chapter  16
24 Pages

The partition of India and the creation of Pakistan

WithSugata Bose, Ayesha Jalal

The partition of India in 1947, along ostensibly religious lines involving the vivisection of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal, was the most momentous and cataclysmic of several British decisions to divide and quit their colonial possessions. Ireland had been partitioned and the province of Ulster split up in the aftermath of World War I. The partition of India and the creation of Pakistan form the subject of fierce and lively historical debate. The League's demand for a 'Pakistan', the territorial expression of the Muslim claim to nationhood, had to be conceded prior to negotiations determining the shape and powers of the all-India centre. A 'Pakistan' that might mean the division of Punjab and Bengal remained a distant thunder. Such a 'Pakistan' had still to seek common arrangements with the rest of India on matters to do with defence, communications and commerce. 'Pakistan' was anathema for most non-Muslims in the Muslim-majority provinces.