In Focus

Pakistan Resolution Day: The Ideological, Legal and Social Front for Pakistan

Pakistan Resolution Day symbolizes the efforts for the establishment of an ideological foundation, with an idea of an independent Islamic state for the Muslims with equal rights for minorities, under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Throughout his arduous journey of confronting the historical challenges in the shape of identity threat to Muslims, the Hindu hostility against the representation of the Muslims in the government and their socioeconomic and political survival in the Indian Subcontinent, he advocated passionately for the rights of Muslims.

On March 23, 1940 in Lahore, more than one lakh people and Muslim leaders hailing from Bengal to Frontier, gathered together under the inspiring leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and resolved to make Pakistan the largest Muslim State in the world, under the auspices of All India Muslim League (AIML), the largest Muslim political party in the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. Though the name of “Pakistan” was deliberately avoided because of the impending dangers from the Hindu Congress and the British Raj, the move was tactfully handled in such a way by the Muslim leaders that the Hindu press named it “Pakistan”. The session of AIML was planned in March when the British Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow had made a commitment with Quaid-i-Azam that no step of freedom of British India would be taken by the British Government unless the AIML had been taken into confidence. Along with it, the Resolution was so worded that the Quaid’s speech one day before the Resolution served as the basis of the ideological, legal and social front for Pakistan. Not only this, but the speeches by the mover of the Resolution, Maulvi A. K. Fazl-ul-Haq and those who spoke in support of the Resolution supplemented to what the Quaid had already said.1
As the language of the resolution runs, it was put, “Resolved that it is the considered view of the 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 following 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.”2 In his presidential speech on March 22, 1940, the Quaid said: “We find that even according to the British map of India, we occupy large parts of this country where the Musalmans are in a majority—such as Bengal, Punjab, North-West Forntier Province (NWFP), Sind and Baluchistan.”3 He also declared: “Musalamans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homelands, their territory and their State.”4 Explaining the deep-rooted Hindu and Muslim conflict, the Quaid made it clear in his presidential address, “It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders. It is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits, and is the cause of most of our troubles, and will lead India to destruction, if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and the Muslims belong to different religious philosophies, 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 Musalamans derive their inspirations from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and they have different episodes. Very often the hero of one is the foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single State, one as numerical minority, and the other as majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final discontent of any fabric that they may be so built up for the government of such a State.”5
The resolution was presented in the session on 23rd March and approved next day after fully debating it, in which leaders from all parts of the subcontinent participated. As Jinnah planned, the resolution was moved by A. K. Fazl-ul-Haq, the Premier of Bengal, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, a leader from Uttar Pradesh (UP) seconded it. Others who spoke in favor of this resolution included Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, editor of the popular Urdu daily Zamindar; Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, leader of the opposition in the NWFP (now KP) Assembly; Sir Abdullah Haroon, a veteran leader from Sindh; Khan Bahadur Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan, President of the UP Muslim League; Mohammad Isa Khan, President of the Baluchistan Muslim League; Abdul Hamid Khan, Leader of the Muslim Party in the Madras Assembly; I. I. Chundrigar, Deputy Leader of the Muslim League party in the Bombay Assembly; Syed Abdur Rauf Shah, President of the Central Provinces (CP) of AIML; Dr. Mohammad Alam from the Punjab, Syed Zakir Ali, Begum Mohammad Ali, widow of late Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, and Maulana Abdul Hamid.6 The resolution was passed on 24th March “unanimously amid great enthusiasm.”7 This reflected the unity of the Muslims of the subcontinent, belonging to both the majority and minority Muslim provinces of British India, who fully supported the Quaid in his scheme of Pakistan.
Quaid-i-Azam was the leader who had a strong sense of history. He not only rightly interpreted the historical development in the contemporary realities, but he was also a person who thought along the lines of giving a new direction to history. He also understood the main forces, as mentioned before, which shaped the history. At the international and national level, it was the British Government which formed the greatest force of history. In the internal political developments, it were the Indian National Congress (INC) leaders who were another big factor in history, representing the Hindu majority’s will. Mr. Jinnah, in his long political career of working with the Congress leaders since his entry into politics in 1897, had visualized that the Congress leaders were not allowing the Muslims any respectable position in the body politic of South Asia. For making the Muslims a third majority power factor of South Asia, Jinnah got the chance when World War II started in September 1939. On this issue, he challenged the British masters and made them realize that the Muslims are a third major factor without whose approval the future of South Asia could not be determined. Through his wise policies, Quaid-i-Azam brought unity amongst the rank and file of the Muslims of the subcontinent. After having achieved this unity during 1935-1939, he presented the goal of Pakistan for their approval in March 1940. Now with the united Muslim backing, he was ready to deal with the Congress leaders.
The Lahore session of AIML was closely watched by the Governor of the Punjab, Sir Henry Craik. He sent his secret report to the Viceroy on March 25, 1940, in which he wrote, “The session of the Muslim League finished last night and I am glad to be able to report that my Ministers have emerged comparatively unscathed from a situation that at one time seemed extremely critical.”8 He also wrote: “As regards the result of the Muslim League session, I imagine you are in as good a position to appreciate these as I am. My own impression is that the influence and that the unanimity and enthusiasm shown at the session have given the League a position of far greater authority than it previously enjoyed.”9
