Post-partition and conflict over Kashmir

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The death of Muhammed Ali Jinnah in 1948, the conflict with India over the Princely State of Kashmir (which both countries claimed at independence), as well as ethnic and religious differences within Pakistan itself, all combined to stymie early attempts to agree on a constitution and an effectively functioning civil administration.

This failure paved the way for a military takeover of the government in 1958 and later on, a civil war in 1971. This saw the division of the country and the creation of the separate state of Bangladesh. Ever since then, military rule has been more often than not the order of the day in both countries.

India has maintained remarkable cohesion since independence, especially considering it is nearly the size of Europe.

At independence, in India and in Pakistan, civil unrest as well as ethnic and religious discord threatened the stability of the new country. However, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by a Hindu fanatic strengthened the hand of secularists within the government.

Indian politicians ratified a constitution, which led to the first democratic elections in 1951. This made India the world’s largest democracy and consolidated governmental authority over the entire subcontinent.

However, major tensions have persisted among both Muslim and Sikh communities, which suffered most from the violence and land loss resulting from partition. These tensions erupted most seriously in the 1980s in a violent campaign for the creation of a separate Sikh state which led ultimately to the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Renewed victimisation of Muslims has also occurred, notably with the destruction of the Muslim shrine at Ayodhya in 1992 and anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2004. With such notable exceptions, however, India has maintained a remarkable level of cohesion since independence, especially if one considers that it is a country nearly the size of Europe.

For both India and Pakistan, the most singular conflict unresolved since partition has concerned the former Princely State of Kashmir, whose fate was left undetermined at the time the British left. Lying as it did on the border, Kashmir was claimed by both countries, which have been to war over this region on numerous occasions.

The conflict has wasted thousands of lives and millions of dollars, but is closer to a solution now than at any time since independence. If achieved, it might finally bring to fruition the dreams of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi and once more set an example for post-colonial societies elsewhere in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to imitate and follow.

” Know the History well, to shape a better future ” 

INCPak

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