The theory that Hindus and Muslims of the Indian subcontinent constituted two distinct nations and therefore needed separate states to pursue their respective destinies has proved to be wrong; supporting the view that ‘they (India and Pakistan) will bitterly regret the decision they are about to make’. 1
The problem with the ‘two-nation theory’ was that it treated the people of south Asia as two homogenous groups of Hindus and Muslims, making no allowances for the vast cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences that contribute to the colourful and vibrant mosaic that is the subcontinent. This theory sought to bind a Muslim in Karachi with one in Kolkata, and a Hindu in Lahore with one in Lucknow. The reality is very different. A Muslim Bengali had far more in common with a Hindu from Kolkata than a Punjabi Muslim, while a Pushtun from Durra is closer culturally and ethnically to his cousin in Jalalabad in Afganistan than he is to a Muslim in Chittagaon. The very real differences were glossed over by the over simplification on which the two-nation theory is based.
‘Leaving behind scores of thousands of dead and dying sacrificial offerings to freedom,’ 2 millions of Muslims and Hindus migrated in both directions in 1947. Millions of others choose to stay where they were, unable to leave whatever they have collected, ‘bit by bit through their own efforts.’3 The fact that even after partition India continued to have a significant Muslim population, weakened the concept on which Pakistan had been created. The creation of Pakistan has created a permanent problem for India. ‘Partition would not solve the communal problem but would make it a permanent feature of country.’4 The questionable premise was further eroded by the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, creating third state in the subcontinent, each with roughly 150 million Muslims. Detractors of the two-nation-theory point out that had India not been partitioned there would have been around 450 million Muslims living there, such a large population can hardly be termed a persecuted minority. Though emergence of Pakistan would not eliminate the problem of minorities, it would reduce the area of conflict between Hindus and Muslims and give each country an equal interest in the protection of the minorities within its borders.
The damning argument against Pakistan is that it took a community spread throughout the subcontinent, chopped it into several communities, gave it first one country and then two, and left the other dangling in mid air. People who once possessed the culture were left with neither a nation nor an idea of themselves as community. Pakistan was a double disaster for the Muslims in India: first they list their sense of the coherence and political strength in the Indian union along with their leadership and middle classes which migrated to Pakistan by thousands; secondly, they were forever damned in India for having voted for Pakistan and broken...