Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 13 August 2007

Pakistan celebrates 60 years of independence from Britain

Pakistan came into being sixty years ago tomorrow. Formed out of the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-west Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh of the former 'British India'. The new country was a geographic curiosity in that it comprised two separate 'wings' called West Pakistan [the current territory of Pakistan) and East Pakistan, separated by the country formed a day later, India. The 'partition' of India was a product of religious difference, with Pakistan being established for its mainly Moslem inhabitants and India for its mainly Hindu population; the process of partition caused much bloodshed in both communities accompanied by huge population movements in both directions. The man regarded as the 'Father of the Nation' or 'Great Leader' was Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Since then East Pakistan (i.e. East Bengal) has separated from the rest of Pakistan and in 1971 became the new country we know today as Bangladesh; the separation was not peaceful and was a product of the difficulty of managing a country consisting of two separate parts, with a generally hostile country in-between; the hostility was of course mutual.

In any case, tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of Pakistani independence (those who still call themselves Pakistani and those who now call themselves Bangladeshi); I wish them all a Happy Birthday!

The BBC has an interesting historical essay on Pakistan here, which concludes: "It is the story of a society that has been going round in circles for the last 60 years"; it's a sober assessment. Her Majesty the Queen and Prime Minister Gordon Brown send their tributes celebrating the country's birthday.

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