Mujahid, Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah: Studies in Interpretation, Karachi, 1981, p.643
  57. Hodson, op.cit., p.355
  58. Hugh Tinker, Journal of Asian Studies, xxxvi, 4, pp. 70102
  59. VPR, No. 17, 16 August 1947, T.P., xii, 489. Also see The Emergence of Pakistan, pp.218-19.
  60. Meeting between Mountbatten, the Nawab of Bhopal and the Maharaja of Indore, 4 August 1947, T.P., xii, 335
  61. VPR, No. 17, 16 August 1947, T.P., xii 489.
  62. Minutes of Viceroy’s Meeting, 11 May 1947, T.P., x, 404
  63. Mountbatten’s Press Conference, 4 June 1947, cited in S. Hasan (ed), Documents on the Foreign Relations of Pakistan, Karachi, 1966, p.252.
  64. Noel-Baker to Attlee, 25 February 1948, 3/48, L/P&J/10/119, India Office & Records, London.