First Independence Day

August 13, 2014

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AUGUST 14 takes me down memory lane to the first Independence Day. That day Pakistan emerged as an independent state to the delight of its proud citizens who had to go through so many sacrifices.

It was a memorable day for my family as my father took charge as the first deputy commissioner of Pakistani Gurdaspur district, his first posting as DC. Before partition he was posted as the additional district magistrate at Jhelum. Father moved to Gurdaspur, with all household goods, before Aug 14t as ordered by the then Punjab government headed by governor Evan Jenkins. Our family was left behind at our ancestral village Sahowala, close to Sialkot. We were supposed to join our father at Gurdaspur after our summer vacation.

The day was celebrated by Pakistani citizens of Gurdaspur district, with prayers and celebrations. The Pakistan flag was hosted on all government and private buildings, sweets were distributed and festivities continued till late in the night. My uncle, Haji Tufail Ahmad, elder brother of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, was already in Gurdaspur with his family, posted as session judge much before the partition.

Then on Aug 17 tragedy struck when Cyril Radcliffe (chairman, Boundary Commission, appointed under the Indian Independence Act 1947), in connivance with the Indian National Congress and Mountbatten, in his final award transferred the whole of Gurdaspur District to India, except Shakargarh tehsil.

Gurdaspur and Ferozpur districts, with a Muslim majority, became part of India. It proved to be a calamity for Gurdaspur Pakistanis. The final boundary, known as the Radcliffe Award (Line), allotted some 62pc of the area of undivided Punjab to India.

Those days are history. We are now fighting among ourselves with zero tolerance. Where is the spirit of independence? Can we call ourselves Pakistanis? Where is Jinnah’s Pakistan?

Aftab Ahmad

Lahore

Published in Dawn, Aug 13th, 2014