How Independence Movement Works: Pakistan’s Case Study – OpEd


Independence movements, echoing throughout history, stand as testaments to the resilience of human spirit and the persistent yearning for freedom and self governance. The journey towards independence is seldom navigated without immense sacrifice of people’s lives marked by the bloodshed and war. This demands a level of commitment that motivates people to leave the comfort of their homes and families, in the pursuit of a liberated future. The bloodshed is a somber reminder of the price paid for breaking the chains of oppression.

People who dared to challenge the status quo and exercise their right to self-determination have encountered opposition throughout history, which has resulted in conflicts that ring with the echoes of sacrifice. Fighting for independence requires facing hardship head-on because people are driven by the conviction that their sacrifices are necessary for a cause bigger than themselves. Lives lost and dreams unfulfilled serve as harsh reminders that the path to freedom is filled with the blood of the brave heroes who dared to defy the odds. The shadow of war lingers long after the battle subsided. The clash of ideologies and the fight for territory unfolds on the battlefield, leaving scars on both the physical landscape and the collective memory of a nation.

Beyond the front lines, families are torn apart, communities are uprooted, and economies are thrown off balance by war. War emphasises how high the stakes are by turning natural landscapes into battlefields and putting those who want to shape their own future to the test. The displacement of people from their homes is one of the most heart wrenching facets of independence movements. Individuals make the painful choice to uproot their life in search of a vision of freedom, leaving behind the comfort of their own surroundings. The act of abandoning the familiar and starting on an unknown adventure highlights the level of dedication that drives independence movements

The global landscape is scattered with hundreds of independence movements, each with its own narrative and history. However, a depressing reality emerges, as we reflect on the journeys taken by these movements. While a select minority may have succeeded in achieving their goals, the majority of conflicts have dragged on for an extended period of time, leaving a path of destruction, killings, and forced migrations in their wake. Their desire for self-governance frequently led to unstable administrations under attack from both internal and external enemies.

The result of this situation is always a hazy idea of security, allowing communities to suffer the burden of their hopes. It is crucial to assess the developing state’s basic characteristics realistically. This analysis takes into account immutable elements like the demographic composition, land geography, the accessibility of water, and the available resources, among other things. The prospects for the developing independent state will unquestionably be significantly impacted by these inherent qualities. Even if that leads to the conclusion that independence is still desired, there is still a second duty to complete: identifying the conditions that increase the likelihood that independence will result in favourable outcomes. Movements can have a significant impact on the circumstances surrounding independence, but they rarely have the ability to predict when independence will be achieved. Sceptics can be assuaged, and allies can be won over. It is possible to build domestic institutions, expand economies, and mend internal rifts. Independence might not be achieved if it happens too quickly, endangering the project. Success is not guaranteed with planning, but chances can be considerably increased.

The pursuit for independence has been a transformative force throughout history, shaping the destinies of nations. The struggle for self-rule and sovereignty has not only altered the political landscape but has also redefined the social fabric of societies. Across history, it has served as a driving force that reshaped the destinies of nations, forged new identities, and laid the foundation for self-governance.

The focus of this essay is Pakistan, which serves as a case study as it explores the essence of the independence movement from 1857 to 1947. The primary driving force behind the struggle for independence is resistance to injustice, exploitation, and foreign rule. Colonised areas frequently developed into hotbeds of resistance where the desire for independence flares passionately.  The Indian subcontinent suffered from both cultural repression and economic exploitation while under British colonial authority for more than a century. The rise of nationalist sentiments and the slow sparking of the independence struggle were facilitated by this turbulent environment. The “Two Nation Theory,” a popular idea, served as the cornerstone for the development of two independent nations under the British Indian Empire, both of which attained independence in 1947. The regions having a Hindu majority came together to form Bharat, whereas the regions with a Muslim majority came together to form Pakistan. This emphasis was necessary since it allowed for the cohabitation of the Hindus, a people that worshipped multiple deities and followed a hierarchical caste system. This contrasts with the Islamic perspective, which affirms the oneness of Allah and the inherent equality of all people. Due to their different perspectives, Hindus and Muslims naturally took different routes in almost every aspect of their lives.

The path leading to Pakistan’s independence has been knitted together from many different strands, ranging from communal tensions to ideological fervour. The ascent of important figures like Allama Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah was crucial in forming the idea for a distinct Muslim state. The desire to safeguard Muslim interests in a subcontinent that is marked by religious diversity led to the demand for Pakistan. The Lahore Resolution of 1940 stands as a testament to the crystallization of this independence demand. A turning point in the history of the independence movement was reached with this resolution, which called for the establishment of independent state for Muslims. Events happening throughout the world had a profound impact on how the independence movement developed. The world’s political landscape underwent a seismic shift with the start of World War II, and the subcontinent was not exempt from its aftershocks. The conflict led to strategic adjustments by colonial powers and a rise in nationalist sentiment. The communal tensions that accompanied the partition of India in 1947 painted a vivid picture of the challenges faced. Intense conflict, forced migration, and tragic human events marred the subcontinent’s partition into India and Pakistan. Emotional borders echoed the lines painted on maps, reflecting the difficulties in creating new identities against a background of war.

One of the largest migrations in human history when millions of Muslims moved to East and West Pakistan in August 1947, while millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved in the opposite direction. According to estimates, Pakistan received close to seven million refugees in the years after Partition. At the most conservative estimate, 200,000 people died in the atrocities that accompanied migration, and many hundreds of thousands never made it at all. A number of provinces, each with its own cultural fabric and tapestry, contributed to the independence movement as a whole. Punjab, Sindh, and Bengal, among other provinces, infused their distinctive stories into the larger narrative to emphasise the intricay of unity amid diversity.

In conclusion, the road to freedom is rarely easy.  However, the perseverance of individuals who unite in the face of injustice and are prepared to make the greatest sacrifices for their shared vision is a testament to the transformational power of human resolve. The sacrifices made during the Pakistan Movement mirror the countless sacrifices made by other independence struggles. The stories of the struggle for liberation are woven together by the carnage, hardships faced, and unflinching resolve to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. As we reflect on the evolution of independence movements, let us remember the sacrifices that paved the way for the freedoms we enjoy today. The spirit of these movements serves as a constant reminder that progress towards self-governance requires  an unflinching commitment to defending the principles that constitute our shared identity.

Isha Noor

Isha Noor is a student of BS Peace and Conflict studies at National Defence University, Islamabad.

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