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Hilal English

Impact of Pakistan Resolution Day on National Identity

March 2024

Pakistan Resolution Day, observed on March 23, marks the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in 1940, advocating for an independent state for Muslims. Beyond its historical significance, the day symbolizes a commitment to the principles outlined in the resolution, shaping Pakistan's constitutional and ideological foundations.

Pakistan Resolution Day is celebrated annually on March 23 in honor of the historic Lahore Resolution, presented on March 23, 1940, during the 27th Session of the All India Muslim League (AIML). The session, spanning March 22-24, 1940, took place at Minto Park near the significant Great Fort and Badshahi Mosque. Elaborate arrangements were made for this extensive Muslim League gathering, with over 100,000 participants. When Quaid-i-Azam reached the pandal, “a team of pipers led the President up to the center of the pandal to the platform, while on either side marched some strapping young men in Khaki uniforms and blue forage caps-members of the Bombay Provincial Muslim Guard contingent”. The whole crowd loudly shouted “Quaid-i-Azam Zindabad” while Jinnah reached the pandal.1 This was the great historic day and that is why it is celebrated as Pakistan’s Republic Day.
Quaid-i-Azam had been eagerly anticipating this moment for a long time, aiming to organize the largest gathering of Muslims in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. His objective was to provide an identity to Muslim India, which, in his opinion, had long desired to be officially named Pakistan. While the term "Pakistan" was originally coined by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, inspired by Allama Mohammad Iqbal's Allahabad Address of the Muslim League in December 1930, the poet-philosopher of Islam and the ideological father of Pakistan, Jinnah associated the word with his vision of Pakistan. It went to the honor of Maulvi A. K. Fazlul Haq to move this Resolution by which it was demanded that no constitutional plan would be acceptable to the Muslims unless “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 in India, should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”2 Prominent leaders who spoke on this resolution were Liaquat Ali Khan, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan, Qazi Mohammad Isa Khan, Abdul Hamid Khan, I. I. Chundrigar, Syed Abdul Rauf Shah, Dr. Mohammad Alam. The resolution was adopted unanimously.3

The Resolution of 1940 not only demanded Pakistan, but at the same time it clearly mentioned that “adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, and administrative and other rights and interests”.

