23rd March 1940: What Our Youth Must Know About?

The Pakistani youth of today seem to be simply ignorant of the historical background of the creation of Pakistan. The reason is mostly to do with detest of theirs for Pakistan Studies while at schools. Based on my interaction with many of them, it is my considered opinion that there is a weakness and void out there amongst our youth vis- -vis history of Pakistan.

On this historic day of 23rd March 'also known as Pakistan Day' I therefore thought to write something for educating my youth on the significance of this day.

The youth of today must know that Pakistan owes her creation to four erstwhile outstanding Muslim leaders, namely: Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-98), Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar (1878-1931), Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), and Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938). These leaders provided intellectual and political leadership to Indian Muslims during about ninety years (1858-1947) of the British imperial rule on the Sub-continent.

It is important for them to also know that in the beginning all of these aforementioned leaders were thorough-bred nationalists at one time or another. By being nationalist means they were the proponents of a united India. Now it should not come as a surprise for our young men and women to learn that over the passage of time our leaders got disillusioned with this concept of one united India. The reasons were many. It could have been either because of Hindu ethnocentrism in the late 19th century or Congress`s championing of unitary Hindu nationalism in the 1920s and 1930s.

Now let us focus our discussion exclusively on our great leader and founder of Pakistan 'Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah'. It is very important for the youths to understand the elements of the crest and the troughs in the political leanings and ideologies of Quaid-e-Azam over his long career from 1904 thru 1948. It is interesting to note here that for some seventeen years (1904-1920), he was pro-Congress, pleading the Congress cause and envisioning a truly nationalist destiny for India.

And, still for another sixteen years (1921-37), though he was practically out of Congress as he had joined All India Muslim League in 1920, he was still working for a nationalist destiny. During this period, he was still striving for a Hindu-Muslim settlement and he was still collaborating with the Congress and its leadership for the same. It is also very well known that in pursuit of his mission of Hindu-Muslim unity, he had devised several constitutional formulae, but all to no avail. It is also pertinent to mention here that till early 1937, Quaid-e-Azam was still in his "nationalist" self; preaching his credo eloquently and trying miserably to unite Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. For this he was widely known as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Fast Forward: All said and done, on 23rd of March 1940 a resolution was passed which was read aloud by Moulvi Abul Kasim Fazlul Haque - the then Chief Minister of Bengal - (sans the help of any public address system as he had very strong throat) and was adopted unanimously. The resolution inter alia stated: "Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All India Muslim League 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." The resolution was seconded by Chaudhry Khaliq-uz-Zaman, and supported among others by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, Sir Abdullah Haroon and I I Chundrigar. In short, the Muslims of India on that day in fact had proclaimed to the world their determination to make the Muslim Statehood the goal of their struggle under the leadership of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Let the youths be educated that Pakistan Resolution of 23rd March 1940 was in fact the first salvo fired in the battle for Pakistan. And barely seven years after, was the dream of a separate Muslim homeland in the shape of Pakistan realized. This was all because of that mercurial leadership of the great Quaid. Stanley Wolpert, the American historian and author also gives testimony to this fact in his book, entitled, Jinnah of Pakistan ; Quote "that few individuals significantly alter the course of history, fewer still modify the map of the world, and hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three. Unquote.

Lord Mountbatten is on record to have said, "If there had not been Mr. Jinnah there would have been no Pakistan".

Let the youths also be informed here that the Pakistan Resolution of 23rd March 1940 was just the culmination but the historic journey for creation of Pakistan had begun right after the fall of the Moghul Empire and advent of the British rule in the Sub-continent in 1857. The following historic facts would lend credence to this thesis of mine.

  1. The first scheme for the partition of India was presented by John Bright in 1858. On the 4th of June 1858, while participating in a discussion in the British Parliament, he was of the opinion, "India should be divided into five presidencies.
  2. As far back as 1867, Sir Syed had said: "It was now impossible for Hindus and Muslims to progress as a single nation."
  3. The scheme for the partition of India was proposed by a renowned Muslim Scholar Jamaluddin Afghani who in 1879, proposed a broader Muslim state.
  4. Sir John Seeky - author of "The Expansion of England" - as early as 1883 had said, India does not mark the territory of a nation or a language, but the territory of many nations and many languages."
  5. A British writer Wilfred Scawen Blunt in 1883 wrote in his book Ideas about India that practically India is to be divided as such that all Northern provinces under the Muslim Government while the South provinces under a Hindu government".
  6. In 1887, Theodore Beck educated at Cambridge and the Principal of M. A. O. College at Aligarh observed that "Muslims are a separate nation, rule of majority is impossible; Muslims will never agree to be ruled by the Hindu majority."
  7. In 1899, another British intellectual and the principal of MAO College Aligarh, Theodore Morison proposed that the only solution to the Indian political uncertainty was to centralize the Indian Muslims in one province or tract of the country, for instance, the north of India from Peshawar to Agra.
  8. Sir Muhammad Iqbal was the first important public figure to propound the idea of partition from the platform of the Muslim League. He articulated his vision in 1930, in his presidential address at Allahabad.
  9. In 1933 Chaudhary Rehmat Ali, a student of Cambridge University, issued a declaration entitled "Now or Never: Are we to live or perish forever?" and demanded a Muslim homeland. He used the term of Pakistan for the first time.,
  10. In his letter on 28 May 1937, Allama Iqbal wrote to the Quaid that to solve the Muslim problems it was necessary to redistribute the country and to provide one or more Muslim states with absolute majorities.

Faiz Al-Najdi (faizalnajdi@gmail.com) - Pak Tribune

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