Cabinet Mission Plan(1)  Quotes from Ayesha Jalal

From the 'Sole Spokesman-Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan', Cambridge University Press, 1985.

The Cabinet Mission sought to solve the problem of British strategic interests in India by 'giving both the claimants some part of what they wanted...'a Pakistan trimmed to the bone[Scheme B], or a central government stripped of most of its real powers, and not 'worth much'[Scheme A]...

Once the Cabinet had given the go-ahead[in March-April 1946], the way was clear to offer Jinnah the alternatives of a small Pakistan with sovereign rights and treaty relations with Hindustan, or a larger Pakistan(with some minor boundary adjustments and only excluding Assam) inside a federation with Hindustan.

The great merit was that in such a federation 'Pakistan' would have equal status with Hindustan in those two matters over which a rather emasculated all-India centre was to be given authority. There was to be no union legislature and any question at the centre on which the two federal units failed to agree would be referred back to their respective group legislatures. Agreement would not be imposed by central dictate, but by agreement between two federated governments.

To make this all-India federaton even more attractive for Jinnah, it was clearly stated that the Muslim-majority areas would have complete control over all their affairs except those specifically given to the centre; and at the centre 'they would meet the Hindus on a level where it was States which counted and not the number of individuals in them.' This principle of equality, which was exactly what Jinnah had been fighting for all along was, he was now told[by Lord Pethick Lawrence], 'the essence of the proposal'.

..Now the [Cabinet] Mission offered [Jinnah] the substance of what he was really after. It was not the impractical 'Pakistan' of fantasy for which the man in the street or the mullah in the mosque was wont to cry, nor was it the 'mutilated and moth-eaten' Pakistan which was outlined in Scheme B and which finally emerged in 1947.

His Pakistan did not intend to throw the advantages of an undivided Punjab and Bengal to the winds, nor did it plan to leave the Muslims in Hindustan unprotected. Undivided provinces and protection for minority Muslims could only be achieved inside the framework of an union with an effective centre where the League had an equal say.

So we must carefully assess why Jinnah did not jump more openly and more enthusiastically at what the Mission now offered in its Scheme A...It was only by pressing for even more than he had been offered that Jinnah hoped to persuade the Congress to accept the Mission's proposed all-India federal scheme as a lesser evil. Then there were his own followers to consider. Few among them would understand that the Mission had dealt them a royal flush or that equality at an all-India federal centre outweighed the advantages which a sovereign but truncated Pakistan would bring.

So the game was played in Jinnah's usual manner. He argued that equality at the centre was all very well on Cabinet paper, but would never work in Khadi practice. Equality could hardly be assured inside a system of government where one party had the big battalions, and the other the small.

What Jinnah needed was to get all the parties to agree to dissolve the existing centre, in principle if not in fact, and then immediately to recreate it on the basis of a sovereign Pakistan. In his opinion, this alone would ensure Muslims equal treatment at the centre, since it would be an equality underwritten by the law of nations:a treaty between sovereign states. In return he was prepared to give up parts of the six Muslim provinces(though Assam could hardly be considered a Muslim province) to which he had laid claim.

But unless and until Congress came forward with a clear 'yes'. he would not say what he was willing to give up'. He wanted to make terms with the Congress, but only if it gave him a 'viable' state, not if it 'struck at the heart of Pakistan'. If Congress refused to budge, then Jinnah wanted the Mission to impose a settlement, and thought they were in a 'position to do it'.

In fact he would have preferred the British to give him what they had offered and what he was ready to accept by an award, since the Congress was unlikely in the end to concede such a degree of sovereignty to Pakistan which his scheme demanded. So the British should impose their solution and stay on for a few years to make it stick. Union here and now between the League and Congress provinces was all very well only provided the British remained to supervise fair play to the weaker partner represented by the League..

[As revealed later in the Simla conference in May 1946] ..Both parties had diametrically different conceptions of what power the union centre should possess. Finance was the nub of the matter, since power comes out of the drawers of the till. Congress wanted a self-supporting centre, with control over subjects to do with revenue. Jinnah claimed he wanted a centre with no real financial powers, a mere agent for the federations, dependent on doles from the provinces. He did not want the centre to have authority to levy taxes upon the groups.

