Pakistan emerged on the world map on August 14, 1947. It has its roots into the remote past. Its establishment was the culmination of the struggle by Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent for a separate homeland of their own and its foundation was laid when Muhammad bin Qasim subdued Sindh in 711 A.D. as a reprisal against sea pirates that had taken refuge in Raja Dahir’s kingdom.
The advent of Islam further strengthened the historical individuality in the areas now constituting Pakistan and further beyond its boundaries.
Some of the earliest relics of Stone Age man in the subcontinent are found in the Soan Valley of the Potohar region near Rawalpindi, with a probable antiquity of about 500,000 years. No human skeleton of such antiquity has yet been discovered in the area, but the crude stone implements recovered from the terraces of the Soan carry the saga of human toil and labor in this part of the world to the inter-glacial period. These Stone Age men fashioned their implements in a sufficiently homogenous way to justify their grouping in terms of a culture called the Soan Culture. About 3000 B.C, amidst the rugged wind-swept valleys and foothills of Balochistan, small village communities developed and began to take the first hesitant steps towards civilization. Here, one finds a more continuous story of human activity, though still in the Stone Age.
These pre-historic men established their settlements, both as herdsmen and as farmers, in the valleys or on the outskirts of the plains with their cattle and cultivated barley and other crops.
Careful excavations of the pre-historic mounds in these areas and the classification of their contents, layer by layer, have grouped them into two main categories of Red Ware Culture and Buff Ware Culture. The former is popularly known as the Zhob Culture of North Balochistan, while the latter comprises Quetta, Amri Nal and Kulli Cultures of Sindh and South Balochistan. Some Amri Nal villages or towns had stone walls and bastions for defence purposes and their houses had stone foundations. At Nal, an extensive cemetery of this culture consists of about 100 graves. An important feature of this composite culture is that at Amri and certain other sites, it has been found below the very distinctive Indus Valley Culture. On the other hand, the steatite seals of Nal and the copper implements and certain types of pot decoration suggest a partial overlap between the two. It probably represents one of the local societies which constituted the environment for the growth of the Indus Valley Civilization.
The pre-historic site of Kot Diji in the Sindh province has provided information of high significance for the reconstruction of a connected story which pushes back the origin of this civilization by 300 to 500 years, from about 2500 B.C. to at least 2800 B.C. Evidence of new cultural elements of pre-Harappan era has been traced here.
When the primitive village communities in the Balochistan area were still struggling against a difficult highland environment, a highly cultured people was trying to assert themselves at Kot Diji, one of the most developed urban civilizations of the ancient world which flourished between the years 2500 and 1500 B.C. in the Indus Valley sites of Moenjodaro and Harappa. These Indus Valley people possessed a high standard of art and craftsmanship and a well developed system of quasi pictographic writing, which despite continuing efforts still remains undeciphered. The imposing ruins of the beautifully planned Moenjodaro and Harappa towns present clear evidence of the unity of a people having the same mode of life and using the same kind of tools. Indeed, the brick buildings of the common people, the public baths, the roads and covered drainage system suggest the picture of a happy and contented people.
In or about 1500 B.C., the Aryans descended upon the Punjab and settled in the Sapta Sindhu, which signifies the Indus plain. They developed a pastoral society that grew into the Rigvedic Civilization. The Rigveda is replete with hymns of praise for this region, which they describe as “God fashioned”. It is also clear that so long as the Sapta Sindhu remained the core of the Aryan Civilization, it remained free from the caste system. The caste institution and the ritual of complex sacrifices took shape in the Gangetic Valley. There can be no doubt that the Indus Civilization contributed much to the development of the Aryan civilization.
The discovery of the Gandhara grave culture in Dir and Swat will go a long way in throwing light on the period of Pakistan’s cultural history between the end of the Indus Culture in 1500 B.C. and the beginning of the historic period under the Achaemenians in the sixth century B.C. Hindu mythology and Sanskrit literary traditions seem to attribute the destruction of the Indus civilization to the Aryans, but what really happened, remains a mystery. The Gandhara grave culture has opened up two periods in the cultural heritage of Pakistan: one of the Bronze Age and the other of the Iron Age. It is so named because it presents a peculiar pattern of living in hilly zones of the Gandhara region as evidenced in the graves. This culture is different from the Indus Culture and has little relations with the village culture of Balochistan. Stratigraphy as well as the artifacts discovered from this area suggests that the Aryans moved into this part of the world between 1,500 and 600 B.C. In the sixth century B.C., Buddha began his teachings, which later on spread throughout the northern part of the South-Asian subcontinent. It was towards the end of this century, too, that Darius I of Iran organized Sindh and Punjab as the twentieth satrapy of his empire.
