Every year we celebrate 23rdof March with national zeal and enthusiasm because it marks a historical event in the history of the Indian subcontinent. On 23rd March 1940, Lahore Resolution – better known as Pakistan resolution – laid the foundation for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the British India. Lahore Resolution formally demanded the creation of a separate political and territorial entity for the Muslims of the British India where they can live independently from Indian suppression. It enabled the Muslims of the British India to move their struggles for the protection of their distinct political, cultural and religious identities into proper direction.
The All India Muslim League, which was the sole representative of the Muslims in the subcontinent, passed the historic resolution at its annual session held from March 22 to March 24, 1940.In the 1937 Elections, the Congress party made its government in majority of seven provinces out of eleven, where the continued suppression of minority Muslims led Jinnah and his companions to fear that Muslims would become a permanent minority under Hindu majority rule. Therefore they proposed the creation of two separate states for the Hindus and the Muslims of the subcontinent. The Lahore resolution demanded:
- The creation of constituent units in such a way that may involve some territorial adjustments so that areas where Muslims are in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped together to form independent states in which each unit will be autonomous and sovereign.
- Adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards for religious minorities in the units for the protection of their religious, political, cultural, economic, administrative and other rights and interests.
- The resolution declared the federal system of government on the basis of provincial representation as totally unacceptable for the Muslims of India because it proved unsuited to and non-workable in minority Muslim regions.
- The resolution further declared that no constitutional plan would be acceptable to Muslim India unless it was framed with their consent and approval.
The resolution which was presented before thousands of the supporters of the Pakistan movement at Minto Park, Lahore was drafted by Sir Zafarullah Khan, who was the prominent representative of Pakistan at the international level. A diplomat and an international lawyer by profession, Khan represented Muslims in round table conferences in London for three consecutive years i.e. 1930, 1931 and 1932. He was a strong advocate of Muslim rights and Muslim independence.
The wide acceptance and endorsement of the Pakistan resolution by the All India Muslim League leaders and supporters made it a strong case in front of the Hindu and British leaders. Most significantly, the Pakistan resolution gathered immense support and appreciation from all the Muslim majority provinces such as Sindh, Punjab, N.W.F.P and Baluchistan as well as minority provinces. The Lahore resolution didn’t appear all of a sudden. In fact, it was part of the process in which resolutions had been passed by the Muslim Leagues members throughout the year 1939 demanding the partition of India into two separate states for the Muslims and the Hindus. All these resolutions served as a precursor of the historical Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940.
Jinnah in his presidential address on this occasion spoke in English and formally made the demand of a separate homeland for the Muslims while representing a mammoth gathering of the Muslims of the British India who were zealous and united under his leadership.
Maulvi Fazlul Haq popularly known as the Lion of Bengal moved the famous Lahore Resolution in the annual session of the Muslim League. Haq explained in detail the merits and objectives of the Pakistan Resolution and also spoke of the many injustices done to the Muslims by the Congress in Hindu majority provinces. The resolution was seconded by Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman who represented the Muslims in United Provinces (U.P) Legislative Assembly in the 1937 Elections as its opposition leader. While lending his support for the resolution, he said, “The Muslims of the United Provinces (U.P) would not get the benefits of Pakistan because their minority status would not place them in the Muslim-majority Pakistan scheme but the U.P. Muslims would be happy to see their brethren in the Muslim majority areas as a part of independent Pakistan”. He expressed full confidence in the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and publicly condemned the Congress leaders for depriving the Muslims of their just rights.
From the Bihar province, Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan supported the Pakistan Resolution while saying “the Muslims of Bihar would make every sacrifice to see their Muslim brethren in the Muslim-majority provinces united and free in a single independent Muslim State to be called Pakistan.” and eulogized the brotherly attitude of the people of the Punjab towards the Muslims from the provinces where they were in a minority. Nawab Ismail Khan also expressed his confidence in the Muslim League and the leadership of Jinnah. He said “Mr Jinnah is the voice and true spokesman of the Subcontinent’s Muslims who are united in demanding independent Muslim Statehood under the banner of the Muslim League”.
Mian Bashir Ahmed, member of the Punjab Muslim Provincial League and a prominent literary figure, also supported the Pakistan resolution. In his speech, he recited his famous poem ‘Millat Ka Paasban Hai Muhammad Ali Jinnah’ which breathed a new spirit in the gathering.
Sir Abdullah Haroon, a noted businessman and philanthropist ardently supported the Pakistan resolution from the Muslim majority Bombay province. He was the member of Bombay Legislative Council where he worked hard for the rights of the Sindhi Muslims and resolved their problems. He played a prominent role in the separation of Sindh from Bombay as an independent province. He founded several educational institutions including ‘Islamia Orphanage School’ for boys, ‘Katchi Memon Madarasa-e-Benat’ for girls and ‘Jamia Islamia Yatimkhana’ among others to help poor students acquire good education as well as vocational training. He was the president of Sindh MuslimProvincial League and made significant contributions to improve the lives of the Sindhi Muslims through his financial support in the fields of education, politics, and journalism. He also setup a newspaper ‘Alwahid’ in 1920 to raise the voice of Sindhi Muslims.
Baluchistan, the most backward region of Muslim India also represented itself on this historical occasion and supported the Lahore resolution which was triumphant in the creation of Pakistan.Qazi Mohammad Isa, who was the founding member of the All India Muslim League in Baluchistan, fervently supported the Pakistan Resolution. He said that the ill-treatment of Muslims in the seven provinces ruled by the Congress for two and a half years had forced the Muslims to demand Pakistan and the partition of India. “The Muslims of Baluchistan, like the Muslims of the NWFP will strive to safeguard the interests of the Muslims in the rest of India. They are our brothers in Faith: and their defense is our moral and religious duty.” With his sheer dedication and hard work, Muslim League firmly established itself as a representative of the Muslims of Baluchistan.
Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, a renowned journalist, writer and poet delivered one of the most eloquent speeches in favor of the Pakistan Resolution. He said, “I today feel as if I am living in a Muslim environment of freedom and Islamic belief.” He expressed his disillusion on the conduct of the congress leaders and said “for them (Congress) independence means the right to oppress and ill-treat the non-Hindu minorities. The Congress rulers have not undertaken any economic enterprise to benefit the Muslim masses in India.” He further said “I am skeptical of any constitution or political setup that would doom Muslims to the unenviable status of a powerless, downtrodden minority; subservient to the Congress rulers.”
From the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, member of Muslim League from Peshawar, supported the resolution and represented the struggles of the Muslims for independence in his region.
From the Muslim ruled State of Hyderabad Deccan, Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang wholeheartedly endorsed the Pakistan Resolution and served all his energies to support the idea of Muslim struggle for the protection of their rights.
Lahore Resolution was a historical document in the history of Muslim struggle for an independent state. The resolution united the Muslim supporters and leaders for independence under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam, encouraged them to work devotedly to achieve the reality of a pure motherland i.e. Pakistan. Lahore Resolution proved to be a strong foundation which enabled the Muslims of the subcontinent to reach their destination within seven years of their struggle.