Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan (Næʍābzādāh Liāqat Alī Khān About this sound listen (help·info),Urdu: لِیاقت علی خان ; born October 1895 – 16 October 1951), widely known as Quaid-e-Millat (Leader of the Nation) and Shaheed-e-Millat (Urdu: شہِیدِ مِلّت Martyr of the Nation), was one of the leading founding fathers of Pakistan, statesman, lawyer, and political theorist who became and served as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan; in addition, he also held cabinet portfolio as the first foreign, defence, and the frontier regions minister from 1947 until his assassination in 1951. Prior to his assassination, Khan briefly tenured as the first finance minister in the interim government led by its Governor General Mountbatten.
He was born into an influential aristocratic Muslim family in Karnal, Eastern Punjab on 1 October 1895. Ali Khan was educated at the Aligarh Muslim University in India, and then at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Well-educated, he was a democratic political theorist who promoted parliamentarism in India. After first being invited by the Congress Party, he opted for the Muslim League led by influential Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was advocating the eradication of the injustices and ill-treatment meted out to Indian Muslims by the British government. He pursued his role in the independence movements of India and Pakistan, while serving as the first Finance Minister in the interim government of British Indian Empire, prior to the independence and partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.Ali Khan assisted Jinnah in campaigning for the creation of a separate state for Indian Muslims.
Ali Khan’s credentials secured him the appointment of Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Ali Khan’s foreign policy sided with the United States and the West, though his foreign policy was determined to be a part of the Non Aligned Movement. Facing internal political unrest, his government survived a coup hatched by the leftists and communists. Nonetheless, his influence grew further after Jinnah’s death, and he was responsible for promulgating the Objectives Resolution. In 1951, at a political rally in Rawalpindi, Ali Khan was assassinated by a hired assassin, Said Babrak
Family Background and Education
Liaquat Ali Khan was into an aristocrat Muslim family in Karnal, Punjab Province, British India, which is now in the Indian state of Haryana, on 1 October 1895. The origin of his family is described as Punjabi, however his family had adopted the Urdu language, and he was a native Urdu speaker. His family belonged to the prominent Muslim Rajput Mandal tribe (sometimes pronounced Marhal). One of their origin stories claims descent from a descendant of the ancient Iranian King Naushirwan who settled in Samana (Punjab), and thus sometimes referred to themselves as Mandal Nausherwani.
War with India
Main article: Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Soon after appointing a new government, Pakistan started a war with India over on Kashmir conflict in 1947–48. The British commander of Pakistan Army General Sir Frank Walter Messervy, KCB, KCIE, CB, CBE, DSO, MC refused to send the army units, General Douglas Gracey was appointed the commander in chief of Pakistan Army, Liaquat Ali Khan ordered the independent units of the Pakistan Army to intervene in the conflict. On Kashmir issue, Khan and Jinnah’s policy reflected “Pakistan’s alliance with U.S and United Kingdom” against the “Indian imperialism” and “Soviet expansion”. However, it is revealed by historians that differences and disagreement with Jinnah arose over the Kashmir issue. Jinnah’s strategy to liberate Kashmir was to use military force. Thus, Jinnah’s strategy was to “kill two birds with one stone”, namely decapitate India by controlling Kashmir, and to find a domestic solution through foreign and military intervention.
On Khan’s personal accounts and views, the prime minister preferred a “harder diplomatic” and “less military stance”. The prime minister sought a dialogue with his counterpart, and agreed to resolve the dispute of Kashmir in a peaceful manner through the efforts of the United Nations. According to this agreement a ceasefire was effected in Kashmir on 1 January 1949. It was decided that a free and impartial plebiscite would be held under the supervision of the UN. The prime minister’s diplomatic stance was met with hostility by the Pakistan Armed Forces and the socialists and communists, notably the mid-higher level command who would later sponsored an alleged coup led by the communists and socialists against his government
His father, Nawab Rustam Ali Khan, possessed the titles of Rukun-al-Daulah, Shamsher Jang and Nawab Bahadur, by the local population and the British Government who had wide respect for his family. The Ali Khan family was one of the few landlords whose property (300 villages in total including the jagir of 60 villages in Karnal) expanded across both eastern Punjab and Muzaffarnagar the United Provinces. Both of his parents, Nawab Rustam Ali Khan and Mahmoodah Begum are buried at their princely family compound located outside Karnal, Haryana, India. Liaquat Ali Khan’s former personal residence is located at Jansath Tehsil of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh about 80 km from his ancestral estate and is now being considered by the Uttar Pradesh government to be opened as a tourist destination. The family owed its pre-eminence to timely support given by Liaqat’s grandfather Nawab Ahmed Ali Khan of Karnal to British army during 1857 rebellion (source-Lepel Griffin’s Punjab Chiefs Volume One). Liaquat Ali Khan’s mother, Mahmoodah Begum, arranged for his lessons in the Qur’an and Ahadith at home before his formal schooling started. His family had strong ties with the British Government.