There are remarkable similarities between the organizations of that great empire and the Mauryan empire of the third century B.C., while Kautilya’s Arthshastra also shows a strong Persian influence, Alexander of Macedonia after defeating Darius III in 330 B.C. had also marched through the South-Asian subcontinent up to the river Beas, but Greek influence on the region appears to have been limited to contributing a little to the establishment of the Mauryan empire. The great empire that Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, built in the subcontinent included only that part of the Indus basin which is now known as the northern Punjab. The rest of the areas astride the Indus were not subjugated by him. These areas, which now form a substantial part of Pakistan, were virtually independent from the time of the Guptas in the fourth century A.D. until the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in the thirteenth century.
Gandhara Art, one of the most prized possessions of Pakistan, flourished for a period of 500 years (from the first to the fifth century A.D.) in the present valley of Peshawar and the adjacent hilly regions of Swat, Buner and Bajaur. This art represents a separate phase of the cultural renaissance of the region. It was the product of a blending of Indian, Buddhist and Greco-Roman sculpture. Gandhara Art in its early stages received the patronage of Kanishka, the great Kushan ruler, during whose reign the Silk Route ran through Peshawar and the Indus Valley, bringing great prosperity to the whole area.
The first permanent Muslim foothold in the subcontinent was achieved with Muhammad bin Qasim’s conquest of Sindh in 711 A.D. An autonomous Muslim state linked with the Umayyed, and later, the Abbassid Caliphate was established with jurisdiction extending over southern and central parts of present Pakistan. Quite a few new cities were established and Arabic was introduced as the official language. At the time of Mahmud of Ghazna’s invasion, Muslim rule still existed, though in a weakened form, in Multan and some other regions. The Ghaznavids (976-1148) and their successors, the Ghaurids (1148-1206), were Central Asian by origin and they ruled their territories, which covered mostly the regions of present Pakistan, from capitals outside India. It was in the early thirteenth century that the foundations of the Muslim rule in India were laid with extended boundaries and Delhi as the capital. From 1206 to 1526 A.D., five different dynasties held sway. They followed the period of Mughal ascendancy (1526-1707) and their rule continued, though nominally, till 1857. From the time of the Ghaznavids, Persian more or less replaced Arabic as the official language. The economic, political and religious institutions developed by the Muslims bore their unique impression. The law of the State was based on Shariah and in principle the rulers were bound to enforce it. Any long period of laxity was generally followed by reinforcement of these laws under public pressure. The impact of Islam on the South-Asian subcontinent was deep and far-reaching. Islam introduced not only a new religion, but a new civilization, a new way of life and new set of values. Islamic traditions of art and literature, of culture and refinement, of social and welfare institution, were established by Muslim rulers throughout the subcontinent. A new language, Urdu, derived mainly from Arabic and Persian vocabulary and adopting indigenous words and idioms, came to be spoken and written by the Muslims and it gained currency among the rest of the Indian population.
URDU: THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE OF PAKISTAN
Apart from religion, Urdu also enabled the Muslim community during the period of its ascendancy to preserve its separate identity in the subcontinent.
The question of Muslim identity, however assumed seriousness during the decline of Muslim power in South Asia. The first person to realize its acuteness was the scholar theologian, Shah Waliullah (1703-62). He laid the foundation of Islamic renaissance in the subcontinent and became a source of inspiration for almost all the subsequent social and religious reform movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His immediate successors, inspired by his teachings, tried to establish a modest Islamic state in the north-west of India and they, under the leadership of Sayyed Ahmad Shaheed Barelvi (1786-1831), persevered in this direction.
Meanwhile, starting with the East India Company, the British had emerged as the dominant force in South Asia. Their rise to power was gradual extending over a period of nearly one hundred years. They replaced the Shariah by what they termed as the Anglo-Muhammadan law whereas Urdu was replaced by English as the official language. These and other developments had great social, economic and political impact especially on the Muslims of South Asia. The uprising of 1857, termed as the Indian Mutiny by the British and the War of Independence by the Muslims, was a desperate attempt to reverse the adverse course of events.
