March 23 is just a public holiday for most of the Pakistanis. Their knowledge about the genesis and significance of this day is very limited. They simply think that March 23 is Pakistan Day because All India Muslim League for the first time adopted a resolution in Lahore for the creation of a separate Muslim homeland in 1940. Very few of them know that word ‘Pakistan’ was not used in this resolution. No Muslim Leaguer including Muhammad Ali Jinnah mentioned the name of Pakistan in their speeches on March 23, except a lady speaker Begum Muhammad Ali Jauhar. This resolution was originally called Lahore declaration but Hindu press branded it ‘Pakistan Resolution.’ The text books in schools and colleges of Pakistan do not say that Lahore resolution was actually passed for at least two separate Muslim states. Rights of the non-Muslims were also protected in that resolution very clearly. It also gave protection to the provincial autonomy because Muslims of the subcontinent wanted economic justice. The resolution for the creation of separate Muslim states in the British-controlled India was moved by the chief minister of United Bengal Maulvi A K Fazlul Haq. There was no doubt that he surely wanted two separate states. One for the Muslims of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan and Kashmir and the other for the Muslims of Bengal and Assam. Like it or not but the historical realities are difficult to digest. If we read the Lahore Resolution carefully it will be easy to understand that this resolution was not implemented in its true spirit on August 14, 1947, due to the conspiracies of Congress leaders and Lord Mountbatten and also weakness of All India Muslim League.In fact, the concept of a sovereign independent Bengal had its origins in the Pakistan movement. The mother party of Pakistan was All India Muslim League and interestingly this party was born in 1906 in Dacca in Bengal and not in the present-day Pakistan. Many historians claim that Chaudhry Rehmat Ali introduced the word Pakistan in 1933. United Bengal was not part of his Pakistan scheme. He proposed the name ‘Bangsam’ for the separate state of Bengali Muslims living in Bengal and Assam. Two professors of Aligarh University Syed Zafarul Hassan and Dr Afzal Hussain again proposed two Muslim states in their famous Aligarh scheme in 1935. They proposed that Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Sind, Balochistan, Bahawalpur, Jammu and Kashmir, Kapurthala and Malir Kotla should be one state. Bangal and Assam including the Purena district of Bihar should be the second state and the third state should be the rest of India.Dr Syed Abdul Latif of Osmania University, Hyderabad, in his book ‘The Muslim Problem of India’ published in 1938 proposed four separate Muslim states. He proposed a state from Patiala to Rampur including Lucknow for the Muslims of UP and Bihar and another separate state of Hyderabad (Andhra Perdesh). He also supported the Pakistan scheme and Bangsam scheme of Chaudhry Rehmat Ali. Another Muslim Leaguer from UP Chaudhry Khaleequz Zaman also proposed the scheme of two separate Muslim states to England in 1939. The adoption of the Lahore Resolution in March 1940 was a significant step towards highlighting the demand for separate homelands for the two Muslim majority zones of India. The Lahore Resolution said: ‘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 words autonomous and sovereign were used for independent states not for the provinces.Some historians like Dr Safdar Mehmood are not ready to accept that Lahore Resolution actually meant two separate states. He claims that Jinnah clarified to the foreign correspondents on March 24, 1940, that Muslim League wanted only one state. Few historians even claimed that the real word in the Lahore Resolution was ‘state’ not ‘states.’ It was just a typing error. The office secretary of All India Muslim League from 1914 to 1948 Syed Shamsul Hassan have a different story.Syed Shamsul Hassan was a trusted man of Jinnah. He clarified that there was no typing error in the Lahore Resolution. The word ‘states’ was approved by the draft committee members including Malik Barkat Ali, Nawab Ismail Khan and Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan. The working committee of All India Muslim League again met in Bombay from Aug 31 to Sept 2, 1940 under the chairmanship of Jinnah and this meeting again said that separate Muslim states should be established in the north-west and east of India.Unfortunately the Lahore Resolution remained undefined until April 1946. It was again the chief minister of United Bengal Hussein Shaheed Suharwardi who moved a resolution in the working committee meeting of Muslim League held in Delhi on April 7, 1946, that Bengal and Assam in the north-east and Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan in the north-west of India should be a single state. The word Pakistan was used for the first time in that resolution.Kamaruddin Ahmad in his book ‘The Social History of East Pakistan’ published in 1967 in Dacca wrote that Secretary General of Bengal Muslim League Abul Hashim raised objection on the resolution moved by Suharwardi. Kamaruddin Ahmad was a die-hard Bengali worker of Pakistan movement. He was present in the meetings of Lahore and Delhi. He wrote that Jinnah explained to Abul Hashim that Delhi resolution was not meant to change the Lahore Resolution but to have one constituent assembly for the Muslim India for drafting the constitution or constitutions of Pakistan on the basis of Lahore Resolution. After few weeks of the Delhi meeting Suharwardi started his efforts for the creation of a separate United Bengal state with the help of Abul Hashim and a Bengali Hindu leader of Congress Sarat Chandra Bose. This Hindu leader was the elder brother of famous freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose. He was in Congress but he failed to convince his party for the creation of United Bengal.A very well respected Pakistani historian Zahid Chaudhry claimed that Jinnah quietly supported the efforts of Suharwardi and Sarat Chandra Bose for a United Bengali state. In his book ‘Bengali Mussalman aur Tehrik-i-Pakistan’ he clearly wrote on page 448 that Jinnah told Mountbatten once that there is no use of Bengal without Calcutta and he will be very happy on the creation of a separate United Bengal and this state will have very friendly relations with Pakistan. Suharwardi, Abul Hashim and Bose also met Mahatma Gandhi and tried to convince him for the United Bengal scheme. Suharwardi even offered that he will form a coalition government with Congress in United Bengal but Gandhi never listened to him. He forced Mountbatten to divide Bengal. He occupied many Muslim majority areas like Kashmir and Gurdaspur in the East Punjab with the help of Mountbatten. Division of Bengal was a violation of Lahore Resolution as well as Delhi resolution. Bengalis supported Muslim League because they wanted justice. They were a majority in United Bengal but they were economically dominated by Hindu elite. Division of Bengal was a great injustice to them. They never got justice even after the creation of Pakistan. Military dictators of Pakistan never fulfilled the promises made in the Lahore Resolution. Bengali leaders like Suharwardi were humiliated by the dictators and their toady judges. The creation of Pakistan was the result of a political and democratic struggle but pro-American military dictators destroyed all the democratic institutions and finally Bengalis said goodbye to Pakistan. We never learned any lessons. Our students in colleges and universities still do not know what the real cause was for the creation of Bangladesh, what provincial autonomy is and what promises were made by the Muslim League in the Lahore Resolution. According to the original draft of the Lahore Resolution, the central government should have control only over defence, foreign affairs, communications and finance. Rest of the powers should go to the provinces. The Lahore Resolution says that Pakistan needs strong provinces, not a strong centre. Late Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman demanded this provincial autonomy promised in the Lahore Resolution through his famous six points but Pakistani generals declared him a traitor. Unfortunately Pakistan still has areas like North Waziristan and Bajaur that are run by old British laws. The constitution of Pakistan has no writ in these tribal areas. Local people are suffering from injustice even after 1947. The Baloch are also demanding provincial autonomy. Intelligence agencies are still more powerful than the elected provincial government in Balochistan It needs justice more than the other provinces today. If we implement the Lahore Resolution in its true spirit I am sure there will be no problem in the tribal areas and Balochistan.
Hamid Mir The writer works for Geo TV.