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‘The independence movement had weathered many a storm by the time the Mountbattens would arrive. Mr. Jinnah was by then regarded as the sole spokesperson of the Muslims in India, unchallenged in his political struggle and unwavering to pressure from his rivals.
Jinnah was also being accorded titles such as Quaid e Azam (The Greatest Leader), Baba e Qaum (Father of the Nation) etc. by the public. Gandhi had started referring to him as ‘Quaid e Azam’ as well. Jinnah had insisted on being known only as Mr. Jinnah and nothing else, lest he be accorded the same God like status that Gandhi enjoyed. He had a dislike for personality cults, which was evident from his refusal to accept British Knighthood in 1925.
The Mountbattens had been to India previously during WWII, when Lord Mountbatten served as the Allied Commander fighting the Japanese in Burma. After the war ended, his reassignment as Viceroy raised many eyebrows as he was primarily a military leader unaware of the political and religious fault lines in India.
Upon his arrival, he was accorded a royal welcome and was immediately drawn into a personal friendship by the leader of Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was to be the future ‘Prince’ of India and Mountbatten looked for ways with which to share some of his glory.
Mountbatten had been known to desire a similar relationship with Jinnah, but was always put off by Jinnah’s principled stance on justice and fair play. Jinnah’s refusal to acquiesce to the Congress’s demands for a United India lead to more antagonism from Mountbatten. Despite Mountbatten’s uncivilized behavior and unprofessional demeanor, Jinnah accorded him the respect befitting a Viceroy.
When the plan to partition the Subcontinent was finally announced, Lord Mountbatten felt it necessary to change its date in order to ‘prevent massacres and loss of life’. He also personally oversaw the division of land, military and government assets, and monetary funds between the two new countries. It was also under his supervision that the newly formed Indian Government took the matter of Kashmir to the United Nations.
While Gandhi would fast against the many injustices being done to Pakistan by the Indian government after independence, Nehru and Mountbatten readied their troops to forcibly annex the rebellious Kashmir which had erupted in protest after its Dogra Maharaja signed the state over to India. The British Officers who had volunteered to serve in the new Pakistan Army would also refuse to obey the Quaid e Azam’s orders to defend Pakistani territory.
Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed