Painful memories of Partition

Share
Related Topics
In the flood of Raj nostalgia engulfing the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, it is often forgotten that Pakistan was founded at the same time. Some might imagine that that is because there is little to celebrate.

Since the world's first state specifically created for Muslims was born in the blood and destruction of Partition, Pakistan has fought and lost three wars against India, surrendering its eastern half to independence as Bangladesh in 1971. Pakistan is rated as among the most corrupt countries in the world, with billions of aid dollars being squandered while illiteracy and child mortality get worse. And it remains politically unstable: not once in half a century has one elected government peacefully succeeded another.

This instability has muted the commemoration of Pakistan's golden jubilee. The interim government that took over last November, after Benazir Bhutto had been dismissed as prime minister by executive fiat for a second time, decided that it had neither the inclination nor the authority to decree lavish celebrations. Nawaz Sharif, who won the subsequent election, had other priorities. "Pakistan is not celebrating this event the way the UK is celebrating," says Samina Parvez of the Pakistani high commission in London. "We are doing so in a more humble manner."

A cabinet meeting in Islamabad this week will complete plans for an official reception next month, and memories of British rule will be stirred when the Queen visits Pakistan in October. Later this year a controversial film on the life of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who almost single-handedly brought the country into being, will be released and there have been private celebrations and sports tournaments; but, says Mrs Parvez, "It is not going to be very elaborate. A lot of people think it is better to spend money on schools and hospitals."|

As in India, many memories of Partition are painful, but Pakistan has an additional reason for mixed feelings about the anniversary. Every such occasion reminds the country of its unresolved identity as a Muslim state. From the beginning there has been tension between those who insist that the Koran should be the only statute book and those who believe that Islam should not be called upon by governments to justify themselves, particularly when they have been so numerous and so venal as they have been in Pakistan. It is not a conflict that ceremonial can cure.

Raymond Whitaker

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific