Pakistan and India should celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

A wide smile appeared on his face, and he asked me what city of Pakistan I belonged to

After I mentioned that I was from Lahore, his smile grew even wider as he got teary-eyed

He told me that his family is from Jaranwala (a small town in the Faisalabad district), but they had immigrated to India following the partition in 1947

We spoke for a while as he asked me questions about the place he formerly called home

 As he was leaving he uttered the following words, “Partition nahin honi chahiye thi

” (Partition should not have happened

) This was not the first time the de-merits of partition crossed my mind, but it was a moment that raised countless more questions

India and Pakistan both celebrated their 69th year of Independence in the last few days

Almost a quarter of a century has passed and the political and military leadership of both countries remain at loggerheads

The question isn’t whether foreign relations between India and Pakistan are good, it is whether the foreign relations between both countries will remain in the ‘manageable hostile’ zone

The problems between the countries are well documented and don’t need repetition – from water disputes to the murky business of intelligence agencies, the countries take two steps back for every step that has been taken forward

An abundance of economic and military resources are allocated to ensure that the hostile neighbour remains in check

But despite the hostile attitude towards one other on a federal level, the average Indian and Pakistani connects effortlessly

There are no politics

No religion

No Jinnah

No Gandhi

No Bhutto

No Nehru

There is only the ease of familiarity; the ease that comes with being in a place where you’re surrounded by people who share the same socio-cultural history, and practice the same traditions

Therein lies comfort

There is something quintessentially South Asian that breaks down borders and creates ease

Why then, do India and Pakistan remain in a perpetual state of hostility at a federal level? In my opinion, time has shown that the Two-Nation Theory was flawed

Less than 30 years into Independence, Pakistan lost its eastern wing

In no way is this a question of Jinnah’credentials as a statesman of the highest order, but rather, an acknowledgement that an unnatural geographic division based on religious grounds was bound to have problems sooner or later

While the situation in British India before partition was hostile, in hindsight, a united India might have dealt with the problems better

Partition only multiplied the problems by two, with the added horror of mass bloodshed on either side

As things stand currently, India and Pakistan both have their unique set of challenges, large chunks of which are exclusively linked to the hostile foreign relations between them

India’s involvement in the insurgency in Balochistan is common knowledge, whereas Pakistan’s involvement in the insurgency in Kashmir is also well documented

India has historically gained mileage with political groups in Karachi, whereas Pakistan was actively supporting the Khalistan Movement in the 1980s

 The red corridor in India continues to experience Naxalite-Maoist insurgency, with Pakistan having been accused of subsidising it

Similarly, Pakistan has blamed India of supporting terrorist groups active in the country today

India, despite being on its way up economically, suffers from massive levels of poverty and malnourishment

Pakistan is in a significantly lower position economically, and it suffers from problems such as illiteracy and poverty as well

Notwithstanding these glaring problems, both countries allocate significant chunks of their resources on activities aimed at weakening each other

Both countries remain crippled by the narratives built around memories of the crimes of partition, as politicians (particularly in India) and the military (particularly in Pakistan) continue to fan the hatred of 1947 for their own interests

But in spite of that, it is pertinent to remember that the division of what is modern day India, Pakistan and even Bangladesh, is chillingly unnatural

The communities that were divided in 1947 had coexisted for almost a millennium and, after the British made an exit, a united India would have been better equipped to deal with its problems

If one wishes to celebrate Independence Day on August 14th and 15th, then celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

Date:17-Aug-2016 Reference:View Original Link