Violence in Punjab and NWFP started in earnest in 1946 where sporadic events started to get reported in the newspapers. According to writer Abdul Majeed Abid the violence in Hazara (NWFP) against non-Muslims in December 1946 was widely reported. Here is an excerpt from his article:
Atrocities against non-Muslims in the Hazara division had started in December, 1946. The report mentioned above details the murder and arson committed by gangs of Muslims in Bafa, Shinkiari, Balakot and Mansehra (all of which are situated in Hazara division), during the month of December. Thousands of non-combatants including women and children were killed or injured by mobs, supported by the All India Muslim League. Bonds of friendship, a sense of community and communal harmony were the first casualties of this terrible war.
Leaders of Sikhs resorted to threats of violence before partition because of their experience with the Muslim League-backed hoodlums. Violence is more often than not reciprocated in the form of violence. What transpired in West Punjab was repeated in East Punjab during July and August 1947. To quote Manto again, “Now before our eyes lie dried tracks of blood, cut up human parts, charred faces, mangled necks, terrified people, looted houses, burned fields, mountains of rubble, and overflowing hospitals. We are free. Hindustan is free. Pakistan is free, and we are walking the desolate streets naked without any possessions in utter distress.”
The violent streak and formation of mobs to attack people deemed to have deviated from a specific religious interpretation in Pakistan is a direct continuation of pre-independence massacres. The popular narrative that only Muslims were the victims of communal violence, propagated in Pakistan’s textbooks and popular culture, are nothing but hogwash. It is imperative upon policymakers to present a balanced picture for future generations and attempt to promote peace studies. There is no other way for violence to recede in our society.