One cannot help but feel peevish at the engineered and fraudulent yet barren ecstasy that engulfs Pakistan on March 23 every year. Frustration comes from the disturbing level of collective intelligence of our citizenry to understand history and shameless lies that the state and media continue to propagate with impunity. How such distortions could manufacture the psyche of a whole generation even if it is as little a thing as changing the dates of events, is evident, seeing today’s Pakistan.
March 23 is invariably painted in all the media, textbooks and in everything around us, as “Pakistan Day”. Little does the term offer to understand what it actually means. To quote a textbook description of “Pakistan Day”:
“Annual Session of All India Muslim League was held on March 23, 1940 at the historical Iqbal Park of Lahore. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah presided over it and a large number of Muslims from all over India participated. Maulvi Fazl-e-Haq of Bengal Province presented a resolution with the title Lahore Resolution and the participants adopted the resolution amid loud slogans…”
This textbook for grade 12 has been published by the Punjab Textbook Board, printed by Malik House, Ganpath Road, Lahore, authored by some Mr Mohammad Farooq Malik, Dr Sultan Khan, Rai Faiz and Khadim Ali Khan. It neither tells the date of printing nor the number of printed copies. On the first page, however, it carries messages from former president Pervez Musharraf and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former chief minister of Punjab. Amazing is the fact that no parent has ever tried to know about the authors or to challenge the lies told in this book. So much for responsible parenting!
The quoted passage is not the only instance of tampering with history. The propaganda has been done at state level, in media and in the entire public sphere. For example, the notification of public holiday on March 23 says that the day marks the adoption of the “Pakistan Resolution”.
This propaganda needs to be challenged with necessary changes to be made in textbooks and official records immediately. It should be clearly stated that the said resolution was passed as the Lahore Resolution, later changed to Pakistan Resolution by the All India Muslim League in 1946.
Moreover, it is portrayed as if the resolution came as a shock in which a “separate country for Muslims” was demanded. It did not. One can quote several dozen proposals of partition, with different details, prior to this Resolution. Pakistanis may continue to fool themselves by asserting that the idea of separation was homegrown by the Muslims of India starting from Syed Ahmed Khan, but facts will stubbornly remain facts.
The idea of separation in terms of establishing five or six presidencies with complete autonomy and ultimately becoming independent states first came in 1858. Hold your breath, the author was John Bright, not (Sir) Syed Ahmed Khan! John Bright, while speaking in the House of Commons on June 24, 1858, elaborated on his ideas of the solution to the ‘Indian problem’ during the debate on the Government of India Bill.
How the truths about this Resolution have been distorted deliberately has a lot to do with today’s Pakistan. The fallout of this distortion and outright murder of history, on Pakistan and its relations with neighbouring India as well as undermining of the constitution is beyond the level we can imagine.
The textbooks and reinforcing media messages, owned completely by the state, claim that the Resolution was adopted on March 23, 1940. But according to the Proceedings of the 27th Annual Session of the All India Muslim League, “Nawab” of Mamdot, Chairman Reception Committee, opened the Session on March 22 with a short address at 3:00 pm. His address was followed by Mr Jinnah’s long speech, which for a change was not written, who was presiding over the session. The session was adjourned after this speech to re-convene on March 23 at 3:00 pm.
At the beginning of the second day, Maulvi Fazl-e-Haq of Bengal introduced the resolution, seconded by Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman. Both of them spoke on the Resolution for a while after which Zafar Ali Khan, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan and Sir Abdullah Haroon delivered their speeches. The session was then adjourned till March 24.
On March 24, the session began in the morning at 11:15 am. A non-interactive discussion on the Resolution started with the speeches of League leaders from the United Provinces, Balochistan and Madras. After the speech of Abdul Hamid Khan, Jinnah entered the venue and took the presiding seat. After another hour and a half, Jinnah intervened and let another resolution on Palestine be introduced to the House. After a few speeches in favour of this, the session adjourned till 9:00 pm the same night.
In the night session, Sayyid Zakir Ali and Begum Mohammad Ali — the only woman speaker at the occasion — made speeches in favour of the Resolution. The Resolution was adopted without any dissenting vote — meaning unanimously. Two more resolutions were moved and passed without discussion afterwards, one on the Khaksars and other on the amendment to the party’s constitution. Mr Jinnah then wound up the session at 11:30 pm with a short concluding speech. So the Resolution, which we commemorate on March 23, was actually passed a little earlier than midnight between March 24 and 25, 1940.
Here, for the reminder of posterity, the date of Pakistan’s creation may be recalled. Both the countries became dominions of the British Crown simultaneously at midnight between August 14 and 15, 1947. But our India-centric leadership decided to mark August 14 as Pakistan’s birth date to make it distinct from Indian Independence Day on August 15. As a matter of fact, we were still under the crown on August 14, 1947, observing the colonial law as our constitution (Government of India Act 1935).
Both the juvenile states were to make and promulgate their constitutions to grant themselves independent status. India did that in 1949 — right after 26 months of partition. They passed it on November 26, 1949 and promulgated it on January 26, 1950, which to date stands as the longest written constitution of any independent state of the world. They celebrate this day as their Republic Day.
Pakistan could only promulgate its first constitution on March 23, 1956, which became since then, our Republic Day, the ‘Yaum-e-Jamhooriya Pakistan’, which we started commemorating every year thence. Then comes a soldier to rule in October 1958, who felt ridiculous on the eve of the third Republican Day, March 1959, to commemorate the birth of a constitution he himself had abrogated. His advisors came up with the idea to slightly twist the reason to celebrate. Thence the Republic Day of Pakistan became Pakistan Day.
What pains me is how easily we let the dictators go scot-free for their crimes against the constitution and against history. Today when we are living in a democratic independent state, we are still carrying on this farce. Little do we realise that an honest account of history is an undeniable right of posterity. We have committed a crime against time without realising that it can prove too ferocious and vengeful an enemy if taken lightly.