Pakistan and India should celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

Published: August 16, 2016

He uttered the following words, “Partition nai hona chahye thi” (partition should not have happened). PHOTO:TWITTER

Sometime back I ran into an elderly man at work. Since I live in an area of Canada that is densely populated with immigrants from Indian Punjab, I knew the gentleman was from India. After I was done helping him out, he looked at my name-tag and asked me what part of India I was from. I told him I was from Pakistan, not India.

A wide smile appeared on his face, and he asked me what city of Pakistan I belonged to. After I mentioned that I was from Lahore, his smile grew even wider as he got teary-eyed. He told me that his family is from Jaranwala (a small town in the Faisalabad district), but they had immigrated to India following the partition in 1947. We spoke for a while as he asked me questions about the place he formerly called home. As he was leaving he uttered the following words,

Partition nahin honi chahiye thi.

(Partition should not have happened.)

This was not the first time the de-merits of partition crossed my mind, but it was a moment that raised countless more questions.

India and Pakistan both celebrated their 69th year of Independence in the last few days. Almost a quarter of a century has passed and the political and military leadership of both countries remain at loggerheads. The question isn’t whether foreign relations between India and Pakistan are good, it is whether the foreign relations between both countries will remain in the ‘manageable hostile’ zone. The problems between the countries are well documented and don’t need repetition – from water disputes to the murky business of intelligence agencies, the countries take two steps back for every step that has been taken forward. An abundance of economic and military resources are allocated to ensure that the hostile neighbour remains in check.

But despite the hostile attitude towards one other on a federal level, the average Indian and Pakistani connects effortlessly. There are no politics. No religion. No Jinnah. No Gandhi. No Bhutto. No Nehru. There is only the ease of familiarity; the ease that comes with being in a place where you’re surrounded by people who share the same socio-cultural history, and practice the same traditions. Therein lies comfort.

There is something quintessentially South Asian that breaks down borders and creates ease.

Why then, do India and Pakistan remain in a perpetual state of hostility at a federal level?

In my opinion, time has shown that the Two-Nation Theory was flawed. Less than 30 years into Independence, Pakistan lost its eastern wing. In no way is this a question of Jinnah’credentials as a statesman of the highest order, but rather, an acknowledgement that an unnatural geographic division based on religious grounds was bound to have problems sooner or later. While the situation in British India before partition was hostile, in hindsight, a united India might have dealt with the problems better. Partition only multiplied the problems by two, with the added horror of mass bloodshed on either side.

As things stand currently, India and Pakistan both have their unique set of challenges, large chunks of which are exclusively linked to the hostile foreign relations between them. India’s involvement in the insurgency in Balochistan is common knowledge, whereas Pakistan’s involvement in the insurgency in Kashmir is also well documented. India has historically gained mileage with political groups in Karachi, whereas Pakistan was actively supporting the Khalistan Movement in the 1980s. The red corridor in India continues to experience Naxalite-Maoist insurgency, with Pakistan having been accused of subsidising it. Similarly, Pakistan has blamed India of supporting terrorist groups active in the country today. India, despite being on its way up economically, suffers from massive levels of poverty and malnourishment. Pakistan is in a significantly lower position economically, and it suffers from problems such as illiteracy and poverty as well. Notwithstanding these glaring problems, both countries allocate significant chunks of their resources on activities aimed at weakening each other.

Both countries remain crippled by the narratives built around memories of the crimes of partition, as politicians (particularly in India) and the military (particularly in Pakistan) continue to fan the hatred of 1947 for their own interests. But in spite of that, it is pertinent to remember that the division of what is modern day India, Pakistan and even Bangladesh, is chillingly unnatural. The communities that were divided in 1947 had coexisted for almost a millennium and, after the British made an exit, a united India would have been better equipped to deal with its problems.

