UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Playing politics with national unity; or, The role of political leadership in secession on the Indian subcontinent: the partition of 1947 and the secession of 1971 Swaab, Selma


This thesis represents an attempt to explain the phenomenon of secession through the role of political leadership in the Partition of India in 1947 and the secession of East Pakistan from West Pakistan in 1971. Although there is no single factor, which by itself, adequately explains secession, it is assumed in this thesis that political leadership, as one factor in many, is one of the more important, if not the most important, variables in understanding the occurrence of secession and of movements directed toward that goal. One of the two major hypotheses underlying this analysis is that the primary goal of political leaders is to obtain and maintain positions of political power and authority from where they can affect the polity which they seek to rule. The second hypothesis is that secession is a means or a leadership strategy in the struggle for authority whereby political leaders seek to gain their primary goal. Given this perspective on secession, the body of the thesis is concerned mainly with leadership interaction and with the bargains and negotiations between leaders which focus and limit their course of action in the struggle for authority. It is this narrowing down of alternative courses of action which ultimately propels leaders into adopting secessionist-oriented policies.

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