At that time Lord Zetland was the functioning Secretary of State for India. When he heard of the popularity of the Muslim demand, his first reaction was his realization that he could not avoid expressing his hostility to the Pakistan demand, a stance least liked by the Home Government and by Linlithgow. Writing to Lord Linlithgow in April 1940, Zetland observed that the situation in India had become so dangerous that it was very difficult to administer India without the consent and approval of the Muslims. What he noted that was all the more important was that Muslims belong to different ideological and social atmosphere which developed in the Muslim majority areas over the long Muslim rule on these lands.10
When Pakistan was created on August 14, 1947 on the basis of this Resolution, though truncated by dividing three provinces of Assam, Bengal and Punjab, it was expected that the new constitution of Pakistan would be framed as early as possible. But a number of problems emerged after the creation of Pakistan on the instigation of the Nehru’s Government in Hindustan, such as the influx of refugees from India in millions, stoppage of water in the canals of Pakistan from Indian headworks, Pakhtoon issue and establishment of government machinery in Karachi and other provincial capitals. Quaid-i-Azam, who assumed the charge of Governor-General of Pakistan, could not live long more than 13 months and he passed away on September 11, 1948. Therefore, he and the nascent Government of Pakistan could not find time to write and approve the Constitution of Pakistan. After the death of Quaid-i-Azam, there arose a controversy as to how the Constitution should be democratic or Islamic. This issue was addressed by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in the form of Objectives Resolution, which he got approved by the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on March 12, 1949. 
The Objectives Resolution determined the aims and objectives for the Constitution of Pakistan. A long debate followed, both in the Parliament and outside, resulting into the formation of two Constitutions of 1956 and 1962. Both these constitutions failed to prevail. Finally, the Constitution of 1973 was framed with the consensus of almost all the political parties in the Parliament. Finally, the 18th Constitutional Amendment passed by Parliament in 2010 restored the Constitution to its original form as determined by the Objectives Resolution of 1949. This Resolution had determined that “principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated in Islam shall be fully observed”. But at the same time, the Resolution made it clear regarding the minorities, “Adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures”.11
Explaining the background with reference to the Pakistan Resolution of March 23, 1940, Liaquat Ali Khan as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, delivered his long speech in support of the Objectives Resolution on March 7, 1949. Liaquat Ali Khan categorically explained, “Pakistan was founded because the Muslims of the subcontinent wanted to build up their lives in accordance with the teachings and traditions of Islam, because they wanted to demonstrate to the world that Islam provides panacea to the many diseases which have crept into the life of humanity”.12 All the same, Liaquat Ali Khan was conscious enough to explain, “Islam does not recognize either priesthood or any sacerdotal authority and, therefore, the question of theocracy simply does not arise in Islam..” He was also conscious enough to explain, “When we use the word democracy in the Islamic sense, it pervades all aspects of our life; it relates to our system of Government and to our society with equal validity, because one of the greatest contributions of Islam has been the idea of the equality of all men”.13 Quoting the Quaid in this connection, Liaquat continued, “Sir, that the State is not to play the part of a neutral observer, wherein the Muslims may be merely free to profess and practice their religion, because such an attitude on the part of the State would be the very negation of the ideals which prompted the demand of Pakistan, and it is these ideals which should be the cornerstone of the State which we want to build. The State will create such conditions as are conducive to the building up of a truly Islamic society, which means that the State will have to play a positive part in this effort. You would remember, Sir, that the Quaid-i-Azam and other leaders of the Muslim League always made unequivocal declarations that the Muslim demand for Pakistan is based upon the fact that the Muslims had a way of life and a code of conduct. They also reiterated the fact that Islam is not merely a relationship between the individual and his God, which should not, in any way, affect the working of the State. Indeed, Islam lays down specific direction for social behavior, and seeks to guide the society in its attitude towards the problems which confronts it from day to day. Islam is not just a matter of private beliefs and conduct. It expects its followers to build up a society for the purpose of good life.”14
Part II of the Constitution of 1973 provides for the fundamental rights and principles of policy which the State is to pursue.15 Liaquat’s Objectives Resolution of March 1949 has also been made part of the Constitution of 1973 under Article 2A.16 The State and its principal institutions like parliament, government and judiciary have been made bound to act on these principles. Though there are certain articles regarding the role and functioning of the Federal and Provincial Government, which can be termed not strictly in accordance with the spirit of the Objectives Resolution or those of the Pakistan Resolution, the overall functioning of the State and the Government is very near to the spirit of the ideas of the original founders of the State of Pakistan. The ideological content has been incorporated in terms of an oath given at the end of the Constitution which Prime Minister, the Chief Executive, and other ministers, judges, functionaries of the federal and provincial government have to take and swear.17

The writer is a former Director, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam Chair (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. 
E-mail: [email protected]

1.  S. S. Pirzada (ed.), Foundations of Pakistan: All India Muslim League Documents 1906-1947, Vol. II, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2007, pp. 297-320.
2. Ibid., p. 312.
3.  Ibid., p. 306.
4.  Ibid., p. 310.
5.  Ibid., p. 309.
6.  Ibid., pp. 311-315.
7.  Ibid., p. 315.
8.  Craik to Linlithgow, 25 March 1940, Linlithgow Papers, Eur. Mss. F. 125/89, British Library (OIOC), London.
9.  Ibid.
10.  Zetland to Linlithgow, 5 April 1940, Linlithgow Papers, Eurr. Mss., F. 125/9.
10.  Viceroy to Secretary of State (telegram), 6 April 1940, Eur. Mss. F. 125/19, British Library.
11.  G. W. Choudhury, Documents and Speeches on the Constitution of Pakistan, Green Book House, Dacca.
12.  Ibid.
13.  Ibid.
14.  Ibid.
15.  M. Abdul Basit, The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Rawalpindi, Federal Law House, 2022, pp. 25-41.
16.  Ibid., p. 23.
17.  Ibid., pp. 246-263.


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