Congress had won the elections in NWFP in 1946, and Dr Khan Sahib (Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan), brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, was heading the ministry.

NWFP was another province the Muslim League was targeting along with Bengal, Assam, Punjab, and Sind. Although the provincial government of NWFP was in the hands of the Congress, the British Governor Olaf Caroe, and the local British civil servants, were rabidly anti-Congress, and pro-Muslim League. Why? They must have been instructed by the HMG to back the Muslim League and ensure NWFP became part of Pakistan.

Incidentally, Sir Olaf Caroe was the person who authored “Wells of Power: The Oilfields of South Western Asia, a Regional and Global Study”, and persuasively wrote an article on Pakistan’s potential role in the Middle East, and hence Pakistan’s strategic importance for the British. The British were favouring Jinnah in their own interest. Like elsewhere, the Muslim League, backed by the British, had been looking for and exploiting all opportunities to discredit local Muslim leaders not aligned to the Muslim League, defame them as pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim, and rouse the local Muslim population against the Hindus.

Negligently, the Congress was doing little to counter the Muslim League propaganda and violence. Instead, it gave ready excuses to the AIML to indulge in its nefarious game when Nehru visited NWFP as the head of the Interim Government, despite advise to the contrary by the NWFP Chief Minister, Sardar Patel, and others. Nehru had the delusion he was very popular—even among Muslims! The results were predictable. The situation went worse for the local Congress Provincial Government, and the Muslim League gained an upper hand, through communal rumour-mongering, and false, skilful propaganda, backed by the British Governor, and the British officers.

The height (or, rather, the low) of the British Governor Olaf Caroe’s partisan role was reached when he tried to buy over NWFP Chief Minister Dr Khan Sahib by assuring him that he would help him and his cabinet colleagues continue as ministers in Pakistan if they severed their connection with the “Hindu Congress”!

Jinnah gleefully looked upon Nehru’s visit as godsent, and managed to paint Nehru and the Congress as unpopular among the Muslims of NWFP.

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