Pakistan Movement

The Pakistan Movement or Tahrik-e-Pakistan (تحریکِ پاکستان‎ ; Taḥrīk-i-Pākistān) was a political movement in the first half of the 20th century that aimed for and succeeded in the creation of the Dominion of Pakistan from the Muslim-majority areas of British India. It was connected to the need for self-determination for Muslims under British rule at the time.

Pakistan Movement started originally as the Aligarh Movement, and as a result, the British Indian Muslims began to develop a secular political identity. Soon thereafter, the All India Muslim League was formed, which perhaps marked the beginning of the Pakistan Movement. Many of the top leadership of the movement were educated in Great Britain, with many of them educated at the Aligarh Muslim University. Many graduates of the Dhaka University soon also joined.

The Pakistan Movement was a part of the Indian independence movement, but eventually it also sought to establish a new nation-state that protected the political interests of the Indian Muslims.

Urdu poets such as Iqbal and Faiz used literature, poetry and speech as a powerful tool for political awareness.

Many people may think that the driving force behind the Pakistan Movement was the Muslim community of the Muslim minority provinces, United Provinces and Bombay Presidency, rather than that of the Muslim majority provinces. Land boundaries and population demographics of India, Pakistan, and formerly East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) are among the primary achievements of the Pakistan Movement.

Lord Robert Clive meeting with Mir Jafar after the Battle of Plassey.

Lord Robert Clive meeting with Mir Jafar after the Battle of Plassey.

History of the movement


Main article: British Raj
During this time, Lord Macaulay’s radical and influential educational reforms led to the numerous changes to the introduction and teaching of Western languages (e.g. English and Latin), history, and philosophy. Religious studies and the Arabic, Turkish, and Persian languages were completely barred from the state universities. In a short span of time, the English language had become not only the medium of instruction but also the official language in 1835 in place of Persian, disadvantaging those who had built their careers around the latter language.

Traditional Hindu and Islamic studies were no longer supported by the British Crown, and nearly all of the madrasahs lost their waqf (lit. financial endowment).

Renaissance vision

Main articles: Aligarh MovementUrdu movementAligarh Muslim UniversityTwo-nation theory, and University of the Punjab

Very few Muslim families had their children sent at the English universities. On the other hand, the effects of Bengali Renaissance made the Hindus population to be more educated and gained lucrative positions at the Indian Civil Service; many ascended to the influential posts in the British government.

Rise of organised movement

The success of All India Muhammadan Educational Conference as a part of the Aligarh Movement, the All-India Muslim League, was established with the support provided by Syed Ahmad Khan in 1906. It was founded in Dhaka in a response to reintegration of Bengal after a mass Hindu protest took place in the subcontinent. Earlier in 1905, viceroy Lord Curzon partitioned the Bengal which was favoured by the Muslims, since it gave them a Muslim majority in the eastern half.

In 1909, Lord Minto promulgated the Council Act and met with a Muslim delegation led by Aga Khan III to meet with Viceroy Lord Minto, a deal to which Minto agreed. The delegation consisted of 35 members, who each represented their respective region proportionately, mentioned hereunder.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan became an inspiration for the Pakistan Movement.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan became an inspiration for the Pakistan Movement.

