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I remember when I was on an opinion survey in 1945, it was often argued in favor of the cause that as long as there was a neutral government, minorities had little to worry about; but in a Hindu-dominated democratic India, they saw a future fraught with uncertainty and insecurity. It was countered very ably by a girl whom I still remember—shy, short statured with a shock of curly hair and reading glasses as thick as the vertexes of glass paper weights sliced to fit in the metallic frame. She had said, “We would then be a formidable minority—a deciding factor—in the most populous democracy of the world, and historically speaking, determined minorities have changed destinies of nations.” We were speechless. The argument against the sectarian violence, however, occurring on daily basis since campaign for the separate homeland had started, was hard to brush aside. But now as we look back, weren’t Pakistanis more ruthless in suppressing their compatriots and brothers in faith East Pakistanis when they talked of a separate homeland for themselves? Here the backlash was formal, and the army was charged to quell the uprising. One four-star general was heard bragging at the departure lounge of Karachi Airport before flying to Dacca to subjugate the upheaval—“Next Bengali generation would speak Punjabi!” To Indians, Muslims’ demand for a separate homeland was also la guerre de secession.

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