The Officer in Charge at New Delhi ( Merrell ) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 17—7:18 a.m.]
494. The statements of Gandhi and Jinnah are significant in that they are the latest authoritative manifestation of the cleavage that exists between Congress and League (reference my 492, July 16, 11 a.m.). Gandhi’s claim that League has neither disclosed implications of Pakistan nor made attempt to convert Congress to it is quite correct. Congress could scarcely be expected to give blanket endorsement to a vague scheme pregnant with so many possibilities without first knowing details. Jinnah’s facetious reply that Gandhi has himself defined the scheme in a nutshell is no answer at all but pure sophistry. There is, however, no mystery behind Jinnah’s reticence. Pakistan is the greatest, if not the only, bargaining point the League has and Jinnah refuses to elucidate until time comes for him to throw it on bargaining counter, probably bristling with exaggerated claims in order to extract greatest possible concessions from Congress. To define now would be to limit and Jinnah declines to be drawn. To do so would immediately attract a barrage of criticism from Congressmen and others who would not find it difficult to point out the innumerable impracticalities which the scheme must of necessity contain. In addition, I suggest Jinnah knows that many of his own followers who are fascinated by rosy prospect of “a national home” would be less [Page 684] enamored of Pakistan were the economic difficulties to be encountered after its establishment made known. In addition, there are members of his own working committee who do not believe in scheme. The Pakistan areas of Sind, northwest frontier province, and Baluchistan have between them an annual deficit of 3½ crores of rupees which is at present made up by central government. The railways operating in these areas do so under a deficit of 2½ crores of rupees annually which is likewise supplied by central government. The Punjab, another Pakistan area, benefits to the extent of 30 crores of rupees annually because of presence of great military establishments there and payment of military salaries and pensions. Is it to be supposed that, after withdrawal of British power, Hindu India would continue to maintain military establishments and do its recruiting in Pakistan? Who will supply these deficits after establishment of Pakistan? Jinnah says in private that Pakistan will benefit enormously by customs duties levied on goods imported through Pakistan ports of Calcutta and Karachi and destined for Hindu India. A more reasonable assumption is that Hindu India would, from spite if nothing else, import its goods through its own ports of Bombay, Madras, and Vizagapatam. The foregoing are only a few of the reasons which make Jinnah disinclined to define his scheme at this time and thus subject it to a plethora of criticism which would produce defections in his own ranks. It will be produced in all its glory when the time is ripe for extracting all the traffic will bear.
Gandhi for more than 20 years held view that a Hindu–Muslim settlement was an essential preliminary to independence. Unity, he said, must precede freedom. However, he is now “firmly of opinion that there is no unity whilst the third party is there to prevent it. It created the artificial division and it keeps it up. In its presence both Hindus and Muslims will look to it for support and will get it.” Let British power be withdrawn and “then the whole unreality disappears like mist before the morning sun”.
Gandhi holds Muslims to be a minority in ordinary sense of the word; Jinnah denies this, claiming that Muslims are a nation and entitled to self-determination. Being a separate nation with a religion, culture, social system, et cetera, different from the Hindus, there can never, according to Jinnah, be unity between Hindus and Muslims in a United India. Jinnah desires independence no less strongly than Gandhi but the former demands it for two separate States Pakistan and Hindustan, while the latter demands it for a United India which does not exist. This is significance of Jinnah’s statement that Gandhi’s conception of independence is different from his. Jinnah will not join hands with Congress in demanding complete withdrawal of British power such as envisaged by Gandhi in Harijan unless Congress first [Page 685] comes terms with him on question of Pakistan and recognition of Muslim League as only organization entitled to speak for Muslim India. He believes, possibly quite rightly, that complete withdrawal of British power prior to a settlement between him and Congress would result in the Muslims being crushed under heel of Hindu majority. This significance of Jinnah’s request to Gandhi to show his sincerity by seeking an honorable settlement.
Jinnah would be willing to form interim national Government with Congress for duration of war under present constitution without conditions mentioned above but he is absolutely opposed to final settlement and withdrawal of British power without prior agreement on those points.
It is significant that nowhere in his statement mentioned in my 492, July 16, 11 a.m. does Jinnah oppose complete transfer of power. He has stated repeatedly that he bows to no one in the demand for withdrawal of British power but he believes that in the interest of his own people he must lay down the conditions outlined above.
It will be seen that the Congress demands contained in recent resolution of Working Committee (reference my 488, July 14, 3 p.m.4), quite aside from the utter impossibility of their being granted by Great Britain in midst of greatest war world has ever seen, will be wholly unacceptable to Muslim League, based as they are on complete withdrawal of British power without prior agreement between communities.
- Not printed.↩