Pakistan after Independence -3


In the years immediately before partition, there was widespread violence between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities across India.

Although congress and the Muslim League called for calm, the summer of 1947 saw rioting which led to numerous deaths.

When the boundary of the two nations was demarcated and announced in August 1947, things became even worse. Millions of people found themselves living in the ‘wrong’ country and became victims of communal attacks.

The only answered was for Muslims to move into Pakistan and non-Muslims to move into India. So began one of the largest migrations ever witnessed in the history of making and also some of eh worst scenes of communal violence.

Immediately after independence, Pakistan has to deal with a massive refugee problem: while 5.3 million Hindus fled from Punjab and Sindh into India, 5.9 million Muslims fled from India into West Pakistan. Also, 3.3 million Hindus fled East Bengal, and 1.3 million Muslims fled from India into east Bengal.

Some moved willingly, taking as many of their possessions with them as they could. Others fled from violence and often arrived in their new country with nothing at all.

The violence was sometimes orchestrated by the local authorities, and many Muslim historians believe that Hindus and Sikhs had an organized program for the massacre of Muslim refugees. In the non-Muslim princely states, there were examples of state troops being used to support attacks on Muslims.

It is also true, however, that atrocities were carried out by Muslims as a tide of communal hatred swept across the subcontinent in late 1947.

Estimates of the death toll vary considerably, but it is likely that as many as a million men, women, and children died as a result of the violence or the rigors of the long journey.

As many as 20 million people were made homeless, and both India and Pakistan faced enormous problems as huge numbers of refugees fled to them for safety. Karachi received nearly tow million refugees in 1947alone.

Not surprisingly, it was extremely difficult for these people to be accommodated. Pakistan, in particular, as a new and not wealthy country, did not have the necessary facilities to house millions of new citizens.

By the end of 1947, India and Pakistan were so concerned about the communal violence that they began to co-operate in trying to control it. This led to the more orderly evacuation of refugees from one country to the other, but it did not completely end the violence.

Pakistan after Independence -4


The most serious disagreement between India and Pakistan concerned the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This was the largest state in the subcontinent and the fact that it had boundaries with Tibet, China, Afghanistan, and Russia gave it great strategic importance.

In 1947, most of the 4 million inhabitants of Kashmir were Muslim, but the maharaja was Hindu. It was believed that he was trying to win independence for his state and so he delayed joining either Pakistan or India.

The maharaja, HariSingh, did not treat the Muslim population well. In September 1947, he started a campaign to drive many Muslims out of Kashmir.

Over 200,000 fled to Pakistan and finally, the Muslims rose in rebellion. The maharaja was forced to turn to India for help to crush the Muslims. Indian help came only after the maharaja agreed to accede to India.

Pakistan could not accept this, so sent troops to help the Muslims in Kashmir. The Pakistan government was convinced that the Indians had always planned to seize Kashmir. Neither side was strong enough for a long war and in January 1948 the matter was referred to the UNO.

A ceasefire was arranged and Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan. However, Pakistan was angered that India retained the largest area of Kashmir, including the capital, Srinagar.

After pressure from Lord in Kashmir to determine the wishes of the people, once the situation has normalized.

This referendum has not been held and the ‘Kashmir’ issue remains a major source of discontent between the two countries today.

Pakistan has made numerous demands that the UNO resolves the dispute, but, so far, it has been impossible to reach the agreement.