Friday May 24, 2024

The lost spirit of Pakistan Day

By Imama Khan
March 23, 2022

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 nationstate. From 23rd to 25th of March 1940, the Muslim League, led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and other founding fathers, assembled at Minto Park, Lahore, for the Muslim League's annual session. The Muslim League documented the events that led to the Hindu-Muslim conflict, as well as the historical resolution that resulted in the formation of Pakistan as a South Asian nation-state. The resolution called for Muslim-majority districts in British India's northwest and east to become an independent sovereign state. The resolution stated:

“No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical 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 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.”

For the first time in the history of the subcontinent, the Resolution established that Muslims are a separate entity from the rest, and that no one will violate their rights. India's Muslims had a clear goal in mind, and they remained united in the face of their foes. The Lahore Resolution was later known as the Pakistan Resolution because it set the pace for the establishment of a separate country for the Muslims of the subcontinent. It launched an extraordinary political movement among the Muslims’ middle class, led by the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and captured the imagination of Muslims of all classes. Mr Jinnah said: “The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.”

The Resolution spurred India's Muslims to reflect on their own fate and map out a plan for a separate homeland and Muslim state. The resolution not only re-energised Indian Muslims' sluggish political struggle for self-determination in areas where they possessed numerical majority, but it also poured new life into their veins. Pakistan's foundational goal was realised after more than 7 years after the adoption of the Lahore Resolution. As a result, for Pakistanis, the day holds immense and eternal significance.

The spirit of March 23rd is alive throughout the state, which commemorates the day with fervor and gusto. The main event takes place in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. Pakistan's President is normally in attendance, along with the Prime Minister, cabinet members, military chiefs of staff, and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff. A live broadcast of a thorough inter-services combined military march across the country is carried by the news media. During the parade, Pakistan's military inter services also put up a show of force and ability. These sessions, which begin early in the morning, are presided over by Pakistan's President. Following the procession, the President of Pakistan presents national awards and medals to prominent Pakistanis who performed extraordinarily in their professional fields at the President House in Islamabad. Wreaths are also placed at the mausoleums of Pakistan's founders, Allama Mohammad Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Foreign dignitaries are also invited to the military parade held on that day. Students at various educational institutes are encouraged to show their patriotism towards their country through a variety of activities and speeches.

Besides being a day for presenting Pakistan Resolution, 23rd March 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 must revise the essence that supports our spirit. Almost a century ago, an entire generation of people with untold stories, opted to offer their lives so that future generations could live better and freer lives.

But the question arises, are we truly appreciating the liberties that we have gained after decades of struggle, sacrifices and bloodshed?

The end of tyranny, as well as the right to life, liberty, and happiness, is to be commemorated on this day. These words, as well as this joy, are more vital than ever. Our democracy is on the verge of collapse, as our society has grown increasingly polarised, and too many individuals and politicians appear to be more interested in gaining and maintaining power. So, let's take a look at today's theme, as well as the democracy and liberty it represents.

We appreciate the right to live in a democracy and to choose the type of country in which we wish to live today. We appreciate dissent because it has always been a feature of our patriotism. Rather than being enraged at individuals on the opposite side of the political aisle, keep in mind that our democratic system was built on people with differing opinions working together. As a result, Pakistan has a large number of political parties. Citizens must continue to question leaders to ensure that they are acting in the best interests of the people, as well as participating 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 are contributing to the rise of hatred toward those who disagree with us. The political establishment is currently delaying laws passed by the majority, putting our democracy in jeopardy. So, what are the best ways for us to put our country's founding principles of liberty into action? Instead of talking, we should listen and open our hearts to other people's perspectives. We should gather together in civil dialogue and continue to question our leaders' leadership and people's rights. We want to get rid of regulations and loopholes that hinder democracy, and we want to make sure that policies that the vast majority of people voted for are implemented. We shall continue to demonstrate and fight for equality and justice, as well as debate, question, and challenge our leaders. Those who use hatred to silence criticism are also silencing patriotism and the meaning of patriotism.

This day does not reflect a country founded on unquestioning obedience to a leader, a political party, or a religious conviction. This day, on the contrary, stands for the freedom to disagree, the right to speak one's opinion, the freedom to vote for change, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to practice one's own religion, and the majority democracy. Remember what the Pakistani flag represents as you proudly display it today. Remember the ideological struggles and the sacrifices made so that we might live in a country where we could all disagree. It's 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 writer is a graduate student at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and a research intern at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and can be reached at