Why Pakistan celebrates Republic Day on March 23 and is it different to Independence Day?

Public holiday marks the day that laid the foundation for a separate country for Muslims in the Indian subcontinent

Pakistanis celebrate Republic Day every year on March 23. AFP
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Pakistan will celebrate its Republic Day on Saturday.

Better known as Pakistan Day, the national celebration is marked this year during Ramadan. The public holiday marks the day that laid the foundation for a separate country for Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, and the adoption of Pakistan's first constitution.

The region was under the control of the British Empire for more than two centuries.

With British rule set to end, it was believed Muslims would become a minority in newly independent India.

Why is Republic Day on March 23?

On March 23, 1940, at a conference in Lahore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah called for a separate Muslim state. The Lahore Resolution was passed by the working committee of the All-India Muslim League, led by Mr Jinnah.

The partition of the subcontinent resulted in Mr Jinnah becoming the first governor general of Pakistan on August 15, 1947. The transfer of power was enacted by Lord Louis Mountbatten, last viceroy of British India.

Under the Mountbatten Plan, Pakistan was created in north-western and eastern parts of the British-ruled Indian subcontinent, while the rest became India. Both countries were granted dominion status as a step towards obtaining full independence. The eastern part of Pakistan became Bangladesh when it gained independence from Islamabad in 1971.

The division in 1947, known as Partition, was followed by widespread violence between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, as millions moved between the newly created states according to their religion.

Third time lucky

Sixteen years after the Lahore Resolution, on March 23, 1956, Pakistan officially adopted its first constitution, turning Pakistan from a dominion into a republic. The document was set aside in 1958 and replaced with martial law, only to be replaced in 1962 by another constitution.

The current constitution is the third iteration, formed in 1973 and followed with various amendments.

Is Pakistan Day the same as Independence Day?

It is not. Pakistan Day celebrates the Lahore Resolution, whereas Independence Day is marked on August 14, the day the country gained independence from British rule.

Updated: March 28, 2024, 12:42 PM