In 1940 at the Lahore session of the Muslim League, the demand for a separate state of Pakistan was made. It was based on the two-nation theory. The Muslim League demanded that 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.
The demand for a separate state was opposed by large sections of Muslims who were against any separatist demand. Many nationalist leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who had always been in the forefront of the national movement opposed the demand for a separate state and fought against communal tendencies and for the freedom of the Indian people. Of these the more prominent were the Khuda Khidmatgar in the North-West Frontier Province organized by the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Watan party in Baluchistan, the All-India Momin Conference, the Ahrar Party, the All India Shia Political Conference and the Azad Muslim Conference. These organizations along with Congress led a large number of Muslims in the struggle for independence.
The Muslim League was encouraged by the British government to press its demand for a separate state and played the game of British imperialism which had the effect of disrupting and weakening the movement for independence. When the Congress withdrew from the provincial governments in protest against British attitude to the demand for independence, the Muslim League celebrated the event by observing Deliverance Day and tried to form ministries in the provinces although they did not have a majority in the any provincial legislature.