Minar-e-Pakistan: Re-living history


LAHORE: Minar-e-Pakistan, also translated as ‘Tower of Pakistan’ and ‘Minaret of Pakistan’ was built to commemorate Pakistan Resolution (Lahore Resolution), which was adopted during the All India Muslim League session of 22-24 March, 1940, held at the Minto Park (now renamed as the Greater Iqbal Park).

The Pakistan Resolution paved the way for creation of a separate state — Pakistan — for the Muslims of Northeast and Northwest territories under British India. March 23, 1940, is an epoch-making day when the Muslims of India embarked on a journey for a separate homeland. This day served as a true testament to the vision of Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal, the Poet of the East, who had claimed in his Presidential address at Allahabad in 1930, “India is a continent of human groups, belonging to different races, speaking different languages, and professing different religions. Personally, I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Provinces (NWFP), Sindh and Balochistan 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.”

The Pakistan Resolution interpreted Iqbal’s foresightedness in these words, “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”. Thus, the day – 23rd March, 1940- determined a new course of history for the Muslims who won a sovereign state on 14th August 1947 in the form of Pakistan.

Minar-e-Pakistan is not a mere monument but embodies the Islamic, Mughal and contemporary architecture, preserves on stone the text of Lahore Resolution in Arabic, English, Bengali and Urdu; depicts different phases of freedom struggle for independence by the Muslims of India and hopes for a glorious future for the nascent nation in its structure. Built, between 23rd March 1960 and October 1968, at the current Greater Iqbal Park to commemorate the historic Pakistan Resolution, provides a vital link between the past and the present for the younger generation and stands as a symbol of achievement and hope of surmounting the impossible.

Minar-e-Pakistan, also called for some time Yadgar-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Resolution Memorial), is erected on the site where people had gathered for the All India Muslim League session on March 22-24, 1940 and the monument is 70 metre heigh with eight metre base from which emanate eight flower-petals, which culminate at the top with a steel dome and a pinnacle. Different types of marble and concrete have been used in the construction of the tower and, according to a source, the use of coarse marble at the base is reminiscent of the hardships during the early days of the freedom struggle while the use of fine marble reflects the ultimate success and path to prosperity. The tower has four platforms and all have been constructed with different kinds of marble and stone while 162 stairs besides an elevator lead a pilgrim to the topmost platform of the monument

The unfolding flower-petals represent happiness and abundance besides symbolising wealth, fortune and prosperity which the independent state of Pakistan promised to its inhabitants. The flowers also show purity, and the literal meaning of the word ‘Pakistan’ is the ‘Land of the Pure’.

Within the base of the minaret and between the unfolding flower-petals, there stand 10 marble slabs of seven feet height and two feet width with inscriptions of Quranic verses, sayings of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, selected poetic verses of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, text of Pakistan Resolution in English, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu languages, text of Delhi Resolution (1946), National Anthem of Pakistan in Urdu and Bengali and 99 Names of Allah.

According to the archaeologist Najamus Saqib, Director Conservation at the WCLA, the design of the monument on the pattern of a minaret and it is an important feature of a mosque. It is pertinent to mention that this monument is Islamic in spirit as dome and minaret are symbols of Islam. The monument was designed by Nasereddin Murat Khan — a Turkish architect and engineer.

Minar-e-Pakistan faces the historic Badshahi Masjid – built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1673 – while Minar-e-Pakistan complements the minarets of the 17th-century grand mosque. It embraces Islam and Islamic culture in all aspects as the minaret culminates with a dome and a pinnacle.

Decoding the symbolism of dome, says Prof (Retd) Mazhar Moeen of Punjab University, it is significant that the Minar-e-Pakistan has an onion-shaped dome and a pinnacle at the top — this type of dome was popularised by the Mughals in the South Asia and is known as the Arabic architectural style of dome. The small dome reminds the onlookers that the Islamic state of Pakistan exists under the shadow of Allah Almighty. The dome represents perfection, eternity and the heavens and the dome conveys that sovereignty belongs to Allah Almighty.

Though the pinnacle is without a star and crescent on top of the dome, it is a symbol of Islam and presents the country as a place of unity and harmony. Being a symbol of political struggle of the Indian Muslims, Minar-e-Pakistan has witnessed scores of political rallies by all political parties and gatherings by some religious parties under its dome over the past five decades.

The monument of Minar-e-Pakistan is a panegyric on the struggle for freedom from the British yoke by the Indian Muslims and their countless sacrifices. It also glorifies Islam and accepts the sovereignty of Allah and celebrates great political figures of the independence movement like Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Jinnah, Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Sher-e-Bengal (Lion of Bengal) Abul Kasem Fazlul Haq. The monument also carries with it the promise of prosperity and affluence.