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Pakistan and India joint 60th birthday thread

Posted By Sunny On 14th August, 2007 @ 8:37 pm In South Asia | Comments Disabled

Today is Pakistan’s 60th birthday, tomorrow it will be India’s. So here’s a joint thread in the name of closer partnership between the two countries. [1] Comment is Free is running articles on ‘60 years after the raj’. I’ll be contributing too.


Comments Disabled To "Pakistan and India joint 60th birthday thread"

#1 Comment By raz On 14th August, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

Raz is a bit happier now.

#2 Comment By foxyullah On 14th August, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

Azzadi Mubarak….

#3 Comment By Twining or Black in Blue On 14th August, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

Happy Birthday to you! Happy birhtday!

#4 Comment By tyger On 14th August, 2007 @ 10:52 pm

Happy Birthday.

I wish Pakistan’s health were better. Things seem to be getting worse and worse…

Methinks India’s rise is aptly timed.

#5 Comment By Rohin On 14th August, 2007 @ 10:52 pm

I had planned a post about this. Examining where India has come from and looking ahead. But I don’t know if I can be bothered - everyone seems to want to stick an oar in and there’s so much tat out there regurgitating what we’ve heard again and again. There’s effectively too much to take in. It’s a shame as I think partition is still a forgotten chapter in history.

#6 Comment By Leon On 14th August, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

Go for it Rohin, would love to read it!

#7 Comment By Sunny On 14th August, 2007 @ 11:25 pm

Just do it Rohin, it’s gotta be better than the tripe I put together for CIF.

#8 Comment By Nyrone On 14th August, 2007 @ 11:59 pm

What did everyone think about the drama-documentary about the partition on BBC2 a few hours ago?

I was really impressed, great use of archive footage and reconstructions to build the epic picture.
I learnt a lot and it had me gripped throughout.

However, It still remains a mystery to me why they had to rush the enormously complicated process through in 2 months, and also how one guy (Cyril Radcliffe) was responsible for devising the entire border between Pakistan and India.

#9 Comment By Sunny On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:15 am

I thought it was pretty good too. Good footage, and not afraid to go over controversial territory.

#10 Comment By Vikrant On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:19 am

Happy B’day to Pakistan nd India from across the atlantic… :). I almost missed this one.. My classes start tomorrow on 15th… Azadi for India, barbadi for me :(.

#11 Comment By sid On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:00 am

Who’s going to arrange an IPA pub crawl then?

#12 Comment By Zak On 15th August, 2007 @ 2:22 am

happy b day ppl of the subcontinent!

#13 Pingback By india » Blog Archive » PARTITION: Coverage of the 60th Anniversary of India/Pakistan On 15th August, 2007 @ 5:06 am

[…] Today is Pakistan’s 60th birthday, tomorrow it will be India’s. So here’sa joint thread in the name of closer partnership between the two countries. Comment is Free is running articles on ‘60 years after the raj’. … …more […]

#14 Comment By Jai On 15th August, 2007 @ 9:00 am

Best wishes to all our Asian friends on the anniversary of the subcontinent’s independence.

#15 Comment By Jai On 15th August, 2007 @ 9:20 am

What did everyone think about the drama-documentary about the partition on BBC2 a few hours ago?

Poignant and, at times, gut-wrenchingly horrifying — as it should be, considering the subject matter. I thought the part where the elderly Sikh gentleman was describing how his father beheaded his sister in order to save her from being raped by the approaching Muslim mob (swiftly duplicated by the other Sikh families who were sheltering with them) was shocking and moving. He nearly broke down in tears at one point.

However, I did think that the programme seemed to focus disproportionately on atrocities by Hindus and (especially) Sikhs, and considerably less on similar activities by Muslims. The latter was indeed mentioned a couple of times, but the documentary appeared to be somewhat biased in terms of generally depicting Muslims as being the victims of the piece. I don’t know if this was a deliberate move or just a result of the people they managed to find for the interviews. I have no malicious interest in seeing Muslims portrayed in negative ways in the media — especially considering the horrible prejudice and animosity Muslims are currently having to face in this part of the world — but I found this aspect of the programme to be dishonest and distasteful; it could have benefitted from being more balanced and accurate in this area.

