Pakistan Day: a minority perspective

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Pakistan Day: A Non-Muslim’s perspective
By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
Member of National Assembly (PMLN)
Patron-in-chief, Pakistan Hindu Council

23rd March 1940, is no doubt, a historical day which is considered as an important milestone in the Muslim struggle to achieve an independent state in united British India. On this occasion, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, while emphasizing on the Two-Nation Theory, had repudiated the concept of United India. He expressed that Muslims of sub-continent are entirely a different nation and they must have a separate state to spend their lives according to their traditions and code of life. The Pakistan Resolution, which was presented by the Tiger of Bangal A.K Fazal ul Haq, demanded to the British rulers 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” in addition that “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.”

The historical resolution, endorsed by different Muslim local leaders including Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Punjab, Chaudhry Khaleeq uz Zaman from UP, Sardar Aurangzeb from the N. W. F. P., Sir Abdullah Haroon from Sindh, and Qazi Esa from Balochistan, along with many others, was passed in that critical time that when All India Muslim League had lost the elections in 1936, and failed to establish provincial government not even in a single province. This raised the question mark on the claims of Muslim League being only representative body of Indian Muslims. On the other hand, unnecessary undemocratic steps taken by the Congress government became main reasons for increasing sense of insecurities among the Muslim minority. They feared much more exploitation in the hands of Congress majority once the British leaves India. Due to these facts, I believe that the Two-Nation Theory was a political move to ensure the protection of rights of Muslim minority of that time instead of promoting Hindu-Muslim religious clashes. This is really a good sign that Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, on the occasion of recently-held Holi celebrations, has also made clear that Pakistan came into being to prevent religious confrontation and the constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights for all communities living in the country irrespective of their religious beliefs or practices.

This is another historical fact that the word “Pakistan” was not used in the resolution passed on 23rd March but the opponents of Muslim League called it “Pakistan Resolution” which became popular so rapidly. The areas for the formation of Pakistan were identified on the occasion of the 3-day Delhi Convention on 7th April 1946 in the honor of Muslim League legislators who won the newly-concluded elections to central and provincial Assemblies. It was demanded that the zones comprising Bengal and Assam in the north-east and the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Balochistan in the north-west of India, namely Pakistan zones, where the Muslims are in dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent state and that an unequivocal undertaking is given to implement the establishment of Pakistan without delay. Contrary to 23rd March resolution, the demand for only one Muslim state was presented on this occasion. I think, if the two friendly allied Muslim states were formed – as per Pakistan Resolution – at the time of partition in 1947, the Bangaldesh tragedy could not only be avoided but the balance of power on regional level could also be maintained. There is no such example of any state with a distance of 1000 miles while having enemy state in between. The cultural, linguistic and other differences must have to result in the separation of eastern and western parts.

The Pakistan Day is usually considered to celebrate in memory of the 23rd March Resolution as celebration activities are being held on government level and awards to outstanding Pakistani citizens are presented. Pakistan Day, in reality, has historical links with the adoption of first ever national constitution on 23rd March 1956 but the martial law imposed by dictator Ayub Khan linked all the celebrations on 23rd March with Pakistan Resolution. The Pakistan Resolution urged the importance of internal sovereignty but the Ayub regime harmed the provincial autonomy which ultimately led to increase sense of inferiority among Bangali citizens. In my views, Pakistan Resolution must be included in the constitution but the Objective Resolution, which created huge gulf between Muslim and Non-Muslim politicians, became integral part of the constitution.

Today, Pakistan’s founding party Muslim League is in power and the recent address by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during Holi celebration has won the hearts and minds of Pakistani Non-Muslim citizens, especially Hindu community. The day of 23rd March demands us to ensure forming a peaceful society for all people and in this regard, Operation Zarb-e-Azab plays a pivotal role to defeat terrorism but much more bold steps are also needed on the ideological front. We must jointly struggle to transform Pakistan, which was created to prevent exploitation of minorities in united India, into role model minority-friendly state. The negative attitude shown by Indian Congress towards Muslim minorities in the 1940s must not be repeated with Non-Muslim Pakistani minorities. All citizens regardless of their religion must be treated equally. This is what Quaid-e-Azam also demonstrated practically on various occasions and appointment of Non-Muslims in his cabinet is one of the bright examples. While celebrating the Pakistan Day, the positive contributions of Non-Muslim Pakistani citizens must also be acknowledged. The patriotic Non-Muslim Pakistani citizens seem rightly to ask that unlike Muslim citizens why they are not allowed to send their genuine representatives in Parliament through election, instead of selection.

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The writer is a member of National Assembly and patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council who tweets at @RVankwani

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