The last two days saw the 65th anniversary of the independence of Pakistan and India after over a century of British colonial rule. Whilst a jubilant event, independence was followed by the tragedy of the bloody partition, which resulted in a struggle between the new states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people. Estimates of the loss of life vary from several hundred thousand to a million and the violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship to this day, an irony considering the peaceful methods used by Gandhi in the early days of the independence campaign.
Maybe we can learn from this 65 years later and try to avoid ugly sectarian conflicts in partitioned lands. Maybe when a future state wishes to become independent from its neighbour, it will be done with neighbourly courtesy and free from acrimony. Even more pressing for two nations that are both nuclear powers, maybe the states of India and Pakistan may follow a Gandhian path and turn to peaceful co-existence.
At the midnight hour,
We had our tryst with destiny,
After long years of oppression,
Long years of a foreign yoke,
At the midnight hour we became free.
Yet cheers soon gave way to howls of pain,
Screams, tears of grief,
As a line on a map tore a line through you and me,
Scrambling to be on the right side,
We tossed our common humanity, our brotherly bonds aside,
The Mahatma’s peace gave way to war,
Blood on our hands for decades or more.
Yet 65 years have passed of acrimony,
Yet why can’t we change our destiny,
At the midnight hour we were born as brothers,
At the midnight hour we both became free,
Free to hate, yet free to love once more,
At the midnight hour we both became free.