August 14 2022 – Why is Pakistan’s Independence Day Celebrated a Day Before India’s Independence Day?
75 years have passed since the independence of Pakistan. How many corners of our history have we remained ignorant of during this long period? We celebrate our Independence Day every year on 14th August and our neighboring country India celebrates it on 15th August and every year the question arises that two countries that have become independent together, on their Independence Day. How did one day make a difference? In this article we have tried to solve this puzzle.
Elders tell us that Pakistan became independent on the 27th night of Ramadan and that on the day Pakistan became independent, Friday was the auspicious day of farewell. Then we are told that the date was August 14, 1947, and that we are ‘one day older’ than the country we became independent with.
But when we look at the calendar of August 14, 1947, it is known that that day was a Thursday and the Hijri date was not the 27th but the 26th of Ramadan.
Then we see the first postage stamps of Pakistan which were issued on July 9, 1948, 11 months after the independence of Pakistan. Pakistan’s Independence Day 15 August 1947 is clearly printed on these stamps.
Then we come to the conclusion that Pakistan’s Independence Day is not 14 but 15 August 1947, then why the first anniversary of Independence Day was celebrated on 14 August 1948? Thus the mind gets confused once again as to when Pakistan became independent: on 14th August 1947 or 15th August 1947.
If we became independent on 14th August 1947 then why the date of independence day was 15th August 1947 on the stamps published eleven months after independence and if Pakistan became independent on 15th August 1947 then we celebrated the first anniversary of independence instead of 15th August. Why celebrate August 14, 1948? And above all, why are they still celebrating their birthdays on August 14 instead of August 15?
When Was Pakistan Actually Independent?
The most important document in this regard is the Indian Independence Act of 1947 (Indian Independence Act 1947), which was approved by the British Parliament and which was ratified by the King of Great Britain, George VI, on July 18, 1947. A copy of this law was sent to the Quaid-e-Azam on 24 July 1947 by the Secretary General of Pakistan Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (who later became the Prime Minister of Pakistan).
This Act was published in 1983 by the British Government on page 234 of Volume 12 of ‘The Transfer of Power’ and translated as ‘Jinnah Papers’ published by the Quaid-e-Azam Papers Project, Cabinet Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad. (Urdu Translation) can be seen from page 45 to page 72 of Volume III. It is clearly stated in this law.
From August 15, 1947, two independent sovereign states will be established in British India, which will be known as India and Pakistan respectively.
Later in this Act, ‘these States’ shall mean the new States and ‘the appointed day’ shall mean the 15th August.
The original text on page 234 of Transfer of Power, Volume 12 reads:
See a few more orders issued in continuation of this law, the excerpts and translation of which are given by Ziauddin Lahori in his article ‘Independence Day: Friday 27th Ramadan or 15th August’, Journal 36. The Department of Authoring, Compilation and Translation has been added to the University of Karachi.
7 August 1947: Foreign Office cable to Britain’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations
‘Now the Viceroy has sent a wire that the Muslim leaders recognize the need to apply for membership of the United Nations. He has said that Great Britain should immediately file a petition on behalf of Pakistan and when Pakistan becomes an independent state on August 15, it will ratify it directly itself’ (p. 570).
August 12, 1947: An extract from the press release of the Secretariat of the United Nations Memorandum on the Membership Privileges of India and Pakistan.
“The Indian Independence Act declares that on August 15, 1947, two independent states will be established in India under the names of India and Pakistan respectively.” (Page 685)
The Mountbatten Difficulty
The British government announced that both Pakistan and India would be freed at the same time, i.e. on August 15, 1947 at zero hour, but the problem was that Lord Mountbatten was arrested by India in New Delhi on the intervening night of August 14 and 15, 1947. Independence was to be declared. The elected government was to transfer power and take over as the first Governor General of independent India.
The solution to the problem was that Lord Mountbatten should visit Karachi on 13 August 1947 and address the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on the morning of 14 August 1947 to complete the transfer of power and announce that on that night i.e. 14 and 15 August In the midnight of 1947, Pakistan will become an independent state.
So it happened. On August 13, 1947, Lord Mountbatten came to Karachi and on the same night a dinner was given in his honor at the Governor General’s House, Karachi, addressing which Muhammad Ali Jinnah said:
I feel great pleasure in recommending the health jam of Malik Moazzam. This is a very important and unique opportunity. Today, complete power is going to be transferred to the people of India and on the appointed day of 15th August 1947, two independent and sovereign states, Pakistan and India, will come into existence. With this decision of the government of Malik Muazzam, the lofty objective will be achieved which was declared as the sole purpose of establishing the commonwealth.
Viceroy’s Message and Declaration of Independence
The next day, Thursday, August 14, 1947, corresponding to 26th of Ramadan 1366 A.H., at 9:00 a.m., a special session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan began in the present Sindh Assembly Building in Karachi.
Since morning, enthusiastic people gathered in front of the building. When the nominated Governor-General of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten arrived at the Assembly Hall in a special carriage, the public welcomed them with enthusiastic chants and applause. All the seats in the assembly were filled.
A large number of prominent citizens, politicians and local and foreign press representatives were present in the gallery. The President of the Constituent Assembly, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was sitting on the chair and next to him was the seat of Lord Mountbatten. When both Akbars took their respective seats, the proceedings were officially started.
First, Lord Mountbatten read out a message from the King of Great Britain addressing Jinnah:
I offer you my heartiest congratulations on the great occasion of the establishment of a new state joining the ranks of the nations of the British Commonwealth. The way you have achieved freedom is an example for the freedom-loving people of the whole world. I expect that all members of the British Commonwealth will support you in upholding democratic principles.’
After this message, Lord Mountbatten gave a farewell speech and prayed for the safety of Pakistan and the Pakistani people.
In his speech, Lord Mountbatten clearly stated:
‘Today I am addressing you as your Viceroy, tomorrow the reins of government of the new Dominion of Pakistan will be in your hands and I will be the Constitutional Head of your neighboring Dominion of India. The leaders of both governments have invited me to become the neutral chairman of the Joint Defense Council, an honor I will strive to fulfill.
Tomorrow, two new sovereign states will join the Commonwealth. These will not be new nations, but they are the inheritors of ancient proud civilizations. The leaders of these fully independent states are highly regarded, respected around the world. Their poets, philosophers, scientists and soldiers have rendered unforgettable services to humanity. The governments of these states are not inexperienced and weak, but have full capabilities to discharge their responsibilities in relation to peace and development around the world.
After Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah began his speech. He first thanked the King of England and the Viceroy and assured them that:
‘The spirit of better and friendly relations with our neighbors will never diminish and we will remain friends of the whole world.’
After the proceedings of the Assembly and the Declaration of Independence, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, accompanied by Lord Mountbatten, returned to the Governor-General’s House at Shahi Baghi. At two o’clock in the afternoon, Lord Mountbatten left for New Delhi, where he was to assume the post of Governor General of India with the announcement of India’s independence at 12 o’clock that same night.
According to Lord Mountbatten’s declaration of independence, a free and independent and the largest kingdom of the Islamic world was added on the map of the world between 14 and 15 August 1947 at 12 midnight. whose name was Pakistan.
At the same time, Pakistan Broadcasting Service from Lahore, Peshawar and Dhaka announced the independence of Pakistan. Earlier, on the intervening night of 14 and 15 August 1947, the All India Radio Service broadcast its last announcement from Lahore, Peshawar and Dacca stations at 11 pm.
A few moments before twelve o’clock, the identity tune of Radio Pakistan was played and an announcement in the English language in the voice of Zahoor Azhar echoed in the air that at midnight the independent and sovereign state of Pakistan would come into existence. At exactly 12 o’clock in the night, the words ‘This is Pakistan Broadcasting Service’ echoed in the ears of thousands of listeners, first in English and then in Urdu.
The announcement was made in English by Zahoor Azar and in Urdu by Mustafa Ali Hamdani. Immediately after this announcement, Maulana Zahir Al-Qasimi recited the verses of Surah Fatah of the Holy Quran, after which his translation was broadcast.
Later, a special instrument composed by Khwaja Khurshid Anwar was played, then Santo Khan and his nephews performed a few stanzas of Allama Iqbal’s poem ‘Saqee Nama’ in Qawwali. The broadcast ended with a speech by Hafeez Hoshiarpuri.
At midnight, Aftab Ahmad Bismal from Radio Pakistan Peshawar announced the establishment of Pakistan in Urdu and Abdullah Jan Mughom in Pashto, while Qari Fida Muhammad had the honor of reciting the Holy Quran. The broadcast ended with a song written by Mr. Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi with the lyrics ‘Pakistan Mubarak Ho, Makers of Pakistan’.
At the same time, a similar announcement was made by Kaleemullah in English from Radio Pakistan Dhaka, which was translated into Bangla.
On the morning of August 15, 1947, the transmission of Radio Pakistan Lahore began at eight o’clock with selected verses of Surah Al-Imran. After the recitation of the Quranic verses, the English news began which was read by the newsreader Nobi. After the news, a pre-recorded message was played in Jinnah’s voice at exactly half past eight. (The audio clip of this address is available on YouTube.)
Jinnah’s speech began with these words:
“It is with feelings of greatest happiness and emotion that I send you my greetings. August 15 is the birthday of the independent and sovereign State of Pakistan. It marks the fulfilment of the destiny of the Muslim nation which made great sacrifices in the past few years to have its homeland.”
Translation: ‘It is with infinite joy and emotion that I congratulate you. August 15 is the birth day of independent and independent Pakistan. It is a symbol of the destiny of the Muslim nation, which has made great sacrifices for the achievement of its homeland in the last few years.
In his address, Jinnah congratulated all the citizens of Pakistan on the establishment of the independent state of Pakistan and said that with the coming into existence of this new state, great responsibilities are imposed on the people of Pakistan, now they have to take responsibility to the world. It should be shown how a nation, consisting of different elements, can live in harmony with each other.
History of Independence Day, in Light of the Pages of Daily Dawn
On the same day, i.e. on the morning of 15th August 1947, newspapers published special issues regarding Pakistan’s Independence Day and the famous English newspaper ‘Dawn’ started its publication from Karachi. The headline of this special publication was: May Pakistan prosper always – Lord Mountbatten.
The news item published under this heading contained the full text of Lord Mountbatten’s speech, which is quoted above. Daily Dawn also published a special 32-page supplement on the occasion, which is also preserved in our personal collection and can also be found on YouTube by typing Dawn 15/8/1947.
This Dawn supplement also contained a message from Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah issued from 10 Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi. Although the date of issue of this message is not recorded, it is certain that it was issued before August 7, 1947. In this message Muhammad Ali Jinnah said:
“The first issue, I am informed will appear from Karachi, the capital of Pakistan on the 15th of August, the appointed day.”
Translation: ‘I have been told that the first issue (of Dawn) will be published from Karachi, the capital of Pakistan, on the appointed day, August 15.’
Mention of Independence Day in Official Orders and Documents
On the same day, i.e. 15th August 1947, the first gazette of Pakistan was also issued announcing the appointment of Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the Governor General of Pakistan and his assumption of office from that day. On the same day, the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, Justice Abdul Rasheed administered the oath of office to Jinnah as the first Governor General of Pakistan and on the same day the members of the first cabinet of Pakistan under the leadership of Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan also took their oath of office.
All these objects and documentary evidences prove that Pakistan came into existence on August 15, 1947 and not on August 14, 1947.
In the first years of the establishment of Pakistan, there was no ambiguity as to when Pakistan became independent. This is also supported by the fact that on December 19, 1947, the Home Department of Pakistan through its letter 17/47 announced the annual holidays of 1948 for 1948 next to the Pakistan Day holiday of August 15, 1948. The date was recorded.
This Document is Preserved in the National Documentation Centre, Islamabad.
In the first quarter of 1948, the Postal Department of Pakistan began designing and printing the first postage stamps of Pakistan. It was a set of four stamps of which the first three stamps were jointly designed by External Publicity Department artists Rashiduddin and Muhammad Latif while the fourth stamp and accompanying folder were created by the country’s great artist Abdul Rahman Chaghatai.
These stamps were printed by Messrs. De Lareau in Great Britain and were offered for sale on July 9, 1948. The date of Pakistan’s Independence Day, August 15, 1947, was also written on them. It seems that by the time these stamps were designed and sent to Britain for publication, Pakistan had been declared independent on August 15, 1947.
