This year celebrates the 75th anniversary since the creation of India and Pakistan, which were born out of a bloodstained and violent subcontinent split by the colonial British, an event generally referred to as partition. Since 1947, when the British decided to leave India, the year that marks the separation of the two countries, Pakistan and India have lived in tension and conflict over the debated territory of Kashmir, a region north of the Indian subcontinent between India and Pakistan. The 75th anniversary of partition witnessed an increase in tension and hostility between the two countries, sparked by a presumed Pakistani attack in the Kashmir region and the consequent Indian counter-attack, as reported by the RFI online. After the episode, authorities from both sides imposed a massive internet shutdown, and troops were sent to reinforce the security forces already stationed there. Thousands of civilians have been killed since the insurgency.
The past 75 years have been challenging for the survivors of the partition. The Indian writer and historian Aanchal Malhotra has examined partition’s consequences in her thesis project called Remnants. Malhotra’s work focuses on stories of families, society, love, relationships, loss, displacement and longing for a home that doesn’t exist anymore or that now lives on the other side of an unnatural, artificial and unwanted divide. As stated by the author’s website, “Remnants is an attempt to write a human history of the partition,” with texts and images showing the effects of this unnatural division and the rising conflict between India and Pakistan. As also reported by the New York Times, partition had disastrous consequences on people, who, from one day to the other, started killing each other to get to the right side of the new borders when the British prepared to pull out of India.
As the tension between the two countries has never faded since 1947, it is vital to come to a peaceful solution that might prevent more conflict and deaths. It is essential to implement shuttle diplomacy, which consists of negotiations guided by a negotiator who travels between the two parties. The moderator must be from a third, objective party to avoid further tension and crises. Since the British Empire was responsible for partition and its catastrophic consequences, choosing a British moderator would allow London to make amends for the Empire’s mistakes, it is possible to choose a British moderator, which will also show the country’s will to fix its past mistakes. Before starting the diplomatic process, it is also crucial that both India and Pakistan are ready to compromise and come together to reach a peaceful solution.
As mentioned previously, the partition dates back to 1947, when the British prepared to leave India, putting pen to paper, and mapping out a divide to split the country in two, creating Pakistan. In 1949 war broke out between the two neighbours over Kashmir, the Muslim-majority area in the Himalayas. Pakistan and India have engaged in multiple wars since 1949, threatening the use of nuclear weapons since 1974. A revolt broke out in Indian-ruled Kashmir against New Delhi’s rule in 1989, and thousands of fighters and civilians were injured and killed in the fight. In 1999, Pakistani rebels crossed the disputed Kashmir frontier, seizing Indian territory. Both countries committed innumerable human rights violations.
Since 1947, Pakistan and India have never been at peace and today, 75 years after the partition and the British retreat from India, hostilities seem to be escalating. The two countries must reach a diplomatic agreement to avoid further bloodshed, deaths and tensions. Diplomatic efforts and careful negotiations are the only way to diffuse mounting tensions and secure durable peace in the subcontinent.
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