The Strug­gle for Pak­istan

The story of the strug­gle for Pak­istan is unique among other in­de­pen­dence move­ments in the sense that it re­lied more on mass pub­lic sup­port through demo­cratic mo­bi­liza­tion, peace­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­sen­sus build­ing rather than armed op­po­si­tion and use

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ear­lier, Mus­lims had played a lead role in the 1857 War of In­de­pen­dence and there­fore suf­fered sup­pres­sion un­der the Bri­tish colo­nial rule. They also did not rec­on­cile with the supremacy of the Bri­tish and thus re­mained at a dis­ad­van­tage as com­pared to the ma­jor­ity Hindu com­mu­nity that had bet­ter ad­justed to the changed en­vi­ron­ment and dom­i­nated com­merce and ser­vices un­der the Bri­tish. By the late nine­teenth cen­tury, the con­di­tion of Mus­lims in the sub­con­ti­nent had sunk so low in the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial spheres of life that they were un­able to com­pete with the Hindu ma­jor­ity. An im­por­tant first re­sponse to change this predica­ment was the re­formist move­ment of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who founded the Mo­ham­madan An­glo-Ori­en­tal College at Ali­garh to en­cour­age Mus­lims to re­ceive mod­ern ed­u­ca­tion.

The other tow­er­ing fig­ure who emerged on the po­lit­i­cal scene around the turn of the cen­tury was Muham­mad Iqbal, a poet and philoso­pher, who wished to make progress an in­te­gral prin­ci­ple of life of Mus­lims. He was of the view that the spir­i­tual force of Islam bound the Mus­lims of South Asia to­gether into one na­tion.

Po­lit­i­cally, the Mus­lim con­cerns about their rights led to the found­ing of the All In­dia Mus­lim League in 1906. The im­me­di­ate cause that pre­cip­i­tated this de­vel­op­ment was the Mus­lim re­ac­tion to Hindu ag­i­ta­tion over the par­ti­tion of Ben­gal into a Mus­lim ma­jor­ity prov­ince of East Ben­gal and Hindu ma­jor­ity prov­ince of West Ben­gal that was later an­nulled by the Bri­tish dis­re­gard­ing in­ter­ests of Ben­gali Mus­lims.

The for­ma­tion of the League proved to be one of the most vi­tal steps to­wards mo­bi­liza­tion of the Mus­lims of the sub­con­ti­nent, as the party pri­mar­ily fo­cused on safe­guard­ing Mus­lim in­ter­ests such as sep­a­rate elec­torates and as­sured rep­re­sen­ta­tion for mi­nori­ties in the cen­tral and provin­cial leg­is­la­tures. The League also played a broader role such as in re­flect­ing the sen­ti­ments of the Mus­lims over the Balkan war (1912) which was re­garded by the Mus­lims of the sub­con­ti­nent as an at­tempt by the Euro­pean pow­ers to drive Turkey out of Europe.

By 1909 fol­low­ing the Minto-Mor­ley re­forms, even though the pos­si­bil­ity of the Bri­tish leav­ing the sub­con­ti­nent still seemed re­mote, the de­mand for con­sti­tu­tional self­gov­ern­ment had gained ground. In 1913, Muham­mad Ali Jin­nah, a prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal leader and bar­ris­ter, (who later be­came known as the “Quaid-e-Azam” or “the great leader”) was per­suaded to join the Mus­lim League. One of the sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments of Jin­nah, after join­ing the League, was to se­cure an agree­ment be­tween the Mus­lim League and the Congress on a scheme of con­sti­tu­tional re­forms lead­ing to self gov­ern­ment, known as the Lukhnow Pact (1916). It earned him the ti­tle of “Am­bas­sador of Hindu-Mus­lim Unity” and demon­strated his will­ing­ness to work with Hindu lead­ers in the vi­tal in­ter­est of se­cur­ing an end to alien sub­ju­ga­tion.

An All Par­ties Con­fer­ence met in 1928 to draft a con­sti­tu­tion for In­dia. The draft­ing sub-com­mit­tee headed by Moti­lal Nehru, pub­lished the Nehru Re­port after the Con­fer­ence which came as a shock to the Mus­lims since it pro­vided no safe­guards to pro­tect the rights of the Mus­lims as a com­mu­nity. The Re­port’s con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions vir­tu­ally rel­e­gated them to re­main per­ma­nently un­der the gov­ern­ment of an un­al­ter­able Hindu ma­jor­ity.

