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Introduction

Pakistan emerged on the world map on August 14, 1947. It has its roots into the remote past. Its establishment was the culmination of the struggle by Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent for a separate homeland of their own and its foundation was laid when Muhammad bin Qasim subdued Sindh in 711 A.D. as a reprisal against sea pirates that had taken refuge in Raja Dahir's kingdom. The advent of Islam further strengthened the historical individuality in the areas now constituting Pakistan and further beyond its boundaries.

Advent of Islam

Muhammad bin QasimThe first followers of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), to set foot on the soil of the South-Asian subcontinent, were traders from the coast land of Arabia and the Persian Gulf, soon after the dawn of Islam in the early seventh century A.D 

The first permanent Muslim foothold in the subcontinent was achieved with Muhammad bin Qasim's conquest of Sindh in 711 A.D. An autonomous Muslim state linked with the Umayyed, and later, the Abbassid Caliphate was established with jurisdiction extending over southern and central parts of present Pakistan. Quite a few new cities were established and Arabic was introduced as the official language.

At the time of Mahmud of Ghazna's invasion, Muslim rule still existed, though in a weakened form, in Multan and some other regions. The Ghaznavids (976-1148) and their successors, the Ghaurids (1148-1206), were Central Asian by origin and they ruled their territories, which covered mostly the regions of present Pakistan, from capitals outside India.

It was in the early thirteenth century that the foundations of the Muslim rule in India were laid with extended boundaries and Delhi as the capital. From 1206 to 1526 A.D., five different dynasties held sway. Then followed the period of Mughal ascendancy (1526-1707) and their rule continued, though nominally, till 1857.

From the time of the Ghaznavids, Persian more or less replaced Arabic as the official language. The economic, political and religious institutions developed by the Muslims bore their unique impression. The law of the State was based on Shariah and in principle the rulers were bound to enforce it. Any long period of laxity was generally followed by reinforcement of these laws under public pressure.

The impact of Islam on the South-Asian subcontinent was deep and far-reaching. Islam introduced not only a new religion, but a new civilization, a new way of life and new set of values. Islamic traditions of art and literature, of culture and refinement, of social and welfare institution, were established by Muslim rulers throughout the subcontinent.

Emergence of Urdu Language

A new language, Urdu, derived mainly from Arabic and Persian vocabulary and adopting indigenous words and idioms, came to be spoken and written by the Muslims and it gained currency among the rest of the Indian population. Urdu is the National Language of Pakistan. Apart from religion, Urdu also enabled the Muslim community during the period of its ascendancy to preserve its separate identity in the subcontinent.

Muslim Identity

The question of Muslim identity, however assumed seriousness during the decline of Muslim power in South Asia. The first person to realize its acuteness was the scholar theologian, Shah Waliullah (1703-62). He laid the foundation of Islamic renaissance in the subcontinent and became a source of inspiration for almost all the subsequent social and religious reform movements of the nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.

His immediate successors, inspired by his teachings, tried to establish a modest Islamic state in the north-west of India and they, under the leadership of Sayyed Ahmad Shaheed Barelvi (1786-1831), persevered in this direction.

British Expansionism and Muslim Resistance

Meanwhile, starting with the East India Company, the British had emerged as the dominant force in South Asia. Their rise to power was gradual extending over a period of nearly one hundred years. They replaced the Shariah by what they termed as the Anglo-Muhammadan law whereas Urdu was replaced by English as the official language.

These and other developments had great social, economic and political impact especially on the Muslims of South Asia. The uprising of 1857, termed as the Indian Mutiny by the British and the War of Independence by the Muslims, was a desperate attempt to reverse the adverse course of events.

Religious Institutions

The failure of the 1857 War of Independence had disastrous consequences for the Muslims as the British placed all the responsibility for this event on them. Determined to stop such a recurrence in future, the British followed deliberately a repressive policy against the Muslims. Properties and estates of those even remotely associated with the freedom fighters were confiscated and conscious efforts were made to close all avenues of honest living for them.

The Muslim response to this situation also aggravated their plight. Their religious leaders, who had been quite active, withdrew from the mainstream of the community life and devoted themselves exclusively to imparting religious education. Although the religious academies especially those of Deoband, Farangi Mahal and Rai Bareilly, established by the Ulema, did help the Muslims to preserve their identity, the training provided in these institutions hardly equipped them for the new challenges.