If one wishes to celebrate Independence Day on August 14th and 15th, then celebrate independence from the British – not from each other.

salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

The writer works in the Education Sector and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (

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

  • Critical

    From what I’ve seen in my 30 yrs in India,we always celebrate our independence day for getting rid of the British,not for sending Muslims to Pakistan..If thats the case,there wouldn’t be an equal number of Muslims in India as its in Pakistan…

    I guess the author is simply making assumptions without knowing the ground reality in IndiaRecommend

  • M Waqas Sajid

    Had we not been a separate nation, then, we had been treated as the Kashmiri’s are being treated nowadays. Innocents die, brutally injured but who cares? The largest democracy –the so-called largest democracy.
    We are happy to get ourselves liberated from the British and the Indians.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Wrong! Partition ultimately benefited India.

    1) Most of the invaders apart from the British came to India through the area which forms Pakistan – Alexander, Afghan raiders, Mughals, etc. Pakistan is acting as a buffer for India. Aren’t violent hordes attacking Pakistan from Afghanistan even today? They would have attacked India had Partition not happened.

    2) Two Nation Theory was flawed, yes, but in India’s favor. But, if Pakistan hadn’t happened other people would have replaced Jinnah in demanding it. Who knows they could’ve been more militant than Jinnah and his league! Remember 1946 Direct Action riots called for by Jinnah himself. Congress eventually gave into Jinnah’s blackmail of civil war.

    3) In a united India today, Muslims would have formed 37% of India’s population. By 2050, Muslims would outnumber Hindus! We would have seen calls for Sharia, like the one in Malaysia, by now. As the number of Muslims increased, so would the subjugation of Hindus. Both communities would be competing to produce more babies. Hindus got their India back after centuries. An India they can create in their own image, where everyone has equal rights and there would be no Sharia and polity completely secular. It would have been impossible to not have Sharia with so many Muslims in India. Secularism would have died.

    4) Riots would have occurred all over India. In a Democracy, there will be friction. India wasn’t exactly easy to govern in the 50s and 60s, with massive poverty and illiteracy, which still exists today. Riots would have engulfed India.

    5) Nehru and Congress would have had to compromise with their secular and socialist ideals. Nehru hated the Feudals and initiated Land Reforms in 1951. Jinnah had allied with Feudals and Muslim aristocracy was pro-Feudal. Jinnah, unlike Nehru, didn’t utter a word against Feudalism, the biggest problem India faced at that time.

    So, my friends in Pakistan, yes, TNT is indeed flawed and Muslims of the subcontinent got divided into 3 equal parts by Jinnah, but look at the bright side: India is now how Nehru envisioned it – Secular, Democratic Republic with a strong Center.

    P.S. Nobody in India celebrates Partition, but Independence from the British. It is Pakistan celebrates Independence from India. If it truly celebrated Independence from the British, it would be paying tributes to people like Gandhi and Nehru, who spent 11 and 9 years in British Jail, not Jinnah, who didn’t spend a day in jail nor even participate in a protest rally. Recommend

  • Anoop

    Muslims would have formed 37% of today’s population, genius. Jinnah divided the strong Muslim community into 3 equal parts. Before 1947, it was impossible to do politics without Muslim appeasement, a reason why Gandhi went for the Khilafat movement. Muslims voted overwhelmingly for Congress for many elections till Jinnah came and started stirring communal tensions.

    Nehru called Jinnah’s bluff and made him divide his own co-Religionists into 3 equal parts. Hindus got their India back.

    By 2050, Muslims would have outnumbered Hindus in a united India. Thank God for Partition!Recommend

  • Rohan

    Not really. Partition was a mistake.Recommend

  • Xyz

    But you are the ones who waged the first attack against Kashmir? You were the ones who gave away land of kashmiris to china? You decided not to follow UN resolutions. You are the ones who started infiltrating hardened militants in kashmir when it was peaceful and made it a war zone. Even today you have not done any development even in pok. Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    There were 16% of total Indian population was Muslim in 1947. 9% Indian Muslim population got 34% land of India in 1947. 7% Muslim population in India of 1950 grew to 14%. 24% of HinduSikh population of present day Pakistan dwindled to 2% today. 34% of Hindu population dwindled to 8% in Bangladesh.Recommend

  • Archer

    Kashmir is just one of the 31 states and its residents have themselves to blame, at least partially. The number of Muslims living peacefully in India is more than those in Pakistan.

