Today is the 70th Independence Day of Pakistan. Any talk about this day cannot be complete without talking about the partition of India into two countries in 1947.
Today is the 70th Independence Day of Pakistan. Any talk about this day cannot be complete without talking about the partition of India into two countries in 1947, which was marked by tragedies of mass murder, loot, plunder, and forced migration of lakhs of people in the name of religion and identity politics. The day not only left a permanent scar on the respective memories of people of India and Pakistan but also sowed the seed of enmity that Pakistan continues to practice towards India even today. But, who was to be blamed for partition? Not Mohammad Ali Jinnah, argues Rehman Anwer in an article for Pakistan Today.
“Mr Jinnah was surely the architect of Pakistan and led the Pakistan movement on ideological grounds; however, he was strenuously against the partition of Bengal and Punjab. On several occasions before the partition he warned the Congress leaders and the British authorities that dividing these provinces could lead to anarchy but his advice was always ignored,” he says while quoting historian Stanley Wolpert’s description of Jinnah telling Lord Mountbatten in April 1947, “Bengalis and Punjabis were united by their common languages and history.”
According to Anwer, not Jinnah but the “selfish leadership of the Congress” is to be blamed for partition. He says the leadership didn’t even listen to Mahatma Gandhi. Some other historians, however, believe that Jinnah’s belief in the two nation theory was responsible for partition.
Did Pakistan gain from the partition? The promises of independence have not been fulfilled in Pakistan, which has been exploited by both military and political elites of the country. Moreover, they have patronised terrorists over the decades and the country now has to pay the price.
Pakistan Today writes in its editorial, “Politicians maintain that Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a pluralistic society and a modern, democratic, federal and welfare state could not be implemented on account of military takeovers which turned the country into a political wasteland. “Military coups took toll of institutions that constitute the underpinnings of a democratic system. Military rulers introduced a highly centralised system of governance and an authoritarian style. Laws against religious minorities and women were passed by Zia who also patronised militant groups.”
Liaquat H Merchant writes in Dawn that the British decision to accelerate its exit from India resulted in a shock. The British announced their plan on June 3, 1947, leaving only 73 days for Congress and Muslim League to set up their respective governments-in-waiting. Merchant says, Pakistan started “with no existing setup. “Governance was an issue in 1947 and continued to be an issue thereafter as Jinnah passed away in 1948 and Jawaharlal Nehru ruled as the Indian prime minister until 1962,” he writes.
Another article in the Dawn by Ramsha Jahangir notes that the partition generation was scarred by the narrative of hatred. “70 years on, the rabid hatred may be less but there is a mindless disgust among the young generation as in the absence of relieving narratives, religious bigotry assumes an organised form pervading across India and Pakistan.” Also, Jahangir says now patriotism says “patriotism has grown into jingoism” 70 years after partition.