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The All-India Muslim League ( , ), founded at Dhakamarker, Bengalmarker, in 1906, was a political party in British India that played a role in the Indian independence movement and developed into the driving force behind the creation of Pakistanmarker as a Muslim state on the Indian subcontinent. After the independence of Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker, the League continued as a minor party in India, especially in Keralamarker, where it is often in government within a coalition with others. In Pakistan, the League formed the country's first government, but disintegrated during the 1950s following an army coup. One or more factions of the Muslim League have been in power in most of the civilian governments of Pakistan since 1947. In Bangladeshmarker, the party was revived in 1976 and won 14 seats in 1979 parliamentary election. Since then its importance has reduced, rendering it insignificant in the Pakistani political arena.


Muslim rule was established across northern India between the 8th and the 14th centuries. The Muslim Turkic Mughal Empire ruled most of India from Delhimarker from the early 16th century, but suffered a major decline in the 18th century. The decline of the Mughal empire and its successor states like Avadh led to a feeling of discontentment among Muslim elites . Muslims represented about 25-30% of the population of British India, and constituted the majority of the population in Baluchistanmarker, East Bengal, Kashmir valley, North-West Frontier Provincemarker, Punjab region, and the Sindhmarker region of the Bombay Presidency.

In the late 19th century an Indian nationalist movement developed with the Indian National Congress being founded in 1885 as a forum, that became a political party subsequently. The Congress made no conscious efforts to enlist the Muslim community in its struggle for Indian independence. Although some Muslims were active in the Congress, majority of Muslim leaders did not trust the Hindu predominance and most of the Muslims remained reluctant to join the Congress Party.

A turning point came in 1900 when the British administration in the largest Indian state, the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradeshmarker), acceded to Hindu demands and made Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, the official language. This seemed to aggravate Muslim fears that the Hindu majority would seek to suppress Muslim culture and religion in an independent India. A British official, Sir Percival Griffiths, wrote of these perceptions: "the Muslim belief that their interest must be regarded as completely separate from those of the Hindus, and that no fusion of the two communities was possible."


The founding meeting of the League was held on 30 December 1906 at the occasion of the annual All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Shahbaghmarker, Dhaka that was hosted by Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah. The meeting was attended by three thousand delegates and presided over by Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk.

Early years

Sir Aga Khan was appointed the first Honorary President of the Muslim League. The headquarters were established at Lucknowmarker. There were also six vice-presidents, a secretary and two joint secretaries initially appointed for a three-years term, proportionately from different provinces. The principles of the League were espoused in the "Green Book," which included the organisation's constitution, written by Maulana Mohammad Ali. Its goals at this stage did not include establishing an independent Muslim state, but rather concentrated on protecting Muslim liberties and rights, promoting understanding between the Muslim community and other Indians, educating the Muslim and Indian community at large on the actions of the government, and discouraging violence.

The search for a solution

Jinnah became disillusioned with politics after the failure of his attempt to form a Hindu-Muslim alliance, and he spent most of the 1920s in Britain. The leadership of the League was taken over by Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who in 1930 first put forward the demand for a separate Muslim state in India. The "Two-Nation Theory," the belief that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations who could not live in one country, gained popularity among Muslims. The two-state solution was rejected by the Congress leaders, who favoured a united India based on composite national identity. Iqbal's policy of uniting the North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Sindh into a new Muslim majority state united the many factions of the League.

The League, however, rejected the proposal that the committee returned (called the Nehru Report), arguing that it gave too little representation (one quarter) to Muslims, established Devanagari as the official language of the colony, and demanded that India turn into a de facto unitary state, with residuary powers resting at the center – the League had demanded at least one-third representation in the legislature and sizeable autonomy for the Muslim provinces. Jinnah reported a "parting of the ways" after his requests for minor amendments to the proposal were denied outright, and relations between the Congress and the League began to sour.

Campaign for Pakistan

Muslim League Working Committee at the Lahore session
At a League conference in Lahoremarker in 1940, Jinnah said: "Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature... It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes... To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state."

At Lahore the League formally recommitted itself to creating an independent Muslim state called Pakistanmarker, including Sindh, Punjab,Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and Bengal, that would be "wholly autonomous and sovereign." The resolution guaranteed protection for non-Muslim religions. The Lahore Resolution was adopted on March 23 1940, and its principles formed the foundation for Pakistan's first constitution. Talks between Jinnah and Gandhi in 1944 in Bombaymarker failed to achieve agreement. This was the last attempt to reach a single-state solution.

Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman seconding the Resolution with Jinnah presiding the session.
In the 1940s, Jinnah emerged as a leader of the Indian Muslims and was popularly known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader). In the Constituent Assembly elections of 1946, the League won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan, and with an implied threat of secession if this was not granted. Gandhi, Maulana Azad and Nehru, who with the election of another Labour government in Britain in 1945 saw independence within reach, were adamantly opposed to dividing India.

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