In 1947, when Pakistan was created, scarcely any attention was paid to resolving the problems inherent in a culturally plural society. Existing institutions proved inflexible and new ones did not evolve to respond to the aspirations of the Bengali people. As a result, Pakistan was dismembered within twenty-four years of its birth. Contrary to expectations, Pakistan's national disintegration failed to generate analysis or debate among intellectuals. Via thematic analysis of a cross-section of Urdu creative writing about the events of 1971, the author of this article probes the mentality of selected writers, searching for their response to the disintegration of their nation. What is the meaning of Pakistani nationhood? How do the writers interpret the breakup of 1971? And what implications do their attitudes have for the issue of regional versus national identity? The author concludes that the ethos of the writers scarcely differs from that of their society—it is an ethos that might well have precipitated the 1971 crisis.

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