Educational Reforms

Sir Syed Ahmed KhanThe Muslims kept themselves aloof from western education as well as government service. But, their compatriots, the Hindus, did not do so and accepted the new rulers without reservation. They acquired western education, imbibed the new culture and captured positions hitherto filled in by the Muslims. If this situation had prolonged, it would have done the Muslims an irreparable damage.

The man to realise the impending peril was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1889), a witness to the tragic events of 1857. He exerted his utmost to harmonize British Muslim relations. His assessment was that the Muslims' safety lay in the acquisition of western education and knowledge. He took several positive steps to achieve this objective. He founded a college at Aligarh to impart education on western lines.

Of equal importance was the Anglo-Muhammadan Educational Conference, which he sponsored in 1886, to provide an intellectual forum to the Muslims for the dissemination of views in support of western education and social reform. Similar were the objectives of the Muhammadan Literary Society, founded by Nawab Adbul Latif (1828-93), active in Bengal.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's efforts transformed into a movement, known as the Aligarh Movement, and it left its imprint on the Muslims of every part of the South-Asian subcontinent. Under its inspiration, societies were founded throughout the subcontinent which established educational institutions for imparting education to the Muslims. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was averse to the idea of participation by the Muslims in any organized political activity which, he feared, might revive British hostility towards them. He also disliked Hindu Muslim collaboration in any joint venture.

His disillusionment in this regard stemmed basically from the Urdu Hindi controversy of the late 1860s when the Hindu enthusiasts vehemently championed the cause of Hindi to replace Urdu. He, therefore, opposed the Indian National Congress when it was founded in 1885 and advised the Muslims to abstain from its activities.

His contemporary and a great scholar of Islam, Syed Ameer Ali (1849-1928), shared his views about the Congress, but, he was not opposed to Muslims organizing themselves politically. In fact, he organised the first significant political body of the Muslims, the Central National Muhammadan Association. Although, its membership was limited, it had more than 50 branches in different parts of the subcontinent and it accomplished some solid work for the educational and political advancement of the Muslims. But, its activities waned towards the end of the nineteenth century.

The Muslim League

At the dawn of the twentieth century, a number of factors convinced the Muslims of the need to have an effective political organization. Therefore, in October 1906, a deputation comprising 35 Muslim leaders met the Viceroy of the British at Simla and demanded separate electorates. Three months later, the All-India Muslim League was founded by Nawab Salimullah Khan at Dhaka, mainly with the objective of safeguarding the political rights and interests of the Muslims.

The British conceded separate electorates in the Government of India Act of 1909 which confirmed the Muslim League's position as an All-India party. Attempt for Hindu Muslim Unity The visible trend of the two major communities progressing in opposite directions caused deep concern to leaders of All-India stature. They struggled to bring the Congress and the Muslim League on one platform. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) was the leading figure among them.

After the annulment of the partition of Bengal and the European Powers' aggressive designs against the Ottoman Empire and North Africa, the Muslims were receptive to the idea of collaboration with the Hindus against the British rulers. The Congress Muslim League rapprochement was achieved at the Lucknow sessions of the two parties in 1916 and a joint scheme of reforms was adopted.

In the Lucknow Pact. as the scheme was commonly referred to, the Congress accepted the principle of separate electorates, and the Muslims, in return for `weightage' to the Muslims of the Muslim minority provinces, agreed to surrender their thin majorities in the Punjab and Bengal. The post Lucknow Pact period witnessed Hindu Muslim amity and the two parties came to hold their annual sessions in the same city and passed resolutions of identical contents.

Khilafat Movement

The Hindu Muslim unity reached its climax during the Khilafat and the Non-cooperation Movements. The Muslims of soothsayer, under the leadership of the Ali Brothers, Maulana Mohammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali, launched the historic Khilafat Movement after the First World War to protect the Ottoman Empire from dismemberment.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) linked the issue of Swaraj (self-government) with the Khilafat issue to associate the Hindus with the Movement. the ensuing Movement was the first countrywide popular movement. Although the Movement failed in its objectives, it had a far-reaching impact on the Muslims of South Asia.

After a long time, they took united action on a purely Islamic issue which momentarily forged solidarity among them. It also produced a class of Muslim leaders experienced in organizing and mobilizing the public. This experience was of immense value to the Muslims later during the Pakistan Movement.

The collapse of the Khilafat Movement was followed by a period of bitter Hindu Muslim antagonism. The Hindus organized two highly anti Muslim movements, the Shudhi and the Sangathan. The former movement was designed to convert Muslims to Hindusim and the latter was meant to create solidarity among the Hindus in the event of communal conflict.

In retaliation, the Muslims sponsored the Tabligh and Tanzim organizations to counter the impact of the Shudhi and the Sangathan. In the 1920s, the frequency of communal riots was unprecedented. Several Hindu-Muslim unity conferences were held to remove the causes of conflict, but, it seemed nothing could mitigate the intensity of communalism.

Muslim Demand Safeguards

In the light of this situation, the Muslims revised their constitutional demands. They now wanted preservation of their numerical majorities in the Punjab and Bengal, separation of Sindh from Bombay, constitution of Balochistan as a separate province and introduction of constitutional reforms in the North-West Frontier Province.

Allama Muhammad IqbalIt was partly to press these demands that one section of the All-India Muslim League cooperated with the Statutory commission sent by the British Government under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon in 1927. The other section of the League, which boycotted the Simon Commission for its all-White character, cooperated with the Nehru Committee, appointed by the All-Parties Confernece, to draft a constitution for India.

The Nehru Report had an extremely anti-Muslim bias and the Congress leadership's refusal to amend it disillusioned even the moderate Muslims.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Several leaders and thinkers, having insight into the Hindu-Muslim question proposed separation of Muslim India. However, the most lucid exposition of the inner feeling of the Muslim community was given by Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) in his Presidential Address at the All-India Muslim League Session at Allahabad in 1930.

He suggested that for the healthy development of Islam in South-Asia, it was essential to have a separate Muslim state at least in the Muslim majority regions of the north-west.

Later on, in his correspondence with Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, he included the Muslim majority areas in the north-east also in his proposed Muslim state. Three years after his Allahabad Address, a group of Muslim students at Cambridge, headed by Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, issued a pamphlet, Now or Never, in which drawing letters from the names of the Muslim majority regions, they gave the nomenclature of "Pakistan" to the proposed State.

Very few even among the Muslim welcomed the idea at the time. It was to take a decade for the Muslims to embrace the demand for a separate Muslim state.

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Read more about Quaid-e-Azam)

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali JinnahMeanwhile, three Round Table Conferences were convened in London during 1930-32, to resolve the Indian constitutional problem. The Hindu and Muslim leaders, who were invited to these conferences, could not draw up an agreed formula and the British Government had to announce a ' Communal Award' which was incorporated in the Government of India Act of 1935.

Before the elections under this Act, the All-India Muslim League, which had remained dormant for some time, was reorganized by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had returned to India in 1934, after an absence of nearly five years in England.

The Muslim League could not win a majority of Muslim seats since it had not yet been effectively reorganized. However, it had the satisfaction that the performance of the Indian National Congress in the Muslim constituencies was bad. After the elections, the attitude of the Congress leadership was arrogant and domineering. The classic example was its refusal to form a coalition government with the Muslim League in the United Provinces. Instead, it asked the League leaders to dissolve their parliamentary party in the Provincial Assembly and join the Congress.

Another important Congress move after the 1937 elections was its Muslim mass contact movement to persuade the Muslims to join the congress and not the Muslim League. One of its leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru, even declared that there were only two forces in India, the British and the Congress.

All this did not go unchallenged. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah countered that there was a third force in South-Asia constituting the Muslims. The All-India Muslim League, under his gifted leadership, gradually and skillfully started organising the Muslims on one platform.

Minar-e-Pakistan - Place of Pakistan Resolution of 1940 and Lahore SessionTowards a Separate Muslim Homeland

The 1930s witnessed awareness among the Muslims of their separate identity and their anxiety to preserve it within separate territorial boundaries. An important element that brought this simmering Muslim nationalism in the open was the character of the Congress rule in the Muslim minority provinces during 1937-39. The Congress policies in these provinces hurt Muslim susceptibilities. There were calculated aims to obliterate the Muslims as a separate cultural unit.

The Muslims now stopped thinking in terms of seeking safeguards and began to consider seriously the demand for a separate Muslim state. During 1937-39, several Muslim leaders and thinkers, inspired by Allama Iqbal's ideas, presented elaborate schemes for partitioning the subcontinent according to two-nation theory.

