CMP(5) Jinnah's discussions with the Cabinet Mission on April 4 1946,  before the Plan was issued

Document included

  • Record of Interview between Cabinet Delegation, Field Marshal Viscount Wavell and Mr. Jinnah on Thursday, 4 April 1946 at 10 am (full text)

The India Office's secret official records were declassified and published in 1977 in 'The Transfer of Power 1942-7', Volume VII The Cabinet Mission 23 March - 29 June 1946, Eds., Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon.

April 4th 1946 meeting(full text) - 48 page 118

Record of Interview between Cabinet Delegation, Field Marshal Viscount Wavell and Mr. Jinnah on Thursday, 4 April 1946 at 10 am

The Delegation invited Mr. Jinnah in the first place to give them his reasons why he thought it better for the future of India that India should have a Pakistan.

Mr. Jinnah said that throughout her history from the days of Chandra Gupta there had never been any Government of India in the sense of a single Government. The Muslim Moghul Empire had had the largest control but even in those days the Mahrattas and the Rajputs were not under Muslim rule. When the British came they gradually established their rule in a large part of India but, even then, India was only one-third united. The big States and sovereign States were constitutionally and legally already Pakistans.

The only limitation of this is the Paramount Power of the Crown. The effect of Paramountcy is that the Paramount Power in the last resort maintains internal order in the States but as a counterpart of this has a duty to prevent gross maladministration. Nowadays we talk of British India and say India is one. Mr. Jinnah considered that that could not stand examination for a moment. India is really many and is held by the British as one.

Now we have strong Hindu-Muslim tension. This began to develop at the first transfer of a small amount of power about 1906. The British Government to meet it gave separate electorates. The same troubles arose at the time of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and the British Government gave a constitution which they thought best suited to India. In the discussions of 1930-35 no agreement could be reached on the communal question and the British Government gave a decision. No doubt the present constitution was an advance and gave more contact with power than ever before, but it showed that the grave apprehensions of Muslims had come true. In the 1935 discussions the Muslims insisted that Sind should be separated and the Frontier made a full Province so that there would be at least four Muslim majority Provinces. All this was decided by the British Government.

Now we have come to the stage when the British Government say they will give complete independence to India inside or outside the Empire. To whom is the government of this sub-continent, with its fundamental differences, to be transferred? It is no use saying "transfer power and we will settle who exercises it afterwards." The question is how to transfer power.

The differences in India are far greater than between European countries and, compared to those, are of a vital and fundamental character. Even Ireland provides no parallel.

The Muslims have a different conception of life from the Hindus. They admire different qualities in their heroes; they have a different culture based on Arabic and Persian instead of on Sanskrit origins. Their social customs are entirely different. A Hindu will wash his hands after shaking hands with a Muslim. No Hindu will let Mr. Jinnah have a room in his building. Hindu society and philosophy are the most exclusive in the world. Muslims and Hindus have been side by side in India for a thousand years but if you go into any Indian city you will see separate Hindu and Muslim quarters. They have different names and use a different calendar. The Hindus worship the cow and even today in certain States a 10-year sentence is imposed for killing a cow. This means nothing to the Muslims. You cannot make a nation unless there are essential united factors.

How are you to put 100 millions of Muslims together with 250 millions whose way of life is so different. No Government can ever work on such a basis and if this is forced upon India it must lead us to disaster. No Government can survive unless there is a dominant element which can provide a "steel frame". At present this frame is provided by the British who have always retained the key posts. It is true that this is beginning to cease but already the consequences are apparent. Only one Indian has been a Chief Justice, Sir Shadi Lal in the Punjab. The post of Chief Presidency Magistrate in Bombay has always been held by a British officer because the situation there is so delicate that an un-impartial officer can cause great trouble.

The present Government of India is, of course, not a Parliamentary Government but is a bureaucratic system under which ultimately the British are responsible. Indians can vent their feelings in the Central Legislature but it is powerless. The British could never have run the administration without their own officers in the key positions in the Civil Service, the Police and the Army. Little progress has been made in the Indianisation of these key posts. It has already become difficult because Hindu officials everywhere(of this there is unimpeachable evidence) have both sympathy and feeling for the Hindus and Muslim officials for the Muslims. Every day this is noticeable and becoming more prominent.

Therefore you must have a "steel frame" for an independent India. Mr. Jinnah could see none and had therefore definitely come to the conclusion, after years of experience that there is no other solution than the division of India. Any scheme for this has obvious objections which can be raised against it. But there must be division so that in each of the two parts there will be a dominant community which can provide the "steel frame". Where you have three Muslims and one Hindu your "steel frame" is there.

Sir S. Cripps asked whether 51 per cent. Muslims to 49 per cent of others would provide a "steel frame". Mr. Jinnah said that there would then be no "steel frame". You must choose the area with a clear and dominant majority. It need not necessarily be as high to three to one. If there were no "steel frame", the Civil Service, the Police and the Army would not stand loyally to the Cabinet and the Legislature and the State could not survive. Fortunately, in India the Muslims have their homelands and so let us divide India.

