Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Partitioning of India - Creation of Pakistan in 1947

The creation of Pakistan is a direct result of the long history, and withdrawal, of British imperial colonialism in India. The ideologies concerning creating such a state were divided between those who “sympathized with the idea of a distinct Muslim identity and the need to protect and preserve it” and “those who either stood for a united India or did not see the need for a separate state for Muslims” [1] Another very important international event occurring at this period in history which shared similarities to, and added international support to the creation of a Pakistani-Muslim state, was the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the modern nation-state of Israel.

While Pakistan was established as a religious state, based on a Muslim population, the creation of the nation-state of Israel was a state created for an ethnic group with a religion attached to it. Both partitions and state creations caused violence and displacement. Interesting enough, “Pakistan celebrated its independence on 14 August and India on 15 August 1947” [2].

One of the strongest individual proponents of the two-state solution was Muhammad Ali Jinnah, known in Muslim circles as Quaid-e-Azam or ‘great leader’, who “organized the campaign that compelled both the British and the Indian National Congress to concede to the demand for the state of Pakistan” [3]. After the partitioning and independence, after the British withdrawal, of India and Pakistan there was a wave of bloody violence which “was accompanied by the largest mass migration in human history of some 10 million. As many as one million civilians died in the accompanying riots and local-level fighting, particularly in the western region of Punjab which was cut in two by the border” [4].

One of the largest issues was the problem of heavy populations of Muslims left outside of the newly created Pakistani state borders after the partition. Many more Muslim people “were left behind in India than were incorporated into the new state of Pakistan - a state created in two halves, one in the east (formerly East Bengal, now Bangladesh) and the other 1,700 kilometres away on the western side of the subcontinent” [5]. The exact numbers of casualties caused by the mass violence that erupted in the aftermath of the partitions are debatable, but “Estimates range from around 200,000 to one-and-a-half million” with “at least 13 million refugees, out of which 10 million from Punjab alone, comprising four and half million non-Muslims and five and half million Muslims” [6]. The history books also show a great amount of rape and violence against woman during this time period: “Approximately 75,000 women have been raped and/or abducted across the two sides of the new border, placing them as the first victims of the Partition Massacres” [7].

While the history of Pakistan is one of the bloodiest examples, the emergence of violence in the political vacuum left by British colonial withdrawal was not a single phenomenon during the 20th century as Imperialism shifted from colonialism to globalization.

[1] Abdullah Adnan, “Pakistan: Creation and Genesis,” Muslim World 96, no. 2 (2006): 201.

[2] Crispen Bates, “”The Hidden Story of Partition and its Legacies”, BBC, March 3, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/partition1947_01.shtml

[3] Abdullah Adnan, “Pakistan: Creation and Genesis,” Muslim World 96, no. 2 (2006): 204.

[4] Crispen Bates, “”The Hidden Story of Partition and its Legacies”, BBC, March 3, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/partition1947_01.shtml

[5] Crispen Bates, “”The Hidden Story of Partition and its Legacies”, BBC, March 3, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/partition1947_01.shtml

[6] Lionel Baixas, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, Chronological Index: Thematic Chronology of Mass Violence in Pakistan, 1947-200, Accessed on June 4, 2013 from http://www.massviolence.org/Thematic-Chronology-of-Mass-Violence-in-Pakistan-1947-2007

[7] Lionel Baixas, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, Chronological Index: Thematic Chronology of Mass Violence in Pakistan, 1947-200, Accessed on June 4, 2013 from http://www.massviolence.org/Thematic-Chronology-of-Mass-Violence-in-Pakistan-1947-2007

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