PARTITION - THE BASICS
British India divided into two - Pakistan with Muslim majority and India secular but with Hindu majority
India's Mahatma Gandhi opposed the idea
Last Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten oversaw talks between India's Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammed Ali Jinnah head of Muslim League
Led to largest mass migration in history
In 1947, the jewel of the British Empire, India, was granted independence, divided along religious lines and two nations were born - India and Pakistan.
Partition left 10 million people uprooted and more than half a million Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus dead in riots and massacres.
Sixty years on, the status of Kashmir remains unresolved despite a tenuous peace process between India and Pakistan, following three wars. Communal unrest continues to surface from time to time in both countries. The good news is that the economies are growing, especially in India.
Find out more about how India, Pakistan and, since 1971 Bangladesh, have developed since partition.
THE CHANGING FACE OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT
1. Dominion of Pakistan created on 14 August 1947. Became world's first Islamic Republic in 1956. New city of Islamabad replaced Karachi as capital in the mid 1960s
2. British India was made up of provinces, princely states and state agencies. An independent Union of India was created on 15 August 1947 and renamed the Republic of India in 1950
3. Punjab was split in two. Majority Muslim western part became Pakistan's Punjab province; majority Sikh and Hindu eastern part became India's Punjab state
4. Bengal divided into Indian state of West Bengal and East Pakistan, which became East Bengal in 1956 and Bangladesh achieved independence after a civil war in 1971
ECONOMY AND WELFARE
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have come a long way since the British left them. Of the three nations, India has seen by far the most dramatic growth.
In terms of economic resources, India did much better than Pakistan out of partition. It inherited 90% of the subcontinent's industry and the thriving cities of Delhi, Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta.
It is now one of the world's fastest developing economies with average growth rates of 8% over the past three years. It is also emerging as a serious global player in information technology, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.
By contrast, Pakistan's economy which was based on agriculture and controlled by feudal elites, was left with 17.5% of the British colonial government's financial reserves after partition.
Nevertheless, it has seen sustained growth since the early 1950s despite internal strife, conflict with India, US sanctions, global recession and, more recently, the 2005 earthquake.
The economy really took off in 2000 after reforms that saw public sector enterprises privatised, relaxation of regulations on external trade and reform of the banking sector.
Thanks to economic growth and foreign investment, all three states have seen expansion and improvement of health and education services. Life expectancy has increased, infant and maternal death rates have dropped, and literacy rates risen.
But poverty is still widespread in all three nations, which feature in the top 10 most populous in the world. Almost half the population in Bangladesh lives on less than $1 a day and Pakistan's social indicators still lag behind countries with comparable per capita incomes.
A substantial number of people living in India's villages remain illiterate and impoverished, raising concerns about the inclusivity of the economic boom.
Powerful regional and caste-based parties have empowered many poor people whose progress was hampered by the ancient Hindu caste system, but that system still impedes widespread social progress.
After independence, India and Pakistan had to devise new
ways of running their countries and creating nation states.
Pakistan has been led largely by military rulers over the last 60 years. Bangladesh fell under military rule a few years after independence, democracy being restored in 1990, but the political scene there is unpredictable.
While Pakistan was created as a Muslim state after Jinnah's insistence that Muslims of the former colony needed a separate country of their own, Hindu-majority India was, and formally remains, secular, and also the world's largest democracy.
The violence between Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus in 1947 was never repeated on such a horrific scale, but the struggle to keep the peace between communal and religious groups is ongoing in both India and Pakistan.
After the death of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1964 and the rise to power of his daughter Indira Gandhi, tensions grew between the Hindu majority and Sikhs.
In 1984, Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards after ordering troops to flush out Sikh militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. And in 1992, widespread Hindu-Muslim violence erupted after Hindu extremists demolished the Babri mosque at Ayodhya.
More recently, there have been several bombings, such as the attack on Mumbai's train network in July 2006 which police blamed on Pakistani militants and a banned Indian group.
Pakistan, whose citizens are mostly Muslim, has seen Sunni and Shia factions killing each other in their thousands in three of the four Pakistani regions since the 1980s.
After 9/11, Pakistan's government became an ally of Washington by dropping its support for the Taleban regime in Afghanistan.
Religion has been a divisive force in Pakistan and India
It took a tougher stance towards Islamic extremists, as highlighted in the bloody siege and suicide bombing at Islamabad's Red Mosque in July.
Bangladesh has also been affected by internal strife.
The country has suffered from bomb attacks on secular and cultural organisations and events for more than a decade.
The near simultaneous bombings across Bangladesh in 2005 were a dramatic pointer to religious extremism and two fringe Islamic organisations have been banned.
2.57% of GDP (2006)
3.14% of GDP (2007)
2.24% of GDP (2006 estimate)
ARMED FORCES (total strength)
India: 3,978 main battle tanks including 1,133 in reserve
Pakistan: 2,461 main battle tanks including 1,100 in reserve
Bangladesh: 180 (claimed)
India: Air Force: 763, Navy: 34
Pakistan: Air Force: 352, Navy: 16
5 (frigates only - 3 of limited use)
Source: IISS 2007 Military Balance/ Jane's Country Risk
(estimated total warheads)
50 - 90
Sources: SIPRI Yearbook 2006/NRDC
The military balance between India and Pakistan is difficult to establish as it depends on many factors, such as quality of command, training, discipline and morale.
Most Indian-Pakistani conflicts have ended in stalemate except the Bangladesh War in 1971, when Pakistan's defeat was complete.
India backed, sheltered and trained Bangladeshi guerrillas which contributed to Pakistan's defeat.
Kashmir has been the main flashpoint ever since Partition.
The two neighbours, now nuclear powers, have twice waged war over the disputed region - in 1947-48 and 1965.
The region is now divided in two by a Line of Control and often breached by separatist militants.
In 1999, fighting between Indian and Pakistani-backed forces in Indian Kashmir led to a new conflict, known as the Kargil conflict, but not full-scale war.
In their last confrontation in 2002, India deployed 700,000 troops; Pakistan, 300,000 - three-fourths of their regular forces - either side of the Line of Control in Kashmir and the internationally recognised India-Pakistan border.
Both readied their armoured, air and naval forces for war. India prepared for offensive operations to destroy militant camps.
Pakistan's objective was to defend key points against attack.
Intense Western diplomacy and, perhaps more significantly, mutual nuclear deterrence eventually defused tensions, but it was a close run thing.