Pakistan came into existence on 14 August 1947. Muslim leaders, including British-educated Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had argued for an independent state for the Muslim majority areas of northwest and northeast India.
The 1947 Partition of India saw Britain's former territory divided into three parts. The central part, with a Hindu majority, became modern-day India. The western part and parts of Punjab, with a Muslim majority, became West Pakistan. East Bengal, the Muslim majority Bengali province, became East Pakistan.
The new Pakistan was thus a geographically divided nation. One thousand miles of Indian and Nepalese territory separated East Pakistan from West Pakistan.
The Partition caused major upheavals for huge numbers of people moving between the two new countries. It created a population of displaced people, put pressure on the economy and emphasised existing land shortages.
Pakistani men began arriving in Britain from Mirpur in the West and Sylhet in the East (later part of Bangladesh). Many members of their families had worked in the British army or on British merchant navy ships. The building of the Mangla Dam in Mirpur in the late 1950s destroyed hundreds of villages and stimulated another wave of migration to Britain.
Most early migrants hoped to return to Pakistan once they had made enough money to ensure their families' prosperity. However, when the British government threatened to restrict immigration in 1962, many Pakistanis decided to stay, and were joined by their wives and children.
Most Pakistanis came from rural backgrounds and they initially went to work in textile factories in the midlands and north. Those who settled in London also took on unskilled jobs and sent home money to their families.
Like other South Asians, considerable numbers of Pakistanis set up their own businesses, often employing family members. Today a fifth of Pakistani Londoners are self-employed. Businesses such as grocery stores and newsagents are common, while others work as taxi drivers or chauffeurs.
The 2001 census recorded over 143,000 Pakistanis in London, most of whom were Sunni Muslims who speak Urdu. Punjabis, Pathans, Sindhis and Baluchis make up sizeable Pakistani communities in Ilford, Walthamstow, Leyton and Barking, although east London continues to support London's largest community.
Well-known London Pakistanis include Anwar Pervez, whose Earl's Court grocery store expanded into the Bestway chain of shops, and the playwright and author Hanif Kureishi.
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