The failure of the 1857 War of Independence had disastrous consequences for the Muslims as the British placed all the responsibility for this event on them. Determined to stop such a recurrence in future, the British followed deliberately a repressive policy against the Muslims. Properties and estates of those even remotely associated with the freedom fighters were confiscated and conscious efforts were made to close all avenues of honest living for them. The Muslim response to this situation also aggravated their plight. Their religious leaders, who had been quite active, withdrew from the mainstream of the community life and devoted themselves exclusively to imparting religious education. Although the religious academies especially those of Deoband, Farangi Mahal and Rai Bareilly, established by the Ulema, did help the Muslims to preserve their identity, the training provided in these institutions hardly equipped them for the new challenges.
The Muslims kept themselves aloof from western education as well as government service. But, their compatriots, the Hindus, did not do so and accepted the new rulers without reservation. They acquired western education, imbibed the new culture and captured positions hitherto filled in by the Muslims. If this situation had prolonged, it would have done the Muslims an irreparable damage. The man to realise the impending peril was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1889), a witness to the tragic events of 1857. He exerted his utmost to harmonize British Muslim relations. His assessment was that the Muslims’ safety lay in the acquisition of western education and knowledge. He took several positive steps to achieve this objective. He founded a college at Aligarh to impart education on western lines. Of equal importance was the Anglo-Muhammadan Educational Conference, which he sponsored in 1886, to provide an intellectual forum to the Muslims for the dissemination of views in support of western education and social reform. Similar were the objectives of the Muhammadan Literary Society, founded by Nawab Adbul Latif (1828-93), active in Bengal, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s efforts transformed into a movement, known as the Aligarh Movement, and it left its imprint on the Muslims of every part of the South-Asian subcontinent. Under its inspiration, societies were founded throughout the subcontinent which established educational institutions for imparting education to the Muslims.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was averse to the idea of participation by the Muslims in any organized political activity which, he feared, might revive British hostility towards them. He also disliked Hindu Muslim collaboration in any joint venture. His disillusionment in this regard stemmed basically from the Urdu Hindi controversy of the late 1860s when the Hindu enthusiasts vehemently championed the cause of Hindi to replace Urdu. He, therefore, opposed the Indian National Congress when it was founded in 1885 and advised the Muslims to abstain from its activities. His contemporary and a great scholar of Islam, Syed Ameer Ali (1849-1928), shared his views about the Congress, but, he was not opposed to Muslims organizing themselves politically. In fact, he organized the first significant political body of the Muslims, the Central National Muhammadan Association. Although, its membership was limited, it had more than 50 branches in different parts of the subcontinent and it accomplished some solid work for the educational and political advancement of the Muslims. But, its activities waned towards the end of the nineteenth century.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, a number of factors convinced the Muslims of the need to have an effective political organization. Therefore, in October 1906, a deputation comprising 35 Muslim leaders met the Viceroy of the British at Simla and demanded separate electorates. Three months later, the All-India Muslim League was founded by Nawab Salimullah Khan at Dhaka, mainly with the objective of safeguarding the political rights and interests of the Muslims. The British conceded separate electorates in the Government of India Act of 1909 which confirmed the Muslim League’s position as an All-India party. Attempt for Hindu Muslim Unity The visible trend of the two major communities progressing in opposite directions caused deep concern to leaders of All-India stature. They struggled to bring the Congress and the Muslim League on one platform. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) was the leading figure among them. After the annulment of the partition of Bengal and the European Powers’ aggressive designs against the Ottoman Empire and North Africa, the Muslims were receptive to the idea of collaboration with the Hindus against the British rulers.
The Congress Muslim League rapprochement was achieved at the Luckhnow sessions of the two parties in 1916 and a joint scheme of reforms was adopted. In the Luckhnow pact. As the scheme was commonly referred to, the Congress accepted the principle of separate electorates, and the Muslims, in return for `weight age’ to the Muslims of the Muslim minority provinces, agreed to surrender their thin majorities in the Punjab and Bengal. The post Luckhnow Pact period witnessed Hindu Muslim amity and the two parties came to hold their annual sessions in the same city and passed resolutions of identical contents.
The Hindu Muslim unity reached its climax during the Khilafat and the Non-cooperation Movements. The Muslims, under the leadership of the Ali Brothers, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali, launched the historic Khilafat Movement after the First World War to protect the Ottoman Empire from dismemberment. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) linked the issue of Swaraj (self-government) with the Khilafat issue to associate the Hindus with the Movement. The ensuing Movement was the first countrywide popular movement.
