The American Interest

A Divided Subcontinent

A 31-gun salute boomed at daybreak on August 14 in Islamabad to mark Pakistan’s 60th anniversary of independence from British rule—or, to be precise, her birth as a Muslim state that resulted from the bloody partition of India in 1947.  That event was accompanied by the largest mass migration in history, as over ten million people crossed the new borders fleeing for their lives; up to a million never made it.

This year’s celebrations lacked the festive spirit that marked the 50th anniversary a decade ago.  They came after months of political unrest and religiously inspired violence.  With almost daily suicide bombings since the army’s bloody siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad last July, President Pervez Musharraf appeared almost somber as he addressed the nation.  “Pakistan has come a long way since Independence,” he told Pakistan’s estimated 165 million people.

In a sense, Musharraf is right: All countries in the world have “come a long way” over the past six decades, for better or worse.  South Korea and Southern Rhodesia of 1947 are equally unrecognizable today.  In comparison to her perennial rival India, however, Pakistan is lagging behind.  She is politically less stable, institutionally less democratic, and economically less prosperous.  More importantly, she is ideologically far less attuned to Western values and modes of thought than she was at the...

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