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Sandwiched between these areas stood the provinces of Bengal in the east and Punjab in the north-west , densely populated agricultural regions where Muslims, Hindus and Punjabi Sikhs had cultivated the land side by side for generations. The thought of segregating these two regions was so preposterous that few had ever contemplated it, so no preparations had been made for a population exchange.
Some measure of transfer will come about in a natural way … perhaps governments will transfer populations. Once more, this is a matter not so much for the main parties as for the local authorities living in the border areas to decide. However, people took fright and, in the face of mounting violence, took matters into their own hands. Refugees started to cross over from one side to the other in anticipation of partition. The borderlines, announced on 17 August — two days after independence — cut right through these two provinces and caused unforeseen turmoil.
Perhaps a million people died, from ethnic violence and also from diseases rife in makeshift refugee camps. The epicentre was Punjab, yet many other places were affected, especially Bengal often overlooked in the commemorations , Sindh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Kashmir and beyond. Lahore — heir to the architecture of Mughal, Sikh and British rule, and famed for its poets, universities and bookshops — was reduced in large quarters to rubble.
In Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, and also known for its carpet and silk weavers, it took more than five years to clear the wreckage. There were more than refugee camps all over the subcontinent, 70, women had suffered sexual violence and the issue of the princely states, especially Kashmir, remained unresolved. Many hopes had been cruelly dashed. The act of partition set off a spiral of events unforeseen and unintended by anyone, and the dramatic upheavals changed the terms of the whole settlement. The stories make us flinch.
Bloated and distorted bodies surfacing in canals months after a riot, young pregnant women left dismembered by roadsides. Up to 15 million people left their homes to begin a new life in India or Pakistan, and by September the formal exchange of population across the Punjab borderlines had become government policy. Conscious of the fact that time is running out to record eye-witness testimony from the survivors of , many people have collected memories and oral histories in the past decades.
These can be downloaded at the click of a button , and have been collected by volunteers, family members and historians. Partition history used to be all about the high politics and the relative responsibilities of Mountbatten, Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru — these four men have always towered over the story, and ultimately their animosities and the reasons they failed to agree on a constitutional settlement make them the leading actors of an enduring and gripping drama — but today many historians are far more interested in the fate of refugees in the camps, the ways in which villagers experienced the uprooting of , or how they rebuilt their lives in the aftermath.
There is still a mystery at the dark heart of partition. Ultimately, it remains a history layered with absence and silences, even while many mourn and talk about their own trauma. Nearly every Punjabi family — Indian and Pakistani — can tell a tale about a relative uprooted in the night, the old friends and servants left behind, the nostalgia for a cherished house now fallen into new hands. Far fewer are willing to discuss the role of their own locality in contributing to the violence.
Rarely, oral histories tell of culpability and betrayal; more often, guilt and silences stalk the archive. Who were the killers? Why did they kill? Much evidence points not to the crazy and inexplicable actions of mad, uneducated peasants with sticks and stones, but to well-organised and well-motivated groups of young men, who went out — particularly in Punjab — to carry out ethnic cleansing. These men, often recently demobilised from the second world war, had been trained in gangs and militias, were in the pay of shopkeepers and landlords, and had often been well drilled and well equipped.
They took on the police and even armed soldiers on some occasions. There are evident parallels with Rwanda and Bosnia, in the collapse of old communities and the simplification of complex identities. Militant leaders tried to make facts on the ground by carving out more land for their own ethnic group. They used modern tactics of propaganda and bloodshed that are familiar today. Compared with the way Germans look with clear eyes at their past, south Asia is still mired in denial. Volunteers could be seen marching along the major roads on their way to join the battle in the summer of Some wore uniforms, were armed with swords, spears and muzzle-loading guns.
One gang intercepted on their return from fighting even had an armoured elephant. The militias also worked hand in glove with the local leaders of princely states who channelled funds and arms. They answered to local power brokers and sometimes to the prompts of politicians. This helps explain the scale of the violence. In the main, people were whipped up by demonisation of the other, encouraged by the rhetoric of politicians and a feverish media.
The British government had repeatedly delayed granting freedom in the s, when it might have been more amicably achieved. After waiting decades for freedom, this was a moment of intense anxiety and fear. I really appreciate your work and efforts. I am also putting a little bit of my efforts to bring people together.
Hi Will, can you recommend any treks or a good website on mountain trekking in Pakistan? Very interesting blog post, thanks for sharing! Very Nice Post Will Hatton. We will welcome you again in Pakistan. If ever come again, I am here for you in city Karachi.
Thank you so much, matt for visiting Pakistan. I wish I could host. Anyway, if you next tome come do let me know. Do share your plan this time round too!
Pakistan Reduces Cost for China-Funded Rail Project | Voice of America - English
Hi Will. There is so much here that still can be explored, and I am writing here to tell you about the entrepreneurs who sponsor the foreigners and bear their expenses so they could come here, travel almost for free, soothe their wanderlust, and get back to their homes happy. You can email me to know more about such ventures when you visit Pakistan the next time mavish. Glad to see this all stuff pakistan WAS attacked by terrorists but now it is a peacfull country like europ or like other countries keep visiting pakistan.
This is great news to hear that you are planning to open up a hostel in Pakistan soon along with your Adventure tourism business. What a great way to give back to a country that is completely misunderstood by Western media. Cheers, Mate! Thank you so much for visiting Pakistan and describing it so beautifully in your article. Did you visit murrey near to Islamabad? Its awesome place. We will pleased to see you again in Pakistan.
Any one wants to visit pakistan is most welcomeswelcomed and visit me to enjoy more without any expenses Pakistan is a beautiful place indeed. I have always wanted to be there but due to tempting news and TV shows it was not possible for me to go there. Reading this article i have made up my mind one more time.
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I am planning to visit Philippines and India this summer, i might add Pakistan to my list. Do it, Pakistan is awesome — just make sure you get the visa from your home country before you leave. Will, thanks for writing this nice article—depicting Pakistan, its people, and its natural treasures in your beautiful and companionable style of writing. I am a Pakistani. Reading your article made me long even more for my country as I am living aboard. Please keep sharing stories and pictures from your next trips to Pakistan.
You have included Kashmir to your must-see list, suggest you also visit some beautiful shrines stretched across country. Particularly, I would recommend you visit Multan a 6-hour car drive from Lahore in Southern Punjab for a breathtaking visit to one of its famous shrines and the tomb of Hazarat Shah Ruknuddin Alam. Is this coming along? I would absolutely love to go to Chile! Check it out. I showed him this and he loved it! Good work bud. Beautiful photos. Pakistan looks so stunning and raw. Just need to get the visa when we are home in Oz. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully one day!
The people up north, after passing Chillas, are some of the most amazing people in the world. They have nothing, yet they are insanely hospitable, enlightened, progressive and accepting of everyone and everything. A common misconception is that the north is made up of tribal Pukhtoons infamous for a lot of reasons. None of them could be farther from being Pukhtoons or having that tribal culture which is often feared unduly at times.
Take it from a Pakistani living abroad who grew up in Lahore and spent all most half his life stumbling around our North. The fact is that almost no one knows anything about these people and their land, not even other Pakistanis. Hi Will Thanks for your positive yet impressive blog about Pakistan!
I hope it attracts tourists as Imran Khan has eased visa policy. Cheers mate -much love from bustling Lahore Long live?? I simply cannot thank you enough for portraying our country with sucj artfulness. Yes we have stunning landscapes and people with hearts bigger than the mountains. Will, i strongly recommend you to explore Neelum Valley. This valley stretches across like km long river. Dear Will Hatton, Indeed it was a Devine pleasure reading throughout your blog. I being a Pakistani?? We Pakistanis are indebted to you for all the glory n wonderful things you written about us.
I wish you a safe n happy journey every time you visit our beautiful beloved country. Long Live Pakistan?? The best nation n people on earth?!! Brilliant post! We always wanted to visit but your post convinced us pourcent! Keep up the great work! Well done for producing a rich and informative article. Man I was smiling the entire time that I was reading this. I admittedly fell into the western way of thinking, believing that it was to unsafe to travel to, but it looks like thats mostly media hype then. And they had an international DJ?!
Man, Pakistan is simply the best adventure destination around… and crossing from Iran is a hell of a trip in itself! I just came back from a month in India and after reading your blog, u am curious about Pakistan. Is it safe for a women traveling alone?
Thankyou for showing the world a positive and beautiful side of Pakistan. Your articles really encourage us to see the world for from a positive point of view. Will your Snapchat stories are exceptionally so motivating to go on adventures and being so brave. Keep up the amazing work we love you.? Wow, your photographs are amazing! And almost all of those things are reasons I will now put Pakistan on my must see list.
Thanks for visiting Pakistan, you had seen how much Pakistan is beautiful. I think you should visit to Kashmir Pakistani Part.
Partition, 70 years on: Salman Rushdie, Kamila Shamsie and other writers reflect
Once again thanks for writing for Pakistan and sharing good image of Pakistan. Great article about Pakistan Will! Funny about the hash! Yeah you are right. This green country has unbelievable trekks. Unbelievable landscapes like Siri Paye Meadows, Kel etc. Great blog! All what explained is reality and one can enjoy his trip lot more by indulding into many more activities like fine Art exhibitions, visiting museums, theaters etc.
In nutshell trip to Pakistan will always be worth enjoying. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. Every year, only a very small number of adventure backpackers and die-hard climbers travel to Pakistan, I was determined to be one of them… Pakistan is a wonder. The crew! And adventuring is free! How was I going to get up there? The colors of Lahore. Badshahi Mosque.
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Final Thoughts for a trip to Pakistan
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