NEW DELHI (AP) — When the British ended two centuries of colonial rule on the Indian subcontinent in August 1947, they left a jigsaw legacy — the vast country of India flanked on either side by a newly created Pakistan split in two parts. Excitement over independence was quickly overshadowed by some of the worst bloodletting the world has ever seen, leaving up to 1 million people dead as gangs of Hindus and Muslims slaughtered each other.
As the 70th anniversary of India-Pakistan Partition comes up next week, relations between the two nations are as broken as ever. In some ways, their violent birth pangs dictated their future course through suspicion and animosity.
Here’s a look at the troubled legacy of Partition:
India’s independence leaders had proposed a secular federation where Hindus and Muslims would live together. The Muslim League, representing the region’s 30 percent Muslim minority, said it wanted a separate nation to be free of perceived oppression by the Hindu majority.
Creating two independent nations, however, tore apart millions of Hindu and Muslim families in one of the world’s largest peacetime migrations. Many fled their homes and lost their property, never imagining that they would not be able to return. At least 15 million people were displaced.
As relations between India and Pakistan soured, travel restrictions and hostile bureaucracies kept many from crossing the border to visit family and friends. The countries make a few exceptions for religious pilgrimages, allowing small groups of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs to visit holy sites during religious festivals. Recently, New Delhi has allowed ailing Pakistanis to come to India for medical treatment.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars and built up their armies but also developed nuclear weapons.
India was the first to conduct a nuclear test in 1974. The test elicited an angry reaction from Pakistan, where Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said his countrymen would be prepared to eat grass if they had to go nuclear.
India didn’t conduct nuclear tests again until 1998. Pakistan followed with its own nuclear tests just a few weeks later. Experts say the two sides have since armed themselves with hundreds of nuclear warheads as well as missile delivery systems.
THE KASHMIR QUESTION
No issue has bedeviled India-Pakistan relations like the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Soon after gaining independence, both sides claimed the…