Pakistan Resolution, Islam and politics


  1. Pakistan Resolution Day - 23rd March 1940 - YouTube

    Mar 16, 2012 - Uploaded by GreaterPakistan
    23rd March 23 1940, Lahore (PakistanResolution Day The people of Pakistan celebrate the 23rd of ...
March 23 is a history-making date: In 1940 on this date the All India Muslim League formally presented the proposalfor a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India. It was a proposal for the partition of British India because the Muslim League leaders felt on the basis of their political experience that a federal model would not provide adequate guarantees for their religious-cultural identity and political rights and interests. The Muslims under the flag of the Muslim League re-articulated their identity from a community to a nation that looked for a territorial homeland exclusive of non-Muslim dominated India. The Muslim League was willing to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946) that proposed a loose federation with two units of Muslim majority provinces as a legal and political arrangement that could be reviewed and changed after ten years. As the Congress Party saw the seeds of separation for the Muslims in the future, it did not accept the Plan in Toto and wanted to go the Constituent Assembly of British India with a free hand to decide about the future political and constitutional arrangements. The Muslim League revised its earlier decision and returned to the separate homeland demand.
The Muslim League Resolution was therefore a turning point in the history of British India that focused attention on changing constitutional and political arrangements within British India rather than putting forward a framework for internal political and constitutional arrangements in the proposedstate of Pakistan.

March 23 is an important date for another reason that we often forget. It was on March 23, 1956 that Pakistan`s first constitution, framed by the second Constituent Assembly (1955-56), was enforced. Pakistan officially became an `Islamic Republic.` The 1956 Constitution aimed at combing the modern notions of nation-state, participatory governance, codified constitutional and legal system and the rule of law with the ideals of participation, socio-economic justice, equality and brotherhood as enunciated in Islam. The Preamble of the Constitution, formulated in the light of the Objectives` Resolution (1949) set out the framework for this combination. Several follow-up clauses were included in the constitution. Prior to March 1956, Pakistan`s GovernorGeneral used to be appointed by the King/Queen of England on the recommendation of Pakistan`s federal cabinet. With the implementation of the 1956 Constitution, Governor-General was replaced by President of Pakistan, elected by its National Assembly.
March 23 was celebrated as Republic Day for few years. This practice was discontinued and it began to be celebrated as Pakistan Day or Pakistan Resolution Day as the 1956 Constitution was abrogated when the Commander Chief of the Pakistan Army, General Muhammad Ayub Khan, overthrew the civilian political order on October8,1958.
Ayub Khan had a new Presidential Constitution framed and he imposed it on June 8 1962 when the National Assembly elected earlier held its first session. This constitution, described as the 1962 Constitution, used the title of `Republic of Pakistan` which was changed to `Islamic Republic` in 1963. The third constitution, passedby a directly elected National Assembly in April 1973, was enforced on August 14, 1973. This constitution continued with the notion of `Islamic Republic` but it added a few new Islamic provisions, designating Islam as the state religion.
What is common between the political and religious discourse in Pakistan now-a-days and March 23 of 1940 and 1956 is the relationship between Islam and Pakistani state and nationalidentity. Islam was invoked by the political leaders in 1940 and 1956 but its invocation was very different from the way religious circles and the Pakistani state employed Islam in state and societal affairs during and after the days of General Zia-ul-Haq`s military government.
Islamic symbols and idiom began to surface in the speeches and statements of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah after his return from England in 1934, especially from 1937 onwards.This was part of his efforts to reorganize the Muslim League against the backdrop of the 1937 provincial elections and the experience of the Congress rule in non-Muslim majority provinces of India. Earlier his struggle focused on protecting Muslim political identity, rights and interests in worldly terms. He played an important role in shaping what is described as the Lucknow pact, 1916 between the Congress and the Muslim League. His famous fourteen point speech (1929) presents constitutional, legal, cultural and economic demands for protecting and advancing Muslim rights and interests in British India`s constitutional arrangements.