In the elections of 1945-1946, 90 percent seats against the Muslim seats in the provincial assemblies of British India were captured by the Muslim League candidates. A convention of all these Muslim League Legislators was held in Delhi on April 7-9, 1946 in which about 400 legislators participated under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam and passed a resolution by which it was demanded: “That the zones comprising Bengal and Assam in the North-East and the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Balochistan in the North-West of India, namely Pakistan zones where the Muslims are in a dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent State and that an unequivocal undertaking be given to implement the establishment of Pakistan without delay”.4
The Resolution of 1940 not only demanded Pakistan, but at the same time it clearly mentioned that “adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, and administrative and other rights and interests”.5
There were many other matters in terms of Pakistan’s history, culture, traditions, and commitment to Islam, which were later incorporated in the constitutional documents framed after 1947 in Pakistan. The national points and issues raised in the speeches of Quaid-i-Azam and other leaders at the Lahore Session of 1940 are included in Pakistani Acts and Constitution in one way or the other. In this way, Pakistan Resolution Day is not only celebrated ceremonially in Pakistan, but in actual practice.
The overall commitment to the ideals remains a mark of our Pakistani identity, which was initiated by the Pakistan Resolution of March 1940. Some of these examples are mentioned here.
For instance, the Objectives Resolution was passed in March 1949 by the Pakistan Parliament on a motion by Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, clearly stating the aims and objectives according to which the future Constitution of Pakistan was to be framed. This Resolution ensured the supremacy of Parliament and declared the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice as enunciated in Islam. The independence of the judiciary was also ensured. Subsequently, three constitutions were passed in 1956, 1962, and 1973. In all these constitutions, the Objectives Resolution was included in the preamble. However, the Constitution of 1973 incorporated this resolution as an integral part under Article 2-A through the revival of the Constitution of 1973 Order, 1985 (P.O. No. 14 of 1985), which was allowed to continue by the 18th Constitutional Amendment Act 2010.6
Similarly, other Islamic provisions covering the establishment of Shariat Courts, the introduction of the Zakat system in the country, and the supremacy of Quran and Sunnah, Islamic way of life, principles of fundamental rights, justice, equality before law, etc., were incorporated into the Constitution, which remain relevant to the Pakistani state and society.7 To uphold the Constitution and the ideology of Pakistan, all Chief Executives, including the President, Prime Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chairman Senate, Members of Parliament, Chief Ministers, and Federal and Provincial Ministers, are required to declare on oath their commitment to the ideology and requirements of the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).8 All these aspects generate from the requirements of the Pakistan Resolution of March 23, 1940.
In his address to this session that passed the Pakistan Day Resolution, Quaid-i-Azam explained the equipment of a Muslim state in the best possible words: “Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, they must have their homelands, their territory and their State. We wish to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors as a free and independent people. We wish our people to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political life in a way we think best and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of our people.”9
Explaining the Two-Nation Theory, according to which the Pakistani state is to emerge as the Muslim state or the Pakistani state, was also categorically explained by the Quaid-i-Azam in the same address: “The Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literary traditions. They neither intermarry, nor eat 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 the Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration 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 a 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 a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a State.”10
Dr. Mohammad Alam, who spoke towards the end of this Resolution, stated in his address that before the convening of this Muslim League session, he met Jinnah in Delhi and asked him about Jinnah's commitment to realizing Pakistan as outlined in the Pakistan Day Resolution. Answering himself, Dr. Alam explained that Jinnah assured him "that he would give his life for it and would be the first to go to jail for its realization." When Dr. Alam expressed this, the entire session resounded with thunderous cheers. Therefore, he appealed to the entire session "to strengthen the hands of the Quaid-i-Azam.".11
The next annual session of the AIML was held in Madras on April 12-15, 1941. Now, the speakers became more open in speaking for Pakistan. Abdul Hamid Khan, Chairman of the Reception Committee, welcomed Quaid-i-Azam. As Quaid-i-Azam reached the pandal, "the people were standing in rows to greet Mr. M. A. Jinnah as he passed on his way to Jinnahabad" and shouted "Allah-i-Akbar" and "Jinnah Zindabad." “A special feature of the session was the presence of a large number of non-Muslim leaders, including Sir R. K. Shanmukhan Chetty, Dewan of Cochin, Sir K. V. Reddy, Sir A. P. Patro, Mr. E. V. Ramaswami Naicker, Leader of the Justice Party,  Kumarajah M. A. Muthiah Chettar, Mr. C. R. Srinivasan, Editor, Swadesa Mitran, Rao Bahadur M. C. Rajah, Rao Bahadur N. Siwaraj, Sir Mohammad Usman, and Khan Bahadur Adam Haji Mohammad Sait were also on the dais, seated along with  the members of the Working Committee”.12 Abdul Hamid Khan, in his welcome address explained that “League’s annual session has its own hoary Islamic traditions and associations”. This welcome address was followed by welcome address by some others for which Jinnah thanked them all, particularly the “members of the Justice Party, non-Brahmins and other Hindus”.13 In his Presidential Address, Quaid-i-Azam emphatically expressed: “Since the fall of the Mughal Empire, I think I am right in saying that Muslim India was never so well organized and so alive and so politically conscious as it is today... We have defined in the clearest language our goal and about which Muslim India was groping in the dark, and the goal is Pakistan”.14
Quaid-i-Azam also quoted with reference to an article by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru published in a paper on March 30, 1941 in which he wrote: “On two things there shall never be any division of India to suit the ambitions of fanatics. It shall always be Akhand Bharat and Vishal Bharat. It should be a democracy, meaning majority rule”. Responding to this, Quaid-i-Azam said: “These are only samples to show how the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha leaders think. When we talk about Pakistan, we are called fanatics, but when they talk about Hindustan, Hindu Raj for the whole of India, they are liberals and they are nationalists. The only pity is that the Hindu public is being deceived by this kind of leadership”.15 Liaquat Ali Khan also expressed that now our goal is clear, and we will have to sacrifice all for the sake of achieving Pakistan. Similarly, Begum Mohammad Ali expressed that the Lahore Resolution has infused new life among the Muslims, and we will achieve Pakistan at any cost.16
In addition to this, Pakistan Resolution Day continued to be observed and celebrated in all the provinces of India, particularly in the majority Muslim provinces. This was done on the instructions of Quaid-i-Azam and the Muslim League so that Muslim India’s loyalty to Pakistan is shown above board. It was also intended to demonstrate to the Congress and the British authorities that Muslim India would never back out from attaining Pakistan. Some of these examples are quoted here. How this was celebrated in the Punjab is described in a report from the Punjab Secret Police: “To celebrate “Pakistan Day”, the Lahore Muslims held a meeting attended by 5000 persons on March 23. Nawab Rashid Ali Khan, President of the City Muslim League, presiding. Nawab Sir Shah Nawaz Khan of Mamdot moved a resolution demanding independent Muslim rule in provinces where the Muslim community was in majority and asserted that the Pakistan Scheme was the only remedy for communal disorders. Maulvi Inayatuollah appealed to Sikhs to support the scheme in their own interests and Abu Said Anwar and Wahidullah denounced Congress and the Ahrars, respectively.”17
