Pakistan and Bangladesh are an immutable ideological outcome of the historic Mach 23, 1940 Resolution that cleared the confused path for creation of a single and sovereign Muslim nation in the north-west and north-east of the defunct British-Indian Empire in August 1947. However, the political events unfolding after 1947 witnessed a bloody climax in the shape of conversion of East Pakistan into Bangladesh in 1971.
In a frenzy of oozing out lava for political disparities against their western counterparts, the Bengali intellectuals, higher academia and intelligentsia chopped off historical links with this historic document that was a strong impulse behind the creation of both Pakistan and its amputated wing East Pakistan now Bangladesh.
The element of a limitless hatred against Pakistan in freedom-winners of East-Bengal of 1971 was so powerful that it clade into pitch dark the glittering fact of March 23 Resolution that it was an equal and altruistically shared outcome of Bengali Muslim leaders alongside their West Pakistani leadership. Undeniable is the fact that the then undivided Bengal’s chief minister A.K. Fazlul Haq had tabled this historic document in the 48th annual session of the All India Muslim League (AIML) in Lahore.
It is probably high time for the research institutions, higher seats of learning, media and old family to family and city to city contacts of populations between two Muslim nations to achieve what they actually thought when they got birth as a single nation in 1947 under March 23, 1940 Resolution.
The Resolution was drafted by the then undivided Punjab’s chief minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan. However, post-1948 development turned this Bengali-Punjabi comradeship into Bengali-Punjabi controversy, and marred the constitution making process in Pakistan in initial phases.
The colour of Bengal in the historic 1940 Lahore Resolution was thicker than colours of Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi or Balochi identities. Urdu-speaking segment of population from minority Muslim provinces of un-divided India had representation of leaders like Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman who were close to Bengali leadership. The Resolution had a visible tilt towards Bengal as it was tabled in the 48th annual session of All India Muslim League (AIML), which as a socio-political organisation had its origins in Dhaka at the residence of Nawab Saleemullah Khan in 1906. Progressive Bengali leaders, like Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, had led a group of Muslim League’s workers in this historic gathering.
The Resolution hit the turbulent stage of the subcontinent at a time the AIML had negligible political weight in the provinces, now a part of present-day Pakistan. Compared to this, it had a politically organised presence in Bengal and other minority Muslim provinces of India. Above all, the United Bengal province had already seen its partition on religious-cum-administrative lines in 1905 and the March 23’s historic document was going to re-demarcate Bengal, thus repeating its not-so-distant history. With the adoption of Resolution, the die had been cast. No wonder, if in 1947 a Bengal-supported Resolution levelled the ground for creation of West Pakistan.
March 1940 was eventful for South Asian Muslims. Their destiny was chosen in this month. But March 1971 drew a bloody streak for the same Muslims of East and West Pakistan. The annoyed political leadership and underdog populations of East Bengal recalibrated their destiny. They tore away that part of the Resolution that was penned down by their leadership in 1940. The net outcome was the gruesome 1971 tragedy.
This raised a towering and un-dismantling wall of hatred and misunderstandings between Muslims of Bangladesh and Pakistan. It buried under a thick dust the historical facts pertaining to complaints and deprivations of Bengalis against their West Pakistani brethren. It affixed a self-repenting attitude in minds of intellectuals, academia and commoners of left out Pakistan. This attitude compelled Pakistani minds to unquestionably accept and believe each and every accusation and charge levelled against West Pakistanis with respect to separation of East Pakistan.
Fifty years following the tragedy in East Bengal, the rewriting of histories in Bangladesh and Pakistan with specific reference to dismemberment of united Pakistan have clarified many wrong assumptions about political and economic disparities, reports of cruelties of Pakistani servicemen on Bengali women, children, old and political workers in former East Pakistan. It is probably high time for the research institutions, higher seats of learning, media and old family to family and city to city contacts of populations between two Muslim nations to achieve what they actually thought when they got birth as a single nation in 1947 under March 23, 1940 Resolution.
A generation after the 1971 military debacle in Dhaka, certainly the time has come to revive the spirit of March 23, 1940 Resolution. It was trans-geographic, above nationalistic feelings, knitting together Muslims of Indian subcontinent into a single thread of brotherhood. The warm welcome to Pakistani cricket squad in Bangladesh in its recent tours may be taken as a gust of fresh air in acute pollution of the past, which both the nations could no longer afford to recast.
A 25 member Drafting Committe was appointed to prepare a draft for presentation to AIML for approval. Prominent amongst them were Maulana Zafar Ali, Malik Barkat Ali, Qazi Issa, Nawab Ismail, Sardar Sikandar Hayat etc. Sikandar was chief of Unioinist Party and Premier Punjab and Quaid in his wisdom had included him. All others were members of AIML executive Committee
The record of AIML is available. There is a book authored by Late Ashiq Hussain Batalvi who was Joint Secretary of Punjab Muslim League headed by Allama Iqbal titled HAMARI JUDOJAID AZADI where he writes in detail about this based on records
Some introspection is needed. Why is Bangladesh rising and Pakistan sinking? Isn’t it because Bangladesh is friendly with India whereas Pakistan hates India and spends its resources trying to inflict maximum harm on India?