Lahore Commonwealth Walkway

Pakistan / Asia

PAKISTAN Pakistan has been an independent country since 1947, following India’s independence.  There had been a proposal for a separate Muslim homeland as early as 1930, with Chaurdhri Rahmat Ali coining the name ‘Pakistan’ meaning ‘Land of the Pure’.  In 1940 Jinnah rejected British proposals for autonomous Muslim regions and passed the Lahore or Pakistan resolution, essentially demanding a separate Muslim state.  There was a direct action day on 16 August 1946 with riots in Calcutta, while Jinnah refused to cooperate with Nehru.  Lord Mountbatten became Viceroy of India in February 1947 and announced that Independence would come in June 1948.  He realised that a separate state was inevitable, and he advanced the hand-over date to 14 August 1947.  Sir Cyril Radcliffe created the Radcliffe Line dividing the sub-continent into two.   Muslims fled west and Hindus and Sikhs fled east.  There was a lot of political unrest, and many died.  Jinnah became Pakistan’s first Governor-General but died in September 1948.  He was succeeded by Liaquat Ali Khan but he was assassinated three years later.  A constitution was finalised in 1956 under President Iskander Mirza but abolished in 1958.  Since then there has been more or less a state of martial law.  General Muhammad Ayub Khan was a powerful President.  There have been wars with India, economic problems, and many political crises.  In 1969 Ayub Khan gave way to his Commander-in-Chief, General Yahya Khan.  IN 1972 he was replaced by Z. A. Bhutto, and he, in turn, was deposed by General Zia, convicted on trumped-up charges and hanged in 1979.  His daughter, Benazir Bhutto won elections in 1988 and at the age of 36, became the first-ever elected woman Prime Minister of a Muslim country.  LAHORE Lahore is the cultural, educational and artistic capital.  It is also the most visited of all Pakistan’s cities.  It has been the capital of Punjab for over 1,000 years and was the centre of the Moghul Empire.  It has many beautiful palaces, gardens and monuments from that era.  Located in the middle of an important trading route between the sub-continent and Central Asia, it has been captured many times and frequently destroyed and rebuilt.  It passed under the rule of many rival dynasties over the centuries.  The presence of the Moghul Emperors, Akbar the Great (1542-1605), Jahangir (1569-1627), Shah Jahan (1592-1666) and Aurangzeb (1618-1707) can still be detected here.  They held court here and founded many famous buildings and gardens.  The British captured it in 1846 and erected buildings in a style between Moghul and Gothic.  Lahore remains, as one writer put it: ‘a nursery of poets, the intellectual and cultural heart of Pakistan.’

7.9 miles / 12.7 kilometres

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