It still remains a mystery to me why they had to rush the enormously complicated process through in 2 months,

It was mentioned in the programme. Mountbatten wanted the British to get out of India asap because the further the “exit date” was, the more responsible he would be for trying to maintain law & order during that extended period of time. Given the predicted turbulence, he didn’t want that responsibility.

The current issue of BBC History magazine (http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/currentissue.asp ), available in WHSmith, describes the process in detail, including Mountbatten’s activities at the time.

#16 Comment By Sofia On 15th August, 2007 @ 10:42 am

I’m gonna go on about this again, but it for obvious reasons focussed on the split of the Punjab with atrocities committed by all sides, what I think all news coverage has forgotten are people like my father whose Muslim family chose to stay in India and the reasons why. India wasn’t totally religiously “cleansed” of Muslims, yet I have not come across anything that represents those who could not bear to leave and therefore risked their lives by staying.

#17 Comment By Sofia On 15th August, 2007 @ 10:44 am

Jai, I don’t think it was disproportionate at all, it focussed on massacres in Lahore, Calcutta and also had an extremely poignant piece by a Sikh man who relived how his father and male members of the family killed the females in order to protect them from Muslims. I don’t know how you could think that was disproportionate.

#18 Comment By Rohin On 15th August, 2007 @ 11:45 am

It still remains a mystery to me why they had to rush the enormously complicated process through in 2 months,

It was mentioned in the programme. Mountbatten wanted the British to get out of India asap because the further the “exit date” was, the more responsible he would be for trying to maintain law & order during that extended period of time. Given the predicted turbulence, he didn’t want that responsibility.

They failed to mention that the British economy was faltering and they simply didn’t have the money to stay any longer. The decision to pull out quickly was as much economic as political. It was handled appallingly.

I thought the programme was quite balanced Jai. The only critique I would make is that, as Sofia says, they didn’t really mention that more Muslims stayed in India than left, and not much was said about the Calcutta riots, which were as bloody and depraved as those in Punjab.

Still, I thought it was a superb programme. When will the BBC start uploading their docs for download?

#19 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

After all these years, the two ’super’ nations still don’t want to invite Bangladesh to their birthday party. Just because we’re shit at cricket and were born many years later after running away from Pakistan. Isn’t it time to forget the war? We gave the British Indian restaurants

#20 Comment By Sid On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

And, as an aide memoire, all of India’s Nobel Laureates.

#21 Comment By justforfun On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

Jai - The British Army was exhausted - the Indian Army was exhausted. The money to pay for civil administration was running out. The Americans were not willing to provide an overdraft facility to Britain , especially not to maintain its Empire. In fact the US relished the chance to have the “Indian” market opened up for business and took every opportunity to pull the plug precipatiously on de-colonization around the world while implementing a new tight economic grip on their own colonies. (Parallels with China later - think of the size of the market - overlook the morals of the people in change).

Mountbatten was following orders to get out quickly and he did as ordered. Once the plan for Partition became a tangible possibilty and individual soldiers were asked to choose which unit side to join, the breakup was inevitable and became a a runaway freighttrain as even the Indian Army could no longer function and it was left to the miniscule British garrison to hold the ring. Collapse was imminent so the schedule was brought forward to attempt to have the transition while at least the current crop of sane Indian politians still held some influence and might make a go of both Indian and Pakistani independance.

Could the process have been less traumatic. Undoubtably if the schedule for 1948 independance had been maintained. Gandhi understood, like Nelson Mandela later, independance was inevitable once the dominant power saw a future where military might holds no sway. It now became a case of patience and a long term view. However all were not patient.

I know many Indian Army officers at the time who have told me that they and their troops knew why they were fighting WW2 - it was the bargain that had been struck. It was common knowledge that the British would leave India after the war was won. They fought WW2 to ensure Indian Independance after victory and not to let it become just a carcass for Japanese industry to feed on or some puppet fascist state under German influence. They said they and their men were willing to work on unpaid for years to ensure this, but I’m afraid the resources to maintain order for another year were not available to the British. And the main reasource was the co-operation of the rising political class and their influence on the mob. Even 1 year was too long to wait for the power that they wanted. Was that not apparent in the programme - what could that Gurkha officer and 2 platoons of Gurkhas do. They tried to bluff their strength and resolve but if push came to shove, they knew they could not do anything against the mob.

