Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Date When the Muslims Became a Minority

Lt. Gen AAK Niazi signing 

the Instrument of Surrender

In the Middle Ages and the early modern age, the Muslims were not a minority in the Indian subcontinent. Their number was much less than the Hindu population, but they did not believe that they were a minority—they saw themselves as conquerers of new territory and the propagators of Islam. They believed that the whole world belonged to Islam. 

Even after August 15, 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent, the Indian Muslims did not see themselves as a minority. In their speeches and writing, the prominent Muslim intellectuals and politicians in India and Pakistan predicted that India’s democratic experiment was a madness that won’t last for long and that an Islamic regime would soon be established. They exhorted the Muslims to seek inspiration from the tales of the Mughal sultans who had once ruled over large areas of the Indian subcontinent.

The realization that they were a minority in India dawned on the Muslims (the Muslim intellectuals and politicians) after the 1971 war in which the Indian army decisively defeated the Pakistani army, and Pakistan got divided into two parts, with Bangladesh becoming an independent nation. It became clear that the bond of Islam was not strong enough to keep West and East Pakistan united. With the breakup of Pakistan, the idea that India would one day become an Islamic country died, and the Muslims started seeing themselves as a minority.

The Muslims became a minority in India on 16 December 1971—this is the day when the Pakistani military surrendered to the Indian military in what remains to date the largest surrender of soldiers since the Second World War.

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