Comment: India and Pakistan, a tale of two destinies

On the stroke of midnight, 64 years ago, a bold, unprecedented and brash idea made a momentous tryst with destiny.

It was at this late hour that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru announced to a world that “India will awake to life and freedom”.

Just the previous day, on August 14, 1947 – an Urdu poet’s utopian vision also came to fruition with the creation of Pakistan, a Muslim state carved out of British India.

It marked the beginning of an epic, intense rivalry, one that lasts to this day.

This week, on the 64th anniversary of their births, the two rival nations of the subcontinent present a marvelous study in contrast.

Shaky Foundations

By 1949, both countries had lost their founding fathers– Jinnah succumbed to a long illness, while Gandhi fell to the bullets of a Hindu fanatic.

It is an understatement to say, looking back, that the idea of India had seemed impossible back then. Following a bloody, violent partition, the largest mass migrations in modern history had left eight million refugees to be resettled and provided for.

Hundreds of Independent Princely states that formed British India had to be coaxed or coerced into joining the new dominion, and become part of this impossible nation that defied all reason.

Once this was achieved, there remained the gargantuan task of taking a long colonised nation of hundreds of millions of illiterate, poor, hungry and dogmatic people, and lead them into a new, prosperous future.

The new state of Pakistan seemed to have it a bit easier – with a state that was established and identified by such homogeneity as one dominant religion and one official language, whereas India was a boiling pot of cultures, races, religions, terrain and geography, all tied together with an untested, unknown thread of nationhood.

Even before it could adopt a constitution, the Indian state was already under attack from extremists on both the left and the right – the former rejecting the perceived Western Imperialism backing the new nation, and the latter, Hindu fanatics railing against the secular state announced by Nehru.

Both these forces continue to be active in India today – the Maoists continue to wage war against the Indian state, and the Hindu fanatics continue to demand a Hindu state.

The tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947 further threatened the stability of the situation, sparking the first war between the two infant republics, and creating the knotty Kashmir tangle that remains unresolved to this day.

Yet, despite the ever present tactics of violence – none of these forces have been successful at destroying the fabric of India’s unity, which has endured marvelously throughout the decades.

The two wings of Pakistan, however, could not survive the pressures of civil war – and culminated in the formation of independent Bangladesh in 1971, with Indian assistance.

Dance of Destiny

It was perhaps destiny that India achieved its freedom in an age that saw towering personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The modernist Nehru left no doubts about his vision for India – an overwhelmingly religious country that would not be bound by any single defined religion or culture or language.

To quote from his landmark midnight speech, “All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.”

The equally modernist Mohamed Ali Jinah, also outlined his vision for Pakistan in his famous August 11 speech to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, a day now marked in Pakistan as ‘Minority day’: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

The first constitution of Pakistan declaring it an Islamic republic in 1956 proved to be the first blow to this magnanimous vision of the much-revered Jinnah.

Within two years of its adoption, Pakistan saw its first coup d’etat, and this set the tone for Pakistan’s perpetual lost decades, which would be littered with failed democracies and military coups.

The fate of Pakistan was sealed with rise of the religious fundamentalist General Zia-ul-Haq, whose regime oversaw the tampering of the Pakistan Penal code, and introduction of Hudood ordinances to ‘Islamise’ Pakistan, the outlawing of Ahmadi minorities in direct contravention of the founder’s dreams, and the strengthening of the military’s ability to forever intervene in politics.

The destiny of Pakistan would remain forever mired in the three A’s – Allah, America and the Army.

Pakistan, it would turn out, would not see a single decade of political stability or a single successful democratic government in the years to come.

In stark contrast, India has seen 14 successful general elections, despite a burgeoning billion-plus population – a large portion of which started out largely illiterate, poor and malnourished.

Despite the large, creaky bureaucracy and widespread allegations of corruption, the Indian state continues to function and pull millions out of poverty, achieving self-sufficiency in food production, and making education a fundamental, legally enforceable right.

Where a disproportionately large proportion of Pakistan’s budget is drained annually on its all-powerful armed forces, the Indian military remains firmly under civilian control, and the various state powers remain separate and balanced.