Gandhi, Nehru and others would have waited years ( he was always accused of slowness) as they knew the scale of the job, but they were outmanouvered by events on the ground and local impatience, bigotry violence etc.

So Britain and the sub-continents politians take some of the blame for the inability slow down events to a managable speed - leading to deaths due to poor planning, etc but there were other factors involved.

But the murders and killings are the responsibility of those that carried them out. They can’t wriggle out of it and try and whitewash their barbarism as all Mountbatten’s fault.

I’ll stop my rant now

Justforfun

#22 Comment By Sofia On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

I remember reading something about the Americans pushing the British to a speedier independence for India, apart from the fact the British Economy was faltering.
Justforfun - glad you highlighted the war, as that definitely did play its part as catalyst.

Also, although it is right to say that those who committed the killings are responsible for their acts, it is also the responsibility of leadership to ensure mob elements did not spill out into the mainstream. As a modern example, the terrorism in Britain can be blamed on the individuals who commit the acts, but does this mean the government bears no responsibility in trying to stop these acts and look to reasons why they might be happening? Jinnah, Nehru and Gandhi (to an extent) put themselves in a position of representing Indians and carving out a future for them. They knew exactly what communal politics could do to India once the British left and indeed whilst they were there, so they should have put their stubborn egos on hold for once and realised they were being shafted by the British.

I also do find it sad, as Kismet pointed out that the programmes and articles have only really focussed on Pakistan and India. Bangladesh was a product of partition too and has often played poor cousin to its neighbours.
As for birthday party, maybe be contemplation and reconciliation is what we should move towards and a fresh interpretation of events where leaders are critiqued instead of hero worshipped!

#23 Comment By Rohin On 15th August, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

Well…not really, Bangladesh has its own Independence Day. Bangladesh was not a creation of Partition, East Pakistan was. Punjab and Bengal, as the areas split in two, are written and spoken about when talking of Partition. I don’t think we should confuse this with Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom.

#24 Comment By Sunny On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

Rohin, check BBC iplayer. They might have the docs on there to view.

#25 Comment By justforfun On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

Jinnah, Nehru and Gandhi (to an extent) put themselves in a position of representing Indians and carving out a future for them. They knew exactly what communal politics could do to India once the British left and indeed whilst they were there, so they should have put their stubborn egos on hold for once and realised they were being shafted by the British.

Sofia - They knew and that is why the whole Independance saga was drawn out over decades, with intial Dominion Status like Canada and Oz and NZ being shelved in the 20’s after Churchill’s opposition (immagine if that had gone through) - then Britain had the reasources to fund an orderly transition. It was a different matter ater the war. The British were going to leave whatever happened. You cannot force an occupying force to occupy you - it would be a first in human history but I suppose we should have asked - it might have been worth a try but I doubt it. The British troops wanted to go home after 8 years fighting and would have mutinied if kept in India much longer.

The responsibilty for the bloodshed lies with the people who pertutrate the crime. Any government has a responsibilty to maintain a framework to stop this but it does need the co-operatation of the citizen. But what if the government is an occupying force and is trying to leave. My God - here we argue that the Goevrnment should leave Iraq asap , but back then the British should not have left so quickly?

Justforun

#26 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

Sofia, thanks for sticking up for bangladesh. We’ve heard it all before, Rohin. No no no, Bangladesh, you can’t share your birthday with us because you were born on the 26th of March and 26 years after partition. Change the record. Throw away the calender.

And Sid, yes we have Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Rai to our name but partitionists like Rohin will only say: geographically, they actually fall in the region of bengal and not bangladesh, which makes them a part of India

It makes me violent

#27 Comment By sonia On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

yes its a good “birthday” to share isn’t it! 60 years of enmity ever since :-)

#28 Comment By sonia On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

I think really, it is an important time for everyone who lived across the indian sub-continent - regardless of what countries we now belong to.

#29 Comment By sonia On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

now kismet, rohin was pointing something out that is often not known - that bangladesh becoming a nation-state - was an additional struggle afterwards. ( which obviously is connected to this - given we had to have that struggle because we didn’t fancy staying as east pakistan which is what we got lumped into on the 14th August 1947) i’m sure rohin isn’t stirring up any inter-bengali strife!

#30 Comment By Rohin On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

Hey, a quarter of my family are from what is now Bangladesh. I’m arguing over semantics here. 14-15th August is about India and Pakistan (and victory in Japan), 26th March is about Bangladesh.

#31 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

I just wanted some attention

#32 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 15th August, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

And my mission in life is to trip Rohin over wherever he struts. Call it a Talented Mr Ripley complex, call it an Arnold Layne fetish, it is what it is. He’s just better than me

#33 Comment By Sofia On 15th August, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

Rohin, sorry to nitpick but I didn’t say Bangladesh was created out of Pakistan, i said it was a product of partition, meaning east pakistan was created and then bangladesh:)…

#34 Comment By Sofia On 15th August, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

btw i was having this convo with my husband and i’m pretty sure that pakistan was never the “Islamic republic” till a few years after partition, i.e it was added onto pakistan..anyone know about this?

Also, it would be interesting to see the take on Muhammed Iqbal who the Pakistanis claim as their own due to where he is from blah blah..but what about tarana-e-hind?

Justforfun - “Indians” weren’t really citizens were they…while the british raj was present, more like subjects…Indian politics will never be the same as it is in many western democratic nations…the position of religion is important and the fragile communal politics were always going to blow up esp. with the time frame they were given…I think my point is just about the possiblity of federal state structure not being properly discussed as it was not given enough time and therefore the two nation theory being pushed forward without any thought to what would happen at grass roots has to be the responsibility of the leaders of the time.

#35 Comment By Jai On 15th August, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

Rohin,

I thought the programme was quite balanced Jai.

I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this point, buddy. The programme did indeed mention the massacres in Calcutta etc but both the interviews and the dramatisation were heavily skewed towards showing hostility towards Muslims, eg. that psychotic elderly Sikh who was bragging about the large numbers of Muslims he killed, the British ex-serviceman who discussed the huge crowds of armed Sikhs encountered at Amritsar whom his fellow troops allegedly intimidated by showing their grenades, alleged mass rapes of schoolgirls by Sikhs in Amritsar, that guy who lay the blame for the creation of Pakistan and the violence between Muslims and Hindus in Punjab solely at the feet of supposedly endemic Hindu prejudice towards Muslims (anecdotes about separate public drinking facilities for Muslims, Hindu women not allowing Muslims to touch them while they were cooking or accepting food from Muslims in their homes), along with repeated dramatisations of sword-bearing (and sword-sharpening) bands of Sikhs roaming around on foot or on horseback and looking for Muslims to attack.

That’s not to say these things didn’t happen, but when the bulk of the interviews & anecdotes are skewed in one direction, along with exactly which community the murderous Indians were repeatedly depicted as being from, then this potentially creates a certain view of events in the mind of the viewer. The bottom line is that the programme disproportionately showed Muslims as being the aggrieved and victimised party in that whole nasty mess.

Anyway, apart from that, I did think the programme was excellent too.

Some superb posts by Justforfun above, incidentally.

#36 Comment By sonia On 15th August, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

sofia, yes you are right, well its complex and not so clear cut ( some think it is a technicality, but effectively it comes down to the adoption of islamic sharia.) when pakistan was created, a lot of people thought of it was a separate homeland for muslims, ( i think some might still have thought of it as an islamic state) not as an islamic state - i.e. some people who would prob. call themselves secular muslims, wanted a space for themselves, and that it wasn’t necessarily about implementing Sharia. ( which presumably would be required for it to posture as an Islamic State aka golden caliphate and so on..)

It was when [2] Zia Ul Haq had his military coup in 1978 he brought in Sharia law as state law - and with it - increasing islamification - to try and turn this country for muslims into something that could be considered approaching an islamic state.


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

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URLs in this post:
[1] Comment is Free: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/category/after_the_raj/
[2] Zia Ul Haq: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Zia-ul-Haq