Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


Two inspiring speeches were made in mid-August 1947. On August 11, Jinnah outlined his hopes for a non-sectarian Pakistan when he said “You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of 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.” At the stroke of midnight on August 14/15, Nehru promised that “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.” The pledge was to a free and independent India with equal rights for all of its citizens irrespective of caste, creed, or religion.


Alas, 70 years later, the hopes of both leaders have been belied. Pakistan was created as a homeland for united India’s Muslim population but not intended to be a theocracy. It endured military dictatorships for several decades and still struggles with trying to variously discover or affirm the rationale underlying its existence. India began as a liberal, secular, social democratic state, but on its 70th birthday it finds itself ruled by a party whose roots lie in the vision of a Hindu rashtra (nation), a mirror image of Islamic Pakistan where minorities are viewed as the “Other.”


Ironies abound. At the personal level, individual Indians and Pakistanis can spontaneously forge bonds of fellowship and friendship, a testament to their shared culture, language, dress, food, and many other things they have in common as human beings who lived together for millennia. At the official, governmental level they are two nuclear powers at loggerheads with each other. Official relations have deteriorated considerably and show no prospect of improvement in the foreseeable future.

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