After WWII, the British felt pressured to give India independence. However, the Muslim forces in the north of India, led by Jinnah, a lawyer, wanted to control their own destiny. Jinnah would settle for nothing less than an independent country, and Pakistan was born. However, creating two separate countries was not simple. Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs lived on both sides of the proposed border. Each group feared the other would try to take away their freedoms, and thus began the ethnic cleansing.
Muslim toughs rampaged through the countryside killing hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs. Hindus and Sikhs retaliated by killing Muslims. Wholesale massacres occurred and the British were unable to stem the tide. Even Gandhi, who believe that the Indians as a whole were a peaceful people, was unable to keep the violence from escalating.
This is a very difficult book to read because of the descriptions of violence. However, it's important to the understanding of what happened and what is still happening today. Before reading the book, I knew little about the division of India, now I can see how stressful it was. The author points out that much of the violence in the Middle East today had it's roots in that time. Pakistan feared India and as a result gave asylum to the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Anyone interested in the problems of the Middle East should read this book. It is very well written and gives a warning about the origins of the stresses in that region that we would all do well to heed.
I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.