    On the other hand, are you sure that there are no human rights violations in PoK and Balochistan?Recommend

  • Archer

    You can either have the CEOs of Taliban and Haqqani Network or the CEOs of Google and Microsoft. Glad that you feel being on the right side.Recommend

  • Ajay

    The partition of India on religious grounds was one of the most traumatic events in the history of earth. People of my generation were born after the event, but still we hear about the hostilities, atrocities, hardships and destruction of families forced upon innocent citizens by religious one upmanship and hatred and feel extremely bitter and sad. Hindus by nature are tolerant people. the whole universe is a family and that all religion are like different path to reach the same human goal of achieving divinity.
    However, in hindsight we feel we are better off due to division of indian muslims in three equal parts, and today indian muslims are largely happy and progressing in India. The main reason is they are in minority Recommend


    Salman Zafar, Indians would welcome Pakistanis like you with open arms as fellow humans. However, do not even think of painting India and Pakistan now in the same brush. Pakistan, after Zia ul Haq, thanks to the continued hold of the military over civilian governments, has been a state sponsor of World terrorism, a cancerous tumour for the World which needs to be cauterized. All the World nations must realize what kind of a hell the Pakis are plotting for the World. It is a tragedy that the world is blind to this fact.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Muslims didn’t fight for Independence from British. Then why Indian Muslims have not moved to Pakistan? Those who created Pakistan are in India.
    It would be Hindus who would be wiped out just like in Pakistan, Kashmir Valley and Bangladesh and you partition India into multiple states and would make whole subcontinent into a terrorist nation.

    What about treatment of Baluchistan, why dont you grant them Independence? What about Ahmedi, when will you give them a country of their own?Recommend

  • Ajay

    Pakistan is obsessed with Kashmir. The lust for the land and the extreme jealousy of seeing India gain importance and recognition in World has blinded it’s wisdom. It’s out on self destruction mode. On the one hand it played with fire when it became the sponsor of terrorism in India and later by using the mujahideens against Afhanistan. It’s dream of playing a regional Chaudhary by hook or by crook has backfired in getting more and more isolation in international forums. Today no foreign country is willing to invest in Pakistan except China. China is using Pakistan to counter India. Pakistan seems to have reduced itself to be used as other Countries pawn, first by USA now by China. Pakistan is lacking in the honesty, will and desire to develop its economy and live in cooperation with its neighbours. It’s philosophy of misusing religion to gain prominence as an Islamic power is the basic cause of its flawed policies.Recommend

  • jay

    I am just glad that Pakistan went their own ways !!! Mother India has a glorious destiny and we are slowly but surely reaching there ! Recommend

  • wajih

    Interesting article but unfortunately based on hindsight not research. The commentators from India are correct to the point that they celebrate Independence not partition. Here in Pakistan there is other way round. Since 1958 we also celebrate March 23, the day Muslim League demanded partition while Indian celebrate National Day as January 26 when in 1930 Congress first called for independence [Later in 1950 India constitution was promulgated on the same date]. However the writer seems to be too much influenced by Indian movies. Frankly nobody including Jinnah wanted partition but it was forced due to the events and failure of both the communities to manage reservations of one another. One commentator said Hindus are peaceful and tolerant do you think Muslims are not. Had they not been so there would have been probably no Hindu in the subcontinent after 700 years of Muslim rule. As we have already in the 70th year of independence we should be in a position to look at history in a more objective way than us vs them attitude.Recommend