Sir S. Cripps asked whether Mr. Jinnah thought the difference between the Hindu and the Muslim in Bengal was greater than the difference between the Pathan and the Muslim in Sind. Mr. Jinnah said that the fundamentals were common to Muslims all over India. He had traveled everywhere and he knew. The Muslims believed in one God. They believed in equality of men and in human brotherhood. The Hindus believe in none of those principles. Wherever a Muslim goes in India he would not say that everyone understood him but a very large body of Mussulmans do. Even in the remote rural areas of Bengal the Muslims understood him.

Mr. Alexander asked whether the difference was essentially racial or religious. Mr. Jinnah said that he readily admitted that 70 per cent. of Muslims were converts from Hindus. A large body were converted before any Muslim conqueror arrived. Muslim missionaries came from Arabia and converted large numbers of Hindus, not singly but by whole sub-Castes together, 10 to 20 thousand people at a time. These Muslim converts were made outcasts by the Hindus. They were thrown out of every department of social life. Therefore you find millions who have stood for centuries under the umbrella of a totally different civilization of their own. There are in India two different civilizations with deep roots side by side. They are totally different. The only solution is to have two "steel frames", one in Hindustan and one in Pakistan.

His Excellency the Viceroy said that he thought that Mr. Jinnah had once agreed with him that from the point of view of practical economic considerations one India would be desirable if that were possible. Mr. Jinnah said that if he had said that it was only in the sense that it was an ideal but an impracticable ideal like a world federation. Sir S. Cripps said that a federation of Europeans for example was quite different. That was bringing together separate sovereign States but India already had common governmental institutions.

Mr. Jinnah said that this unity was not a unity of the people. It was imposed by the British Government. He agreed that common railways, customs, and so forth were convenient but the question was by what Government would those services be controlled. If we have Pakistan and Hindustan it does not follow that they will be in isolation. He certainly contemplated treaties and agreements governing such matters. As soon as the fundamentals of Pakistan are agreed to these things can be settled.

The Secretary of State said that up to a point he accepted the view that India was united at present by British control and by the British Army, Navy and Air Force. But he would not go so far as to say that it was solely so united. He thought that Hindus and Muslims had not only acquiesced in but had cooperated in supporting that unity. The Cabinet Mission had come to decide the ways and means by which the domination of British authority in India was to come to an end. Therefore they had to decide in whose keeping the repository of force is to be given. What they wanted to know was whether there was any agreement as to the repository to which this power should be transferred.

In pursuance of that we ask Congress, the Muslim League and the Princes whether they themselves can work out an agreed solution. The Congress say "unite India" as the solution, but do also say that they cannot compel any large section. The Rulers say they might join an all-India federation. Mr. Jinnah, however, says there must be two Indias with nothing more than treaties and agreements between them. The British Government consider that if they were to withdraw their forces and their Government from India they are entitled to know what the situation in India is. Will they find themselves faced with a major head on collision between the two main communities? If we can find no answer except that situation we shall have to consider what we shall do, but it should be understood that the British would not stay here to pull chestnuts out of the fire.

The Cabinet Mission also came as the representatives of one of the world's great powers. They had to look at the position in India as part of the world situation and they had a vital interest in the preservation of peace in this large area of the world. They were entitled to ask whether India would be able to stand up for itself in the world. It would not be able to stand up at all at sea and as a land power only to some extent.

Therefore the British Government presume that they will be invited to assist in India's defence since the logic of events will make this necessary. We shall then have to consider the conditions on which we should be prepared to do this and we might expect some return, for example, India's help in the defence of adjacent territories, such as Malaya, Burma and Ceylon. But also there must be a solution of India's affairs which makes effective provisions for India's own defence against external aggression, and the British Government are entitled to know whether the new set-up in India will be of a kind with which we can in practice co-operate.

The Cabinet Mission are not here to dispute as to whether there should be one or two Indias. They ask the Muslims and the Hindus to consider these matters but, before they do withdraw, the British wish to find out how far the Hindus and Muslims are agreed. If they were to withdraw before an agreement and when India was still in its present state, the consequences would be disastrous. He therefore thought that before the British withdrew the greatest possible efforts should be made by Indians to reach agreement amongst themselves. Mr. Jinnah said that the Muslim League started on the basis that there was going to be Hindustan and Pakistan, [?each] one of them a completely sovereign State. As regards defence, he contemplated, of course, that some arrangement should be made between the two but this could only be on the basis of two sovereign States with treaty relations. The same sort of relations subsisted between the United Kingdom and the Dominions.

His Excellency the Viceroy pointed out that the Indian case was different in that the defence of the North-East Frontier required defence in depth which must be organized in both States. Mr. Jinnah said that only made it the more inevitable that there should be suitable treaty relations between the two. The Viceroy said that no two foreign States had ever made successful mutual arrangements in peace time for their defence, and Sir S. Cripps pointed out that in the case of the Dominions there were Prime Ministers Conferences and common foreign policy all of which operated under the nexus of allegiance to the Crown.

