The resolution given below came to be known as the Pakistan Resolution, although the name Pakistan was not used in it.
As the movement for autonomy built up in the late ‘60s in what was then East Pakistan, our Bengali brethren were quick to point out that what the 23rd March resolution mentioned was the creation of more than one state: “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.” This can be seen as a riposte to those who argue that the raison d’etre for Pakistan had been wrecked with the birth of Bangladesh.
Both in the Resolution, and in the Quaid’s speeches on numerous occasions, there is a repeated demand for a homeland for Muslims, but there is no mention of an “Islamic state”. Quaid-i-Azam, regarded as the most brilliant legal mind in the Indian subcontinent, knew the difference between the two concepts, and was not interested in creating a state that could remotely resemble a theocracy. He had been on the receiving end of the Muslim religious right who had labeled him “Kafir-e-Azam” because of his progressive ways.
The Resolution is emphatic about the need to protect minorities, an issue where our failure as a nation and state has been phenomenal.
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 17th of August, 17th and 18th of September, and 22nd of October, 1939, and 3rd of February, 1940, on the constitutional issue, this Session of 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 various parties, interests and communities in India. Muslim India will not be satisfied unless the whole constitutional plan is reconsidered de novo, and that no revised plan would be acceptable to the 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 authorizes 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.
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