Pakistan National Congress
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The Pakistan National Congress (PNC) was a political party that mainly represented the Hindus and other religious minorities in Pakistan. The party championed secularism in the Muslim-dominated state, and its electoral and organisational strength was mainly based in East Bengal (also known as East Pakistan, now the independent state of Bangladesh).
The Pakistan National Congress traces its roots to the Indian National Congress, which was the largest national political party in India. The Indian National Congress, led by Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru championed secularism, religious tolerance and opposed the Pakistan movement led by the Muslim League. However, ensuing communal conflict led to the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan from Muslim-majority provinces. The religious violence and mass migration as a result of partition significantly reduced the Hindu, Sikh and non-Muslim population of Pakistan. The leaders and activists of the Indian National Congress who continued to live in Pakistan joined with the representatives of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian communities to form a new political party, the Pakistan National Congress. Although most of them had opposed partition, the members of the new party accepted the state of Pakistan and did not maintain any organisational links with the Indian National Congress. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.
The Pakistan National Congress stood for secularism, equality of all religions and citizens and protection of religious and ethnic minorities. The party sought peaceful and friendly relations between Pakistan and India. The party was one of many that opposed the suppression of democracy and civil rights by successive military regimes. The Pakistan National Congress also stood against the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistani society, politics and government. The party also supported the Bengali language movement in East Bengal.
While partition riots and mass migration had significantly reduced the Hindu and Sikh population in West Pakistan, Hindus still constituted twenty percent of the population of East Bengal (also East Pakistan). Consequently, the PNC's base and organisation were concentrated in that province of Pakistan. In the 1954 elections held for the East Bengal Legislative Assembly, the Pakistan National Congress won 28 seats.
- George McTurnan Kahin, Harold C. Hinton (1958). Major governments of Asia. Cornell University Press. p. 439.
- Moshe Y. Sachs (1967). Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations: Asia and Australasia. Worldmark Press.
- Richard Sisson, Leo E. Rose (1991). War and Secession: Pakistan, India and the Creation of Bangladesh. University of California Press. pp. 1–15. ISBN 978-0-520-07665-5.