Many Records Were Searched in Search of the Truth
So when was Pakistan’s Independence Day from August 15 to August 14? To solve this mystery we knocked on the door of National Documentation Centre, Cabinet Division, Islamabad. There we met Mr. Qamar-ul-Zaman, director of the center, with the help of whom we got access to the files stored in the center, which have now been opened to the public after being kept secret for a long time.
By studying these files, we learned that on Tuesday 29 June 1948, a cabinet meeting was held in Karachi under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Communications, Law and Labour, Minister of Refugees and Resettlement, Minister of Food , Agriculture and Health and Minister of Interior, Information and Broadcasting were present. In the meeting, it was decided that Pakistan’s first Independence Day celebrations should be celebrated on August 14, 1948 instead of August 15, 1948.
Prime Minister Liaquat Ali told the cabinet that this decision is not final, he will bring the matter to the notice of the Governor General and any final decision will be after Jinnah’s approval.
The file in which this detail is recorded is number 196/CF/48 and case number 393/54/48. This file contains the text of the action recorded in English:
Translation: ‘The Honorable Prime Minister has taken the responsibility to convey the proposal to the Quaid-e-Azam that our Independence Day celebrations should be celebrated on August 14 instead of August 15.’
The file does not mention who was behind the proposal and what arguments were put forward in favor of celebrating Independence Day on 14th August instead of 15th. At the end of the proceedings it is written in brackets that ‘Quaid-e-Azam has approved the proposal.’
The file goes on and on the next pages it is written under Case No. 54/CM/48 dated 12 July 1948 with the signature of S. Usman Ali, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, that he was directed to attend the meeting under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister on 29 June 1948. Inform all the ministers and the respective secretaries of their ministries about the decision of the cabinet meeting held so that the implementation of this decision is possible.
The next order in the file is numbered 15/2/48 which was issued on 13 July 1948 and is signed by Ahmed Ali, Deputy Secretary to the Government of Pakistan.
The decree stated that the country’s first Independence Day celebrations would be celebrated on August 14, 1948. On this day, there will be a public holiday across the country and national flags will be hoisted on all government and public buildings.
In the same continuation there is another order signed by Muhammad Mukhtar, Assistant Secretary to the Government of Pakistan which is also numbered 15/2/48 and it also repeats the same order as contained in the previous order. However, what is additional is that with this decision, all ministries of the government of Pakistan, all divisions, Cabinet Secretary, Constituent Assembly, Private and Military Secretary of Quaid-e-Azam, Accountant General Pakistan Revenues, Auditor General of Pakistan and High Commissioner of Pakistan in India. should be informed.
The next order preserved on file was issued on 14 July 1948 and bears DO No. 390/CB/48. In this, Shujaat Usman Ali (Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet) has addressed the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Khan Bahadur Syed Ahmed Ali and informed him in this regard.
Translation: ‘My dear Ahmad Ali, a few days ago you inquired about the Cabinet’s decision to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14, whether this decision is for this year only or forever. taken I want to tell you clearly and confirm that not only this year but always in future this event will be celebrated on 14th August. I am sure you will inform everyone concerned of this decision.’
This cabinet decision was implemented and Pakistan’s first Independence Day celebrations were celebrated across the country on 14 August 1948. However, Dawn published its first Independence Day issue, which was published as a 100-page special supplement, on August 15 instead of August 14. One of the reasons for this could be that 15th August fell on a Sunday this year and was a very suitable day for the publication of a newspaper supplement.
This tradition of celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14 instead of August 15 continues till today and gradually it became established that Pakistan was not independent on August 15, 1947 but on August 14, 1947.
However, from the study of the above mentioned documents, it is largely determined that the first cabinet of Pakistan did not change the date of independence of Pakistan but only decided that Pakistan’s Independence Day should be celebrated on August 14 instead of August 15 every year. will be celebrated and Jinnah also endorsed this decision.
We believe that despite our research and the publication of this article, there will be no official difference in the date of Pakistan’s Independence Day, but the fact cannot be denied or changed that Pakistan’s Independence Day is 15 It is August 1947.