Outstanding problems

Article from The Times, 22 December 1947 (WO 208/3811)

© The Times 22/12/1947


The Sikhs

The outlook for the relations between India and Pakistan is less depressing than it seemed a few weeks ago. But two major problems have still to be dealt with. One is Kashmir. If the Indian Army should get too much involved in Kashmir Delhi may come to regret its commitments there. It might well recall Napoleon’s remark: “The Spanish ulcer sapped me.” An even graver problem than Kashmir is the future of the Punjab. The kernel of the Punjab problem is the Sikhs. It was the undervaluing of the importance o£ the Sikhs last August which spoiled what might have been the peaceful transfer of power. Because the Sikhs number less than six million in a sub-continent of four hundred million their power has often been underrated. The Sikhs are in bad odour, and the verdict of history on the recent conduct of one at least of their chiefs may be crushing. But no progress will be made by blaming a whole community; nor, in judging them, should the Moslem attack on them in March be forgotten. The Sikhs who have been forced to abandon their rich lands in Pakistan feel neglected, misunderstood, and deeply wronged. Many will live for the day for recovering their property and will do their best to urge on India against Pakistan. As they live on the borders of the Dominions they can make much trouble and, being well organised, know how to do it. The best remedial action will be to pacify them by a major effort to provide them with alternative land-there are no better cultivators—and, where this is not possible, to give them cash compensation and openings in other directions. They have much mechanical ingenuity, and their energy, if diverted into industry, would give an impetus to India’s development. The problem is thus partly economic, as are so many of the problems of both Dominions.

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