The union would have to be given a budget for defence, but that budget was to be kept to the minimum in line with previous expenditure by the two federations who would have to agree on what to give. If the union needed more money, Jinnah wanted its budget to go to the group legislatures for their approval. Not surprisingly, Nehru retorted that the Congress could never accept such a 'vague and airy Centre.'.

By his implacable opposition to an union legislature, Jinnah showed what he was really after. He would have preferred even foreign affairs and defence, the union centre's two responsibilities, to be discussed and settled in the group legislatures and he conceded with reluctance that this was neither logical nor practical.(*Note below).

But if there was to be a union legislature, parity for the League was of the essence: different legislatures would be entitled to elect an equal number of representatives to the union legislature, and the balance between the League and the Congress would be made immune to any changes, even if the princes were to come in later...

*Ms Jalal's note below here- "The Secretary of State asked the Leaguers whether they envisaged India's foreign minister trotting off like some peripatetic envoy to two or three legislatures, attempting to justify his policy to three different sets of interests; and whether India's guns would have three barrels swivelling round to three points of the compass according to the conflicting demands of three houses. Jinnah thought he had made his point when he drew an analogy between the foreign policy of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the new India he wanted; but someone reminded him that the Commonwealth did not have a common foreign policy."
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Additional material on Page 2

Secondary sources on Page 3

CMP(1) - From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman''

CMP(4) - Jinnah's and Muslim League's responses tto the Cabinet Mission Plan 22 May  and June 6 1946

CMP(5) - Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegationn on 4 April 1946

CMP(6) -  Jinnah's meeting with Mission Deleegation on 16 April 1946

CMP(7A) -  Maulana Azad's meeting with Missioon Delegation on 17 April 1946

CMP(7) - The Congress unease with parity- it's exxchanges with the Mission  8-9 May 1946

CMP(7B) Jinnah and Azad's responses to the Cabinet Mission's preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946

CMP(8A) Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union

CMP(8) - More exchanges on parity during Simla Coonference meeting  11 May 1946

CMP(9)- Jinnah's Conversations with Major Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and the Cabinet Mission Plan , 8 January and 25 May 1946

CMP(10) - Jinnah's Conversations with Major Wyatt((2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946

CMP(12)- Congress Working Committe resolutions, May-June 1946

CMP(12A) Congress and the Cabinet Mission's arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim in the Interim Government June 12 and June 23 1946

CMP(13)- Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946

CMP(14) - League withdrew from Plan, called Directt Action, Viceroy Wavell talked to Nehru, July-August 1946

CMP(15) - The Viceroy tried to strong-arm Nehru annd Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick Lawrence to Attlee, August-September 1946

CMP(16)- Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, September 1946

CMP(17)- The League's boycott of the Constituent Assembly, Jinnah and Wavell, Mission insisting on compulsory grouping, etc October 1946-January 1947
CMP(17A) Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947

CMP (A1) - Additional material - Some Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Viceroy to Jinnah

CMP(A2) North West Frontier Province, October-November 1946 and February-March 1947

CMP(A3) Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946

CMP(A4) Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?

CMP(20) Another summary /take on the Cabinet Mission Plan-with links to the above reference material

CMP(21) Mountbatten discusses the Cabinet Mission Plan with Sardar Patel and M. A. Jinnah, 24-26 April 1947

CMP(22) A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan

Extra(1) - Speech by Jinnah in March 1941 outlining the case for an independent sovereign Pakistan 

Extra(1A) Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942

Extra(1B) Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940

Extra(1C) Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45

Extra(2) -  Jinnah's letter to Gandhi during GGandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan

Extra(3)- B.R. Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'  

Extra(4) Congress and Muslim parties' positions on the Communal question 1927-1931

Extra(4A) Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928

Extra(4B) Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38

Extra(6) Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947

Extra(6A) Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43 and Gandhi's 1943 letter to Jinnah from jail

Extra (6B) April-July 1947  Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah

Extra(7) M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory

Extra(8) Comments on Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies

Extra(9) Links to a selection of cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys published in the Daily Mail, UK, in 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth, from National Library of Wales' online Illingworth exhibition