  1. Sir Aga Khan III (Head of the delegation); (Bombay).
  2. Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk (Aligarh).
  3. Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk (Muradabad).
  4. Maulvi Hafiz Hakim Ajmal Khan (Delhi).
  5. Maulvi Syed Karamat Husain (Allahabad).
  6. Maulvi Sharifuddin (Patna).
  7. Nawab Syed Sardar Ali Khan (Bombay).
  8. Syed Abdul Rauf (Allahabad).
  9. Maulvi Habiburrehman Khan (Aligarh).
  10. Sahibzada Aftab Ahmed Khan (Aligarh).
  11. Abdul Salam Khan (Rampur).
  12. Raees Muhammed Ahtasham Ali (Lucknow)
  13. Khan Bahadur Muhammad Muzammilullah Khan. (Aligarh).
  14. Haji Muhammed Ismail Khan (Aligarh).
  15. Shehzada Bakhtiar Shah (Calcutta).
  16. Malik Umar Hayat Khan Tiwana (Shahpur).
  17. Khan Bahadur Muhammed Shah Deen (Lahore).
  18. Khan Bahadur Syed Nawab Ali Chaudhary (Mymansingh).
  19. Nawab Bahadur Mirza Shuja’at Ali Baig (Murshidabad).
  20. Nawab Nasir Hussain Khan Bahadur (Patna).
  21. Khan Bahadur Syed Ameer Hassan Khan (Calcutta).
  22. Syed Muhammed Imam (Patna).
  23. Nawab Sarfaraz Hussain Khan Bahadur (Patna).
  24. Maulvi Rafeeuddin Ahmed (Bombay).
  25. Khan Bahadur Ahmed Muhaeeuddin (Madras).
  26. Ibraheem Bhai Adamjee Pirbhai (Bombay).
  27. Maulvi Abdul Raheem (Calcutta).
  28. Syed Allahdad Shah (Khairpur).
  29. Maulana H. M. Malik (Nagpur).
  30. Khan Bahadur Col. Abdul Majeed Khan (Patiala).
  31. Khan Bahadur Khawaja Yousuf Shah (Amritsar).
  32. Khan Bahadur Mian Muhammad Shafi. (Lahore).
  33. Khan Bahadur Shaikh Ghulam Sadiq. (Amritsar).
  34. Syed Nabiullah. (Allahabad).
  35. Khalifa Syed Muhammed Khan Bahadur. (Patna).

Until 1937 the Muslim League had remained an organisation of elite Indian Muslims. The Muslim League leadership then began mass mobilisation and the League then became a popular party with the Muslim masses in the 1940s, especially after the Lahore Resolution. Under Jinnah’s leadership its membership grew to over two million and became more religious and even separatist in its outlook. The Muslim League’s earliest base was the United Provinces. From 1937 onwards, the Muslim League and Jinnah attracted large crowds throughout India in its processions and strikes.

Lahore Resolution

At the 1940 Muslim League conference in Lahore in 1940, Jinnah said: “Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature…. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes…. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.” At Lahore the Muslim League formally recommitted itself to creating an independent Muslim state, including Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and Bengal, that would be “wholly autonomous and sovereign”. The resolution guaranteed protection for non-Muslim religions. The Lahore Resolution, moved by the sitting Chief Minister of Bengal A. K. Fazlul Huq, was adopted on 23 March 1940, and its principles formed the foundation for Pakistan’s first constitution.

In opposition to the Lahore Resolution, the All India Azad Muslim Conference gathered in Delhi in April 1940 to voice its support for a united India. Its members included several Islamic organisations in India, as well as 1400 nationalist Muslim delegates.

C. R. formula and Cabinet Mission

Main articles: C. R. formula and 1946 Cabinet Mission to India

Talks between Jinnah and Gandhi in 1944 failed to achieve agreement.

World War II

Main article: India in World War II

On 3 September 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared the commencement of war with Germany. Shortly thereafter, Viceroy Lord Linlithgow followed suit and announced that India too was at war with Germany. In 1939, the Congress leaders resigned from all British India government positions to which they had elected. The Muslim League celebrated the end of the Congress-led British Indian government, with Jinnah famously declaring it “a day of deliverance and thanksgiving”. In a secret memorandum to the British Prime Minister, the Muslim League agreed to support the United Kingdom’s war efforts—provided that the British recognise it as the only organisation that spoke for Indian Muslims.

Following the Congress’s effective protest against the United Kingdom unilaterally involving India in the war without consulting with them, the Muslim League went on to support the British war efforts, which allowed them to actively propagandise against the Congress with the argument of “Islam in Danger”.

The Indian Congress and Muslim League responded differently over the World War II issue. The Indian Congress refused to support the British unless the whole Indian subcontinent was granted independence. The Muslim League, on the other hand, supported Britain both politically and via human contributions. The Muslim League leaders’ British education, training, and philosophical ideas helped bring the British government and the Muslim League closer to each other. Jinnah himself supported the British in World War II when the Congress failed to collaborate. The British government made a pledge to the Muslims in 1940 that it would not transfer power to an Independent India unless its constitution was first approved by the Indian Muslims, a promise it did not subsequently keep.

