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Letter from Constance D. Leslie to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—His request will be considered, but it is unlikely that a Week’s Good Cause appeal could be recommended for the development fund (of the East and West Friendship Council).

(Signed as Secretary, Central Appeals Advisory Committee.)

Letter from Sir Frank Brown to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, Westminster Chambers, 3 Victoria Street, London, S.W.1.—Invites him and Lady Pethick-Lawrence to a party to express best wishes to Sir Frederick and Lady Burrows and Sir Archibald and Lady Nye on their departure for India.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Responsibility for the partition of India does not lie with the British Government, as implied by Sir Henry Craik at yesterday’s meeting of the East India Association, but with Jinnah.

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Transcript

The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

9th Oct. 1953

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence,
11, Old Square,
Lincoln’s Inn,
London. W.C.2.

Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,

Had Sir Henry Craik not been moving the vote of thanks at yesterday’s meeting I would have liked to comment on one of his remarks. He said that the Partition of India ruined the life-work of people like himself who had been connected with the Punjab, of which he was at one time Governor. He inferred that the British Government were in some way responsible for this, either by agreeing to the Partition of India or by leaving India too soon. But, as I know well, the Partition of the Punjab was due not to the British Government but to Mr. Jinnah. Nobody believed more in the unity of the Punjab than its former Prime Minister, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, who I daresay you know. When Sikandar used to come to Bombay to attend meetings of the Council of the Muslim League he used to tell me—with the object of enlisting my willing help—that he would make a determined stand against Jinnah’s “nonsense” of splitting the Punjab. But he never did. Nobody could stand up to Jinnah, and I gather that at each meeting he completely dominated Sikandar and others of like mind and made mincemeat of their arguments. The breaking up of the unity of the Punjab, which made it so great a province, was a great tragedy, but the real author of that tragedy was, as I have said, not the British Government, but Jinnah. And Jinnah was embittered beyond all hope of conciliation by the Congress refusal to form coalition governments in the provinces in 1937 by taking in the provincial cabinets a representative or representatives of the Muslim League. I shall never forget the bitterness with which he said to me after that decision: “This is the finish. Since we cannot obtain justice in India we must form our own state”.

In closing may I congratulate you on the clear way in which you put the British Government’s case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Defends his view of Jinnah’s rôle in the partition of India. Is convinced that Congress was largely responsible for alienating him.

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Transcript

The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

I was very interested to have your letter of October 13th. When I wrote to you I was thinking more of the narrower question of the splitting of the Punjab, referred to by Sir Henry Craik, than to the larger issue of the partition of India. Both form part of the same picture and it may be that in some respects Jinnah was only one factor in the circumstances which brought about partition. But he was a very important factor and his attitude, following the introduction of the new Constitution in 1937, was decisive. Every time the British Government faced the question of Indian political advancement, Jinnah demanded Pakistan and thus blocked agreement. You know more about what happened during the visit of the Cabinet Mission, but in Volume IV of the account of the Second World War entitled “The Hinge of Fate”, Churchill records that at the time of the Cripps Mission his Cabinet considered a plan to declare India a Dominion after the war. He was then faced with a note from Mr. Jinnah declaring that if any constitutional move was intended the Pakistan scheme must be accepted, a statement which was backed up by Sir Firoz Khan Noon, then a member of the Government of India. There is no doubt that Churchill was deeply impressed by these notes and sent them to President Roosevelt in justification of his attitude.

There may be something in what your Indian financier friend said to you after August 15, 1947, but my strong conviction—based on experience—is that the Congress was largely responsible for alienating Jinnah. They refused to take Jinnah and the Pakistan idea seriously. At the time of the famous Calcutta Unity Conference in the twenties, when Jinnah was still a Congressman at heart, they could have achieved an agreement with him on terms which would have preserved the unity of the country. From a logical point of view the Congress leaders, as I know, had justification for their attitude, but logic sometimes makes bad politics. I have no doubt British Governments in the past sometimes found Hindu-Moslem animosity very convenient, but on the need to preserve Indian unity there was always insistence, and I know that Viceroys like Halifax and Linlithgow were very strong on that point both in public and in private. I also know that many of my Indian friends took that same view as the Indian financier whom you quote, and one cannot say that it is entirely baseless. But I still feel that the main fault rested with the Congress mishandling of Jinnah, especially in the days when he was still a Congress supporter.

One or two people whom I met in the Club after your address, including Lord Hailey, agreed with me that you put up a very good case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, 193 Temple Chambers, Temple Avenue, London, E.C.4.—The Pakistan High Commission have drawn his attention to an error in Pethick-Lawrence’s address ‘A Visit to India and Pakistan’, printed in the Asian Review. Asks him to suggest a correction.

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