The Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore (1968) like the Statue of Liberty, USA (a symbol for abolition of slavery) represents anti-colonial political struggle of Muslims of the subcontinent for creation of a new independent state on map of the world.
Minar-e-Pakistan, also translated as ‘Tower of Pakistan’ and ‘Minaret of Pakistan’, was built to commemorate Pakistan Resolution (Lahore Resolution) 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 the creation of a separate state –Pakistan- for the Muslims of Northeast and Northwest territories under the British India.
March 23, 1940 is an epoch-making day when the Muslims of India embarked on a journey for a separate homeland by rejecting the idea of a united India and enslaved Muslims.
This day served as a true testament to the vision of Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal, 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 – now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) after independence, Sindh and Baluchistan 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”.
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 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 hope for a glorious future for the nascent nation in its structure.
Built, between 23rd March 1960 and October 1968, at the Greater Iqbal Park to commemorate 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 meter (203 feet) in height with eight meter base from which emanate the eight flower-petals which culminate at the top with a steel dome and a pinnacle. Minar e Pakistan was designed by Pakistani-Russian architect Naserddin Murat Khan (1904-70) who also designed Gaddafi stadium, Lahore and other buildings but he never charged a penny for Minar e Pakistan.
Different types of marble and concrete have been used in the construction of the minaret and according to historians, 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 minaret 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 top most platform of the monument.
The unfolding flower-petals represent happiness and abundance besides symbolizing wealth, fortune and prosperity which the independent state of Pakistan promised to its inhabitants. The flowers also symbolize purity and the literal meanings of the word ‘Pakistan’ mean ‘Land of the Pure’.
Within the base of the minaret and between the unfolding flower-petals, there stand ten marble slabs of seven feet height and two feet width with inscriptions of Quranic verses, sayings of Quaid-i-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 renowned archaeologist and Director Conservation at the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) Najamus Saqib, the monument is designed on the pattern of a minaret which is an important feature of a mosque. He said the monument is Islamic in spirit as dome and minaret are symbols of Islamic civilization.
Minar-e-Pakistan faces the Historic Badshahi mosque- built by Moghul emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1673- and it 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, Prof (Retd) Mazhar Moeen of Punjab University said, “it is significant that the Minar-e-Pakistan has an onion-shaped dome and a pinnacle at the top – this type of dome was popularized by the Moghuls in the South Asia and is known as the Arabic architectural style of dome.”
The small dome reminds the onlookers that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan exists under the shadow of Allah Almighty. The dome represents perfection, eternity and the heaven besides it conveys that sovereignty belongs to Allah Almighty.
Renowned archaeologist Saif ur Rehman said he knew the architect personally and he was an idealist, adding that the structure of the monument needed to be viewed deeply. “It is not a minaret only and if one takes an aerial view of the Minar e Pakistan, the architecture presents an image of a star and a crescent besides a flower”, he observed.
About certain objections on its structure, Saif ur Rehman said the detractors did not spare the National Anthem and raised objections which died down gradually, adding that every creator has its own view of things and Minar e Pakistan presented a unified whole and the oneness of God in its symmetrical shape.
“Minar e Pakistan is a living monument and it is wrong to call it a memorial as it signifies the continuity of the struggle of a living nation which is destined to live by the grace of Allah Almighty”, the archaeologist remarked.
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.
About the political vision of the Pakistan Resolution – in commemoration of which Minar e Pakistan was constructed – he said, in the current political scenario of Hindustan where Muslims were being subjected to a near genocide to make India a Hindu state by the Indian government of Bhartiya Janta Patry (BJP) government’s Narendra Modi, the students of political science and Indian history did not need any explanation to justify Muslim demand at the beginning of the 20th century but the actions of the Hindu rulers of India today were self-explanatory for the students, adding that the Indian actions have proved conclusively how justified the Muslims leaders like Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and others were in their struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of Hindustan.
However, the eminent archaeologist recorded his reservations on the ‘re-planning of Minto Park’ and inclusion of Minar e Pakistan in the Greater Iqbal Park, adding that the construction of the park had diminished the grandeur and importance of the historic piece of architecture as the focus was no more on the Minar e Pakistan but on other minor attractions like the restaurants and the lawns.
He stressed the need of introducing the youth to the greatest event in the recent history as Minar e Pakistan was an expression of the sanctity of the historic event like Pakistan Resolution. “Selection of the site for the construction of the Minar e Pakistan was also important as the Minto Park was used as a Parade Ground by the English rulers and the same piece of land was used to depict victory of the struggle of the Muslims against the Hindu mechanists and the English colonists”, Saif ur Rehman added.
Saif ur Rehman said that the entry points of the Greater Iqbal Park should be re-thought so that the visitors could have direct interaction with this specimen of history – Minar e Pakistan, adding that guided tours of the site should also be arranged to educate the youth and preserve the link between the past and the present.
The renowned archaeologist was of the view that Minar e Pakistan embodied the glorious history of Pakistan movement and was a living tribute to all those who sacrificed their present for the future of their children in the face of a clever enemy.
Faqir Syed Ejaz ud Din said Minar e Pakistan was an expression of the determination of the desire of the Muslims of the sub-continent to wage struggle for a separate homeland, adding that it commemorated the Lahore resolution.
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-i-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.