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India and Pakistan: A People Divided


India and Pakistan: A People Divided

Shankar Ananth shares a video that explains the genesis of the rivalry between India and Pakistan.

Nuclear annihilation: this product of the Cold War is naturally identified with the two great

powers of the time the United States and the Soviet Union. Overshadowing this rivalry, however, was another conflict that would later also develop into a dispute between nuclear powers: India versus Pakistan. The two countries have fought three wars in the last 75 years and there is no end in sight to the strain of relations between Delhi and Islamabad with India’s growing International stature and Pakistan’s rapprochement with China. The conflict between the two capitals is becoming increasingly important also on a global scale given that their combined population exceeds 1.5 billion people,and both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons. There is much to suggest that the likelihood of a nuclear war between the two countries is one of the highest in the world, but what is the Genesis of this seemingly age-old rivalry; how does it affect the international situation today?  

South Asian National identities were more or less shaped in the early 20th century under the British Raj when the British colonized the Indian subcontinent. One of the communal fractures they exploited to divide the society was religion. Pre-independent India was a pluralistic society,  a Melting Pot of different cultures, languages and religions. The most prominent of those religions was Hinduism, making up about 70 percent of the population and Islam, making up close to 25 percent of the population before independence and partition in 1947. The Indian Freedom Movement was composed of representatives from both these religions in additional to other religious minorities. At the forefront were two leading organizations the Indian National Congress which was secular but predominantly Hindu led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi,  and the Muslim League that was, as the name suggests, predominantly Muslim notably led by Muhammad Al-Jinna. As the freedom movements surged ahead, Jinnah began to feel marginalized often clashing with Gandhi. Political tensions continued to rise  between the poor and gradually trickled down into the larger Community with seeds of discord sown. The cracks began to show between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority leading to an escalation in violence starting in 1930s till the late 1940s. The hostilities eventually manifested into Political will in March 1940 with the passing of Lahore declaration by the Muslim League, a resolution to establish a separate Homeland for the Muslims of British India. Meanwhile,  the second world war forced the British to rethink the occupation of the subcontinent. The sheer cost and energy expanded during the war trying to defeat Hitler’s Germany made maintaining order in India for further exploitation unviable subsequently plans were drawn up for a hasty exit from South Asia, and the critical part of the plan was to split British India into two countries, accommodating the demand for a separate Muslim Nation. Thus were born two countries: a Hindu majority India and a Muslim majority Pakistan.


Key points include:

  • Jammu and Kashmir – a point of altercation
  • Intervention of Cold War superpowers
  • The 1971 war


Watch the video, Why India and Pakistan Are Against Each Other, on YouTube.