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Families torn apart by Partition.

Murtaza Ali/DPA via Reuters

The endless anguish of Partition: India and Pakistan at 75

Seventy-five years ago this week, two of the most powerful countries in Asia were born in a bloodbath. At the stroke of midnight that separated Aug. 14 from Aug. 15, 1947, British India was divided — along an inexpertly drawn line — into a sprawling, Hindu-majority India, and a smaller, Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The event, known as “Partition,” tore apart families, villages, and whole regions, sparking violence that left millions dead and displaced. It also laid the groundwork for sectarian conflicts and enmity between India and Pakistan that have lasted to this day.

To learn more about why Partition happened, and how it continues to shape the troubled relationship between these two countries, we sat down with Akhil Bery, a former analyst at Eurasia Group who is now Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Cricket fans, with their faces painted in the Indian and Pakistani national flag colors, ahead of a match between the two countries.

REUTERS/Amit Dave

What We’re Watching: Partition 75th anniversary, Kenyan vote count, US-China in Southeast Asia

India & Pakistan turn 75

This year’s Aug. 15 Diamond Jubilee of Partition, when the British Raj split into India and Pakistan, is a complicated affair. India has gained more from independence in 1947 than Pakistan: earlier this summer, the Indian economy crossed the $3.3 trillion mark and officially overtook the UK to become the world’s fifth-largest — a nice touch to celebrate 75 years of independence from its colonial master. But India’s democratic credentials remain under threat by the rise of Hindu nationalism. However, Pakistan’s experiments after Partition — proxy wars, civil war, martial law, and Islamism — brought much suffering to its people. Today, the country is at the verge of another financial crisis and negotiating its 23rd IMF bailout, as well as in talks with its own version of the Taliban. Unfortunately, a growing nuclear arsenal is the only equalizer for the political and economic imbalance between the two countries. But there is still hope yet. After years of making zero progress, India and Pakistan are now involved in a backchannel dialogue, which may bring some normalcy between the old enemies. That, and the cricket, of course: Pakistan has won more games overall against its arch-rival, but never beaten India in a World Cup match.

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Pakistan’s Hina Khar: India’s policies are undemocratic | GZERO World

Pakistan’s Hina Khar: India’s policies are undemocratic

The last time Ian Bremmer and Hina Khar met at the Munich Security Conference, in 2020, she called India a “rogue state” and a bully in the neighborhood.

Two years later, she argues that the Indian government has proven her right with undemocratic gestures like the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“Basically, you're saying everybody who is Hindu has the right to be an Indian citizen, and anyone who's Muslim has the least right, and anyone in the middle, we'll think about it,” Khar said.

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A Pakistani ranger stands near Indian and Pakistani flags during a fair in Chamliyal in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

REUTERS/Amit Gupta

What We're Watching: India-Pakistan talk water, Saudis float Yemen ceasefire, Polish writer in peril

India and Pakistan break bread over... water? Representatives from India and Pakistan are meeting this week to discuss water-sharing in the Indus River for the first time since the two countries severed relations following India's suspension of autonomy for Kashmir almost three years ago. It's a big deal — especially for the Pakistanis, whose farmers get 80 percent of the water they need to irrigate their crops from the Indus. Even more importantly, the meeting is also the latest sign of an apparent thaw in Indo-Pakistani ties, starting with last month's ceasefire agreement on Kashmir. A recently released readout of the secret talks that preceded that truce shows unusual impetus by both sides to make progress, and was followed up by rare conciliatory messages between Delhi and Islamabad. Given the long history of animosity between the two nuclear-armed nations -- they have gone to war three times since 1948 -- it's hard to be optimistic, but let's see if these water talks can move things along further.

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What We're Watching: Ethiopia dam dispute, India-Pakistan ceasefire, upheaval in Armenia

Egypt and Sudan want some dam help: Cairo and Khartoum have called on the US, EU, and UN to intervene in their ongoing dispute with neighboring Ethiopia over that country's construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Nile. Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream of Ethiopia and worry about their farmers losing water, want binding targets and dispute resolution mechanisms, while Ethiopia, which sees the dam as a critical piece of its economic future, wants more flexibility and has given little ground in talks. Efforts by the African Union to mediate have failed as Ethiopia presses ahead with filling the dam even after being sanctioned by the Trump administration last year for doing so. The dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as it is called, has threatened to spill into military conflict at several points in recent years. Can the "international community" turn things around?

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