Baylor College Medical School
143 2. Independent Nations of South Asia
143 2. In the 1940s, tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India led to violence. The ruling British decided that the only solution was a partition, or division, into a Muslim=majority Pakistan and a Hindu-majority India. After Pakistan and India gained their independence in 1947, Hindus in Pakistan fled to India, while Muslims in India fled to Pakistan. As they fled, Muslims, Hindus, and another religious group called Sikhs slaughtered one another.
Tensions have continued in the region. India and Pakistan have fought wars over Kashmir, a state with Muslim and Hindu populations. When India developed nuclear weapons, Pakistan began its own nuclear weapons program. In the island country of Sri Lanka, a majority are Buddhists. A Tamil-speaking nation.
In 1947, Jawahrarial Nehru became India's first prime minister. He tried to improve living conditions and end discrimination against dalits, or outcastes. Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister in 1966. While she was in office, Sikhs pressed for independence for the state of Punjab. In 1984, Sikh separatists occupied the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine. Gandhi sent troops to the temple, and thousands of Sikhs were killed. A few months later, Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards assassinated her.
In 1947, Pakistan was divided country. A thousand miles separated West Pakistan from East Pakistan. West Pakistan dominated the nation's government. Most people in East Pakistan were Bengalis. They felt their government neglected their region. In 1971, Bengalis declared independence for East Pakistan under the name of Bagladesh. PAKISTAN TRIED TO CRUSH THE REBELS BUT WAS EVENTUALLY COMPELLED TO RECOGNIZE THE INDEPENDENCE OF BANGLADESH.
Pakistan has long lacked political stability. Islamic fundamentalists disagree with those who want a greater separation between religion and government. During the 1980s, the war in Afghanistan drove over a million Afghan refugees into Pakistan. Pakistan's Islamic fundamentalists gained power by forming ties with Afghan refugees.
Despite their differences, India and Pakistan helped organize a conference of newly independent states in 1955. This marked the birth of nonalignment, or political and diplomatic independence from the United States or the Soviet Union.
2. Why did Bengalis want East Pakistan to be independent?