Dr Javed Bashir on history and politics amid Pakistan Independence Day – Telegraph and Argus

A DINNER was held in Bradford last night to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the independence of Pakistan.
The dinner, held at the Bradford Hotel, was organised by the Pakistan Society of West Yorkshire and was attended by around 400 people, including the Lord Mayor of Bradford.
One attendee was Dr Javed Bashir, a local community figure who was born in Pakistan but grew up in Keighley.
Speaking today, he was keen to give more historical context to the Independence Day celebrations, and to reflect on the past 75 years.
“The independence days of Pakistan and India – on 14 and 15 August respectively – actually mark the anniversary of the end of British rule,” he said.
“Britain took control of the Indian subcontinent’s resources and, while investing heavily in infrastructure, channelled Indian wealth back to Britain and its global colonial projects.
“As a result, the Indian subcontinent suffered a series of famines that killed tens of millions of people.
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dr Javed BashirDr Javed Bashir
“At the height of the Mughal Empire in the late 17th century, India was one the largest economic powers in the world. When it regained its independence in 1947, it was significantly poorer than it had been before British interference.
“During partition, there was widespread violence, as Hindus headed in one direction and Muslims in another, with Sikhs and other minorities caught in the middle. Millions were killed and displaced.
“Kashmir was then split between India and Pakistan, and no settlement has ever been reached, resulting in continued human rights abuses to this day.”
Although Dr Bashir said that Pakistan Independence Day is always filled with “passion” and “celebration”, he added that the political situation in the country should not be brushed under the carpet.
“Independence Day sees everyone decorate their houses, their streets, their cars and anything they can find with flags and lights. But while celebrating, we also have to remember that Pakistan is currently in the midst of one of its worst political, constitutional and economic crises in its history,” he said.
“Parliament has become practically irrelevant as the political elite is at loggerheads. The country’s judicial system faces a collapse, as thousands of cases remain pending in courts.
“The bureaucracy is deeply politicised and resists reforms that could see the administrative system becoming more effective.
“As members of the Pakistani diaspora, these are issues which we need to be vocal on.”
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