Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sixty Years After Partition

This coming tuesday will be Pakistan's 60th anniversary of independence. If you're not familiar with the birth of Pakistan, the partition that led to the largest mass migration in history, or the sixty years of political turmoil that has followed - the BBC has some great news archives and articles.

Pakistan's and India's independence in 1947 is bittersweet. Despite ousting the colonial power of the British, one of the bloodiest episodes in the subcontinents history followed the drawing of the borders. Basically, a British man who had little knowledge of India just drew a line right down the middle of the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Many Muslims were left on the 'wrong' side of the line in India, and many Hindus and Sikhs were left on the Pakistani side of the line. Families' farmlands were even cut in town between the two new countries. Mothers and fathers were separated from their children on the opposite side of the line. In the ensuing violence between 10 and 15 million people left all they had and fled for their lives to the other side of the line. Many lived in refugee camps along the way, where women were rounded up at night, gang raped and deposited back at the camp at morning. Entire trains of migrants were torched and many of those fleeing had their arms and legs chopped off by marauders. The blame lay not with only the Muslims in Pakistan against the Hindus and Sikhs, or with the Indian Hindus against the Muslims, but both sides seemed to be equally violent towards the other.

Personally, I am not sure whether August 14th should be a national day of celebration or of mourning and repentence.

See BBC News articles here:

Sixty bitter years after partition: