The Lost Spirit of Pakistan Day
Tens of thousands of Muslims across the subcontinent were filled with hope and determination on March 23, 1940, when the “Lahore Resolution” declared the formation of a nation state. From March 23 to 25, 1940, the Muslim League, led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and other founding fathers, met at Minto Park, Lahore, for the annual session of the Muslim League. The Muslim League has documented the events that led to the Hindu-Muslim conflict, as well as the historic resolution that resulted in the formation of Pakistan as a South Asian nation-state. The resolution called for the predominantly Muslim districts of northwest and eastern British India to become an independent sovereign state. The resolution stated:
“No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to Muslims unless contiguous geographical units were demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the regions in which the Muslims are numerically in the majority such as in the north-western and eastern areas of India should be grouped together to form independent states in which the constituent units will be self-governing and sovereign.
For the first time in the history of the subcontinent, the resolution established that Muslims are a separate entity from others and that no one will violate their rights. The Muslims of India had a clear objective in mind and they stood united in the face of their enemies. The Lahore Resolution was later known as the Pakistan Resolution because it set the tone for the establishment of a separate country for Muslims in the subcontinent. He launched an extraordinary political movement among the Muslim middle class, led by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and captured the imagination of Muslims of all classes. Mr Jinnah said: “Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither marry nor dine together and in fact belong to two different civilizations which are mainly based on contradictory ideas and conceptions.
The resolution prompted Indian Muslims to reflect on their own destiny and develop a plan for a separate Muslim homeland and state. The resolution not only reinvigorated the slow-moving political struggle of Indian Muslims for self-determination in areas where they possessed the numerical majority, but it also breathed new life into their veins. Pakistan’s fundamental objective has been achieved more than 7 years after the adoption of the Lahore resolution. As a result, for Pakistanis, the day has immense and eternal significance.
The spirit of March 23 is alive throughout the state, which commemorates the day with fervor and enthusiasm. The main event takes place in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The President of Pakistan is normally present, as well as the Prime Minister, members of the cabinet, the Chiefs of Staff and the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff. A live broadcast of an extensive inter-service military march across the country is broadcast by the media. During the parade, the Pakistani military interservices also put on a show of strength and capability. These sessions, which begin early in the morning, are chaired by the Pakistani President. After the procession, the President of Pakistan presents national awards and medals to eminent Pakistanis who have performed extraordinarily in their professional fields at the President’s House in Islamabad. Wreaths are also laid at the mausoleums of Pakistan’s founders, Allama Mohammad Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Foreign dignitaries are also invited to the military parade held that day. Students from various educational institutes are encouraged to show their patriotism towards their country through a variety of activities and speeches.
Apart from being a day of presenting Pakistan’s resolution, March 23 also holds significance for other important occasions. On the same day in 1956, Pakistan became the world’s first Islamic Republic. The country is undoubtedly aware of its history and origin. However, we can and should revise the essence that sustains our spirit. Almost a century ago, a whole generation of people with untold stories chose to lay down their lives so that future generations could live a better and freer life.
But the question arises, do we really appreciate the freedoms we have gained after decades of struggle, sacrifice and bloodshed?
The end of tyranny, as well as the right to life, liberty and happiness, must be commemorated on this day. These words, and this joy, are more vital than ever. Our democracy is on the verge of collapse, as our society has become increasingly polarized, and too many individuals and politicians seem more interested in gaining and retaining power. So, let’s look at today’s theme, and the democracy and freedom it represents.
We value the right to live in a democracy and to choose the kind of country we want to live in today. We value dissent because it has always been a hallmark of our patriotism. Rather than being enraged at individuals across the political aisle, keep in mind that our democratic system was built on people of different opinions working together. As a result, Pakistan has a large number of political parties. Citizens must continue to question leaders to ensure they act in the best interest of the people, as well as participate in debates to develop solutions that benefit the people, in order to keep democracy and freedom alive. Currently, there are a variety of factors and misconceptions at play that contribute to the rising hatred towards those who disagree with us. The political establishment is currently delaying laws passed by the majority, putting our democracy at risk. So what are the best ways for us to practice our country’s founding principles of freedom? Instead of talking, we should listen and open our hearts to others’ points of view. We must come together in civil dialogue and continue to question the leadership of our leaders and the rights of people. We want to get rid of the regulations and loopholes that get in the way of democracy, and we want to make sure that the policies the vast majority of people voted for are implemented. We will continue to protest and fight for equality and justice, as well as debate, question and challenge our leaders. Those who use hatred to silence critics also silence patriotism and a sense of patriotism.
This day does not reflect a country founded on unquestioning obedience to a leader, a political party or a religious belief. This day, on the contrary, represents the freedom to disagree, the right to express one’s opinion, the freedom to vote for change, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to practice one’s religion and majority democracy. Remember what the Pakistani flag represents as you proudly wear it today. Remember the ideological struggles and the sacrifices made so that we could live in a country where we could all disagree. It is important to remember that it was built on the contributions of people from all walks of life and that we all have a place and a sense of belonging.
-The author is a graduate student at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and a research intern at Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and can be contacted at [email protected]