The nation every year on March 23 celebrates Pakistan Day to mark the passage of the resolution on this day. Way back in 1940, the All-Indian Muslim League in its historic session at the then Minto Park in Lahore, under the inspiring leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, passed the resolution for the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent, to remember and pay homage to the leaders and others who sacrificed their lives in the struggle during Pakistan Movement and rekindle the spirit of this great day.

This time, Pakistan Day is being celebrated with renewed enthusiasm and fervour in the wake of the Indian attempts at aggression and intrusion into Pakistan through air, sea and land only to get a befitting response by the ever-alert and vigilant armed forces of Pakistan. They will be pledging to remain united and steadfast, shoulder to shoulder with the armed forces in foiling the evil designs of the ever-hostile enemy effectively and promptly.

Minar-i-Pakistan has been constructed and is standing aloft at the now Iqbal Park where the resolution for Pakistan was moved and approved.

A visit to the Minar-i-Pakistan in the month of March rekindles the spirit of struggle and sacrifice, and revives the determination for continuing to working hard day and night for realising the cherished objectives for which the Resolution was adopted .

The clarifications made six years later in the original resolution, which included removing certain misgivings and misconceptions, are somehow little known. To duly understand and appreciated the true spirit and objectives of March 23, the 1940 original resolution and April 9, 1946 Delhi Resolution clarifications and its operative part are inscribed quite prominently on the Minar-i-Pakistan and it is better that both of these should be read together. If both the resolutions in the context of their operative parts are read together, many confusions would clear up in the minds of the people, particularly the younger generations with respect to the creation of Pakistan as an independent, sovereign and free country on the world map.

The story of the construction of Minar-i-Pakistan itself makes for quite interesting reading. It was initially started as part of a Pakistan Day memorial. Its foundation stone was laid by then West Pakistan Governor Akhtar Hussain on March 23,1960 while actual construction started only sometime in 1964. It is also pointed out here that after the foundation stone was laid, the design was subjected to many changes and was approved and disapproved a number of times. The construction work remained suspended for quite some time till it was finally taken up when Commissioner Mukhtar Masood took a personal interest in the project.

The then Commissioner Lahore and well-known literary figure Mukhtar Masood had retrieved the project file from the heaps of dumped files in the storeroom of the office of an Assistant Commissioner, and it is him who deserves the full credit for the magnificent tower that stands today. He also recruited talented contractor Mian Abdul Khaliq to work on the project, who did it with a determination not seen with previous contractors. Contractor Mian Abdul Khaliq expired many years ago whereas Mukhtar Masood passed away a couple of years back.

The constructional pattern of the Minar-i-Pakistan and its first four platforms depict the history of the Pakistan Movement through the use of architectural symbolism. For instance, the rough and uncut stones which have been laid rather haphazardly represent the chaotic conditions and the lack of any sense of direction among the Muslims in the early days and the humble start of the Movement that with the blessings of Almighty Allah culminated in the establishment of Pakistan.

The stones so used are rough Taxila stones. Similarly, hammer-dressed stones used in the second platform represented the second phase of the Pakistan Movement and the third and fourth platforms, which are of highly polished marble, show the ultimate success of the marble---the symbol of glory that is Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that the material used has not been imported but was indigenous- signifying our desire to remain free from all outside influences. The stones used in the construction of this historical monument were all from North Western Frontier Province (whose name has since been changed to Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah), Balochistan, Swat, Mullagari and Swabi.

The tower rises from a platform shaped like a five-pointed star enclosed by two crescent-shaped pools, embodying each other to signify the strong bonds of unity that united East and West Pakistan. Unfortunately, East Pakistan broke away in 1971 becoming Bangladesh leaving Pakistan as a Federation comprising four provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Balochistan.

It has 10 vertical converging slabs interlaced with flower-petals, glazed segment of domes with sightseeing platforms and a central spiral staircase. The circular diameter of the tower is 300 feet 6 inches on the rostrum side and 400 feet on the outer periphery. Sightseeing is done through balconies provided for these purposes by going up through lift. Most of the money spent on the construction of Minar--i-Pakistan was raised through public donations as well as by levying a Pakistan Day Memorial tax of paisas five on each cinema ticket for some years.

All in all, the Minar-i-Pakistan, while not the oldest historical artifact we have, is certainly one that might represent Pakistan’s legacy the best- standing tall and pure, even in the face of hardship.

The constructional pattern of the Minar-i-Pakistan and its first four platforms depict the history of the Pakistan Movement through the use of architectural symbolism.

The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and Retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.

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