Pakistan: Emerging Democracy

Pakistan: Emerging Democracy

Pakistan: Emerging Democracy

Pakistan: Emerging Democracy

Excerpt

PAKISTAN became a nation on August 14, 1947. Her two "wings" sat 1,000 miles apart on the shoulders of a newly- created and suddenly hostile India. Her new citizens were separated by even wider cultural hiatuses: they had no common language; they dressed differently, ate different foods; they had lived under different forms of government, were accustomed to different forms of oppression; even by the broadest standards they represented at least three distinct kinds of societies. They did not even look much alike, varying from tall and rather light-skinned to short and very dark-skinned. It is hard to imagine a more heterogeneous nation. They had only one thing in common -- most of them: they were Muslims.

In pre-partition India, Islam meant a belief and a way of life, certainly. But it also meant membership in a minority. As political independence became more probable, the 90 million Muslim minority began to wonder what its future would be in an undivided India whose total population was nearly 400 million. They could not accept the Hindu concept of secular equality, because Muslims believe sincerely, if somewhat vaguely, in the idea of a religious state. Nor did they feel much security in a future of accepting "rights" as gifts from the Hindu majority. As the actual day of independence neared, Muslim anxiety turned to fear. British control over law and order began to disintegrate, and violence took its place. For millions of people, membership in a community called "Hindu" or "Muslim" or "Sikh" suddenly took on a new importance: it became a matter of life or death.

Neighbor turned against neighbor. Communities that had known no violence for centuries became divided by this "new" distinction.

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