His family had deep respect for the Indian Muslim thinker and philosopher Syed Ahmad Khan, and his father had a desire for the young Liaqat Ali Khan to be educated in the British educational system; therefore, his family sent Ali Khan to the famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), where he obtained degrees in law and political science.
In 1913, Ali Khan attended the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (now Aligarh Muslim University), graduating with a BSc degree in Political science and LLB in 1918, and married his cousin, Jehangira Begum, also in 1918. After the death of his father in 1919, Ali Khan, with British Government awarding the grants and scholarship, went to England, attending Oxford University’s Exeter College to pursue his higher education. In 1921, Ali Khan was awarded the Master of Law in Law and Justice, by the college faculty who also conferred on him a Bronze Medallion. While a graduate student at Oxford, Ali Khan actively participated in student unions and was elected Honorary Treasurer of the Majlis Society— a student union founded by Indian Muslim students to promote the Indian students’ rights at the university. Thereafter, Ali Khan was called to join the Inner Temple, one of the Inns of Court in London. He was called to the Bar in 1922 by one of his English law professor, and starting his practices in law as an advocate.
Political activism in British India
Ali Khan returned to his homeland India in 1923, entering in national politics, determining to eradicate to what he saw as the injustice and ill-treatment of Indian Muslims under the British Indian Government and the British Government. His political philosophy strongly emphasis a united India, first gradually believing in the Indian nationalism. The Congress leadership approached to Ali Khan to become a part of the party, but after attending the meeting with Jawaharlal Nehru, Ali Khan’s political views and ambitions gradually changed. Therefore, Ali Khan refused, informing the Congress Party about his decision, and instead joining the All-India Muslim League|Muslim League in 1923, led under another lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Soon Jinnah called for an annual session meeting in May 1924, in Lahore, where the goals, boundaries, party programmes, vision, and revival of the League, was an initial party agenda and, was carefully discussed at the Lahore caucus. At this meeting, Khan was among those who attended this conference, and recommending the new goals for the party.
United Province legislation
Ali Khan initially compaigned in the 1926 elections from the rural Muslim constituency of Muzzaffarnagar for the provisional legislative council. Ali Khan won the elections with unanimously and with heavy margin, whilst there were no opponents that campaign against him. After taking the oath, Ali Khan embarked his parliamentary career, representing the United Provinces at the Legislative Council in 1926. In 1932, he was unanimously elected Deputy President of UP Legislative Council.
During this time, Ali Khan intensified his support in Muslim dominated populations, often raising the problems and challenges faced by the Muslim communities in the United Province. Ali Khan joined hands with academician Sir Ziauddin Ahmed, taking to organize the Muslim students communities into one student union, advocating for the provisional rights of the Muslim state. His strong advocacy for Muslims rights had brought him into national prominence and significant respect was also gained from Hindu communities whom he also fought for them at higher hierarchy of the government. Ali Khan remained the elected member of the UP Legislative Council until 1940, when he was proceeded to elect to the Central Legislative Assembly; he participated actively, and was the influential member in legislative affairs, where his recommendations would also noted by other members.
In his parliamentary career, Ali Khan established his reputation as “eloquent principled and honest spokesman” who would never compromised on his principles even in the face of severe odds. Ali Khan, on several occasions, used his influence and good offices for the liquidation of communal tension and bitterness.
Allying with Muslim League
Ali Khan rose to become one of the influential members of the Muslim League, and was one of the central figure in the Muslim League delegation that attended the National Convention held at Calcutta. Earlier the British Government had formed the Simon Commission to recommend the constitutional and territorial reforms to the British Government. he commission, compromising the seven British Members of Parliament, headed under its Chairman Sir John Simon, met briefly with Congress Party and Muslim League leaders. The commission had introduced the system of dyarchy to govern the provinces of British India, but these revision met with harsh critic and clamoured by the Indian public. Motilal Nehru presented his Nehru Report to counter British charges. In 1928, Ali Khan and Jinnah decided to discuss the Nehru Report in December 1928. In 1930, Ali Khan and Jinnah attended the First Round Table Conference, but it ended in disaster, leading Jinnah to depart from British India to Great Britain. During this meantime, Ali Khan’s second marriage took place in December 1932. His wife, Begum Ra’ana, was a prominent economist and an educator. She, too, was an influential figure in the Pakistan movement.
