National Geographic : 1952 Nov
Pakistan, New Nation in an Old Land Carved out of Ancient India, the World's Most Populous Moslem Country Celebrates Its First Five Busy Years BY JEAN AND FRANC SHOR With Illustrations from Photographs by the Authors BONFIRES blazed in the Khyber Pass, and fireworks shattered the muggy stillness of the East Bengal jungles in August of 1952. Baluchistan desert tribes men flourished lances in tent-pegging contests, piercing pegs in the ground as they rode horses at breakneck speed. Millworkers and shop keepers danced in the streets of booming Ka rachi and Lahore. The new nation of Pakistan was celebrating its fifth birthday. Pakistanis had reason to celebrate, for above the sounds of merrymaking rose the steady clatter of looms, the whir of thousands of new cotton spindles, the drone of light industry. Pakistan, which less than a decade ago was only a dream in the minds of a few determined men, had won a place as a stable and prosperous member of the British Com monwealth of Nations. The 76 million citizens of this new state make it the most populous Moslem country and the world's seventh nation in number of inhabitants. Religion Changed the Map of India "We had to struggle for a nation of our own," a Pakistan Government official told us in Karachi. "We were widely criticized when we demanded separate countries for Hindus and Moslems. People insisted that the sub continent was an economic and geographical unit, and that partition would mean disaster. "But man does not live by geography alone. Europe, North America, and South America are also natural units. But in all those con tinents individual nations have existed, and have grown great. "We were sure of our ground. The Mos lems had ruled India for three hundred years before the British came. Under British rule we withdrew from governmental affairs. The Hindus came to the fore. They held nearly all civil-service posts, controlled banks and business houses, and had far more educated men and technicians. They would have con trolled a united continent. "Religion was the most important issue," he emphasized. "The basic differences be tween the Hindu faith and Islam make it difficult for our people to work together. They regard the cow as sacred; we eat it. We have no caste system. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Father of Pakistan, summed it up in a single sentence: " 'One hundred million people,' he said, 'are too many to be a minority!'" Jinnah had his way, and became the first Governor General of Pakistan. He lived for only a little more than a year, however, and Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, his suc cessor as leader of the nation, was murdered by a fanatic in 1951. "Go See for Yourselves" The present Prime Minister, Khwaja Nazi muddin, smiled across the luncheon table when we told him we had come to report on Pakistan for the 2,000,000 members of the National Geographic Society. "You will find a country of strange con trasts," he said. "You must remember that while we are a new nation, we are a very old land. You will see turbaned tribesmen driving new American cars through streets crowded with camel carts. Modern factories stand next to the stalls of native craftsmen. Bullocks turn water wheels in the shadow of huge hydroelectric projects. "There are contrasts in our Government as well. Our central administration is based on Western models, and our new constitution will combine the practices of democracy with the historic tenets of Islam. Yet, in our tribal areas, people are still ruled by laws which were old when America was discovered. "But you are travelers. Pakistan is not a set of facts and figures; it is the sum of its people. Go see for yourselves." We accepted the Prime Minister's invita tion. For five months we traveled through every section of Pakistan. We rode trains and elephants, trucks and camels, airplanes and jeeps, river steamers and dugout canoes. We lived and talked with the people of Paki stan, and found them friendly, proud of their progress, confident of their future. The picture is not all bright. We found famine in the Sundarbans jungles of East Bengal, and saw food riots in Lahore. We saw the police fire on crowds of students in Dacca during a demonstration demanding that Bengali be made an official language. But in every case we found the Government taking prompt and effective action.