Jinnah profusely employed Islamic symbols and idiom from the mid-1930 onwards as mark of Muslim identity and instrument of political mobilization. He invoked Islamic history, ideals, principles, teachings and Muslim rule in India for political iden-tity formation. He viewed them as a source of inspiration and guidance for Pakistani state and society. These principles and historical experiences were to inspire the law makers and rulers in their efforts to create a modern democratic state system. This was an effort to provide a moral and ethical basis to the modern state system rather than creating a religious-theocratic state where everything was subordinated to puritanical and literalist interpretation of the religious text by religious scholars who hardly made any distinction between principles and structures. The principles and teaching of Islam are relevant over time if the notion of `ijtihad` is used; structures are always time-bound.
He recognized the pluralist nature of the proposed Pakistani state in terms of regional and religious diversity.
Therefore, the protection of religious minorities figured in all major resolutions passed by the Muslim League, including the Lahore Resolution of March 23, 1940. There is no resolution of the Muslim League that says the Sharia would be the supreme law of Pakistan. The Muslim league under Jinnah stood for a modern democratic state that derived inspirations form Islamic ideals and teachings. There was no notion of the state embarking on enforcing Islam on puritanical and literalist lines as advocated by Islamic parties in the post-independence period in Pakistan. The Sharia and teaching of Islam were viewed as one of the sources of law rather than a set of punitive, regulative and extractive legal codes.
It was not merely in the August 11, 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly that Jinnah assured the religious minorities that the state would not discriminate them on the basis of religion. Several other statements talkof equal citizenship, equal role in state affairs and equal protection of law irrespective or religion, caste or region.
In his message to the people of the United States in February 1948, Jinnah said: `.... Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. we have many non-Muslims-Hindus, Christians and Parsis-but they are all Pakistanis.
They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and [they] will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.
Jinnah articulated Muslim nationhood in British India by invoking the exclusive religio-cultural heritage and history of the Muslims and their political experience. These ideas were expressed clearly in his article published in a British Weekly Time and Tide (March 9, 1940) and his address to the Lahore session of the Muslim League on March 22, 1940. He said in this address to the Muslim League session that `Mussalmans are not a minority as it is commonly known and understood.... Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state.` He elaborated the notion of Muslim nationhood in his letter to M.K Gandhi on 17 September 1944.
He wrote: `We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation. We are a nation of a hundred million, and what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions; in short, we have our own distinctive outloon life and of life.
By all canons of international law we are a nation.
First Vision of Islamic Political System It was not surprising that in the post-independence period, the Muslim League pursued the views of Jinnah for devising relationship between the Pakistani state and Islam. It was what is often described as the Modernist liberal view of Islamic polity whereby Pakistan`s 1956 constitution, introduced on March 23, 1956, combined the basic features of a modern democratic state and constitutionalism with the principles and teachings of Islam.
The Muslim League leaders viewed Islam as a dynamic, progressive and living set of ideals and principles that could be reinterpreted through `Ijmah` and `Ijtihad` to cope with the modern conditions and challenges.
They refused to grant the power of deciding about the Islamic character of a law or administrative actions to non-elected orthodox religious hierarchy. Rather, this power was kept with the parliament and the superior judiciary.
The modernist view of Islamic polity was also incorporated in the 1962 Constitution. The same can be said about the 1973 Constitution, although it included some new Islamic provisions against the backdrop of the sepa-ration of East Pakistan in December 1971. The Islamic Ideology Council, established under the constitutions of 1962 and 1973, to advice on bringing laws in conformity with Islamic teachings had an advisory capacity. The supremacy of the elected parliament was maintained as a legislative body.
Second Vision of Islamic Political System While the Pakistani power elite and the state subscribed to the modernist view of Islamic Republic, a large number of religious leaders and Islamic parties questioned its and Islamic state with an emphasis on punitive and regulative aspects of Islamic teachings.
