"Our country has been broken; the great, sound pulsating heart of India has been broken.." Asaf Khwaja Lahore Diaries 1949
When the British Government decided to dismantle its Imperial holdings in South Asia lying in the Indian Subcontinent and dubbed the Crown Jewel of the British Empire in 1947, that decision though noble in honoring the tenets of the Atlantic Charter which propounded the right for self determination of colonized peoples; led sharp religious delineations, inhumane and inhospitable fatal hostilities amongst once agelong convivial neighbours.
The Indian Partition plan propounded by Lord Mountbatten the last Viceroy of Colonial India sought the creation of two homelands based on religious delineations from British India; one distinctly Muslim and the other distinctly Hindu incorporating other religious minorities.
|Indian nationalist leader Jawaharlal Nehru (l), Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountbatten (c) and the president of the All-India Muslim League Muhammad Ali Jinnah (r) discuss Partition in 1947|
As such, the provinces of Punjab and Bengal both of which had Muslim majorities were delineated as Pakistan (East and West Pakistan) while the rest were to form the Nation State of India. Simple as the partition plan seemed on paper, it aroused religious animosity amongst once convivial neighbours of different religious leanings. Thus, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other religious minorities who felt insecure due to reprisal killings had to undergo the painful experience of forced migration in series of population uproots and exchanges between the newly formed nations of India and Pakistan in what was one of the greatest in history, some 10 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan into India and vice versa, while about 2 million persons were killed in reprisals interspersed between the two newly formed Nations. In all, it is estimated that over 12 million lives were affected by this partition plan.
|The British Partition of India|
Once a domain ruled by the Ghaznavids and Mughal Empires who were of Turko-Mongol origins and advanced the propagation of Islam amongst their Subjects, the majority subjugated Hindu, and Buddhist population once had glorious domineering empires of note, some which were the Mauryan and Gupta Empires of which legendary Ashoka was famed for the former in the 3rd Century BC. Upon the subtle and forceful maneuvering subjugation intrigues by Europeans, chiefly the British in the 18th Century of an already waning Mughal Empire via the English East India Company, the whole Indian Subcontinent came under the rule of the expansionist British Empire who now controlled the region having the World’s largest population.
The British partition delineation along religious lines gained roots in the series of inconclusive Anglo-Afghan wars of the 19th and 20th Centuries in which the Afghanistan Kingdom which used to exert influence over Punjab Province was granted Independence; thus, partitioning the tribal heartland of the Pashtuns between British and Afghan control. Along with the Sepoy rebellion which was suppressed, there was growing discontent of the British Colonialists which birthed the Indian National Congress in the late 19th Century. Further partitions of the Bengal province along religious lines fueled mistrust amongst the majority Hindu and minority Muslim Nationalists which led to series of events resulting in the birthing of the Muslim league. As such, the British played on the divergent emancipation ideologies of these two Nationalist parties to their advantage as it suited and so the India National Congress and Muslim League became irreconcilable in their emancipation demands. While the India National Congress demanded independence for all of British India to establish a secular state for all religious delineation, the Muslim League sought a separate partition state in which would be Muslim majority; fearing Hindu redomination after the Muslims have recently controlled political affairs in the subcontinent via the defunct Ghaznavid and Mughal empires.
|The India Partition frustrated over 12million lives|
When the partition finally came in Mid August of 1947, two Nations were born as Muslim dominated Pakistan and Hindu dominated India. Both nations after undergoing forced population exchanges upon religious delineations fell into unending internecine conflicts over the Princely States of Jammu and Kashmir both of which delayed decision of ascribing sovereignty to India or Pakistan.
Growing tensions between these two Nations led India to intervene in East Pakistan crises in 1971, thus guaranteeing the independence of marginalized and disgruntled Bengalis to form the new nation of Bangladesh.
Yet the issues bothering about conflict over the status of Jammu and Kashmir remained unresolved, though frozen along the cease fire Line of Control. With both sides now nuclear armed and relishing a military solution in the face Indian obstinacy over Kashmir, Pakistan has sought to support non-State military actors to harass Indian Occupation of Kashmir. These Non-State Military actors while pushing the Pakistani agenda over Kashmir have in turn fueled destabilization of the polity in Pakistan, Afghanistan and globally via the activities of Islamist guerrillas such as the Taliban, Al-Queda, Pakistani Taliban, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashka-e-Taiba and Kashmiri insurgents whilst India has seemingly advanced its status as a global player first during the constitution of the Non Aligned Movement in 1950’s and in series of Technological advancement in Medicine, Industrialization, and Information Technology which has seen it dethroning the USA’s Silicon Valley and stamping its status among the Second World Order nations via the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) association and forging trading partnerships with Africa, US, EU, China and UK.
"Much suffering has been caused and much bitterness engendered…but what is done cannot be undone. All we can do now is to make amends for our past mistakes and work wholeheartedly for the restoration of peace and goodwill among the divided sections of the people."-- Asaf Khwaja
It is saddening to note that a once harmonious commune under the ancient Hindu Mauryan and Muslim Ghaznavid and Mughal Empires has been thronged in to that of mistrust based on religious delineation and a hot bed of fanatic Islamic militantism with perennial cataclysmic effects on Afghanistan.
As a region hosting a distinct cradle of civilization and the World’s largest population side by side with China, like China, the Indian Subcontinent has lots of positives to offer the world if peace can be advanced across the religious delineations entrenched by the British Partition of 1947.