March 13, 2007

Pakistan, Hindustan and the Land of the Blind

When I was in secondary school I remember quite well to this day the day Indira Gandhi paid Stravaraland an official visit. I remember it quite well because all secondary school students, from both private and public schools, were taken out on the streets and given little Cypriot flags to wave for the split second Gandhi’s motorcade went through. The event made an impression on me because we rarely gave such honor to visiting heads of state (admittedly not many were willing to come by anyway, not even the Greek Prime Ministers at the time). But why were such honors bestowed to Indira? India at the time was neither a superpower nor an aspiring one (thanks to the “Indian socialist”, or self-sufficient, policies followed at the time). India was not part of the UN Security Council and Kyprianou at the time did not have such close relationships with India (his wife was from mainland Greece unlike the wife of Glafcos who hailed from India).

A recent documentary by Channel 4 provided the answer to those official government actions back in the 80s.

India, before independence, had mixed villages in which Muslims, Hindus and Shikhs lived together. There was no geographical location for any other country than India. Or so Gandhi and Nehru thought. Until Jinnah, an Indian Muslim from Bombay, had the idea/dream that Muslims should create their own country, in which they would be treated as equals, rather than been looked down upon (according to his view). Independence would result in two different states, Pakistan and Hindustan. Partition became the rallying cry for the Muslims, while Independence with Unity was the solution offered by Gandhi.

Two arguments or efforts were made by Gandhi to avert Partition. At first he argued that the policy of partition will lead to a policy of “an eye for an eye” and such a policy will leave everyone in the land BLIND. Once this moral argument failed to sway the Muslims, he offered the leadership of the whole of India to Jinnah. But Jinnah was adamant that the solution had to be the creation of two nation states, partition. In the end, partition did take place with 20 million people moving to and from what is now India and Pakistan and one million people died in the process.

Now, these events were being witnessed at the time by Denktas, Makarios and the rest of the socio-economic and political elite in Stravaraland. Are we really surprised with the course of events that then followed in Stravaraland? And are we really surprised that India is the honored friend and beacon of hope for the Greek Cypriot leadership through time, while the same role is reserved for Pakistan in the heart of the Turkish Cypriot leadership?


Blogger Rajeev Singh said...

Aren't you getting the two Gandhi's confused here? Indira and Mahatma?

17 March, 2007 07:02  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...


17 March, 2007 09:03  
Blogger Sceptic Anonymous said...

Not that I want to be controversial but consider this:

Ireland was colonised by the British. The British were driven out but guess what, partition happened.

Palestine was taken over as a mandate by the British, after armed struggle (or terrorism depending on your perspective) both from Muslims and Jews the British leave but guess what happens, partition. Of course the story of Palestine is far more complicated than that but bear with me.

The British colonise India and when they are driven out or decide to leave, guess what? Partition happens.

Well, I don't even have to mention Cyprus, the only difference was the delayed reaction. Partition came about 18 years after it was first thought as a solution for Cyprus by the Colonial and the Foreign Office.

So what does this tell us about the history of Cyprus?

21 March, 2007 00:15  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...

Sceptic Anonymous:

I dont want to be controversial either. I have no problem with partition, it is a perfectly valid plan of action.

What I do have a problem with is not really knowing what is wanted, what can be achieved in finite time and what is actually happening. Negotiating partition is actually probably what most people on both sides want but especially the G/C I find cannot come to terms with that realization.

So, I have no problem with partition. At some point I pointed out that Denktas might not be there but his goal has been achieved. I think partition will be the eventual outcome but with no benefits left to give to the Greek Cypriots. It is just that the G/C will have convinced themselves that at least it was not they that officially signed this outcome. At the cost of not getting any land back.

21 March, 2007 08:11  
Blogger Sceptic Anonymous said...

I was misunderstood. My point was not about partition itself, between you and me, I don't think it will be the end of the world as we know it if does happen. So on this we agree, even though it pains me to admit so.

However my point is, although I do agree with you that our Cyprus policy appears to be all over the place it is not as easy as we think for the people holding the office.

Greek Cypriots have committed great follies, that is also true and are guilty of many things. But they cannot be the only guilty party in this imbroglio. Yes they refuse to be realistic even against overwhelming odds but other parties have a fair share in this mess and yet somehow they get away with murder. While it seems that the Greek Cypriots will have to swallow the most bitter pills of all.

Then again έτσι κκελλέ έτσι ξουράφι θέλει.

21 March, 2007 11:15  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...

I dont think we disagree deep down...

21 March, 2007 21:10  

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