Was the partitioning of India inevitable and are the Muslims of the subcontinent better off today?

Ishtiaq Ahmed in The Friday Times:

Large-Pandit Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalaam AzaadLet me admit that although partitioning territory to solve disputes between adversarial nationalist movements and parties is not something I am intellectually comfortable with because it validates tribalism rather than human empathy and solidarity for building community, at times it is the only solution which is morally and practically correct. Partitioning former Sudan to let the Black Africans escape genocide at the hands of the putative Arabs of northern Sudan was an appropriate solution; East Timor getting out of the clutches of the Indonesian state has also been the best option. I hope one day the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are liberated from brutal Israeli rule.

However, I don't think the partition of India and of Bengal and Punjab belong to the category of intractable disputes that could not have been managed through appropriate democratic arrangements. The so-called Hindu-Muslim problem that dominated politics in British India from the twentieth century onwards till it culminated in the biggest forced migration of people in history and one of the most horrific cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing- 14-18 million forced to flee and between 1-2 million killed – left large minorities in both states. The only difference being that in India the Muslim minority could stay put after some three per cent of the Muslims from Muslim-minority areas migrated to Pakistan but Hindus and Sikhs had to leave almost to the last man in Punjab and the settled areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Very few could stay behind in the tribal areas and in Balochistan. It was only in interior Sindh that a community of some significance could remain behind. Not surprisingly, such upheaval bequeathed a bloody and bitter legacy of fear and hatred to India and Pakistan. The three wars and the Rann of Kutch and Kargil miniwars and constant tension along the Line of Control drawn in the former Jammu and Kashmir State has meant not only huge, wasteful expenditure on military and defence but also a profoundly vitiating impact on democracy, development and pluralism.

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