Pakistan marks 81 years since independence resolution

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Pakistan is celebrating 81 years since the signing of the Lahore Resolution in 1940, a historic document that marked the first time the Indian subcontinent’s Muslim political leadership committed to the formation of independent Muslim states.

Signed in the city of Lahore in what was then British-ruled India, the resolution called for all “areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority” to be grouped into “Independent States”.

The resolution was signed by the leadership of the All India Muslim League (AIML), including party chief Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man widely revered as the founder of Pakistan.

The resolution marked the first time the AIML and Jinnah had explicitly adopted a policy of pursuing independence. Seven years later, the subcontinent gained its independence from the British, leading to the formation of the two sovereign states of India and Pakistan.

On Tuesday, events will be held across Pakistan to mark the occasion as schools, offices and businesses close for the national holiday. A military parade due to be held in the capital Islamabad has been postponed to Thursday due to “inclement weather”, the military said in a statement.

“23rd March, 1940, was a momentous occasion when the Muslims of the subcontinent decided to establish a separate homeland to free themselves from the shackles of oppression and slavery of the Hindutva mindset,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a statement released on Tuesday.

Kashmir reference

Khan has been a vocal opponent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies, particularly widespread rights abuses against Indian Muslims since the Hindu nationalist leader assumed power.

“Today, we pay tribute to the Father of the Nation and all the leaders of the Independence Movement who united Muslims of British India and struggled for creation of a free and independent Muslim State,” said Khan in his statement.

Khan also made special mention of the people of the disputed region of Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim in full but administer separate portions of. The Himalayan territory has been the cause of two of the countries’ three full-scale wars since gaining independence in 1947.

“On this day, we also express solidarity with the innocent people of IIOJK who have been subjected to worst form of state oppression by Indian security forces,” Khan said. IIOJK refers to “Indian illegally-occupied Jammu and Kashmir” as Pakistan calls the disputed region.

“We salute their courage and will continue to support them morally, politically and diplomatically for realisation of their right to self-determination under relevant UNSC Resolutions.”

Khan will not be making public appearances on the occasion, as he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday and has been receiving care in isolation since then.

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