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Pakistan Resolution: A Tribute

By 23/03/2021 0 Comments


Introduction 

The 23rd of March is a significant date in the history of Pakistan. On this day in 1940, the historic convention of the All India Muslim League convened demanding autonomy of the Muslim majority States within the Indian Union. The Hindu media disapprovingly called Lahore Resolution as Pakistan Resolution. Seven years later, Pakistan became a reality. It was also on this day in 1956 that Pakistan adopted its first constitution. Until the mid-1930s, Muslim leaders in India were trying their level best to safeguard the political rights of Muslims in the framework of a federal India by seeking maximum autonomy for Muslim majority provinces. The Government of India Act 1935 did provide some safeguards to Muslims in the form of separate electorates, but as a result of the elections held under this Act, the Indian National Congress formed a government in six out of the eight provinces. The subsequent rule of congress remained a lesson for Muslims of the Indian subcontinent as the constant attacks on Muslim culture and heightened Hindu activity in the form of Vidya mandir scheme and Wardha scheme of education were all interpreted as Congress atrocities. Therefore, the idea of separation gained a stronghold in Muslim minds and the Sindh provincial Muslim League conference recommended the All India Muslim League to devise a scheme of the constitution where Muslims may gain full independence.

The Lahore Conference

On the 22nd of March 1940, a general session of the All India Muslim League was called by Muhammad Ali Jinnah to discuss the situation arising from the outbreak of the Second World War and the Government of India joining the war without taking the opinion of the Indian leaders. Also on the agenda was to discuss why the Muslim League had failed to win the general elections in 1937. Jinnah, in his speech, criticised the Congress and the nationalist Muslims while also advocating for the Two-Nation theory and the demand for a separate homeland. His arguments caught the attention of the Muslim masses and Sikandar Hayat Khan, chief minister for Punjab, who drafted the Lahore Resolution. It was placed before the All India Muslim League for discussion. The resolution was adopted on the 24th of March 1940 and the Hindu dominated press termed it as the “Pakistan Demand”. The resolution demanded that the areas where Muslims were in a numerical majority should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign. By emphasizing the idea of Pakistan, the Hindu press succeeded in converting a wordy and cloudy lawyer’s formula into a clarion call. The Muslims, who were searching for their identity, finally found it in the Lahore Resolution. Thereafter, the dominant theme of Muslim politics shifted from criticising Hindu injustice to demanding separate political existence.

Significance of the Lahore Resolution

Indeed, from 1940 onwards, Pakistan was a great talking point of the Indian independence debate. Allama Iqbal had also espoused the idea earlier with Muslim leaders as he famously reflected this concept in his Allahabad address of 1930, envisioning a North Western Muslim Province within the British Indian Union. The resolution has not lost its historical significance and remains the document for the existence of Pakistan and the continued struggle for the liberation of Kashmir. Quaid E Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947 reflected the spirit of the Lahore Resolution in many ways. The passing of the Resolution in 1940 marked the transformation of a Muslim minority in British India into a nation with its distinguishing socio-cultural and political features. The resolution is special in the sense that it employs a modern political discourse for putting forward its demand rather than using a religious idiom for creating a religious-Islamic state for the protection of Islam. The resolution addressed the political and constitutional context of British India and pointed out the course of action which needed to be taken to secure the Muslim identity, rights, and interests. The Resolution thus offered a new course of action for the Muslims of British India as compared to the Muslim League position adopted on constitutional and political issues in the past. The change was that of strategy but not of the goal. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the Pakistan Resolution is the fact that it is the documented version of the Two-Nation theory.

Conclusion

The Muslims of British India had been in search of their identity for the most part of the nineteenth and the twentieth century. After going through a gruelling Congress rule, the Muslim leadership finally realised that a united India with a federal system of governance and Hindu majority was not going to fare well for the Muslims in the future. This made the All India Muslim League leadership draft a resolution demanding a separate homeland for Muslims and complete autonomy for their cultural, social, and political rights. The two-nation theory, which once remained a robust idea in the minds of great men, was for the first time, drafted in ink and paper for the world to see its importance and relevance. Let us celebrate this day, and remember the sacrifices of our forefathers, to renew our commitment to this state. Pakistan Zindabad!

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