Although the Movement failed in achieving its objectives, it had a far-reaching impact on the Muslims of South Asia. After a long time, they took united action on a purely Islamic issue which momentarily forged solidarity among them. It also produced a class of Muslim leaders experienced in organizing and mobilizing the public. This experience was of immense value to the Muslims later during the Pakistan Movement. The collapse of the Khilafat Movement was followed by a period of bitter Hindu Muslim antagonism. The Hindus organized two highly anti Muslim movements, the Shudhi and the Sangathan. The former movement was designed to convert Muslims to Hinduism and the latter was meant to create solidarity among the Hindus in the event of communal conflict. In retaliation, the Muslims sponsored the Tabligh and Tanzim organizations to counter the impact of the Shudhi and the Sangathan. In the 1920s, the frequency of communal riots was unprecedented. Several Hindu-Muslim unity conferences were held to remove the causes of conflict, but, it seemed nothing could mitigate the intensity of communalism.
In the light of this situation, the Muslims revised their constitutional demands. They now wanted preservation of their numerical majorities in the Punjab and Bengal, separation of Sindh from Bombay, constitution of Balochistan as a separate province and introduction of constitutional reforms in the North-West Frontier Province. It was partly to press these demands that one section of the All-India Muslim League cooperated with the statutory commission sent by the British Government under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon in 1927.
The other section of the League, which boycotted the Simon Commission for its all-White character, cooperated with the Nehru Committee, appointed by the All-Parties Conference, to draft a constitution for India. The Nehru Report had an extremely anti-Muslim bias and the Congress leadership’s refusal to amend it disillusioned even the moderate Muslims.
Several leaders and thinkers, having insight into the Hindu-Muslim question proposed separation of Muslim India. However, the most lucid exposition of the inner feeling of the Muslim community was given by Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) in his Presidential Address at the All-India Muslim League Session at Allahabad in 1930. He suggested that for the healthy development of Islam in South-Asia, it was essential to have a separate Muslim state at least in the Muslim majority regions of the north-west. Later on, in his correspondence with Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, he included the Muslim majority areas in the north-east also in his proposed Muslim state. Three years after his Allahabad Address, a group of Muslim students at Cambridge, headed by Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, issued a pamphlet, Now or Never, in which drawing letters from the names of the Muslim majority regions, they gave the nomenclature of “Pakistan” to the proposed State. Very few even among the Muslims welcomed the idea at the time. It was to take a decade for the Muslims to embrace the demand for a separate Muslim state.
Meanwhile, three Round Table Conferences were convened in London during 1930-32, to resolve the Indian constitutional problem. The Hindu and Muslim leaders, who were invited to these conferences, could not draw up an agreed formula and the British Government had to announce a `Communal Award’ which was incorporated in the Government of India Act of 1935. Before the elections under this Act, the All-India Muslim League, which had remained dormant for some time, was reorganized by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who had returned to India in 1934, after an absence of nearly five years in England. The Muslim League could not win a majority of Muslim seats since it had not yet been effectively reorganized. However, it had the satisfaction that the performance of the Indian National Congress in the Muslim constituencies was bad. After the elections, the attitude of the Congress leadership was arrogant and domineering. The classic example was its refusal to form a coalition government with the Muslim League in the United Provinces. Instead, it asked the League leaders to dissolve their parliamentary party in the Provincial Assembly and join the Congress. Another important Congress move after the 1937 elections was its Muslim mass contact movement to persuade the Muslims to join the Congress and not the Muslim League. One of its leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru, even declared that there were only two forces in India, the British and the Congress. All this did not go unchallenged.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah countered that there was a third force in South-Asia constituting the Muslims. The All-India Muslim League, under his gifted leadership, gradually and skillfully started organising the Muslims on one platform.
The 1930s witnessed awareness among the Muslims of their separate identity and their anxiety to preserve it within separate territorial boundaries. An important element that brought this simmering Muslim nationalism in the open was the character of the Congress rule in the Muslim minority provinces during 1937-39. The Congress policies in these provinces hurt Muslim susceptibilities. There were calculated aims to obliterate the Muslims as a separate cultural unit. The Muslims now stopped thinking in terms of seeking safeguards and began to consider seriously the demand for a separate Muslim state. During 1937-39, several Muslim leaders and thinkers, inspired by Allama Iqbal’s ideas, presented elaborate schemes for partitioning the subcontinent according to two-nation theory.
The All-India Muslim League soon took these schemes into consideration and finally, on March 23, 1940, the All-India Muslim League, in a resolution, at its historic Lahore Session, demanded a separate homeland for the Muslims in the Muslim majority regions of the subcontinent. The resolution was commonly referred to as the Pakistan Resolution. The Pakistan demand had a great appeal for the Muslims of every persuasion. It revived memories of their past greatness and promised future glory. They, therefore, responded to this demand immediately.
