1940 was the landmark year in the demand for partition because in that year the All India Muslim League (AIML) in its annual session - held in March at Lahore under the guidance and leadership of the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah - presented its separate Muslim homeland plan. The plan was enveloped in a resolution, which was initially called Lahore Resolution. Later, it became more famous as Pakistan Resolution. The entire meat of the struggle of AIML after March 1940 was concentrated around this resolution till the creation of Pakistan in August 1947.

The 1940 session of the AIML was not just historic and momentous, but - held at the grounds where the Minar-i-Pakistan now stands - was the biggest gathering of Indian Muslims in their political history, since the fall of the once-mighty Mughal Empire in 1857. More than 100,000 Muslim activists from every nook and corner of the subcontinent congregated on that day in the historic city of Lahore and proclaimed to the world their determination to attain, and then retain, a separate Muslim statehood!

The extreme necessity of a separate homeland for the Indian Muslims was largely a result of their being completely ostracised from the Indian mainstream in economic, social, political, and religious matters, only to name a few. A few historical quotations shall illustrate this line of thought more clearly:-

i    In his presidential address to the All India Muslim Conference at Bombay (now Mumbai) on April 23, 1930, Jinnah declared: "We refuse to join Mr Gandhi, because his movement is not a movement for the complete independence of India, but for making the seventy millions of Indian Musalmaans dependents of the Hindu Mahasabha"……..and he was cheered by over 20,000 Muslims that had gathered on the occasion (Times of India, April 24, 1930).

i     “The Muslims are a nation with every right to establish their separate homeland. They can adopt any means to promote and protect their economic, social, political and cultural interests” (Quaid-i-Azam).

i    “India is not a nation, nor a country. It is a subcontinent of nationalities, Hindus and Muslims being the two major nations. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry, nor inter-dine, and they belong to two different civilisations, which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of it are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history” (Quaid-i-Azam).

Apart from these quotations to illustrate the side-lining of Muslims, other mannerisms to side-line the Musalmaans were sharply reflected in aspects such as the formation of ministries in the Hindu and Muslim majority provinces in mid-1937. While the Muslim provinces went for coalition governments, the Hindu provinces under the Congress' aegis opted for exclusive, one party government. Jinnah had always considered the Muslim merger with the Hindus, and the AIML's with the Congress, almost impossible. It was impossible for the Muslims to merge with the Hindus, but, quite to the contrary, Muslims "must unite as a nation and then live or die as a nation."

The Muslims were termed as a minority at this stage of India's political evolution. But "minorities", argued Jinnah in the Indian Legislative Assembly on February 7, 1935, "…….means a combination of things. It may be that a minority has a different religion from the other citizens of a country. Their language may be different, their race may be different, their culture may be different, and the combination of all these various elements - religion, culture, race, language, arts, music, and so forth - makes the minority a separate entity in the state, and the separate entity as an entity wants safeguards. Surely, therefore, we must face this question as a political problem; we must solve it and not evade it……."

Quaid-i-Azam is reported to have said: “Pakistan was created the day, the first Indian national entered the field of Islam.” However, today, having had freedom handed out on a silver platter, being born free is a luxury young Pakistanis have, perhaps, come to take as granted. This March 23 morning, when we hear the sound of heavy gunfire, let us renew our pledge to ask not what our country can do for us, but stand ready to ask ourselves what we can do for our dear country, Motherland Pakistan!

n­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­    The writer is an independent teacher and financial consultant based in Karachi.

    Email: taimurshaiquehussain@gmail.com