The end of the war

In 1942, Gandhi called for the Quit India Movement against the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the Muslim League advised Prime Minister Winston Churchill that Great Britain should “divide and then Quit”. Negotiations between Gandhi and Viceroy Wavell failed, as did talks between Jinnah and Gandhi in 1944. When World War II ended, the Muslim League’s push for the Pakistan Movement and Gandhi’s efforts for Indian independence intensified the pressure on Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Given the rise of American and Russian order in the world politics and the general unrest in India, Wavell called for general elections to be held in 1945.

In the 1940s, Jinnah emerged as a leader of the Indian Muslims and was popularly known as Quaid-e-Azam (‘Great Leader’). The general elections held in 1945 for the Constituent Assembly of British Indian Empire, the Muslim League secured and won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan, and with an implied threat of secession if this was not granted. The Congress which was led by Gandhi and Nehru remained adamantly opposed to dividing India. The partition seems to have been inevitable after all, one of the examples being Lord Mountbatten’s statement on Jinnah: “There was no argument that could move him from his consuming determination to realize the impossible dream of Pakistan.”

Stephen P. Cohen, an American historian of Pakistan, writes in The Idea of Pakistan of the influence of South Asian Muslim nationalism on the Pakistan movement:

[The ethnolinguistic-nationalist narrative] begins with a glorious precolonial state-empire when the Muslims of South Asia were politically united and culturally, civilizationally, and strategically dominant. In that era, ethnolinguistic differences were subsumed under a common vision of an Islamic-inspired social and political order. However, the divisions among Muslims that did exist were exploited by the British, who practiced ‘divide-and-rule’ politics, displacing the Mughals and circumscribing other Islamic rulers. Moreover, the Hindus were the allies of the British, who used them to strike a balance with the Muslims; many Hindus, a fundamentally insecure people, hated Muslims and would have oppressed them in a one-man, one-vote democratic India. The Pakistan freedom movement united these disparate pieces of the national puzzle, and Pakistan was the expression of the national will of India’s liberated Muslims.

— Stephen Cohen, The Idea of Pakistan (2004)

1946 elections

The 1946 elections resulted in the Muslim League winning the majority of Muslim votes and reserved Muslim seats in the Central and provincial assemblies, performing exceptionally well in Muslim minority provinces such as UP and Bihar, relative to the Muslim majority provinces of Punjab and NWFP. Thus, the 1946 election was effectively a plebiscite where the Indian Muslims were to vote on the creation of Pakistan; a plebiscite which the Muslim League won. This victory was assisted by the support given to the Muslim League by the rural agriculturalists of Bengal as well as the support of the landowners of Sindh and Punjab. The Congress, which initially denied the Muslim League’s claim of being the sole representative of Indian Muslims, was now forced to recognise that the Muslim League represented Indian Muslims. The British had no alternative except to take Jinnah’s views into account as he had emerged as the sole spokesperson for India’s Muslims. However, the British did not desire India to be partitioned and in one last effort to avoid it they arranged the Cabinet Mission plan. In 1946, the Cabinet Mission Plan recommended a decentralised but united India, this was accepted by the Muslim League but rejected by the Congress, thus, leading the way for the Partition of India.

Political campaigns and support


In the British Indian province of Punjab, Muslims placed more emphasis on the Punjabi identity they shared with Hindus and Sikhs, rather than on their religion. The Unionist Party, which prevailed in the 1923 Indian general election, 1934 Indian general election and the 1937 Indian provincial elections had mass support of the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of the Punjab; its leaders included Muslim Punjabis, such as Fazl-i-Hussain and Hindu Punjabis, such as Chhotu Ram. The Punjab had a slight Muslim majority, and local politics had been dominated by the secular Unionist Party and its longtime leader Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan. The Unionists had built a formidable power base in the Punjabi countryside through policies of patronage allowing them to retain the loyalty of landlords and pirs who exerted significant local influence.

