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Hilal Her

March 23, 1940: Reminiscing the Past For a Bright Future

March 2024

Upon entering Lahore, anyone visiting the historic, vibrant city can notice the huge tower called Minar-e-Pakistan located at Iqbal Park, which was once named Minto Park. This significant landmark was built to commemorate the historic resolution of All India Muslim League (AIML) that it passed on March 23, 1940 – the Pakistan Resolution – a watershed moment in the history of the subcontinent after which the struggle for Pakistan began in earnest and picked up momentum.

The Resolution Day reminds me of the glorious vision that the founding fathers had and the youth’s role in realizing Pakistan, but the woes of my people today haunt me. Pakistan is afflicted by various problems, with one of the key difficulties being the squandering of youth potential. When the potential of youth is utilized correctly, it can result in transformation, fostering of creativity, progress, and sustainable development, but unfortunately for Pakistan, this potential has not been used to its fullest for various reasons.
During the Pakistan Movement, the call for a separate nation for Indian Muslims and the efforts to attain it were integral components of the students’ wings’ principles. The Pakistan Resolution raised awareness among the youth of the Indian Subcontinent about the significance of having a separate nation for Muslims. The prolonged British colonial rule in India and the harsh treatment of Indian Muslims by the imperialists crushed their hopes and forced them to endure a life of agony and despair, yet they remained resilient.
The youth, in order to overthrow the imperialistic rule, actively participated in the Pakistan Movement for self-determination with the ultimate goal of establishing a separate nation for the Indian Muslims. Youth from various social backgrounds played a vital role in the formation of Pakistan. Additionally, students from Aligarh Muslim University significantly contributed to the triumph of the Muslim League in the Provincial and Central Assembly elections and eventually in the establishment of Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jinnah led the Pakistan cause with inspiring leadership and motivated the youth to play a crucial role. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had complete confidence in the new generation that did not waver even after the successful creation of Pakistan. Jinnah said, “Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students who have always been in the forefront in the hour of trail and need. You are the nation-builders of tomorrow and you must fully equip yourself by discipline, education, and training for the arduous task lying ahead of you. You should realize the magnitude of your responsibility and be ready to bear it.” (Address to a delegation of the Committee of Action of the Punjab Muslim Students Federation Lahore, October 31, 1947).
Pakistan, our beloved homeland, is currently facing economic, social, and political challenges. The rising crime rate, rapid depletion of natural resources, declining agriculture, power shortage, etc., are some pressing issues. Pakistan's population is primarily comprised of youth. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) National Human Development Survey, Pakistan currently holds the highest proportion of young people, as 64% of the total population of Pakistan is below the age of 30, while 29% is between the ages of 15 and 29 years. Amidst the chaos, there remains much hope, anticipation, and potential for success and victory. There is a significant responsibility on the shoulders of the young generation for the progress of the country’s development. To improve the current situation, it is essential for the younger generation to take proactive steps to bring about positive change.
The founders of Pakistan aimed to create a progressive country with religious freedom, financial independence, fulfillment of women’s rights, etc. An informed and educated young generation has the potential to bring about positive change in the current state of economic hardships within the country. Pakistan has made incremental progress in empowering youth, especially women, but still, there is a lot of work to be done because it seems like we have deviated from the vision for Pakistan and particularly neglected women’s role in the nation’s advancement. We must empower women by promoting financial independence, supporting their rights, involving them in decision-making processes, and helping them reach their full potential. Only when Pakistani men and women work side by side would our nation make tremendous strides forward.
Youth should motivate and inspire their peers, colleagues, and friends to shift the nation’s mindset towards critically analyzing societal issues and brainstorming solutions. This can be achieved by collaborating with stakeholders such as the private sector, non-government organizations, educational institutions, and citizen groups. The youth must be curious and inquisitive in order to support rational decision-making and educate the people through various means. This will help alleviate frustration among individuals. By increasing awareness, we can focus on addressing issues instead of harboring negative feelings towards the state and government.
We all collectively constitute a nation, and thus, we all need to put in our efforts, even if they seem too little to have an impact. In his poetic output, Allama Iqbal repeatedly advised the young never to lose hope and always be optimistic.

Unfortunately, the message from Iqbal seems to have been overlooked by the younger generation, making them feel disheartened. Youth must prioritize looking for solutions rather than only dwelling on contemporary problems. Today, we are in dire need of shaheens who embody the philosophy of Iqbal. A pessimistic younger generation can be detrimental and even disastrous for a nation. It is high time that the younger generation awakens from its slumber, looks up to inspirational figures like Iqbal and Jinnah, and tries to understand their aspirations instead of being consumed by despair and pessimism.

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