This day was also celebrated next year in Sindh. The Sindh Police Secret Report noted: “Apropos the decision of the All-India Muslm Leaque, “Pakistan Day” was observed on March 23 in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas, Jacobabad, Dadu, Dokri, Kambar, Umarpur, Sann, Mehat and Berani… Speeches advocating the “Pakistan Scheme” and resolving to make every kind of sacrifice for the establishment of Pakistan were made. Resolutions expressing confidence in the leadership of M. A. Jinnah and reiterating the Lahore Resolution of the All India Muslim League were passed. The speeches of Yusuf Abdullah Haroon and Abdul Latif deserve mention.  Yusuf Abdullah Haroon reiterated the threat given by M. H. Gazdar, MLA (member of Legislative Assembly), that if the Hindus interfered in the Pakistan Scheme, which was an issue between Muslims and the British Government alone, the Hindus would the fate of the Jews in Germany. Abdul Latif blamed the Congress for the pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim attitude.”18
With reference to Balochistan, Quaid-i-Azam issued special instructions to Qazi Mohammad Isa, President of the Balochistan Muslim League, who attended the Lahore Session that passed the Pakistan Day Resolution. After this meeting, Quaid-i-Azam instructed Qazi Mohammad Isa to go to Balochistan and arrange a tour for Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni to visit different cities of the province and organize meetings to explain the Pakistan Scheme. Accordingly, Qazi Isa arranged this tour for Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni, who came to Balochistan and addressed meetings in Quetta, Pishin, Jacobabad, and other cities of Balochistan. Abdul Hamid Bahadayuni explained that: “Congress was most harmful to Muhammadans and said that Muslims wanted to be slaves neither of the British nor of the Hindus. He asserted that the aim of the Congress was to establish Hindu Raj in India.”19
The Pakistan Resolution Day was consistently celebrated annually on March 23 until the creation of Pakistan in every Muslim-majority province, such as Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP, formerly recognized as NWFP), Bengal, and Assam. Resolutions and speeches advocating for the achievement of Pakistan were delivered in various locations. It was this tradition that continued to be celebrated after the creation of Pakistan every year on March 23 as Republic Day or Pakistan Resolution Day. The long-lasting impact of this Resolution is still being felt in every corner of the country. Every leader of Pakistan is committed to the requirements of this Resolution, which has helped in the promotion of Pakistani identity. This commitment is to Pakistan’s ideology, which has been given due protection in the Constitution of Pakistan.
Pakistan is an ideological state. The term “ideology” has been used differently in different times and countries around the world. However, I would like to restrict myself to the prescribed meaning given in the dictionary. According to Webster’s dictionary, it means the doctrines, opinions, or a way of thinking of an individual, class, state, etc. To be specific, it means the body of ideas on which a particular political, economic, or social system is based.20 Another definition is a system of thought based on related assumptions, beliefs and explanations of social movements or policies.  Its contents cover economic, political, philosophical, or religious beliefs.21
In this way, the ideology of Pakistan, as understood according to the Constitution, is Islam, which over the centuries has shaped the Muslim cultural identity in the areas of Pakistan. In the preamble of the Constitution, it is stipulated that in the state of Pakistan, the rulers and people will have to be "faithful" to the ideals of the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Another declaration made in the preamble is that the state is to be "dedicated to the preservation of democracy achieved by the unremitting struggle of the people against oppression and tyranny." The state is also "inspired by the resolve to protect our national and political unity and solidarity by creating an egalitarian society through a new order." Thereby “our representatives” in the Parliament are required to be loyal to the ideology (Islam) for which this state of Pakistan has been created.22 Articles 17, 19, 33, 38, and 40 further elaborate on the contents of the ideology of Pakistan and the bounds within which the state, its people, and the government have to act. These are the fundamentals of the state's policies.
The prescribed oath of office for the President, Prime Minister, Federal Minister or Minister of State, Speaker of National Assembly and Chairman of Senate, Deputy Speaker of National Assembly and Deputy Chairman of Senate, Member of National Assembly or member of Senate, Governor and Chief Minister or Minister of every province, Speaker of Provincial Assembly, Deputy Speaker of Provincial Assembly, Member of a Provincial Assembly are required to declare “that I will strive to preserve the Islamic ideology, which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan”. Thus, it has become incumbent upon all of them to be loyal to the ideology of Pakistan. Under no circumstance can they deviate from this commitment given in the form of this oath. Following the oath is a legal binding on these functionaries of the state and government for which they could be held accountable and responsible before the court of law in Pakistan.
Liaquat Ali Khan visited Unites States of America in May-June, 1950. During this visit, he was invited by a number of universities and institutions to explain the rationale for Pakistan. At one of his speeches, he said: “First we are determined that the Muslims in our State shall be enabled to order their lives in accordance with their faith; that at the same time our minorities shall enjoy full rights of citizenship and shall freely profess and practice their religions and develop their culture, and that their legitimate interests and the interests of the backward and depressed classes shall be adequately safeguarded.23 Second, we are pledged to the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam. This does not mean theocracy; for Islam does not believe either in priesthood or in the caste system. On the contrary, our conception of democracy is possibly even more comprehensive than that which is contained in the institutions of universal franchise and majority rule. For it embraces social and economic justice, the right of private ownership, of each individual to enjoy the fruit of his honest labor and yet with the laws and institutions designed to eliminate destitution and to place healthy checks on the vast accumulations of unearned wealth.24 All this we call the Islamic way of life and pursue it because as Muslims, we could not follow any other ideology or seek guidance from any other source but God, whose injunctions we believe these to be. To abandon these principles would be for us to destroy, instead of create, what we hope to build up and for which we demanded independence and freedom and a separate state.”25
Even in NWFP, where Muslim League had not won the elections and for the purpose of inclusion of this province into Pakistan, a referendum was arranged in July 1947 as per requirements of the Mountbatten’s June 3, 1947 Partition Plan, in which more than 90 percent majority opted for Pakistan, the Pakistan Resolution Day was celebrated before the creation of Pakistan on a number of occasions. As per the Secret Police Report, March 23, 1943 was celebrated as the “Pakistan Day” in Abbottabad and Peshawar. The speakers in these meetings assured Quaid-i-Azam that they would sacrifice everything to establish Pakistan. The main speakers in these meetings were Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi and Sardar Aurangzeb Khan.26 Next year, on March 23, 1944, "Pakistan Day" was celebrated with much more vigor and determination in different cities like Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Haripur, and Hazara District, addressed by different speakers.27 

