Columnist Ayaz Amir writes about the Partition and questions the reasoning behind Pakistan movement.
To recap the usual factors held responsible for the founding of Pakistan, Islam was not in danger in pre-1947 India. Nor was democracy the issue because even if partition had not happened, India was getting democracy once the British left. The Indian Independence Act promised that.
So what was the compelling reason for the Muslims to insist upon a separate homeland especially when there was no going around the uncomfortable fact that, no matter how generously the frontiers of the new state were drawn, an uncomfortably large number of Muslims would remain in India?
The purpose of Pakistan, transcending anything to do with safeguarding Islam or promoting democracy, was to create conditions for the Muslims of India, or those who found themselves in the new state, to recreate the days of their lost glory.
After eight centuries of intermingling and assimilation the Muslim in India, however hard he clung to his historical memories, was no longer a Turk, a Persian or an Arab but something else: an Indian Muslim. And with the coming of the British, Muslims lost their pre-eminent status.
In a crucial sense, then, the Pakistan movement signaled a retreat from the heartland of empire to its outer edges, the final evacuation from Delhi and Agra to new centres of power in Punjab and Bengal. But even then it was for the new state, Pakistan, to create a historical justification for itself by emulating and rivalling, in achievement and glory, even if on a reduced scale, the success of its historical model, the Mughal Empire (in a 20th century setting, it goes without saying).