The Finality of Partition: Bilateral Relations Between India and Pakistan, 1947-1957

An academic work, (PhD Thesis). Abstract from the author: This dissertation will focus on the history of bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. It looks at how the process of dealing with issues thrown up in the aftermath of partition shaped relations between the two countries. I focus on the debates around the immediate aftermath of partition, evacuee property disputes, border and water disputes, minorities and migration, trade between the two countries, which shaped the canvas in which the India-Pakistan relationship took shape. This is an institution- focussed history to some extent, although I shall also argue that the foreign policy establishments of both countries were also responding to the compulsions of internal politics; and the policies they advocated were also shaped by domestic political positions of the day. In the immediate months and years following partition, the suggestions of a lastingly adversarial relationship were already visible. This could be seen from not only in the eruption of the Kashmir dispute, but also in often bitter wrangling over the division of assets, over water, numerous border disputes, as well as in accusations exchanged over migration of minorities. Much of the discussion on Indo- Pakistan relations was couched in adversarial and often vitriolic terms, both within the structures of government and in the press. Yet, given this context, there was also a substantial amount of space for cooperation between the two governments, and a closer scrutiny reveals that this space was explored by both sides. The logic of this cooperation was to find means of trying to ‘finalise’ the partition of India, and avoid prolonging its consequences. This deep seated drive to establish the legitimacy of both new state structures compelled a substantial degree of bilateral cooperation even in the face of daunting odds which favoured a violently hostile relationship. Thus, I argue that bilateral responses and mutually adversarial positions, were not inevitable or even unavoidable, but were in fact more contingent, and often taken despite the presence and articulation of a viable alternative.

Pallavi Raghavan
St. Johns College, University of Cambridge