Right after the Second World War, India was trying to cope with Independence, and the bloody aftermath of the country’s partition into three ridiculous sections (an ignorant and arrogant English bureaucrat’s bold lines across the map of the subcontinent), a big one in the middle, two small pieces at either end, just like the wings of a bird. Excepting the wings refused to fly, the subcontinent grounded forever, mired in disarray and discord, unable to realize its true potential in the realm of nations.
During those heady post-independence days, free at last of the long British yoke, the rape and pillage, India was changing, trying to shed her shameful colonial past, like a fallen woman trying to become respectable, to regain her past glory. However, Pakistan descended into chaos, at the mercy of mullahs and military.
It is counterproductive to probe into the reasons for partition of the Indian subcontinent. That partition led to the death of millions of innocent people is irrefutable and can never be forgotten. It is very difficult to believe that all those leaders (British, Hindu, and Muslim) involved in carving up the land, solely based on religion, were unaware of the enormous human tragedy their actions would precipitate. If only sanity prevailed and India retained its borders as existed before 1947, many other human tragedies might not have taken place. If Pakistan was not created by the misguided leaders, we wouldn’t have had three wars between India and Pakistan.
Although Muhammad Ali Jinnah was secular in his outlook and might have steered Pakistan towards a stable and prosperous democracy, he did not live long enough to see his dream of a successful Pakistan. Unfortunately, there was a leadership vacuum in the country and conditions became ripe for the military to intervene and take control. If India had an uninterrupted civilian rule for the past sixty six years, the number of years that Pakistan was under civilian rule were very few indeed; sometimes, even though civilians appeared to be ruling, the military establishment always hovered in the background and controlled the country. In contrast, in India the civilian control of the military is undisputed. This might largely be due to the strong and popular leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru during the inception of the republic. India was indeed fortunate to have as its first Prime Minister a decent, secular visionary leader.
The lack of good leaders led to the early decline of Pakistan and doomed its ability to succeed as a thriving democracy with strong legislative, judiciary and executive branches of government. Every one of these bodies, responsible for the development a stable democracy, repeatedly failed the country and its hapless populace. The lack of progress in all aspects of life created conditions ripe for the emergence of radical Islamic fundamentalism, which was probably nourished by the military as well as some civilian leaders. Various radical outfits came into existence under the sponsorship of the military and ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) and some of these organizations trained fighters to be smuggled into Indian controlled Kashmir to perpetrate terrorist acts. The origins of Kashmir problem between Indian and Pakistan are debatable. Whether it is the Hindu king who wanted to be a part of India or that the Government of India forced the king’s hand into delivering Kashmir into the Indian territory is irrelevant to the present discussion.
That Kashmir is a big headache for both India and Pakistan is an undisputable fact. The Kashmir problem poisoned the relations between the two countries and even if it is solved to the satisfaction of both the countries, the effects of the damage it has done will not go away. Of course the large number of civilians as well as military personnel who were sacrificed at the altar of this piece of land does not even begin to tell the untold misery suffered by so many people on both sides of the border. The goal of the Jihadis, dispatched by the rogue elements of Pakistani government, is ethnic cleansing. Their aim is to remove all Hindus from Kashmir so that only Muslims remained in the territory. These Pakistani-sponsored terrorists raped Hindu women, killed their men and committed the most heinous crimes in the name of Holy War. These state-supported terrorists forced the Kashmiri pundits at gun point to vacate their homes in which they lived for several generations. The Kashmiri Hindus had to flee their home land and migrate to other parts of India. Many of them still live in unhygienic and unsafe refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. This wouldn’t have happened in an undivided India.
In an undivided India, charismatic leaders like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto would not have perished needlessly. On the other hand, they might have played an important role in Indian politics. Pervez Musharaff would have been a general in the Indian army, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to create the Kargil misadventure, and the consequent loss of precious lives. The relentless terrorist attacks on the Indian soil (shelling at Indian Parliament, the shooting rampage in Mumbai, just to name a few) by Pakistani operatives would not have happened. An undivided India would have been more prosperous, able to focus on economic development, education, infrastructure, agriculture, and industry, instead of diverting billions of dollars to defense.
Apart from the turmoil and tragedy the partition had caused, it has had global repercussions as well. An undivided India would have had Iran on its western borders and Afghanistan on the north. There is no reason to believe that either Iran or Afghanistan would have been anything but cordial in their relations with an undivided India. Moreover, an undivided India would have worked towards a strong and prosperous Afghanistan. There wouldn’t have been an ISI meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, and without a destabilized Afghanistan, the superpowers would not have interfered in the affairs of Afghanistan. The invasion by Soviet Union and the subsequent funding of the Mujahideen by the CIA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia wouldn’t have taken place. In the absence of Taliban and their fundamentalist brethren, Al qaeda wouldn’t have had the safe haven in the mountains of Afghanistan. Therefore, 9/11, Madrid, London, and Iraq war wouldn’t have happened. This is just a dream. History can never be rewritten. It only repeats itself.
Rudy Ravindra attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Summer 2012). His work has appeared inBewildering Stories, Blazevox, Enhance, Southern Cross Review, and others. He lives with his wife in Wilmington, North Carolina.