By Humera Ali and Myra Ahmed
The 14th of August commemorates the creation of Pakistan, a day that changed the world forever. It symbolises the power of determination, and highlights the sheer difference we can make, united. In celebration of Pakistan’s journey, Land of the Pure is taking you through the years of effort and struggle that brought us to a place of peace and hope, love and unity, but most of all, faith and determination.
It was the 17th century. European traders first arrived on the Indian subcontinent, which played a huge role in Pakistan’s independence later on. Through the formation of the East India Company, the British became the dominant force controlling the region. EIC originally began as a monopolistic trading body; a way in which England could participate in the lucrative spice trade. It was also an opportunity to access other resources that were otherwise inaccessible or not available in a sufficient amount by Britain’s other trading partners, such as silk, dye, cotton and opium. This was one of the many exploitations the British made of South Asia, and one which led to a rebellion that was quashed by the British Raj. The rebellions led to the British taking direct control over the region through gunpoint and force, and this is one reason which many historians acknowledge as being heavily involved in the subsequent creation of Pakistan – the Indian subcontinent being forced into the Empire.
The introduction of something comparable to a two nation theory was an idea that was first advocated for, but then also built up by many individuals before it was approved and established.
The ascendency of the British Raj caused a divergence within the previously neutral relationship in British India. It is rendered doubtful that a caste system had much significance in society before the British reshaped it and made it into the Indian subcontinent’s most defining social feature. The emergence of a Hindu almost renaissance-like movement, countered by Muslim intellectural movements, as well as other British-caused rivalry led to religious violence.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was one such intellectual that advocated for a two-nation theory, which acknowledged this violence and called for peace and security for both sectors of the population. By founding the All-India Muslim League in 1906, the two-nation theory began to gain wider recognition throughout the region.
Introduction to Pakistan
The Lahore Resolution, written by Muhammad Zafarullah Khan (a jurist but also a prominent figure in the advocacy for Pakistan) was established following a three-day session in Lahore in 1940. The Lahore Resolution approved the theory of a nation state called ‘Pakistan’, and formally called for the idea of separate independent states. As well as drawing Britain’s attention to the theory of separate nation states, the Lahore Resolution popularised the idea across the region and the movement began to gain region-wide supporters, as well as the endorsement of intellectual scholars and other high-ranking individuals.
The 1946 elections resulted in the Muslim League gaining 90% of the seats. This allowed for the creation of Pakistan to see the light of day, with a greater appreciation for the idea. The British were strongly against the two-nation theory, knowing that their exploitation of resources in the region would see difficulty. They also knew that with the introduction of two separate nation states, the British were aware that the colonial rule of India would have to end. The Cabinet Mission Plan was established as a last attempt to prevent this, but failed.
Creation of Pakistan
The British government finally announced its intention to end British rule within India in 1946. The following year, a partition plan was drawn up (by the British) and the state of Pakistan was established on the 14th of August 1947. Around 6.5 million Muslims moved from India to Pakistan, known as one of the largest mass migrations in human history.
After independence, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of the Muslim League, became the nation’s first Governer-General, as well as President-Speaker in Parliament.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s first speech to the Consitutent Assembly was one calling for tolerance and freedom. Contrary to popular belief, the establishment of a Muslim-majority Pakistan and a Hindu-majority India was not conceptualised to be something which pitted the two nation’s against each other - in fact it was the opposite. The introduction of the two nations was an outcome advocated for in order to bring peace instead violence and rivalry.
The 14th of August stands as a symbol of tolerance and togetherness, as much as it does freedom and strength. We wish all of our readers a happy 74th Independence Day - may Pakistan’s chaand sitara shine brighter each and every day!