  • wajih

    . Peace in Kashmir was disturbed by these forces which forced the people from Poonch especially ex-servicemen to react. The People going to Kashmir in 1947 from Pakistan side were not hardened militants as you say but common tribesmen. Have you seen AJK to know whether Pakistan has developed the region or not. For your information it has one of the best socio-economic indicators in Pakistan including near universal literacy rate.Recommend

  • Bhai

    This is caused by a small minority of Mulsims who migrated to Pakistan and wanted creation of a islamic state thinkign they cannot live with Hindus… Its a porblem created by those employees who worked under nawabs, and nizams who thought they will LOSE all positional authority and will be just another wealthy person in the society and will not get the respect they were used ot under the rule of kinds and nawabs under British dominion….

    India has more mulsims than in Pakistan.. but the sad art is that they haev not grown educationally or economically as they represented thereal peasants, worker class…. who were ignored then and now are left under care of no-one…. but the rich businesspersons and landlords ( be they hindu, muslim or sikh or jain)……

    So go and celebrate you independance from WHOM or WHAT you think is right

    I prefer to be called an Indian muslim rather than being called south asian……

    May Allah give you more clarity in thinking is my humble prayer..Recommend

  • Ajay

    Muslims have the notion that their religion is only true and pure and rest others are imperfect. This false feeling doesnt allow Muslims to be ruled by non Muslims in a democratic set up. Muslims behave different when in majoroty and different when in minority. Jinnah wanted special status for Muslims and extra voting power as minorities which the Congress didnt agree. But Jinna’s hippocricy was apparent when the same was not extended to Hindu minorities in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mohsin

    Not Pakistan only, people of Kashmir also want to become part of Pakistan because of the violence of Hindus on Muslim. Don’t go too far for example just in the last march, modi killed lot of Muslims without any reason. Did Pakistan asked anything for Kashmir those days ??? Indian extremist or terrorists are doing violence for centuries on Muslims. Indians attack in 1965, 1971 and in 1999 and now they are ruining Pakistan like women do as they play politics. Pakistan always asked India to forward hand of friendship.but India always denied. you guys( indians) should focus on it that Pakistan always wanted to become friend of yours. My mother’s and father’s families are migrated from India that’s why i know better.Recommend

  • Mohsin

    question arises over here….. why all that is happening in Pakistan ???? who is doing that ??? if muslims are rioters then why modi killed lot of muslims in march and why muslims didn’t killed hindus in Pakistan or india for revenge??Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Aurangzeb tried to finish Hindu. He was finished in 27 years. Muslims were tolerant because of necessity. By 1707 Mughals were reduced to Dilli municipalty by Marathas. British got India from Marathas not from Mughals.Recommend

  • AngelicDevilKAM

    tanSEN was bengali my dear friend, so were a lot of other people! want to see the entire list as it stands today? so was subash chandra bose and sri aurobindo :)

    and i can name a million others and i am proud to say our greateness can be exerted beyond our national borders. we are the fifth largest speakers!

    these guys are not just making India proud but half the world knows about these guys dude :)

    c’mon we bengalis have won pretty much every award in the world stage you name it we have it and we are damn proud of what we have :)

    its the only country in the world which took rebellion because it couldn’t speak its mother tongue and it won! and won so hard that the UN had to adopt that day as the international language day, which celebrates languages from all over the world.

    did you know that the FAMOUS SEARS TOWER is architectured by another bengali?″

    MBA, Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad
    Co-Founder at Yappily (earlier known as Koove) Bengaluru, KarnatakaRecommend

  • rama

    In today’s Islamic Republic of Pakistan if it was created for Muslims, why did Punjabi Muslims and Bengali’s separated. After seventy years did Pakistan become a Muslim nation, why are even debating about partition if it was a right thing to do. Why did Indian Muslims stopped migration to Pakistan how come there equal number of Muslims in India and every sector business,bollywood,politics,education,sports,technology has a prominent Indian Muslim. why did Pakistan still continues feudalism.