For the Muslim League to claim to represent the Muslim vote, they would need to win over the majority of the seats held by the Unionists. Following the death of Sir Sikander in 1942, and bidding to overcome their dismal showing in the elections of 1937, the Muslim League intensified campaigning throughout rural and urban Punjab. A major thrust of the Muslim’s League’s campaign was the increased use of religious symbolism, as well as the promotion of communalism and spreading fear of a supposed “Hindu threat” in a future united India. Muslim League activists were advised to join in communal prayers when visiting villages, and gain permission to hold meetings after the Friday prayers. The Quran became a symbol of the Muslim League at rallies, and pledges to vote were made on it. Students, a key component of the Muslim League’s activists, were trained to appeal to the electorate on communal lines, and at the peak of student activity during the Christmas holidays of 1945, 250 students from Aligarh were invited to campaign in the province along with 1550 members of the Punjab Muslim Student’s Federation. A key achievement of these efforts came in enticing Muslim Jats and Gujjars from their intercommunal tribal loyalties. In response, the Unionists attempted to counter the growing religious appeal of the Muslim League by introducing religious symbolism into their own campaign, but with no student activists to rely upon and dwindling support amongst the landlords, their attempts met with little success.

To further their religious appeal, the Muslim League also launched efforts to entice Pirs towards their cause. Pirs dominated the religious landscape, and were individuals who claimed to inherit religious authority from Sufi Saints who had proselytised in the region since the eleventh century. By the twentieth century, most Punjabi Muslims offered allegiance to a Pir as their religious guide, thus providing them considerable political influence. The Unionists had successfully cultivated the support of Pirs to achieve success in the 1937 elections, and the Muslim League now attempted to replicate their method of doing so. To do so, the Muslim League created the Masheikh Committee, used Urs ceremonies and shrines for meetings and rallies and encouraged fatwas urging support for the Muslim League. Reasons for the pirs switching allegiance varied. For the Gilani Pirs of Multan the over-riding factor was local longstanding factional rivalries, whilst for many others a shrines size and relationship with the government dictated its allegiance.

Despite the Muslim League’s aim to foster a united Muslim loyalty, it also recognised the need to better exploit the biradari network and appeal to primordial tribal loyalties. In 1946 it held a special Gujjar conference intending to appeal to all Muslim Gujjars, and lifted its ban on Jahanara Shahnawaz with the hope of appealing to Arain constituencies. Appealing to biradari ties enabled the Muslim League to accelerate support amongst landlords, and in turn use the landlords client-patron economic relationship with their tenants to guarantee votes for the forthcoming election.

A separate strategy of the Muslim League was to exploit the economic slump suffered in the Punjab as a result of the Second World War. The Punjab had supplied 27 per cent of the Indian Army recruits during the war, constituting 800,000 men, and representing a significant part of the electorate. By 1946, less than 20 per cent of those servicemen returning home had found employment. This in part was exacerbated by the speedy end to the war in Asia, which caught the Unionist’s by surprise, and meant their plans to deploy servicemen to work in canal colonies were not yet ready. The Muslim League took advantage of this weakness and followed Congress’s example of providing work to servicemen within its organisation. The Muslim League’s ability to offer an alternative to the Unionist government, namely the promise of Pakistan as an answer to the economic dislocation suffered by Punjabi villagers, was identified as a key issue for the election.

On the eve of the elections, the political landscape in the Punjab was finely poised, and the Muslim League offered a credible alternative to the Unionist Party. The transformation itself had been rapid, as most landlords and pirs had not switched allegiance until after 1944. The breakdown of talks between the Punjab Premier, Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana and Muhammad Ali Jinnah in late 1944 had meant many Muslims were now forced to choose between the two parties at the forthcoming election. A further blow for the Unionists came with death of its leading statesman Sir Chhotu Ram in early 1945.

The Western Punjab was home to a minority population of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus up to 1947 apart from the Muslim majority. In 1947, the Punjab Assembly cast its vote in favour of Pakistan with supermajority rule, which made many minority Hindus and Sikhs migrate to India while Muslim refugees from India settled in the Western Punjab and across Pakistan.


