Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The horses that led Operation Polo

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    • Kashmir had at least signed separate standstill agreements with both India and Pakistan on the eve of Independence, though Pakistan never observed it. A standstill agreement between Hyderabad and India could be concluded only in November 1947 in which many concessions were made to the state’s ruler. Within 24 hours the Nizam went back on it. He wanted several wholly unacceptable “heads of agreement” to be incorporated in a “collateral letter”. Negotiations were painfully slow, acrimonious and unproductive. The patience of the Indian people, especially of Sardar Patel, was nearing its end. But before leaving India on June 21, 1948, Mounbatten wanted to make a last-ditch effort to settle the Hyderabad question. It failed resoundingly. Meanwhile, the Sardar had sent a back channel offer to Pakistan to swap Hyderabad for Kashmir. Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, a Pakistani politician who carried the message, later recorded that rulers in Karachi told him not to worry about the “rocks that would come to Pakistan anyhow”. Hyderabad, deep inside India, inhabited by 20 million people and of the size of France, they added, was the “real prize”.


      The clear connection between Kashmir and Hyderabad should thus be obvious, but sadly most Indians ignore it. Equally evident is the reason for the deep caution with which India formulated its Hyderabad policy. For, Pakistan had started the first Kashmir War barely 10 weeks after Independence. It was no coincidence therefore that the Union government decided on precipitate action in Hyderabad only after both sides had accepted the August 13, 1948 resolution of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), paving the way for a cease-fire in J& K. What was a pure coincidence, however, was that Jinnah died on September 11, two days before the date fixed for military action against the Nizam, euphemistically called “police action”. The Nizam’s forces surrendered within 72 hours, while he acceded to India and withdrew the Hyderabad case from the UN. The codename of the military action, Operation Polo, was delightfully appropriate.

    • The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator
    • Comment
    • Can you imagine ?By: raj | 01-Jun-2010
    • Can you imagine for a moment - if in place of Sardar Patel, there was Sivaraj Patil/Mamata Banerjee/Lalu Yadav/any other incompetent fool as the Home Minister.

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