Pakistan Resoluation [1940]

The All-India Muslim League soon took these schemes into consideration and finally, on March 23, 1940. The All-India Muslim League, in a resolution, at its historic Lahore Session, demanded a separate homeland for the Muslims in the Muslim majority regions of the subcontinent. The resolution was commonly referred to as the Pakistan Resolution.

The Pakistan demand had a great appeal for the Muslims of every persuasion. It revived memories of their past greatness and promised future glory. They, therefore, responded to this demand immediately.

Cripps Mission

The British Government recognized the genuineness of the Pakistan demand indirectly in the proposals for the transfer of power after the Second World War which Sir Stafford Cripps brought to India in 1942. Both the Congress and the All-India Muslim League rejected these proposals for different reasons. The principles of secession of Muslim India as a separate Dominion was however, conceded in these proposals.

After this failure, a prominent Congress leader, C. Rajgopalacharia, suggested a formula for a separate Muslim state in the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress, which was rejected at the time, but later on, in 1944, formed the basis of the Jinnah-Gandhi talks.

Demand for Pakistan

The Pakistan demand became popular during the Second World War Every section of the Muslim community - men, women, students, Ulema and businessmen - were organized under the banner of the All-India Muslim League. Branches of the party were opened even in the remote corners of the subcontinent.

Literature in the form of pamphlets, books, magazines and newspapers was produced to explain the Pakistan demand and distributed widely. The support gained by the All-India Muslim League and its demand for Pakistan was tested after the failure of the Simla Conference, convened by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, in 1945.

Elections were called to determine the respective strength of the political parties. The All-India Muslim League election campaign was based on the Pakistan demand. The Muslim community responded to this call in an unprecedented way. Numerous Muslim parties were formed making united parliamentary board at the behest of the Congress to oppose the Muslim League. But the All-India Muslim League swept all the thirty seats in the Central Legislature and in the provincial elections also, its victory was outstanding. After the elections, on April 8-9, 1946, the All-India Muslim League called a convention of the newly-elected League members in the Central and Provincial Legislatures at Delhi.

This convention, which constituted virtually a representative assembly of the Muslims of South Asia, on a motion by the Chief Minister of Bengal, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, reiterated the Pakistan demand in clearer terms.

Cabinet Plan

In early 1946, the British Government sent a Cabinet Mission to the subcontinent to resolve the constitutional deadlock. The Mission conducted negotiations with various political parties, but failed to evolve an agreed formula. Finally, the Cabinet Mission announced its own Plan, which among other provisions, envisaged three federal groupings, two of them comprising the Muslim majority provinces, linked at the Centre in a loose federation with three subjects.

The Muslim League accepted the plan, as a strategic move, expecting to achieve its objective in not-too-distant a future. The All-India Congress also agreed to the Plan, but, soon realising its implications, the Congress leaders began to interpret it in a way not visualized by the authorities of the Plan. This provided the All-India Muslim League an excuse to withdraw its acceptance of the Plan and the party observed August 16, 1946, as a ' Direct Action Day' to show Muslim solidarity in support of the Pakistan demand.

Partition Scheme

In October 1946, an Interim Government was formed. The Muslim League sent its representative under the leadership of its General Secretary, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, with the aim to fight for the party objective from within the Interim Government. After a short time, the situation inside the Interim Government and outside convinced the Congress leadership to accept Pakistan as the only solution of the communal problem. The British Government, after its last attempt to save the Cabinet Mission Plan in December 1946, also moved towards a scheme for the partition of India.

The last British Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, came with a clear mandate to draft a plan for the transfer of power. After holding talks with political leaders and parties, he prepared a Partition Plan for the transfer of power, which, after approval of the British Government, was announced on June 3, 1947.

Emergence of Pakistan

Both the Congress and the Muslim League accepted the Plan. Two largest Muslim majority provinces, Bengal and Punjab, were partitioned. The Assemblies of West Punjab, East Bengal and Sindh and in Balochistan, the Quetta Municipality, and the Shahi Jirga voted for Pakistan. Referenda were held in the North-West Frontier Province and the District of Sylhet in Assam, which resulted in an overwhelming vote for Pakistan.

As a result, on August 14, 1947, the new state of Pakistan came into existence. May Allah keep Pakistan safe from enemy.

Pakistan Flag

Pakistan Zindabad! (Long Live Pakistan!)





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