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ON March 23, 1940, the Muslims of the sub-continent resolved to create a separate homeland, Pakistan. The decision was neither taken in haste nor precipitated by a sudden, dramatic turn of events.

Hindus and Muslims had lived in India for centuries but had remained two distinctly different cultural entities presenting marked dissimilarities that neither time nor assimilation could erase; they were like two streams running a parallel course. So manifest and so profound were the differences that the London Times, commenting on the Government of India Act of 1935, had to ungrudgingly concede: “Undoubtedly the difference between the Hindus and Muslims is not of religion in the strict sense of the word but also of laws and culture, that they may be said indeed to represent two entirely distinct and separate civilizations.”

This incontrovertible realization found a more convincing elucidation in the words of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: “Notwithstanding thousand years of close contact, nationalities which are as divergent today as ever, cannot at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by mean of subjecting them to a democratic constitution and holding them forcibly together by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary Statutes.”

The background of Pakistan Resolution is such that in 1937, provincial autonomy was introduced in the sub-continent under the Government of India Act, 1935. The elections of 1937 provided the Congress with a majority in six provinces, where Congress governments were formed. This led to the political, social, economic and cultural suppression of the Muslims in the Congress ruled provinces.

The Congress contemptuously rejected the Muslim League’s offer of forming coalition ministries. The Muslims were subjected not only to physical attacks but injustice and discriminatory treatment as regards civil liberties, economic measures and employment and educational opportunities. The Congress Ministries introduced the Wardha scheme of education, the object of which was to “de- Muslimize” the Muslim youth and children.

Ian Stephens, former editor of the newspaper “Statesman” and an eyewitness to the working of the Congress Ministries, says: "The effect of this simultaneously on many Muslim minds was of a lightning flash.

What had before been but guessed at now leap forth in horridly clear outline. The Congress, a Hindi-dominated body, was bent on the eventual absorption; Western-style majority rule?, in an undivided sub- continent, could only mean the smaller community being swallowed by the larger.”

The animosity shown by the Hindus to the Muslim and their own experience of two-and-a-half year Congress rule strengthened the Muslims belief in their separate nationality. The discriminatory attitude coupled with attempts by the Hindu dominated Congress to suppress the Muslims impelled the Muslims to finally demand a separate sovereign state for the Muslims.

However, the Muslim demand was violently opposed both by the British and the Hindus; and the Congress attitude toward the Muslims led to the hardening of the Muslims belief that only a separate homeland — Pakistan — can guarantee their freedom. This demand was put in black and white on March 23, 1940.

However the path to independence and separate nationhood was strewn with a multiplying myriad of problems. First and foremost was the claim to nationhood vehemently contested by the Congress stalwarts and their supporters. How could a community of converts claim itself to be a nation? Gandhiji posed the question as he ridiculed the Muslim League’s claim to independent nationhood. The Quaid was quick to furnish the answer: “Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state...

“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literature. They neither intermarry, nor interdine together and, indeed they belong to two different civilizations, which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state...”

After adoption of the Pakistan Resolution, Quaid-e-Azam had a clear objective before him and he struggled hard to achieve it. In one of the meetings, he said: “We are a Nation of a hundred million and what is more, we are a Nation with our distinct culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, as Muslims we have our own distinctive outlook on life.” He further said that by all cannons of international laws, we are a nation.

In 1945, Quaid-e-Azam proclaimed that only Muslim League represented the Muslims, and proved it to the hilt during 1946 polls, winning 100 percent seats at the Centre, and 80 per cent in the provinces. Nothing could have been more conclusive to shatter the Congress claim of being a national body. If the British had read the writing on the wall in this verdict, Pakistan could have come into existence two years earlier without bloodshed. With his charismatic personality Quaid-e-Azam turned the dream of a separate homeland into reality on 14th of August 1947.

Thanks to the Quaid’s unwavering leadership and untiring efforts, Pakistan was transformed from an ideal into a reality in a short span of time. In 1947, seven years after the passage of the historic Pakistan Day Resolution at Lahore, the world witnessed the emergence of the largest Muslim state.


By Anas Khalil - Arab News Mar 23, 2011

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