Today is Pakistan Day, a day commemorated every year to celebrate the Lahore Resolution, passed on the 23rd of March, 1940.
Pakistan should rightly feel proud of not just the day, but our knowledge of what this resolution contains. The lessons within this bright beacon of light in our history can help save Pakistan from threats both external and internal. The whole premise of the Lahore Resolution is the protection of Muslim identity. To achieve this it had a clear vision that even almost eighty years later we still need to learn from.
The Lahore Resolution became known as the Pakistan Resolution for its demand for territories with a Muslim majority to become part of an independent state.
It aimed to assure a protection provided for not just Muslims, but for non-Muslims as well.
It knew what protection for minorities looked like. Protection was for both “rights” and “interests” of minorities. These encompassed “religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other” areas. The protection of minorities was always meant to be “adequate, effective and mandatory.”
Please note the word “other.” It wasn’t enough to give minorities religious rights – they were supposed to receive so many it was impossible to list all of them by name and so the word “other” was used.
Perhaps most importantly this could ONLY happen in “consultation with them.” That two way communication between minorities and the majority mainstream religions was considered so crucial it was written into a document on a day that decades later we will all run to Seaview to celebrate.
Each year when we celebrate Pakistan Day, we honour the minds behind the resolution. Which brings the question for some among us today – if we’re honouring the victory of our ancestors over their enemies, what does it mean when today in the form of extremist ideologies we ourselves are sabotaging their legacy?
It was because we had Sunni leaders like Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Shia leaders like Muhammad Ali Jinnah working side by side without it being an issue that we managed to achieve something beneficial for Pakistan. Though the vision for Pakistan began on the basis of inclusivity without compromising on Muslim identity, today this very act of inclusion is seen as a threat to Islamic values.
This isn’t just from an ideological perspective – it makes sense that the happier a people are with one another, the more the stability of the people. Even if motivated by the most shrewdest, most calculating manipulations, the protection of each and every citizen is the only way to go forward as a country.
The concept of Pakistan itself was a bold move, giving birth to a nation that had the potential to lead the way towards a kind of identity unseen in other Muslim majority countries. Citizens of Pakistan had been at extremely close quarters with diversity. They had been neighbours, friends, and family with people of other religions, even while considering themselves a separate nation. Had Pakistan not suffered a crisis of confidence and been so heavily abused by corrupt leaders, the new Pakistan could have forged its own path as an unapologetic independent entity away from the foreign influence of harsher nations.
Each year when we celebrate Pakistan Day, we acknowledge we have the potential to do better. Muslims have the ability to practice Islam in a realm that isn’t afraid of the religions and behaviours of others. We are not the powerless angry mobs today’s politics incites us to be.
We are the inheritors of the Pakistan Resolution, and we can be everything it once aspired for us to be.
The lesson we can take from the Pakistan Resolution today is this – in harmony is our strength.