    If you honesty tries to answer these questions you will find few few feudal lords ignited hindu muslim rivalry and used charismatic leader who had nothing to do with Islam portrayed in Pakistan today.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    Mahraj, actually, you are making assumptions that you sent Muslims to Pakistan. It is well documented that you Indians did not want us to leave. We Pakistanis took independence from British and India both.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    We Pakistanis are also glad we went our ways. Readying the stories of various religious and ethnic minorities in India remind us Pakistan is the best thing happened. Yes, we in Pakistan have our problems but things are getting only better.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    Actually, As a Pakistani, not living under the Hindu majority is our pleasure.
    Stop stealing Hollywood stories, MTV and VH1 choreography and Pakistani music then see Indian films are worth Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan


    We Pakistanis got what our elders worked hard for by building Pakistan and you got what you did NOT work for at all in India. I am happy that we took Pakistan from British raj as well as from India and I am also happy for you that you are happy in India.

    By the way, Pakistan was built to be a secular Muslim majority, no longer to be a Muslim minority living under Hindu majority.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    Muslims do have a special status, the status of freedom from Hindu majority. One thing I can assure you India should learn from Pakistan. Pakistani society is moving towards secularism, leaving behind hate, sexism, racism, violence and terrorism. It is a long journey and will take some time but the future is promising.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan


    You said “today indian muslims are largely happy and progressing in India. The main reason is they are in minority.”

    Moreover, the families of those Indian Muslims in Bihar, Nellie and
    Gujarat in 2002. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim
    communal violence since after the partition. Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    Mahraj, you are generalizing. Just like every Muslim is NOT the CEO of Taliban, NOT every Hindu is the CEO of Google.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    I am responding to the title of this artcle. This title is so moronic that i did not have to read the article.
    Indians celebrate Independence from the British. Have been doing so for 70 years now. I believe this author thinks that Indians read the same doctored history that Pakistanis do. I am sorry to puncture his bubble but Indians don’t. Their independence from the British is a hard fought one.Recommend

  • Archer

    You are right and I didn’t mean to generalize. The original quote was about one side being better than the other and I added few inputs as counter argument.Recommend

  • Brajmohan Lahkar

    it may have been built on secular values but now its notRecommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Secular Muslim?????? Isn’t it an oxymoron??? By the way, Only Mohajirs suffered the consequences of partition because they had to leave India. Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Punjab government killed 13 people in Lahore in a peaceful protests. Were they not innocent??? How many Pakistanis took it to streets to protest against that??? In Indian Kashmir, the people who got killed were Stone pelter, not exactly the definition of ‘peaceful” protest, is it?Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Are you saying all those 10000 were Muslims??? Then I must say Hindus have some sort of magical powers. When riots happen, people doe on both sides. You would not understand because in Pakistan, only minorities are killed.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    You put is so aptly. Had India not divided, we would have been living in 700 AD. Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    How do you know unless you watch those Indian films???? By the way, why do you even watch????? Don’t they make nice Gandasa and Gujjar movies in Pakistan now, the trademark of Pakistan film industry???Recommend

  • Cybil Peril

    Glad that good sense has prevailed following India’s hard hit. Is this d true character Pakistan wants to project of their Islamic Republic to d world? Who is then responsible 4 defaming the ideology? Pakistan…!!!Recommend

  • Ramesh Nakhwa

    Somewhere the author tries very hard to bring parity between India and pakistan. India is on a path to growth abundance and prosperity. India has dealt successfully with many insurgencies.Recommend

  • Ramesh Nakhwa

    Pakistani film industry ??? Does it exist???Recommend

  • Rajiv

    What today is called Pakistan was a Muslim majority area and would have become a headache.

    Partition was good for most part for most Indians.
    good riddance the Muslims left.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Nobody care about your lies anymore and nobody in the world is interested in Kashmir.
    Violence in Kashmir was started and sponsored by Pakistan.Indian army only went to cease it.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    yeah yeah, you Pakistanis are so talented.
    that’s why your “Superstars” come to India begging.Recommend