Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood

Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood

Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood

Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood

Synopsis

Although it achieved independence in 1947, Pakistan still has not succeeded in integrating its diverse peoples into a nation. The nation's search for stability is traced in this revised and updated introduction to Pakistan's development.

Excerpt

The circumstances--some political, some social, but many economic--that led to the creation of Pakistan as an independent state are discussed in the first chapter of this book. On August 14, 1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of British India, administered the oath of office to Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the first governor-general of Pakistan. The ceremony was held in Karachi, the capital of the new country. The same evening Lord Mountbatten flew back to New Delhi, and the following day--August 15, 1947--he was sworn in as the first governorgeneral of India. Thus, within a period of just over twenty-four hours, the British liquidated their Indian empire. Their departure was hurried and took a form not anticipated by many. The British had believed that when they left India they would hand over the administration to one successor government. Instead, they left two governments in charge of a partitioned India, one in Karachi and the other in New Delhi.

Pakistan, the smaller of the two successor states, was a political novelty--a country created to accommodate people who wanted to live separately because they followed a faith totally different from that of the majority of the country of their origin. A state created in the name of religion was a new political phenomenon, to be repeated only once again when the colonial powers withdrew from Asia and Africa. About one hundred countries have obtained independence in the years following World War II, but only one other--the state of Israel, created for the Jews of the diaspora--was established for religious reasons. But religion proved to be a weak basis for defining a nation's frontier. Pakistan, as it turned out, was established with problematic frontiers. The country was divided into two halves--or "wings," as they were called--but Islam failed to keep East and West Pakistan together for very long. In 1971, a quarter century after the country's birth, the eastern wing separated to form the independent country of Bangladesh. But the formation of Bangladesh left Pakistan with unstable frontiers. Even today, two of Pakistan's borders--the Durand line that runs between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the "line of control" that now divides the old princely state of Kashmir between the territories "occupied" by India and Pakistan--have not been formally accepted by Pakistan's neighbors. With the war in Afghanistan against the occupation of the Soviet Union that lasted for ten years and the subsequent emergence of Islamic zealots who call themselves the Taleban (students) as the . . .

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