The Lahore Resolution (Urdu: قرارداد لاہور, Qarardad-e-Lahore; Bengali: লাহোর প্রস্তাব, Lahor Prostab), also known as the Pakistan Resolution (Urdu: قرارداد پاکستان, Qarardad-e-Pakistan), was a formal political statement adopted by the All-India Muslim League on the occasion of its three-day general session in Lahore on March 22–24, 1940. It called for the creation of a group of 'independent states' for Muslims in north-western and eastern British India. The constituent units which were states of the group were to be autonomous and sovereign. The resolution was presented by A. K. Fazlul Huq, the Prime Minister of Bengal. It was later interpreted as a demand for a separate and single Muslim state called Pakistan.
Although the name "Pakistan" had been proposed by Choudhary Rahmat Ali in his Pakistan Declaration in 1933, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and other leaders had kept firm their belief in Hindu–Muslim unity. However, the volatile political climate gave the idea stronger backing.
The session was held between March 22 and March 24, 1940, at Iqbal Park, Lahore. The welcome address was made by Sir Shah Nawaz Khan of Mamdot. He was also the chairman of the reception committee and personally bore all the expenses. In his speech, Prime Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan of the Punjab, recounted the contemporary situation, stressing that the problem of D.G. Khan was "not of an inter-communal nature, but manifestly an international one". According to Stanley Wolpert, this was the moment when Jinnah, the former ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, totally transformed himself into Pakistan's great leader.
Khan Abdul Wali Khan - and many others - attributes the authorship of the Resolution to Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan. Sir Sikandar Hayat's Unionist Party had swept the elections in Punjab and provided support to Jinnah at the urging of Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan resulting in the Sikander-Jinnah pact. Sir Sikandar convinced his classfellow Fazlul Haq, premier of Bengal, to support Jinnah as well. Sikandar supported the British in the Second World War at the request of Sir Winston Churchill after all of India's political parties had refused. The British promised dominion status to India after the war. After his suspicious death other players moved in. Sikandar did not envisage partition of his beloved Punjab. When he learnt of the intended partition of Punjab he rejected this outright.Due to civil unrest it was decided that Sir Fazlul Haq would present the resolution. The resolution text unanimously rejected the concept of a united India on the grounds of growing inter-communal violence and recommended the creation of an independent Muslim state.
After the presentation of the annual report by Liaquat Ali Khan, the resolution was moved in the general session by A.K. Fazlul Huq, the chief minister of undivided Bengal, and was seconded by Choudhury Khaliquzzaman who explained his views on the causes which led to the demand for partition. Subsequently, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Punjab, Mohammad Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi from North-West Frontier Province, Sir Abdullah Haroon from Sindh, Qazi Esa from Baluchistan, and other leaders announced their support. In the same session, Jinnah also presented a resolution to condemn the Khaksar massacre of March 19, owing to a clash between the Khaksars and the police, that had resulted in the loss of 32 lives.
The Lahore resolution was actually adopted on March 24, but officially in Pakistan March 23 is considered the date of its adoption. In 1941, it became part of the Muslim League's constitution. In 1946, it formed the basis for the decision of Muslim League to struggle for one state for the Muslims. The statement declared:
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.
Additionally, it stated:
That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in the units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights of the minorities.
Most importantly, to convince smaller provinces such as Sindh to join, it provided a guarantee:
That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be 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 of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.
There remains a debate on whether the resolution envisaged two sovereign states in the eastern and western parts of British India. Abdul Hashim of the Bengal Muslim League interpreted the text as a demand for two separate countries. In 1946, Prime Minister H. S. Suhrawardy of Bengal, a member of the All India Muslim League, mooted the United Bengal proposal with the support of Muslim and Hindu leaders, as well as the Governor of Bengal. However, it was opposed by Lord Mountbatten, the Muslim League, the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha.
Pakistan resolution in the Sindh Assembly
The Sindh assembly was the first British Indian legislature to pass the resolution in favour of Pakistan. G. M. Syed, an influential Sindhi activist, revolutionary and Sufi and later one of the important leaders in the forefront of the Sindh independence movement, joined the Muslim League in 1938 and presented the Pakistan resolution in the Sindh Assembly. A key motivating factor was the promise of "autonomy and sovereignty for constituent units".
This text was buried under the Minar-e-Pakistan during its building in the Ayub regime. In this session the political situation was analyzed in detail and Muslim demanded a separate homeland only to maintain their identification and to safeguard their rights. Pakistan resolution was the landmark in the history of Muslim of South-Asia. It determined for the Muslims a true goal and their homeland in north-east and north-west. The acceptance of the Pakistan resolution accelerated the pace of freedom movement. It gave new energy and courage to the Muslims who gathered around Quaid-i-Azam for struggle for freedom.
The Lahore Resolution envisaged modern democratic states in the Muslim-majority regions of South Asia. It was invoked in the Six point movement of the Awami League in 1966, which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
- To commemorate the event, Minar-e-Pakistan, a monument 60 m tall in the shape of a minaret, was built at the site in Iqbal Park where the resolution was passed.
- March 23 (Pakistan Day) is a national holiday in Pakistan to commemorate both Lahore Resolution (1940) and the Republic Day (1956); the country became the first Islamic Republic in the world.
- Francis Robinson (1997), The Muslims and Partition, History Today, Vol. 47, September
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