There are many different reasons why the partition of India occurred. When Britain oppressed India, they had a divide-and-conquer policy that exacerbated the religious and cultural rifts that already existed in the society. The Muslim League, which believed in the ideology of “Pakistan”, actively campaigned to gain more support for the Muslims in India, especially under the guidance of dynamic leaders like Jinnah. Pakistani leader and founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah believed that this partition was inevitable since “‘[a] united India would never have worked’” (Komireddi 2009). He and others thought that a unified state would only lead to the relegation of Muslims to the fringe of society and, ultimately, to violence and civil war. The Indian National Congress also made several small decisions that convinced many members of the Muslim League that a united India was impossible. In the end all three parties, the British, Indian elites, and Muslim elites—played a major role in the partition of India.
As the Hindus in northwest India moved south, the Muslims moved north into Pakistan; millions were displaced, thousands were slaughtered as a result of brutal riots, and the birth of both countries was met with death and destruction. Many believe that the Muslims went along with the partition and moved into Pakistan “not because they viewed it, as official Pakistani narrative suggests, as the land of hope, but because they feared becoming victims of the retributive violence in India that the creation of Pakistan had resulted in” (Komireddi 2009). The disjointed countries used to be a nation of people where, for the most part, the differences in religion, culture, and language did not destroy peace. However, partition turned the entire subcontinent into an abattoir.
TWO SEPARATE PATHS
After independence, India and Pakistan alike saw civil unrest as well as ethnic and religious discord, all of which threatened the stability of the both countries. India was left in a search for a common identity with its many cultures in the north, south, east, and west. Pakistan, which was primarily a Muslim country, also had its own set of splits and differences. The east and west sides of Pakistan were not divided over religion (they were mostly all Muslim), rather the division was on the basis of culture and language. West Pakistan was Punjabi while East Pakistan was Bengali. In 1971, there was a major war between India and Pakistan and the east side of Pakistan split off into what is today called Bangladesh. For the purposes of this essay, we will be focusing on just Pakistan and India.
The people in both countries have very common and even interlocked backgrounds, so how is it that these countries have very divergent political atmospheres since partition? India, adapting from the legacy of British rule and the Government of India Act 1935 for its constitution, kept the idea of federalism and was also successful in operating its political system within the formal...