68th Independence Day: Liberation from the prejudices of the past

Published: August 13, 2015

State Department official says it is “very, very important” that such incidents are prevented. PHOTO: AFP

This weekend, India and Pakistan celebrate their 68th Independence Day as two independent nations. Such a solemn occasion is also a time for one to reflect upon and evaluate the journey taken so far. One wonders whether the fury, rage and bloody madness that gripped the countries prior to the independence were justified?

Were the killings in the name of religion perpetrated by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs justified?

You cannot avoid these piercing questions. History would not allow us to forget the guilt and living in guilt is an unbearable pain.

It is time to reflect upon how much damage the collective guilt and refusal to learn from history has done to more than three generations of people in the subcontinent. Even after more than six decades of Partition, our collective actions and decisions are largely defined by the past rather than the demands of the present. Despite making great economic and technological progress and graduating into nuclear armed nations, the subcontinent lives in a time warp.

Old animosities still construct our understanding of each other. Apart from a boundary, these two nations of the subcontinent share the same history and memories as well. Every day, we dig up a new excuse to bite each other or severe our ties, rather than try to explore the roots that bind us.

The root cause of distrust and animosity between India and Pakistan was the fear of each other. Pakistan, right from its inception, believed India to be an existential threat. There was a strong feeling that in the initial years, New Delhi had not accepted the reality of Partition and this fear was furthered when India facilitated the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. This sense of insecurity, I feel, has been driving Pakistan’s response to India.

India could not reconcile with the division of its western and eastern parts. On top of that, the initial days of acrimony and tension between the leaderships of the two nations, further redefined their responses towards each other.

For more than six decades, we have been prisoners of the past and we refuse to see each other in a new and positive light. Generations have changed, India and Pakistan have undergone massive changes as countries, the world is constantly evolving, but the mind-set in the subcontinent has not changed.

Pakistan in India means extremism, a promoter of cross border terrorism and a major reason for security disturbances in the country. People in India do not grasp the fact that people across the border also suffer from the same threat of terrorism and want to eradicate this menace out as much as we want to. What needs to be understood by Indians is that a large section of the Islamic world thinks that extremism proves to be the bane of existence in society.

A befitting pledge everyone should make this Independence Day should be liberation from the prejudices of the past. It would be a tribute to the history of the subcontinent if we try to develop better people to people understanding between the two nations.

Media is the main medium for communication and it should play a greater role in bringing the citizens of both nations together. France and Germany have been historical enemies, but they came together to create a stable Europe. They do have political differences till date, but they are bound by larger good of the subcontinent. America and Iran are trying to come closer, forgetting their past animosities, because they understand that for greater peace in the world, they have to forgo their historical animosities. Cuba and America remained averse to each other for decades, but even they realised that the time has come for them to break the barrier and embrace each other for the common good of the masses.

New Delhi and Islamabad will also have to change their attitude towards each other and come closer for the greater benefit of the subcontinent. Of course, political differences take time to sort themselves out, but for the sake of prosperity and peace in the region, both nations need to embrace each other and try to bury a past they both have been witness to.

New Delhi cannot think of being a significant player in the world so long it remains aloof from Pakistan. Similarly, Islamabad cannot move ahead economically and cannot weed out extremism from its territory so long it nurtures and grooms anti-India forces. China can prove to be a beneficial ally, but it cannot ensure safety, security, and real prosperity. Economic and political proximity and understanding with India is a must for a healthy Pakistan.

This Independence Day, we need to reflect back and think of a different future for the people of the subcontinent. If we don’t learn from history, we will be condemned by it.


Sanjay Kumar

The author is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asian and international politics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Headstrong

    Very noble thoughts, sir. Er…. shouldn’t it read 69th Independence Day? ’47 is counted, you know? Recommend

  • Pakistani

    True saying but unfortunately we have not learnt from the past. We can not achieve ideal situation with cross firing n other things.
    We can do better if both sides respect each other.
    I think India have better relationship with other Muslim countries (Saudia, UAE etc) except Pakistan.Recommend