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

1.     Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Foundations of Pakistan: All-India Muslim League Documents 1906-1947, Vol. I, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2007, p. 297.
2.     Ibid., p. 312.
3.     Ibid., p. 317.
4.     Ibid., p. 478.
5.     Ibid., p. 312.
6.     M. Abdul Basit, The Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Rawalpindi, Federal Law House, 2022, p. 23-24.
7.     Ibid. 37 -41.
8.     Ibid., pp. 246 -258.
9.     Pirzada, Foundations of Pakistan, Vol. II, p. 310.
10.   Ibid., p. 309.
11.   Ibid., p. 316.
12.   Ibid., p. 321.
13.   Ibid. p. 329.
14.   Ibid., p. 330.
15.   Ibid., p.340.
16.   Ibid., pp. 346-347.
17.   Riaz Ahmad, The Punjab Muslim League 1906–1947: Secret Police Abstracts, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2008, p.82.
18.   Riaz Ahmad, The Sindh Muslim League 1940-1947: Secret Police Abstracts, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2008, pp. 27–28.
19.   Riaz Ahmad, The Balochistan Muslim League 1939-1947: Secret Police Abstracts, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2008, pp.35–39.
20.   Webster’s New World Dictionary, New York, 1988.
21.   The World Book of Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, Chicago, 2010.
22.   G. M. Chaudhry, Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Rawalpindi, Federal Law House, 2011, p. 21.
23.   Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan: The Heart of Asia, Speeches in the United States and Canada, May and June 1950, Karachi, Paramount Publishing Enterprise, 2011, p. 153.
24.   Ibid. 
25.   Ibid.
26.   Riaz Ahmad, The Frontier Muslim League 1913 –m 1947: Secret Police Abstracts, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2008, p. 203.
27.   Ibid., p. 209.