The main Independence Day ceremony takes place in Islamabad, where the national flag is hoisted at the Presidential and Parliament buildings. It is followed by the national anthem and live televised speeches by leaders. Usual celebratory events and festivities for the day include flag-raising ceremonies, parades, cultural events, and the playing of patriotic songs. A number of award ceremonies are often held on this day, and Pakistanis hoist the national flag atop their homes or display it prominently on their vehicles and attire.
Jinnah chairing a session in Muslim League general session, where Pakistan Resolution was passed.
Cover of a press release; "Independence Anniversary Series" by the Press Information Department of Pakistan, in 1948 in relation to the country's first independence day which was celebrated on 15 August 1948.
The period after World War I was marked by British reforms such as the Montagu-ford Reforms, but it also witnessed the enactment of the repressive Rowlatt Act and strident calls for self-rule by Indian activists. The widespread discontent of this period crystallized into nationwide non-violent movements of non-cooperation and civil disobedience. The idea for a separate Muslim state in the northwest regions of South Asia was introduced by Allama Iqbal in his speech as the President of the Muslim League in December 1930. Three years later, the name of "Pakistan" as a separate state was proposed in a declaration made by Chaudhary Rahmat Ali, in the form of an acronym. It was to comprise the five "northern units" of Punjab, Afghania (erstwhile North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan. Like Iqbal, Bengal was left out of the proposal made by Rehmat Ali.
In the 1940s, as the Indian independence movement intensified, an upsurge of Muslim nationalism helmed by the All-India Muslim League took place, of which Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the most prominent leader.:195–203 Being a political party to secure the interests of the Muslim diaspora in British India, the Muslim League played a decisive role during the 1940s in the Indian independence movement and developed into the driving force behind the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state in South Asia. During a three-day general session of All-India Muslim League from 22–24 March 1940, a formal political statement was presented, known as the Lahore Resolution, which called on for the creation of an independent state for Muslims. In 1956, 23 March also became the date on which Pakistan transitioned from a dominion to a republic, and is known as Pakistan Day.
In 1946, the Labour government in Britain, exhausted by recent events such as World War II and numerous riots, realized that it had neither the mandate at home, the support internationally, nor the reliability of the British Indian Army for continuing to control an increasingly restless British India. The reliability of the native forces for continuing their control over an increasingly rebellious India diminished, and so the government decided to end the British rule of the Indian Subcontinent.:167, 203 In 1946, the Indian National Congress, being a secular party, demanded a single state. The Muslim majorities, who disagreed with the idea of single state, stressed the idea of a separate Pakistan as an alternative.:203 The 1946 Cabinet Mission to India was sent to try to reach a compromise between Congress and the Muslim League, proposing a decentralized state with much power given to local governments, but it was rejected by both of the parties and resulted in a number of riots in South Asia.
Eventually, in February 1947, Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that the British government would grant full self-governance to British India by June 1948 at the latest. On 3 June 1947, the British government announced that the principle of division of British India into two independent states was accepted. The successor governments would be given dominion status and would have an implicit right to secede from the British Commonwealth. ViceroyMountbatten chose 15 August, the second anniversary of Japan's surrender in the World War II, as the date of power transfer. He chose 14 August as the date of the ceremony of power transfer to Pakistan because he wanted to attend the ceremonies in both India and Pakistan.
Since the transfer of power took place on the midnight of 14 and 15 August, the Indian Independence Act 1947 recognized 15 August as the birthday of both Pakistan and India. The act states;
As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan.
Jinnah in his first broadcast to the nation stated;
August 15 is the birthday of the independent and sovereign state of Pakistan. It marks the fulfillment of the destiny of the Muslim nation which made great sacrifices in the past few years to have its homeland.
The first commemorative postage stamps of the country, released in July 1948, also gave 15 August 1947 as the independence day, however in subsequent years 14 August was adopted as the independence day. This is 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. The night of 14–15 August 1947 coincided with 27 Ramadan 1366 of the Islamic calendar, which Muslims regard as a sacred night.