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1947 Indian War

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India- Pakistan:

False Optimism and Foreign Fueling

Marsha Patel


March 28, 2008

India became independent in 1947 amidst the trauma of partition. The nationalist movement, led by Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, aimed to gather what was then British India along with the 562 princely states under British dominant into a secular and democratic state. But Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a leader of the Muslim League, feared that his coreligionists, who made up almost a quarter of the country’s population, would find themselves a permanent minority in a Hindu-dominated land. For Jinnah, India was two nations, Hindu and Muslim, and he was determined that Muslims should secure protection in an Islamic state of Pakistan, made up of the Muslim majority areas of India. In the violence that accomplished partition, approximately half a million people were killed, while eleven million Hindus and Muslims crossed the newly created borders as refugees. But even all this bloodshed and suffering did not settle matters, for the creation of Pakistan left nearly half of the country’s Muslims in India. Most of the Muslim population left in India now occupies the northern state of Jammu-Kashmir, which put people with widely differing religions and historical backgrounds under one political roof. The following paper will closely examine the situation India and Pakistan were left in during the partition in 1947, then go on to list possible reasons for the unending conflict and finally scrutinize the first Indo-Pakistan war. The detailed study of the first war and a brief tour of the other two Indo- Pakistan wars will be used to prove that the never-ending conflict between India and Pakistan is a direct result of the false optimism within both of the countries and the unnecessary involvement of the foreign powers.


As mentioned above, at the time of independence and partition in 1947, two divergent conceptions of state- building animated the Indian and Pakistani nationalist movement. Indian nationalist movements led by the Indian National Congress (INC) were fought for a secular and democratically independent India. The nationalist movement drew on ideas prevalent in the nineteenth-century British liberalism and sought to implant those beliefs in the Indian context. During 1885 the INC consisted of mostly upper-middle class, predominantly Hindu; however, in the 1920’s under the leadership of Mohandas Gandhi the organization was transformed into a mass-based political party seeking to represent all segments of the Indian society. Although Gandhi played an important role in democratizing the INC, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India was responsible for instilling a secular tenor in its political orientation. This vision of secularism was a brand new concept to India’s population that contained so many different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Although, Nehru managed to keep his popularity high within the country it was challenge to get the support of India’s Muslim communities in a Hindu dominated INC.

The concerns among the Muslims’ elite about their position in a future Hindu- dominating India led to the emergence of Pakistani nationalism. The idea of Indian Muslims being oppressed emerged from the impassioned writings of a prominent Muslim intellectual of the nineteenth centaury, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. He suggested that the British-inspired representative institution will put the Muslim community in a vulnerable position due to the vast difference in numerical count. He argued that, Muslims should fight for separate electorates.

In 1909 the Muslims were given separate electorates. This development strengthened the Muslim community. By placing Muslim community in a distinct political and communal category, the reformers limited the prospects of a unified India. They politically separated the two most popular cultures at a time when everybody was trying to gain freedom from the British Imperialism. In my perspective it was this ability for the Muslim community to have a monolithic community that persuades leaders such as Jinnah to fight for the creation of a separate country. This was the first step towards the conflict that still has continues today.

Differences between both the INC and the Muslim Leagues were noticed from their strategy to rid India of British rule. Unlike the congress the League did not embrace mass contest politics and did not organize membership drives. They did not resort to campaigns of mass-based civil disobedience. Instead, until the late 1940’s the League negotiated with the British in legal and constitutional contexts. Whereas the INC increasingly became a representative body and allowed a considerable amount of internal debate, the League remained woven around the personality of Jinnah and its principle goal to untie all Muslim dominated states.

Situations which began to form a separate electoral to different vision made it clear that both of the political parties had very competing visions for nationalism and state-building. Both parties were already in ready position for battle before even the British left and a conflict was about enter the land of India as soon as the British departed.


By late 1940’s the two political parties in India could not manage to negotiate to achieve a unified India so Mountbatten, the last viceroy, passed an edict about the partition of India into two states, India and Pakistan. When India was granted independence, all the rulers of princely states were forced to choose between India and Pakistan, based on geographic location and demographic features. One of the states was Kashmir, which had Hindu monarch, Maharaja Hari Sing and a Muslim majority population, approximately 75% with borders between the future Pakistan and India.


The Maharaja insisted on staying an independent state until the beginning of October 1947 when a tribal rebellion broke out in Poonch. Sections of Pakistani army quickly moved to aid the rebels with arms, transport, and men. At this point Maharaja had no other choice but to seek aid from India to get rid of the riots. When a proposal was sent to Nehru on October 25th, 1947 India agreed to provide assistance and in return the Maharaja would have to access Kashmir to India. On October



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