Some of them rejected modern democracy and wanted to recreate the polity of the early days of Islam. They also wanted to tilt the constitutional system to ensure their domination in the name of Islam. The Islamic political parties that were most vocal in setting up a genuinely Islamic political system were the ones that opposed the political movement for the establishment of Pakistan. The slogan of Islamic system was used by these parties to enter the political process in independent Pakistan.
It was under the military rule by General Zia-ul-Haq that the ideas of Islamic clergy about the Islamic polity were adopted as the state policy. It was a reversal of the notion of modern democratic Islamic Republic as reflected in the speeches and statements ofJinnah and the resolutions of the Muslim League as well as in the constitutions of Pakistan. The Zia regime amended the existing law, made new laws and issued administrative order to create a legal and political system more in tune with conservative and orthodox Islamic discourse. An interesting document that reflected the views of orthodox religious leaders was the Ansari Commission Report (1983) on the nature of Pakistani political system. Its recommendations were so conservative that even Zia-ul-Haq did not adopt them fully.
Pakistani identity was articulated during the Zia rule and after with reference to the slogans raised by the Muslim League supporters mainly in the Punjab in 1945-47 rather than the resolutions of the Muslim League. The slogan `Pakistan KaMutlab Kla.
was the election slogan in 1946 which was used later on as well. It never appeared in any resolution of the Muslim League. The same can be said about the slogans like `Pakistan was established for implementing Islam` or `Pakistan was established for` or `in the name of Islam.` These were post-independence formulations, advocated by religious parties and General Zia`s military government.
General Zia`s government propagated and patronized religious orthodoxy and militancy. The education system was modified to socialize young people into these values. The civilian government of Benazir Bhutto that ruled Pakistan in 1988-1990 and 1993-1996was too weak to change the orientation of the state and its education system.
Nawaz Sharif who ruled Pakistan in 1990-1993, 1997-1999 publically professed to carry on the legacy of General Zia-ul-Haq. He failed to get the 15th constitutional amendment (1999) passed from the parliament that would have given him dictatorial powers for implementation of Islam. Now, in 2013-14, as Nawaz Sharif rules the country for the third time, he does not appear return to the Zia legacy.
Third Vision of Islamic Political System Third vision on Islamic political order is advocated by radical Islamic movements that subscribe to the Salafi and Wahabi Islamic traditions, advocating a more puritanical, literalist and ultra-conservative interpretation of an Islamic political and social system.
Some of these groups use violence against those pursuing other perspectives on Islam. They feel that the use of violence is justified for implementing their vision of Islam. Such groups have declared war on the state in several Islamic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, in order to impose a religio-political system of their choice.
Pakistani state and society faces violent threats from several hard line violent Islamic groups and religious-sectarian organizations. Islamic militancy in Pakistan subscribes to Salafi, Wahabi, Disband and Ahle-HadeesIslamic traditions and invokes support through their religious denominational networks.
There is a need to return Pakistan to the vision of the state system and Islamic identity as visualized in the speeches and statements of the Quaidi-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, resolutions of the Muslim League, especially the Lahore Resolution of 1940, that demanded the established of a separate state as a HOMELAND for the Muslims of British India. Pakistan needs to return to the first vision of Islamic political order which is in consonance with the vision of Pakistan as projected by Jinnah It was a vision of amodern democratic state that derived ethical inspirations from Islam.
This vision was fully reflected in the 1956 Constitution and other constitutions. We have to return to a tolerant and humane society where the state treats all citizens as equal irrespective of religion, caste, region and gender and pursues governance and political management within a democratic and constitutional framework.
By Dr.Hasan Askri Rizvi:
The writer is is an independent political analyst and Professor, Emeritus, Political Science, Punjab University, Lahore. He is a recipient of Sitara-iImtiaz for academic excellence.
A balanced article, moderate view, not fundamentalist extremist views. Islam is part of life of Muslims of Pakistan, a balanced modern Pakistan will serve Islam and Muslims well.

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