  • Owscen

    Nice article and if we achieve the said its even better.
    The only problem here is that nobody – not even the pakis – can avoid or skip historical facts. The very existence and coming to being of pakistan as a country is the two nation theory – which to my knowledge says that because muslims were discriminated by the hindus thats why let us make a country of our own. So that means the hindu nation did something wrong back then – and now after almost 70 years we should go hand in hand and forget everything that happend back then?
    Im not a radical and always for reconcilliation – sometimes even the first even if its not my fault :-) – but these are historical facts – may be it would be soothing if the writings include something like “our ancestors did wrong – we are sorry for that – but lets look forward now”Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    It seems in the case of Pakistan and India as if the blame is equal. India does not have textbooks that teach hatred nor does it have a doctored military curriculum where it claims its enemy started all wars and it won all of them. It does not sponsor terrorist activity in the neighborhood nor does it have Army Generals that rely on warmongering to protect its turf. Recommend

  • shaheer

    It’s not counted. 68th is right.Recommend

  • Critical

    Sshh…now you will be called a Modi Bhakt Hindu fascist for suggesting the obviousRecommend

  • The Truth

    Hindus and Sikhs have been exterminated in W Pakistan , where they once were 22% of population at 1947. Pakistan is a Islamic state with second class constitutional status for non muslims. Why ignore basic facts ?Recommend

  • behot

    Islam’s long-term goal is to exterminate non-muslims. Whoever denies that is a liar and he is endangering the non-muslims more quickly. This is not the result of any prejudice. Islam and muslims have done it in the past 1400 years and are very proud of it. They teach their children to be proud of it and accept is as the will of the arab god.Recommend

  • Rahul

    I guess it is independence day, your day off from bashing India and Modi!Recommend

  • Bilal

    But the day you are born is not treated as your first birthday!Recommend

  • shiva the destroyer

    yes ur right brotherRecommend

  • Gratgy

    “India could not reconcile with the division of its western and eastern parts. ”

    No one talks about Partition in India nowadays, we only talk about Independence. If anything, people in India are happy Pakistan was separated from India. However the above sentence is true if we replace India with PakistanRecommend

  • Headstrong

    But 14/15 Aug 1947 is counted as the first Independence Day. Recommend

  • Milind A

    This sleight-of-hand is done by most of our pseudo-secular writers… Whenever they want to condemn Islamic terrorism / Taliban, they drag in RSS, VHP, SS to put them on equal footing… conveniently ignoring that the compared to Talibans/ISIS, VHP/SS have far less killings or no beheadings, haven’t forcefully converted anybody to Hinduism, or are OK with Muslims following Islam provided they’re not regressive & deem Hindus kafirs. The same mentality shows up in India-Pak comparison as well, no moral equivalences here.Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    “Despite making great economic and technological progress and graduating into nuclear armed nations, the subcontinent lives in a time warp”….

    is he talking about pakistan too??…. the country cannot make a dam on its own ….and he is saying that pakistan has…. ohh well never mind …..i guess he wanted to give that “good feel” to pakistanis on their independence day …no prob….i will assume the statement is true for both countries …:)Recommend

  • Ali

    It is true for both countries :) That’s why Indians leave their countries in thousands if not millions to make a better life in the WestRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    there is a reverse brain drain going on india ….. after the start up boom there are so many people from west coming back to india …… including people from west itself …..and west too gets benefits from the indian talent … just like google got from pichai…. u have no clue what goes on in the world…. u r in ur won bomb making factory ……plus i am not sure if pak has internet connections or if u can access info in pak…so i don’t blame u…. plus the literacy rate of pak is so low that i am not even sure if u would understand …..Recommend

  • Ali

    Haha dear Abi – check this study out – India had the worst brain drain in 2014 out of any country – your people are abandoning ship ;) http://qz.com/476642/this-country-had-the-worlds-worst-brain-drain-last-year-according-to-linkedin/Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    the otuflow as of now is more but inlow in picking up too…. above all we unlike paksitanis don’t risk our lives and climb on to creaky boats to set sail across the oceans… pakis on the other hands seek asylum almost everywhere …i dont blame them coz their country is wretched ….. u will see pak ,irani and afghans fighting to get asylum in european countries ….everyone leaves pak … like literally given a chance everyone will empty pak….. west provided better life than india …. west provides better than china too…. thats y indian chinese leave for west … but pak…well its in its own league … .accept that harsh reality dude…… urs as of now is a failed state ….. u haven’t achieve anything as of now … ok…can u construct a dam by urself ??? just a dam>>>?? without chinese help….. ?? just ask the question to urself and think about how backward pak has fallen… a country once on the correct path of progress can fall so off track… tough to believe ……Recommend