When is Pakistani Independence Day? History, traditions and how is it celebrated

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Pakistan gained independence in 1947

Every 14 August is Pakistani Independence Day. This date commemorates when Pakistan gained independence following the end of the British Raj. 

The day is filled with a wide range of celebrations, such as hoisting flags, singing patriotic songs and an endless stream of entertainment and cultural programmes. 

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But what is the history behind Pakistani independence day? Here is what you need to know. 

A man waves Pakistan's national flag as he rides a bike in Islamabad on August, 14, 2023, celebrating the country's Independence Day. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)A man waves Pakistan's national flag as he rides a bike in Islamabad on August, 14, 2023, celebrating the country's Independence Day. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)
A man waves Pakistan's national flag as he rides a bike in Islamabad on August, 14, 2023, celebrating the country's Independence Day. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images) | Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

When is Pakistani Independence Day? 

Pakistani Independence Day is an annual event that falls on 14 August. It first came into existence due to the Pakistan Movement - which aimed for the creation of an independent Muslim state. 

Pakistan achieved independence and was declared a sovereign state in 1947 after previously being a part of India - which was under the British Indian Empire. 

Who led the Pakistan movement? 

The concept of a separate Muslim state, located in the northwest regions of South Asia, was first introduced by Allama Iqbal - a philosopher, scholar and politician - when he was the President of the Muslim League in December 1930. 

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During the 1940s, the Indian independence movement gained momentum. Alongside, there was an upsurge of Muslim nationalism by the All-India Muslim League - where Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the most prominent leader.

In a three-day general session of the All-India Muslim League, from 22–24 March 1940, a formal political statement was presented, known as the Lahore Resolution - the creation of an independent state for Muslims.

How did Pakistan gain its independence? 

After the second world war, the Labour government realised it did not have the mandate at home, nor the support to control British India as it rebelled. This led to the decision that the government would end British rule on the Indian subcontinent. 

The Indian National Congress wanted a single state. The All India Muslim League disagreed with the idea of a single state and wanted Pakistan as an alternative.

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After the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India tried to reach a compromise between Congress and the Muslim League - by proposing a decentralised state with much power given to local governments - riots broke out after both parties rejected the idea. 

On 3 June 1947, the British government announced British India will be separated into two independent states. The successor governments would be given dominion status and have the right to withdraw from the British Commonwealth. 

Viceroy Mountbatten chose 15 August, the second anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, as the date of power transfer.

He chose 14 August as the date of the ceremony of the power transfer to Pakistan because he wanted to attend the ceremonies in both India and Pakistan. 

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On 14 August 1947, the new Dominion of Pakistan became independent and Muhammad Ali Jinnah was sworn in as its first governor general in Karachi.

Independence Day was first recognised on 15 August, as the transfer of power took place on the midnight of 14 and 15 August. 

However, 14 August was adopted as the independence day because Mountbatten administered the independence oath to Jinnah on the 14th, before leaving for India where the oath was scheduled on the midnight of the 15th. 

Why is it called Pakistan? 

"Pakistan" was named so in a declaration made by nationalist Chaudhary Rahmat Ali. The name is an acronym. It comprises the five "northern units" of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan

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The partition 

Due to the separation of the new states, the partition saw nearly 15 million people displaced by religious violence. Millions of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu refugees travelled to the newly drawn borders of Pakistan and India in the months surrounding independence.

How is Pakistani Independence Day celebrated? 

The independence day is one of the six public holidays observed in Pakistan and is celebrated all across the country. As August begins, national flags adorn the country. 

Public organisations, educational institutions, and government departments arrange for seminars, sports competitions, and social and cultural activities leading up to the independence day. 

The day itself sees official festivities take place in Islamabad and begin with the raising of the national flag on the Parliament House and the Presidency followed by a 31-gun salute in the capital and a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals.

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The President and Prime Minister of Pakistan address the nation in live telecasts and government officials, political leaders and celebrities deliver messages or speeches during rallies, ceremonies and events, highlighting Pakistani achievements, and goals set for the future, and praising the sacrifices and efforts of national heroes. 

The day sees a community get-together to celebrate this whole country, with friends and family dining over authentic food, and meeting for public functions including elaborate firework shows, street parades, seminars, televised transmissions, music and poetry contests. 

The Pakistani diaspora also organises cultural events and public parades are held in cities with large Pakistani populations, such as New York, London and Dubai.

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