Partition of India

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Student Question

Did India's hostility contribute to Pakistan's problems at the time of Partition?

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In a question regarding who is to blame for the problems in Partition, there is enough blame to go around.  Both sides have to accept responsibility.  I don't see Partition as something simple enough to say that one side was wholly responsible and another victimized.  Over a million people on the subcontinent either lost their lives or became displaced as a result of both sides' leaders evading responsibility.  Indeed, a theoretical exercise can be made as to see which side is more "blameworthy."  Yet, in the final analysis, both sides have to accept responsibility for the blood shed on the subcontinent, the orphans created as a result, and for the breaking of land and family.

If one were to construct a case for Pakistan's problems being the result of Indian hostility, I think that one would have to initially start by suggesting that Indian leaders did not envision a platform of sharing power with Pakistani counterparts.  The prevailing logic here suggests that since Partition was something initially advocated by Muslim voices Indian leaders could easily seek political cover if the experiment of Partition failed.  There was the belief amongst Indian politicians that the Muslim leaders like Jinnah were simply saying out loud what Hindu politicians were thinking in private.  This would be one line of logic that would suggest that the problems Pakistan faced out of Partition was caused, in part, by Indian hostility.

Along these lines would be a real fundamental disagreement in the leaders of Pakistan.  Indian leaders showed little resolve in wishing to work with their Pakistani counterparts.  This position could only lead to destruction and pain given the complex conditions that Partition posed.  Nehru's own insights could be particularly illuminating here:

Instinctively I think it is better to have Pakistan or almost nothing if only to keep Jinnah far away and not allow his muddled and arrogant head from (sic) interfering continually in India's progress...I cannot help thinking that ultimately the Muslims of India will suffer most.

Such an insight makes clear that Indian leaders like Nehru understood that their refusal to work with their Pakistani counterparts would result in suffering for millions of people.  In this, one can see that political disagreements led to unforeseen death and destruction.  As previously stated, the problems of Partition cannot be solely one side or the other.  Yet, in making a case that Pakistan was challenged by Indian hostility, one can see how Indian leaders were able to manipulate the intricacies of Partition for their own political benefit.

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