Actual Independence day of Pakistan

 

Mian Sajid Ali

Over many years, several newspapers and magazines have discussed the actual date of the Independence Day of Pakistan. With surprise and shock, while some have argued that it is, in fact, August 15, 1947, others have found ways to enthusiastically defend the Independence on August 14, 1947 at present days. So, what is the actual day? I will prove the real day of creation of homeland ‘Pakistan’, in the light of some facts, as August 15, 1947.

Pakistan was created via an act of the Westminster Parliament called as Indian Independence Act, promulgated on July 18, 1947. The first clause of the act stated:

 “As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan”.

So, what is the confusion about the Independence Day of Pakistan?  The confusion – at least for people now – is because we believe that the speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan by Viceroy and Governor General Lord Mountbatten was on August 15, 1947 and the dinner afterwards, as the official birth of the country. However, in doing so we forget that this event only took place on 14th of August, as India had decided to hold its independence day celebration on the midnight of 15th of August, and so it would not have been possible for Lord Mountbatten – who was still Viceroy – to be present in both Karachi and New Delhi on the same day. This explained why both Lord Mountbatten and Mr. Jinnah sat right next to each other while addressing the Constituent Assembly on 14th of August, since Mountbatten was still the Viceroy and Jinnah had yet to assume office as Governor General of the new state. Hence, August 14, 1947 was the day when the Independence Day ceremonies began in Pakistan, but Pakistan had not legally become independent as yet.

Now I am sharing some facts about the actual date of the Independence as

Jinnah’s speech on August 15, 1947

The collection, titled ‘Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: Speeches and Statements as Governor-General of Pakistan 1947-48’, includes a speech under the heading “Peace Within, and Peace Without” on pages 55-56. The speech follows a short introduction, and the first few lines read thus:

“Message to the Nation on the occasion of the inauguration of the Pakistan Broadcasting service; August 15, 1947.”

Inaugurating the Pakistan Broadcasting service on August 15, 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah issued following message to the nation:

“It is with feelings of greatest happiness and emotion that I send you my greetings. August 15 is the birth day of the independent and sovereign state of Pakistan.”

‘Murder of History’ by K.K.Aziz

Renowned historian K.K. Aziz writes on page 180 of his book, Murder of History:

“The general impression, confirmed and reinforced by the official celebration of Independence, that Pakistan became free on 14th August is not correct. The Indian Independence Bill, which was introduced in the British Parliament on 4th July and which became law on 15th July, laid down that the two new Dominions of India and Pakistan shall became free at the midnight of 14-15 August”.

“The power had to be personally transferred to the new countries by the Viceroy, who was the British King’s sole representative in India. Lord Mountbatten could not be present in person in Karachi and New Delhi at the same moment. Nor could he transfer power to India on the morning of 15th August and then rush to Karachi, because by that time, he would have become the Governor General of the new Indian Dominion”.

“So the only practicable thing was for him to transfer power to Pakistan on 14th August when he was still the Viceroy of India. But that does not mean that Pakistan gained its independence on 14th August. The Indian Independence Act did not provide for it.”

Indian Independence Act 1947

A copy of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, confirms the argument put forth by K. K. Aziz. Clause 1 of the Article 1 titled “The new Dominians”, reads:

“As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan”.

‘Zahoor-i-Pakistan’ by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali

Former Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali published a book The Emergence of Pakistan, a semi-autobiographical account, in 1967. An Urdu translation of the book, titled Zahoor-i-Pakistan, was produced by Bashir Ahmed Arshid. An excerpt on page 287 of Zahoor-i-Pakistan reads:

“Fifteenth August 1947 was the last Friday of Ramadan-ul-Mubarak, one of the holiest days in Islam. On that auspicious day, Quaid-i-Azam became the Governor-General of Pakistan and the cabinet was sworn in, the star-and-crescent flag was hoisted, and Pakistan emerged on the world map”.

“On 15th August 1947, Quaid-i-Azam sent the following message to the nation, ‘At this supreme moment my thoughts are with those valiant fighters in our cause. Pakistan will remain grateful to them and cherish the memory of those who are no more.’”

Chaudhry Muhammad Ali published his book 22 years after Independence, and he lived on until 1980, but he never withdrew his assertion about the date of Independence, though it was during his lifetime that Pakistan began to celebrate the Independence Day on August 14, instead of 15, every year.

Speeches of Quaid-e-Azam

There is another authentic source to verify the fact that Independence was gained on 15th August and not on 14th: A collection of speeches by Muhammad Ali Jinnah published in 1989, by The Directorate of Films and Publications, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Biography of Mountbatten

Historical documents and speeches, and books dealing with history make it evident that Pakistan’s Independence Day falls on 15th August. Philip Ziegler, the official biographer of the last Viceroy of India, too, says in Mountbatten: The Official Biography, that Pakistan was created on the 15th of August.

Jinnah papers

In fact, the founder of the country, the Quaid-e-Azam, never doubted that August 15, 1947 was the date of independence for Pakistan. The first document of the officially published Jinnah Papers, Vol. 5, quotes him in his broadcast to the nation, stating: “August 15 is the birthday of the independent and sovereign State of Pakistan”. The Quaid-i-Azam, as well as the Pakistan cabinet, took their oaths of office on the morning of August 15, 1947. Furthermore, in the Jinnah papers there are messages from all the governors of provinces in Pakistan reporting that they unfurled the Pakistan flag on the morning of August 15, 1947 — Independence Day.

This is the first medal of Pakistan called as ‘Tamgha-i-Pakistan’. The both dates Ramzan 26, 1366 and August 14, 1947 embossed on it. (As an aside, if one argues that Pakistan was born on the 27th of Ramzan, even then Pakistan was born on August 15, 1947 as August 14, 1947 was the 26th of Ramzan).

First Post Mark of Pakistan Post

This is the first ever Post Mark, issued on August 15, 1947 by Pakistan Post from Karachi in Urdu and English in a rectangular box.

First Postage Stamps

First postage stamps of Pakistan issued on July 9, 1948 by Pakistan Post. The designs of the stamps were personally approved by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. These designers of the above stamps were Abdur Rehman Chughtai (Re. 1/-) and Rashiduddin (1½ Anna). Total four stamps (two of them displayed here) issued on which the independence day of Pakistan printed as August 15, 1947.

Press Information Department

Cover of a press release, “Independence Anniversary Series” by the Press Information Department of Government of Pakistan, in 1948 in relation to the country’s first Independence Day which was celebrated on August 15, 1947.

The destiny of the nations of India and Pakistan were sealed on the fateful midnight (the date change at 00:00).

 

The Hindustan Times on August 15, 1947.

I wonder why the date was changed afterwards and why we have accepted 14th of August to be the day of our Independence. Are there, in this world, any other two nations that have gained independence on the same day, with joint efforts and from the same colonial power, but which prefer to celebrate the anniversaries of their independence on different days?

Daily Ehsan, Lahore on August 6, 1947. It declared that Mr. Jinnah will take oath on August 15, 1947 at Government House, Karachi.

Hence, legally, Pakistan came into existence on August 15, 1947.

 

The writer is the Chairman of Allama Iqbal Stamps Society and a historical researcher..

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