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British India Hindoostan

Lets play a game called “Lets blame the British!” Now Indians can be very good at this. I think it was novelist Chetan Bhagat who said that one of the problems was blaming some else. Afterall you can always blame those Colonialists, or Pakistan Maoists, Naxatiles, untouchables or Brahmins.

When it comes to the blood bath of partition I think the blame rests not entirely with Jinnah(or Nehru, or Patel or ……..) but with Britain.

I do not mean the actual carnage that India’s Midnight Chilidren endured as people as Pakistan and India undertook their Tryst with Destiny. But a deeper political game.

Now I know its easy to make the Brits a scapegoat so I ask you to go back and read Rudyard Kiplings best nowel – and its not Jungle Book, its Kim, the story of a young Indian boy of mixed British parentage Kimble O’Hara and his involvement in The Great Game.

The Great Game was the politics between Britain and Tsarist Russia fought from about 1801.

India, or more particularly, the sea port of Karachi, was essential to control the Middle East, keep Russia at bay and monitor the Far East.

Move forward to 1942 and when Singapore fell Churchill was under pressure from Roosevelt to keep India safe. Hints of what became Pakistan were part of the bait to keep The Muslim League on side.

Many know of Britian’s policy of Divide and Conquer after the India wide rebellion that the British had tried to cal simply the Mutiny as if it centred on Zafar the last Mughal ruler in Delhi. Perhaps the word Mutiny sounded less threatening to Britain’s reading newspaper back home. Zafar was initially fined a sum equal to one seventh of the annual income of the entire British Empire.

However, it goes deeper. Since 1801 Britain was fighting with Tsars over Asia. Karachi is a sea port. With it Britian could launch against Russia, control Middle East and China.

And after World War II the West feared that if India was influenced by Russia, Commmunism would control from the Balkans to China. Karachi is still crucial for Western security. Peshwar in Pakistan had an airbase the US used to send U2s from to spy on Russia. During the 1971 Bangladesh war against Indira Gandhi’s nominal socialist government, Kissinger and Nixon wanted Pakistan to win the 1971 war.

Queen Victoria- with her India garden-servants

The north Indian Ocean was always vulnerable militarily. As far back as the 1800’s Russia technology and railways could help influence Afghanistan. Britain was concerned in Russia was too close any raja with a grievance, would listen to Russia against Britain. So they built raiil network at the Khyber pass and Bolan passes into Northwest provoinces.

West Punjab, Baluchistan , Turkey and Afghanistan and the Persian gulf were essential militarily to Britain. After the Great War oil became extremely important in battle. When Singapore fell Roosevelt put Churchill under a lot of pressure to get India in the war. Some nationalists had been agitating the idea of siding with Japan or Germany. Jinnah was promised some land concessions supported the war.

After the Communists took Russia they made a display of friendship with all Asian people King Ammunallah of Afghanistan even allowed flights with Russia but conservative objected to his modernisation.

The Wests closest bases against Russia were Iraq and India Of course Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan were cut from the Ottoman Empire and given to Feisal and Abdullah for working with Lawrence of Arabia, Britian continued influencing Iraq until the Oil was nationalised there. Kuwait, Britain, Iraq and USa forned CENTRO for military cooperation.

The British thought they would continue to influence India’s military policy. Nehru decided India would have an independent But it was the north west – or Pakistan- they needed to keep control so India was less important.

Is this why Kashmir is so important? China is also an important player in the debate of Jammu – Kashmir. In the 1950’s put a railway across a remote area north of Ladakh before India even noticed, losing several thousand kilometres of territory . Then India lost a war with China..

Pakistan planned to swipe the Siachen glacier, drawing it in their maps contrary to Internationally recognised borders, but this time India caught on. India spends large resources to keep platoon in the worlds highest battle field that is under minus 40 degrees.

There is valley where China and Pakistan link Some Indians fear with China becoming powerful there is a threat China and Pakistan my try again.