Partition’s open sore
I was touched by Shruti Kapila’s quietly emotive article on Partition, a subject she treats with both the intellectual rigor of a historian and the compassion of a human being.
The creation of Pakistan under the two-nation theory, which states that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together in a nation, and that the Muslim minority would not get the rights they deserve in a Hindu majority India, has ongoing repercussions. Creating a country in such a divisive fashion meant there was always going to be hatred and lack of understanding at its roots. Unfortunately, Jinnah’s wishes to see a secular Pakistan were hindered by his death and the power vacuum that followed, which meant that the Hindu-Muslim ideological conflict deteriorated.
Dr Kapila is spot on when she notes that, unlike other acts of widescale violence, the violence of partition in 1947 ‘remains unmemorialized and officially unmourned by either state’. It is only the more palatable independence that is marked every year. Unless and until both India and Pakistan recognise and remedy this lack, there will continue to be an open, festering sore between them.
A slippery slope
Whenever reading an article on Recep Erdogan’s Turkey, I feel a faint chill creep up my spine. This sinister man has struggled to become a dictator via legal channels – ie changing the constitution after getting enough votes/MPs in elections – so he is now trying a different tack. Last year’s coup gives him the grounds to crush all opposition, just as Hitler urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties in 1933 after the infamous Reichstag fire, so that he could take on the Communist Party of Germany. So it is somewhat ironic that Erdogan should accuse Angela Merkel of using ‘Nazi’ methods, as your writer Kim Sengupta notes.
Many of my friends in Turkey are even more fearful than Sengupta, foreseeing a future of emergency decrees, mass arrests of Gulen supporters, liberals and secularists, more gagging of journalists, etc. And let’s not forget the ‘restoration’ of the Anzac memorial in Gallipoli, which bore an inscription attributed to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, lauding collaboration between Turkey and its Western allies, that has now been removed. There are too many signs of Erdogan making a full break from the Kemalist secular state that Turkey has been for the last century.
Jinah was not to blame
I refer to your article about partition in your August issue. I would like to point out that the western media, as well as Pakistan’s, frequently refer to Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the founding father of Pakistan but the historical reality is very different. That ‘honour’ goes to Winston Churchill and Louis Mountbatten. Jinnah was, in fact, a united India man right up to the end of the Second World War. Historical records show that British political and military leaders were concerned about the possibility of a Congress led independent India being sympathetic towards the Soviet Union because most Indian intellectuals were leftist. They wanted a compliant pro-western buffer state in the region and Jinnah was the man to provide that accommodation. Churchill and other western leaders patronised and encouraged Jinnah and his ‘Two Nations Theory’ regardless of the impracticalities of separating out Muslims and Hindus in the sub-continent. In fact, Jinnah betrayed the majority of India’s Muslims by dividing them, leaving more in India than were incorporated into the new Pakistan. Responsibility for the dreadful events of the partition lie in London. The reason the Raj authorities did not intervene in the August 1946 communal mass-murders in Calcutta was because the British wanted communal war to support Jinnah’s claim that the two peoples could not live together.