Mr. Jinnah said that they must assume that they would be handing over power to responsible people. The Muslims had not decided that they would have nothing to do with the British Commonwealth. It might be in the mutual interests of Pakistan and Great Britain for them to remain within it. It was an accepted basis that Hindustan and Pakistan must have common defence arrangements, but he could not agree to any machinery which would derogate the sovereignty of Pakistan.

Sir S. Cripps said that a treaty derogated from sovereignty but Mr. Jinnah contented that a treaty was a voluntary exercise of sovereignty which remains unimpaired since the treaty could be terminated. It was pointed out that the United Nations Organization involved the permanent surrender of sovereignty.

The Secretary of State asked Mr. Jinnah why he objected to work in with some all-India machinery for defence. Mr. Jinnah asked what sort of machinery was envisaged. Sir S. Cripps said some common organization with a secretariat, Chiefs of Staff, and which had a machinery by which policy and administration could be concerted. It would be an advisory body except in so far as there were agreement. The United Nations Organization has executive authority but only where there is agreement on the Security Council. Mr. Jinnah said he saw no reason why Pakistan and Hindustan should not join the United Nations and uses its machinery.

The Secretary of State said that the Mission was here to explore the position. They were exploring the possibility of Pakistan and its viability both in peace and war. If Mr. Jinnah could not convince the Delegation of the defensibility of Pakistan he was rather driving the Mission into the solution of handing over authority to a United India. Mr. Jinnah said that if he had not convinced the Delegation he could not do so. He could not agree to anything which would derogate from the sovereignty of Pakistan. He was not there to persuade the Cabinet Mission or as a plaintiff. India was neither united not divided -it was a British possession. Great Britain proposed to transfer power; he had been asked to say how he thought this could be done. The only way in his opinion it could be done with safety was by division. On certain matters he could say that he would make agreements.

Sir S. Cripps said, could Mr. Jinnah not suggest the content of a treaty? For example, would Mr. Jinnah agree that there should be provision for mutual defence? Mr. Jinnah said that he would agree to defensive alliance. Sir S. Cripps said, would he agree to mutual consultation in regard to foreign policy? Mr. Jinnah said that would naturally be covered. Sir Stafford asked what the position was about inter-running communications of all kinds. Mr. Jinnah said that could be arranged. He was not able to express any view about sea customs.

Sir S. Cripps said that if we were to try to persuade the Congress to meet Mr. Jinnah's views it would be important to specific on these matters, but Mr. Jinnah said that he could not consider anything more unless a proposal was made to him. The Government and the Congress had powerful secretariats which could do that kind of work better than the Muslim League.

His Excellency the Viceroy asked Mr. Jinnah what were the boundaries of Pakistan as he(Mr. Jinnah) conceived it. Mr. Jinnah said that he wanted a viable Pakistan which would not be carved up or mutilated. He drew the line on the five Provinces, but said he was quite willing to consider mutual adjustments. But Pakistan must be a live State economically. He was not insisting on including a large number of Hindus in Pakistan but if it were said to him that only the number of heads could be considered, he could not agree to that. Sir S. Cripps said that on any principle of self-determination the counting of heads must be a primary factor.

The Secretary of State pointed out that the inclusion of any considerable area in which there was majority of non-Muslims might very well not strengthen but weaken the viability of Pakistan. Mr. Jinnah said that he was not opposing the view but said that suppose it were suggested that Calcutta should be added to Bihar he would say that that was an impossibility. He contemplated that there would be territorial adjustments, but he could not agree that Calcutta could be taken away merely because it was a Hindu-majority city. Much of the Hindu population of Calcutta was not indigenous but brought there from outside. Sir S. Cripps said that the Hindus might say it was impossible for them to live without Calcutta but Mr. Jinnah replied that they had Bombay and Madras and could have a new port in Orissa. Pakistan without Calcutta would be like asking a man to live without his heart.

He did not want to keep Hindus in Pakistan against their will and they could migrate but he could not reduce the area of Pakistan below the point on which the State could live. Sir S. Cripps pointed to the danger that if there were large Hindu elements they would form a dominant political element making for instability because the Muslims would be divided amongst themselves on social and economic questions and the Hindus might secure the balance. Areas like Burdwan might develop a secessionist movement.

Mr. Jinnah said that he agreed that areas like Burdwan, if they were not essential to the economic life, could go into Pakistan[?Hindustan]. In reply to a suggestion that Calcutta should be a free port through which goods would enter both countries free of duty and administered by a condominium, Mr. Jinnah asked what examples of this there were in the world. The cases of Danzig, Shanghai and Fiume were mentioned but Mr. Jinnah pointed out that all these had been imposed and maintained by force. What he wanted was a nucleus Muslim territory surrounded by sufficient additional territory to make it economically viable.
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Page 2

Secondary sources on Page 3

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

CMP(2) - The Congress League positions on 12 May 1946

CMP(3) - The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946>

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