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THINKING THROUGH PARTITION

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collapses difference—is constantly in conflict with the reality of Pakistani selfhood, which is much more aggressively diverse. Ironically it was the establishment of a territorially defined nation-state, designed to ensure the political survival of the Muslim nation conceived of by Sir Sayyid, that forced the profound disruption of this Muslim institution. In relocating the Aligarh community outside of the physical space in which its values were embodied, the “dense networks of interrelationships that defined the particularities of place” were dislocated and de-emphasized (Gilmartin 1998, 1090). And yet when asked if they felt any loss associated with leaving India, each of these narrators answered without hesitation, “No.” India, for them, has become the object of opposition so well established in the official narrative of the Pakistan Demand and of the nation-state. For them, India is fully established as the source of Pakistan’s ills. For them, it was the mistreatment by Hindus in India that forced Muslims to seek political independence. For them, it was the Indian National Congress who refused to agree to the Cabinet Mission plan and thus forced the partition, and then failed to fairly divide the assets. India is not the home that these men left behind, it is not the home of Indian Islam’s greatest monuments, not the home of Urdu, nor of a rich intellectual tradition that led to the differentiation of the Muslim political community. Pakistan is home for them now. Though they have elaborated eloquently on the special qualities of Aligarh, of the University, of the unique community that developed there, when I spatially relocated Aligarh inside India, they treated it as a mere artifact, left behind with the houses and utensils, and non-Muslim friends. As General Wajahat poignantly describes, “I remember when we were leaving, [my mother] was very upset. She couldn’t make up her mind what to take and what not to take, so we just left everything. We never talked about it, we never talked about it. [My parents] always looked forward” (personal interview, July 11, 2006, Lahore).

Sagar XVII — 2007  
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