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Pakistan Movement


Pakistan Movement evolved, as is generally believed, through the lahore resolution of 1940. The genesis of Pakistan has sometimes been traced back to1905 when Muslim leaders of India demanded for separate electorate of the Muslims which was conceded to by the morley-minto reforms of 1909. The Congress also accepted the system of separate electorate by the Lucknow Pact of 1916 and the system was followed in subsequent elections.

Iqbal, the poet- philosopher, for the first time made the reference to the need for a 'North-west Indian Muslim State' in his Presidential Address at the Allahabad Session of the muslim league in 1930. He then was visualising not partition, but recognition of Muslim majority areas in Northwest India into an autonomous unit within an Indian federation. A similar need for the recognition of autonomy for the Muslim majority province of Bengal did not occur to him. Chaudhury Rahmat Ali may be regarded as the proponent of the idea of Pakistan. In two pamphlets entitled 'Now or Never', written in 1933 and 1935, he demanded a separate national status for a new entity, and coined its name as 'Pakistan' (from Punjab, Afghan province, Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan).

The Lahore Resolution rejected the federal constitution envisaged under the 1935 Act. In the resolution it was demanded that the areas where the Muslims were numerically in a majority as in the Northwestern and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute 'independent states', in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign. Muslims of Bengal found their identity in the Lahore Resolution in the sense that they were no longer a community, but a nation with its own defined territory. The Resolution gave Bengal Muslims a sense of nationhood and henceforth, instead of making complaints against Hindu injustice, they demanded for separate political existence.

The Hindu Press dubbed the Lahore Resolution as the 'Pakistan Demand'. The 1940 resolution nowhere mentioned Pakistan and in asking for 'independent states' the spokesmen of the League were far from clear what was intended. The Hindu press supplied Muslim leadership a concrete slogan, which immediately conveyed to them the idea of a state. It would have taken long for the Muslim leaders to explain the Lahore Resolution and convey its real meaning and significance to the Muslim masses. The Hindu press in dubbing it as the 'Pakistan Resolution' shortened years of labour of the Muslim leaders to propagate its full importance amongst the masses. By emphasising the idea of Pakistan the Hindu press succeeded in converting Jinnah's wordy and clouded formula into a clarion call.

On 15 April 1941 the so-called Pakistan Resolution was incorporated as a creed in the constitution of the Muslim League in its Madras session. It continued to be the League's creed until its dissolution after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Indeed, from 1940 onward, Pakistan was the great talking point of the Indian independence debate.

The Pakistan slogan spread rapidly among the Indian Muslims. There were obvious reasons for this. To the Muslim peasants of Bengal and the Punjab, Pakistan was being presented as the end of Hindu zamindar and bania exploitation. abul hashim, Secretary of the Bengal Muslim League from November 1943 did his best to cultivate a radical image for his party, promising abolition of rent-receiving interests in a manifesto issued in 1944. Another significant factor was that Pakistan promised 'the hedging off' of a part of India from competition by the established Hindu business groups or professional classes so that the small Muslim business class could thrive and the nascent Muslim intelligentsia could find employment. Big Muslim capitalists were relatively few in number. In the Muslim majority areas, such as East Bengal and West Punjab, big industries hardly existed before 1947, but a number of small entrepreneurs were slowly coming up, connected with flourishing agriculture of the regions. Pakistan for such people did provide a major economic boon by insulating them from competition with established Indian large business houses.

The Hindu and Sikh communal groups in Bengal and the Punjab preferred the partition of the Indian Sub-continent by separating the Hindu-Sikh majority portion of the Punjab and Hindu majority portion of Bengal from the Lahore Resolution-based Pakistan zones. According to their expectations eastern Punjab and western Bengal should join with the Hindu majority India. The surgical solution to Hindu-Muslim communal problem of the subcontinent was at last achieved through the creation of Pakistan in 1947. [Mohammad Shah]