Ali Khan firmed believed in the unity of Hindu-Muslim community, and worked tirelessly for that cause. In his party presidential address delivered at the Provisional Muslim Education Conference at AMU in 1932, Ali Khan expressed the view that Muslims had “distinct [c]ulture of their own and had the (every) right to persevere it”. At this conference, Liaquat Ali Khan announced that:
But, days of rapid communalism, in this country (British India) are numbered.., and we shall ere witnessed long the united Hindu-Muslim India anxious to persevere and maintain all that rich and valuable heritage which the contact of two great cultures bequeathed us. We all believe in the great destiny of our common motherland to achieve which common assets are but invaluable….
— Liaquat Ali Khan, addressing the students and academicians in 1932,
Soon, Ali Khan and his wife departed to England, but did not terminate his connections with the Muslim League. With Ali Khan departing, the Muslim League’s parliamentary wing disintegrated, with many Muslim members joining the either Democratic Party, originally organized by Ali Khan in 1930, and the Congress Party. At the deputation in England, Ali Khan made close study of organizing the political parties, and would soon return to his country with Jinnah.
In 1930, Jinnah urged Prime minister Ramsay MacDonald and his Viceroy Lord Irwin to convene a Round Table Conferences in London. In spite of what Jinnah was expecting, the conference was a complete failure, forcing Jinnah to retire from national politics and permanently settlein London and practise law before the Privy Council.[page needed]
During this time, Liaquat Ali Khan and his wife joined Jinnah, with Ali Khan practising economic law and his wife joining the faculty of economics at the local college. Ali Khan and his wife spent most of their time convincing Jinnah to return to British India to unite the scattered Muslim League mass into one full force. Meanwhile, Choudhry Rahmat Ali coined the “Pakstan term in his famous pamphlet Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?. With Rehmat Ali and Mohammad Iqbal (who would also take him in confidence of seeing a vision in his dream of a separate Muslim state).
Main articles: Pakistan Movement, Indian independence movement, and Pakistan Resolution
When Muhammad Ali Jinnah returned to India, he started to reorganise the Muslim League. In 1936, the annual session of the League met in Bombay (now Mumbai). In the open session on 12 April 1936, Jinnah moved a resolution proposing Khan as the Honorary General Secretary. The resolution was unanimously adopted and he held the office till the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. In 1940, Khan was made the deputy leader of the Muslim League Parliamentary party. Jinnah was not able to take active part in the proceedings of the Assembly on account of his heavy political work. It was Khan who stood in his place. During this period, Khan was also the Honorary General Secretary of the Muslim League, the deputy leader of their party, Convenor of the Action Committee of the Muslim League, Chairman of the Central Parliamentary Board and the managing director of the newspaper Dawn.
Liquat Ali Khan (second left, first row) and wife, Sheila Irene Pant (far right, first row), meeting with the Nawab of Amb in 1948.
The Pakistan Resolution was adopted in 1940 at the Lahore session of the Muslim League. The same year elections were held for the central legislative assembly which were contested by Khan from the Barielly constituency. He was elected without contest. When the twenty-eighth session of the League met in Madras (now Chennai) on 12 April 1941, Jinnah told party members that the ultimate aim was to obtain Pakistan. In this session, Khan moved a resolution incorporating the objectives of the Pakistan Resolution in the aims and objectives of the Muslim League. The resolution was seconded and passed unanimously.
In 1945–46, mass elections were held in India and Khan won the Central Legislature election from the Meerut Constituency in the United Provinces. He was also elected Chairman of the League’s Central Parliamentary Board. The Muslim League won 87% of seats reserved for Muslims of British India. He assisted Jinnah in his negotiations with the members of the Cabinet Mission and the leaders of the Congress during the final phases of the Freedom Movement and it was decided that an interim government would be formed consisting of members of the Congress, the Muslim League and minority leaders. When the Government asked the Muslim League to send five nominees for representation in the interim government, Khan was asked to lead the League group in the cabinet. He was given the portfolio of finance. The other four men nominated by the League were Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar, Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Abdur Rab Nishtar, and Jogendra Nath Mandal. By this point, the British government and the Indian National Congress had both accepted the idea of Pakistan and therefore on 14 August 1947, Pakistan came into existence.