Problems at Independence
In August 1947, Pakistan was faced with a number of problems,
some immediate but others long term. The most important of these
concerns was the role played by Islam. Was Pakistan to be a secular
state serving as a homeland for Muslims of the subcontinent, or
was it to be an Islamic state governed by the sharia, in which
non-Muslims would be second-class citizens? The second question
concerned the distribution of power between the center and the
provincial governments, a question that eventually led to the
dissolution of the country with the painful loss of the East Wing
(East Bengal, later East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) in 1971, an
issue that remained unresolved in the mid-1990s.
The territory of Pakistan was divided into two parts at independence,
separated by about 1,600 kilometers of Indian territory. The 1940
Lahore Resolution had called for independent "states" in the northwest
and the northeast. This objective was changed, by a 1946 meeting
of Muslim League legislators to a call for a single state (the
acronym Pakistan had no letter for Bengal). Pakistan
lacked the machinery, personnel, and equipment for a new government.
Even its capital, Karachi, was a second choice--Lahore was rejected
because it was too close to the Indian border. Pakistan's economy
seemed enviable after severing ties with India, the major market
for its commodities. And much of Punjab's electricity was imported
from Indian power stations.
Above all other concerns were the violence and the refugee problem:
Muslims were fleeing India; Hindus and Sikhs were fleeing Pakistan.
Jinnah's plea to regard religion as a personal matter, not a state
matter, was ignored. No one was prepared for the communal rioting
and the mass movements of population that followed the June 3,
1947, London announcement of imminent independence and partition.
The most conservative estimates of the casualties were 250,000
dead and 12 million to 24 million refugees. The actual boundaries
of the two new states were not even known until August 17, when
they were announced by a commission headed by a British judge.
The boundaries-- unacceptable to both India and Pakistan--have
West Pakistan lost Hindus and Sikhs. These communities had managed
much of the commercial activity of West Pakistan. The Sikhs were
especially prominent in agricultural colonies. They were replaced
largely by Muslims from India, mostly Urdu speakers from the United
Provinces. Although some people, especially Muslims from eastern
Punjab (in India), settled in western Punjab (in Pakistan), many
headed for Karachi and other cities in Sindh, where they took
the jobs vacated by departing Hindus. In 1951 close to half of
the population of Pakistan's major cities were immigrants (muhajirs--refugees
from India and their descendants).
The aspirations for Pakistan that had been so important to Muslims
in Muslim-minority provinces and the goals for the new state these
urban refugees had fled to were not always compatible with those
of the traditional rural people already inhabiting Pakistan, whose
support for the concept of Pakistan came much later. Pakistani
society was polarized from its inception.
The land and people west of the Indus River continued to pose
problems. The most immediate problem was the continued presence
of a Congress government in the North-West Frontier Province,
a government effective at the grassroots level and popular despite
the loss of the plebiscite. Led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and
his Khudai-i-Khitmagar (Servants of God, a Congress faction),
this group was often referred to as the Red Shirts after its members'
attire. Ghaffar Khan asked his followers not to participate in
the July 1947 plebiscite.
Pakistan also had to establish its legitimacy against a possible
challenge from Afghanistan. Irredentist claims from Kabul were
based on the ethnic unity of tribes straddling the border; the
emotional appeal of "Pakhtunistan," homeland of the Pakhtuns,
was undeniable. However, Pakistan upheld the treaties Britain
had signed with Afghanistan and refused to discuss the validity
of the Durand Line as the international border (see The Forward
Policy , this ch.). Relations with Afghanistan were hostile, resulting
in the rupture of diplomatic and commercial relations and leading
Afghanistan to cast the only vote against Pakistan's admission
to the United Nations (UN) in 1947.
The India Independence Act left the princes theoretically free
to accede to either dominion. The frontier princely states of
Dir, Chitral, Amb, and Hunza acceded quickly to Pakistan while
retaining substantial autonomy in internal administration and
customary law. The khan of Kalat in Balochistan declared independence
on August 15, 1947, but offered to negotiate a special relationship
with Pakistan. Other Baloch sardar (tribal chiefs) also
expressed their preference for a separate identity. Pakistan took
military action against them and the khan and brought about their
accession in 1948. The state of Bahawalpur, with a Muslim ruler
and a Muslim population, acceded to Pakistan, as did Khairpur.
The maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, unpopular among his subjects,
was reluctant to decide on accession to either dominion. He first
signed agreements with both Pakistan and India that would provide
for the continued flow of people and goods to Kashmir--as it is
usually called--from both dominions. Alarmed by reports of oppression
of fellow Muslims in Kashmir, armed groups from the North-West
Frontier Province entered the maharaja's territory. The ruler
requested military assistance from India but had to sign documents
acceding to India before that country would provide aid in October
The government of Pakistan refused to recognize the accession
and denounced it as a fraud even though the Indian government
announced that it would require an expression of the people's
will through a plebiscite after the invaders were driven back.
Pakistan launched an active military and diplomatic campaign to
undo the accession. The UN Security Council eventually brought
about a cease-fire between Pakistani and Indian troops, which
took place on January 1, 1949, thus ending the first Indo- Pakistani
War, and directed that a plebiscite be held. The cease- fire agreement
formalized the military status quo, leaving about 30 percent of
Kashmir under Pakistani control (see India , ch. 4; The Formation
of Pakistan , ch. 5).
Partition and its accompanying confusion also brought severe
economic challenges to the two newly created and antagonistic
countries. The partition plan ignored the principles of complementarity.
West Pakistan, for example, traditionally produced more wheat
than it consumed and had supplied the deficit areas in India.
Cotton grown in West Pakistan was used in mills in Bombay and
other west Indian cities. Commodities such as coal and sugar were
in short supply in Pakistan--they had traditionally come from
areas now part of India. Furthermore, Pakistan faced logistic
problems for its commercial transportation because of the four
major ports in British India, it was awarded only Karachi. But
the problem that proved most intractable was defining relations
between the two wings of Pakistan, which had had little economic
exchange before partition.
The two dominions decided to allow free movement of goods, persons,
and capital for one year after independence, but this agreement
broke down. In November 1947, Pakistan levied export duties on
jute; India retaliated with export duties of its own. The trade
war reached a crisis in September 1949 when Britain devalued the
pound, to which both the Pakistani rupee and the Indian rupee
were pegged. India followed Britain's lead, but Pakistan did not,
so India severed trade relations with Pakistan. The outbreak of
the Korean War (1950-53) and the consequent price rises in jute,
leather, cotton, and wool as a result of wartime needs, saved
the economy of Pakistan. New trading relationships were formed,
and the construction of cotton and jute mills in Pakistan was
quickly undertaken. Although India and Pakistan resumed trade
in 1951, both the volume and the value of trade steadily declined;
the two countries ignored bilateral trade for the most part and
developed the new international trade links they had made.
The assets of British India were divided in the ratio of seventeen
for India to five for Pakistan by decision of the Viceroy's Council
in June 1947. Division was difficult to implement, however, and
Pakistan complained of nondeliveries. A financial agreement was
reached in December 1948, but the actual settlement of financial
and other disputes continued until 1960 (see Structure of the
Economy , ch. 3).
Division of the all-India services of the Indian Civil Service
and the Indian Police Service was also difficult. Only 101 out
of a total of 1,157 Indian officers were Muslim. Among these Muslim
officers, ninety-five officers opted for Pakistan; they were joined
by one Christian, eleven Muslim military officers transferring
to civilian service, and fifty Britons, for a total of 157. But
only twenty of them had had more than fifteen years of service,
and more than half had had fewer than ten years. These men formed
the core of the Civil Service of Pakistan, which became one of
the most elite and privileged bureaucracies in the world. Members
of the Civil Service of Pakistan were the architects of the administrative,
judicial, and diplomatic services. They proved indispensable in
running the government machinery during Pakistan's first two decades,
and their contributions to government policy and economics were
profound during the era of Mohammad Ayub Khan. The Zulfiqar Ali
Bhutto government in the 1970s precipitated a major reorganization
and reorientation of the bureaucracy, however, which resulted
in a noticeable decline in both the morale and the standards of
the bureaucracy (see Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and a New Constitutional
System; Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 1971-77 , ch. 4).
Data as of April 1994