The British Government recognized the genuineness of the Pakistan demand indirectly in the proposals for the transfer of power after the Second World War which Sir Stafford Cripps brought to India in 1942. Both the Congress and the All-India Muslim League rejected these proposals for different reasons. The principles of secession of Muslim India as a separate Dominion was however, conceded in these proposals. After this failure, a prominent Congress leader, C. Rajgopalacharia, suggested a formula for a separate Muslim state in the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress, which was rejected at the time, but later on, in 1944, formed the basis of the Jinnah-Gandhi talks.
The Pakistan demand became popular during the Second World War every section of the Muslim community.
Organized under the banner of the All-India Muslim League. Branches of the party were opened even in the remote corners of the subcontinent. Literature in the form of pamphlets, books, magazines and newspapers was produced to explain the Pakistan demand and distributed widely. The support gained by the All-India Muslim League and its demand for Pakistan was tested after the failure of the Simla Conference, convened by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, in 1945. Elections were called to determine the respective strength of the political parties. The All-India Muslim League election campaign was based on the Pakistan demand. The Muslim community responded to this call in an unprecedented way. Numerous Muslim parties were formed making united parliamentary board at the behest of the Congress to oppose the Muslim League. But the All-India Muslim League swept all the thirty seats in the Central Legislature and in the provincial elections also, its victory was outstanding. After the elections, on April 8-9,1946, the All-India Muslim League called a convention of the newly-elected League members in the Central and Provincial Legislatures at Delhi. This convention, which constituted virtually a representative assembly of the Muslims of South Asia, on a motion by the Chief Minister of Bengal, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, reiterated the Pakistan demand in clearer terms,
In early 1946, the British Government sent a Cabinet Mission to the subcontinent to resolve the constitutional deadlock. The Mission conducted negotiations with various political parties, but failed to evolve an agreed formula. Finally, the Cabinet Mission announced its own Plan, which among other provisions, envisaged three federal groupings, two of them comprising the Muslim majority provinces, linked at the Centre in a loose federation with three subjects. The Muslim League accepted the plan, as a strategic move, expecting to achieve its objective in not-too-distant a future. The All-India Congress also agreed to the Plan, but, soon realising its implications, the Congress leaders began to interpret it in a way not visualized by the authors of the Plan. This provided the All-India Muslim League an excuse to withdraw its acceptance of the Plan and the party observed August 16, as a `Direct Action Day’ to show Muslim solidarity in support of the Pakistan demand..
In October 1946, an Interim Government was formed. The Muslim League sent its representative under the leadership of its General Secretary, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, with the aim to fight for the party objective from within the Interim Government. After a short time, the situation inside the Interim Government and outside convinced the Congress leadership to accept Pakistan as the only solution of the communal problem. The British Government, after its last attempt to save the Cabinet Mission Plan in December 1946, also moved towards a scheme for the partition of India. The last British Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, came with a clear mandate to draft a plan for the transfer of power.
After holding talks with political leaders and parties, he prepared a Partition Plan for the transfer of power, which, after approval of the British Government, was announced on June 3, 1947.
Both the Congress and the Muslim League accepted the Plan. Two largest Muslim majority provinces, Bengal and Punjab, were partitioned. The Assemblies of West Punjab, East Bengal and Sindh and in Balochistan, the Quetta Municipality, and the Shahi Jirga voted for Pakistan. Referenda were held in the North-West Frontier Province and the District of Sylhet in Assam, which resulted in an overwhelming vote for Pakistan. As a result, on August 14, 1947, the new state of Pakistan came into existence.
Source: Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
Pakistan Resolution Day – 23 March
- Stone Age
- Red and Buff Ware Cultures
- Pre-Harappan Civilization
- Aryan Civilization
- Gandhara Culture
- Dawn of Islam
- Muslim Identity
- British Expansionism And Muslim Resistance
- Religious Institutions
- Educational Reform
- The Muslim League
- Khilafat Movement
- Muslim Demand Safeguards
- Simon Commission
- Allama Muhammad Iqbal
- Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
- Towards a Separate Muslim Homeland
- Pakistan Resolution
- Cripps Mission
- Pakistan Movement
- Men, Women, Student, Ulema and Businessmen
- Cabinet Plan
- Partition Scheme
- Emergence of Pakistan
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Today we pay homage to Shaheed-e-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan for his invaluable services to the Muslims of the Subcontinent during the Pakistan Movement and later to the young Pakistani nation as the country’s first Prime Minister.
Ambassador Hashmi with H.E. Mr. Krasimir Karakachanov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence