Historians on the Loose... By Col.(r) Riaz
14 January, 2013
As if Altaf Hussain had not exposed himself enough and his lack of knowledge of the words like Dominions and Republics and of their implication in the grant of independence to Bharat and Pakistan in 1947 by the British, that "Mr. Know All" - Hamid Meer had also to throw in his two cents worth to confound the history further. While Altaf was trying to justify his own dual nationality by proving in vain Quaid's 'allegiance and loyalty' to the British, Hamid Meer felt duty bound to repudiate it by bringing in the 15 August saga into it. According to him the First Sea Lord of the Admiralty - Mountbatten had a special penchant for 15 August on which date he had secured the surrender of the Japanese in the Second World War and, therefore, wished it to be the date for the grant of independence to the sub continent. However, the Quaid came in his way and set August 14th as the day of independence of Pakistan. What a fa ntastic revelation on Hamid Meer's part?!
Actually, the date for the grant of Independence for both Bharat and Pakistan was 15 August 1947. As the date changes at midnight the independence was to be effected at that time on the night of 14/15 August 1947. Now here was a legal hiatus to be filled up and that was that only the British under an act of the parliament could partition India and 'create' Pakistan and that they could do only while they were still the rulers. If they had granted independence to Bharat before creating Pakistan, it would have been up to the independent Bharat whether to partition itself or not. As such Pakistan was created at 2359 hours, a minute before Bharat was given independence. This one minute earlier fell on the 14th August 1947 and consequently became the date of the independence for Pakistan.
It would not be out of place to mention here that for the first few years – probably three years or so – we too have been observing our independence day on the 15th August and some of our old postage stamps would show that. Also, I have been using the word Bharat because officially British India was divided into two – Bharat and Pakistan. It was again a few years later that Bharat realizing the internationally known importance of the word India adopted it as its official name. Pakistan, as usual, kept sleeping and did not protest on this change of name by Bharat.
Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)