NPR

As Pakistan Marks 70 Years Of Independence, Its Minorities Struggle For Space

Seventy years after Pakistan's creation as a homeland for South Asia's Muslims, its minorities continue to suffer persecution — and the definition of who is considered a Muslim has narrowed.
People pose in front of Pakistan Independence Day signs in Lahore. The country, created in 1947 as a homeland for South Asia's Muslims, celebrated 70 years of independence on Aug. 14. Source: Diaa Hadid/NPR

The children pile into the stadium in shiny clothes, clutching green-and-white Pakistani flags. Their parents light the area with cell phones to record the event as they scream, chant and cheer, watching soldiers close a gate that separates India from Pakistan.

In the evening ritual at the Wagah-Attari border, near Lahore and Amritsar, soldiers from both countries high-kick, shake their fists, then shake hands – and slam the gate shut.

It is deeply visceral for many Pakistanis: an acknowledgement of their border, of a plucky country they feel they have sacrificed so much to create.

Pakistan was imagined more than 70 years ago by a stern, British-educated, whiskey-drinking Shiite lawyer. hoped for a nation as cosmopolitan as he was. He led the fight to carve the country out of British-ruled India. In a new, independent India, Muslims were fearful that they would be dominated by a Hindu majority.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min readSociety
A History Of Quarantines, From Bubonic Plague To Typhoid Mary
China's efforts to build a quarantine center for suspected Wuhan coronavirus patients is the latest chapter about a practice that's as old as the Bible.
NPR3 min readPolitics
Trump Tries To Hold On To Spotlight As Impeachment Enters Week 2
President Trump meets with Israel's prime minister Monday. Then Wednesday he signs a much-anticipated trade deal. This week he also has two campaign rallies.
NPR5 min read
Billie Eilish Sweeps Grammys In Ceremony Clouded By Controversy And Mourning
In a night when Eilish, the youngest artist to win Album and Record of the year, might have otherwise been the whole story, the Recording Academy could not quite put its recent scandals behind it.