If Muhammed Ali Jinnah was the designer of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan was its architect.”
Pakistan was deprived of both its founding fathers in the first few years of its inception. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah sacrificed his life, because he was suffering from a terminal disease, which he ignored at the peril of his life because it was a race against time.
Throughout the struggle for Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan had followed the advice and guidance of the Quaid likewise Mr. Jinnah had been dependent on the steadfast companionship of his most trusted lieutenant Liaquat Ali Khan.
Scrupulously honest, incorruptible, humble, astute statesman and firm disciplinarian Liaquat had numerous friends and admirers but also many detractors who had either personal scores to settle or became pawns of the enemies of Pakistan, who wanted to stifle Pakistan’s growth.
On 16 October 1951, the Quaid-e-Millat Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, was gunned down by a hired assassin, while he was about to commence his address to a public gathering in Rawalpindi. As he fell, reciting the Kalima, his final words were “(God save Pakistan). This was the first political murder in the nascent history of Pakistan and by no means the last, but it definitely changed the course of history.
The death anniversary of this founding father passes unheralded and unobserved. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, the second son of Nawab RustamAli Khan, Ruken-ud-Daulah, Shamsher Jang, Nawab Bahadur was one of the few landlords whose landed property was spread in two Provinces of India; Punjab UP.
For serving Pakistan, he donated his entire property and wealth for the cause of Pakistan. He had left behind vast estates in India, but never claimed even an inch of land in Pakistan. He also donated his palatial house in New Delhi to the Government of Pakistan, to be used as the Chancery building and later as the official residence of the High Commissioner of Pakistan to India
Pakistan’s successive political leaders need to learn lessons from this great man. His contributions are numerous. After the failure of the series of Round Table Conferences, disgruntled by the infighting and squabbles of the Muslim leaders, Quaid-i-Azam chose to go back to England in self-exile.
Realizing that the only leader who could unite the Muslims and lead them to their destiny was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan took it upon himself to persuade him to return to India. The rest is history.
Liaquat Ali Khan won the Central Legislature election in1945-46 from the Meerut Constituency in U.P. in a dramatic sweep. He was given the portfolio of finance, which he handled brilliantly. He presented a poor man’s budget, formulating it on sound economic and national foundations.
He tasked the Central Bank of India to have currency notes printed and deposited in banks in Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Lahore and Dhaka. After 14 August 1947, especially when India withheld Pakistan’s share of the finances, these deposits came in handy for the cash strapped nation in meeting some of its expenses and disbursing the salaries of government servants.
Liaquat Ali khan said first the five million people of Pakistan have to be settled. Once each and every one has been settled, only then my turn will come. It is a fact that within year, Liaquat was dead. He had left behind vast estates in India, but never claimed even an inch of land in Pakistan. He also donated his palatial house in New Delhi to the Government of Pakistan, to be used as the Chancery building and later as the official residence of the High Commissioner of Pakistan to India.
When he died, his bank account comprised only a few hundred rupees. When his mortal remains were taken to the hospital, it was discovered that his socks and vest had holes in them; both the sleeves of his sherwani were darned at the elbows. After his death, his widow had to take up a government job to support herself and her two sons.
He joined the Muslim League and soon became closely associated with Jinnah. By degrees he won first the respect and then the admiration of the Muslim community for his share in the struggle for Pakistan; when independence was won in 1947 and Jinnah became the first governor-general, Liaquat was the obvious choice as prime minister. In this post his achievements were outstanding. If Jinnah founded Pakistan, Liaquat established it, laying down the main lines of policy, domestic and foreign, that afterward guided the country.
After Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan has been the most influential politician in Pakistan’s history. In 1943, Jinnah called him “my right hand” and he was. A loyal supporter of Jinnah since 1928, he was appointed by the Quaid as general-secretary of the All-India Muslim League in 1936.
He was also finance member in the interim government of the still-united India between 1946 and 1947. For all these reasons and more, Jinnah appointed him as Pakistan’s first prime minister. Personally and intellectually, he was ideally suited for the role and he handled it with skill and distinction for four years until he was assassinated on October 16, 1951.
Lord Wavell, British viceroy of India, recorded that Liaquat Ali Khan, with whom he had a number of long talks, was one of the few politicians who could discuss a wide range of topics and carry on a serious conversation for hours on end. Wavell had a high opinion of him as an administrator and a person of intellect, character and commonsense. This was shared by a number of people who came to know him well; some of his colleagues and friends were devoted to him.
