The quest of Muslims of India for a separate homeland acquired real direction and impulse on that epoch-making March 23, when the sprawling Iqbal Park (the then Minto Park), Lahore echoed with the Muslim demand for Pakistan which less than seven-and-a-half years later emerged on the world map as the largest Islamic state.
In the life of Pakistan, March 23 glows not merely as an historic but as a history making day, for, it produced the Resolution that provided the basis for realisation of the concept of Pakistan. The unanimous adoption of the Resolution, a the 27th annual Lahore session of All-India Muslims League on that day, transformed geo-political frontiers of the South - Asia and paved the way for creation of Pakistan. The Resolution signified peak of a long trailing freedom struggle of one hundred million Muslims of the subcontinent as well as focal point of their destiny - Pakistan.
Meeting in the shadows of majestic Badshahi
Mosque, the Muslim League resolved that: It is the considered view of this
session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would
be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed
on the basic principles, viz., that geographically contiguous units are
demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial
readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims
are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones
of India should be grouped to constitute “Independent States” in which
the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”.
Thus the Resolution strongly affirmed separate sovereign political entity of the Muslims which poet philosopher Allama Iqbal in his presidential address at the annual session of the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930, expressed in these words: ‘I would like to see the Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Sind and Balochistan amalgamated into a single state self - government within the British empire, or without the British empire. The formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North West India’. The thinker of Pakistan argued that the ‘life of Islam as a cultural force in this country very largely depends on its centralisation in a specified territory’.
Iqbals’s approach towards Indian Muslim emancipation was deeply rooted in pragmatism - it was embedded, on the one hand, in the universally accepted democratic and constitutional norms and, on the other, it represented inalienable right of Muslims to statehood in areas where they excelled in numerical strength. The claim of Muslims to nationhood was an expression of both truth and reality of the situation. By any political definition, law and criterion, they had an established identity different from all other communities existing on the soil of the sub-continents
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in his address at the famous Lahore session, eloquently described Muslims’ identity: “We are a nation, with our distinctive culture and civilisation, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and emotions; in short we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law we are a nation”.
The message was clear in its intent and enshrined in the Pakistan Resolution it found a forceful exposition in most convincing terms. On political level, the demand for Pakistan contemplated to save Muslims from ruthless exploitation at the hands of a brute majority after India got freedom. On the ideological front, the demand symbolised Muslims’ aspiration to develop a sanctuary where they could shape their lives in conformity with the principles postulated by Islam.
The founder of Pakistan viewed Islam not as myopic doctrine but as a comprehensive and pervasive code of conduct. He said “Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrine, it is a code for every Muslim, which regulated his life and his conduct - all aspects; social, political, economic etc. It is based on the highest principles of honour, integrity, fair play and justice for all. One God, equality and unity are the fundamental principles of Islam”.
Therefore, in the context of the Indian polity, the demand for Pakistan was essentially entrenched in the ‘Two Nation Theory’ which spelt with truth and sharp distinction between followers of Islam and Hinduism. The political fusion and integration of the two communities was inconceivable. The only viable solution of the complex problem lay in establishing a state in areas where by virtue of their majority the Muslims were legitimately entitled to rule.
They had learnt on the strength of experience that while politically their very existence and survival in Hindu-majority-led independent India would be perilous from cultural and social stand-point it portend their gradual extinction. This was a real fear which running through their rank and file fuelled and intensified Pakistan Movement. The demand for Pakistan in clear geo-political terms was, however, voiced for the first time from the Muslim League platform on March 23, 1940.
As soon as the demand was raised, its
opponents mounted an intense anti-Pakistan harangue to stifle it. But the
Muslims, undetered by conspiracies and nefarious designs of the inimicle
forces, carried their march forward with a stronger resolve and unwavering
determination. They stood behind Quaid-e-Azam like an impregnable
wall and the Quaid guided them to their destiny - Pakistan.