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.

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