chapter  9
17 Pages

The 'Nationalities' Question in South Asia

The secession of Muslim Pakistan from Hindu majority India in 1947 following the end of British rule, and then Bengali East Pakistan from the Punjabi-Pashtun dominated Pakistan in 1971, seemed to be the first stages in the 'Balkanization' of the Indian subcontinent. At the time of independence, Indian political leaders, especially Jawaharlal Nehru, expressed doubts as to whether Islam could keep the several linguistic and racial groups of Pakistan together, especially since Islam had failed to do this elsewhere. Those forebodings proved right in 1971 when Muslim Bengalis and Punjabis fought a civil war that led to East Pakistan's secession. Thereafter, political gurus in India have continued to predict that Pakistan could soon prove to be a failed state.