Ayesha Jalal
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The paradigmatic partition? The Pakistan demand revisited
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More than seventy years after its cataclysmic enactment, the partition of India continues to loom large on the subcontinent’s political horizon, scarring relations between, as well as within, the nation-states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. More than just an event, partition is an ongoing process with neither end nor beginning that continues to structure the postcolonial South Asian experience. An institutionalised form of dividing and disconnecting, partition has been the founding myth of postcolonial nation-states and ferrets out people, communities and linguistic cultures that were once historically indivisible. If there are multiple slippages, elisions and contestations in narratives about the great divide that occurred seventy years ago, there are strange silences about its constant re-enactments in the postcolonial nation-states of South Asia. This chapter revisits the demand for Pakistan as envisaged by the All-India Muslim League and its leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and points to the multiple elisions and distortions in interpretations that have crept into the contending state narratives of India and Pakistan. More than three decades ago I had shown that Jinnah’s aims had been different from the final outcome of 1947. A more balanced understanding of the historical dynamics in the final decades of the British Raj not only points to alternative conceptions of sharing power, but also dramatically different ways of dealing with its effects on politics and everyday life in the South Asian subcontinent.

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The breakup of India and Palestine

The causes and legacies of partition

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