Eyewitnesses still haunted by the violence 73 years after creation of Pakistan

In this Sept. 1947, file photo, hundreds of Muslim refugees crowd on top of a train leaving New Delhi for Pakistan. (AP/File)
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Updated 15 August 2020

Eyewitnesses still haunted by the violence 73 years after creation of Pakistan

  • Arab News speaks to survivors of the partition of India in 1947, when Muslim Pakistan came into being at the end of British rule
  • A mass migration followed, marred by bloodshed as about 15 million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs swapped countries

KARACHI: Muhammad Shamsul Haq, who celebrated his 100th birthday in March this year, has witnessed several bittersweet moments of history but one memory stands out above all: the partition of India in 1947, when Muslim Pakistan came into being at the end of British rule.
A mass migration followed, marred by violence and bloodshed as about 15 million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, fearing discrimination, swapped countries in a political upheaval that cost more than a million lives.
During the chaotic transition, train cars full of bodies arrived at railway stations in the twin cities of Lahore and Amritsar in the province of Punjab, split roughly down the middle at partition on August 14, 1947.
Many survivors of the bloodshed found themselves separated from family on the other side of a hastily drawn-up border.




An eye witness of the creation of Pakistan Shams-ul-Haq poses for a picture while sharing the details of Pakistan movement to Arab News. (AN Photo)

Haq, who was born in 1920 in Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh in India, said he had started work as a government servant in Delhi in 1940 when the movement for a free homeland for the Muslims of India began.
“The Pakistan movement was gradually picking up pace, though there was no sign of violence until August 15, 1947,” Haq told Arab News this week.
Before the formal announcement on the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Muslim employees of the Indian government were given the option to stay or leave for Pakistan.
“I came to Karachi on August 5, 1947 with other employees before violence erupted and bloodshed began,” Haq said. “Some of my family members were left behind and suffered a terrible ordeal.”
Haq, who later wrote a memoir, noted with sadness that “the partition was not just the division of land or the creation of new borders but a rupture from the past and separation from a rich cultural heritage and one’s closest friends and relatives.”




An eye witness of the creation of Pakistan Moib Ali Khan poses for a picture while sharing the details of Pakistan movement to Arab News. (AN Photo)

Moib Ali Khan, 94, who said he took part in the movement to create Pakistan, remembered the violence, when bodies were strewn on the streets of Delhi, and said Pakistanis today must fight to protect their hard-earned freedoms.

“The new generation must protect the freedom,” he said. “If something goes wrong, people living here will face the kind of humiliation that is currently suffered by millions of Muslims in India.”
Born in 1926 in Rampur, Khan was part of the Muslim National Guard, a quasi-military group associated with the All India Muslim League, whose advocacy for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state successfully led to Partition.
Khan also remembered his meeting with Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
“One day Fatima Jinnah [Jinnah’s sister] came to our shop and asked us to repair some furniture.” he said. “She gave us her address and we reached her residence in the morning. We were bargaining with each other when the Quaid-e-Azam [Muhammad Ali Jinnah], who was observing the situation from his meeting room, walked up to us and gracefully settled the dispute.”
It was this brief encounter, Khan said, that led him to join the Muslim League and become part of the independence movement.




An eye witness of the creation of Pakistan Muhammad Ghazanfar Khan sharing the details of Pakistan movement to Arab News. (AN Photo)

Muhammad Ghazanfar Khan, 85, said he was inspired by his teachers to dream of a separate homeland for Muslims.
“I was very young but I still remember how diligently our teachers worked to create awareness about the Pakistan Movement among us,” he said. “Our passion for freedom was gaining strength despite the opposition of the landowning class that enjoyed the support of the British rulers.”

 

 

Asked how he looked at present day Pakistan, he said that the “promised Islamic country is yet to be established even after all these years.”
“People have forgotten the objective behind the creation of Pakistan,” Khan said. “The same landowners and capitalists that he [Jinnah] fought have tightened their grip on power in this country.”


Bilawal says Sindh police chief was forced to arrest ex-PM's son-in-law

Updated 20 October 2020

Bilawal says Sindh police chief was forced to arrest ex-PM's son-in-law

  • Army chief orders immediate inquiry into the matter, military media wing says
  • Sindh police chief, other senior officials request paid leave saying they have been ‘ridiculed’ and feel ‘demoralized’

KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Tuesday that Inspector General (IG) Police Mushtaq Ahmed Mehar was “taken away” from his residence on Monday and forced to register a complaint against Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar, the son-in-law of exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, for chanting political slogans at the mausoleum of the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Safdar was briefly detained by the police on Monday after he was nabbed from his room at a local hotel in Karachi. He was visiting the city along with his wife, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, to participate in a public rally arranged by the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) as part of its campaign to bring down the government.
Addressing a charged press conference, the PPP chairman highlighted the frustration of the Sindh police.
“Who besieged the IG’s house at 2am,” he asked. “Who were the two people who entered his residence and where was he taken at 4am?”
Several top officials of Sindh police also sent their leave applications to the provincial administration to record their protest, saying they could not fulfill their duties in such a “stressful situation” and needed to take some time off to come out of the “state of shock.”
“The chief minister [Murad Ali Shah] has announced an investigation,” said the PPP chairman. “The officers are resigning and proceeding on leave one by one. This is matter of their dignity.”
Referring to Safdar’s arrest, Bilawal said: “It was shameful. No matter how much I condemn it, it will still be insufficient. I am ashamed. I am not able to show my face to anyone after what has happened in my province.”
The PPP chairman said that the case against Safdar was politically motivated and weak, adding that members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including Prime Minister Imran Khan, acted in the same way at Jinnah’s mausoleum several times in the past.
“I demand of the [Director General Inter-Services Intelligence] General Faiz Hameed and [Chief of Army Staff] General Qamar Javed Bajwa to investigate their institutions to see how they are working in this province. Whoever has given you this advice, this is wrong and will damage the dignity of your institutions,” he added.
Safdar’s wife and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice President Maryam Sharif had already claimed in one of her press talks that the Sindh police chief was picked up by Rangers, a paramilitary force, and “taken to the sector commander’s office” where he was asked to make the arrest.
However, the PPP chairman’s news conference was promptly followed by an announcement of the military’s media wing, ISPR, that said that the army chief had order inquiry into the “Karachi incident.”
“Taking notice of the Karachi incident, the COAS has directed Commander Karachi Corps to immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible,” said the brief statement.
It was later announced that the army chief also telephoned the PPP chairman to discuss the situation with him.

 

 

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had already announced in a news conference earlier in the day that he had formed a ministerial committee to probe the matter. However, he left the conference room without responding to questions related to the top police official in Sindh or what he had undergone the day Safdar was arrested.