23 March 1940 Resolution revisited

Muslim League Working Committee resolution and 1940 and 1946 resolutions clearly demonstrate that the provinces were insured sovereignty which had been denied till 18th Amendment of 2010 when parliament transferred Concurrent List to the provinces.

The Working Committee of All India Muslim League met in New Delhi on February 3-6, 1940. The Committee passed the following resolution:

Mussalmans are not a minority in the ordinary sense of the word. They are a nation. British system of democratic parliamentary party system of government is not the genius and condition of the people of India. Those zones which are composed of majority of Mussalmans in the physical map of India should be constituted into independent dominions in direct relationship with Great Britain. In those zones where Mussalmans are in minority their interests and those of other minorities must be adequately and effectively safeguarded shall be provided for the Hindus and other minorities in the Muslim Zones. The various units in each zone shall form component parts of the Federation in that zone as autonomous units. [Sharifuddin Pirzada: Foundation of Pakistan, vol.3, p.320]

The All India Muslim League’s 27th session was held on March 22-24, 1940, at Lahore. In surroundings reminiscent of the glory of the great Mughals, the 27th session of the All-India Muslim League opened on Friday March 22, 1940, in a specially constructed pandal in Minto Park, on the outskirts of Lahore city.
The giant pandal, seating well over 60,000 people had been erected on a site about a furlong from the great fort, facing the historic Badshahi Mosque. [Special correspondent: The Times of India, March 25, 1940] The members of the central and provincial legislatures and large number of women attended this session. The Quaid-i-Azam delivered historic address on this occasion. He gave assessment of developments since 1938, explained the issues of future constitution, negotiations with the British, Hindu, Muslim situation, autonomous national states. Other prominent leaders of Muslim League who spoke on this historic session were: Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Fazal Haq, Nawab Ismail Khan, Muhammad Isa Khan, Abdul Hamid Khan, Ismail Chundrigar, Syed Abdul Rauf Shah, Dr Muhammad Alam, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, Abdul Majid Sindhi, Khan Bahadur Khuro, Syed Zakir Ali and Begum Muhammad Ali. In this session the following resolution was unanimously approved, later to be called as Pakistan Resolution.

While approving and endorsing the action taken by the Council and the Working Committee of the All India Muslim League, as indicated in their resolutions dated the 27th of August, 17th and 18th of September and 22nd of October 1939 and 3rd of February 1940 on the constitutional issue, this Session of the All India Muslim League emphatically reiterates that the scheme of federation embodied in the Government of India Act, 1935, is totally unsuited to, and unworkable in the peculiar conditions of this country and is altogether unacceptable to Muslim India.It further records its emphatic view that while the declaration dated the 18th of October 1939 made by the Viceroy on behalf of His Majesty’s Government is reassuring in so far as it declares that the policy and plan on which the Government of India Act, 1935, is based will be reconsidered in consultation with the various parties, interests and communities in India, Muslims in India will not be satisfied unless the whole constitutional plan is reconsidered de novo and that no revised plan would be acceptable to Muslims unless it is framed with their approval and consent.

Resolved that it is the considered view of this Session of the All India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz., that geographically 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 a 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.

That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them and in other parts of India where the Musalmans are in a minority adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for them and other minorities for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.

This Session further authorises the Working Committee to frame a scheme of constitution in accordance with these basic principles, providing for the assumption finally by the respective regions of all powers such as defence, external affairs, communications, customs and such other matters as may be necessary.

The All India Muslim League legislators convention on April 7-9, 1946, in which all provincial and central elected members of legislatures participated. The Quaid-i-Azam presided over this historic session. The following Delhi Resolution was adopted:

Whereas in this vast subcontinent of India a hundred millions are the adherents of a faith which regulates every department of their life (educational, social, economic and political), whose code is not confined merely to spiritual doctrines and tenets or rituals and ceremonies and which stand in sharp contrast to the exclusive nature of Hindu Dharma and philosophy and which has fostered and maintained for thousands of years a rigid caste system resulting in the degradation of 60 million human beings to the position of untouchables, creation of unnatural barriers between man and man and superimposition of social and economic inequalities on a large body of the people of this country, and which threatens to reduce Muslims, Christians and other minorities to the status of irredeemable helots, socially, and economically;

Whereas the Hindu caste system is a direct negation of nationalism, equality, democracy and all noble ideals that Islam stands for;

Whereas the different historical backgrounds, traditions, cultures, social and economic order of the Hindus and Muslims have made impossible the evolution of a single Indian nation inspired by common aspirations and ideals and after centuries they still remain two distinct major nations;

Whereas soon after the introduction by the British of the policy of setting up political institutions in India on the lines of western democracies based on majority rule which meant that the majority of one nation or society could impose its will on the majority of the other nation or society in spite of their opposition as was amply demonstrated during the two and a half years regime of Congress government in the Hindu majority provinces under the Government of India Act, 1935 when the Muslims were subjected to untold harassment and oppression as a result of which they were convinced of the futility and ineffectiveness of the so-called safeguards provided in the constitution and in the instrument of instructions to the Governors and were driven to the irresistible conclusion that in a united Indian federation, if established, the Muslims even in majority provinces would meet with no better fate and their rights and interests could never be adequately protected against the perpetual Hindu majority at the centre;

Whereas the Muslims are convinced that with a view to save Muslim India from the domination of the Hindus and in order to afford them full scope to develop themselves according to their genius, it is necessary to constitute a sovereign independent state comprising Bengal and Assam in the north-east zone and the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan in the north-west zone;

This convention of the Muslim League legislatures of India, central and provincial, after careful consideration, hereby declares that the Muslim nation will never submit to any constitution for a united India and will never participate in any single constitution-making machinery set up for the purpose, and that any formula devised by the British government for transferring power from the British to the peoples of India which does not conform to the following just and equitable principles calculated to maintain internal peace and tranquillity in the country will not contribute to the solution of the Indian problem.

Muslim League Working Committee resolution and 1940 and 1946 resolutions clearly demonstrate that the provinces were insured sovereignty which had been denied till 18th Amendment of 2010 when parliament transferred Concurrent List to the provinces. The ruling elite of Pakistan must revisit 23rd March 1940 Resolution to protect the solidarity of Pakistan.

By: Qayyum Nizami

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