In the Sind province of British India, the Sind United Party promoted communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims, winning 22 out of 33 seats in the 1937 Indian provincial elections.

Both the Muslim landed elite, waderas, and the Hindu commercial elements, banias, collaborated in oppressing the predominantly Muslim peasantry of the British Indian province of Sind who were economically exploited. In Sind’s first provincial election after its separation from Bombay in 1936, economic interests were an essential factor of politics informed by religious and cultural issues. Due to British policies, much land in Sind was transferred from Muslim to Hindu hands over the decades. In Sind, “the dispute over the Sukkur Manzilgah had been fabricated by provincial Leaguers to unsettle Allah Bakhsh Soomro’s ministry which was dependent on support from the Congress and the Hindu Independent Party.” The Sind Muslim League exploited the issue and agitated for what they said was an abandoned mosque to be given to the Muslim League. Consequentially, a thousand members of the Muslim League were imprisoned. Eventually, due to panic the government restored the mosque to Muslims.

The separation of Sind from the Bombay Presidency triggered Sindhi Muslim nationalists to support the Pakistan Movement. Even while the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province were ruled by parties hostile to the Muslim League, Sindh remained loyal to Jinnah. Although the prominent Sindhi Muslim nationalist G.M. Syed (who admired both Hindu and Muslim rulers of Sindh) left the All India Muslim League in the mid-1940s and his relationship with Jinnah never improved, the overwhelming majority of Sindhi Muslims supported the creation of Pakistan, seeing in it their deliverance. Sindhi support for the Pakistan Movement arose from the desire of the Sindhi Muslim business class to drive out their Hindu competitors. The Muslims League’s rise to becoming the party with the strongest support in Sind was in large part linked to its winning over of the religious pir families. Although the Muslim League had previously fared poorly in the 1937 elections in Sind, when local Sindhi Muslim parties won more seats, the Muslim League’s cultivation of support from the pirs and saiyids of Sind in 1946 helped it gain a foothold in the province.

North-West Frontier Province

The Muslim League had little support in North-West Frontier Province. Here the Congress and Pashtun nationalist leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan had considerable support for the cause of a united India.

During the Independence period there was a Congress-led ministry in the province, which was led by secular Pashtun leaders, including Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who preferred joining India instead of Pakistan. The secular Pashtun leadership was also of the view that if joining India was not an option then they should espouse the cause of an independent ethnic Pashtun state rather than Pakistan. The secular stance of Abdul Ghaffar Khan had driven a wedge between the Jamiyatul Ulama Sarhad (JUS) and the otherwise pro-Congress (and pro-Indian unity) Jamiat Ulema Hind, as well as Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgars, who also espoused Hindu-Muslim unity. Unlike the centre JUH, the directives of the JUS in the province began to take on communal tones. The JUS ulama saw the Hindus in the province as a ‘threat’ to Muslims. Accusations of molesting Muslim women were levelled at Hindu shopkeepers in Nowshera, a town where anti-Hindu sermons were delivered by maullas. Tensions also rose in 1936 over the abduction of a Hindu girl in Bannu. Such controversies stirred up anti-Hindu sentiments amongst the province’s Muslim population. By 1947 the majority of the JUS ulama in the province began supporting the Muslim League’s idea of Pakistan.

Immediately prior to Pakistani independence from Britain in 1947, the British held a referendum in the NWFP to allow voters to choose between joining Pakistan or India. The referendum was held on 2 July 1947 while polling began on 6 July 1947 and the referendum results were made public on 20 July 1947. According to the official results, there were 572,798 registered voters out of which 289,244 (99.02%) votes were cast in favor of Pakistan while only 2874 (0.98%) were cast in favor of India. According to an estimate the total turnout for the referendum was only 15% less than the total turnout in the 1946 elections. At the same time a large number of Khudai Khidmatgar supporters boycotted the referendum and intimidation against Hindu and Sikh voters by supporters of the Pakistan Movement was also reported.