Jin­nah put for­ward his counter pro­pos­als to the Nehru Re­port, in an at­tempt to give a work­able shape to the con­sti­tu­tional scheme for the in­de­pen­dence of the sub­con­ti­nent. His pro­pos­als known as the his­toric “Four­teen Points” mainly en­vis­aged: a fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion, a uni­form mea­sure of provin­cial au­ton­omy, an ad­e­quate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of mi­nori­ties in all elected bod­ies, in­clud­ing the leg­is­la­tures; a sys­tem of sep­a­rate elec­torates, not less than one-third rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Mus­lims in Par­lia­ment in ac­cor­dance with the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion, a guar­an­tee of re­li­gious free­dom to all com­mu­ni­ties, an as­sured share for Mus­lims in the ser­vices and safe­guards for the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of Mus­lim cul­ture. How­ever, the Congress re­jected Jin­nah’s “Four­teen Points”. His dis­ap­point­ment was acute and it was shared by Mus­lims through­out the sub­con­ti­nent.

Mus­lim sus­pi­cions of the Congress fur­ther deep­ened in 1937 when elec­tions to the provin­cial leg­is­la­tures were held and led to the for­ma­tion of Congress min­istries in 7 out of the 11 prov­inces. The Congress rule was seen as dis­crim­i­na­tory and in­sen­si­tive to Mus­lims and their dis­tinc­tive cul­ture. The Congress flag flew on pub­lic build­ings; Bande Ma­tram, a song from an anti-Mus­lim novel, was made the na­tional an­them; Hindi re­placed Urdu; Mus­lim rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the pub­lic ser­vices was re­duced. The Congress rule pro­duced a deep sense of in­se­cu­rity and re­sent­ment among Mus­lims.

Fi­nally, on 23 March 1940, at the Mus­lim League ses­sion in La­hore, the his­toric “Pak­istan Res­o­lu­tion” was adopted which gave a clear di­rec­tion to­wards in­de­pen­dence and a home­land for Mus­lims, spurring po­lit­i­cal aware­ness and ac­tion among the Mus­lims of Ben­gal, Pun­jab, Sindh, Balochis­tan and the North West Fron­tier. They ral­lied around Jin­nah, whom they rev­er­ently called the Quaid-e-Azam (the Great Leader).

Congress re­ac­tion to the Mus­lim de­mand for a home­land was strongly neg­a­tive. When ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the League and the Congress failed to ar­rive at an agreed modus operandi, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment de­cided to hold gen­eral elec­tions in Jan­uary 1946. The League emerged vin­di­cated as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Mus­lim voice by win­ning all the Mus­lim seats in the Cen­tral Assem­bly.

In June 1947, the Bri­tish an­nounced the ‘Par­ti­tion Plan’ based largely on the prin­ci­ple of ma­jor­ity Mus­lim ar­eas con­sti­tut­ing Pak­istan. On 11 Au­gust 1947, the Quaid-eAzam in­au­gu­rated the Con­stituent Assem­bly of Pak­istan. On 14 Au­gust 1947, the last Bri­tish Viceroy Mount­bat­ten ar­rived in Karachi and for­mally pro­claimed the trans­fer of sovereignty to the new state. On the same day, Quaid-e-Azam Muham­mad Ali Jin­nah was sworn in as the first Gov­er­nor Gen­eral of Pak­istan.

Young Pak­istan faced daunt­ing chal­lenges of na­tion build­ing with no re­sources and ab­sence of in­dus­try and in­fra­struc­ture com­pounded by mas­sive in­flux of refugees and the early con­fronta­tion with In­dia on Kash­mir, which should have been a part of Pak­istan in ac­cor­dance with the par­ti­tion plan and the man­i­fest wishes of the Kash­miri peo­ple. The Kash­miris still await im­ple­men­ta­tion of UN res­o­lu­tions for a plebiscite to de­ter­mine their fu­ture. De­spite these tribu­la­tions, hard work and ded­i­ca­tion helped the new coun­try to steady it­self.

To­day, Pak­istan is a strong, sta­ble, demo­cratic and eco­nom­i­cally vi­brant Asian and Mus­lim coun­try, vig­or­ously pur­su­ing the aspirations of its peo­ple and the vi­sion of its found­ing fa­thers for build­ing a pros­per­ous mod­ern so­ci­ety com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing peace and progress in the world.

Quaid-e-Azam tak­ing the oath as the first Gov­er­nor Gen­eral of Pak­istan from Jus­tice Sir Ab­dul Rashid on Au­gust 15, 1947

Quaid-e-Azam’s Mau­soleum

Fa­ther of Na­tion Muham­mad Ali Jin­nah

Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi

Pres­i­dent of Pak­istan Mam­noon Hus­sain

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