Byline: Kishwar Sultana
Early Career and Education
Liaquat Ali Khan was born on 1 October 1895. His father Nawab Rustam Ali Khan was one of the biggest landlords of the Punjab and the UP. His mother was Mahmoodah Begum who arranged for Liaquat's early Islamic education including Quran and Hadith. His father had great respect and regard for the services of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of Two-Nation theory in British India and founder of the Aligarh Muslim College. After schooling in his native town, he was admitted into the M.A.O.College, Aligarh in 1913 wherefrom he graduated in 1918 in Political Science and LL.B. His father died in 1919. In 1920 he was sent to England to get higher education at Exeter College, Oxford University where he earned Master in Law and Justice with a Bronze Medal by the College faculty in 1921, and Bar-at-Law from the Inner Temple, one of the four Law Colleges in London, in 1922. After completion of his studies he went on a tour to a number of European countries and returned to India in 1923.
During his student years both at Oxford and London, Liaquat actively participated in student's politics and even acted as Honorary Treasurer of the Muslim Society, London which devoted to the cause of Indian Muslim students in England. On return to his country he started his law practice as an Advocate of the Lahore High Court.1
Early Political Career
He entered politics in 1923 by joining the All India Muslim League.2 At the same in 1923 he contested election for a seat in the Punjab Legislative Assembly in which he was defeated. Then he shifted his attention to the UP where also he had his lands. When he joined the Muslim League, Jinnah was engaged in reviving the All India Muslim League which then had become a moribund organization. For this Jinnah, as President of the Party, had convened 15th session of the AIML at Lucknow on 31 March - 1 April 1923.3 On second day when Zahur Ahmed, Secretary of the Muslim League, noticed that despite the fact there were a large number of attendances in the session, "there was not the requisite number of bona fide members of the League", the President "adjourned the Session, sine die".4
This adjourned session was held in Lahore on 24-25 May 1924 which was attended by Liaquat Ali Khan.5 In the elections of 1926 he contested for a seat in the UP Legislative Assembly from Muz ffarnagar wherefrom he lucky enough to succeed and became member of the UP Legislative Assembly. Thus he was elected Member of the UP Legislative Assembly in 1926.Thereafter he was continuously elected as Member of the UP Legislative Council till 1947 when he was elected as Member of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Since 1932 Liaquat became Deputy Leader of the Muslim group in the UP Legislative Council and later became Leader of his UP Muslim League Parliamentarians.
Liaquat developed acquaintance with Jinnah, President of the Party in 1924 when he hosted a dinner party in honour of Jinnah's wife Ruttie Jinnah in Simla6. As a result of Delhi Muslim Proposals of 1927, the AIML became divided into two groups - Jinnah League and Shafi League. Liaquat decided to side with the Jinnah League. He only attended the sessions and meetings of the Jinnah League. The 20th Session of the All India Muslim League headed by Jinnah was held in Calcutta on 26-30 December 1928 presided over by Jinnah's close friend Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad.7 The Nehru Report of August 1928 had created an alarming situation for the Muslim India. Longest debates between the leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League were held for developing a consensus and resolution of Muslim issues. In this Liaquat sided with Jinnah.
For representing the Muslim League at the Conference Table with the Congress leaders, AIML in its session nominated a delegation of 23 member headed by Jinnah to discuss the Nehru Report with the Congress leaders. Liaquat was also included in this delegation.8 Jinnah was impressed by Liaquat's role in this dialogue. Liaquat was continuously elected member of the UP Legislative Council after every three years' tenure. In 1931 he was elected Deputy President of the UP Legislative Council by a vote of 53 to 49.9
When Jinnah along with his sister Fatima and daughter Dina decided to settle in London and had gone to England in 1930 and the Muslim India and the All India Muslim League became a divided house, Liaquat went to England along with his wife Ra'na Liaquat and met Jinnah along with his family in July 1933 at their Hampstead residence in London, and convinced him to return to India to save the Muslims from further division.10 Jinnah returned to India in December 1934.11
Liaquat thus became very close to Jinnah.