During British rule in India, Baluchistan was under the rule of a Chief Commissioner and did not have the same status as other provinces of British India. The Muslim League under Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the period 1927-1947 strived to introduce reforms in Baluchistan to bring it on par with other provinces of British India. Apart from the pro-separatist Muslim League that was led by a non-Balochi and non-Sardar, “three pro-Congress parties were still active in Balochistan’s politics”, such as the Anjuman-i-Watan Baluchistan, which favoured a united India.

Balochistan contained a Chief Commissioner’s province and four princely states under the British Raj. The province’s Shahi Jirga and the non-official members of the Quetta Municipality opted for Pakistan unanimously on 29 June 1947. Three of the princely states, Makran, Las Bela and Kharan, acceded to Pakistan in 1947 after independence. But the ruler of the fourth princely state, the Khan of Kalat, Ahmad Yar Khan, who used to call Jinnah his ‘father’, declared Kalat’s independence as this was one of the options given to all of the 535 princely states by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

The pro-India Congress, which drew support from Hindus and some Muslims, sensing that geographic and demographic compulsions would not allow the province’s inclusion into the newly Independent India, began to encourage separatist elements in Balochistan, and other Muslim majority provinces such as NWFP.

Kalat finally acceded to Pakistan on 27 March 1948 after the ‘strange help’ of All India Radio and a period of negotiations and bureaucratic tactics used by Pakistan. The signing of the Instrument of Accession by Ahmad Yar Khan, led his brother, Prince Abdul Karim, to revolt against his brother’s decision in July 1948. Princes Agha Abdul Karim Baloch and Muhammad Rahim, refused to lay down arms, leading the Dosht-e Jhalawan in unconventional attacks on the army until 1950. The Princes fought a lone battle without support from the rest of Baluchistan.


Dhaka was the birthplace of the All India Muslim League in 1906. The Pakistan Movement was highly popular in the Muslim population of Bengal. Many of the Muslim League’s notable statesmen and activists hailed from East Bengal, including Khabeeruddin Ahmed, Sir Abdul Halim Ghuznavi, Anwar-ul Azim, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Khawaja Nazimuddin, and Nurul Amin, many among whom later became Prime ministers of Pakistan. Following the partition of Bengal, violence erupted in the region, which was mainly contained to Kolkata and Noakhali. It is documented by Pakistani historians that Suhrawardy wanted Bengal to be an independent state that would neither join Pakistan or India but would remained unpartitioned. Despite the heavy criticism from the Muslim League, Jinnah realised the validity of Suhrawardy’s argument and gave his tacit support to the idea of an Independent Bengal. Nevertheless, the Indian National Congress decided for partition of Bengal in 1947, which was additionally ratified in the subsequent years.

Rohingya Muslims

During the Pakistan Movement in the 1940s, Rohingya Muslims in western Burma had an ambition to annex and merge their region into East-Pakistan. Before the independence of Burma in January 1948, Muslim leaders from Arakan addressed themselves to Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and asked his assistance in annexing of the Mayu region to Pakistan which was about to be formed. Two months later, North Arakan Muslim League was founded in Akyab (modern: Sittwe, capital of Arakan State), it, too demanding annexation to Pakistan. However, it is noted that the proposal was never materialised after it was reportedly turned down by Jinnah.

Role of Ulama

In its election campaign in 1946 the Muslim League drew upon the support of Islamic scholars and Sufis with the rallying cry of ‘Islam in danger’. The majority of Barelvis supported the creation of Pakistan and Barelvi ulama issued fatwas in support of the Muslim League. In contrast, most Deobandi ulama (led by Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani) opposed the creation of Pakistan and the two-nation theory. Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani and the Deobandis advocated composite nationalism, according to which Muslims and Hindus were one nation (cf. Composite Nationalism and Islam). Madani differentiated between ‘qaum’ -which meant a multi-religious nation- and ‘millat’-which was exclusively the social unity of Muslims. However, a few highly influential Deobandi clerics did support the creation of Pakistan. Such Deobandi ulama included Mufti Muhammad Shafi and Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi also supported the Muslim League’s demand for the creation of Pakistan and he dismissed the criticism that most Muslim League members were not practising Muslims. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi was of the view that the Muslim League should be supported and also be advised at the same time to become religiously observant.


Further information: Partition of IndiaIndian Independence Act 1947Bangladesh Liberation War1969 uprising in East Pakistan, and Breakup of East and West Pakistan

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817–1898) philosophical ideas plays a direct role in the Pakistan Movement. His Two-Nation Theory became more and more obvious during the Congress rule in the Subcontinent. In 1946, the Muslim majorities agreed to the idea of Pakistan, as a response to Congress’s one sided policies, which were also the result of leaders like Jinnah leaving the party in favour of Muslim League, winning in seven of the 11 provinces. Prior to 1938, Bengal with 33 million Muslims had only ten representatives, less than the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, which were home to only seven million Muslims. Thus the creation of Pakistan became inevitable and the British had no choice but to create two separate nations – Pakistan and India – in 1947.

But the main motivating and integrating factor was that the Muslims’ intellectual class wanted representation; the masses needed a platform on which to unite. It was the dissemination of western thought by John Locke, Milton and Thomas Paine, at the Aligarh Muslim University that initiated the emergence of Pakistan Movement. According to Pakistan Studies curriculum, Muhammad bin Qasim is often referred to as ‘the first Pakistani’. Muhammad Ali Jinnah also acclaimed the Pakistan movement to have started when the first Muslim put a foot in the Gateway of Islam.

After the independence in 1947, the violence and upheavals continued to be faced by Pakistan, as Liaquat Ali Khan becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1947. The issue involving the equal status of Urdu and Bengali languages created divergence in the country’s political ideology. Need for good governance led to the military take over in 1958 which was followed by rapid industrialisation in the 1960s. Economic grievances and unbalanced financial payments led to a bloody and an armed struggle of East Pakistan in the 1970s, in which eventually resulted with East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh in 1971.

In the successive periods of tragedy of East-Pakistan, the country continued to rebuild and reconstruct itself in terms constitutionally and its path to transformed into republicanism. The XIII amendment (1997) and XVIII amendment (2010) transformed the country into becoming a parliamentary republic as well as also becoming a nuclear power in the subcontinent.

Non-Muslims contribution and efforts

Main articles: Christianity in PakistanHinduism in PakistanSikhism in Pakistan, and Protestantism in Pakistan

Jinnah’s vision was supported by few of the Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jews and Christians that lived in Muslim-dominated regions of undivided India. The most notable and influential Hindu figure in the Pakistan Movement was Jogendra Nath Mandal from Bengal. Jagannath Azad was from the Urdu-speaking belt. Mandal represented the Hindu contingent calling for an independent Pakistan, and was one of the founding fathers of Pakistan. After the independence, Mandal was given ministries of Law, Justice, and Work-Force by Jinnah in Liaquat Ali Khan’s government. Ironically, despite all his good contributions, Mandal was badly ignored in the emerging political scenario. He returned to India and submitted his resignation to Liaquat Ali Khan, the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan. He mentioned incidents related to social injustice and a biased attitude towards non-Muslim minorities in his resignation letter.

Although the All India Conference of Indian Christians, which had a large amount of Punjabi participation, opposed the partition of India and creation of Pakistan, a minority of Christians dissented from this position and played a pivotal role in the creation of Pakistan. The notable Christians included Sir Victor Turner and Alvin Robert Cornelius. Turner was responsible for the economic, financial planning of the country after the independence. Turner was one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, and guided Jinnah and Ali Khan on economic affairs, taxation and to handle the administrative units. Alvin Robert Cornelius was elevated as Chief Justice of Lahore High Court bench by Jinnah and served as Law Secretary in Liaquat Ali Khan’s government.

As an example or inspiration

Main article: Pakistanism

The cause of Pakistan Movement became an inspiration in different countries of the world. Protection of one’s beliefs, equal rights, and liberty were incorporated in the state’s constitution. Arguments presented by Ali Mazrui pointed out that the South Sudan’s movement led to the partition of the Sudan into Sudan proper, which is primarily Muslim, and South Sudan, which is primarily Christian and animistic.

In Europe, Alija Izetbegović, the first President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, began to embrace the “Pakistan model” in the 1960s, alienating Serbs which would use this ideology to attack Bosniaks later on, while in his Islamic Declaration he “designated Pakistan as a model country to be emulated by Muslim revolutionaries worldwide.”

Memory and legacy

Main articles: Minar-e-PakistanTomb of Allama Iqbal, and Mazar-e-Quaid

The Pakistan Movement has a central place in Pakistan’s memory. The founding story of Pakistan Movement is not only covered in the school and universities textbooks but also in innumerable monuments. Almost all key events are covered in Pakistan’s textbooks, literature, and novels as well. Thus, Fourteenth of August is one of major and most celebrated national day in Pakistan. To many authors and historians, Jinnah’s legacy is Pakistan.

The Minar-e-Pakistan is a monument which has attracted ten thousand visitors. The Minar-e-Pakistan still continues to project the memory to the people to remember the birth of Pakistan. Jinnah’s estates in Karachi and Ziarat has attracted thousands visitors.

Historian of Pakistan, Vali Nasr, argues that the Islamic universalism had become a main source of Pakistan Movement that shaped patriotism, meaning, and nation’s birth. To many Pakistanis, Jinnah’s role is viewed as a modern Moses-like leader; whilst many other founding fathers of the nation-state also occupies extremely respected place in the hearts of the people of Pakistan.


  • 1849 Annexation of the Punjab
  • 1850 Urdu becomes the official language in all of the west Pakistan provinces, excluding Sindh
  • 1857 War of Independence
  • 1885 Formation of the Indian National Congress
  • 1901 Partition of Punjab
  • 1905 Partition of Bengal
  • 1906 Simla Deputation
  • 1906 Founding of the All-India Muslim League
  • 1909 Minto–Morley Reforms
  • 1911 Annulment of the Partition of Bengal
  • 1914–18 World War I
  • 1916 Lucknow Pact
  • 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre
  • 1919 Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
  • 1919–23 Khilafat Movement
  • 1922–29 Hindu–Muslim Riots
  • 1927 Delhi Muslim Proposals
  • 1928 Nehru Report
  • 1929 Fourteen Points of Jinnah
  • 1930 Simon Commission Report
  • 1930 Separation of a strong Punjabi group from congress and formation of Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam
  • 1930 Allama Iqbal Address
  • 1931 Kashmir Resistance movement
  • 1930–32 Round Table Conferences
  • 1932 Communal Award (1932)
  • 1933 Pakistan National Movement
  • 1933 Pakistan Declaration / Now or Never Pamphlet
  • 1935 Government of India Act
  • 1937 Elections
  • 1937–39 Congress Rule in 7 out of 11 Provinces
  • 1937 Strong anti congress governments in Punjab and Bengal
  • 1938 A. K. Fazlul Huq of Bengal joined Muslim League
  • 1938 Jinah Sikandar pact
  • 1938 Pirpur Report
  • 1939-45 World War II
  • 1939 Resignation of congress ministries and non-congress power players got golden chance
  • 1940 Pakistan Resolution
  • 1940 19 March Khaksar Massacre in Lahore
  • 1942 India Movement and non congress players further got space
  • 1942 Cripps’ mission
  • 1944 Gandhi-Jinnah Talks
  • 1945 The Simla Conference
  • 1946 The Cabinet Mission the last British effort to united India
  • 1946 Direct Action Day in the aftermath of cabinet mission plan
  • 1946 Interim Government installed in office
  • 1946 Quit Kashmir Campaign as the formation of the interim government of Azad Kashmir
  • 1947 June 6 Partition Plan
  • 1947 Creation of Pakistan


Notable quotations

Allama Iqbal

I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.

Choudhry Rahmat Ali

At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in Pakistan – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan – for your sympathy and support in our grim and fateful struggle against political crucifixion and complete annihilation.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religious in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literature. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspect on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different ethics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state.”

Leaders and founding fathers

Main article: List of Pakistan Movement activists

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia