The Lahore Resolution (Urdu: قرارداد لاہور, Karardad-e-Lahore; Bengali: লাহোর প্রস্তাব, Lahor Prostab), written by Muhammad Zafarullah Khan and others and presented by A. K. Fazlul Huq, the Prime Minister of Bengal was a formal political statement adopted by the All-India Muslim League on the occasion of its three-day general session in Lahore on 22–24 March 1940. The resolution called for independent states as seen by the statement:
- Lahore Conference
- The statement
- Pakistan resolution in the Sindh Assembly
That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.
Although the name "Pakistan" had been proposed by Choudhary Rahmat Ali in his Pakistan Declaration, it was not until after the resolution that it began to be widely used.
According to Stanley Wolpert, this was the moment when Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the former ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, totally transformed himself into Pakistan's great leader.
Lord Linlithgow, the Viceroy, told the leaders of the Muslim League that the Government of Great Britain intended to divide India into three dominions – among the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Rulers of Princely States. Within the Muslim League Working Committee, various sub-committees were established, numerous proposals were presented with the final decision resting with the British. However, when the British saw that their objectives could not be met, they unilaterally rejected all proposals submitted by the Muslims. At this point, Zafarullah Khan was asked to submit a proposal on the partition of India, about which the Viceroy wrote to the Secretary of State for India:
Upon my instruction Zafarullah wrote a memorandum on the subject. Two Dominion States. I have already sent it to your attention. I have also asked him for further clarification, which, he says, is forthcoming. He is anxious, however, that no one should find out that he has prepared this plan. He has, however, given me the right to do with it what I like, including sending a copy to you. Copies have been passed on to Jinnah, and, I think, to Sir Akbar Hydari. While he, Zafarullah, cannot admit its authorship, his document has been prepared for adoption by the Muslim League with a view to giving it the fullest publicity
---Lord Linlithgow, March 12, 1940
The session was held between 22 and 24 March 1940, at Iqbal Park, Lahore. The welcome address was made by Sir Shah Nawaz Khan of Mamdot, as the chairman of the local reception committee. The various draft texts for the final resolution/draft were deliberated over by the Special Working Committee of the All India Muslim League
Later on, A. K. Fazlul Huq presented the resolution before the public and the AIML General Assembly. The resolution text unanimously accepted the concept of a united homeland for Muslims on the grounds of growing inter-communal violence and recommended the creation of an independent Muslim state.
After the presentation of the annual report by Liaquat Ali Khan, the resolution was moved in the general session by A.K. Fazlul Huq, the chief minister of undivided Bengal, and was seconded by Choudhury Khaliquzzaman who explained his views on the causes which led to the demand for partition. Subsequently, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Punjab, Mohammad Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi from North-West Frontier Province, Sir Abdullah Haroon from Sindh, Qazi Esa from Baluchistan, and other leaders announced their support. In the same session, Jinnah also presented a resolution to condemn the Khaksar massacre of 19 March, owing to a clash between the Khaksars and the police, that had resulted in the loss of 32 lives.
The Lahore resolution was actually adopted on 24 March 1940, but officially in Pakistan 23 March is considered the date of its adoption. In 1941, it became part of the Muslim League's constitution. In 1946, it formed the basis for the decision of Muslim League to struggle for one state for the Muslims. The statement declared:
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.
Additionally, it stated:
That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in the units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights of the minorities.
Most importantly, to convince smaller provinces such as Sindh to join, it provided a guarantee:
That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute 'independent states' in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.
There remains a debate on whether the resolution envisaged two sovereign states in the eastern and western parts of British India. Abdul Hashim of the Bengal Muslim League interpreted the text as a demand for two separate countries. In 1946, Prime Minister H. S. Suhrawardy of Bengal, a member of the All India Muslim League, mooted the United Bengal proposal with the support of Muslim and Hindu leaders, as well as the Governor of Bengal. However, it was opposed by Lord Mountbatten, the Muslim League, the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha.
Although there were and continue to be disagreements on the interpretation of the resolution, it was widely accepted that it called for a separate Muslim state. Opposing opinions focus on the phrase "independent states" claiming this means Muslim majority provinces, i.e. Punjab, Sindh, etc. would be independent of each other. They ignore the phrase "geographically contiguous units." They also rely on the claims of certain Bengali nationalists who did not agree with one state. They accuse their opponents of diverting the "spirit" of the resolution.
The majority of the Muslim League leadership contended that it was intended for not only the separation of India but into only 2 states (Muslim majority and Hindu majority). Therefore, it is indeed a statement calling for independence and one Muslim state. Eventually, the name "Pakistan" was used for the envisioned state.
Pakistan resolution in the Sindh Assembly
The Sindh assembly was the first British Indian legislature to pass the resolution in favour of Pakistan. G. M. Syed, an influential Sindhi activist, revolutionary and Sufi and later one of the important leaders in the forefront of the Sindh independence movement, joined the Muslim League in 1938 and presented the Pakistan resolution in the Sindh Assembly. A key motivating factor was the promise of "autonomy and sovereignty for constituent units".
This text was buried under the Minar-e-Pakistan during its building in the Ayub regime. In this session the political situation was analysed in detail and Muslim demanded a separate homeland only to maintain their identification and to safeguard their rights. Pakistan resolution was the landmark in the history of Muslim of South-Asia. It determined for the Muslims a true goal and their homeland in north-east and north-west. The acceptance of the Pakistan resolution accelerated the pace of freedom movement. It gave new energy and courage to the Muslims who gathered around Muhammad Ali Jinnah for struggle for freedom.
The Lahore Resolution envisaged modern democratic states in the Muslim-majority regions of South Asia. It was invoked in the Six point movement of the Awami League in 1966, which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.