Remembering Pakistan Day

Published Mar 23, 2013 06:08am

LAST year on March 23, I spent quite some time looking at newspaper eulogies on independence and on our electronic media but I found no mention of March 23 being our Republic Day.

With the promulgation of our first constitution on this day in 1956, Pakistan became the world’s first Islamic Republic. On that day we ended the status of British dominion and became fully sovereign. Why have we forgotten our Republic Day?

To our east, India wriggled out early of its semi-independent status of a British dominion when it adopted its constitution on Jan 26, 1950, a day it marks every year as its Republic Day or India Day.

The date was chosen to commemorate the declaration of independence adopted by the Indian National Congress in its Lahore session on Jan 26, 1930.

We chose to promulgate our first constitution on March 23, 1956, though the document was ready in February.

The day was declared our Republic Day so that it could coincide with the day the Lahore Resolution was adopted by the All-India Muslim League. March 23 was also notified to the world as the Pakistan Day as our embassies/high commissions the world over arrange national day receptions.

I see deep confusion in all the official messages issued on the Pakistan Day by our presidents, prime ministers, governors and ambassadors. None of them mentions the republic day.

Why? I feel that there are two factors, both very powerful, which have deprived us of this concept.

The long periods of martial law have made us forget our Republic status. Gen Pervez Musharraf loved to excoriate sham democracy. Could he have made a fool of himself by reminding the nation that it once was a republic? Nor would his companions think of spoiling the mood of their patron by reminding him of any such bitter fact.

The political ulema, too, would not want the nation to be reminded of their republic status. Their objective is to keep us chained to our minority mindset pickled in the vinegar of 1857.

Because this half-literate cohort does not like the implications of republichood -– the first of which is pluralist democracy, the second is popular democracy.

According to Dr K.K. Aziz, our body politic is suffering from many such mnemonic wounds, wilfully inflicted by courtiers and government employees passing off as historians.

Their rectification need not proceed at the rate of strengthening  of our democracy. By putting facts correctly we may see a better democracy in the country than one which is sham.

TOHEED AHMAD Lahore


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Comments (4) (Closed)


Safdar Soomro
Mar 23, 2013 02:06am
Very good article, removed ambiguity. In calendars it is mentioned as "Youm-e-Pakistan".
Agha Ata (USA)
Mar 23, 2013 01:41pm
The situation is bad also because our political scholars are so cut off from the masses. They live in a different culture, neither they can explain themselves to the masses, nor masses can understand what is being talked about.. A huge yawning GAP. Yes.lack of education among masses is a valid reason, but that intellectual difference exists in all societies.
Afaqi,
Mar 23, 2013 06:16pm
Pakistan got independence on August 14, 1947 and it became a Republic on March 23, 1956 when the Constituent Assembly passed/adopted the constitution. In a Republic the head of the state is elected by the people for a period prescribed in the Constitution. Thus Pakistan Day used to be celebrated on August 14 and the Republic Day on March 23. But then came the time when the basic law of the land, the Constitution, the division of powers between the three organs of state, rule of law, basic human rights, the periodic democratic elections at national, provincial and local level, all these became things of past when the Army Chiefs thought it necessary to take over in national interests. Gradually the rule rulers forgot the difference between the Pakistan Day and the Republic day. For some years August 14 was duly celebrated as Independence Day and the Republic Day was held on March 23. But now each individual ruler celebrates his own coming to power and then his departure in the manner as did the ousted PM Gilani or the present PM who doled out 33 billion (sawabdeedi funds) under his discretionary power, no matter there is any Pakistan day or Republic Day or no day at all but they do remember their personal money making ways and days.
Avtar
Mar 24, 2013 03:53am
March 23 is also a martyrdom day when Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukdev were hanged by the British. These sons of the Punjab were some of the key independence fighters that contributed to the independence of the sub-continent.