Only recently, the Indian Supreme Court announced that the sky is the limit to its powers, when it comes to upholding the rule of law.

Apart from the brief period of emergency rule imposed by Indira Gandhi in the mid-70s, the Indian media has remained largely unshackled, free and active critics of government policy. The intellectual scene in India remains vibrant, with Indian artists and writers increasingly commanding global attention.

In the meantime, the Pakistani government’s dangerous experiments with cultivating religious fundamentalists has come back to haunt it. Hardly a week goes by without the news of sectarian violence or an explosion in a mosque; a bomb attack during this week’s Independence Day celebrations killed dozens.

Pakistani links have been established to abhorrent acts like the Mumbai terror attacks, while ‘banned’ militant organizations like Lashkar-e-taiba continue to function openly, under adopted names. Today, the Taliban created by the Pakistani intelligence is killing hundreds of Pakistani soldiers every year.

Pakistani society has radicalised to the point where lawyers and citizens do not hesitate to congregate in public and shower flowers on a murderer, who assassinated a top politician earlier this year for daring to fight for minority rights. The power-crazed Mullah has been empowered to dictate public morality, leading to often violent clashes between traditional social norms, and rising fundamentalist views.

Most damagingly, the Pakistani civilian government and military both suffer from a massive trust deficit in the international arena, compounded further by the recent discovery of Bin Laden hiding in a house, barely a mile from the country’s top military academy.


As it stands today, Pakistan, despite its promising headstart – is being increasingly dismissed by the international community as a failed state. The only continued interest in Pakistan stems from a serious global concern about the country’s nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands – a concern that does not seem to arise for its stable, democratic nuclear-armed neighbor, India.

Over time, India’s tremendous diversity – that had once threatened its very existence – has ended up becoming its greatest strength. Despite its various criticisms, and defying terrible odds, India has become a model of a functioning, pluralistic and inclusive democracy – a nation where 150 million Muslims enjoy greater social freedoms and opportunity towards prosperity than the utopia of Pakistan, that appears to have failed Pakistani Muslims.

In a little over five decades, India has grown from a wild-eyed-dream to become the third largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power – with a booming middle class, and entrepreneurs and researchers and scientists making giant strides in crucial fields like IT and biotechnology.

The poverty and famine stricken India has been replaced by a confident, surefooted nation – one that seeks to assert itself as a global power, seeking a permanent position in the Security Council, while also being lauded globally on the success of its multicultural democracy.

Pakistan’s experiments with military regimes and religious fundamentalism have left it a broken, crushed dream that the staunchest of optimists have written off, while India’s commitment to a liberal democracy has made it a resilient, vibrant power with a success story that will be hailed for generations to come.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


20 thoughts on “Comment: India and Pakistan, a tale of two destinies”

  1. Maldivians have to think seriously of Adhaalath party and it its ideology. This party and the Mullahs are threat to our development and good harmony which we have enjoyed for generations. Now this harmony and stability is at risk because of power hungry Mullahs. These fundamentalist Mullahs preach Islam to meet their ends; which of cause is very dangerous and their goal is to get the rim of power!

  2. Yameen,

    I appreciate your attempts and generally agree with the gist of the message. However, you sacrifice your message for your writing style which is "purple prose". This is a disservice to readers with little prior knowledge of the subject.

    I agree Pakistan is a basket case, however as a person who spent 6 years studying Indian history, from Indus Valley until Independence, I find myself shaking my head and saying "Well that's true but its not the simple....."

  3. India's progress can be attributed to its SECULAR and DEMOCRATIC traditions.........unknown concepts in islamic countries. Hope the mad mullahs of Maldives are taking note of what is happening in Pakistan. Your backward intolerant 100% muslim society is doomed. Bring on Global Warming!!

  4. Just use your brains a bit. God created everything. The whole system of complex organisms Eco systems, etc. Humans and humanity included. He determined how much you can think, move, smell, touch etc.

    Why would god ever, require some messages, very weak ones at that, be passed to humans, over millennia ago, as a guidance? And none since then! It begs the question. Are religious beginnings all a farce?

    No, he would not need that. All he would ever need is a flick of a wand, or similar, to achieve what he wants! All that he would expect is to use your brain and live harmoniously and peacefully. You do not require a raving mullah idiot to guide you. To beat the shit out of you. To intimidate you.

  5. A very well written article. Thank U Yameen. This article could be an eye opener for some of us who are becoming religious extremists. It has become a routine to read some "dictat" either from Adhaalath Party or its croonies NGOs like Jamiyyatul Salaf or IFM.

    We the people of this country have a choice today - to follow the path of Pakistan or India. Whether to have a progressive and robust democracy like India or to make Maldives a failed state like Pakistan.

  6. @ Ben Nevis, the truth about mad f*c*ing thing is about Mullahs hating heathens.
    The great Moghal emperors like Humayan, Babar and Aurengazab had demolished many Hindu temples and killed millions of Indian Hindus that is why Indians Hindus in general hate the bloody Pakistanis.
    And now Mullahs like Iliyas and Adhalath party won’t to repeat similar things here in Maldives.

  7. just try to be free from any artificial ideas and listen your heart and for your communication with God you do not needed such idiots from Addalath party because they have connection with Evil

  8. its true that the secular framework of Pakistan was shattered by the successive military dictators. Civil society lost its face and no more it is active.

  9. "Bring on Global Warming!!"

    Ben Nevis

    You sound like one of the leeches of a SECULAR and DEMOCRATIC society which you have had the good fortune to be born into. Make no mistake, your society is progressive not because of the likes of intolerant and xenophobic nutters like you, but despite xenophobic nutters like you.

    Isn't it strange that along with the financial turmoil, as the right wing rears its ugly head in Europe and America- the Arabs are toppling dictators in the hope of forming more pluralistic societies.

    The sun is rising for the East again. See you on the way down. I'm sure there is space for you at the bottom the barrel along with our crazy mullahs, you have more in common with them than us Muslims or liberal western Atheists.

  10. I agree with Peasant. This article is very misleading to anyone who has no knowledge of British India and what led to 15 August 1947. Not to forget, what truly happened afterwards.

  11. Perhaps everyone thinks that whenever a 'Ben' appears it is me, but this now my first comment on minivannews for well over a week or so. I am not Ben Nevis.

    @Peasent: I would not mind learning from you a little more about India. I have read a few Hindu poems from some scriptures and a book on Gandhi, but, I am sure I have not yet touched the surface, I actually would love to know so much more. I love how Gandhi called the untouchably poor caste the 'Children of God..."

    On the topic, I wonder if it is only Islamic extremism that hinders democratic development in Pakistan? Yes, is damned well obvious that fundamentalist Islam is not conducive to democracy (if we are going to follow the Sunnah literally and kill whoever challenges the leader, the Imam, as instructed in Sunnah) then it is evident we don't have democracy!

    To run a country based on 'liberal Islam' (such as Maumoonism in Maldives and part of Pakistan's legal system is Shariah though a 'liberal' form of it compared to what we may see in Saudi Arabia) is not conducive to democracy, either, though many seem to believe it is!

    I mean, liberal Islam, if it is a vision for a 'nation' (Political liberal Islam) seeks to dictate also! Why? Because, if one does not deeply understand the context of the calls for violence in the Qur'an and Sunnah, one will read it and think that they are justified in waging violence. For the context of the seemingly repressive scriptures to be explained and understood, Islam and the dissemination of Islamic knowledge, the interpretation has to be controlled by the cultural elites who understand the religion deeply, who know the context, culture, the Arabic etc... The independance of the religious thought of the people has to be taken away from them lest they misinterpret the Qur'an and go out and wage a Jihad against what they deem to be oppressive, as it says in the Qur'an, for example, to fight the oppresssor!! (4: 75)

    For liberal Islam to be realized as a political vision, Religious thought must be controlled by an elite. For there to be liberal Islam, to squash out radicalism, the consequence is, the thought of the people must be controlled. Control of the religious thought amounts to control of thought about everything, as, once you submit your mind to a human authority to answer questions about the ultimate nature of being, you have given up your ability to think independantly about other things, because, ontological thought is the axis of all other thought.

    I believe in freedom of thought! Freedom of belief!

    For those of you who contest that freedom of thought equals selfishness, that is often true. The way freedom is used to promote unbridled greed and capitalism I reject very much, BUT... Freedom does not necessarily HAVE to equal the cultivation of selfishness. Because, if one is not free to develop, to construct some beautiful thoughts, then they cannot fulfill their potential and GIVE as much as what they could to society, freedom, could be, freedom to GIVE more...

    Individualism, does not mean one is selfish either, one can be an individual, but in being 'different' may provide a gift, something unique and special to ALL others!

    The repression of freedom, in the name of social wellbeing, love or whatever, is what creates selfishness, as if one is robbed of the cultivation of the unique beauty which makes one RICH in their own way (wealth in this context is not money but character, wisdom etc...) then society is robbed of its collective riches!

  12. One more thought.

    If freedom is used to promote selfishness, or to do harm to others, it should not be given

    Sermons promoting misogyny or violence should be banned, perpetrators prosecuted.

    But the repression of hatred should NEVER justify thought control, yet thought control and repression, all over the Muslim world, is JUSTIFIED through claims that such is necessary to repress violence!

  13. I don't find this article that great, rather I find there is an element of biasness in it. Im not sure even if this is an original peace of writing as I suspect it might have facts and figures from an Indian article or a writer. Inidia and Pakistan were formed by their then leaders with a lot of hope and dreams. They didn't believe that time that they would fight in future and would be enemies. Britain played a major role for the animosity between these countries. They were the people who divided the land but didnt finish their job well India and Pakistan to fight forever. Islamic fundamentalism didnt come in to Pakistan only from Zialu haq as the US played a major role in creating them along with Zia ul haq. SO I find the writer either didn't have a sound knowledge of the India Pakistan or deliberalety ignored many truths and facts about both these nations.

  14. @ Hassan Ahmed

    The Moghal emperors like Akbar and Shahjehan also gave some great monuments to India (like Taj, Lal Qila, Jama Masjid etc etc). Except for few incidents of community clashes, peace prevails in India as people are educated and dont get coned by the politicians or Mullahs/Pandits.

    I've lived in India for many years and learned that the prime concern of Indians is providing quality education to their children. "knowledge" is given utmost importance in that society unlike in Mulsim world where religion belittles everything including "education" or "knowledge".

  15. We should take care not to fall into the same trap as Pakistan!
    I think we all need to consider how bad things can get - and choose a path that will protect us from the same fate as Pakistan!!

    Both Sri Lanka and India have show what vibrant democracy can do - Pakistanis -have chosen the path of radicalization and millitary coups - that makes sure they are not respected anywhere - not just here in Maldives!!!

  16. @peasant..............the sun is indeed rising in the east............china and india are indeed developing rapidly. The islamic world is still way behind...........some islamic countries do not allow women to vote in 2011!!..........the more islamic they are, the more backward they are.........Somalia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Yemen are examples.
    By the way I am not the christian apostate from Australia called Ben Plewright.

  17. Of course you are not the christian apostate you are just an ordinary bigot.

    Correlation does not imply causation. Haiti, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Congo, Nepal....these are all poor developing countries too- and non-Muslim.

    You have conveniently cited all Muslim countries in your pathetic attempt at sophistry.

    The Greek economic debacle today does not negate the historic achievements of the Greeks. Google "Islamic Golden Age" for Muslim contribution to human kind.

    The functions of the computer you write on is based on Algorithms. But then the only Al you will choose to see is Al Qaeda.

  18. The Indian Independence Act 1947 passed to give independence to India & Pakistan had a sinister design.The British wanted India to go the Middle East way.Had they wanted ,most of the border problems between India ,Pakistan & China could easily have been solved.Look how the Middle east is burning today? It was due to the vision & astute leadership of great nationalist leaders like C Rajagopalachari,Nehru & Ballabh Bhai Patel that India was able to put in one single string all 562 Princely States & bind them together.The chief architect of this national integration was Patel-the Iron man ,who as a true visionary,had also cautioned Nehru regarding China's evil intentions.That advice went unheeded & today we are paying for it in the form of SINO-PAK nexus against us.Pakistan on the other hand was reeling under a total crisis of leadership. Jinnah was a very sick man.Although he made tall claims of the future of Pakistan, it was he who ordered Pakistan Army to invade J & K on 22 October 1947- barely ten weeks after both countries attained independence.So the seeds of hatred & rivalry were sown by Jinnah himself who realized his folly when he ,accompanied by his sister Fatima ,was accorded a disastrous welcome on the soil of the then East Pakistan.Immediately ,thereafter,they both made a hasty retreat to the then West Pakistan.But then, it was too late.Nothing could be undone.After the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Liyaqat Ali Khan was assassinated,the Pakistani Army ( The Khaki Gang)saw the golden opportunity to take over the destiny of Pakistan.It is all history now.India continues to progress on all fronts -all challenges notwithstanding.India & Pakistan went to war 4 times & on all occasions Pakistani Armed Forces lost to Indian Armed Forces.It was after 1971 War that Pakistan realized that they just could not manage to take on India conventionally.The asymmetry had to be balanced by a deterrent.Bhutto pleaded to Indira Gandhi at Simla & wept unashamedly to help him save his face.It was India's magnanimity that Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 & all 93,000 Prisoners of War released unconditionally.But it was Bhutto who on reaching the Pakistani soil declared,quote," Pakistan shall eat grass but make an Islamic Bomb,Unquote.Simultaneously ,after a Nuclear Bomb by Abdul Qadir khan, who pilfered major technology from abroad was fabricated , Pakistani Army initiated the 'Thousand Cuts Policy' against India.The two nation theory propagated by Jinnah got buried when Bangladesh was born. Proxy War was started in Jammu & Kashmir & became fully blown in 1990 when Rubia Sayeed's abductors were freed by releasing some dreaded terrorists.At the time of writing this, 12 Pakistani Terrorists have been killed in Gurej ( Kupwara Sector, J & K).43 Training Camps of terrorists are run by Pakistani ISI in Northern Areas/POK today when Hina Rabbani talks of peace!.The Khaki gang rules Pakistan & it is a sham democracy.The entire world is a witness to the evil designs of Pakistan now.Pakistan's best friend America had to employ SEALS to kill Osama in Abbotabad-just a couple of kilometers away from KAKUL Military Academy.USA is now fully convinced that Pakistani Army is playing a double game with them. Pakistan has invited thousands of Chinese troops in illegally occupied areas of J & K , viz, PAKISTAN OCCUPIED KASHMIR,NORTHERN AREAS etc.The latest news is that Chinese troops are training with Pakistani Army in the Eastern Desert Sectors of Pakistan.It is Pakistan who is the loser ,who does not understand China & its disregard to international law, customs, treaties & conventions.A failed state by all standards, Pakistan is reeling under great financial crisis.Their socio-economic profile is dismal & they are at war with themselves. Every day, one hears of massive bomb blasts & sectarian killings in Pakistan.A Pakistani is killing a brother Pakistani.Was this the dream of Jinnah ? Pakistan must realize that they suffer a threat from within themselves.India is NO threat.It is a well conceived theory propagated by the Khaki Gang to survive.If somehow(Even by Divine Intervention!), the J & K imbroglio is settled between India & Pakistan,the rivalry & trust deficit between both countries is not going to finish!What would happen to Pakistani Army then? Pakistani ISI is a state within a state.Where will the Pakistani Feudal Lords go to?All Muslims who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 are still foreigners & called Mohajirs.It is the 'AAM-ADMI' of Pakistan who wants to love with dignity & peace.Pakistan needs an ANNA desperately.India is NOT Pakistan's enemy.The enemy of Pakistan is Pakistan itself !Why don't the Pakistanis realize this truth?The true welfare of Pakistanis lies in living peacefully with all its neighbours.The Feudal Culture must vanish.Pakistan's destiny lies in restoring peace,happiness & true aspirations of it's people.I know for sure, that Indian people genuinely want this to happen & can go more than half the way to have this accomplished.


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