Hyderabad and Junagadh at Partition, 1947

Once again, however, Jinnah failed to explore all the options open to him. One possibility was to make compromises over another Princely State, Hyderabad. The Muslim ruler or nizam of Hyderabad faced the same dilemma as Maharaja Hari Singh. He wanted independence but was far from sure he could achieve it. Jinnah understood that it was never realistic to expect the nizam to accede to Pakistan: Hyderabad was entirely surrounded by Indian territory. But he always hoped that the nizam could pull off independence. He considered Hyderabad to be the ‘oldest Muslim dynasty in India’ and hoped that its continued existence as an independent state right in the heart of India would provide a sense of security for those Muslims who didn’t move to Pakistan. Once again, however, Jinnah was thinking in terms of legally possible options rather than political realities. In the long term the independence of Hyderabad, while constitutionally proper, was never going to happen. The new Indian leadership saw the issue clearly enough and when the nizam tried to strike a deal which would allow him to hang on to some degree of autonomy, Delhi flatly refused to consider the idea.

In retrospect most Pakistanis would agree that it would have been worth abandoning the aspiration for an independent Hyderabad if it had meant securing Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. Furthermore, Jinnah had good reason to believe that such a deal could have been struck. In late November 1947 Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan met to discuss the situation in Kashmir. To understand their conversation it is first necessary to consider briefly what had happened in yet another Princely State, Junagadh.

The Muslim nawab of Junagadh ruled over a million people, 80 per cent of them Hindus. Junagadh was located in western India and, even though it was not strictly contiguous with Pakistan, its coastline offered the possibility of sea links to the Muslim state that was just 200 miles away. The nawab of Junagadh, guided by his pro-Pakistani chief minister Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto (the father of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto), decided to ignore the feelings of his Hindu population and acceded to Pakistan. It was the mirror image of the situation in Kashmir. The Indian government did not accept the decision, blockaded Junagadh and then invaded it. Delhi then imposed a plebiscite and secured the result it desired: Junagadh became part of India.

When Liaquat Ali Khan met Nehru at the end of November he exposed the illogicality of India’s position. If Junagadh, despite its Muslim rulers’ accession to Pakistan, belonged to India because of its Hindu majority, then Kashmir surely belonged to Pakistan. When Liaquat Ali Kahn made this incontrovertible point his Indian interlocutor, Sardar Patel, could not contain himself and burst out: ‘Why do you compare Junagadh with Kashmir? Talk of Hyderabad and Kashmir and we could reach agreement.’ Patel was not alone in this view. On 29 October 1947 officials at the American embassy in Delhi had told the US State Department: ‘the obvious solution is for the government leaders in Pakistan and India to agree … [to the] accession of Kashmir to Pakistan and the accession of Hyderabad and Junagadh to India’. British officials in London concurred.

SOURCE: Pakistan: Eye of the Storm, 2nd ed., by Owen Bennett Jones (Yale Nota Bene, 2002), pp. 68-69


Filed under nationalism, Pakistan, religion, South Asia

7 responses to “Hyderabad and Junagadh at Partition, 1947

  1. Nomaan

    Even after the evidence of hyderabad and junagadh the world still stares blindly at this issue. If Kashmir Was finaly be given to Pakistan all these issues will end.

  2. indian muslim

    What do you all think about India even Pakistan ,Bangladesh once belonged to India.Now you want Kashmir for what to bomb mosques and kill the innocent Indian kashmiris in the name of Nizam e Mustufa,dont eye on our land otherwise we are ready to fight till our last drop of blood.

  3. sun

    for your knowledge, India was not made for one religion. hence, the claim that hindu majority should go with india and muslims with pakistan is invalid/

  4. Aslma

    Pakistan was built on this ideology that Muslim majority areas will go to Pakistan. If someone refutes this claim then he/she refutes existence of Pakistan. If Indians in priciple agree to existence of Pakistan then they should agree accession of Kashmir to Pakistan.

  5. Sandy

    @Aslma Pakistan was made as the land for all Indian Muslims.. so why not open the border and allow migration of Indiam Muslims ?? Right now there seems to be only one way movement.. mercenaries being sent into India

  6. The Nizam was a Turk, a foreigner. He was forced to leave for the same reason British and portugese were.
    Just because he was a Muslim doesn’t change anything.
    In case of Kashmir the Dogra ruler was Indian and a local.

    As for Pakistan , why not they asked the British to include Iraq in Pakistan given that it was Muslim majority.

  7. Aaron

    If they had shown maturity, Pakistan may have, in time, gotten all of Kashmir. Maharaja Hari Singh, ruler of Kashmir with majority of muslim subjects was contemplating the idea of acceding to Pakistan. However, the Pakistan government couldn’t be patient and sent Pakistani armed forces inside Kashmir to disperse law and order in 1947-48, which resulted in Maharaja Hari Singh’s acceptance to accede to India instead of Pakistan. This later resulted in Pakistan mobilizing its army and India mobilizing its own, resulting in first Indo-Pak war and separation of Kashmir. If only, the authorities of Pakistan of that time shown some maturity and common sense, Kashmir could have peacefully been a part of Pakistan and all the bad experiences which followed in later years may have been avoided(including 65 war, 71 war, Bangladesh, Siachen, Kargil, Mumbai 08 etc just to name a few).

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