Liaquat Ali Khan would need all of these attributes as Pakistan’s first head of the government. Leaders who follow great charismatic figures have a hard time being accepted as their equals. This was true of Harry Truman who followed Franklin D Roosevelt, Clement Attlee who succeeded Winston Churchill, and Liaquat Ali Khan who came after Muhammed Ali Jinnah.
Truman’s presidency, however, has been ranked highly and Attlee has been viewed as one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers. The United States came out of World War II a superpower under the former and Britain, headed by the latter, was able to obtain loans from the United States to maintain its global position.
Liaquat Ali Khan’s task was harder and more taxing than either Truman’s or Attlee’s but he should be ranked with them. Pakistan in 1947 had nothing. A state had to be created from scratch at a time when people predicted that it would collapse like a tent. It was Liaquat Ali Khan’s great historical achievement those four years after independence no one was expecting Pakistan to collapse. If Muhammed Ali Jinnah was the designer of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan was its architect.
Liaquat Ali Khan with President Harry Truman in Washington DC| Creative Commons In addition to ensuring Pakistan’s survival and the creation of government institutions such as the civil service and the military, he was responsible for creating Pakistan’s national policies that mostly remain intact years after Partition.
First of all, there was the establishment of the economy along global capitalist lines allied to the Western world. Desperate for support, Pakistan had little choice but to turn, like Europe and Japan, to the United States for assistance (which in the end, like Great Britain, provided very little).
Liaquat Ali Khan also nurtured relationships with nations in Europe and the Middle East to ensure Pakistan’s economic development. Its industrial development in the 1950s and 1960s and later was a result of his early policies.
Liaquat Ali Khan created Pakistan’s foreign policy that the country has largely followed ever since. The first hurdle he had to cross in this respect was to have a stance over Kashmir. He refused to accept Kashmir as part of India and spent a considerable amount of time and effort over a number of meetings in India, London and in Pakistan trying to reverse its status.
His stance on Kashmir has been followed by every Pakistani leader since and it has always been Pakistan’s major foreign policy aim to make all of Kashmir Pakistan’s.
The feature of Pakistan’s foreign policy is its alliance with the United States and the West. As with the orientation of its economy, Pakistan had little choice. In 1947, the Soviet Union could offer very little financial support to its allies; in fact, it was draining its East European allies of their assets to build up Soviet industries.
Allying with a state based on godless communism was also unacceptable to most Pakistanis and had Pakistan done so it would have been isolated diplomatically by the West at a time when the newly independent country desperately needed support.
Pakistan’s foreign policy is its relationship with Muslim states in the Middle East. Liaquat Ali Khan sought good relations with all Muslim countries including Iran, which was the first country in the world to recognize Pakistan, and he welcomed the Shah of Iran to Pakistan in March 1950 as the first foreign head of state to visit the country.
He was a devoted follower of its founder, Sayyid Ahmad Khan, and his modernist philosophy of integrating Western and modernist Islamic learning. He, therefore, fully supported women’s education as well as the activities of his second wife, the dynamic and remarkable Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, who founded the All Pakistan Women’s Association in 1949.
From the creation of a modern military and educational system to the establishment of a civil service, a state bank and an entire economy, Liaquat Ali Khan was at the centre of all these activities and the inspiration for many of them. He believed he could go on to write a constitution, establish a sound democratic system and create a vibrant Muslim League party as its president, besides being able to institute respect for all sects, creeds and viewpoints.
Although Liaquat Ali Khan belonged to a wealthy landlord family of Carnal, he adopted a simple lifestyle. Being the first prime minister of a newly-established state, his goal was to transform Pakistan into prosperous country. After Quaid-e-Azam, he tried his best to safeguard the national interests. Even today, Liaquat Ali Khan’s historic sign of a fisted punch has a symbolic significance to counter Indian aggressive intentions against Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan also proved himself a visionary leader with strong grip on international relations.
Te assassination of the first prime minister of Pakistan during a public possession is still a mystery but his unconditional love for Pakistan is an open secret. Even during his last moments, he was praying to God for the protection of Pakistan. He was rightly honoured with the public title of Shaheed-e-Millat (Martyr of the Nation) and was buried in the premises of Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum in Karachi.
Today, in Naya Pakistan, we must keep struggling to fulfilthe pledges of the Shaheed-e-Millat and to rectify the mistakes of past governments.