In honour of this year, the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pakistan, our first three events celebrated the lives and legacies of undisputed heroes of Pakistan: one of the founding fathers of the nation Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the poet and ideologist Allama Iqbal, and the great philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi.
Wednesday, 18 October, 2017
The End of an Empire – how a handful of people changed the world for ever
A talk by Alex von Tunzelmann
Time: 6.00pm with the talk at 6.30pm
Venue: The High Commission for Pakistan, 36 Lowndes Square, London SW1X 8JN.
Admission: This event is open to Members of The Pakistan Society and their guests.
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In August 1947, in one of the defining moments of the 20th century, the sovereign nations of Pakistan and India came into being. Some 400 million people gained independence, and Britain lost four-fifths of its empire. This pivotal, cataclysmic event had been brought about by a tiny number of people. The chief players were Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the formal, highly disciplined politician, the future Quaid-e-Azam; Jawaharlal Nehru, the fiery prime minister-to-be; Gandhi, the profoundly influential yet mystical figure; and Louis and Edwina Mountbatten, the glamorous but unlikely couple who had been dispatched to get Britain out of India without delay.
Alex von Tunzelmann’s bestselling book Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire was published to great acclaim ten years ago. Now, to mark another decade in Pakistan’s history, she will re-visit the scene and talk about those events and personalities. She will convey the extreme pressures under which they were all working. She will consider the main charges against Mountbatten and consider whether all the main protagonists were at times guilty of obstinacy, pride, ill-temper and bad judgment. She will look at the roles played by Churchill and Attlee and will ask whether the mayhem and massacres that accompanied partition were the legacy of decades of chaotic, violent, unresponsive and wilfully divisive British rule.
Alex von Tunzelmann is an historian and screenwriter. Her first book was described by the writer William Dalrymple as ‘Unquestionably the best book I have ever read on the Independence and Partition of India and Pakistan, and pretty close to a flat-out masterpiece.’ Her most recent book is Blood and Sand: Suez, Hungary and the Crisis that Shook the World. She has remained deeply interested and involved in Pakistani matters, and took part in the most recent Lahore Literary Festival both in Lahore and in London.