Services in strengthening the All India Muslim League 24th Session of the All India Muslim League was held in Bombay on 11-12 April 1936 presided over by Syed Wazir Hasan, former Chief Judge of the Oudh Chief Court.. Towards the end of this session a number of Resolutions were moved by Jinnah, regular President of All India Muslim League. One of them related to election of Liaquat as Honorary Secretary of the All India Muslim League which was approved unanimously. Thus Liaquat was elected Secretary for a term of three years which was further extended after every tenure.12 Liaquat functioned as the Honorary Secretary-General of the AIML from 1936 to 1947. Thus main burden of the organization of the Muslim League fell on the shoulders of Liaquat who worked day and night to make the party emerge as the most popular organization of the Muslim India.
Jinnah, being President of the Party, was engaged in other national matters of confronting various types of opposition to the very cause of the Muslim Nation. The challenges were great which are discussed later in this paper. The organization of the party was left to Liaquat who successfully worked to the entire confidence of President of the Party.
The organization of the Muslim League needed full coverage not only in the maintenance of the proceedings and records of the meetings of the Councils, Working Committees, Subject Committee, Annual Sessions and other committee meetings of the party, Liaquat's personal care for drafting and recording the proceedings of the party were found marvelous which we as historians do not see in case of the sessions and meetings of the party before 1936.13 The National Archives of Pakistan and Archives of the Freedom Movement are the best testimony for this.14 Even Shamsul Hassan Collections prove this reality.15
He strengthened the provincial branches of the Muslim League in the Provinces
Liaquat Ali Khan strengthened the cause of the Muslim League in various provinces. Because of his organizational efforts the Muslim League was popularized at the grass root level. The concern of the party leaders and that of Jinnah was to concentrate on the majority Muslim provinces like those of Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Sindh, NWFP (KPK), and Baluchistan because these provinces were going to form part of Pakistan demand. Here his services with reference to some of the provinces are mentioned. With reference to Bengal and Assam the task was entrusted to other leaders. In Sindh, the Muslim League had easily been popularized without much difficulty. In Baluchistan also the situation was favorable because of the efforts of Qazi Mohammad Isa, President of the Baluchistan Muslim League.
The most ticklish issue was with reference to the Punjab and NWFP (KPK) because of the special situation prevailing in these two provinces. Historically these two provinces were very important as they provided majority of the martial races heavily represented in the Indian Army. Not only throughout the history of the Muslim Rule in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, the soldiers and fighters of these two provinces played pivotal role in strengthening the cause of Muslim Power in the subcontinent, the British Power was also based on these soldiers. The soldiers of these two provinces represented majority of the Indian armed forces. Even in the World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) their courage and chivalry was tested and proved in majority of the war fronts in different regions and various parts of the world.
During the Pakistan Movement, the problem with these two provinces was that the Unionist Party headed by Malik Khizar Hayat Khan was in power. Khizar became Chief Minister of the Punjab after the death of Sikandar Hayat Khan in 1942. He continued to remain so until March 1947 when as a pressure from the anti-Khizar Movement successfully led by the Muslim League leaders he had to quit office.16 In strengthening the Muslim League for the cause of Pakistan, Liaquat, as Secretary-General of the party, played pivotal role. The same was the case with the NWFP (KPK). But the situation in this province was totally different because the Congress government headed by Dr. Khan Sahib was in power in 1946-1947.
As a result of the elections of 1946, Congress Ministry in NWFP was installed headed by Dr. Khan Sahib as the Chief Minister. The Muslim League did not accept this Ministry and it started the Civil Disobedience Movement against this Ministry on 20 February 1947. The Movement lasted until the announcement of 3 June 1947 Partition Plan by which a referendum was to be held in NWFP in order to chalk out a course of action of its inclusion in Pakistan or United India.17 Jinnah and Liaquat closely watched and controlled this movement and defended the issue before the Viceroy in a number of high level meetings.
For instance on 16 April a meeting in the Viceroy House Delhi was held presided over by Viceroy Lord Wavell18 and attended by Nehru, Liaquat, Sardar Baldav Singh, Field Marshal Sir C. Auchinlek, Sir Caroe, the Governor, Lord Ismay, Sir E Mieville, Abell, and Capt. Brockman. In this meeting Liaquat Ali Khan said that "the...