Revisiting our Republic Day
Vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers was prophetic. Post independence behaviour of India towards Pakistan, other neighbours and its own minorities including the scheduled castes indicate that creation of Pakistan was the only way forward for the Muslim majority provinces of British India.
On 23rd March 1940, a historic resolution passed by the annual session of Muslim League became the basis for the formation of a new nation-state in South Asia: “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. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”.
The Pakistan Resolution was drafted by 25 member working committee of All India Muslim League. The resolution was presented by Maulvi A.K Fazlul Haq at Minto Park (Iqbal Park). The Pakistan Minaret stands where the Lahore Resolution was passed; this monument symbolizes a blossoming flower and reflects the blissfulness of independence.
The concept took over seven years to attract British approval. There were may ups and downs during the intervening period. Most upsetting was the “Cabinet Mission Proposals”, which could have delayed the creation of Pakistan by another 10 years; however, out of hubris, Congress rejected the proposal and, out of sheer good luck, the day was saved for the Muslims of undivided India. The British plan to partition India into Pakistan and Hindustan configuration was announced on 3rd June 1947. Main concept of Pakistan was visualized by Dr Muhammad Iqbal and articulated in Allahabad on 29th December 1930. The nomenclature Pakistan was coined on 28th January 1933 by Chaudhary Rehmat Ali. According to Quaid-e-Azam: “Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope other will share with us”. It was a foregone conclusion that the two communities will not be able to live under a single political arrangement. Because going by the Westminster model of democracy, Muslims will always remain in minority.
Allama Iqbal is accredited for putting forth the Two-Nation theory, an ideology pointing out that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations. Muslim culture, tradition, religion, ideology, morals and language were all distinctly different from Hindu ideals. The two nations shared mutually contradicting beliefs. Therefore, an autonomous state consisting of Muslim majority areas of British India was essential to protect Muslims’ political, social and cultural rights.
The roots of the struggle for independence of British India can be traced back to the War of Independence of 1857 which started off as a spontaneous uprising against the excesses by British East India Company soldiers but soon took the shape of a freedom struggle and caused a country wide existential threat to British rule in undivided India. British had presumed that it were Muslims who triggered and sustained the war of independence, and after the war they had made up their mind to avenge the insult. Under these trying circumstance, Muslim leaders such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan worked tirelessly for the political, social and economic uplifting of Muslims by mitigating the impact of harsh anti-Muslim measures taken by the colonial rulers.
After independence on 14 August 1947, Pakistan started as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as head of state; and governed under the “Government of India Act 1935”. Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly drafted the basic outlines of the constitution in 1949. After years of deliberations, the first constitution of Pakistan was enforced on 23 March 1956. This marked the country’s successful transition from Dominion to Islamic Republic. The Governor-General was replaced with President of Pakistan as ceremonial head of state.
Main feature of Republic Day celebrations is a parade at Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. The armed forces of Pakistan organise this parade, which is reflective of military and civil façade of the country. The parade for Republic Day resumed in 2015 after an eight-year suspension. During 2008-15, Pakistan day parades were not held due to security concerns. Now the scope of parade has been expanded by inviting participation of contingents from allied countries. A special feature of last year’s parade was the participation of the People’s Liberation Army of China and Saudi Special Force contingents alongside Turkish Janissary Military band.
The participation of Chinese troops in the parade last year highlighted growing ties between China and Pakistan. President, Mamnoon Hussain, had noted that the participation of Chinese troops marked a “historic moment.” According to Xinhua, China’s state news agency, “A contingent of the guard of honour of the three services of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” participated in the parade. “We have come here to convey a message of friendship to Pakistan on behalf of the Chinese people and the Chinese army. We sincerely hope that Pakistan will progress day by day and its army will be stronger and stronger,” Earlier, during China’s own military parade in September 2015, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Asia, Pakistan had sent a small contingent of troops to show its support.
Pakistani nation is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland. We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language, and literature, art, architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and protection, legal laws and moral code, aptitude, and ambitions. We have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. Happy Pakistan Day!